Cricket, curry and cups of tea

As Queen Victoria's friendship with her Indian attendant is explored in the new film Victoria and Abdul, Shompa Lahiri examines how the queen helped popularise India's cultural influence on all areas of British society, from polo to pyjamas...

Indian princes and British Army officers in the Hyderabad contingent polo team, c1880. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the October 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

They cooked up Indian curries, played Indian sports, draped themselves in Indian textiles and even voted for Indian politicians. The Victorian era saw Britons falling in love with the culture of the subcontinent, and it seems that the people took their prompt from the very top. Queen Victoria herself declared a great interest in the empire’s largest possession and greatest trading partner, so helping to popularise Indian delicacies, fashion, jewellery and architecture.

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