In Episode 3, we explore how, through various important battles, Britain established a stronghold across India. Was it an organised take over? Or did Britain increase their control unintentionally? From the time the British began trading, the British Crown and Indian rulers played an important part in determining how India developed. But how did these relationship develop? The alliances and rebellions throughout the British Raj set the scene for evolving political and diplomatic relationships. Using artefacts from the Royal Collection Trust, we explore the interactions between the two countries.

Background: Suspicion, tension, and jealousy towards the men who had become wealthy in the Orient, were constant emotions of the British government and public. They were referred to as “Nabob’s”.

Both Robert Clive and Warren Hastings were attacked politically once they returned to England. The East India Company was increasingly being seen as corrupt. This distrust of a corrupt EIC, coupled with the Bengal famine between 1769 and 1773 (which killed up to 10 million people) and rebellions across EIC controlled territory, sent the EIC's shares into free fall. Banks across Europe that had lent money to the EIC started to go bankrupt. The government stepped in to bail out the EIC and it becomes partly nationalised.

The East India Company Act 1784 was also known as the Pitt’s India Act after the British Prime Minister William Pitt. The act sought to rein in the corrupt practices of the EIC and allow the government in Britain to control its affairs. 

In 1797 Arthur Wellesley 1st Duke of Wellington, arrives in Calcutta as the new Governor-General and over the next decade he was able to capture much of India. He fought many important battles particularly in the southern part of India and leaves in 1808 with the majority of India firmly in the grip of London.   

For the next 50 years successive acts of Parliament slowly moved control of India from the EIC to Britain. Finally, in the aftermath of the 1857 (The Indian Rebellion – find out more in Episode 7) the Government of India Act 1858 was enacted, which sought to disestablish the East India Company and move control of India to the Crown.