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The Empress of India Medal, also referred to as KIH Medal, was a commemorative medal awarded to mark the occasion of the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India in 1877. It was the first wearable medal issued to mark a commemorative occasion within the British Empire. The medal was awarded in gold to Indian princes or senior officials and in silver to select British and Indian military officers and civilians, as well as one soldier from each British and Indian regiments serving in India at the time of the proclamation celebrations of the 1877 Delhi Durbar.

Empress of India Medal
Empress of India Medal gold.png
Obverse and reverse of the Empress of India Medal
Awarded by Queen Victoria
TypeCommemorative medal
Awarded forCommemorate the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India
Established1 January 1877
Empress of India Medal.png
Ribbon bar of the medal



The first official medals to commemorate the coronation of a British sovereign were distributed in 1547, marking the coronation of King Edward VI. These medals were medallions or commemorative coins, not intended for wear. The first official medal, commemorating a royal occasion, which could be worn, was the Empress of India Medal. This medal marked the occasion of the proclamation at the Delhi Durbar of Queen Victoria as Empress of India on 1 January 1877.[1]


The medal was made in both gold and silver. It measures 58 millimetres (2.3 in) in diameter, nearly 20 mm more than a campaign medal. The obverse of the medal depicts the diademed effigy of Queen Victoria, wearing a veil which falls over the back of the head and neck. Around the beaded edge of the medal is inscribed Victoria 1st January 1877. The reverse bears the inscription Empress of India in English and Hind-ka-Kesar in Hindustani and Persian. Around the edge is a repeating decorative design.[2]

It was worn on a 42 millimetres (1.7 in) ribbon around the neck.[1] The ribbon is crimson, with thin yellow stripes at the edges.[3]

Award criteriaEdit

The medal was awarded in gold to Indian princes and senior officials, and in silver to selected British and Indian officers and civilians, as well as a selected soldier from each British and Indian regiment serving in India at the time.[1] [4] The medal was not permitted to be worn by officers and soldiers of the British and Indian armies in uniform, although it was frequently worn by Indian princes and civilians.[4]

Award ceremonyEdit

During the Durbar proclaiming Victoria Empress of India, the Viceroy, arrayed in the robes of the Grand Master of the Order of the Star of India, received each of the 63 ruling princes of India in turn, he:

... placed round the prince's neck a crimson ribbon, to which was attached a very handsome gold medal with the Queen's head engraved on it, adding: 'I decorate you, by command of Her Majesty. May this medal be long worn by yourself, and long kept as an heirloom in your family in remembrance of the auspicious date it bears’.[5]


  1. ^ a b c McCreery, Christopher (2012). Commemorative medals of the Queen's reign in Canada, 1952-2012. Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 19. ISBN 9781459707566.
  2. ^ Tancred, George (1891). Historical Record of Medals and Honorary Distinctions Conferred on the British Navy, Army & Auxiliary Forces: From the Earliest Period. Spink & Son. pp. 295–296.
  3. ^ "Empress of India Medal (1877)". Imperial War Museums. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  4. ^ a b Dorling, H. Taprell (1956). Ribbons and Medals. A. H. Baldwin & Son, London. p. 107.
  5. ^ Roberts, Earl. Forty-One Years in India. p. 333. Publisher Richard Bentley and Son, 1896. ISBN 978-1402177422.

External linksEdit