Gayatri Devi was a very rich Indian princess who personified glamor. She partied with the rich and famous, but her death caused a grubby struggle over her estate.
She was once named by Vogue magazine as one of the world’s 10 most beautiful women, the third wife of a Rajasthan prince who counted British royalty and Jackie Onassis among her friends. During the summer months that she spent every year in London’s Knightsbridge she would mingle with aristocracy, while back home in India’s “pink city”, she would host parties on her lawn for the likes of Mick Jagger and Michael Caine.
But the death of Gayatri Devi, the third wife of the last official Maharajah of Jaipur, has reignited a bitter dispute in the royal family over assets worth perhaps £250m which include fabulous palaces, jewels and paintings. It is a fight that has pitched grandson against step-uncle and half-brother against half-brother – an unseemly row that has reverberated around this desert city where she lived a life in the style of another age.
The dispute within the Jaipur royal family is extraordinarily labyrinthine and multi-layered, but in its essence it pitches Gayatri Devi’s grandchildren against two of her step-children.