British Empire
Living in the British empire - India
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Photograph of Indian troops at Portsmouth in 1882
(Catalogue ref: COPY 1/59 f.371)
  • This photograph shows Sikh troops serving in the British Indian army in 1882. They are waiting to go on board ship to fight in Egypt and the Sudan.
  • At this time Britain was taking control of Egypt. Although the British had an alliance with the Khedive (ruler) of Egypt, many Egyptians resented the British taking control of the country. There were several risings against British rule. In all of these campaigns Indian troops played a key role.
  • The Indian army was probably Britain's single greatest resource. Around 40% of India's wealth was spent on the army. This army was used by Britain all over the world, including the wars in South Africa in 1899-1902 and the First and Second World Wars. It was the backbone of the power of the British empire.
  • In 1901, for example, the British viceroy (governor) of India Lord Curzon, said 'As long as we rule India, we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it we shall straightway drop to a third rate power'.
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