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Interview: Anshu Khanna on 10 seasons of Royal Fables

For the last ten seasons, Anshu Khanna has been pushing to reboot the royal heritage of India. Under one roof, what is now known as Royal Fables exposition, she has brought everything that Indian royals once stood for: century-old cuisines, regal traditions, indigenous craft, handmade luxe fabrics, social causes and local roots. This year, Khanna and her team are celebrating the ‘milestone chapter’ of Royal Fables, which has successfully completed ten seasons. In this interview, she tells us about RF’s journey, impact and roadmap. Over to Karan Bhardwaj

Royal Fables

Anshu Khanna

How are you celebrating the ‘milestone’ chapter of the exposition that has now completed 10 seasons?
We are celebrating it through the launch of a series of new fables that will dot the whole year. There are three smaller editions in smaller towns. We will have a bigger exposition in Mumbai which also will also showcase Kitchen of the Kings. We should also hopefully establish an online store. And most importantly, we will launch India’s first Royal Fables Heritage Awards that recognises the solitary journey of the royal scions in conserving their inherited legacy in these democratic times.

What are the entrepreneurial lessons you have learnt through this journey?
To doggedly move forward with the power of conviction.

What has been the biggest satisfaction?
Many: The revival of Palace karkhana culture, the recognition of the role a royal played as a patron and making entrepreneurs of all these lovely ladies who were happy in their cocoon but are now replaying the role of a patron like their ancestors. The exposition has been a catalyst in bringing back dying art and craft. Over the years, we have seen revival of Kishangarh school of miniatures. There’s a resurrection of chiffon saris into mainstream fashion. Achkan buttons are gaining popularity. Weaves in gold are being practiced once again.

Royal Fables

Image from the archives of Royal Fables

Is there a change in public discourse for royals?
If you look around, all you see are ‘royal’ food fests, ‘royal’ cover stories, ‘royal jewellers’, royal silver….. I think it has become the flavour of the season.

Are you working with charity?
Yes, we have allocated spaces for charities for free: Princess Diya Kumari Foundation, led by the princess, the LV Palace charity that works with women artisans under Maharani Radhika Raje Gaekwad of Baroda, Umang led by Bina Kak in Jaipur that works with special children; Sanasar Chand Museum Trust led by Tikarani Shailja Katoch of Kangra-Lambragaon and Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development, a craft NGO working with the weavers in Varanasi that has Harmeet Bajaj at its design helm.

How do you think RF is contributing to the legacy of the royals of India?
It is the only platform that brings all the royals happily together to present their legacy with an inherent elegance and lends to them the respect they deserve.

How do you see Royal Fables in the next few years?
Hopefully going from strength to strength, growing, going overseas. Que sera sera!

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