George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC, FBA, was styled as The Lord Curzon of Kedleston between 1898 and 1911, and as The Earl Curzon of Kedleston between 1911 and 1921, was a British Conservative statesman who served as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.
He was the eldest son of the 4th Baron Scarsdale, rector of Kedleston, Derbyshire.
At Eton, where Curzon proved a wayward and emotional pupil, he clashed with his tutors but developed an extraordinary gift for assimilating the contents of books; by studying hard in private, he surprised everyone by winning more prizes (for French, Italian, and history, among other subjects) than had ever been carried off before.
In 1898 it was announced that he would succeed Lord Elgin as viceroy of India, and, in September of that year, he was created Baron Curzon of Kedleston. He was the youngest viceroy of India in history, and he cherished the prospect of it, for it was an office filled with the pomp and ceremony he loved.
He demanded obedience and a bent knee from the rajas, maharajas, and provincial governors he now ruled, but there was no doubt of his sense of mission toward the Indian people.
He initiated commissions of inquiry into education, police, and civil services; he reduced taxes; he ordered immediate punishment of any Briton (including members of the army) who ill-treated Indian nationals.
In external affairs he paid special attention to India’s frontiers, toured the Persian Gulf, and sent a successful mission to Tibet to frustrate Russian ambitions there.
On his return from what he called a “triumphal” tour of the Indian provinces, he ordered the restoration of the Taj Mahal, which was decaying, and thereafter took a personal interest in India’s artistic and cultural heritage.