Important acquisitions

The King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912

Author
Title The King Emperor's Indian Durbar tour 1911-1912
Imprint [London?: s.n.]
Date of Publication [1912]
Language English
Notes 'Durbar' is a Persian term that was adopted in India to refer to a ruler's court. It could also be used to refer to a feudal state council or to a ceremonial gathering. The term was used during the British Raj for special royal occasions. Three imperial Durbars were held in Delhi: the first, held in 1877, marked the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Queen Empress of India; the second, held in 1902-03, marked the coronation of King Edward VII. The last, held on 12 December 1911, marked the coronation of King George V as 'King-Emperor' of India, and was the only Durbar that the ruler attended in person. The 1911 Durbar was "the most spectacular ceremony in the history of the British empire" (ODNB); it cost over 1 million to mount, and was over a year in preparation. Over 200,000 people attended the events taking place in Delhi's Coronation Park, which were captured in print, photography and the relatively new technology of film. As well as providing a clear sign of Britain's commitment to maintaining its grip on India, the Durbar was also used for particular political purposes. George announced the reversal of the unpopular 1905 decision that had partitioned Bengal. He also declared Delhi the new capital and laid its foundation-stone (soon after moved when New Delhi was re-sited). The Durbar was followed by a shooting expedition in Nepal and a visit to Calcutta (Kolkatta), the former capital of British India. The royal party returned home the following year, reaching Portsmouth on 5 February 1912. This lavishly-produced photo album was produced to commemorate King George's Durbar and subsequent tour through India. There are 208 photographic prints with printed letterpress captions pasted beneath them, bound in a full red morocco album with gilt lettering on the front cover. The photographs cover not just the Durbar but the whole of the royal tour, from the departure from Portsmouth, on 11 November 1911, to the thanksgiving service at St. Paul's, London, in February 1912 to mark the safe arrival home of the king and queen. The album also contains a number of memorable images of the elaborate hunting trip in Nepal and of Indian royalty. The photographs are not attributed to anyone but the person taking them clearly had very good access to the royal party. It is possible that the photographer was Ernest Brooks (b. 1878), who photographed the British royal family during this period and who during the War, in 1916, became the first official photographer to the Western Front appointed by the British military (many of his photographs are preserved in the Haig papers in NLS's manuscript collections). It is not known how many copies were produced and whether they were ever intended for public sale; a likely explanation is that a few copies were compiled for people travelling with the royal party as a souvenir of the tour.
Shelfmark Phot.la.79
Reference Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Acquired on 23/09/11
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