Prince of Wales visit to India 1921-22: the most disastrous royal tour ever

One hundred years ago this month, a trip that was meant to calm the discord in India did anything but. Mark Whitaker recalls that ill-fated tour by a reluctant Prince of Wales

Tuesday 16 November 2021 09:03
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<p>How not to save an empire: the Prince of Wales in Delhi </p>

How not to save an empire: the Prince of Wales in Delhi

To see him, to meet him, is to submit to his magnetic personality. He is more than a prince. He is the servant of peace. He is the greatest antidote in the world against unrest and disorder.”

It is hard for those who have grown used over the years to regarding him as a self-centred, bitter and envious man with a high sense of entitlement and a penchant for the ideas of the far right to see the Duke of Windsor, briefly King Edward VIII, described in this way.

But this was February 1922, 15 years before his abdication, and the then Prince of Wales was a popular celebrity – probably the first British royal of whom that could be said. He was young, slight, blond and blue-eyed, seemingly rather diffident and shy, and invariably portrayed as both “charming” and “sporting”. One could almost describe him as the Princess Diana of the early 20th century.

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