Letter from the Secretary to the Crown Representative
to the India Office
June 25, 1942
Legal Document No
In conclusion I am to make it clear that His Excellency is strongly of
opinion that so fully documented a communication, emanating from such a
source and couched in terms of genuine apprehension clearly calls for
a definite answer, the nature of which can only be determined by His Majesty's
His Highness's letter is carefully documented and it will be seen that
it is signed by him in Lois capacity as Chancellor of the Chamber of Princes
and is described in the final sentence as an official letter. It concludes
with a specific request that "an authoritative and early announcement"
should be made by His Majesty s Government in order "to eliminate the Princes"
serious concern and misgivings on these matters.
His Excellency the Crown Representative has little doubt that such concern
and misgivings are in fact genuinely entertained by the great majority
of Indian Princes, particularly by the more conservative among then1, and
is not inclined to attach any great importance to such public declarations
in the opposite sense as have been made by their Highnesses of Kashmir
and Indore. The Princes may to some extent derive comfort and re-assurance
from the generous terms in which His Majesty has referred in his message
to India published on the 13th June 194n to "their traditions of loyalty
and attachment to his Throne" and to their unstinting offers of men and
money and personal services for the war. But they are not likely to be
reassured by a reference to the fact that Sir Stafford Cripps' offer was
in terms withdrawn when the negotiations broke down. The Princes probably
feel that should negotiations be resumed in the event of the great political
parties in British India showing a more responsive attitude, the Cripps
declaration would certainly from the starting point of such negotiations
and would be regarded as the minimum measure of concession and advance
open to discussion.
In particular, perplexity is expressed in pare II (a) of the Chancellor's
letter with regard to the statement made by the Lord Privy Seal in the
house of commons to the effect that he was "certain that this House would
wish the British Administration in India to do all it can to encourage
and expedite the development of suitable representative institutions in
all Indian States." It is impossible to reconcile this statement with the
earlier declaration of policy of His Majesty's Government made m the form
of replies to questions asked in Parliament in 1938, and referred to in
His Excellency the Crown Representatives address to the Chamber of Princes
in 1939. On the first occasion, on 1st February 1938, the Under Secretary
of State replied that "It is not the policy of the Paramount Power in ordinary
circumstances to intervene ii, the internal administration of full powered
States." This was confirmed on the 16th December of the same year when
the reply given to Sir John Wardlaw-Milne was that "His Majesty's Government
have no intention of bringing any form of pressure to bear upon Rulers
to initiate constitutional changes. It rests with the Rulers themselves
to decide what form of Government they should adopt in the diverse conditions
of Indian States".
There thus exists a direct discrepancy in a matter of cardinal importance,
which, in His Excellency's opinion, requires elucidation at the earliest
possible opportunity, since, if the view expressed by the Lord Privy Seal
is to be interpreted as the considered view of His Majesty's Government
as now constituted, our existing policy in regard to constitutional reforms
in States stands in need of radical revision.
I am also to invite particular attention to paragraph III (d) of the Chancellor's
letter which contains a brief and surprisingly restrained reference to
what is perhaps the most legitimate of all the objections which the Princes
could raise to the draft declaration, namely, that by acceding to the new
Union they would be committed to a possible...perhaps even probable severance
of their cherished relations with the British Crown. His Highness has not
mentioned the obvious remedy, i. e. that in joining the, Union, the States
should be allowed to reserve the right to secede from it if at any time
the Union were to decide to leave the British Commonwealth of Nations.
His Excellency believes that, in the absence of such a provision, few if
any, of the great States would join the Union.