Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg – 2

Published on: 11/11/2017

312959-1345036410 sourced from web

Photo title:Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg (Wikimedia Commons)

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were most disappointed on hearing from the Logins of the developments in Rome. Once again, the Queen was surprisingly compassionate towards her goddaughter, and pinned the blame on her son and heir, Bertie. Now that all hopes of uniting Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab and Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg in matrimony had vanished, the Queen was keen that Gowramma should quickly settle down with an eligible young man from an English or European aristocratic family.


In her heart of hearts, Gowramma wasn’t too upset. She was more attracted to European men, especially those with blue eyes!


With the Logins unwilling to continue looking after the recalcitrant Gowramma, the Queen put her under the guardianship of Sir and Lady Harcourt. Gowramma was miserable with the elderly and disciplinarian Harcourts. Gowramma was initially taken to live in a rural town named Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. After a few months, the Harcourts moved to their estate in Sussex. A thoroughly bored, lonely and demoralized Gowramma found solace in the company of a blue-eyed young under-butler named George Christmas in the Harcourt household. Soon there was a clandestine affair between the two. The Harcourts were shaken when they caught Gowramma trying to elope with George Christmas in the middle of the night. Unable to control the increasingly obstinate Gowramma the Harcourts requested the Queen to relieve them of the responsibility. In spite of these developments, the Queen continued to be sympathetic towards her goddaughter. She got Gowramma back in London and put her under the care of Sir and Lady Weir-Hogg. On Her Majesty’s instructions, the Weir-Hoggs gave Gowramma sufficient freedom to socialize and make new friends. The Queen was now anxious to see Gowramma settled before she got involved in another scandal.

Dalip singh winterhalter

Maharaja Duleep Singh of Punjab (Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, Duleep Singh took it on himself in finding a match for his ‘honorary sister’. By then Veerarajendra had died a broken man having lost his 7-year legal battle. Duleep Singh invited Gowramma to his parties at Mulgrave Castle and introduced her to his friends from the British high society. In a strange twist of fate, the person Gowramma fell in love was Lt Colonel John Campbell, a dapper, blue-eyed, 49-year-old widower, who had served at Bellary in India. Col Campbell was the elder brother of Lady Login and 30 years senior to Gowramma. He was father of four boys. The Logins were not pleased with this development. However, the Queen was happy that Gowramma had finally found a suitor. She hoped the Colonel, being Lady Login’s brother, would be a gentleman who would take good care of her goddaughter. Col Campbell and Gowramma solemnized their marriage at St George’s Church on 17 July 1860.


Gowramma was a devoted wife to Col Campbell. Her daughter Edith was born on 2 July 1861. She was ecstatic at having a family of her own. The £1000 annuity she received on Her Majesty’s recommendation provided her a comfortable life. The Queen wanted Gowramma to take the baby to Buckingham Palace, as soon as she was ready to travel. Unfortunately, Prince Albert suddenly took ill and died on 14 December 1861. Queen Victoria went into deep mourning and seclusion. Gowramma was utterly disappointment she could not take Edith to meet the Queen.


In the meantime, Col Campbell turned negligent and spent most of his time away from home. He was deeply involved in horse-racing and other gambling activities. He frequently demanded money from Gowramma and their relationship soon soured. Gowramma was deeply affected, but found solace in raising Edith. By the time Edith was 3-years-old Gowramma started noticing signs of tuberculosis reappearing. She was devastated and worried for her young daughter. Lady Login visited her during her illness and gave all the support she could. Gowramma made a passionate plea to Lady Login to look after Edith if the child was left without a mother.

Gowramma’s health deteriorated and she succumbed to consumption on 30 March 1864. She was buried in the Brompton Cemetery. The Queen was highly upset at the news. The otherwise conservative Queen Victoria, known for her ‘Victorian values’, was astonishingly forgiving of Gowramma’s indiscretions. She herself drafted the following epitaph on the tombstone of her goddaughter on whom she had pinned a great deal of hope.

Sacred to the memory of the Princess Victoria Gowramma, daughter of the ex-Raja of Coorg, the beloved wife of Lieutenant Colonel John Campbell. Born in India, 4 July 1841. She was brought up early in life to England; baptized into the Christian faith under immediate care and protection of Queen Victoria, who stood sponsor to her, and took a deep interest through life. She died 30 March 1864.

‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold’ (John X,16)

Queen Victoria was disappointed that her grand plan of moulding Gowramma and Duleep Singh as ‘shining example’ to the rest of India did not materialize. The British government in India was frustrated and embarrassed by Veerarajendra’s legal suit and regretted giving him permission to visit England. Duleep Singh had his own battle with the Government of India who reneged on their promise of a hefty pension to him on attaining the age of 18. He received just half the promised annuity of Rs. 4.00 Lakhs.

Gowramma was disappointed at the lack of love from her husband. Her illness demoralized her. She was just 23-years-old when she died. History of India could have been quite different had she married Duleep Singh, had children with him, and lived longer.

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The Kodava bride’s attire is practical and alluring at the same time. A throwback to the old days when people had to walk long distances through dense forests and perhaps face unexpected attacks from rival clans or wild animals. With her pleats safely out of the way and all corners of the sari pinned in place, it does allow unhindered movement. And embodies the traditional Kodava way of life: both spirited and practical.


C P Belliappa

C. P. Belliappppa writes humour, history and human interest stories, and is a regular contributor to newspapers, websites and magazines. He holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, USA. Belliappa currently lives in Coorg, where he manages his coffee estate. He is also involved in the management of educational institutions, including an engineering college. His other books are Tale of a Tiger’s Tail & Other Yarns from Coorg, Nuggets from Coorg History and Victoria Gowramma: The Lost Princess of Coorg.

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