Begum Sahiba Zeenat Mahal ( زینت محل ), also spelled Zinat Mahal,(1823 - 17 July 1886) was the de facto Empress who ruled the Mughal Empire on behalf of the Emperor Bahadur Shah II Zafar. She was his favourite wife.
Zeenat Mahal Begum Sahiba
|Empress consort of the Mughal Empire|
|Tenure||19 November 1840 – 14 September 1857|
17 July 1886 (aged 62–63)|
Yangoon, Myanmar British Burma
|Burial||Near the Mazar of Bahadur Shah, No. 6 Theatre Road, Rangoon, Burma|
|Spouse||Bahadur Shah II|
|Issue||Mirza Jawan Bakht|
She greatly influenced the Emperor, and after the death of the Crown Prince Mirza Dara Bakht, she began promoting her son Mirza Jawan Bakht as heir to the throne over the Emperor's remaining eldest son Mirza Fath-ul-Mulk Bahadur. But due to the primogeniture policy of the British, this was not accepted. She was suspected of poisoning the British Resident in Delhi, Thomas Metcalfe in 1853 for meddling too much in palace affairs.
During the Indian rebellion of 1857, she kept her son out of contact with the rebels in an attempt to secure the throne for him. With the British victory, the emperor's two other sons were shot for supporting the rebels; however, her son did not become heir. In 1858, her husband was deposed by the British, bringing the Mughal empire to an end, and she was exiled to Rangoon with her husband. After her husband's death in 1862, the British banned anyone from claiming the title of Emperor, in an attempt to dissolve the monarchy.
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