Victoria and Abdul

I see that Victoria and Abdul - the movie - is available on both Blue-Ray and DVD from Monday. Starring Dame Judy Dench – yes, the same Judy Dench who was killed off in Skyfall – and Ali Fazal, the film seems to have attracted rave reviews. The Times gave it massively a huge four star review as did the Radio Times and Total Film.
The Daily Mail termed it ‘Brilliant’ and perhaps oddly Good Housekeeping used the word ‘Dazzling’ when reviewing it. Women & Home were less enthused, saying simply ‘Judi Dench is superb’ which could be a reference to anything. Perhaps Dame Judy is a superb painter & decorator or maybe she excels in interplanetary art. Who could know.
No matter, I am sure that the film is an entertaining one but I am a wee tad jealous.
I featured the tale of Abdul Karim in my new book and yes, I have had some really positive reviews – but nothing on the scale of those four-star commendations.
In case you can’t wait until Monday to watch the DVD, or indeed the Blue-Ray, here is a wee extract from my take on the stormy tale of the man whom unkind members of the Royal Household nicknamed ‘the brown Brown’:

Abdul Karim was just 24 when he arrived from India to wait at the Royal table in 1887. The Monarch was then 68 and it was just four years after John Brown's death. Karim had entered the Royal Household as a "gift from India" and within a mere few months he was promoted well beyond ordinary servant status and had become a close confidant and regular companion to the head of the British Empire.
He was soon given the title of the Queen’s Indian Secretary and the promotion, over the heads of longer serving servants, scandalised the Royal Household and enraged members of the Royal Family.
A set of official Royal photographs taken by Aboyne photographer Robert Milne only made things worse. Taken within Karim Cottage, they appear to show a diminutive Victoria, pen in hand, examining Royal correspondence with a rather smug looking Karim standing in the background.
One picture, published in The Daily Telegraph, was captioned “The Queen’s life in the highlands. Her Majesty receiving a lesson in Hindustani from the Munshi Hafiz Mohammed Abdul Karim.”
On the face of it, there was nothing to suggest impropriety and in fact the portrait clearly reflected an impeccably correct mistress and servant relationship. However, a storm of indignation soon arose. Some detected a hint of a smile on the Monarch’s face and leapt to a tabloid conclusion. Others, such as the Queen’s personal physician Sir John Reid, went into attack mode. In a personal letter to Karim, he informed the man that he was “very low class and never can be a gentleman!”
When Victoria announced that she was considering a Knighthood for Karim, her son Bertie, the Prince of Wales became apoplectic and urged Dr Reid to take more direct action. Reid did not mince his words and promptly threatened to have his Royal patient declared insane.’

The entire tale is of course available, alongside many other splendid stories from the North-east of Scotland from Amazon, either as a Kindle download or by ordering the paperback version of my new book:  The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire - by Duncan Harley


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