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The Taj – Reminders of Empire, remaking the British links
April 3, 2012

The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai is one of the prime landmarks of the city, overlooking the colossal Gateway to India, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay prior to the historic Delhi Durbar held in December 1911. Built by the founder of the Tata group over 100 years ago, and still owned by the same company, the Taj is synonymous with Mumbai’s power and influence as India’s business capital. It has witnessed the comings and goings of monarchs, presidents and prime ministers, and withstood the savage terrorist attack of 2008, since when it has been beautifully restored.

[....] Later in the week it was back to the Taj for the launch of a small book “A Glimpse of Empire” by British author Jessica Douglas-Home about her grand-mother’s passage to India in her early 20s to attend the Durbar and to take an extraordinary journey from the far north of the country down to Madras. Renu Basu, a director of The Taj Hotel group and the British Business Group, kindly asked me to welcome the British authoress. I noted that, while I felt a touch uneasy being seen to promote a book looking back to the days of the Raj, I felt re-assured by the presence at the launch of Ratan Tata, chairman of the Group, under whose dynamic leadership the UK has witnessed the dramatic and exciting turnaround of JLR (Jaguar Land Rover), as the new models released at the Geneva Motor Show this year demonstrated. Mr Tata opened the first copy of the book, providing yet another occasion for the Taj to witness the powerful and continuing links between India and the UK - in a very changed relationship since the arrival of Mrs Douglas-Home’s grandmother in 1911.

Peter Beckingham
Deputy High Commissioner, Mumbai

For full text see:
The Taj – Reminders of Empire, remaking the British links


Daily Mail
The greatest show on earth: ROBERT HARDMAN celebrates the pageant that marked the high point of Empire

Read more: The greatest show on earth

Daily Mail - on 15th December 2011


Daily Mail
The quiet man doth speak: Duke's pride over royal role in British Raj

Outspoken: The Duke of Kent delivered a stern rebuke to the administrators of the British Empire

Normally he is the quiet man of the Royal Family. When he does make speeches the Duke of Kent’s words are pleasant, polite and usually full of platitudes. But in a rare public defence of royal history, the Duke has delivered a stern rebuke to the administrators of the British Empire and paid a fulsome tribute to the Royal Family’s progressive stance a century ago. ‘I am proud to say that my family and its relationship with India was the most enlightened in the British establishment of those days,’ the Duke declared. ‘And my grandfather, George V, [was] perhaps most enlightened of all.’

The Queen’s first cousin was opening a photographic exhibition this week to mark the 100th anniversary of arguably the greatest royal pageant of all time, the Delhi Durbar of 1911. History may look back on George V as a staunch reactionary but, by the standards of the day, he was almost a bleeding-heart liberal — according to his grandson. Addressing the 120 guests assembled at London’s Indar Pasricha Fine Arts gallery, the Duke went on to point out that his grandfather had ‘no time’ for colonial authorities who took a condescending attitude towards the Indian people.

Richard Kay - Daily Mail 14th December 2011

For full text see:
The quiet man doth speak: Duke's pride over royal role in British Raj



Charles Moore

On Tuesday morning, I was sitting reading Jessica Douglas-Home’s vivid new book about the great Delhi Durbar in 1911 (A Glimpse of Empire, Michael Russell). In the background, the Today programme was burbling. I had just got to the bit about the Maharajas paying homage to the King-Emperor. The author describes how the Maharaja of Nawanagar — better known as the great cricketer Ranjitsinhji — though splendid in his silver carriage, was also stony broke: ‘Ranji’s extravagance was much frowned upon in official circles … After the Durbar, he was humiliated by the imposition of a financial adviser upon his administration’. Then on to Today came a man called Horst Reichenbach, a German. He is the representative of the EU ‘troika’ charged with making Greece submit to its financial ‘advice’. From Raj to Reich, with exactly a century in between, the situation is not so different.

[....] Another colourful figure at the Durbar was the Gaekwar of Baroda. He showed signs of independence which worried the Viceroy. He caused dismay by making only ‘a cursory bow from the waist’ to George V, and then, ‘wheeling around, turned his back on the royal couple and walked from their presence nonchalantly twirling a gold-topped walking stick’. As a result, the authorities snubbed the Gaekwar. Frightened of ostracism, he dashed off a letter of apology. In the EU today, the role of the Gaekwar is played by the British government.

The Spectator's Notes - 26 November 2011

For full text see:
The Spectator's Notes


Radio 4

Jessica Douglas-Home talks to Libby Purves
BBC Radio 4's Midweek, 16th Nov 2011
(JD-H interview starts at: 33 mins 50 secs)


From: "Francois Feuillat"
Date: 25 November 2011 06:56:42 GMT
To: "Jessica Douglas-Home"
Subject: Your book in Bangalore

FFrancois Feuillat

I have been enjoying "A glimpse of Empire" enormously here in India and enclose pictorial evidence taken a minute ago at the Taj West End Hotel in Bangalore. Could our copy be the first to reach India? I'm enjoying Lilah's personal journey and the anecdotes, with just enough historical context without slowing down the pace. Most of all, it's as if you were reading to me - so your voice is with me always as I read this beautiful book.