Karan Singh was born heir apparent to the state of Jammu and Kashmir and served successively as regent, Sardar-i-Riyasat and Governor of the state.
A Padma Vibhushan, Singh has held the portfolios for tourism and civil aviation, health and family planning, and education and culture in the Indian government, and served as ambassador to the United States. He has been chairman of the committee on ethics of the Rajya Sabha. As chancellor, he has been affiliated to the Jammu and Kashmir University, the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Banaras Hindu University. He has chaired the Indian Board of Wildlife and the India International Centre. Presently, he is chairman of the governing board of the Auroville Foundation and was India's representative on the UNESCO executive board for many years. Associated with several cultural and academic institutions, he composes and recites devotional songs in Dogri and is a connoisseur of Indian classical music.
His published works include his Autobiography, Essays on Hinduism, An Examined Life, as well as his extensive correspondence with Jawaharlal Nehru in Jammu & Kashmir 1949-1964 and Indira Gandhi in Kashmir & Beyond 1966-1984.