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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Statue of Sir Robert Clive

A statue of Robert Clive or "Clive of India" stands in King Charles Street off Whitehall near the Cabinet War Rooms.

Clive (1725-1774) is credited with establishing British rule in India for the East India Company (EIC) through his campaigns against the French and Indian native rulers.

Born at Styche near Market Drayton in Shropshire, Clive was a teenage tearaway and ruffian. Sent to India by his despairing father in the 1740s to work as a clerk in Madras (Chennai), Clive tried twice to take his own life with a pistol.

Though he had received no formal military training, Clive distinguished himself in various sieges and skirmishes with French forces commanded by General Joseph Fran├žois Dupleix, as the two countries' conflict in Europe spread to their trading stations in India.

After 10 years service for the East India Company, Clive returned to England but was soon back on the sub-continent, where he was to make himself a legend and an incredibly rich man.

Retaking Calcutta, which had been attacked by the Nawab of Bengal, Clive was to defeat his adversary at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, after the desertion of a number of the Nawab's supporters, following secret negotiations with the wily Clive.

Clive's third and final spell in India from 1765-1767 saw him campaigning again against the Mughal Emperor of Delhi and his allies. A victory at the Battle of Buxar saw Clive receive the lands of Bengal from the Shah and thus formally establish the British presence in India.

Clive committed suicide with a pen-knife in Berkeley Square in London in 1774. A manic depressive throughout his life and wracked by a painful illness, which he attempted to treat with opium, Clive's death at only 49, came at a time of personal attacks on him in the Houses of Parliament, sparked by jealousy of his huge wealth. Though buried in an unmarked grave, Clive remains as one of the great English adventurers. His legacy in India was to prove immense.

Other attractions in London in the vicinity of Whitehall by tube or bus include St Paul's Cathedral, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub on Fleet Street, nearby Westminster Abbey and Big Ben or farther afield Buckingham Palace. South of the River Thames are Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the London Eye.

Whitehall Map

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