Queen Victoria’s last letter to India has been put on display for the first time at the Victoria Memorial, one of the finest monuments dedicated to the memory of the monarch. It is located in Kolkata, the capital of Indian state, West Bengal.
The three-page letter, handwritten by the queen almost a month before her death, was revealed for all to see on 16 December 2016 at the monument’s Prince hall.
• Dating back to 14 December 1900, the 116-year-old letter bearing the Royal Seal was addressed to the then Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon.
• It is a significant piece of historical evidence of the correspondence between Britain and British India.
• It was gifted by Lord Curzon in 1904.
• It was written by the queen in response to an earlier correspondence with Lord Curzon who had expressed his condolences on the death of one of her grandsons, Prince Christian Victor, eldest son of the queen’s third daughter.
• It mostly contains references to the young Prince’s death. Prince Christian died on 29 October 1900 while fighting in the Second Boer War in Pretoria, South Africa.
• As the handwritten letter is over a century old, a typed version of it is also on display for the convenience of visitors.
About Queen Victoria
• She was the Queen of the United Kingdom from 20 June 1837 till her death on 22 January 1901.
• Fifth in line, she inherited the throne at the age of 18 after the death of her grandfather, father and all his three elder brothers who left no surviving legitimate children.
• She was married to her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and had nine children with him. Prince Albert passed away in 1861.
• She received the title of Empress of India on 1 May 1876, following the dissolution of the British East India Company and transfer of powers from the company to the state after the Indian revolt of 1857.
• The queen unlike the company was more balanced with her view of the conflict and condemned the atrocities committed by both the sides.
• Her reign, which lasted for 63 years, is referred to as the Victorian era.
The decision of building a memorial in the memory of the queen was taken within a few weeks of her death. The Queen’s grandson and the then Prince of Wales, King George V laid the foundation stone for the Memorial on 4 January 1906 and it was formally opened for public in the year 1921.