Rukaiya Begum (also Ruqaiya Sultan Begum) was the Empress of Mughal Empire and first wife of Emperor Akbar the Great. She was born in 1542. Her marriage with Akbar took place in the year 1551. The coronation of Akbar took place on February 14, 1556 and she served as Mughal Empress from 1556 to 1605.
Rukaiya Begum was born as a Timurid Princess. She was the daughter of Hindal Mirza and Sultanam Begum. Hindal Mirza was the younger brother of Humayun. The grandfather of Rukaiya Begum was Babur who was the founder of Mughal Empire in India.
In 1551, after the death of her father, Hindal Mirza, Rukaiya was married to Akbar the Great. The marriage was arranged by Humayun. Mughal emperor Humayun was the father of Akbar and uncle of Rukaiya.
Mughal Empror Akbar had deep respect and love for Rukaiya Begum. At the time of conflict between Akbar and Jahangir, Rukaiya stepped in to settle the dispute. She further helped Jahangir to ascend to the throne.
Rukaiya was a well educated and patron of art and culture.
Unfortunately, Rukaiya was child-less but was handed over the the charge of Prince Khurram, the son of Jahangir. She took utmost care in the upbringing of Prince Khurram. Prince Khurram later on ascended to the throne and bore the title “Shah Jahan“. Hence, Rukaiya Begum got the pleasure and satisfaction of raising a Mughal Emperor. Since Rukaiya Begum was well educated, the education of Shah Jahan was very well taken care. Shah Jahan remained with Rukaiya Begum till he attained 13 years of age.
Jahangir had high regard for Rukaiya Begum. Even after the death of Akbar, Rukaiya Begum was given very regard in the Mughal Court and the imperial harem. Her authority was un-matchable.
Rukaiya Begum had palaces at Fatehpur Sikri and Agra.
Rukaiya Begum died on January 19, 1626 at the age of 84.