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Making links with the Indian rulers

Photograph of Sayaji Rao III Gaekwar, Maharaja of Baroda, who stands facing front, head turned slightly right. He leans with his right arm on book on top of circular table, which also has a second, upright book with the Prince of Wales motif. He wears tur

Sayaji Rao III, Gaekwar of Baroda (1875-1938): Prince of Wales Tour of India 1875-6 ©

The Prince held receptions in many Indian cities, including Bombay and Calcutta, where he met with Indian rulers. In the style of a durbar (court or audience) the Prince adopted Indian courtly practice, largely based on the Mughal court (1526–1857). This approach proved effective in building relationships between Indian rulers and the Prince, who met more than 90 rulers on his tour. Prior to the British Raj these court traditions, including the presentation of gifts, had been adopted by the British East India Company to maintain good trading relationships.

Before the tour it had been requested that the Prince should not be given gifts. However, the Viceroy of India, Lord Northbrook, knew that this edict was unlikely to be followed and therefore suggested that gifts should be limited to ‘curiosities, ancient arms, and specimens of local manufacture’. In reality, the Prince also received many sumptuous objects relating to the traditional Indian court.

The Prince brought with him a range of items that he could present as part of the gift exchange. These included rings, bracelets, commemorative medals, swords, sporting firearms, books and prints.