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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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PRINCES IN THE ARCHIVES

THE LAFAYETTE STUDIO AND PRINCELY INDIA (Roli, Rs 395) by Russell Harris is yet another of those coffee-table maharajah books, full of lavish photographs of interesting faces, clothes, jewellery, shoes and furniture ' absorbing for a while, but ultimately forgettable. These photographs of an imperial and aristocratic past are printed from an extensive archive of black-and-white plate negatives discovered in 1968 and now kept in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. This print shows the Cooch Behar princes, most of whom were titled 'Lieutenant Colonel Maharaj Kumar Shri' and were born in the 1880s. They were all sent to Eton for what their mother describes as 'a thorough English education', and hence found it difficult, when they returned to India, to 'speak freely and fluently in the Cooch Behar language'.

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