The Princely States
Page Last Updated: February 20, 2013
Although the British ruled most of India during the 19th century and early part of 20th century, there were a number of small states which were independent and were ruled by local kings. The kings usually inherited the throne and the government from their fathers. Since these kings were natives, they understood the complexities of Indian culture, and ruled by the Indian value systems -- even though they had to depend on the British for their own security and well-being.
In the early part of 20th century there were almost a thousand such independent states in the Indian subcontinent. At the time of India's independence in 1947, there were more than five hundred states ruled by independent kings who were integrated into the either India or Pakistan the two newly formed nations. As Prof. Edward Haynes said "India's independence meant loss of independence for these centuries-old states".
The hundreds of these so called "Princely States" were integrated into India through cajoling, blackmail, and negotiations. Some kings were indeed happy to join India who saw the potential of home rule for a large nation. The kings were provided a pension by the Indian Government, and many indeed joined Indian Government as Governors, Parliamentarians, and other leaders. In what some consider a great act of betrayal, Indira Gandhi ended these pensions during her autocratic rule as the Prime Minister of India. Some politically powerful heirs of princely rulers continue to evade taxes and dispute the treatments meted out by the Government, but ending the pensions was the fatal blow to the royalty in India.
Pictures of Royal Families of India During the 19th and 20th Centuries
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