Maharaja of Patiala's Speech

Inspection of Brighton honour guard by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala and his Sikh officers at
the opening ceremonies of the Gateway.

October 29, 1921
Brighton Herald

The Maharaja replied:
“I thank you most heartily for the address of welcome you have presented, and which I shall cherish as a personal link with your far-famed county borough. Your kind expressions of good wish for myself and the State of Patiala are not the less, but the more, gratifying to me when I interpret them, as I do, as being linked with the representative capacity in which I come here today. They are recognition of the part India, and more particularly the independent States, played in the Great War. Patiala was able to furnish for the field, in almost every theatre of the war, some 28,000 men. Of these fighters a number were the recipients of your abounding hospitality when, after being stricken in the conflict, they were nursed back to health, though, alas! some succumbed to their injuries. From many of those who returned I have heard expressions of fervent gratitude for the attention and care lavished upon them by ' Doctor ' Brighton, whose fame and skill as a healer and health restorer is talked of in many hundreds of remote Indian villages. I rejoice to be associated with many of my subjects in having a direct personal link with the Imperially-minded people of this Queen of the South.”

In his speech asking the Maharaja to present the gateway, Sir John Otter spoke with gratitude of the labours of the members of the memorial committee, with a warm eulogium for Sir Walter Lawrance. Describing the gateway, he said that it was modelled on examples in the Punjaub of the sixteenth century, when the conventional forms of architecture were raised to the highest imaginative level. The dome is bound round by the lotus flower, a sacred symbol in many nations. The finial is the conventional form of the water pot, which water pot he took to be a symbol of the creative power, since water is an indispensable factor in the origin and maintenance of life. “May we find this symbol a prophylactic, against such drought as we have suffered from this year.”

Sir John found the memorial at once distinctive and harmonious as regards its surroundings. He made happy reference to the. chattri, to the visit of the Prince of Wales, and he took as a text the quotation from the speech of his Royal Highness, “ a wave of goodwill is passing from England to India.”

India’s Grateful Memories.

The visit of the Prince of Wales, the unveiling of the chattri, and the fact that " at this very hour his Royal Highness is leaving London to embark on the Renown," were all spoken of by the Maharaja in his second address. He continued:

" His Royal Highness justly said at Patcham that India never forgets kindness and sympathy. This gateway stands as a symbol of that trait ; it will speak to coming generations of Brightonians, as well as to your numberless visitors, of the golden links of Indian remembrance of your overflowing hospitality to men of different race and faith to yours, but who, in the hour of the Empire’s need, were your comrades in arms, and in sacrifice.

"I am happy to think that the idea of some visible and lasting token of our appreciation and gratitude was first, suggested by a member of the Sikh race, Raja Daljit Singh, who was then well placed for promoting the project, being a member of the Council of India in Whitehall. He had the advice and help of such good servants of India as my late lamented friend Sir James Dunlop Smith, and Sir Walter Lawrence, the organizer of Indian hospital arrangements in this country, whose absence to-day on account of ill-health we much regret."

Speaking of the readiness with which Brighton surrendered the Pavilion to the Indians, his Highness made the observation, "The sacrifice you made was a happy application of the gift of imagination. Of the large number of Indian soldiers you entertained, some 2,000 passed through the Pavilion hospital, and the great majority of them, some crippled, some completely restored, survive to tell their friends and neighbours in the towns and villages of Northern India that they were nursed and tended in a Royal palace closely associated with the dynasty of H.M. the King - Emperor. Moreover, they tell of being visited here by his Majesty, and some of them proudly point to Victoria or Military Crosses or other decorations pinned on their breasts by the King-Emperor within the grounds of the Pavilion. Believe me these memories are a great Imperial asset in these days of restlessness. It is in links of this spontaneous kind - the Chattri on the Downs, the gateway here - that British and Indian relations will be consolidated in the future, to the lasting good of both countries and to the efficiency of their joint service to humanity.

"Your Worship, I ask you to accept this gift as a permanent memorial of the gratitude of the Indian Princes and the peoples of India to the people of Brighton for the generous hospitality and kindness shown to wounded Indian soldiers by the Corporation and inhabitants of Brighton."

In accepting " this noble gift." the Mayor said that it would be a permanent reminder of one of the most inspiring incidents of the Great War.

Worthy of His Fathers.

At the luncheon, the Mayor, in proposing the health of the Maharaja of Patiala, said that, but for his desire to be present in Brighton to unveil the memorial, his Highness would have already been on his way to India to share in the welcome there to the Prince of Wales.

In reply, the Maharaja said:
" It is not for me to appraise the Patiala contribution. All I can suitably say is that the aim I had in view, and which I strove to inculcate upon my subjects (and the whole Sikh community) was to maintain the traditions associated with the Sikhs generally since their incorporation within the Empire and of Patiala in particular. They are traditions of unstinted, whole-hearted service of the British throne whenever it is threatened or assailed within or without. If I had not done my utmost, and encouraged my people to do their utmost, in the Great War. I should have been unworthy of the ancestor who in the Mutiny gave invaluable help to the British, hardly-pressed as they were, ponding the arrival of reinforcements; and also unworthy of my illustrious father, who fought on the North-West Frontier again and again for the cause of British and Indian security.

"I would add that a spirit of helpfulness as between India and this country can find ample avenues in peace no less than in war. Though your chief industry is that of giving health and pleasure to countless visitors, there are substantial business enterprises carried on in and around Brighton; and I trust that your unemployment problem, is not so severe as in many other large towns in this country. I hope it may be possible for India, shown by the Railway Committee to be so badly and urgently in need of railway equipment to place substantial orders with British firms which will help to assuage the wave of unemployment through which this country is passing.

"May I add that I return to India to-morrow, and have the privilege of being attached to the staff there of the Prince of Wales, who was on the staff of Lord Cavan in Italy when I went to that front in 1918. I shall have the honour of entertaining His Royal Highness in Patiala, and shall not forget to tell him of the success of the ceremony of this day as a happy supplement to that for which he visited your historic city in February. He will share in the wish I now heartily express for all prosperity of Brighton the succorer and helper of wounded Indian soldiers."

The Maharaja having proposed the toast of "The Corporation of Brighton" Sir John Otter made response. The burden of his speech was a thoughtful consideration of the part played by the common soldier, " who sinks into the abyss that the nation may arise," and he also spoke of the appealing atmosphere of romance that the presence of the Indian soldiers cast over the town. Sir John mentioned that the Maharaja, of Patiala is a good cricketer and patron of cricket in India.

The toast of "The Visitors" gave to Alderman Thomas-Stanford the opportunity of drawing attention to the remarkable and significant fathering of rulers of India, of prominent British administrators who have carried on the machinery of Empire in many lands, and of soldiers who have won distinction in various fields. He welcomed the presence of the architect of the gateway. Mr T. Tyrrwhitt and of the builders Messrs. Trollope and Colls. He referred to Lord Buxton as the one who during the dangerous years of war guided the destinies of the great Dominion of South Africa.

Lord Buxton made a cheerful response, and his reference to " leaving the fog and coming into the sunshine" at Brighton drew from the Maharaja a sudden smile, lighting up the impassive repose of his features.