Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Of Patiala: The Man Who Epitomised Living Life King Size

One of the most renowned members of India's royal families, he was famous for his opulent lifestyle that continues to be talked about to this day. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh is credited with popularising the famous 'Patiala peg' and was notably the first Indian to own an aircraft.
Pataiala

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh Of Patiala and the Patiala Necklace. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala, known for his extravagant lifestyle, was one of the most prominent royals of his era. Not only did he lead an opulent life, but he was also a keen sports enthusiast. His cricket and polo teams—Patiala XI and Patiala Tigers—were among the finest in India. The phrase "Patiala Peg," now commonly used in drinking circles, is credited to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh.
He was born in 1891 to Maharaja Rajinder Singh, the ruler of the princely state of Patiala.
At the age of 9, he ascended to the throne following his father's sudden passing. Initially, under a Council of Regency, he began assuming partial powers shortly before his 18th birthday on October 1, 1909 and was officially invested with full authority by the Viceroy of India, the 4th Earl of Minto, on November 3, 1910.
However, what truly stood out was Maharaja Bhupinder Singh's extravagant lifestyle, which was unprecedented in India. In 1910, he made history by purchasing an aircraft from the United Kingdom, becoming the first Indian to own one.
His love for jewellery was evident. He commissioned a stunning 5-strand diamond necklace from the House of Cartier, earning it the title of the most expensive necklace in the world. It was called the Patiala Necklace. Created in 1928, this awe-inspiring piece featured 2,930 diamonds, including the world's 7th largest diamond—a 234-carat yellow diamond from De Beers—as its centrepiece. Unfortunately, the necklace disappeared in 1948, and although recovered, the yellow diamond was missing.
According to a report from The Print, in North India, the royalty of Patiala, Jaipur, Holkars, Darbhanga, and Alwar were known as the most discerning connoisseurs of jewellery. During Cartier's initial visit to Patiala, intending to place a small introductory order, a Cartier representative was astonished to discover a room filled with floor-to-ceiling cabinets of colour-coded gems. This led to an unprecedented event where a billion-rupee jewellery order was placed in one go—a record-breaking transaction that remains the largest order Cartier has ever received from a single customer. This was the Patiala Necklace.
Additionally, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh commissioned the renowned Patiala Ruby Choker from Cartier for his wife, Maharani Yashoda Devi, in 1931. This extraordinary choker consisted of over 200 carats, including 199 cabochon rubies from Burma, pearls, baguette and brilliant-cut diamonds.
He even managed to shock Parisians when he arrived in the French capital with 40 servants. The servants were checked in at the Ritz, and news of this lavish display quickly spread like wildfire.
However, it was his extravagant lifestyle eventually became a reason for his downfall. Maharaja Bhupinder Singh died in 1938.
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