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Princess Sumair

During my research in Shanghai Municipal Archives, I came across a newspaper clipping with the picture of one ‘Princess Sumait’. As someone born & raised in India & some familiarity with Indian names, I sensed that the name was misspelled: chances that a girl in India would be named Sumait are rare. After browsing the web, my assumption was correct. The lady in question, was Princess Sumair of Patiala.

In Shanghai, Princess Sumair led a smutty lifestyle & Professor Wasserstein in his book, ‘Secret War in Shanghai’ provides archival evidence which label Sumair as a ‘nymphomaniac’ and ‘worshipper of lesbian cult.’ She was bigamous, having married a Japanese-American in Shanghai, without divorcing her 1st Indian husband.  She collaborated with the Japanese but was ditched by her 2nd husband. She is then supposed to have taken off with a U.S. sailor.

Sumair surfaced in Paris and later in Palm Beach & New York with her fashion boutique for socialites and very rich women. Author,Linda Rodriguez Mcrobbie in her new book , ‘Princesses Behaving Badly’ arrives at the same conclusion that it was the same Sumair from Patiala. In my opinion both are one & same person. Sumair married John Boughton, a furrier from Milwaukee and together they owned the company named after Sumair. She died in 2003.

What else is known about Princess Sumair that western historians & writers may have missed? Well, wait and watch this space!!

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