George, Mary & Britain’s Last Delhi Durbar

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George V ascended the throne following the death of his father, Edward VII, on May 6, 1910. Though the royal house was still branded “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” and not yet Windsor, his reign was a remarkable step towards modernity and away from the stifling Victorian atmosphere that had so defined his grandmother’s reign. George and his wife, Mary of Teck, had long established themselves as not only reliable members of the Royal Family, but two who didn’t put much stock in formality or ceremony. While Edward VII had never allowed guests to sit while he was standing or retire to bed before he and his wife, Alexandra, George quickly did away with such practices, instilling a more “country home” environment into his residences.

And while his father had always kept a close eye on the machinations of Western Europe, tied so tightly to the family thanks to the intermarrying of cousins, George was more concerned with the longevity and health of the British Empire. It was from these instincts that he hashed out a plan to follow up his coronation in Westminster Abbey with one in Delhi and a royal tour to each of his dominions. As Prince of Wales, he had conducted a successful tour of India in 1904, while his father had made a similar trek in the 19th century. Indeed, it was only Queen Victoria, the first British Empress of India, who never made the journey.

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