From Burma to Ratnagiri: The Inspiring Journey of Princess Myat Phaya Galay and her Enduring Legacy

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Sarder Ali Haider


Princess Myat Phaya Galay, the daughter of Burma’s last king, King Thibor, has a unique place in Burmese and Indian history. Princess Myat Phaya Galay was born into the Konbaung Dynasty, Burma’s ruling family from the mid-18th century until the monarchy’s end in 1885 (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). She witnessed the turbulent events that led to the fall of the Burmese kingdom and her family’s exile to Ratnagiri, a coastal town in present-day Maharashtra, India (Myint-U, 2001).

While King Thibor and the royal family’s exile is well-known, Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s decision to stay in Ratnagiri after marrying a local Indian is less well-known. Her tale, however, offers an intriguing view into the intricate interaction of cultures, traditions, and personal decisions that shaped the lives of individuals caught up in historical upheaval (Charney, 2009).

The decision of Princess Myat Phaya Galay to remain in Ratnagiri had a deep and long-lasting impact on the local people. Through her marriage, she established a unique relationship between the Burmese royal family and the people of Ratnagiri, and her presence in the town helped to the preservation of Burmese culture and customs in the region (Steinberg, 2010). Furthermore, her presence in Ratnagiri represents the human spirit’s endurance and flexibility in the face of tragedy, as well as the potential of love and understanding to cross the divide between nations and cultures (Taylor, 2009).

The Royal Family’s Exile in Ratnagiri

King Thibor and his family were exiled to Ratnagiri, India, as a direct result of the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885), which signified the end of Burmese monarchy and the beginning of British colonial rule in Burma (Myint-U, 2001). Following the defeat of the Burmese forces, the British colonial authorities forced King Thibor to abdicate and exiled him along with his family. The British chose Ratnagiri, a remote coastal town in present-day Maharashtra, as the place of exile for the royal family, believing that the distance and relative isolation would reduce the likelihood that the monarch would attempt to regain his throne (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012).

Photo-1: Four Princes

Challenges Faced by the Royal Family during Their Life in Exile

King Thibor, Queen Supayalat, their offspring, including Princess Myat Phaya Galay, and the accompanying Burmese courtiers found life in exile to be difficult. The royal family had to adapt to a new environment, climate, and customs and traditions that were unfamiliar to them (Charney, 2009). Moreover, the financial constraints imposed by the British authorities, who provided only a modest pension for the family, necessitated that they live with limited resources, a far cry from the opulence they had enjoyed in their native country (Steinberg, 2010).

The family had to deal with the psychological distress of losing their kingdom and being forced to live in a foreign country, as well as the difficulties of maintaining their dignity and royal identity despite their diminished circumstances (Taylor, 2009).

The Family’s Efforts to Preserve Burmese Culture and Traditions in Ratnagiri

King Thibor and his family remained committed to preserving their Burmese culture and traditions while residing in Ratnagiri despite the difficulties they encountered. They maintained close ties with the small community of Burmese exiles who had accompanied them (Myint-U, 2001).

King Thibor also promoted the study and teaching of Burmese language, history, and literature, both within the family and among the Ratnagiri Burmese community (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). In addition, the royal family played a vital role in nurturing cultural exchanges between the Burmese and Indian communities in Ratnagiri, with members of both groups interacting and learning about one another’s customs and traditions (Charney, 2009).

These efforts by the royal family to preserve and promote Burmese culture in Ratnagiri ensured that their distinctive heritage would endure, despite the numerous obstacles presented by their exile (Steinberg, 2010).

Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s Marriage

Princess Myat Phaya Galay chose to marry an Indian resident of Ratnagiri, thereby forging a strong bond between the Burmese royal family and the Indian community (Charney, 2009). Despite the lack of information about her husband’s heritage or profession in the historical record, it is evident that their marriage was a significant event that transcended cultural and national boundaries.

The marriage between Princess Myat Phaya Galay and her Indian husband was a rare example of a union between two individuals from vastly diverse cultural, religious, and social backgrounds (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). This marriage exemplified the merging of Burmese and Indian cultures, as the couple embraced and respected each other’s traditions and customs, thereby forging a distinct shared identity (Myint-U, 2001).

Their marriage also exemplified the power of love and mutual comprehension in overcoming barriers such as language, religion, and social standing (Steinberg, 2010). This illuminating tale of intercultural harmony serves as an illustration of how individuals from diverse contexts can come together, learn from one another, and create a new, shared legacy.

The Couple’s Life in Ratnagiri and Their Impact on the Local Community

Princess Myat Phaya Galay and her spouse settled in Ratnagiri after their marriage and became significant members of the local society (Taylor, 2009). Their presence in town helped to improve relationships between the Burmese and Indian communities, encouraging mutual understanding and respect for each other’s cultures and traditions (Charney, 2009).

The couple’s living in Ratnagiri has had an impact on the region’s preservation of Burmese culture. They continued to promote the Burmese language, customs, and religious practices among the local Burmese community as members of the royal family (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). Furthermore, their tale and the legacy they left in Ratnagiri served to encourage future generations of both Burmese and Indian ancestry to accept cultural diversity and promote unity among different communities (Myint-U, 2001).

The Enduring Legacy of Princess Myat Phaya Galay in Ratnagiri

The life of Princess Myat Phaya Galay in Ratnagiri had a significant impact on the preservation of Burmese culture in the region. She was highly committed as a member of the royal family to preserving and developing Burmese customs, language, and religious practices among the local Burmese population (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). Her marriage to a native Indian resident aided in the blending of Burmese and Indian cultures, resulting in a more diverse cultural landscape in Ratnagiri (Myint-U, 2001).

Furthermore, Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s long-term presence in town and active participation in the local community aided in keeping the connection between Burmese exiles and their country alive, ensuring that their distinctive cultural heritage was not lost (Steinberg, 2010).

The Ongoing Connections between the Burmese Royal Family and the People of Ratnagiri

The story of Princess Myat Phaya Galay and her life in Ratnagiri has forged lasting bonds between the Burmese royal family and the Ratnagiri people. She forged a lifelong relationship between the two cultures by her marriage and her attempts to conserve and promote Burmese culture, which has lasted long after her death (Charney, 2009).

Even today, descendants of the Burmese exiles and the local Indian population in Ratnagiri continue to respect Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s memory and the unique cultural heritage she helped to create (Taylor, 2009).

The Role of Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s Story in Fostering Unity, Cultural Exchange, and Understanding Between Different Communities

Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s inspiring story of cross-cultural unity, as well as her life in Ratnagiri, serve as a powerful example of how people from various backgrounds can work together to foster understanding, cultural exchange, and mutual respect among diverse communities (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012).

Princess Myat Phaya Galay displayed the transformational power of love and understanding in transcending obstacles and creating harmony across diverse groups by embracing her Indian husband’s culture and sharing her own Burmese heritage (Myint-U, 2001). Her life and legacy continue to inspire current and future generations, reminding us of the value of cultural exchange, understanding, and unity in our increasingly interconnected globe (Steinberg, 2010).


Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s inspirational journey began with the exile of her family, Burma’s last royal family, to Ratnagiri, India, following the fall of the Burmese monarchy during the Third Anglo-Burmese War. Throughout her exile, Princess Myat Phaya Galay worked hard to preserve Burmese culture and traditions in her new home, while also embracing the culture of her Indian spouse and the Ratnagiri people (Myint-U, 2001).

Princess Myat Phaya Galay made an indelible mark on Ratnagiri, influencing both the town’s cultural and social fabric. She developed a unique cultural interchange and harmony between the Burmese and Indian populations through her marriage and her devotion to maintaining and promoting Burmese culture, which is being cherished by their descendants today (Aung-Thwin & Aung-Thwin, 2012). Her life and story have also inspired many people, acting as a poignant reminder of the transformational power of love, compassion, and mutual respect in breaking down cultural barriers and building harmony among varied cultures (Charney, 2009).

Beyond Ratnagiri, the story of Princess Myat Phaya Galay is significant because it emphasizes the necessity of cross-cultural interactions, understanding, and unity in our increasingly interconnected world. Her life exemplifies how people from many origins can come together, form strong bonds, and leave a legacy that transcends cultural, religious, and social borders (Steinberg, 2010). Finally, Princess Myat Phaya Galay’s inspirational journey from Burma to Ratnagiri, as well as her enduring legacy, remind us of the power of compassion and understanding to heal divisions and foster harmony among varied cultures (Taylor, 2009).




Aung-Thwin, M., & Aung-Thwin, M. (2012). A History of Myanmar Since Ancient Times: Traditions and Transformations. Reaktion Books.

Charney, M. W. (2009). A History of Modern Burma. Cambridge University Press.

Myint-U, T. (2001). The Making of Modern Burma. Cambridge University Press.

Steinberg, D. I. (2010). Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press.

Taylor, R. H. (Ed.). (2009). The State in Myanmar. NUS Press.

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