South Asia

India: Last Jaipur Maharajah Sawai Bhawani Singh dies

Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh, the last Maharaja of Jaipur, poses on his birthday on 18 October 2010
Image caption Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh was revered as an icon in Rajasthan

Brigadier Sawai Bhawani Singh, the last Maharajah of Jaipur, in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, has died.

Brigadier Singh, who continued to be revered as a social and cultural icon after India abolished royal titles, died after a long illness. He was 79.

He took over as the Maharajah after the death of his father in 1970, but royal titles were abolished shortly after.

Former royals are still associated with the wealth and glamour of the past and attract a lot of interest in India.

Jaipur was one of scores of kingdoms which existed in India until the country's independence from Britain in 1947.

The Rajasthan government has announced two days of mourning.

Funeral procession

Brigadier Singh was cremated with full state honours after a funeral parade through the city.

Image caption The funeral cortege was accompanied by bejewelled elephants and thousands of mourners

Huge crowds gathered to pay their respects to the deceased Maharajah, adorning his body with garlands of flowers, before his 12-year-old grandson lit the funeral pyre.

Brigadier Singh, who served in the Indian army, received the Mahavir Chakra award for gallantry for leading troops into Pakistan in the 1971 war.

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