This article was written in 1985, one hundred years after King Thibaw and Queen Supayar Latt were taken to India by the British. Myanmar was well-known for its wealth in gold, gems and other natural resources. So in the king's treasury there were plenty of jewels, gold, silver, gems and many more. Among these precious treasures, Padamyar Ngamauk or the Royal Ruby was the most famous treasure. Most of the gem merchants and the British colonists were always eager to see the ruby and its beauty. There was no such ruby like the Ngamauk, as spotless as the one in history. So, let's see what really happened to the Royal Ruby.
Col Sladen then showed it to one of the soldiers who was with him, in amazement. He took out his handkerchief to wipe out his eager sweats. Suddenly, he flipped in his handkerchief together with the royal treasure. The Chuntaung Princess kept looking at him very carefully, not to make any mistakes. She left the golden box open and sat right next to it, and kept watching at Col Sladen. The Queen knew about this event but waited for sometimes until he returns the royal ruby.
It was 29th November 1885. The King, the Queen and other royal servants were to be taken to India. In the chamber of the Queen Supayar Latt, all her royal servants and maids were busy packing much of the royal accessories and jewelries. Although everyone was busy packing, the frowns on their faces were clear.
The maids were packing different royal accessories in lacquer boxes, teak boxes and gold boxes as necessary. The King and the Queen were sitting and looking around with very little hope for their future. At the time, Col Sladen from the British Army was going from one chamber to another and checking. Finally, he reached the chamber where the King and the Queen were residing. Col Sladen was also telling the maids and servants to take everything the majesties would need and he went out.
Soon again he came back to the chamber, and requested the Queen to show him the precious Padamyar Ngamauk with hands folded as paying respect.
Then Queen Supayar Latt told the maid of chamber, Chuntaung Princess named Thu Thiri Sandar Wadi, who was incharge of these treasures to show Col Sladen the valuable ruby. Chuntaung Princess took out the ruby from one of the cases in the golden box and gave it to Col. Sladen. The ruby was made as a ring, among many of the royal jewelry. Col Sladen stared at the precious stone from all the sides, again in the sunlight and looked at it again and again in many positions.
And after sometimes, the Queen asked the princess why she was not packing up the golden box and what she was waiting for. The princess pointed at Col Sladen and said that the royal ruby was not returned yet.
Then, Col Sladen acted as if he was astonished and returned the stone to the princess. Chuntaung Princess took back the royal jewel very carefully and places it in one of the cases inside the golden box, and locked it.
When the sunset in the evening, the King, the Queen and the total of seven royal family together with maids and servants went to Gawwin Port for departure to India. Then they went onto the Thuriya Ship at the port. That day, they were taken away from their own land.
Many people came to the port to pay respect to their king and queen for the last time. Among the crowd, there was a man called Prince Maung Maung Tin, who was the brother of Chuntaung Princess. He tried to come near the royal family but he was pushed away from the crowd by armed Indian soldiers. So the crowd was in chaos. The royal family on the ship saw the incident was knew nothing about what was going on.
There came a great opportunity for Col Sladen to have the jewels, especially the Ngamauk. Immediately, he went to the majesties and told them that there were some robbers trying to rob the royal family. He then requested for the treasure boxes to be kept with him for security. The king and queen had no other choice, so they gave him the royal treasure box to him. He also went to Queen mother Sin Phyu Ma Shin and Supayar Gyi, the queen's sister, telling them the same event. But they told him that they had very little treasure with them and gave nothing to him.
The next morning the ship reached Yangon. Then they boarded another ship called the Clive. Then again to another ship called the Cunning to cross the sea and all the way to India.
Queen mother Sin Phyu Ma Shin and Supaya Gyi together with their servants, were separated from the family and sent to Dawei.
The king and the queen were first sent to Madras and stayed for about six months. Then they were sent to Yadanargiri in Bombay. After being sent to Yadanargiri, King Thibaw asked back for the Royal treasury that was taken by Col. Sladen. But there was no action taken about that letter. The king did not give and tried for another three times resulting with an answer that Col. Sladen went back to England. In the mean time in Myanmar, there were ethnic groups fighting for freedom, including Prince Maung Maung Tin.
King Thibaw never gave up on retrieving his treasures. Actually, King Thibaw was never a prisoner, he lived in a palace like house which cost more than six lakhs of Indian Rupees at that time. There were a total of nearly 200 servants. The annual support was about one lakh of Indian Rupees, with beautiful horse carts for transportation.
But the royal family was not allowed to go to any other district without any permission. The royal family was always under surveillance.
In 1911, King George V was crowned as King of England. After being crowned, the King came to his colony to New Delhi, India.
King Thibaw took this chance and sent five copies of his letter about his treasures. But the only thing that returned was that Col. Sladen was dead.
This news turned out to be true. Col Sladen took the treasures from King Thibaw in 1885, and he was granted the title 'Sir' for his performance. In 1887, he retired and went back to England. Then he died in 1890.
[ Note : this fact was taken from 'The Pagoda War', written by A.T.Q Stewart]
King Thibaw tried again and again but it was clear that the British were never in the interest of returning back the treasures to the owner.
British ruled over Myanmar for a long time and things changed. Prince Maung Maung Tin stopped fighting as an ethnic leader, and became an administrative officer. On the other hand he wrote the History of Konbaung Era. His sisters the Chuntaung Princess and Taungzin Princess came back to Mandalay and settled down.
The news of the Royal Ruby was heard that Col. Sladen offered it to the Queen Vitoria. When King George V came to India in 1911, U Maung Maung Tin became the governor of Kyaukse. Some of the governors and official representatives from Myanmar were invited to the Ceremony in India. U Tun Min from Kyaukse was invited too. He was a close friend of U Maung Maung Tin.
When he came back to Kyaukse, he brought back some brochures, booklets and postcards. In one of the postcards was the color photo of the Royal Crown of the King and the Queen of England. The postcard was very clear, and the red stones embedded in the crown were very precious and rare. Also it was described as Burma Ruby.
U Maung Maung Tin, suddenly noticed about the Padamyar Ngamauk. So he asked his sisters who lived in Mandalay to come and visit him
Chuntaung Princess, who was the keeper of the Padamyar Ngamauk, looked at the ruby in the postcard. It has been about 26 years that she had not seen the royal ruby, but because of its natural beauty, the Princess immediately recognized it as the Padamyar Ngamauk.
Time passes and these facts were given by Daw Ma Ma Gyi. Her husband U Chan Thar went to study in England. In England, he went to the Tower of London museum. He saw the crowns of the late kings and queens and together with the Royal Ruby.
[ Note : The facts included in this articles was collected from Daw Tin Tin May. Daw Tin Tin May is the granddaughter of King Sin Phyu Shin and Queen Upasaw Pati. She not only gave her collections but also explained some unclear events. ]
Reference and Translated from:
Nan Dwin Thakho and Mane Ma Soe (The thief of the royal palace and the women keeper) written by Shwe Bo Mi Mi Gyi
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