Burma’s Misplaced Royals | Timeline

published on July 2, 2020


I first came to Burma a decade ago to

study its history it's a story in which

my country Britain is in many ways the

villain so it was surprising when after

decades in the shadows

Burma's royal family decided to share

their story with an English


my name is Misha wing and great-grandson

of King people the last king of Burma

my great-grandfather losses Kingdom and

was exiled with his family to India 100

years after he died is still entombed in

India British government refused

permission for him to be transported Oh



I'm your man I want to walk only for


this country was giving as a present to

Queen Victoria it's a new year present

we just imagine this is a country not a

thing to give us a present now we are

gaining some dignity but we have lost



I first met so win in 2014 when he was

managing the national under-19 football

team after decades is a civil servant

he seemed almost defined by national

duty and as I got to know more about him

it wasn't hard to see why if history had

taken a different course so win would be

the king of Burma today

this is wooden palace this way our

great-grandfather was excised this is

the story very good beginning not the

very good end

we call it golden palace but actually

this is rebuilt reconstructed not always

the one already the ones who had just

tried in second world war

do you think they've done a good job I'm

not happy to be wrong but then I tried

to accommodate and try to help you but I

personally I do not want to be here


since 1885 the palace grounds have been

used as a military base first by the

occupying British and now by the

country's armed forces when I came in I

have to give my identity and I very

disappointed yes Nick I will not come

again next time so you have a worry that

they wouldn't let you in no I'm very

confident they cannot do that but you

prefer that they didn't ask for your ID

on the to know my my wife said don't say


I was about to understand soldiers if I

see something I think they were

surprised are you choking hey this is

not a place to joke you will not believe

it and they will not believe

I am great-grandson of the King and and

who nobody will see like this only those

who are not with the

so this is the situation so when there's

by the railway in the country's largest

city Yangon thousands pass by his house

every day unaware of the Royal in their

midst my classmate

they always choking me hey when I go to

take back their Palace they encourage me

you have to fight for it they are

telling in front of others he's big

grandson of King Bebo and everybody's

looking Enzi worried you know this

moustache man he's a great-grandson of

King before and he's going to take back

the royal palace the truth very



for me what was interesting was that a

lot of people had no idea what had

happened to their royal family

I was intrigued that the King had been

exiled not too far away from where I

live and that I knew nothing about it


I know that the third generation from

kinky ball is still alive I love them

but a couple of them I think a lot of

ordinary people don't even know that

descendants and members of the immediate

royal family are still around but again

this was something that was very

submerged and very hidden for quite a

long time over the late 20th century

there were just so many stories stories

within stories the incredible twists and

turns their lives took was I mean really

stranger than any credible work of

fiction that one could have written the

position of the monarchy was all

pervading I mean they were regarded as

demigods ruler of the land and sea Lord

of the Rising Sun King of all the

umbrella bearing Chiefs master of many

white elephants everything they ate was

out of gold balls gold spoons even the

spittoon they spat in jewels made of

solid gold that was an institution that

had lasted for so many centuries so it

was in the psyche of the people

it was a militant aggressive in many

ways expansionist power that dominated

the entire landscape from Bhutan to


until they realized that there was

another regional power of the British

East India Company which was expanding

fast in India the third anglo-burmese

war lasts only a couple of weeks but the

pacification of the country lasted many

years and cost thousands of lives that

the displacement of tens of thousands

other people's was a violent transition

this is a cartoon from punch magazine

made in 1885 of the British soldier

booting out a drunken tebow with his

brandy bottle falling our forces booted

out sad thing is King Timor never drank

he was just portrayed as a drunk and to

justify England's reason for throwing

out a incapable King


in the morning they were told that the

British forces had arrived in Mandalay

that night probably nobody slept in the

palace I think it was a huge shock to

them when they realized that the British

was not accepting their armistice

you know requests I don't think the

British had imagined that they would

depose the King so quickly so no

preparation had been made for his exile

where would he be sent where would the

long term stay be no house had been

prepared so they said me wanting

Thibault in a place where he's going to

be safe well looked after and completely



those days the only access to Rukmini

was by ship and four months of the year

it was totally cut off because of the


as one of the British officers put it

only the most intrepid traveler would go

to her at Langara to see the king he

died of a broken heart I feel the Queen

wanted to carry him back to Burma but

the British didn't want that so they

decided that he had to be entombed in a

permanent tomb in Ratna Gilly and they

selected the site and they insisted that

he be entombed before she left the

shores of India quit sappy Anathoth was

entombed in Raghu and I think the family

still feels that it's not a final

entombment this is the tune where the

last Queen was buried hardly anyone

knows that she came back at all let

alone that she's been buried in the

heart of Yangon for more than 90 years

but so when's cousin devi is the Queen's

great granddaughter and she's grown up

next door we all arise

but that drug lodges for people and for

our country we have a duty to tooth

because that blood is running in our

body I want to talk freely yes princess

but for me alone I have to trade my own

space you see as an environmentalist


like her cousin

so when not being on a throne hasn't

dampened devyse sense of duty

I shall be called green princess

we are the human beings so we must look

after our home

this is the earth planet

tomorrow engines are active inside our

name Michael taught him Maho bamboo

nylon donut you do – I am a time gg-get


come on Molly aha I'm a dance teacher

kanna-chan Avari our royal families is

living with poverty you see new

generations don't know there is a queen

tools here we see and what's the last

king of Burma named also in Thailand

they love their king and in England in

Japan all the monarchies countries they



that's as a history we are born with the

history it's right or wrong we have to

accept so win has made it his life's

mission to bring the last king of Burma

home at first I could see why it felt

like the natural thing to do but I soon

found out things weren't that simple one

day it'd have to be moved

maybe nation edition maybe my like

grandsons generation but have to be

moved it's our duty we are the only

living memories of the last king if we

didn't who will do that

it's not the right time my first cousin

I'm sowwy he came along and said we're

going to put this issue on the

Parliament I said your brother we can't

do even the Union in our in our country

you discussed this with David tons in

that's why then you got the answer got

an answer but the food that we discussed

and he said don't do that

I said I will it's my duty it's not the

time if all is completely peace then he

should sheesh his body should come wrong

but not in this time we have so many



it's important for the people here to

know their history you have so many kids

today and young people in their 20s and

30s who know almost nothing about the

history of this country beyond a few

lines that they might remember from





it's deeply unhelpful the way in which

history is taught history has been so

devalued and so linked to political

agenda in this country people's

connection to their past is lost it's

important in any country but in a

country where people are really trying

to think about what their options are

what they want to see 20 30 years down

the road in terms of the way in which

their country's society evolves I think

it's it's it's indispensable thing for

people to have a more nuanced and

complex sense of their history


the emotional power of the royal family

was always a threat to the country's

rulers and those in charge worked hard

to keep them out of the spotlight but

the government was finally relaxing its

grip and they're given the family

permission to gather publicly in the old

royal capital of Mandalay it was a rare

outing for the Kings only surviving

granddaughter 94 year old aunty sue

life is a very complicated matter my

grandparents were the king and the queen

of Burma and the annexation came my

parents were in trouble the Japanese

came they were in trouble and the people

were shot and slapped and these things

you know and seeing this all this a

miserable life

I just took life as it came I didn't I

didn't sort of repent on anything this

is the first time that we have the

opportunity to do this the other years

we we were not permitted to do it nobody

is trying to redirect the monarchism we

don't want any more troubles in the

country it's really from the royal





yeah even after the British left in 1948

Burma's Royals learned that spending

time together attracted unwelcome

government attention auntie sue and her

93 year old brother tour PR has spent

most of their lives living far apart so

they had a bit of catching up to do if

the word tow is there then with

something royal about it

my name is taka so our job is a royalty

and once you know Berman's are still mad

above their kings you go anywhere in

Alabama and ask people still go and pay

respect to the throne

see all happy faces they are our

relatives descendants and this is my

very first time to be with them you will

some here at the front which makes you

quite special here we are the only

surviving direct descendant we don't

know when we will pop up my sister

passed over White's maybe that's why I

do do we let me go where I want to go

before I die

stand straight she's treated it too much

sit straight


this is only the beginning I believe

before this kind of occasions is not

much recognized by the authorities it

was a rare day in the spotlight for the

family watching them it struck me how

even now a hundred and thirty years

after the annexation this country was

still dealing with the legacy of a

British act of war that almost no one in

my country even knew about

in 1948 after over a century of

interfering in Burma Britain rapidly

withdrew leaving a nation divided and

traumatized assembly representing the

people of Burma have decided future

should lie outside Burma's new leaders

faced the enormous task of uniting the

many ethnic and religious groups the

country quickly descended into civil war

and in 1962 a young general emerged

promising to restore order and unite the

nation the bureaucracy he built

dominated politics for half a century

but it failed to put an end to the

fighting which still rages today he was

a real test what took everything into

his hands

I knew him as a colonel he was I mean

more liberal then but then he he had the

taste of power and power corrupts

at the core of modern Burmese politics

has been this negative reaction to the

way in which people felt the country was

pulled into the 20th century there was a

desire to go back to something that

people thought was authentic and

pre-colonial the military regime that

took over in 1962 really though was an

extreme sort of version of that it did

reflect this kind of wider sentiment of

wanting to put the Burmese back in

charge of the country

we live nearly 16 years in the Damned


there is no trust there is no light we

can do anything so now the road to

democratic country we have to fill



in 2015 Burma held its first credible

election in more than 50 years the

country was pinning its hopes on veteran

democracy activists and some Succi to

lead her party to power after almost two

decades under house arrest people across

the country seized their chance to have

a say in how their country was run

the election was a big step forward but

while fighting across the country goes

on the military will continue to hold

the balance of power in a system known

as disciplined democracy and the voice

of the commander-in-chief of the Armed

Forces general min online still carries

huge weight

Upali Tom O'Donnell a navy into the room

on it is a suit on ice he attended a

debate with a man whose home was today

at 8:30 go this house hotel do

day-to-day job debuted wala routine

Roger Navarro now every be a doormat I

wanna see but despite reservations the

election assured in a level of freedom

and opportunity the burmese hadn't known

in decades for so wind that meant one

thing it was time to go to india and

start work on bringing his

great-grandfather home at last

I think not not a vacation are they

it's a kind of a neverending story that

we wish this to end not in a tragic way

to make everybody happy

Emma Indian British also

it's my favorite sixth time are they

checking every checking

this is a never-ending mission I can't

believe opposed the more you are

involved the more were to do science

never eat grass they will rather die if

there is nothing to be

so this is the kind of spirit in our


so when and his family made this journey

once before in the darkest days of

military rule the government swore them

to secrecy and these family tapes

remained hidden until now

in 1993 we performed the last rites that

was not performed when my great

grandfather passed away when I got me a


locates the big trees coming out from

the tombs it was in an imaginary that is

about to be demolished or disappear



this belongs to our history in our

history also

these are the floor plans of the royal

residence to which King Tibor moved it's

quite a grand building it was on 27

acres of land there were 16 spacious

rooms the king by then had been so

beaten into submission that he called it

the palace

I feel at home because these settings

are very familiar with me you see that

this chase these are original ones

oh yes yeah sit down for oh yeah just to

post yeah okay see you see please listen

we that like this very majestic seats

yeah the last king of Burma is buried in

a rundown corner of Ratna Giri

next to his tomb stands an empty shell

intended for his eldest daughter who

died here leaving a new Indian branch of

the royal family behind her ashes were

last seen in the local tax office and

the family is still searching for them

ordinarily I do not want to be a liar

No welcome arrived means have lots of

responsibilities but I cannot see

tonight that because blood inside me

reminded me just now I got the feeling

your majesty let us leave from here

you'll be here again very soon to follow

up your return back home


every year the family holds a secret

ceremony in Yangon to mark pardon the

day when King v-ball was sent into exile

and Burma was changed forever

he sent to work in a hurry by British

government that's called the power of

but December 2016 marked a hundred years

since the king died in India and in this

centenary year so win was granted

permission to hold a special ceremony at

the golden palace in Mandalay the place

where the exile story began it was a bit

of a change from having to show his idea

the door just two years earlier where

the country belongs we lost everything

since 1885 of course he came here and

took the country by force you can call

it the boring British tomorrow is the

131st Paro moody we never held this kind

of Aramis ordinary before in this place

this will be the very first time

baramura turning at some god-awful how

good each imagine opening act social got

a complete car you generally if you are

in java you dad sees really enjoying

himself but nowadays there are many


this was a historic milestone for the

royal family but watching so when i was

starting to wonder how the rest of the

family felt about the direction he was

taken to step by step of course my dad

ambition is so long turner vision my

father right now you probably seems just

at the out divergence but in a way

inspired by the success of the day so

win decided to take the whole family to

india to mark the exact day of the last

King's death and at the same time dozens

of senior monks informed him they were

coming to and so was the head of the

Armed Forces but no I think going bigger

and bigger I just met one of the senior

monk with accompanying us that's why we

are late

this is the history for our country for

the centenary


while so winds celebrated in Mandalay

Devi stayed in Yangon to oversee the

pardoning ceremony as she always had but

try as she might she couldn't avoid the

excitement that was building around the

family road in a car or to recharge upon

sangoma say unashamed Dharma no some

shouting bottom a lab you know the range

where do they make Mira

no no miss Oliver hello Bertram and me

today are near luang ani not need each


Amelia okay transient rule that mean the

wine yeah

Harry tissue near Acharya Holyrood

looking about Manero thousand Katrina

said so we are delaria segment Ariano

painting Vario pas ma la lumière oh no

arrow toledo jahnava para moobot on

China's new tenido la na sora yep

chakana para una muchacha para Munawar

toha McCammon a kana para move nay they

are tones an attorney today I am ma Fudo

ta da para moody hamare chip Janeiro

tolima H on me diarrhea Mecca pata chala

me table demon Buffalo lovely darling

I'll be Malala OB de memoire no a la vie

Terral own era top our parent a tag

apollo kappa at ASEAN Lumia you dare my

own wedding Allah alone a team Agha Luna

sued way cos when okay so long LOD

Poirot nickimja can attorney lan imam

abu el rato knowledge apollo-era Grega

cochinita typo

yo Pete Abba yah go from 100 UT by dou T

Barama needy who will tell you when to

Barama tell you when Adam Sheba rayappa

yeah just remember

the day before the family left for India

they got together at so winds house Devi

had to pull out of the trip in the last

minute on health grounds but she come to

say her farewells it was the first time

she spoken to so win since her

announcement on part of Uday any last

minute worries no more oh boy

there was many oh my from morning till

evening many worries because I very well

take your worries on your own brother no

no no you know why

of course these worries are very

important if I cannot saw anything will

happen this is the way that we have to

do it well what is for the country no

not for me for my country what am I

gonna do this crying family is for the

fun for the country not for me there's

nothing for me we have to for the right

time brother

it's not yet no no it's my time you know

why I'm I'm already 70 I cannot not

another 2 or 3 years you told that you

are 70 so you are doing it for yourself

no the country majority wants to bring

back majority wants to bring no brother

if you want peace for the whole world

you can carry back our great-grandfather

body here because you see my point of

view is very different from everyone you

must first of all you have to make your

country wealthy and rich then then we

are hundred years over day did not for

us for our next next Nixon

I don't know fully democratic country


everybody's saying democracy but this

very fancy word

I actually I do not understand what

democracy is really I do not under

because I was in states

I know the American system of how their

government are running in America and

also in the in your place also in all

over the war I do not like party


really cause party is for the power so

what are you going to substitute to

develop our countries but it sister but

the mana you must choose it because okay

I think of that and you have any idea

what you got any idea idea of my own so

you can you explain a brief on that

kindly and I will understand based on

humans you see what is Islam or

Christians or black or white or leftists

or rightists I don't care i base it on

human oh oh oh we are all humans why

that's you called too high st we want

this country to be strong to have our

own system to value ourselves we need to

work together very closely among our

name our people what am i any national

team why fighting each other you know

who studied this he been British haha

but still they have to mention many

stories I think that watching you two

have very different opinions

you're still the family this is the

natural we are the cousin only first

cousin from same family there's a

different ways of ideas thinking this

unity in diversity because we have we

have to be united but we have diversity

you're thinking what would you say that

you agree on do better men of this

country yeah yes don't want our own ways

because he is the internationalist I'm

your MA I want to walk only Poornima

really not very big different yes you

know yes a very different big platform

you know why working for Mama so what

will you choose only for the little Hema

for the holder


how do we gain independence there was

one very big movement to bring back the

remains of the King DeVoe

even the Prime Minister who knew decided

to donate fifty thousand chats are they

for the donation for that course

you know what happened the then British

ambassador informed and Prime Minister

who knew you know what the phrase he

used the British ambassador that this

peeping talk lie

after a lifetime of anonymity so wind

flew into a military airstrip with the

most powerful man in the country general

men online accompanied by dozens of the

country's top soldiers politicians and

holy men all there to mark the centenary

of his great-grandfather's death in one

way I think to see the repatriation of

King people's remains to have a proper

burial if for no other reason than to

see a royal funeral and to see the

ritual and the imagery that would go

with that would be very interesting I

don't think it would necessarily be an

unwelcome thing whether it would be the

best thing I think it's a different


senior general wishes to bring back home

vice president and senior general he

said why not bring this back home yes we

are trying for many years ok let's do it

the day of the centenary had finally

arrived and the town was buzzing with

press and police all keen to hear what

so Winn had to say

so my question is to mr Slovenia is the

morning we make one of the visitors who

say that you have to as a personal

electric back from the very beginning

they are not wanted to come here but

they were being forced to this is a kind

of a human situation we lost everything

I like to make you another question to

you if you were in my place but will you



it was exactly a hundred years ago that

the last king of Burma died here

thousands of miles from home

when I first started following the story

of the Burmese royal family I thought it

would be a story about the past but now

I realized this wasn't history at all

Britain's legacy in this corner of the


is still raw and the next chapter of our

shared story was being written right in

front of me


Joe La Jolla every time I am young Nia

Nia Nia which is these are the banja

about a

now more data

don't you soupy al-gaddafi will it be

Roman Empire you deal in Ezra banjaara

body the impact of the Exile of the King

was huge on Burma having a king on the

throne was a sense of security a sense

of who they were it led to a lot of

unrest a lot of loss of identity their

religion being violated institutions

that had existed for generations

everything disappeared El Dorado in

Burma China

whoo Thank You pico de Kooning

hootenanny hootenanny surgery not lesser

Nina Juba other projects are Raja Azul

Giovanni for the Permian the Royal

period in a way reminds them of the

failure of the country to stand up

against colonial aggression yet there's

almost nothing else to go back to if one

is looking for a sort of non colonial

model of what the country can be when

you have a foreign country coming and

occupying a country it creates a break

with the past that's unnatural

I think because Burma's colonial

experience was in some ways so traumatic

do you see there's much more severe

reactions to Colonials and then

one season almost any other part of the

expedition party cannot Portuguese

Indian a carryover say good luck honey

yeah come on mrs Saotome go to Armenia

this is the place where my

great-grandfather used to see the

Caribbean Sea from this point for the

rest of his life the place of no return

I do not do walk internationally or to

human beings or it's too too far or too

high or it's very simple if the

country's future is bright we all will

be bright also we are part of the

country we are part of the citizen we

are just a simple family we can see

before we are the loss trial not anymore


now in 21st centuries we must understand

each other we doesn't hate myself will

mostly can hate British but not the

British people's only the one group who

is and for the power those days not the

British people people are saying do you

like to bring back the monarchy no

it's not the time it's the 21st century

but the new generations must learn the

histories the countries the kings and

queens you must not forget I don't want

to be a king nobody is asking me to be a

king yet but if I do not want to go if

if so there's no way of Queen to develop

if I don't want to restore monarchy

because our country is suffered a lot


there's never been an inclusive identity

but has been allowed to emerge in this

country if that is not corrected in some

way you may see an end to the armed

conflicts but I think you will still not

have the kind of society that will be

able to cope with a lot of the problems

to come awareness of the royal family in

Burma would help people understand their


it's a reclamation of history which is

possible now which was not possible

under many years of military rule that's

all I know

we always wanted the Kings and the

Queen's body to be product now what to


times have changed things have changed

people's outlook our chain so let let

them lie and piss me I always wear

flowers in my hair especially Jasmine's

my mother told me if you don't have

jasmine at least wear a flower one

flower in your head you will look more

royalty so I always have not because I

want to be a royalty but because I want

to be pretty

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