1893, October 21: A Royal Visitor

On Saturday, October 21, 1893, Prince Victor Duleep Singh, eldest son of Maharaja Sir Duleep Singh -- the last Maharaja of Lahore -- had been to a theatre in Berlin, Germany, with his friend Lord Carnarvon until nearly midnight. Understandably tired, Singh excused himself to bed as soon as the two men returned to their lodgings; but sleep didn't come easy to the Prince.

        Singh always left an electric light on, so the room was well lit; as he relaxed in bed, he found himself studying an oleograph -- a lithographic print textured to resemble an oil painting -- which hung on the wall opposite his bed. It had caught his attention because it looked distinctly like the face of his father, the Maharaja, looking back at him. The image did not look like a portrait, but rather as if the Maharaja's actual head was in the picture frame. The weird image didn't alarm Singh, but it did puzzle him; he felt as if it was actually his father staring back at him.

As if staring back...
[Larger version here]

        Singh got up and walked over to the oleograph to examine the image closer, and found it was a picture of a girl holding a rose and leaning out of a balcony... a very common sort of image. The figure of the girl was small, whereas Singh had seen his father's face filling the whole frame. The face certainly wasn't there now that he was examining the oleograph up close. The next morning, Singh told Lord Carnarvon of the strange experience.

        That evening, Lord Carnarvon arrived back at the residence holding two telegrams addressed to the Prince. As Carnarvon handed them to Singh, Singh immediately said "My father is dead." And so he was.

        The old Maharaja had been in Paris, France, when he suffered an apoplectic seizure -- meaning a blood vessal in his brain was either blocked or ruptured -- on Saturday evening around 9:00PM, and remained unconscious until he died early in the afternoon on Sunday. The Maharaja had often told the Prince that if they were not together when he died, that he would try to come to him...

The Report

        Prince Duleep Singh wrote his account of the matter for Frank Podmore, of the Society for Psychical Research [SPR], who published the  account in the Prince's own words in 1897. Podmore also received a statement from Lord Carnarvon, which confirmed Singh's accounting, explaining that he had been told of the vision by his friend early Sunday morning, and that the telegrams informing Singh of his father's death arrived near midnight that evening. The vision in Germany, therefore, had happened as the Maharaja lay unconscious back in France.

        In answer to a standard SPR question regarding any previous experiences of an odd nature, Singh stated that he had once thought he had seen the form of a schoolboy who had died in the room the Prince was then sleeping in. Singh sounded as if he doubted this matter himself, though, stating he attached no importance to it.

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