Victoria Proclaimed Empress of India
The 1st of January 1877 AD
Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India at the first Delhi Durbar, on January 1 1877, though legally she had held the title since Parliament passed the necessary legislation – The Royal Titles Act - in May 1876.
There was a personal and a political aspect to the change. In personal terms, Disraeli did himself no harm by flattering the Queen with the additional title, on which it is said she was keen; his perennial rival Gladstone had earlier been reticent to do the same.
Politically, the move symbolised the change of circumstances in Indian rule: the East India Company, discredited by the events of the Indian Mutiny, had been replaced by the crown; governor general by viceroy.
Queen Victoria herself did not attend the Durbar; the viceroy Earl Lytton was there in her stead. Later Durbars were mass events; this, the first, was for the elite: Maharajas, European grandees, Nawabs and Princes. But the opportunity for a show of Imperial might was not lost: there were 101 artillery salvoes; marching bands; guards of honour; and much pomp and ceremony to mark the historic significance of the proclamation.
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