A sad moment in history related to the home that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will move into next year.
At Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, the first Indian member of the royal household and Queen Victoria’s trusted aide Abdul Karim, suffered the cruelty of watching his letters from Queen being burned — just hours after she had been buried in the Royal Mausoleum a short walk away.
The Queen had become close to Abdul, whom she called the Munshi, or teacher, and learned Urdu from him. She loved to sit and talk with him at her homes in Scotland, the Isle of Wight and at Windsor.
Queen Victoria used to bring European royals to visit him and his wife, Khadija, for tea in the cottage a stone’s throw from Windsor Castle.
Queen and Abdul closeness sparked racism and jealousy among the court and other members of the Royal’s family — and ultimately, just hours after Victoria was buried in 1901, a group of senior royals and courtiers came to his home and ordered that all his letters from the monarch be destroyed.
Abdul lived at Frogmore Cottage for around 10 years until he was sent back to Agra, India, after Victoria’s death. The Queen had allowed him to decorate the cottage how he liked.
“She would bring European royalty with her to visit. They would often go there for tea and meet the munshi and his wife. Her diaries are full of mentions of meeting the Munshi and his wife for tea.” says Shrabani Basu, the author of book Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant.
Just as enlightened Victoria was a monarch open to other races and people and “ahead of her time,” as Basu calls her, there are parallels with Meghan — the first mixed-race woman to marry into the royal family, now moving into the same home he enjoyed.
Sadly, there is unlikely to be anything left of Abdul, as the cottage was later converted into four separate staff quarters.
Frogmore was one of three cottages Victoria gifted Abdul, along with Osbourne on the Isle of Wight and Karim Cottage at Balmoral in Scotland.