An Indian Nobleman Appears to Disrespect King George V

The grand and historic 1911 Delhi Durbar, attended by King George V and Queen Mary, was the first time a reigning British monarch had traveled to India, and each Indian ruler or "native prince" was expected to perform proper obeisance to the King-Emperor by bowing three times before him, then backing away without turning their back.

As the third most prestigious Indian ruler, Sayajirao Gaekwad III of Baroda was third in line to approach the King-Emperor; already, he had caused a stir among the British officials by refusing to wear his full regalia of jewels and honors (to lend a touch of exoticism, it was expected that the rulers on formal occasions would present themselves in jewels). Sayajirao did bow, albeit perfunctorily and only once before turning his back on the King-Emperor and swinging his cane. According to his granddaughter Gayatri Devi, he had been unable to attend rehearsals and didn't know how to greet the King-Emperor. Other eyewitness reports state he walked away "laughing" as the cane twirled in his hand.

For several years before this incident, Sayajirao had angered the British with his open support for the Indian National Congress and its leaders; the incident before the King-Emperor proved to be the last straw. The British never fully trusted Sayajirao again, although he was openly forgiven and eventually awarded a GCIE (Knight Grand Commander of the Indian Empire) title in 1919.