Indian Aristocrat’s Grandchildren Win Long Battle For Riches

imageThe grandchildren of a glamorous Indian aristocrat who personified a lost era of wealth and privilege before her death in 2009 have won a long legal battle to inherit her assets.

Gayatri Devi was one of the most celebrated beauties of the last century, mixing traditional palace life in the royal city of Jaipur with private airplanes, cocktail parties and shopping trips to London.

Her death triggered an acrimonious showdown over a fortune that Indian media estimated at between $200 million and $400 million, including two spectacular Jaipur palaces that now operate as luxury hotels.

She was the third of the maharajah of Jaipur’s three concurrent wives and when he died on the polo field, the title passed to the son of his first wife.
Gayatri Devi’s only son, Jagat Singh, died in 1997 and her own death 12 years later triggered a showdown between her grandchildren, Devraj Singh and Lalitya Kumari, and other descendents of the former maharajah.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier judgement by a lower court in favour of the pair, saying they had been deprived of their rightful share in the Jai Mahal and Rambagh palaces and other companies.

“All these years my sister and I have only been asking for our father’s shares in the family company and nothing beyond that,” said Devraj Singh in a statement after the ruling.

“Finally, I am one step further to be able to do my various duties towards my ancestral land.”

Different branches of the family still exert control over the Jaipur estate, which remained partially intact long after the system of “princely states” was dismantled following independence from Britain in 1947.

Gayatri Devi, the matriarch of the clan, was a celebrated member of the international jet-set who was once named as one of the most beautiful women on Earth by fashion magazine Vogue.

She was accorded a royal funeral in Jaipur following her death at the age of 90.

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