Circa 1933 – Bhopal – The Earl of Willingdon – Visit of the Viceroy

Freemon – Freemon-Thomas, 1st Earl and Countess of Willingdon came to the subcontinent as “Viceroy of India” in 1931. They were in India for five years and in that period visited Bhopal State.

The Viceroy was received at the Bhopal Station by His Highness Hamidullah Khan The Ruler of Bhopal, who had ascended the throne in 1926 when his mother abdicated in his favor. The Ruler accompanied the Viceroy in his private horse buggy to Qasr-i-Sultani, Ahmedabad Palace where the Bhopal guard of honor presented itself in full regalia.

It was well understood that the Viceroy, the Countess and the Nawab loved a good hunt and they would work in the jungles, ensconced in the wilds, in plush comfort. Affairs of the State were dealt with in meetings held at Chiklod, our private hunting lodge around fifty kilometers from Bhopal.

The ‘whose-who’ of the State would push for a position on the viceregal table set and hosted by the Nawab. The position of each seat would indicate the power that person wielded in the running of the Colony. The dining tables were long and sit-down dinners more replete with more pomp and splendor then was seen back home. The Princes wasted no opportunity in impressing the crown with their grandeur, and the officers of the colony loved it to such an extent that they took it with them to British East, to Africa and other parts of the world.

The trio, The Viceroy, The Countess Willingdon and the Nawab of Bhopal got on well and spent many days in wild Bhopal, hunting big game. The men loved a good duck shoot and would disappear into their hides as flights of ducks flew past their reed hides.

Picnic lunches and bush dinner, sundownders and unscheduled meetings, to discuss matters of state between shoots, became the norm for the days they were together.

Needless to say that Bhopal State and the Crown of England remained close friends for centuries.

The album of the hunt is kept at camp and we will be delighted to show this to you when you come and stay with us in Ndutu.

We at camp deep in the heart of Africa know how it is to host royalty in the bush. We have been doing so for over two centuries and it feels wonderful to have the opportunity to host each of you in the true style of royalty, when you visit us at Ndutu to embrace the great migration of the Serengeti.