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Former Jaipur queen Gayatri Devi dies
Published on 30 Jul. 2009 1:53 AM IST
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Gayatri Devi, the erstwhile maharani of Jaipur who was once considered one of the world's most beautiful women and always stayed in the limelight despite the fall of royalty in India, died here Wednesday. She was 90. She was admitted to the Santokba Durlabhji Memorial Hospital (SDMH) here Tuesday after complaining of breathing problems. Her condition deteriorated Wednesday morning and she was kept on a ventilator. She passed away around 4 p.m., a hospital official said. She has been taken to City Palace in Jaipur, the abode of her step-son and erstwhile Jaipur royal Bhawani Singh. Her funeral is expected to take place at 2.30 p.m. Thursday. "She had developed gastric problems in London and was admitted to a hospital there. She expressed her desire to return and was flown in an air ambulance to Jaipur on July 17. Since then she was in the hospital where she was successfully treated for her gastric problems," an official of SDMH said. "However, on Tuesday she complained of breathing problems and we again admitted her and she was kept on a ventilator. She, however, succumbed to her illness and died peacefully." Gayatri Devi's death comes a day after the passing away of actress Leela Naidu, both of whom were named by Vogue among the 10 most beautiful women in the world. Gayatri Devi was born May 23, 1919, into a royal family, the daughter of the erstwhile maharaja of Cooch Behar, which is now part of West Bengal. An avid polo lover, she was the third wife of Sawai Man Singh II, the former maharaja of Jaipur who also was a famous polo player. She was an active socialite and took interest in other activities too. She started the Maharani Gayatri Devi School (MGD) for girls' education in Jaipur in 1940, and promoted the dying art of blue pottery. In 1962, she entered politics and won with an astounding majority to become a Lok Sabha member from Jaipur. She won the seat again in 1967 and 1971 on the Swatantra Party ticket against the Congress party. She was lodged in Tihar Jail in Delhi during Emergency. Her only son Jagat Singh had died some time back and her grandchildren live abroad. She had a house in London where she would spend some time every year.

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