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Detail from a map of India and the Middle East, showing the route of the Prince of Wales' tour
The Prince of Wales's Tour of India in 1875-6

Albert Edward's tour aimed to strengthen ties between the two countries

Along the coasts of India and Sri Lanka

Spry as Father Christmas


The second leg of the Prince of Wales’s tour around the Indian subcontinent was predominantly by ship. The Prince departed Bombay on 25 November and sailed toward Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The HMS Serapis arrived at the port of Colombo in Ceylon on 1 December. Here the Prince was welcomed by William Henry Gregory, Governor-General of Ceylon, and members of the Tamil community. In Ceylon the Prince also visited Kandy, a former capital of various kingdoms in Ceylon.

From Ceylon the Prince sailed to the southern tip of India. He arrived at Tuticorin (Thoothukudi) on 10 December. The original tour route would have allowed the Prince to see more of South India, but an outbreak of cholera had prevented him from doing so. He was, however, able to see the monumental temples of Madurai and Trichinopoly (Tiruchirappalli).

On 18 December, the Prince made his way to the British capital of India, Calcutta (Kolkata) and arrived there on 23 December. On Christmas day, the crew of the HMS Serapis were keen to get into the festive spirit and set about decorating the ship. With little chance of real snow falling, the crew used holly, ivy wreaths and shrubs covered in cotton wool and glistening white powder to create a wintery scene. One of the sailors even dressed up as Father Christmas.

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