The Governor-General of India (or, from 1858 to 1947, the Viceroy and Governor-General of India) was the head of the British administration in India, and later, after Indian independence, the representative of the monarch and de facto head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William. The officer had direct control only over Fort William, but supervised other British East India Company officials in India. Complete authority over all of British India was granted in 1833, and the official became known as the Governor-General of India.

In 1858, the territories of the East India Company came under the direct control of the British Crown. The Governor-General headed the central Government of India which administered the Provinces of British India, including the Punjab, Bengal, Bombay, Madras, the United Provinces, and others.[1] However, much of India was not ruled directly by the British government: outside the provinces of British India there were hundreds of nominally sovereign princely states or "native states", whose relationship was not with the British government, but directly with the monarch. To reflect the Governor-General's role as the representative of the monarch to the feudal rulers of the princely states, from 1858 the term Viceroyand Governor-General of India (known in short as the Viceroy of India) was applied to him.

The title of Viceroy was abandoned when India and Pakistan gained their independence in 1947, but the office of Governor-General continued to exist in both new dominions until they adopted republican constitutions in 1950 and 1956 respectively.

Until 1858, the Governor-General was selected by the Court of Directors of the East India Company, to whom he was responsible. Thereafter, he was appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the British government; the Secretary of State for India, a member of the UK Cabinet, was responsible for instructing him on the exercise of his powers. After 1947, the Sovereign continued to appoint the Governor-General, but did so on the advice of the Indian government, rather than the British one.

Governors-General served five-year terms, but could be removed earlier. After the conclusion of a term, a provisional Governor-General was sometimes appointed until a new holder of the office could be chosen. Provisional Governors-General were often chosen from among the provincial Governors.

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