British Empire
Living in the British empire - India
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An illustration showing the imperial durbar (ceremony) in 1877
(By permission of The British Library, J /9057il)
  • This image comes from a book called 'The History of the Imperial Assemblage at Delhi, held in 1877'. It was written by James Talboys Wheeler. He was an enthusiastic admirer of India and of British rule in India.
  • A durbar was a ceremony in which the subjects of a ruler paid their respects to the ruler. In 1877 Queen Victoria was declared Empress of India by the Prime Minister of the time, Benjamin Disraeli.
  • At a durbar, subjects could pay their respects to the ruler or to a representative of the ruler. In this image the Indian rulers are paying their respects to the British Governor General of India. Queen Victoria never actually visited India.
  • Over 400 Indian princes came to this durbar and 15,000 soldiers took part in displays and parades.
  • The durbar must have made these princes very proud to be part of the whole occasion. The size, wealth and power of the event probably also showed them that resisting British rule was not worth it. The British were immensely powerful and co-operating with them brought tremendous advantages to the Indian princes and their families.
  • The British continued to hold these events in India and in Britain. The arrival of representatives from foreign countries who were part of the empire was fascinating to British people. It was one factor that kept British people interested in their empire.
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