Royalty. The term elicits warm, fuzzy nostalgia for all things regal and extravagant. There is something truly fascinating about royals that prompts both amusement and curiosity. Perhaps it’s their beguiling lives that were so utopian and unattainable, or the fact that poring over fairytale-like images from their fanciful lives makes one forget the drudgery and monotony of everyday life. Whatever the reason, royals were around long before movie stars, and can rightly be called the very first celebrities in the world, ever.
In India, maharajas and maharanis lived lives of luxury that one can only catch glimpses of nowadays in coffee table books. They were the ultimate connoisseurs of luxury and fine living, and brands like Louis Vuitton and Cartier were thriving in India only thanks to the Indian royals. Luxury was truly bespoke, and puts today’s haute couture consumers to shame. The French chiffon saree, for instance, which has become a trademark of maharanis in India, was originally created in the looms of Lyon, and was worn here with gorgeous pearls and jewels to complement it. Royals are consumers of luxury goods on a whole different level, because luxury living permeates every fabric of their lives.
Some of our very own Indian royals had a lot of money and eccentric demands to go with it as well. For instance, Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV, the Maharaja of Mysore, ordered a customised Rolls Royce – recently auctioned off for US$400,000 – to shield his retinue servants from the harsh Indian sun. Mir Usman Ali Khan, the last Nizam of Hyderabad, used the “Jacob Diamond”, the fifth largest diamond in the world, as a paper weight. These are but a few fascinating stories of the lives of our Indian royals from the past. Today, most royals, whether Indian or international, live more humble and realistic lives, and actually put their wealth and genetic jackpot to good use. This month we take a look at some of the most stylish royals around the world. -- Suneela
Maharani Gayatri Devi
Maharani Gayatri Devi was one of the most beautiful, elegant and dignified women of her time. She was born as the Maharani of Cooch Behar, and after her marriage to Sawai Man Singh II, she became the Maharani of Jaipur. Gayatri Devi inherited her mother, Maharani Indira Raje of Baroda’s legendary beauty, independent spirit, and vivacious personality that only made her more beautiful. After an idyllic childhood in India, she was educated in the best schools of Switzerland and London. Upon India’s independence, Maharani Gayatri Devi became an extremely successful politician.
Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan
Queen Rania is the epitome of modern day elegance and class, with the right mix of beauty, outspokenness, restraint and dignity. Hers is a true fairytale. Upon the completion of her studies in Kuwait and Egypt, the educated and modern woman worked for Citibank and Apple in Amman. She finally met her very own Prince Charming, the King of Jordan, Abdullah bin al-Hussein, and became his queen. Rania travels the world tirelessly in support of various causes dear to her heart, documenting her activities on several social media platforms. She is the ultimate modern day queen.
Princess Diya Kumari
Princess Diya Kumari is the daughter of erstwhile Maharaja of Jaipur, Sawai Bhawani Singh and Padmini Devi. She is actively involved in politics and is a member of Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from Sawai Madhopur constituency and a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Diya is known for being decked out in the most elegant chiffon sarees and jewels when she is not
tirelessly campaigning in the heat of Rajasthan.
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton is probably the most prominent and photographed royal in the world today. Hers is a story that makes for a perfect modern day fairytale, since she met her future Prince Charming in college at St. Andrews, Scotland, where Prince William courted her till she said yes. The two had a long courtship and finally got married in 2011, and are now parents to two gorgeous children: George and Charlotte. Kate’s style is often compared to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana; kudos to her, however, for never succumbing to trolls, and staying true to her personality and style.
Granddaughter of the legendary Hollywood actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco, Charlotte regularly appears in the most famous fashion magazines of the world, owing to her unique beauty, impeccable style and famous lineage. She is friends with some of the best designers in the world, and is often spotted in the front rows of fashion weeks in Paris, New York, London, and Milan. A brand ambassador for Gucci, she also happens to be an accomplished equestrienne.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Hamdan is the Crown Prince of Dubai and UAE, and is popularly known as Fazza. Apart from being an avid poet, his impossibly good looks and charm could easily cause him to be mistaken for a movie star. Son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Sheikha Hind bin Maktoum bin Juma Al Maktoum, he loves his fancy gadgets and expensive cars and planes, and is an avid horse rider and skydiver.
Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece
Marie-Chantal is one of those women who has it all and manages to look impossibly chic while juggling her numerous roles: mother, wife, businesswoman, socialite, princess, and heiress. Mother to five children, the family’s annual Christmas cards often look like Ralph Lauren advertisements. She is the daughter of duty-free billionaire Robert Miller, and wife of Pavlos, Crown Prince of Greece, son of the deposed King Constantine II of Greece.
Princess Niloufer was a Turkish beauty who married into Hyderabad royalty, and was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the world back in the day. Many believed her to be movie star material, and in fact, the princess even rejected a lot of offers that came her way. She was a feminist and championed the rights of women, and it was this interest of hers that led her to establish a hospital for women and children in Hyderabad. She was one of the last princesses of the Ottoman empire, and was the wife of the second son of the last Nizam – Mozam Jah.
Masako, Crown Princess of Japan
Masako belongs to the Imperial House of Japan and is the wife of Naruhito, Crown Prince of Japan, the heir apparent to the Chrysanthemum Throne and the elder son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. A highly educated woman who studied at Harvard and Oxford, Masako is said to have been courted by the prince for eight years before finally saying yes. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess have one daughter: Aiko, the Princess of Toshi.
Princess Ameera Al-Taweel
This Sonam Kapoor lookalike is a powerhouse of energy, and a strong-minded modern Saudi Arabian woman. At the age of 18 she met Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a billionaire and member of the Saudi Royal family. He was 28 years her senior, and the two first crossed paths while she was conducting an interview for a school paper; they married shortly thereafter. Ameera is known to be one of the first women to drive on the roads of Saudi Arabia and has often been criticised for this.
Donna Beatrice Borromeo
Beatrice is a member of the ancient House of Borromeo of Italy, and is married to Monaco’s royal prince Pierre Casiraghi. She is famous for her quiet blonde beauty, and is seen at all the fashion events in Europe with her troupe of “It” girls. Beatrice constantly appears in European news media holidaying with her handsome husband at all the chic locations in the south of France and Italy.
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser
Sheikha Mozza is the second wife of Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, former Emir of the State of Qatar, and is known for her daring fashion choices. She consistently respects her religion and culture when it comes to her sartorial choices, yet never lets her attire look boring. Sheikha Mozza is the Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and is actively involved in Qatar’s government. If you ask us, she probably has one of the best haute couture collections in the world.
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano
Letizia became the Queen of Spain after her marriage to King Felipe VI, son of Juan Carlos I. Letizia was a journalist and news anchor prior to meeting Felipe, and was a modern-day educated, working woman. Not many know that Felipe is indeed her second husband, her first marriage having ended in divorce. She is seen as the quiet force behind her husband, and often accompanies him around the world when he is on his royal duties. Letizia is known for her quiet charm and subtle yet beautiful style.
Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana
Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana, the only daughter of Maha Vajralongkorn and Sujarinee Vivacharawongse, is one of the most ubiquitous faces during the world’s biggest fashion weeks, because
of her love of style and fashion. She is an avid sportswoman and has represented Thailand in the South East Asian Games to win a gold medal in badminton. She has a taste for the finer things in life and shuttles between London and Thailand.
Abhimanyu Alsisar, Raja of Khetri
Abhimanyu Alsisar is the founder of the annual music festival in Jaisalmer, Magnetic Fields. The dashing and well-dressed noble is a full-time hotelier, and when not organising the annual hipster extravaganza on his family’s ancestral grounds, Abhimanyu operates Alsisar Mahal as a heritage hotel for the rest of the year.
Shivraj Singh, Jodhpur
Shivraj Singh is the son of Maharaja Gaj Singh and Maharani Hemlata Rajye, and lives in one wing of the sprawling Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur. Shivraj was known to be one of the world’s most handsome, dapper and eligible bachelors. He was given the best of British education at Eton and Oxford Brookes, and was an avid polo player. Known for his charming good looks and suave demeanour, Shivraj suffered a tragic polo accident in 2003.However, the prince has since recovered and is a happy father of two today.