Invites to the Maharaja of Bikaner
As a city of internationalism London existed through its public, institutional spaces. But it could also draw upon a host of private spaces in which international visitors could be entertained, in which politics could be discussed, and where gossip could be shared. These spaces were invite only and the number of invites reflected your status. Few delegates to the Round Table Conference received as many invitations as the Maharaja of Bikaner, Ganga Singh. A decorated war hero who signed the Treaty of Versailles on India’s behalf, the Maharaja was invited to dozens of ‘At Home’ gatherings, offered temporary membership of the city’s most prestigious clubs, and was invited to lectures, lunches and dinners galore. From evenings with ex-Prime Ministers like Lloyd George to socialites and politicians like Nancy Astor, from an afternoon with Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore or with the two women delegates at the delegate’s Mayfair club, to invitations to join the International Sportsmen’s Club, London society yearned for the Maharaja’s patronage.