Karim Photo – A Rare Pic Of Queen Victoria’s Controversial, Favorite Butler ‘Munshi Abdul Karim
A rare photo of one of Queen Victoria’s favorite servants, Abdul Karim who she nicknamed ‘Munshi’ and caused controversy at the palace, is to go on sale.
Abdul Karim served as the Royal’s butler during the final fourteen years of the aged royal’s lengthy reign.
The pair are believed to have formed a close friendship over the period – much to the Royal Court’s dismay.
Their unorthodox relationship was even portrayed in the 2017 film Victoria & Abdul, starring Judi Dench.
Now ‘albumen print cabinet cards’ featuring ‘Munshi’ will be auctioned by Dominic Winter Auctioneers.
One picture features in a set of four taken at Balmoral Castle in the late 1880s and 1890.
Another photo card shows Karim in turbans and royal household dress with royal insignia.
A spokesman for the auction house said: ”’Hafiz Abdul Karim was recruited as an Indian servant for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
”The Queen became interested in learning Hindustani in order to converse with Abdul and as a loyal friendship ensued.
”Abdul was promoted to ‘munshi’ in August 1888.”
Munshi is a word of Persian origin signifying writer or secretary, which was used in India for native language teachers, secretaries, and translators employed by the British Raj and Europeans.
Karim, was born into a Muslim family and worked as a jail clerk in Agra until he arrived in the United Kingdom as a “gift from India.”
The Queen warmed to the 24-year-old immediately when they first met in 1887 – the year of her Golden Jubilee.
Karim would swiftly prove to be one of the Queen’s most trusted confidants – and one of the most disliked members of the Royal Court.
During Karim’s time in office, Victoria showered him with honors, and ensured he had “learnt English wonderfully.”
She even obtained land for him in the Agra suburbs in India, so he could live comfortably after she died.
The pair spent many of their days together, with Karim giving the Queen daily Urdu and Hindi lessons, educating her on Indian politics – and even introducing her to curry.
Karim was promoted to the position of Munshi in August 1888 and the Queen even insisted on taking him with her on her travels.
But Karim did not receive the same treatment from rest of the royal family, who were unwilling to accept the Munshi or treat him as their equal.
Tension in the palace only continued to magnify over time as Queen Victoria refused to accept her family’s negative comments about Karim.
When Victoria passed away in 1901, the young Indian was sacked by the Queen’s successor, Edward VII, barely a few hours after her funeral.
Edward sent the Munshi back to India and ordered all records of their relationship, kept at Karim’s homes in both the UK and India, be destroyed.
Karim lived quietly and comfortably on the estate that Victoria had arranged for him – as she correctly judged the Royal Family would not have cared for him after her death.
He died at the age of 46 on April 20, 1909.