The story passed for years from tea sellers to rickshaw drivers to shopkeepers in Old Delhi. In a forest, they said, in a palace cut off from the city, lived a prince, a princess and a queen, said to be the last of a Shiite Muslim royal line. Some said the family had been there since the British had annexed their kingdom. Others said they were supernatural beings. It was a stunning and tragic story. But was it real? On a spring afternoon, while on assignment in India, Ellen Barry got a phone call that sent her looking for the truth. In Chapter 1, we hear of a woman who appeared on the platform of the New Delhi railway station with her two adult children, declaring they were the descendants of the royal family of Oudh. She said they would not leave until what was theirs had been restored. So they settled in and waited — for nearly a decade.
For 40 years, journalists chronicled the eccentric royal family of Oudh, deposed aristocrats who lived in a ruined palace in the Indian capital. It was a tragic, astonishing story. But was it true?