In the poem, The Last of the Princes A.K. Ramanujan presents a recurring pattern in the flux of history. He presents the glory of the princes’ past – their power, pelf, and pomp in the past and then contrasts them with their present wretched condition.
In the past, the princes had power and money. They made frequent visits to the United Kingdom to show off. They used costly foreign goods, especially wine as status- symbols and had English wives as a matter of pride. They died fighting heroically against the enemy and poverty and had ballads written to their name. They kept countless mynahs and parrots in the harem.
At present they have lost everything they were proud of – titles, palaces, splendor privileges, etc. What they are left with now is a nostalgia for past glory which is in sad contrast to their present plight. They live on, with the inheritance of long fingers, likeness in looks, and superstitious beliefs from their ancestors. They now suffer from cough and cold and have alternating loose bowels and hard sheep’s pellets. They are now too poor to pay the full school fees of their children. All the heirlooms except the pearl in the wife’s nose-ring have been sold to make ends meet. It is indeed sad to think that the children of the former rulers who employed many people are now forced to accept low paid jobs like telegraphy in government service.
Such is the pitiable conditions of the princes at present.