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Last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar's worst years were Queen Victoria's golden era

In the autumn of 1837, Akbar Shah II, the titular emperor of India, was on his deathbed. His original heir, the irascible Jahangir Bakht, had died a few years ago after overdosing on cherry brandy while in exile in Allahabad, paving the way for the ascension of the king's eldest son, Abu Zafar, as crown prince.

Ordinarily, Abu Zafar would have been the first-choice heir, but there was one problem: he possessed neither a passion for administration nor a desire for power – he was a mystic munshi, with no inclination towards governance of the lands his family ruled, but in name.

Nevertheless, in September 1837, the 61-year old Zafar ascended the throne after his father’s death. Bahadur Shah Zafar was now the emperor of a crumbling

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