Governor-General of India

The Governor-General of India (1773–1950, from 1858 to 1947 the Viceroy and Governor-General of India, commonly shortened to Viceroy of India) was the representative of the monarch of the United Kingdom and after Indian independence in 1947, the representative of the Indian 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 East India Company officials in India. Complete authority over all of India was granted in 1833, and the official came to be known as the "Governor-General of India".

Viceroy and
Governor-General of India
Standard in the British Raj (1858–1947)
Flag in the Dominion of India (1947–1950)
StyleHis Excellency
Formation20 October 1773
First holderWarren Hastings
Final holder
Abolished26 January 1950
SuccessionPresident of India

In 1858, as a consequence of the Indian Rebellion the previous year, the territories and assets of the East India Company came under the direct control of the British Crown; as a consequence the Company Raj was succeeded by the British Raj. The governor-general (now also the Viceroy) 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 independent princely states or "native states", whose relationship was not with the British Government or the United Kingdom, but rather one of homage directly with the British monarch as sovereign successor to the Mughal emperors. From 1858, to reflect the governor-general's new additional role as the monarch's representative in re the fealty relationships vis the princely states, the additional title of viceroy was granted, such that the new office was entitled "Viceroy and Governor-General of India". This was usually shortened to "Viceroy of India".

The title of Viceroy was abandoned when British India split into the two independent dominions of India and Pakistan, but the office of governor-general continued to exist in each country separately—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 or her on the exercise of their powers. After 1947, the sovereign continued to appoint the governor-general, but thereafter did so on the advice of the newly sovereign Indian Government.

Governor-Generals served at the pleasure of the sovereign, though the practice was to have them serve five-year terms. Governor-Generals could have their commission rescinded; and if one was removed, or left, a provisional Governor-General was sometimes appointed until a new holder of the office could be chosen. The first governor-general in India (of Bengal) was Warren Hastings, the first official governor-general of British India was Lord William Bentinck, and the first governor-general of the Dominion of India was Lord Mountbatten.