The kings and queens of history have customarily been surrounded by the best talent, advisors and assistance that money can buy. The prestige of royalty, along with the tradition of vast royal wealth, tend to provide sovereign rulers with the most talented people required for any undertaking. 

However, even monarchs and sovereigns are subject to the innate human desire to express their own gifts and talents. While the royals of the ages may not have been required to work for a living in the normal sense, a great many kings and queens and their families used their freedom and privilege to indulge in certain creative pastimes or hobbies that expressed their unique talents in various endeavors. 

Of course, having the support and resources of royalty make expressing their talents much easier and more enjoyable than may be the case for non-royals and the working classes. Nevertheless, there have been a considerable number of royals who have made the most of their esteemed place in the social hierarchy to offer their gifts and talents to the world, creating valid and valuable contributions to their own domains and the wider world. 

Wajid Ali Shah – The Most Talented King? 

Vajid Ali Shah, an engraving from 1872
Vajid Ali Shah, an engraving from 1872 – Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Wajid Ali Shah may be most renowned as the last in a great line of Persian Nawabs and the final King of Awadh – a region in the north of India. However, the colorful story of this historic Indian king also tells the tale of a considerable number of creative talents. 

Like many wealthy rulers before and since, Wajid Ali Shah was a devoted patron of the arts, demonstrating his appreciation of music, dance and theater with generous support and financial contributions. However, this talented king was not content with merely supporting other artists and enjoying their creations. Throughout his reign and even afterwards, when he was exiled from his kingdom, Wajid Ali Shah lived a highly creative and expressive life, honing and demonstrating his talents in a range of disciplines. 

As well as taking a lead role in designing a number of establishments in the arts – such as the famous Parikhaana ‘abode of fairies’ or performing arts school for young girls – Wajid Ali Shah was also a prolific writer. 

It’s estimated that he wrote dozens of books in his lifetime, insisting on penning the manuscripts himself rather than delegating the work to underlings as many royals before him had opted to do. His books could also be vast tomes of over a thousand pages. In addition to his narrative works, Wajid Ali Shah was a keen poet and cited to be of respectable talent. Perhaps his most enduring legacy is the autobiography he wrote to reveal the story of his fascinating role in the world events of his era, in particular the story of how he lost his kingdom and his dealings with the East India Company during the 19th century. 

The loss of a kingdom was not enough to prevent this talented king from expressing his unique gifts and creating a historic legacy, however. Even in exile, he sought to recreate the experience of the city he had loved and lost – Lucknow in northern India – envisioning the creation of a miniature version of the city in his exile home in Calcutta. This talented Indian king used his gifts, vision and considerable resources to establish a new lavish realm in honor of his erstwhile home. 

Queen Victoria – The Most Talented Queen? 

Queen Victoria, 1819–1901
Queen Victoria, 1819–1901 – Alexander Bassano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The great Queen Victoria is known throughout the world and throughout history as the legendary and enduring sovereign of the British Empire during the 19th century. Yet, in addition to her skills as a great stateswoman and monarch, Queen Victoria was also a keen and gifted artist in her own right.

The talented British queen reportedly began sketching and drawing in her childhood, and like most noblewomen and royal children, she was practiced in the art of portraiture and watercolors of landscapes, gardens and flowers. Some of her charming drawings and paintings have been made public in recent years, and they demonstrate a considerable degree of artistic talent, and a unique eye for the appealing visual details of both grand royal events and the more mundane aspects of daily life. 

What makes Queen Victoria’s artwork most unique is her role in history, as many of her subjects are glimpses into the hidden world of a royal queen. These include sketches of her coronation, beautiful watercolor paintings of her children when they were little, charming renditions of palace grounds, and drawings of her beloved royal pets.  

Queen Victoria’s intellectual talents were not restricted to her artistic pursuits. Throughout her long life and reign, she demonstrated an interest in the cultures of her colonies, in particular the eastern nations. In her later life, she revealed a particular affinity for Indian culture which went as far as an ambitious commitment to learn the Urdu language. 

The Queen’s skill with languages was likely a result of her lineage and her childhood, as the daughter of a German princess, the young Victoria would have grown up in a bilingual household, learning to speak both English and German from an early age. 

In addition to her artistic gifts and language skills, this talented queen was also known for her musical ability and mathematical prowess – an impressive range of skills to demonstrate in addition to her demanding role as Queen of the British Empire and Empress of India. 

As king and queen of powerful nations during turbulent times of history, it’s both surprising and impressive to discover the range of skills these talented royals were able to express during their lifetimes. 

It’s also inspiring to see how these creative individuals still chose to indulge in their hobbies and express their talents when they were surrounded by all the servants and assistance afforded by royal living and had no requirement to use their gifts in order to earn a living. 

Their unique roles in their historic positions also add a captivating insight into royal living, revealed through their exclusive perspective and talented expression.