One of the most fascinating stories about Queen Victoria's personal life was her relationship with her 'personal attendant' John Brown. Brown was born on a farm at Crathie in 1826 and was employed at Balmoral at the time of its purchase by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He rose to become Prince Albert's personal gillie and then Queen Victoria's servant. But after the premature death of Albert in 1861 he became a great support for Queen Victoria who mourned Albert for the rest of her life. Between 1861 and his death in 1883 Brown received many gifts from Victoria and at least two medals specially created for him, one of which also carried an annuity. Brown wore these medals - the Faithful Servant Medal and the Devoted Service medal - with pride. The Queen commissioned a large portrait of him (below) and after his death she had a life sized statue of him erected in the grounds of Balmoral Castle. (It was reputed to be so life-like that superstitious members of the Balmoral staff kept well away from it whenever possible.)
According to new findings, John Brown's hand written 'autobiography', letters and photographs secretly held by the descendants of John Brown, tell a completely different story about the relationship between him and Queen Victoria.
The evidences, as shown to The Daily Telegraph, have come out in India and Pakistan.
They chart the extraordinary rise of the 24-year-old clerk from Agra in Northern India who was picked as one of two Indian table waiters to serve Queen Victoria during her Golden Jubilee. They reveal her "maternal" care and concern for his welfare and the hostility and racism Victoria believed John Brown faced as he made his ascent.
Picture of John Brown (Munshi Abdul Karim.)
John Brown wrote: "This is the journal of my life at the court of Queen Victoria from the Golden Jubilee of 1887 to the Diamond Jubilee of 1897. I've been but a sojourner in a strange land and among a strange people."
Queen Victoria always protected John Brown.
The sudden rise of Munshi Abdul Karim was strongly resented by the sahibs. They did their best to snub him and put him in his place. The Queen stood by him. She went out of her way and proposed his name for knighthood. There were loud protests and she had to withdraw her proposal. Instead, she conferred the Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (CIE) on him, along with a new title, RVO (Royal Victorian Order), and honored his father— who was a hakeem in Agra’s prison hospital — with the title, Khan Bahadur. The racial pettiness of the Whites can be gauged from an incident. Once Karim sent a Christmas card to Lord Elgin, viceroy of India. Instead of thanking him, Elgin questioned the audacity of a small-time munshi in sending him a greeting card.