Queen Victoria Becomes Empress of India

01 Jan 1877

In 1877, Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Prime Minister, had Queen Victoria proclaimed as Empress of India. India was already under crown control after 1858, but this title was a gesture to link the monarchy with the empire further and bind India more closely to Britain.

The Royal Titles Bill was brought before Parliament in 1876. It faced opposition from Liberals who feared that the title was synonymous with absolutism. Queen Victoria opened Parliament in person, the first time since the death of Prince Albert, to announce the change in royal title. Celebrations were held in Delhi, in what is known as the Delhi Durbar, on 1 January 1877, led by the Viceroy, Lord Lytton.

People involved: 

Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria.

Secondary works: 

Cannadine, David, Ornamentalism: How the British saw their Empire (London: Penguin, 2001)

Cohn, Bernard S., 'Representing Authority in Victorian India', in Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (eds) The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Metcalf, Thomas R., Ideologies of the Raj (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Strachey, Lytton, Queen Victoria (London: Chatto & Windus, 1921)

Archive source: 

Benjamin Disraeli Letters, Brandeis University Library, Massachusetts

Mss Eur E218, Lytton Papers, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras