Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg

Published on: 18/10/2017

Veerarajendra Gowramma in London - 1852

Chikka Veerarajendra – the last Raja of Coorg & Princess Victoria Gowramma in London – 1852 ( Wikimedia Commons )

A remarkable event took place on 30 June 1852 in Queen Victoria’s private chapel at Buckingham Palace, London. An Indian princess was baptised in the presence of the Queen, her family, senior officials of the Government, and the Directors of the East India Company. The princess was 11-year-old Princess Victoria Gowramma, daughter of Chikka Veerarajendra, the last Raja of Coorg, who was deposed by the British in 1834, and exiled to Benares. Paradoxically, it was Veerarajendra’s wish that his daughter embraces Christianity and receives a Western upbringing. However, he had his own agenda.


The Governor-General at the time, Lord Dalhousie, and the directors of East India Company had their own reasons for giving permission to Veerarajendra and his daughter to travel to England. They were the first Indian royals to set foot in England. The Company hoped that the voluntary conversion of the princess would improve their sagging image in Britain.


Soon after the baptism, Queen Victoria presented Gowramma with a beautifully bound and autographed Bible. She surprised those present by announcing herself the godmother to the Indian princess. She further astonished everyone by lending her name ‘Victoria’ to Gowramma. Princess Victoria Gowramma of Coorg, as she came to be known, was the first Indian royal to embrace Christianity. As goddaughter of the Queen, she attracted widespread attention. Her conversion, and the unprecedented affection showered on her by the Queen and her royal consort Prince Albert were prominently reported. The Queen made it a point to invite Victoria Gowramma to her various palaces and socialize with her children. In order to ensure her goddaughter received proper respect in her court, Gowramma was accorded a rank equivalent to that of European princesses. Gowramma became a close friend of Princess Alice, the second daughter of the Queen.

Around the same time, the 14-year-old deposed Maharaja Duleep Singh of the Punjab expressed his willingness to convert to Christianity. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert concurred with the directors of the East India Company the advantages in bringing about a matrimonial alliance between the two Christian Indian royals.

Queen Victoria   Royal Family - web

Queen Victoria & the Royal Family ( Wikimedia Commons )

On the Queen’s instructions, Logins took Gowramma on a tour of Europe with an extended sojourn at Rome. The tour was to give Gowramma a wider exposure to European culture, and also to improve her health since symptoms of tuberculosis were detected. Gowramma enjoyed visiting all the historical sites in Rome and the Vatican. One of the highlights was witnessing the annual Carnival – Mardi Gras – along with the visiting Prince of Wales, his German cousins, and Duleep Singh. Bertie and Gowramma were seen exchanging furtive glances. Bertie presented a bouquet of roses to Gowramma and gave her a peck, which raised many an eyebrow. Bertie invited Gowramma to a get-together the following day at the hotel he was staying. It was quite a raucous party. Gowramma got merry on wine and flirted openly with all the young friends and cousins of Bertie. Duleep Singh and the Logins were shocked at Gowramma’s inappropriate behaviour. Duleep Singh later made it known to the Logins that he was no longer interested in Gowramma as a wife, but would henceforth consider her as his ‘honorary sister’.

To be continued…

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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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