British Government


In 1858, the British Crown was established in India, known as the Raj. The Raj encompassed approximately three-fifths of India and, in spite of this, saw India as one place. They entered into diplomatic treaties with principalities of mutual cooperation across the remaining two-fifths of the continent. This meant that the princely rulers were in name only and the British controlled the politics.

Throughout the early twentieth century the British Government introduced a series of political reforms in response to India’s growing calls for autonomy and eventually independence.

© IWM (IND 5302) Viceroy of India: Lord and Lady Mountbatten meet Mr Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the future leader of Pakistan. 1956-1989

The British were initially against partitioning India into two states. In February 1947 the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, announced the intention of leaving India by June 1948 and that Lord Mountbatten was to replace Lord Wavell as Viceroy. The date of departure was revealed to encourage the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League to agree a workable plan for newly independent India. After failing to bring all parties into agreement, the British put their efforts into quickly handing over power at minimum cost, which ultimately resulted in their date of departure being brought forward to August 1947.