The Victoria Memorial, officially the Victoria Memorial Hall, is a memorial building dedicated to Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom and Empress of India, which is located in Kolkata, India - the capital of West Bengal and a former capital of British India. It currently serves as a museum and a tourist attraction. It is an autonomous organization within the Government of India's Ministry of Culture.
The memorial was designed by Sir William Emerson using Indo-Saracenic style, incorporating Mughal elements in the structure. Lord Redesdale and Sir David Prain designed the gardens. The foundation stone of the memorial was laid down in the year 1906. The monument was intended to serve as a tribute to the success of the British Empire in India.
Architect Sir William Emerson laid down the actual plan of the memorial. The design of the structure represents a fusion of British and Mughal architecture. White Makrana marbles were used in the construction of Victoria Memorial Hall and the building was inaugurated in the year 1921. The massive hall is 338 feet (103 m) by 228 feet (69 m) and rises to a height of 184 feet (56 m). Facade of the Victoria Memorial
British government money was not used in its construction at all. Rather, the British Indian states, along with the individuals who wanted some favours from the British government, were the main contributors towards the cost of building the Victoria Memorial Hall.
The massive Victoria Memorial stands enclosed within 64 acres (260,000 m2) of blooming gardens. It houses a museum containing a large collection of memorabilia relating to Queen Victoria and the British presence in India as well as other exhibits. The Memorial also contains a Royal Gallery housing a number of portraits of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and paintings illustrating their lives.
After India gained independence in the year 1947, certain additions were made to the Victoria Memorial. These additions formed National Leader's Gallery, containing the portraits and relics relating to Indian independence. Monarch, see Commonwealth realm. For the current Queen of the United Kingdom, see Elizabeth II.
The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has reigned since 6 February 1952. She and her immediate family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties. As a constitutional monarch, the Queen is limited to non-partisan functions such as bestowing honours and appointing the Prime Minister. Though the ultimate executive authority over the government of the United Kingdom is still by and through the monarch's royal prerogative, these powers may only be used according to laws enacted in Parliament, and, in practice, within the constraints of convention and precedent.
The British monarchy traces its origins from the Kings of the Anglesand the early Scottish Kings. By the year 1000, the kingdoms of Englandand Scotland had developed from the petty kingdoms of early medieval Britain. The last Anglo-Saxonmonarch (Harold II) was defeated and killed in the Norman invasion of 1066 and the English monarchy passed to the Norman conquerors. In the thirteenth century, the principality of Wales was absorbed by England, and Magna Cartabegan the process of reducing the political powers of the monarch.
From 1603, when the Scottish King James VI inherited the English throne as James I, both kingdoms were ruled by a single monarch. From 1649 to 1660, the tradition of monarchy was broken by the republican Commonwealth of England that followed the War of the Three Kingdoms. The Act of Settlement 170, which is still in force, excluded Roman Catholicsor those married to Catholics, from succession to the English throne. In 1707, the kingdoms of England and Scotland were merged to create the Kingdom of Great Britainand, in 1801, the Kingdom of Ireland joined to create the United Kingdom of Great Britain and IrelandThe British monarch became nominal head of the vast British Empire, which covered a quarter of the world's surface at its greatest extent in 1921.
In the 1920s, five sixths of Ireland seceded from the Union as the Irish Free State, and the Balfour Declarationrecognised the evolution of the dominionsof the empire into separate, self-governing countries within a Commonwealth of NationsAfter the Second World War, the vast majority of British colonies and territories became independent, effectively bringing the empire to an end. George VIand his successor, Elizabeth II, adopted the title Head of the Commonwealth as a symbol of the free association of its independent member states.
The Commonwealth includes both republics and monarchies. At present, fifteen other Commonwealth countries share with the United Kingdom the same person as their monarch. The terms British monarchy and British monarch are frequently still employed in reference to the person and institution shared amongst all sixteen of the Commonwealth realms and to the distinct monarchies within each of these independent countries, often at variance with the different, specific, and official national titles and stylesfor each jurisdiction.