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Maharaja Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III (3 March 1923-) is the former and present titular Maharaja of Dhrangadhra Halvad. He is a noted academic, politician and member of several distinguished academic bodies, the last surviving knight of the Order of the Indian Empire, and with the death of Tej Singh Prabhakar Bahadur of Alwar in February 2009, the last surviving knight of either of the orders of chivalry of the British Raj.

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Early life

Maharaja Meghrajji III was born on 3 March 1923 at Sundar Villas, Dhrangadhra as the second but eldest surviving son of Maharaja Sir Ghanshyamsinjhi Ajitsinhji Sahib Bahadur (1889-1942), the Maharaja of the 13-gun salute state of Dhrangadhra-Halvad and his third wife, Maharani Anand Kunverba Sahiba (1895-1979). He received his earliest education at a local school, then was sent to England, where he first attended Millfield School in Somerset and then the Heath Mount School in Hertfordshire. He then studied at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire[1] before returning to India just prior to succeeding his father as Maharaja.

Maharaja of Dhrangadhra-Halvad

Upon the death of his father in 1942, Mehghrajji succeeded him as Maharaja. He continued his education at St. Joseph's Academy in Dehra Dun and at the Shivaji Military School in Pune. During his reign, he served as the Patron of Talukdari Girassia College and of the Bhandarkar oriental Research Institute. From 1945 to 1947, he served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Chamber of Princes.

Meghrajji's reign proved to be a short one, as independence came to India in 1947, upon which Meghrajji signed the Instrument of Accession to India. In that same year, he was knighted with the KCIE, becoming one of the last recipients of that order. However, Meghrajji threw himself wholeheartedly into the cause for his new nation, serving as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India from 1947 to 1948. On 15 February 1948, the Maharaja merged Dhrangadhra-Halvad into the United State of Kathiawad and into the Union of Saurashtra just a month later.

Politician and Academic

From 1948 to 1952, Meghrajji served as Uprajpramukh (Deputy Rajpramukh) of the state of Saurashtra, also serving briefly (in 1949) as president of its state bank. In 1953, he attended the coronation of Elizabeth II. In 1967, he became a Member of the Gujarat State Assembly, representing Surendranagar. He then served as an MP in the Lok Sabha for Jhalavad from 1967 to 1971. Working to keep the tradition of royal India's monarchies alive, Meghrajji simultaneously held the chair of Intendant-General for the Consultation of Rulers of Indian States in Concord for India until 1971.

In the 1950s, Meghrajji studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a B.Lit in 1958. He also studied at the Ruskin School of Drawing and at the Institute for Social Anthropology at Oxford.

Personal life

In 1943, Meghrajji married Maharani Shrimati Sri Rajni Brijraj Kunverba Sahiba of Jodhpur (14 December 1930-). The couple have three sons:

  • 1. Patvi Namdar Jhalavrit Maharajkumar Shri Sodhsalji Shatrujitdev Sahib, Yuvaraja of Dhrangadhra-Halvad (22 March 1944-); educ. Oxford. Married on 6 May 1970 Yuvarani Savitri Devi Sahib (16 November 1941-8 September 1983). Married on 21 September 1986 Yuvarani Ayesha Devi Sahiba (1 December 1948-). He has three daughters by his first wife:
    • Rajkumari Baiji Lal Nisha Devi Jhala (5 July 1971-)
    • Rajkumari Baiji Lal Rama Devi Jhala (30 July 1972-)
    • Rajkumari Baiji Lal Rohina Nitya Devi Jhala (4 February 1978-). Married July 2002 Liam F. McLaughlin.
  • 2. Maharajkumar Shri Dr. Jayasinhji Jawahirdev Sahib, PhD, MSc (13 Octobr 1948-). Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at Temple University, USA. Married 6 September 1977 Maharajkumari Shri Raya Devi Sahiba (31 August 1949-). He has two daughters:
    • Baiji Lal Angma Devi Sahib (26 April 1978-)
    • Baiji Lal Lila Devi Sahib (28 August 1979-)
  • 3. Maharajkumar Shri Siddhrajsinhji Gautama Deo Sahib (11 May 1950-). Artist and furniture maker. Married 14 June 1974 (divorced 1984) Aruna Devi; married 29 April 1985 Kavrani Kanchande Devi Sahiba (13 January 1957-). He has two daughters by his second wife:
    • Baiji Lal Amba Suhasini Sahiba (14 March 1986-)
    • Baiji Lal Sukanya Devika Sahib (4 November 1987-)

Later and Present Life

In 1971, Meghrajji was stripped of his titles and privy purse by the Indira Gandhi regime. Since 1966, he has served as the President of Rajkumar College and of the Sri Rajaram Educational Foundation. He is also a life member of the Millfield Society, the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Indian Parliamentary Group, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (all since 1967), the Linguistic Society of India, the Numismatic Society of India, the Heraldry Society of India and the World Wildlife Fund. As well, he is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. He is also a member of the Cricket Club of India and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Titles, style and honours

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Titles

  • 1923-1942: Patvi Namdar Jhalavrit Maharajkumar Shri Meghrajji Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib, Yuvraj of Dhrangadhra Halvad
  • 1942-1947: His Highness Shri Shaktimant Jhaladipati Mahamandleshwar Maharana Sriraj Maharaja Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib Bahadur, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra Halvad
  • 1947-present: His Highness Shri Shaktimant Jhaladipati Mahamandleshwar Maharana Sriraj Maharaja Sir Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib Bahadur, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra Halvad, KCIE

Present Full Style

Honours

References


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