Maharaja Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III (3 March 1923 – 1 August 2010) was the last ruling Maharaja of Dhrangadhra Halvad. He was a well-known academic, politician, member of several distinguished academic bodies, and one of the last surviving rulers of the former princely states of the Indian Empire. He was also the last surviving knight of the Order of the Indian Empire and the last of either of the chivalric orders of British Indian Empire.
Maharaja Meghrajji III was born on 3 March 1923 at Sundar Villas, Dhrangadhra as the second but eldest surviving son of Maharaja Sir Ghanshyamsinjhi Ajitsinhji Sahib Bahadur (1889–1942), the Maharaja of the 13-gun salute state of Dhrangadhra-Halvad and his third wife, Maharani Anand Kunverba Sahiba (1895–1979). He received his earliest education at a local school, then was sent to England, where he first attended Millfield School in Somerset and then the Heath Mount School in Hertfordshire. He then studied at Haileybury College in Hertfordshire before returning to India just prior to succeeding his father as Maharaja.
Maharaja of Dhrangadhra-Halvad
Upon the death of his father in 1942, Mehghrajji succeeded him as Maharaja. He continued his education at St. Joseph's Academy in Dehra Dun and at the Shivaji Military School in Pune. During his reign, he served as the Patron of Talukdari Girassia College and of the Bhandarkar oriental Research Institute. From 1945 to 1947, he was a member of the Standing Committee of the Chamber of Princes.
Meghrajji's reign proved to be a short one, as when independence came to India in 1947, Meghrajji signed an Instrument of Accession to India. In that same year, he was knighted by being appointed a member of the Order of the Indian Empire, one of the last. However, Meghrajji threw himself wholeheartedly into the cause for his new nation, serving as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India from 1947 to 1948. On 15 February 1948, the Maharaja merged Dhrangadhra-Halvad into the United State of Kathiawad and into the Union of Saurashtra just a month later.
Politician and academic
From 1948 to 1952, Meghrajji served as Uprajpramukh (Deputy Rajpramukh) of the state of Saurashtra, also serving briefly (in 1949) as president of its state bank. In 1953, he attended the coronation of Elizabeth II. In 1967, he became a Member of the Gujarat State Assembly, representing Surendranagar. He then served as a Member of Parliament in the Lok Sabha for Jhalavad from 1967 to 1971. Working to keep the tradition of royal India's monarchies alive, Meghrajji simultaneously held the chair of Intended-General for the Consultation of Rulers of Indian States in Concord for India until 1971.
In 1943, Meghrajji married Maharani Shrimati Sri Rajni Brijraj Kunverba Sahiba of Jodhpur. The couple had three sons:
- 1. Sodhsalji Shatrujitdev Sahib, Yuvaraja of Dhrangadhra-Halvad, who succeeded him as titular Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra-Halvad throne.
- 2.Dr. Jayasinhji Jawahirdev Sahib,
- 3.Siddhrajsinhji Gautama Deo Sahib
Since 1966, he had served as the President of Rajkumar College, Rajkot and of the Sri Rajaram Educational Foundation. He was also a life member of the Millfield Society, the Indian Council of World Affairs, the Indian Parliamentary Group, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (all since 1967), the Linguistic Society of India, the Numismatic Society of India, the Heraldry Society of India and the World Wildlife Fund. As well, he was a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. He was also a member of the Cricket Club of India and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
The Maharaja died of complications of old age at Dhrangadhra on 1 August 2010, aged 87. He was succeeded by his eldest son Sodhsalji Shatrujitdev and heir and titular Maharaja to the throne of Dhrangadhra-Halvad.
After an elaborate funeral ceremony at Dhrangadhra, he was cremated.
Titles, style and honours
- 1923–1942: Patvi Namdar Jhalavrit Maharajkumar Shri Meghrajji Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib, Yuvraj of Dhrangadhra Halvad
- 1942–1947: His Highness Shri Shaktimant Jhaladipati Mahamandleshwar Maharana Sriraj Maharaja Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib Bahadur, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra Halvad
- 1947–2010: His Highness Shri Shaktimant Jhaladipati Mahamandleshwar Maharana Sriraj Maharaja Sir Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib Bahadur, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra Halvad, KCIE
- His Highness Shri Shaktimant Jhaladipati Mahamandleshwar Maharana Sriraj Maharaja Sir Mayurdwajsinhji Meghrajji III Ghanshyamsinjhi Sahib Bahadur, Maharaja Raj Sahib of Dhrangadhra Halvad, KCIE, FRAS, FRAI, FRHistS
- King George VI Coronation Medal-1937
- Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire (KCIE)-1947
- Indian Independence Medal-1947
- Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal-1953