Prince's Secret Tears Royal Family Apart, Shocks His Nation

Indian prince's secret leads to the queen disowning him, riots in the streets.

ByABC News
July 2, 2007, 11:02 AM

July 2, 2007 — -- Manvendra Singh Gohil grew up in a bubble of prestige and privilege, surrounded by hangers-on who treated him so reverentially that he was 15 years old before he crossed a street by himself.

"I was born with a golden spoon," Singh Gohil, who is now 41 years old, said. "A very luxurious lifestyleat one point we had almost 22 servants for us. Even for a sip from a glass of water, it was the servants who got it for me."

Singh Gohil was leading a life of luxury, but he was also living a lie -- hiding a secret so taboo that it caused riots in the streets of India.

Singh Gohil is a prince, the son of the maharajah -- Indian royalty from a dynasty that is more than 600 years old. Today, though India is a democracy, the Singh Gohils are still honored as if they ruled the land. In fact, the day ABC News met with the king and the prince, they were attending a town ceremony honoring their family.

Singh Gohil's path in life was typical of the Indian elite: A good student, he was sent to boarding schools, took lavish vacations with his family, and went to college to study business and law. He eventually entered an arranged marriage with a beautiful Indian princess, one that marked the union of two prominent royal Indian families.

When asked to describe his marriage, Singh Gohil said, "[It was] the worst decision of my life. It was a total disaster, total failure. I never had any sexual or physical attraction towards her. Nothing worked. The marriage never got consummated. I realized that I had done something very wrong."

After 15 disastrous months of matrimony, Singh Gohil divorced his wife and took her parting words to heart.

"The last time when she met me, she told me, 'I'm giving you a piece of advice. Please don't spoil another girl's life,'" he recalled. "That short and sweet thing hit me directly at my heart and I decided I'm not going to get married again."

But in keeping with Indian tradition, the king and queen of Rajpipla decided it was time to find their only son another wife. Singh Gohil was reluctant to remarry, but had no one to share his feelings with, and said, "I was suddenly feeling as if I [was] falling apart."