Abdul Karim (the Munshi)
Mohammed Abdul Karim CIE CVO was an Indian attendant of Queen Victoria. He served her during the final 14 years of her reign, gaining her maternal affection over that time. Victoria appointed him to be her Indian Secretary, showered him with honours, and obtained a land grant for him in India.
About Abdul Karim (the Munshi) in brief
Mohammed Abdul Karim CIE CVO was an Indian attendant of Queen Victoria. He served her during the final 14 years of her reign, gaining her maternal affection over that time. Victoria appointed him to be her Indian Secretary, showered him with honours, and obtained a land grant for him in India. The close platonic relationship between Karim and the Queen led to friction within the Royal Household, the other members of which felt themselves to be superior to him. Following Victoria’s death in 1901, her successor, Edward VII, returned Karim to India and ordered the confiscation and destruction of the Munshi’s correspondence with Victoria. Karim subsequently lived quietly near Agra, on the estate that Victoria had arranged for him, until his death at the age of 46. He was born into a Muslim family at Lalitpur near Jhansi in 1863. His father, Haji Mohammed Waziruddin, was a hospital assistant stationed with the Central India Horse, a British cavalry regiment. After the war, Karim’s father transferred to a civilian position at the Central Jail in Agra. He worked as a vakil for the Nawab of Jaora in the Agency of Agar. As a teenager, he travelled across North India and into Afghanistan. In 1887, the year of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, he was one of two Indians selected to become servants to the Queen. He first served the Queen at breakfast in Frogmore House at Windsor on 23 June 1887.
The Queen described Karim in her diary for that day: “The other, much younger, is much lighter, tall, and with a fine serious countenance. His father is a native doctor at Agra They both kissed my feet. “Five days later, the Queen noted that “The Indians always wait now and do so, so well and quietly. ” On 20 August, she had some excellent curry made by one of the servants of the Maharani Chimnabai of Baroda, which she used during an audience in December to greet the Maharan. By February 1888 he had learned the English language wonderfully, according to Victoria according to her diary. After he complained to her that he had been a waiter in India and thus worked beneath menial menial work he was promoted to the position of an attendant. After a journey by rail from Agra to Bombay and by mail steamer to Britain, he arrived at Windsor Castle in June 18 87. He and Mohammed Buksh were put under the charge of Major-General Thomas Dennehy. He helped to select the carpets and weavers for the Colonial and Indian Exhibition in South Kensington. When Queen Victoria visited the exhibition, Tyler gave her a gift of two gold bracelets, again chosen with the assistance of Karim. Karim did not accompany the prisoners, but assisted Jail Superintendent John Tyler in organising the trip, and helped to choose the carpet and weaver.
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