A spectacular ceremony has been staged in rural Perthshire to honour an Indian Prince and the infant son who was once destined to inherit the Sikh empire.
A Malaysian pipe band led Tuesday’s procession at Kenmore Church, where the son of Maharajah Duleep Singh – the last Sikh ruler of the Punjab – was buried more than 150 years ago.
The Maharajah was exiled to the UK at the age of 13, when his kingdom was annexed by the East India Company in 1849.
He lived at Castle Menzies, near Aberfeldy, and became something of a local celebrity. He was known at the time as the “Black Prince of Perthshire” and was often seen out and about in full Highland uniform.
He briefly returned to India in the 1860s, where he met his future wife, Bamba Muller.
The pair returned to Scotland and had six children but, tragically, their first son – born in August 1865 – only lived for 24 hours and was never named.
The Sridasmesh Sikh Pipe Band led the international pilgrimage to Highland Perthshire and performed a lament at the heir’s recently restored grave.
Following the ceremony, the band, which is in the country for the World Pipe Band Championships, was given a tour of Castle Menzies and performed at Blair Castle.
The visit was hosted by James Rattray, the chairman of the Clan Rattray Society.
“I was contacted by the pipe band as they believed the first Sikh pipe band was the XLV Rattray’s Sikhs, set up by my great-grandfather in 1856,” he said.
“Because of our family connections with the Sikhs over 150 years, I was also involved in setting up the Scottish Sikh Heritage Trail.
“I offered to take the Sridasmesh Sikh Pipe Band members on this tour, explaining their heritage here in Scotland.”
Pipe Major Harvinder Singh said: “This is our second trip to Scotland. We were here three years ago, also to take part in the World Pipe Band Championships.
“We had such a wonderful experience and on our return to Malaysia we immediately set about the task to raise more funds for the band to return to Scotland.”
He added: “One of the highlights of our trip was going on the Sikh Heritage Tour in Highland Perthshire.
“It is so important, particularly for the younger pipe members to know their Sikh history. This was a great opportunity.”
Duleep Singh died in Paris in 1893, and he was buried in a churchyard in Suffolk.