At a reception on the family estate in the south of France, I met a distinguished English gentleman, great grandnephew of Princess Catherine, wife of the Maharajah Duleep Singh, the last King of the Sikh Kingdom in the Punjab. He was pleased to find among all the French-speaking guests, someone whose English was tolerable and he talked to me about the Maharajah’s box.

Several years ago, a box in a Swiss bank vault was found. It is believed to contain not only precious gems and jewels, but also documents relating to the British annexation of the Maharajah’s territory in 1849. The Maharajah owned the Koh-i-nur diamond that adorns Queen Victoria’s crown, and the box is also thought to contain a document that would reveal that the taking of the Koh-i-nur diamond by the British Empire was improper. The Maharajah was ten years old at the time.

But some have also said that there is no box at all but a bank account, and that if there were a box, it would merely contain a lock of the Maharajah’s hair. Conjectures here and there, and no one really knows.

Several heirs to the Maharajah’s box have presented themselves. A group of mysterious Indians (probably Sikhs), my distinguished English gentleman declared, have made it known to him that they are aware of his claim and that they know who he is and where he resides. He believes that if there is anything that rightly belongs to India, they would most probably make it their duty to right the wrong, and restore what they deem is proper ownership.

I will have to disappoint you, but as of this time, the Maharajah’s box remains unopened.

The Maharajah Duleep Singh