The Story of an Indian King Who Used Rolls-Royces for Garbage Collection: Here are the Facts

An image of a Rolls Royce with brooms affixed to either side has been widely circulating on social media, purportedly purchased by an Indian king for the purpose of cleaning roads. 

Rolls-Royce, founded in 1906, is the world's most renowned luxury car brand. Its iconic vehicles have become synonymous with opulence, sophistication, and prestige, making it the go-to choice for those seeking the ultimate in automotive luxury. 

According to these posts, an indignant Indian king purchased ten Rolls Royce cars (or six?) and employed them as garbage collectors, after he was insulted by a Rolls Royce salesman in London who claimed he could not afford the luxury vehicle.

Similar images have been discovered across numerous other social media platforms, and the vehicle has been titled as the 'Rolls-Royce Homemade Street Sweeper, ca. 1930s'.

The story goes like this: In 1920s an Indian king visited London and, while strolling along the streets in his casual attire, he stumbled upon a Rolls Royce showroom. Intrigued, he ventured inside to learn more about the specifications and prices of the cars. Unfortunately, the British salesman, presuming the man was unable to afford such an expensive English car due to his Indian appearance and attire, ignored his request and even showed him the exit.

Feeling slighted, the King returned to his hotel and arranged an official visit to the Rolls Royce showroom. He purchased all six cars in the showroom in one fell swoop, paying in cash. He then had them shipped to India. Upon his return to India, he issued an order to the municipality in New Delhi to use these luxurious cars for cleaning and transporting garbage.

The Rolls Royce company was humiliated and aggrieved by the king's treatment of their cars. They sent a telegram of contrition to the King, apologizing for the employees' conduct. The car executives implored him to stop using their vehicles for transporting garbage and sent him a gift of six additional cars. Convinced that the company had learned a lesson, the King discontinued the use of those cars for carrying municipal waste.

Fun Facts:

Many Indian kings have been associated with the same remarkable story, though the year and place may differ.

'The Vintage News', mentions Jai Singh Prabhakar, the Maharaja of Alwar (then British India / now in India) as the hero of this story.

An article on Medium claims that it is Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi of Bahawalpur (then British India / now in Pakistan).

Mukarram Jah and Mir Osman Ali Khan, the Nizams of Hyderabad, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and many other kings have also been linked to this story! It seems that all these kings were insulted at Rolls Royce showrooms in London and used the cars they purchased to collect garbage.😃

According to another version, the king did not ship these cars to India, but instead filled them with garbage and paraded them throughout London.


The story is very interesting however, there is no evidence to support it.

'The Vintage News' reports that it has been a practical way to clear the city streets of different obstacles in various places around the world. During World War II, this method was employed to remove sharp objects such as nails and glass from the streets, thus preventing tire damage.

'CarToq' reports that brooms were tied to the front of expensive vehicles to save the tires. Since the roads were not very good in those days and rubbles and pebbles could destroy the tires easily, the brooms swept away the debris, ensuring a smooth journey for the vehicles.

Auto experts are of the opinion that the car in the image is not a Rolls Royce at all, but rather a 1930, 32 or 34 model Ford.

Additionally, Jewish inscriptions can be seen at the bottom of the photo, and the people in the photo do not appear to be Indian.

Although there is no mention of this folk tale in reliable sources such as Wikipedia, a similar image can be found on the site, titled 'Arab strike 1936. Car with brooms to sweep away tacks thrown by strikers'.

John D. Whiting - Arab strike 1936. Car with brooms to sweep away tacks thrown by strikers -  Wikipedia

Alamy & Getty Images captioned it as, 'Photograph of a motor car with brooms to sweep away tracks thrown by strikers during the Palestine riots. Dated 1936'.

In his book, Britain's Pacification of Palestine The British Army, the Colonial State, and the Arab Revolt, 1936–1939, Matthew Hughes notes that during the Arab Revolt, the British responded to the simple rebel anti-vehicle tactic of strewing nails across the roads by tying brooms to the fenders of their cars.

British counter-rebel measures: Brooms attached to a car bumper to sweep away nails

It is possible that this story was fabricated by the Rolls-Royce company to increase their brand recognition in India and Pakistan.😃