Picture of Begum of Bhopal shared as Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal

By: Azra Ali
March 4 2024

Share Article: facebook logo twitter logo linkedin logo
Picture of Begum of Bhopal shared as Shah Jahan’s wife Mumtaz Mahal

Screenshots of viral post.(Source: Facebook/ Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The viral image actually depicts Sultan Shahjahan Begum, the ruler of Bhopal, and not Mumtaz Mahal, in whose memory the Taj Mahal was constructed.

Claim ID a41aaf30

What is the claim?

An image depicting a woman dressed regally and standing beside a table adorned with a vase of flowers has been widely circulated on social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram. The claims accompanying this viral image suggest that the image portrays Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, for whom the iconic Taj Mahal was commissioned in 1631 as a memorial. The Taj Mahal, situated in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, is a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The widespread sharing of this image has often been accompanied by derogatory captions targeting the woman depicted. An archived version of such a claim can be accessed here. Archives of similar posts can be accessed here and here.

 Screenshots of viral posts.(Source: X/ Facebook/ Modified by Logically Facts)

However, the woman in the viral picture is Sultan Shah Jahan Begum, the ruler and third Begum (a Muslim woman of high rank) of Bhopal.

How did we verify this?

We conducted a reverse image search and consulted numerous historical resources. The investigation led us to several historical websites featuring the disputed image, identified as Sultan Shahjahan Begum of Bhopal, a prominent figure in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

We found the picture uploaded on the official website of the Royal Collection Trust of the United Kingdom. The Royal Collection Trust of the British Royal Family is the largest private art collection in the world.

According to the description of the picture given on the website, the photo of Sultan Shahjahan Begum of Bhopal standing by a table with a vase of flowers facing the front was taken between 1875-76. 

 Screenshot of Royal Collection Trust U.K. website. (Source: Royal Collection Trust UK)

Photographic albums of portraits, groups, and views were compiled during the visit of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, to the Indian subcontinent between 1875-76, and the photo of Sultan Shahjahan Begum was taken as part of this collection.

We also found the picture uploaded on the website Indian Culture, handled by the Government of India, with the caption, “Her Highness Shah Jahan Begum, Third Begum of Bhopal.” The website is an initiative by the Ministry of Culture that “hosts data of cultural relevance from various repositories and institutions all over India,” as seen in a note at the end of the website.

According to Indian Culture, the picture depicts Sultan Shahjahan Begum (1838- 1901), who ruled Bhopal in the 19th century. “The Regent queen spearheaded many policies for the betterment of her subjects,” a short description on the website says.

Screenshot of Indian Culture website.(Source: indianculture.gov.in)

According to a Times of India report dated August 11, 2023, Begum Shah Jahan commissioned a palace in Bhopal in 1871 to be built as her residence. The palace known as Raj Mahal (Royal Palace) was later renamed the Taj Mahal Fort by the British, who were impressed by the architectural design of the palace. 

The verdict

A picture of Sultan Shahjahan Begum of Bhopal has been shared with false claims that it shows Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in whose memory the world-renowned Taj Mahal was built. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

Would you like to submit a claim to fact-check or contact our editorial team?

Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before