Prince Richard Holkar is the only male heir to Indore’s powerful dynasty of maharajahs. It is by no means an ancient dynasty, but revealed itself to be particularly remarkable and marked by rather original figures. Richard’s great-great-grandfather, the Maharajah of the time, was a local boxing champion.
The sport had been practised for centuries; the boxers would cover themselves in oil and then roll in the red sand on-site before the fights. One day, an Englishman, who was a boxing champion during his student years at Oxford, arrived in Indore and settled there; he learnt that the Maharajah practised the same sport and suggested a friendly match to him. When the boxing match took place, the Maharajah not only won, but also broke the Englishman’s arm. He then complained profusely to the viceroy of England: the Maharajah of Indore was a perverted man, lost and vicious, and, as such, he was dethroned.
As for Richard’s grandfather, he fell in love with a dancer, who, for unknown reasons, fled from Indore to Mumbai. The Maharajah sent his henchmen, who brought the stubborn dancer back to Indore. She escaped a second time to Mumbai. The Maharajah sent his henchmen once again, upon which they discovered that the dancer now lived with one of the city’s rich merchants. Regardless, the Maharajah ordered his henchmen to get rid of the rich merchant. The Maharajah’s competitor promptly died at the hands of the henchmen, who shot him with a revolver.The English were upset by this and gave the Maharajah the following choice: either he had to go on trial in front of the House of Lords in London, or he had to abdicate. The Maharajah chose the latter solution and left to settle in a château that he had bought himself close to Saint Germain in Laye. As for Richard’s father, he must have been the last sovereign. He lived a life full of adventures and unexpected turns.He had impeccable taste, and built an extraordinary beautiful Art Nouveau palace in Indore. He furnished it lavishly with what at the time comprised the world’s most superb collection of Ruhlmann and Dunand pieces. He also acquired a splendid pair of pear diamonds, which, with its inimitable sparkle, were referred to as “Indore pears”.
Finally, he had his portrait painted by one of the greatest portrait artists of the time, Boutet de Monvel. He was nevertheless an unhappy man, sick for long periods of time; his life ended lamentably, and, along with him, Indore’s great lineage of sovereign leaders.