The Delhi Durbar (meaning “Court of Delhi”) was an Indian imperial-style mass assembly organized by the British at Coronation Park, Delhi, India, to mark the succession of an Emperor or Empress of India. Also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times, in 1877, 1903, and 1911, at the height of the British Empire. The 1911 Durbar was the only one that a sovereign, George V, attended. The term was derived from the common Mughal term durbar.
Called the “Proclamation Durbar”, the Durbar of 1877, for which the organisation was undertaken by Thomas Henry Thornton, was held beginning on 1 January 1877 to proclaim Queen Victoria as Empress of India by the British. The 1877 Durbar was largely an official event and not a popular occasion with mass participation like later durbars in 1903 and 1911. It was attended by the 1st Earl of Lytton—Viceroy of India, maharajas, nawabs and intellectuals. This was the culmination of transfer of control of British India from the East India Company to the Crown.
Inside the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta is an inscription taken from the Message of Queen Victoria presented at the 1877 Durbar to the people of India:
We trust that the present occasion may tend to unite in bonds of close affection ourselves and our subjects; that from the highest to the humblest, all may feel that under our rule the great principles of liberty, equity, and justice are secured to them; and to promote their happiness, to add to their prosperity, and advance their welfare, are the ever present aims and objects of our Empire.