The Making of a Viceroy

In 1940 India was vital to British interests, explains Robert Mason, but it was to prove a delicate political matter to find a suitable viceroy to look after those interests.

In his recent book of memoirs The Art of Memory, Lord Butler said of Winston Churchill that 'he had a strangely mercurial nature and he should not have taken an action of which he fundamentally disapproved; such an action was the appointment of Wavell'.


It was a remarkable decision by Churchill, not because of the suitability or otherwise of Wavell, but because of the devious route by which he arrived at it. It was on June 19th, 1943 that the announcement was made from 10 Downing Screet that Field Marshal Sir Archibald Wavell was to succeed the Marquess of Linlithgow as Viceroy of India. The announcement caused surprise, even astonishment in Parliament, Whitehall and the Press.


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