In this image the grand theater of the unveiling ceremony for the statue of Queen Victoria was captured in Karachi at Frere Hall. The statue was commissioned in 1902 at a cost of £6,000, paid for by public subscription. It was shipped in 1905 and installed in time for the royal visit by the Prince of Wales (the future King George V) and his wife. The royal couple arrived in Karachi by the newly constructed North Western Railway, which had recently transformed the city into an important seaport.
The statue was hidden behind Union Jacks, and a long red carpet was laid on the ground, leading from the prince’s carriage to a gazebo in front of the statue, where the speeches were read. In the distance you can see Sind Club and the Holy Trinity Cathedral. Following independence and the partitioning of India in 1947, a process of removing the emblems of British rule began.
Its sculptor was W. Hamo Thornycroft (1850–1925) who created it in marble and set it on a marble pedestal with bronze reliefs and figures. Thornycroft’s Karachi statue remained in place until 1962, a year after a royal visit by Queen Elizabeth II, after which it was finally removed by order of the president. It now lies in Mohatta Palace museum.
Image credit: Royal Commonwealth Society, Queen Mary photograph collection on India.