Queen Victoria's Last Love

Queen Victoria's Last Love
Radio Times
Review by:
Emma Sturgess

Abdul Karim was a broodingly handsome 24-year-old, dressed in yards of silk, when he arrived from India to serve at Queen Victoria’s table. Having cooked curries for the Queen, he inveigled himself into the position of munshi (teacher) and gave her lessons in Hindustani. By 1897, he was her secretary and rock, and she was ready to add a knighthood to his chestful of medals. At this point, her family threatened to have her declared insane.

We all know about John Brown, but Karim’s disruptive rise and rise is more obscure – perhaps because the lords and ladies of the royal household didn’t like it one bit. Variously described as conceited, pushy, roguish, domineering and manipulative, it seems he didn’t attempt to win any popularity contests apart from the big one. The Queen’s protection, and possibly love, were enough.

About this programme

The monarch's relationship with Indian servant Abdul Karim. He was initially employed as a waiter but soon rose to become Victoria's confidant and teacher, giving her daily lessons in Hindustani. His position violated racial and class taboos of the period, and the presence of a Muslim at the heart of the royal household caused problems for the politics of Empire, leading to a dramatic confrontation between the Queen and her family in 1897, which threatened to disrupt her Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Narrated by Geoffrey Palmer.

Cast and crew


Geoffrey Palmer
Veronica Clifford
Kushal Pal Singh


Rob Coldstream
Executive Producer
Denys Blakeway
Rob Coldstream