It was already bad enough that the Cochin royal family had been reduced to putting a price tag on their heritage, and their hope was to do so with a degree of dignity
In the late 1970s, the erstwhile royal family of Cochin decided to formally carry out something its princely peers had been doing for years in secret: a sale of its jewels and prized possessions. It wasn’t greed as much as need that drove the proposed auction, for the family had hundreds of members, many of them reduced to a dignified but strained existence. Already by 1949 this dynasty had a total of 223 princes and 231 princesses, and the state was small, without enough funds for royal stipends. When V.P. Menon, who helped Sardar Patel integrate the states, went to Cochin, he was, in fact, alarmed by what he saw. “As I talked with (the family)," he wrote, “I was reminded of an aviary…which possessed a rare collection of birds." After independence, the “birds" were liberated in the name of “ahimsa", and “soon devoured by other birds and beasts of prey". This, he feared, would be the fate of Cochin’s royal denizens, hitherto cocooned from the world, and, as a special consideration therefore, every member of the family then alive was granted a modest pension—one that is still regularly paid.