In 1922, when the British Empire was at it’s height it held sway over one-third of the world's population (458 million people) and covered a quarter of the Earth, stretching from Canada to India, Australia to Nigeria and the Caribbean to South Africa. Never in human history did one voice count for so many, in determining the future destiny of Mankind.
In brief, I want to retrace our history with the help of Mr. Jonathan Sayers (History and Politics teacher at Stowe School), who will be our narrator as he takes us around our former territories, protectorates, colonies and mandates to make a series of documentaries.
The Viceroy’s Tour of India:
Our first show will be about India (‘The Jewel in the Crown’). To achieve this, we have been fortunate enough to secure the services of Lord Bruce, as two of his ancestors literally ran India; the 8th Earl of Elgin, who was Governor-General from 1862-63 and the 9th Earl, who was Viceroy from 1894-99.
It was whilst rooting through their family archives at Broomhall in Scotland that we discovered a diary, written by the 9th Earl’s daughter that recorded her experiences as she followed the Viceroy on his tour around India and it’s her journey that we want to recreate. How delightful is that?
We will also explore the question as to why India (70 years after leaving the British Empire), is now poised to become the worlds third biggest ‘Super Power’ after the US and China - what lessons could we learn from them as we in turn unshackle ourselves from the ‘European Empire’ we find ourselves in today?
Furthermore, the actual history of India doesn’t exist. As India was never a nation state but more of a cultural union, comprising of four main religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism, which were sub-divided again by hundreds of Princely States. The history of India, that I got taught in school, was the one bequeathed to us by the British when we left the subcontinent in 1947.
History of course is written by the winners, whilst the losers account gets obliterated. So to counter that, we aim to put the record straight by visiting places of historic interest and talking to people whose ancestors were actually their and to get a more localised version of Indian history. Who knows what we will find?