“The idea is not to prove, but improve,” says Lakshyaraj Singh Mewar, the scion of the 1500-year-old royal family of Mewar. A direct descendant of luminaries in Indian history like Maharana Sanga and Maharana Pratap, the young royal is exceedingly polite as he reels out facts off the tip of his fingers and is clearly comfortable in his skin as a new age Indian royal.
Growing up in a family which has been documented for 76 generations is no mean task and Lakshyaraj concedes that it can be challenging. “Some might find it troublesome to grow under the spotlight, but then I didn’t ask for it.” he smiles and adds, “It’s a daunting task at a young age when you think of your legacy, but when you grow older and things unfold in front of you, you get better at handling things. It’s a fortune and privilege to be a part of a family like mine and I have learnt that the important thing is not to go through life but to grow through it. However, there is no denying the fact that it was a challenge yesterday, a challenge today and will remain one tomorrow.”
The scion of the iconic dynasty remembers his growing up with a lot of fondness. “I had a great childhood where I had a lot of friends who would come over to play hide and seek or cricket.” he reminisces and adds with a chuckle, “Fortunately there was a lot of space for all of us. I’ve had the same set of friends for over 30 years, and we still go cycling when they come.”
A natty dresser who has inherited the keen sense of fashion that Indians royals are famous for, Lakshyaraj admits candidly that there is a lot of pressure to succeed and live up to the massive expectations which surround him. “There is no denying the pressure. It gets especially tougher in the low moments, but I’m a firm believer that the only way is forward. Even when you are down, you need to work your way forward, pick the pieces and try to reach a happy space. It’s what my forefathers have done. Every day is a realisation that you cannot take things for granted.” he says.
Schooled at Mayo College, Ajmer and later at the Blue Mountains Hotel Management School in Australia, the young prince looks back at the time he spent abroad fondly. He recalls learning about different cultures, working in a café washing dishes and experiencing lessons not imparted by text books. On a recent visit on an invitation by the Australian government, he even went back to the café and shot a video of the place.
India’s relationship with its erstwhile Maharajas has been a continuous love affair with many royals opting to take a plunge in politics and this custodian of the Mewar royal family, feels that a relationship of hundreds of years cannot be changed easily either by law or by change in sensibilities. He adds, “The love and affection bestowed upon by both sides cannot vanish overnight. I’m the first generation of my family to be born after Independence and I realise the power of these emotional bonds. We have been together in good times and bad. What we have done for the people and what the people have done for us will hold us in good stead in future too.”
Lakshyaraj who looks after his family’s heritage hotels says that the hospitality industry is a means to preserve a legacy. He explains, “My grandfather used to say that these palaces were built in and lived in even before America was discovered. People look at it as a business, but for us, we are sharing our homes. It’s a way to keep these white elephants alive!” With Udaipur becoming one of the world’s most popular wedding destinations, the scion of the House of Mewar, is happy that it is helping to generate local employment. He smiles and says, “People might get a Rolls Royce from Mumbai but it will be escorted by an auto from Udaipur.”
- Biggest Indulgence: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
- Most comfortable in: Kurtas and pyjamas sewn by his tailor
- Inspiration: Family, of course, and Ratan Tata and Anand Mahindra
The 34 year old is keen to add his unique identity to his family’s rich heritage and culture. An avid cook, he uses a cooking corollary to make a point and explains, “The same dishes are being made for hundreds of years but it is the cook who makes its special and adds an individual touch. The onus is to add a personal flavour or touch.” He adds, “The House of Mewar is known for its continuity. Consistency is boring but continuity is exciting.”
Last year, the Udaipur royal created a stir on social media with his unique philanthropic campaign, Vastra Daan. Ask him about him and his amused reply comes in a trice, “I was travelling on a long haul flight and was taking recommendations on movies from friends. We finally ended up watching Roti Kapda aur Makaan, which got me thinking about providing essentials to people. We aimed for 15000 sets of clothes to donate to the needy, and I shared the post on my social media. Out of the blue, we received over 3 lakh clothes and I had to stop the campaign as we were overwhelmed by the donations. I just wanted to do something good, for the local community down the road but was inspired by the amount of interest and kindness shown.”
Known as Maharaj Kumar in his hometown, he is all praise for Hyderabad. “The buzz here is quite dynamic. It’s fascinating to see IKEA at one end and the Falaknuma Palace at the other end. It’s a diverse city.” As we discuss future plans (he wants to study further, indulge in his love for poetry and expand on his philanthropy) we cannot but ask him if politics are on the cards. He laughs aloud and answers with tact, “They’vealways been, but I haven’t picked them up yet!”