Biography of Pratapsinh Rao Gaekwad:
The Maharaja Sayajirao's Grandson was Sir Pratapsinh Rao Gaekwad, who founded The Maharaja Sayajirao University and settled the trust as desired by his Grandfather. This Trust known as Sir Sayajirao Diamond Jubilee and Memorial Trust exists today also and caters to the educational and other needs of the people of the former state of Baroda.
Shrimant Maharaja Sir Pratap Singh Rao Gaekwad (29th June 1908 – 19th July 1968), belonging to the Gaekwad dynasty of the Marathas, was the last ruling Maharaja of Baroda. He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his grandfather Sayajirao Gaekwad III in 1939. In 1947, British India was partitioned into two independent dominions, and Pratapsinh acceded his state to the Dominion of India. By 1949, Baroda had been merged into India.
Pratapsinh retained his title and certain privileges, but in 1951 he was deposed by the Government of India for allegedly irresponsible behavior. He then retired to Europe with his second wife, a woman of notorious reputation, and settled in Monaco. He died in 1968 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad, who had been officiating as Maharaja since 1951.
Pratapsinh founded the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in 1949, as per the wishes of his grandfather, Sayajirao, and settled the "Sir Sayajirao Diamond Jubilee and Memorial Trust", which still exists, providing for the educational and other needs of the people of the former Baroda State.
Pratapsinh was a hedonistic spendthrift who tended to squander his state's money. He had inherited an estate that was conservatively valued more than $US300 million (in 1939 dollars), which included an assortment of jewelry with an estimated value of $US15 million. He went on a six-week tour of the United States in 1948, where he and his second wife were welcomed into the salons of high society. They spent a reported $US10 million during their visit to America. The Indian Government did an audit of Baroda's treasury after the widely read news reports. The auditors concluded that the Gaekwad had taken several interest-free loans from Baroda's treasury which they considered inappropriate. He agreed to pay the money back in yearly installments from his income of $US8 million.
When British India gained independence from Britain as two new dominions, both sought to absorb the princely states. This was a thorny issue, as technically the Princes were independent rulers, and their states were private domains. The British withdrawal from India left a vacuum, with the British releasing the princes from their subsidiary alliances. However, most were militarily weak, and within about a year pressure from the new countries of India and Pakistan had resulted in most of the maharajas and other princes acceding to one of the two. Pratap Singh was so distraught after he signed the Instrument of Accession for Baroda that he wept in the arms of V. P. Menon.
His father was Fatehsinghhrao Gaekwad, and his mother was Padmavati Bai Saheba. His father was heir apparent but died at the age of 23 before he could ascend to the throne. Fatehsinghrao was a disappointment to his parents. Fatehsinghrao's father, Sayajirao Gaekwad III, abstained from alcohol, but Fatehsinghrao was a heavy drinker, which may have contributed to his early death. Sayajirao was also disappointed in his son's mediocre academic performance, which he attributed to his children having so much wealth and too few goals.
Marriages and Children:
Pratapsinghhrao married twice. In 1929, he married Shantadevi (1914-2002), the daughter of Sardar Mansinhrao Subbarao Ghorpade of Hasur in Kolhapur state. The couple had three sons and five daughters:
- Fatehsinghrao Gaekwad II (2 April 1930 – 1 September 1988): He succeeded as the Maharaja of Baroda. He married the only daughter of Maharaja Umaid Singh of Jodhpur. They did not have children, and therefore his brother Ranjitsingh succeeded him as Maharaja of Baroda.
- Mrunalini Raje Gaekwad (25 June 1931 – 1 January 2015): She was given in marriage to Maharaja Anandrao II Puar of Dhar. No surviving issues.
- Premila Raje Gaekwad (17 April 1933 – present): She was given in marriage to the Darbar Sahib (ruling prince) of Jasdan state in Kathiawar,a former princely state of Kathi Kshatriya. She has one daughter and one son, the present Durbar Sahib of Jasdan, who is married to the daughter of Premila's brother Ranjitsinh, Maharaja of Baroda (see below)
- Sarala Raje Gaekwad (1935–present): Renamed Sattvashila Raje Bhonsle upon her wedding, she was given in marriage to her first cousin, Raja Shivram Sawant Bhonsle, ruler of Sawantwadi state, who is the son of her father's sister. She has one son, the present Raja of Sawantwadi, and one daughter.
- Vasundharadevi Raje Gaekwad (4 October 1936 – present): She was given in marriage to the Raja of Sandur in Karnataka, Raja Murarrao Yeshwantrao Ghorpade, who was at one time a minister in the Karnataka Government. She has three sons and one daughter, including the present Raja of Sandur.
- Ranjitsinhrao Gaekwad (8 May 1938 – 9 May 2012): He succeeded his brother as the Maharaja of Baroda. Married to a daughter of the Jadhav family, who are nobles of Gwalior state, he had one son, Samarjitsinh, who succeeded him as titular Maharaja of Baroda, and two daughters. The elder daughter is married to her cousin the ruler of Jasdan in Kathiawar (see above), while the younger daughter has been married twice. Her first husband was Uraaz Bahl, a nephew of the socialite Parmeshwar Godrej, and her second husband is a Bengali corporate executive settled in New Zealand.
- Lalitadevi Raje Gaekwad (3rd December 1939 – present): She was given in marriage to Dr. Amritrao Kirdatt of Dhamtari in Chhattisgarh, a Maratha nobleman. She has five children, being in order of birth Aditya Kirdutt, Kavita Mohite (daughter), Sarita Shreyas (daughter), Shailesh Kirdatt and Chirayu Kirdatt.
- Sangramsinhrao Gaekwad (6th August 1941 – present): He married Asha Rajyalakshmi Devi (born 1946), fourth daughter of Arjun Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana of the Rana family of Nepal. He has one son and one daughter:
- Pratapsinhrao Sangramsinhrao Gaekwad (26th August 1971 – present): He married Praggyashri, youngest daughter of Pyar Jung Thapa, former COAS of the Royal Nepal Army, and a member of the Rana family of Nepal.
- Priyadarshini Raje (1975-present): She is the present Maharani of Gwalior, as wife of Jyotiraditya Scindia, Maharaja of Gwalior. She had one son and one daughter.
In the early 1940s, Pratapsinhrao fell in love with a glamorous married woman, Sita Devi, who was the mother of one child already. He married her in 1943, after she had secured a divorce from her husband by ingenious means. This was in defiance of the anti-bigamy laws that his grandfather had imposed, and Sita was considered ill-suited for the exalted role of his consort. The couple had one son, Sayajirao Gaekwad (8th March 1945 – 8th May 1985), who died unmarried.