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What was the Delhi Durbar 1903 - Part 2
What was the Delhi Durbar 1903 / Jun 21st, 2017 12:35 am     A+ | a-
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King Edward the VII
On New year's day 1903, Edward the VII was declared Emperor of India. The occasion was marked by a grand ceremony held at the Delhi Durbar - a spectacular and elaborate festival organized by the British government. Lord Curzon was determined that it should be "the biggest thing ever seen in India" and spent almost two years in meticulous planning to ensure that this was so. The planning and organization of the durbar was spearheaded by Sir James Robert (JR) Dunlop Smith. The site selected was the same upon which the 1877 Durbar had been staged.

Edward VII, to Curzon's disappointment, did not attend but sent his brother, the Duke of Connaught who arrived with a mass of dignitaries by train from Bombay just as Curzon and his government came in the other direction from Calcutta.

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The two full weeks of festivities were devised in meticulous detail by Lord Curzon. It was a dazzling display of pomp, power and split second timing. Neither the earlier Delhi Durbar of 1877, nor the later Durbar held there in 1911, could match the pageantry of Lord Curzon's 1903 festivities. In a few short months at the end of 1902, a deserted plain was transformed into an elaborate tented city, complete with temporary light railway to bring crowds of spectators out from Delhi, a post office with its own stamp, telephone and telegraphic facilities, a variety of stores, a Police force with specially designed uniform, hospital, magistrate's court and complex sanitation, drainage and electric light installations. Souvenir guide books were sold and maps of the camping ground distributed. Marketing opportunities were craftily exploited. Special medals were struck, firework displays, exhibitions and glamorous dances held.

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The Durbar camps, outside Delhi

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Opening of the Indian Art Exhibition
The Official programme of the events, crowded into the space of twelve days is briefly as follows: - The State Entry of His Excellency the Viceroy; The Elephant Procession; The Opening of the Indian Art Exhibition; The Durbar Proceedings; The State Church Service; Review of Troops and the departure of His Excellency the Viceroy, Other functions and amusements: Polo tournaments; Foot Ball; Cricket; Assaults-at-Arms; Review of the Native Chiefs' Retinues, and fireworks and Illuminations.

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Winner Polo Team
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Gymnastic exhibition
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The Review of the Troops

The imperial durbar ceremony itself fell on New Year's day and was followed by days of polo and other sports, dinners, balls, military reviews, bands, and exhibitions. The world's press dispatched their best journalists, artists and photographers to cover proceedings.

The programme of events ran over 10 days. It began with the grand opening procession on 29th December, where the Viceroy, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, other British VIPs and Indian Princes paraded through the streets of Delhi on elephants.

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The Imperial Durbar, on January 1st

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