Sayajirao Gaekwad III
See also Gaekwad.
Sayajirao Gaekwad III (Shrimant Gopalrao Gaekwad); (10 March 1863 – 6 February 1939), was the Maharaja of Baroda State from 1875 to 1939, and is notably remembered for reforming much of his state during his rule.
Sayajirao was born at Kavlana on the 11 March 1863 as Shrimant Gopalrao Gaekwad, second son of Meherban Shrimant Kashirao Bhikajirao [Dada Sahib] Gaekwad (1832–1877) and Shrimant Akhand Soubhagyavati Ummabai Sahib. His branch of the Gaekwad dynasty was a cadet branch descended from a morganatic marriage of the first Raja of Baroda and so was not expected to succeed to the throne.
 Matters of succession
Following the death of Sir Khanderao Gaekwad (1828–1870), the popular Maharaja of Baroda, in 1870, it was expected that his brother, Malharrao (1831–1882), would succeed him. However, Malharrao had already proven himself to be of the vilest character and had been imprisoned earlier for conspiring to assassinate Khanderao. As Khanderao's widow, Maharani Jamnabai (1853–1898) was already pregnant with a posthumous child, the succession was delayed until the gender of the child could be proven. The child proved to be a daughter, and so upon her birth on 5 July 1871, Malharrao ascended the throne.
Malharrao spent money liberally, nearly emptying the Baroda coffers (he commissioned a pair of solid gold cannon and a carpet of pearls,among other expenses) and soon reports reached the Resident of Malharrao's gross tyranny and cruelty. Malharrao further attempted to cover up his deeds by poisoning the Resident with a compound of arsenic. By order of the Secretary of State for India, Lord Salisbury, Malharrao was deposed on 10 April 1875 and exiled to Madras, where he died in obscurity in 1882.
 Ascending the Throne
With the throne of Baroda now vacant, Maharani Jamnabai called on the heads of the extended branches of the dynasty to come to Baroda and present themselves and their sons in order to decide upon a successor.
Kashirao and his three sons, Anandrao (1857–1917), Gopalrao (1863–1938) and Sampatrao (1865–1934) walked to Baroda from Kavlana-a distance of some 600 kilometers-to present themselves to Jamnabai. It is reported that when each son was asked the purported reason for presenting themselves at Baroda, Gopalrao unhesitatingly stated:
"I have come here to rule"
He was selected by the British Government as successor and was accordingly adopted by Maharani Jamnabai, on 27 May 1875. He was also given a new name, Sayajirao. He ascended the gadi (throne) at Baroda, 16 June 1875 but being a minor reigned under a Council of Regency until he came of age and was invested with full ruling powers on 28 December 1881. During his minority he was extensively tutored in administrative skills by Raja Sir T. Madhava Rao who groomed his young protégé into being a ruler with foresight and with a will to provide welfare to his people. In this period Sir T. Madhava Rao restored the state to its normal conditions following the chaos in which it had been left by Malharrao. Not a little credit for what the Maharaja achieved during his life in every sphere of human activity must be given to F. A. H. Elliot. The learning which Sayajirao acquired under Mr. Eliot's able guidance made him a great statesman, educator, and ruler. It is acknowledged that the Maharaja Sayajirao was a prince among the educators and an educator among the princes.