Chandigarh, June 14, 2019:
The pious and compassionate Rajmata Mohinder Kaur, the Patiala Royal Matriarch was born on 14 September, 1922 in Ludhiana. She was the daughter of S. Harchand Singh Jaijee of Patiala State and a member of the Patiala State Peoples’ Forum which was an affiliate of Indian National Congress Party. She was wedded at the age of sixteen to the ninth and the last Maharaja of Patiala, Yadvindra Singh in 1938. He remained the Maharaja of Patiala State from 23 March 1938 to 1974. She was the second wife of Maharaja. His first marriage had been childless.
She was given the maiden name Mehtab Kaur after her marriage as the senior Maharani was also named Mohinder Kaur who was present at the palace to receive her co-wife. Senior Akali leaders including Master Tara Singh had played a good role to arrange the marriage between Mohinder Kaur and the Maharaja. She received her education at Queen Mary’s College Lahore.
After marriage, she was blessed with four siblings – two daughters and two sons. The eldest daughter Harminder Kaur is married to former Union Minister Natwar Singh; Rupinder Kaur, the second daughter is married to an army officer. Captain Amarinder Singh, elder son, currently the Chief Minister of Punjab, is wedded to Preneet Kaur, an active politician. The fourth son Malvinder Singh is also well settled. Maharani’s brother Inderjeet remembers in nostalgia how his sister’s wedding into the royal family was solemnized when his family was in virtual exile. Her father was an earnest and close associate of the movement’s leader.
“Queen of Hearts”
Rajmata Mohinder Kaur
After Independence of India, the Princely State of Patiala was merged with the Indian Union. As a result, PEPSU (Patiala and East Punjab States Union) merged and Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was appointed ‘Rajpramukh’ of this new state. Mohinder Kaur contributed a lot in this scenario. She found a new role as a strong votary of Small Services Schemes launched by the government. This role was applauded by all. Mohinder Kaur won the heart of her king, safeguarded his lineage and was a queen for a long time before the merger of the Princely States with India.
Maharaja Yadvindra Singh
After partition on August 15, 1947, Patiala as a major town had an influx of thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees from the territories of Pakistan. It was the royal family of Patiala that became the forerunner to serve the refugees by organizing various camps for their shelter and food. The two Maharanis performed commendable and tireless supervision for the relief kitchens and provided medical provision and aid to the needy without any belief in caste, clan and religion. Their services will always be remembered for this noble and needy cause. She also joined the huge campaign on Prime Minister Nehru’s bidding to recover and repatriate Muslem women and girls abducted from refugee caravans as they were moving to Pakistan. She was instrumental in reuniting many young women with their families.
However, in the year 1956, PEPSU was defaced from the map and ceremonial governorship of Maharaja was also lost. The Maharaja’s responsibility of ‘Rajpramukh’ and the perks were withdrawn. By virtue of Maharaja’s diplomatic associations of long standing, he got opportunities to serve the UN General Assembly as Head of Indian delegations. He also headed UNESCO (1957-58) and UNFAO (1958 onwards). He also had the distinction to serve as Ambassador to Italy (1965-66) and Netherlands (1971-1974). Patiala was the largest Princely State in Punjab but the Maharajas were deputed with minor diplomatic assignments. It was at the advent of Maharani’s father and family that rose to good stature in the Congress. Consequently, it was a bright chance to show presence in party politics and Mohinder Kaur jumped into it in the fruitful year of 1964.
Mohinder Kaur had the privilege to serve as a member of the Rajya Sabha in Indian Parliament from 1964 to 1967 as a Congress Party Member. She was also elected to the Fourth Lok Sabha (1967 to 1971) from the Patiala constituency. However, the Congress Party withdrew the privy purses and other benefits which were guaranteed to them by solemn covenant in 1947-1948. In 1971, Mohinder Kaur was not given a party nomination to contest the general elections due to anti-royal policy of Indira Gandhi. However, Maharaja was appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands. Maharaja Yadvindra Singh left for his heavenly abode in 1974 in harness at Hague who was India’s Ambassador to the Netherlands. The family thus came back to their native place and the two Maharanis set up their residence at Moti Bagh Palace, Patiala. Mohinder Kaur felt upset due to the demise of her husband and renounced the wearing of jewelery and well-decorated silken clothes. She stuck to white and indigo-blue colours-the colours of renunciation and purity in Sikh tradition. She gave up politics and earnestly led a life of religious observance. She enjoyed the bliss of seven grand-children who were dear and close to her. However, her seed of inborn and inherent politics sprouted in 1977 due to promulgation of emergency and the forced vasectomy of healthy males.
She got an opportunity to become one of the General Secretaries of the Janta Party. She was again appointed a member of the Rajya in 1978. She served a full six year term from 1978 to 1984 in the upper house. Her highness played an active role in the Indian Politics. Her elder son Captain Amarinder Singh served as Chief Minister, Punjab from 2002-2007. Currently also he is serving as Chief Minister of Punjab.
She took deep interest and involved herself in Yadvindra Public Schools as Patron of the Board of Governors. She was a strong willed woman who valued relationships. She was a seasoned conversationalist with a remarkable ability to make people feel at ease and engage with them. She often surprised the people by remembering small details from previous conversations. She always rose to the occasion.
Maharani Preneet Kaur Capt. Amarinder Singh
She being a kind and generous hearted lady maintained the charitable traditions of her royal family and adhered to the religious ceremonies. She was quite active and listened to the grievances of the ladies from Patiala Royal Palace. It was her kindness, austerity and charity at heart that made her a cultural supremo. She resided in her New Moti Bagh Palace in her last days of life. She merged in the Eternal on 24 July, 2017. The Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh lit the pyre at Shahi Samadhan on July 25,2017, the ancestral cremation ground of the family. She was the last reigning Maharani of Patiala. Her brother Inderjeet Singh Jaijee said: “She lived a full life. She was a sister and a guardian. She cared for everybody”. “Her simple and direct way of addressing people and almost feeling their personal problems is rare. Her appeal goes a long way in inspiring confidence”. (Central Social Welfare Board).
Following the footprints of royal lineage and inherent politics, Preneet Kaur, wife of Captain Amarinder Singh, currently Chief Minister of Punjab, has also served in the Government of India as Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs from 2009 to 2014. She attended the St. Bede’s College, Simla and graduated from the convent of ‘Jesus and Mary’, Simla. She was born on 03 October, 1994 and married in 1964. Prior to entering politics, she was instrumental in founding ‘Sanjeevani’ for differently abled children.
Let this royal family propagate progress for the needy and the deserved ones and do selfless service for the Patiala citizens for prosperity and well being.
Dr. Jaswant Singh Puri
Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa)
Member Dewan Family, Erstwhile Princely State of Patiala