William H Burke
A British press photographer active in the early twentieth century, William H Burke is known today for having shot two candid photographs of King George V and Queen Mary during the Coronation Durbar (also known as the Delhi Durbar) in New Delhi, which was held in 1911 in honour of the newly crowned king.
The platinum print photographs depict the king and queen in their full regalia along with the Indian princes (names unknown) who were their attendants at the event. The Durbar was intended not only as a celebration for the new king but also a demonstration of the power of the British Crown. The role given to the Indian princes was likely a way of emphasising the subordinate position of Indian kingdoms to the Crown. Both of Burke’s photographs were taken at the Red Fort’s balcony from where the royal couple watched the festivities. One image (16.5 x 23.5 cm) shows the Indian princes carrying the hem of King George V’s coronation robe as the couple walked towards the viewing spot and the other (15.6 x 24.2 cm) shows them looking down at the gathered crowds, sitting in ornate chairs with the princes seated near them on the platform.
Burke’s photographs are included in the late Queen Mary’s personal photograph album, which is now a part of the Royal Collection in the UK. These images are the only surviving source of information about William H Burke and it is not known which other photographs he may have taken for the press or where his agency was based.
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