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Coronation Durbar at Delhi (1903)


Main image of Coronation Durbar at Delhi (1903)
35mm, black and white, 110 feet
Production CompanyPaul's Animatograph Works
ProducerR.W. Paul

The ceremonial processions staged in Delhi to mark the coronation of Edward VII as King of England and Emperor of India.

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This film, and its companion-piece The Delhi Durbar (also 1903), records scenes from the Coronation Durbar, held at Delhi in January 1903 to mark the accession to the throne of Edward VII. He had actually been King for nearly two years, having succeeded his mother Queen Victoria after her death on 22 January 1901, though the formal coronation had been held in Westminster Abbey on 9 August 1902.

The Delhi Durbar was organised by Lord Curzon, India's viceroy at the time. The original plan was for Edward himself to come to India for a special coronation ceremony, but when the King refused (he was conspicuously less interested in India than Victoria had been), Curzon decided to stage a massive spectacle instead.

After two years' planning, the ceremonies began on 29 December 1902 with a lavish parade of elephants through the streets. Guest included a wide range of Indian princes and maharajas, with the Duke of Connaught representing the British Royal Family. The actual Durbar was held on New Year's Day, 1903, on a large plain outside Delhi, and was widely considered to be a triumph. It was a particularly sweet victory for Sir James Dunlop Smith, the man charged with overall planning, since his compatriots had widely predicted it to be an embarrassing disaster.

Several film companies were in attendance besides R.W.Paul's, but with typical hyperbole he announced his film as "the first and best film of the event". This fragment of footage seems to show a troop review of some kind, with Indian lancers, cavalry and army pipe bands. It is assumed that the dignitaries being conveyed in landaus include the Duke of Connaught, Lord Curzon and their consorts.

Michael Brooke

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'R.W. Paul: The Collected Films 1895-1908', with music by Stephen Horne and optional commentary by Ian Christie.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (1:43)
Delhi Durbar, The (1903)
Our King Emperor (1911)