Prince of Wales's visit to India of 1875-6. The National Rail Museum, Shanti Path, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India. Note the Prince of Wales's emblem of three feathers over a crown, with the motto in German "Ich Dien" ("I serve") on a dark blue ribbon below it. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]. The saloon was built in preparation for the
The white carriage is made of metal and was used by the Prince during his tour of India. An interesting feature is that it could be entered by balconies at both ends, with seats for two armed guards on each balcony. It is described as "[o]ne of the beauty queens among the NRM exhibits," with sunshades and all its "original furniture and internal fittings ... intact" (Shankar). The retinue, of course, would have had less splendidly fitted carriages. Reporting somewhat less enthusiastically on these, one of the accompanying correspondents, William Russell, wrote, "if his Royal Highness has such accommodation as is due to his rank, the suite do not travel badly. With blankets and pillows, 'the hardy traveller' can manage to make a night of it, and wake up in the morning refreshed by sleep" (402).
The Prince's visit, which his mother had initially approved of, but then opposed, was a triumph for him. It foreshadowed his later success as king. Jane Ridley writes of his "ability to connect with the rulers of the princely states," and says that it "helped to legitimise the Raj as a neo-feudal alliance between the Indian princes and the English Queen" (178). London's Daily Telegraph correspondent paints a vivid picture of his arrival at Baroda early on in the tour. Now in Gujurat, Baroda was then a princely state, and the thirteen-year-old Indian Prince had come to the station to receive him in "a pretty, little carriage, made wholly of silver and gold — a work of art, indeed, such as can hardly be surpassed" (this would have been the elephant's howdah). After due formalities, the young ruler's retinue, nearly a hundred strong, lined up alongside the decorated and caparisoned elephants waiting to take the party on to the Residency, and the Prince of Wales's train was signalled. "As the engine approached the Prince was seen standing outside the saloon carriage, looking on the platform with evident interest, and, as soon as the train stopped, his Royal Highness descended and shook hands warmly first with the Guicowar [the prince] and then with the Premier" (Gay 85). A splendid railway saloon, complete with balconies, was essential both for the eager visiting Prince, and the impression he made on his young and equally delighted host (see Wheeler for another account, 109-11).
Photographs, formatting and text by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]
- The locomotive coupled with the prince's saloon car at the museum
- The Prince of Wales's Visit to India
Gay, J. Drew. The Prince of Wales in India, or From Pall Mall to the Punjaub. New York: R. Worthington, 1877. Internet Archive. Web. 28 March 2014.
Ridley, Jane. Bertie: A Life of Edward VII. London: Chatto & Windus, 2012.
Russell, William Howard, Sir. The Prince of Wales' Tour: A Diary in India; with some account of the visits of His Royal Highness to the courts of Greece, Egypt, Spain, and Portugal. 2nd ed. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1877.Internet Archive. Web. 28 March 2014.
Shankar, S. "National Rail Museum, New Delhi." IRFCA.org (website of the Indian Railways Fan Club). Web. 28 March 2014.
Wheeler, George. India in 1875-76: The visit of the Prince of Wales: Chronicle of His Royal Highness's Journeying in India, Ceylon, Spain and Portugal. London: Chapman and Hall, 1876. Internet Archive. Web. 28 March 2014.
Last modified 28 March 2014