This is a photograph of the Tomb of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe and his queen in Vellore. (picture courtesy Archives of Chennai Municipal Council)
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe entered the country at the age of nine with his mother Subamma of Nayakkar dynasty
The King paid for his sins at Vellore where he was imprisoned with his Queen for sixteen years and lived with a steady list of debts
The 2345 year long monarchy in Sri Lanka ended with the capture of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe on February 18, 1815. Twelve days later the ‘infamous Kandyan Treaty’ was read to the Mahanayake of Malwatte Ven. Kobbekaduwa Srinivasa Thera; further cementing the end of a glorious Monarchy that existed in the world.
The Treaty was not signed on March 2, 1815, but only read. John D’Oyly had the document in his ‘ pocket ‘ for nearly fourteen days to collect the signatures.
It took the vicious mentality of that ace spy John D’Oyly to create a situation among the Kandyan people where there was distrust and animosity towards their King. At that time the Kingdom was ruled keeping with the most ethical and religious values. For this achievement D’Oyly was Knighted by the Queen.
Entering Sri Lanka as a Cadet of the Civil Service, with his appointment later to Matara as a Tax collector and District Judge, he took Ven. Koratota Thera into his confidence and visited him and learned the Sinhala language. This was done with the ulterior motive of ‘breaking into the Kandyan Kingdom’.The Kandyan Kingdom could not be captured by the Dutch nor the Portuguese due to its geographical elevation and its people. They were governed by kings who needed to keep their subjects happy.
At the Temple of Koratota Thera D’Oyly came across the Kandyan elite. He created an atmosphere that opposed the King; knowing by then that Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was a usurper to the Kandyan Throne who was hoisted to the throne by Pilimatalawe Adigar, a powerful Chieftain of the Court of Kandy.
Taking the word of the ‘White Man’
He pointed out to most people he met that the forms of Justice practised amounted to cruel methods and that they had to be done away with and that it could be done only by ousting the King. But the Kandyan Law made provisions to deal with traitors and those who were against the society for which there were drastic forms of Justice. The foolish Chieftains took the word of the ‘White Man’ and acted in such a way in Court that ruined a Monarchy; that could have existed in the country for another century.
Ultimately during the last days of D’Oyly he repented for the ‘sin’ he had committed against the decent disciplined people. He did not come out of his livingroom at the King’s Palace (now part of the Museum of the Archaeological department). He refused to see British Army visitors and stayed aloof until his death.
Even after Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was captured at Medamahanuwara in a house of lesser official, the British gave him due respect and took him and his queens to Colombo in Palanquines to be quartered there until the Governor ordered King Rajasinghe to be banished from the country and treated as a prisoner. But the British Government kept the king at Vellore providing him with all the comforts given to a king.
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe entered the country at the age of nine with his mother Subamma of Nayakkar dynasty. Subamma was a beautiful woman. She had come with this nine-year-old child and near the present Botanic Gardens, where Chieftain Pilimatalawa lived. Subamma had to ask for water for his son which she did from the Chieftain’s servants; who were at the residence of Pilimatalawa. It is said that the water had been given in a coconut shell. With the arrival of Pilimatalawa the servants reported about a beautiful woman and her son.
Pilamatalawa Dissave had an eye for beautiful women. He lost no time in his search for Subamma. He cared for her and the son and when the King died, much against the wishes of the Kandyan Court, Pilimatalawe hoisted Sri Wickrama to the Throne of Kandy. He had a purpose and thought that he could control this male who by that time was in his teens and set to become King. But with the power this boy known as Kannaswamy beheaded Pilimatalawa. The British propaganda created a situation where the King was forced to rule with an iron fist. It was Molligoda Dissava who prompted the King to order the beheading of Adigar Ehelepola’s children and the drowning of his wife. This was against the advice he received.
For the advice of the scribe he was removed from office. But later he joined forces with Keppetipola and Madugalle again to seek solace in Kandy.
The King paid for his sins at Vellore where he was imprisoned with his Queen for sixteen years and lived with a steady list of debts. He died on January 30, 1832 at the age of 52. The place where his remains are buried is called ‘Muthu Mandapam’.
It is rather unfortunate that Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe is seen as a tyrant, but people have forgotten that the king built the Kandy city; which boasts of protective structures. He built the Kandy Lake and the Pattrippuwa (Octagon). He was merciful, but also a strict disciplinarian.
Then he adopted the Pas Rata Flag and this was taken by the British to London to be placed before the feet of King George III. The Flag was destroyed during World War 11.
In 1972 Sirimavo Bandaranaike tried to get the Kandyan Flag, but failed.
Thanks to newspaper magnate D.R.Wijewardena the Kandyan Flag was seen by the people in 1915.
The first flag to be stuck on the soil of Sri Lanka was done by Vijaya and that became a symbol of the nation.