This film is held by the BFI (ID: 3328).


ACTUALITY. A record of Edward, Prince of Wales' visit to India and Nepal, 1921. Prince at Calcutta; the Malakand Pass; and tiger hunting in Nepal.

No main title. A building outlined in lights (8). Arrival of the Prince in open landau at the Madian, Calcutta. He alights from the landau and greets the Indian dignitaries (17-57). The Prince, flanked by the Viceroy and his wife (?) on a raised and covered dais (60). Indian dancing girls perform (72). LS over plain to mountains and Malakand Pass (90-122). Entrance to Malakand Fort. A Gurkha guard is on duty; other Gurkhas enter the fort (136). Exterior view of the fort and entrance; camera follows a man carrying kindling on his head as he walks past the entrance along the fort wall and down a slope (179); beyond the slope can be seen a large, low, rocky hill with watchtowers at either end guarding the road to Chak Dara [Chakdarra] (188-209). LS pan right Chak Dara Fort (219-225). The royal motorcade crosses the border into Nepal and is greeted by men throwing rice and flowers, a ceremony accorded only to royalty (237-245). The Prince inspects a Nepalese guard of honour (248-281). A tiger shoot on elephants: starting off on the hunt, a group of elephants with howdahs; one seated elephant stands up; view of other elephants (285-309); a long line of elephants cross a stream - some 700 elephants were used in the shoot (345); ELS of 50+ elephants walking along the dried-up bed of the River Thute (351-360); closer view as they pass along side of a river - intertitles state that the Prince waves to the camera. (No tiger kill is seen) (370-401). The Prince inspecting a large quantity of animals bestowed on him as gifts by the Maharaja (state not given). The animals are all in wooden crates; the Prince looks at the crates accompanied by a a large retinue and watches a baby elephant (502). "Au Revoir to Nepal (504ft).

Note: The style of intertitles is the same as in OUR GREATEST AMBASSADOR. The Nepal tiger hunt on elephant footage is also contained in that film.



The period immediately following the First World War was one of profound change in Indian political life. In recognition of the war services of Indians the British government drew up its future plans for the sub-continent. This led to the announcement, made by Edwin Montagu in 1917, that the goal of British policy was ‘increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration’ (Brown, 1994, 204). This statement was ratified in the Government of India Act of 1919, which for the first time promised Indians a degree of self-government. The flipside of this Act was the 1919 Rowlatt Bills, which extended war regulations aimed at controlling public unrest into peacetime. It was in response to this legislation that Gandhi first entered all-India politics. On 6 April 1919 he called for Indians to suspend business and to fast as a sign of protest. There were also more violent protests to these measures, which in turn prompted violent responses from the British authorities. In 1920 Gandhi joined the Indian National Congress party, which endorsed his calls for a concerted campaign of non-co-operation, which lasted from 1 August 1920 to February 1922.

It was against this background that the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) embarked upon a tour of the sub-continent. Weary of ceremonial duties the Prince was not excited by the prospect, and he had hoped that the Indian protest movement would provide an excuse not to go. Prior to departure he wrote to Freda Dudley-Ward about his fears that ‘the trouble in India seems to be subsiding and that there isn’t a chance of it stopping my going, damn it’ (Ziegler, 1991, 136). Several political figures thought it unwise to send the Prince to India, but the tour was endorsed by the Viceroy, Lord Reading, who thought that backing out of it would be seen as a victory for the Indian nationalists (Ziegler, 1991, 135; Donaldson, 1974, 86). The eventual tour did witness protests, including serious rioting in Bombay and Calcutta. However, the main effects of the non-co-operation movement for the Prince were depleted crowds and what he viewed as over-protection by the police.

During the tour the Prince experienced much that he disliked. He was opposed to the ‘official rot and pompousness’, and complained that he was prevented from seeing ‘the truths of India’ due to an ‘interposed layer of British officialdom and princely autocracy’ (Ziegler, 1991; 136; Windsor, 1998, 173). He was not a supporter of the independence movement, regarding Edwin Montagu as ‘that despicable man’ who had ‘given in and pandered to the natives’ (Ziegler, 1991, 139). The Indian princes also received his scorn: the Prince thought that ‘their ceremonies are so irritating and ridiculous’ (Ziegler, 1991, 136). In Nepal a tiger shoot was arranged for him, entailing the employment of ten thousand Nepalese to build several miles of roads (Windsor, 1998, 173). The Prince, however, was not keen on big game shooting, and disappointed the Maharaja by taking time out to exercise his polo pony instead (Ziegler, 1991, 141). He was negative about the results of his tour. In December he wrote to King George V, stating ‘I’m very depressed about my work in British India as I don’t feel that I’m doing a scrap of good; in fact I can say that I know I am not’. He cited the main reasons as being the ‘boycotting of my visits to the various cities in British India by the non-co-operators’ (Windsor, 1998, 171).

The official film of the tour was shot by George Taylor-Woods, who had gained experience working for Topical Budget and as an official cameraman in the First World War. Twelve reels of film of the tour were compiled for the company Cinechrome, who specialised in making colour films. Some reports state that the tour was shot in colour (Nowotny, 1983, 36). However, the Kinematograph Weekly review of the footage makes no mention of colour photography (KM, 6 April 1922, 54), and nor does their review of the films once distribution had been taken up by the Stoll Film Company (KM, 25 May 1922, 53). Stoll released the footage in a series of six two-reel films, giving them the tagline ‘England’s Greatest Ambassador’. The film discussed here is something of a curiosity. It contains footage that can be found among three of the Stoll compilations, but also features scenes that are not included in the distributed films. 



In its review of the original Cinechrome footage the Kinematograph Weekly stated that one of the selling points for the film would be ‘the extent to which India is nowadays appearing in the news’ (KM, 6 April 1922, 54). Nevertheless, as they later reported, the footage contains ‘no evidence of the “boycott” which has been made such a feature of the royal progress by a section of the daily Press’ (KM, 25 May 1922, 53). This is partly because the film deliberately concentrates upon ceremonials rather than disturbances, and also due to the way in which the film interprets the action. This compilation begins with footage shot in Calcutta, which witnessed protests against the tour. A title card nevertheless states that the Prince was ‘warmly received’. Moreover, the way in which the scenes are shot offers little chance to gauge the mutual responses between the Prince and the people of India. The filming in Calcutta commences with scenes shot close beside the Prince’s landau. This positioning enables the cameraman to capture the full splendour of the Prince’s carriage and of his party as they disembark, but it also means that the local people are outside the frame. The next scene shows the Prince flanked by the Viceroy and his wife on a richly adorned dais; no other people can be witnessed in the scene. Furthermore, it is shot looking up towards the Prince, thus enhancing his royal majesty and its isolation. Scenes shot in Nepal offer a different perspective. Here we witness a ceremony in which locals mark their respect by throwing rice and flowers towards the royal car. However, this time it is the prince who cannot be seen: a static camera position means that his vehicle quickly speeds through the frame before his emotions can be registered.

The most interesting scenes are of the Prince’s activities in Nepal. The cameraman is adept in capturing the spectacle of the tiger hunt. Although we don’t get to see all of the ‘700 elephants engaged in the shoot’, the cameraman does manage to convey something of the scale of the operation. He composes attractive shots that focus upon the majesty of massed elephants rather than on the huntsmen or their quarry. This may reflect the Prince’s lack of engagement in the shoot. There is a telling scene in which the Prince ‘waves to our “movie” man across the stream’. The sequence shows a long procession of elephants, each bearing elaborate howdahs that contain three or four marksmen. The Prince is not on one of these, but eventually appears some distance from the front, riding alone on the back of the smallest elephant in the herd. His gesture towards the cameraman suggests that he may have been more interested in the filming process than in the hunt that was underway.

There follows a sequence in which the Maharaja bestows upon the Prince ‘numerous gifts in the form of living animal specimens from the forests of Nepal’. The footage then shows a slowly perambulating party looking into crates of different sizes and shapes. As if this menagerie were not enough the following scene shows the Prince being given a baby elephant. These scenes provide the greatest opportunity to view the actions and emotions of the Prince. Unfortunately Taylor-Woods betrays some uncertainty regarding how to frame these shots. He occasionally uses panning movements to capture the action but is uncertain whether to focus on the prince, the Nepalese hosts, or the gifts.

While generally full of praise for the film the Kinematograph Weekly correctly stated that the photography is ‘variable’ and that some scenes ‘would benefit from considerable cutting’ (KM, 6 April 1922, 54; KM, 25 May 1922, 53). The journal also complained that the films feature ‘too much ceremonial’. This focus upon ceremonial is nevertheless a true reflection of the Prince’s responsibilities on the tour, and the fact that there is too much of it could be said to echo his point of view.  It is also indicative of the way in which the tour was orchestrated in order to avoid India’s political unrest.

Richard Osborne (October 2009)


Works Cited

Brown, Judith M., Modern India: The Origins of an Asian Democracy, 2nd edn (Oxford: OUP, 1994).

Donaldson, Frances, Edward VIII (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974).

Nowotny, Robert Allen, The Way of All Flesh Tones: A History of Color Motion Picture Processes, 1895-1929 (Robert Nowotny, 1983).

Windsor, Edward, A King’s Story: The Memoirs of the Duke of Windsor K. G. (London: Prion, 1998).

‘With H.R.H. the Prince of Wales Through India and Burma’, Kinematograph Weekly, 63/787 (25 May 1922), 53.

‘With the Prince of Wales Through India and Burma’, Kinematograph Weekly, 780/62 (6 April 1922), 54).

Ziegler, Philip, King Edward VIII: The Official Biography (London: Fontana, 1991).




Technical Data

Running Time:
6 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
35mm Film
504 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries:
Great Britain