The “Star of India”
ROLLS-ROYCE PHANTOM II
“STAR OF INDIA”
From the early days of motoring, Rolls-Royce cars have been favourites of the Maharajahs of India. The rulers of the preindependence princely states had considerable wealth and were inclined to spend it, on clothes, jewellery, royal palaces, and fine motor cars.
So it was in 1934 that His Highness Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj, the Thakore Sahib (Lord) of Rajkot, decided to replace his 20-year-old Rolls-Royce with a new one – not just any Rolls-Royce, but one that has become renowned as the “Star of India,” named for the famous 563-carat star sapphire.
Dharmendrasinhji Lakhajiraj, the eldest son of Lakhajiraj III Bawajiraj, became ruler upon the death of his father and promptly ordered a RollsRoyce Phantom II to replace the 1909 Barker-bodied Silver Ghost open-drive landaulet that he had inherited from his father. Chassis 188PY was duly completed at the Rolls-Royce works at Derby and dispatched to London coachbuilders Thrupp and Maberly for a handsome and striking all-weather cabriolet body.
Finished most lavishly, the “Star of India” all but disappeared without a trace after the death of the Maharajah in 1940, and only resurfaced in 1965 when British collector, Bill Meredith-Owens, found the car while adventuring in Rajkot.
After much negotiation, he finally exported the car to the UK three years later, where it remained in his car until his death in the 1980s.
Changing hands over the years, the “Star of India” was most recently acquired by Mandhatasinh Jadeja, a former prince of Rajkot and an actual grandson of the original Maharajah. Jadeja brought the enigmatic Rolls-Royce as a present to his father on his 75th birthday, effectively bringing the multi-million dollar Rolls Royce back to the family for the first time since it left the family’s ownership in 1968.