The Sunday Leader

Sri Lankans In Search Of Royalty

Most Sri Lankans have a secret yearning to be a royal. This is probably because we are steeped in history with our glorified kings and queens despite all the current debates about equality, democracy, human rights etc.  Only a few will admit to such secret yearnings such as the self proclaimed reincarnation of Dutu Gemunu of Kelaniya but most others if asked for their ancient lineage will not deny but shrug it off with an evasive: ‘Aney just go men’ or ‘pallayang bung’.
They like to be royal.

Royalty in the making

Statue of King Narendra Singhe, Statue of King Dutu Gemunu and Dr. Mervyn Silva starring as King Dutu Gemunu

Some political analysts are of the opinion that a potential Sri Lankan royalty is in the making .In  recent  times we have had our quota of ‘crown princes’ .They are not only on centre stage but could be in the back rows or even in opposition ranks having slipped back due to ancestral misfortunes. They are called ‘clown princes’. But do they care being called clowns, given the current powers and privileges? Then there are the kings and queens moving about in royal splendour within and beyond our shores rubbing shoulders with the kings, queens and political greats of our time. They are our de facto royalty.
How much better would it be for them if they can be de jure (real) royals? If they could be real royals, they could be there for ever instead of being unceremoniously thrown out by irate masses after elections. True, kings and their families too could be thrown out by irate mobs but that happens very rarely.

Apply to be a royal!

Browsing through Internet last week, we found out there are ways in which one—even a Sri Lankan— could be proclaimed a royal. Go to the website on International Commission on Royalty and Nobility. This organisation has listed royal families and nobility on all the continents—from European royalty to those in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Americas. It claims it is a non profit organisation believing in honesty and integrity and is associated with two internet quality control programmes: Better Business Bureau and the International Commission for Accreditation of Professional Genealogists.
The International Commission says: We do not sell anything, do not do genealogy but only hire accredited professionals to investigate claims of ancestry to determine their authenticity and genuiness. Their objectives are to promote ideals of royalty, nobility and chivalry. Initial charges mentioned are $30 as membership fees and $ 100 as an application fee.
How many of Lanka royals could prove their ancestry and their blue royal blood? Perhaps Mervyn Silva could. He is so cock sure.
This column cannot vouch for the  authenticity of the claims made by the commission we cited on the Web because our experience is only the same as that of any internet reader, going through it for the first time. But we published some details for those Sri Lankans who may be interested in flaunting to the world’ their ancestry’ or ‘nobility’ and responding to claims made by the commission.

Sri Lankan royalty

Our investigations on other websites than the one mentioned earlier indicated that Sri Lanka has had only one royal family since the Sinhalese King Narendra Sinha died in 1739 leaving no offspring. He was succeeded to the throne by the brother of his wife from Tanjore, giving rise to the Nayakkar dynasty in Sri Lanka. The Sinhalese rulers had been marrying brides from the royal Nayakkar families and there had been no objections to accession by a Nayakkar. This South Indian took the name of Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha and ruled from 1739 till 1747.
He was followed by three other Nayakkar kings the last being Sri Wickrema Raja Sinha who was also the last king of Sri Lanka having been  captured by the British, taken to Madurai and dying in exile there.

King of Jaffna

An interesting claim to the Kingdom of Jaffna is being made on the internet by a person who describes himself as His Royal Highness Prince Remigius Kanagarajah, Head of the Royal House of Jaffna  with his given address as: Rajadhoni,Nilayan, The Nethe lands.
His picture appears with what is presumed to be the Nallur Temple in the background. The claimant appears to be in his early middle age, clad in trouser ,  tunic and flashy headgear and carrying what appears to be an umbrella but on closer looks could be a sword. He claims to be a descendant of the Arya Chakravarthi kings who established the Kingdom of Jaffna. This kingdom was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1621 but it still exists through him and his family and other existing descendants of the royal family, he says. The purpose he has come forward is to educate the young generation and the world that there was a Kingdom of Jaffna.  Perhaps he should stake his claims in Geneva this month.

Karava as royalty

There are also claims on the internet that the Karava were the true royalty of Sri Lanka, the conquering Indian kings being Karavas. The sun and moon symbols  in ancient flags, sculptures and inscriptions support the contention that the true royalty were  the descendants of the Brahmin conquerors, the Karavas, it is argued.  This theory has been voiced much earlier as well raising questions on the status of the top rungs of the Sinhalese, the Radalayas and next in line the Govigamas as well as their Tamil equivalent the Vellalas.

The royal family

However the immediate issue about royalty in this country is not about the royalty in ancient times but about royalty in contemporary times when a royal family is fast expanding and appears to be concretising into the future with proliferating crown princes.
It was King Farouk the last King of Egypt who said that finally the world will be left with only four kings— the four kings  in the pack of cards and the King of England. Still there are many more Royal families remaining but all of them are constitutional monarchs—‘governing with the consent of the people’—being guided by parliament. Those who refused have simply disappeared.

5 Comments for “Sri Lankans In Search Of Royalty”

  1. Maha

    There’s only one Royal family in Sri Lanka and that is those who attended Royal College, Colombo!

    • Katmai

      Ha ha… nice one.

      On a side note, it is nice to see even this “Royal Family” is not above law, in this make belief universe. I say that because we say some “Royals” getting arrested the other day. But hey, yeah, we’ll take you guys as our “Royals”, in the absence of the real thing. One question though. What good is a Royal family without the female species?

  2. Don Quixote

    Wishful thinking ! We are around and will continue to be around even though people like you have an inbred hatred of us.

  3. Eddy

    All hail “Palaveni Rajapakse of Sri Lanka deepa”

  4. There is and was only one true ‘royalty’ though not acknowledged

    The current descendant of that line is Veddha chief Uruwarige Vania Attho.

    (Unlike the mysteries of previous royal dynasties the Nayakars are known to be from the Balija/Kapu group and related groups are found in S India and SL )

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