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A Historic Insult : Maharaja Jai Singh Used Rolls Royce to Collect Garbage

Never judge a book by its cover, this well-known English proverb came too late for the world’s most famous automobile company Rolls Royce, who made the mistake of offending a nobleman of Rajasthan and had to pay for the consequences.

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maharaja jai singh alwar

maharaja jai singh alwar

rolls royce garbage collector

rolls royce garbage collector

rolls royce alwar streets

rolls royce alwar streets

It all happened back in the early twentieth century, when relations between the elite class of Rajasthan and British were at its peak. Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner had already become a member of the British Imperial War Cabinet, and the other Royals were having leisurely visits in the Albion.

In the year 1920, Maharaja Jai Singh of Alwar was enjoying a similar visit in London. He was walking on the Bond Street in his casual attire, when he found himself just a few paces away from the showroom of the esteemed Rolls Royce cars.

The patronage of Indian royalty for the luxury car was no secret. Maharaja himself was quite an automobile enthusiast and was known for buying at least three at a time. In normal circumstances, Rolls Royce would have had a great sale that day, but a discriminating salesman turned the flow of the events against them.

Upon entering the showroom Maharaja started inquiring about the specifications and prices of the different models that were available there. The British salesman, instead of answering his polite queries, glanced at the casually dressed Maharaja with contempt and asked him to leave the showroom, considering him to be an indigent Indian.

Angered by this insult, Maharaja returned to his hotel and ordered his servant to make a call to the showroom to tell them that Maharaja of Alwar is interested in purchasing a few cars.

Afterwards, Maharaja went to the showroom and was warmly welcomed by all the salespersons. A red carpet was spread ceremoniously, all the staff bowed in front of him, in short, he received a customary regal reception as was due for his rank.

Maharaja bought all the cars that were available at the time, six to be exact, and paid the full amount including the shipping charges to transporting the vehicles to India.

Upon reaching his country, he called the municipality department of the city. He asked them to use those six new Rolls Royces for collecting the garbage of the city. His orders were complied with, and soon this degrading gesture became known to the world.

As soon as the news found its way to the land of Europe, the luxury car, a symbol of wealth and high society status, became a laughing stock of the people. No one wished to be associated with the car that was used by Indians for the transportation of city’s waste. The sales of the car speeded downhill, making the apology an imperative action for the company owners.

Soon an apology letter was telegrammed to the Maharaja in Alwar. Along with the telegram, perhaps to make their regrets sound more sincere, the company gifted Maharaja with six brand new Rolls Royces!

The gesture had the desired effect; Maharaja accepted the company’s apology and stopped using those cars from carrying the city trash. The reputation of the company gradually regained its previous position, which, fortunately, it still carries till date.


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