In episode 7 of our web series, we chart the history of events that lead to The Indian Rebellion in the 19th Century. Historians discuss Britain's East India Company gaining more military power in India, eventually launching the country into a perpetual state of unrest. 

In 1858, governance was passed to the British Crown and Queen Victoria became Empress of India in 1876. The 1857 rebellion, characterised by some as India’s first War of independence - can be seen as a defining moment in the relationship between the two countries as it led to the end of the East India Company (EIC), the rise of the British Empire and the seeding of the idea that India could be and Independent nation. 

The rebellion began when a group of sepoys (Indian Soldiers working for the EIC) in Meerut, mutinied and this unrest spread to other parts of Central India. As word spread, fighting also extended into parts of Northern and Eastern India. Rebels attacked and looted British buildings and infrastructure such as telegraph. They also broke open jails, freeing prisoners. It was a bloody and violent defiance of British EIC rule and led to a brutal crackdown on the part of the EIC.  It took months for EIC to regain control however, the cruelty and indiscriminate killing on the part of the EIC was picked up in Britain and India, with many people calling for the the EIC to be held to account for their actions. 

The following year, 1858, The EIC was dissolved and power was passed to the British Crown and India entered a new era of empire. With the transfer of power to Queen Elizabeth I, the crown was keen to contrast public perception of British rule of the EIC and avoid future rebellions. They were keen for the British Crown to project a paternal, civilising and benevolent image towards their Indian subjects. In 1875, the eldest son of Queen Victoria, Albert Edward Prince of Wales, embarked on a vast tour that would take him across India. Over the four month tour of India, the Prince visited many towns and cities and was showered with gifts from rich and poor alike. Accepting every gift he was offered, the prince nurtured respect for the monarchy. The Royal tour seemed to signify the importance of India within the British Empire especially since it had lost the North American colonies (United States of America) in 1783.