An oral history interview with Elizabeth Eaton Cooper

Life in an Indian Palace

By Roslyn Cook

Childhood during World War 2 to teenage rebellion in 50s

Blackouts, rationing, school in St Johns Wood to giving English conversation in Italy

Courtship and Marriage to the Maharaja 's brother

Emigrating to America, wooed by the Prince and back to England to marry in secret

Marriage in Highgate and in India

Challenging disapproval of mixed race marriage in 50s London

Child rearing in India

Getting used to an aristocratic life in India

Settling down to Palace Life 1961/2

Duties and responsibilities: visiting the Mission Hospital

Running the State when the Maharaja is away

Dealing with local problems in the villages

Life for the young princess

Sends daughter to the convent and manages the servants

Daily Life in India

Marriage disrupted by war between India and China

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'An oral history interview with Elizabeth Eaton Cooper' page

Born in Surrey, Elizabeth was a child during the second world war and spent time in Italy with an aristocratic family after finishing school. She returned to London still restless.

An Indian Romance

Whilst arranging sponsorship to move to New York, she met an Indian prince, Ranbir Singh, who fell madly in love with her. She describes their exotic courtship and secret wedding in London in 1958 before their families came to accept their marriage. They went to live in India in the early 1960s, with their baby daughter Lakshmi.

A Royal Life in India

Elizabeth describes royal life in India in great detail and the daily responsibilities it involved. Trouble came with conflict between India and China over Tibet,  and they ultimately separated.

Ranbir's brother was the Maharaja of Ratlam, who he succeeded as Head of the Royal House of Ratlam in 1991.


Ratlam, known historically as Ratnapuri, is a city in the Malwa region in Madhya Pradesh and a major railway junction on the western railway lines. 

This page was added by Roslyn Cook on 25/10/2010.
Comments about this page

Dear Mrs. Eaton Cooper, thank you so much for these amazing records. I really enjoyed listening to your story - it's like watching a movie or reading a novel - or even better, as it makes me imagine everything you are talking about. Thank you for recording your memories and for putting them on the internet to share them with other people and pass them to new generation. It's always interesting to hear about past times, but your story is really exceptional. In addition, it makes me remember a similar record (with a different story, of course) made by my grandma to preserve our family history. Thank you, best wishes, Lenka, Prague, Czech Republic.

By Lenka
On 16/12/2010

Dear Elizabeth, I was compiling a photo album of my childhood in which I have photos of you Ranbir and Lakshmi. I browsed the net and came across your recording. it was fascinating to hear you; some of the stories I remember. I still have bangles and wooden elephants you gave me. a wonderful account, Rosanna Ellis nee Curnock

By Rosanna Ellis
On 15/08/2011

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