The former Maharani of Jaipur, Gayatri Devi, who was listed among the ten most beautiful women in the world by Vogue in the mid-1950s, died in Jaipur today after a prolonged illness. She was 90.
Mrs Gayatri Devi, who was later known as Rajmata Gayatri Devi, was discharged from hospital only a few days ago after being treated for gastro-intestinal problems. She was admitted again to the hospital yesterday for a lung infection, sources said.
After Independence, Mrs Gayatri Devi took an active interest in politics. She was a founder-member of the Swatantra Party and was elected three times to the Lok Sabha.
As it has turned out, Mrs Gayatri Devi's death has come just a day after the passing away in Mumbai of the well-known actress, Leela Naidu, who was the other Indian in that list of ten most beautiful women published by Vogue.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was amongst thosee who condoled the death of Mrs Gayatri Devi, describing her as a close friend and an exceptional human being.
"In her public life she worked with devotion for the socio-economic development of her people. She was an international celebrity, named in a list of the ten most beautiful women of her times. She contributed substantially to the cause of the uplift of the girl child. She also promoted the dying art of blue pottery in Rajasthan," Dr Singh said.
Mrs Gayatri Devi was born into the royal family of Cooch Behar to Prince Jitendra Narayan and Prince Indira Raje, who belonged to the Gaekwad family of Baroda. She was married to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur in 1940. They had one child, Jagat Singh.
She won the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat in 1962 with a landslide victory and retained it in 1967 and 1971 on an anti-Congress plank. She served five months in Delhi's Tihar jail for alleged tax law violations and retired from politics after that.