The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Breeches of copyright
- Jodhpur claims its pants as royalty lands

Jodhpur, March 28: The Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, arrived today in Jodhpur where they were welcomed by Gaj Singh II, the erstwhile Maharaja of Jodhpur, who will tomorrow take them on a tour of local Rajasthani villages to show water conservation projects and local handicrafts.

This is an ideal opportunity for Charles and especially for Camilla, who are both keen on horses, to discover how the “Jodhpurs” came to be adopted by the British upper classes as normal riding attire.

Perhaps “stolen” is too strong a word to describe how Rajasthani trousers ended up in Britain but the royal house of Jodhpur would be happy to have some acknowledgement of how this came to pass.

India is always accused of infringing other people’s copyright. But, occasionally, as is almost certainly the case with Jodhpurs, it is India which appears to be the victim.

The Jodhpurs are defined as “long riding breeches, tight from the knee to ankle, named after the ancient city, Jodhpur, in the state of Rajasthan in north India. Men in this state wear trousers akin to riding breeches, hence the name ‘Jodhpurs’ ”.

Now, one of India’s most talented young fashion designers, Raghavendra Rathore, who is a member of the Jodhpur royal family, wants some recognition that the riding breeches so beloved of the horse-riding fraternity in Britain were appropriated from his state.

Rathore, who is trying to get ideas for his own fashion house, Rathore Jodhpur, from palace decorations and family history, has hired lawyers to seriously examine the question of copyright.

“If people can find something of their heritage in their clothes, it works fantastically,” he said. “The brand that I have built is based on this.”

Rathore’s cousin is Gaj Singh, who, before rushing off to the airport today to meet Charles and Camilla, told The Telegraph at Umaid Bhavan Palace how the royal trousers got left behind in England.

The former maharajah said: “My grandfather’s young brother, Sir Pratap Singh, was the Regent. He was very close to Queen Victoria. He was invited to her Jubilee or some major function and his official clothes were left behind somehow and did not reach him in time.”

He went on: “The Jodhpurs had by then become the local dress here. Most of the time men were on horseback so it became the national dress. So in England Sir Pratap Singhji took his old dirty clothes to a Savile Row tailor.”

The tailor made the Regent replacement trousers but also cleverly copied the design. This was then introduced to the English upper classes as “Jodhpurs”.

“That is how the name got established,” said Gaj Singh. “The tailor must have done some advertising, some press.”

“I am still waiting for my royalties,” he chuckled.

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