Salute state

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British Empire in the East

A Salute state was a princely state in India during the time of British rule which had been granted a gun salute by the British Crown (as paramount ruler); i.e., the protocolary privilege for its ruler to be greeted—originally by Royal Navy ships, later also on land—with a number of cannon shots, as recognition of the state's relative status.

Salute states and equivalents[edit]


When the ruler of a princely state arrived at the Indian capital (originally at Calcutta (Kolkata), then at Delhi), he was greeted with a number of gun-firings. The number of these consecutive "gun salutes" changed from time to time, being increased or reduced depending on the degree of honour which the British chose to accord to a given ruler. The number of gun salutes accorded to a ruler was usually a reflection of the state of his relations with the British and/or his perceived degree of political power; a 21-gun salute was considered the highest. The King (or Queen) of the United Kingdom (who until 1948 was also the Emperor of India) was accorded a 101-gun salute, and 31 guns were used to salute the Viceroy of India.

The number of guns in a salute assumed particular importance at the time of holding of the Coronation Durbar in Delhi in the month of December 1911. The Durbar was held to commemorate the Coronation of King George V with guns firing almost all day. At that time there were three Princely States that were given 21 gun salutes. These were:

Apart from these three, no other Princely State received a 21-gun salute. There were, however, other princes who enjoyed a salute of 21 guns within the limits of their own state and 19 guns in the rest of India. For example, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir; the Maharaja (Scindhia) of Gwalior; the Maharaja (Holkar) of Indore; the Maharana of Udaipur (Mewar). The then Maharaja of Travancore also held a personal 21-gun salute.

In 1917, the Maharaja of Gwalior was upgraded to a permanent and hereditary 21-gun salute, and the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir was granted the same in 1921. Both were granted the increased ranks as a result of the meritorious services of their soldiers in the First World War.

The Nizam, Maharajas, Princes, etc. were all deeply keen on protocol and ensured that it was practised as a matter of faith. Any departure from it was not taken kindly by them. Salute of guns was one such protocol that was strictly adhered to.

At the time of Indian independence and partition in 1947, 122 of the roughly 565 princely states were classified as "salute states." The rulers of the five premier states - Hyderabad, Mysore, Baroda, Jammu & Kashmir and Gwalior - received 21-gun salutes. The rulers of six others - Bhopal, Indore, Udaipur, Kolhapur, Travancore and Kalat - received 19-gun salutes, with Bhopal, Indore and Udaipur entitled to a local 21-gun salute. Of the remaining 111 rulers of the salute states, 88 were entitled to gun salutes ranging from 17 to 11 guns, with additional gun-salutes granted on a local or personal basis; the remaining 23 received a salute of nine guns. Rulers with gun salutes of 11 guns or above, whether the salute was hereditary or local only, were entitled to the style of Highness; the Nizam of Hyderabad was granted the unique style of Exalted Highness. In 1948, all rulers of nine-gun salute states were also granted the style of Highness.[1]

Salutes for the Indian Empire (royals, administrators and officers)[edit]

Sourced from a 1913 copy of the King's Regulations on salutes and ceremonial, with some updates. [2]

For British officers and administrators[edit]

  • 101-guns (Imperial Salute) – The King-Emperor
  • 31-guns – Members of the Royal Family; the Viceroy and Governor-General of India
  • 19-guns – Ambassadors; Governors-General; Commander-in-Chief, India (holding the rank of Field Marshal); Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals and Marshals of the Royal Air Force
  • 17-guns – Governors of the Bombay, Madras and Bengal Presidencies; Governors of Indian Provinces and Governors of Colonies; the President of the Council in India; Envoys Extraordinary and Ministers Plenipotentiary; Commander-in-Chief, India (holding the rank of General); Admirals, Generals and Air Chief Marshals
  • 15-guns – Lieutenant-Governors of Indian Provinces; Lieutenant-Governors of Colonies; Members of Council; Plenipotentiaries and Envoys; Ministers Resident; Army Commanders with the rank of Lieutenant-General; Vice-Admirals, Lieutenant-Generals and Air Marshals
  • 13-guns – Chief Commissioners of Indian Provinces and Commissioners; Agents to the Viceroy; Residents; Consuls-General; Divisional Commanders; Rear-Admirals, Major-Generals and Air Vice-Marshals
  • 11-guns – Political Agents and Charges d'Affaires; Brigade Commanders; Commodores, Brigadiers and Air Commodores

British salutes for French and Portuguese administrators in India[edit]

  • 17-guns – Governor of French India; Governor of Portuguese India
  • 11-guns – Governor of Daman; Governor of Diu

Salute states that acceded to India in 1947[edit]

The gun salutes enjoyed by the states that acceded to the Union of India, then or later, were:

Serial No. Hereditary salute No. of guns Personal or Local salute No. of guns Title of Rais Name of state Clan of Rais Present Location
1. 21 The Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar Asaf Jahi Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra
2. 21 The Maharaja of Mysore Wadiyar Karnataka
3. 21 The Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir Rajput, Dogra Jammu and Kashmir
4. 21 The Maharaja Gaekwar of Baroda Maratha, Gaekwad Gujarat
5. 21 The Maharaja Scindia of Gwalior Maratha, Scindia Madhya Pradesh
6. 19 21 (Local) The Nawab of Bhopal Bhopal Mirasi Khel Afghan Madhya Pradesh
7. 19 21 (Local) The Maharaja Holkar of Indore Maratha, Holkar Madhya Pradesh
8. 19 21 (Local) The Maharana of Udaipur (Mewar) Rajput Sisodia Rajasthan
9. 19 The Maharaja of Kolhapur Maratha, Bhonsle Maharashtra
10. 19 21 (Local) The Maharaja of Travancore Samanta Kshatriya Kerala
11. 17 19 (Personal) the Maharao of Kotah Rajput, Chauhan, Hada Rajasthan
12. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Bharatpur Jat Rajasthan
13. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Bikaner Rajput, Rathore Rajasthan
14. 17 19 (Local) The Mirza Maharao of Cutch Rajput, Jadeja Gujarat
15. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Pudukkottai Thondaiman Tamil Nadu
15. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Jaipur Rajput, Kachwaha Rajasthan
16. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Jodhpur Rajput, Rathore Rajasthan
17. 17 19 (Local) The Maharaja of Patiala Sikh Jats, Punjab
18. 17 The Maha Rao Raja of Bundi Rajput, Chauhan, Hada Rajasthan
19. 17 The Maharaja of Kochi (India) Kshatriya Kerala
20. 17 The Maharaja of Karauli Rajput Jadon Rajasthan
21. 17 The Maharaja of Rewa Rajput, Baghela Madhya Pradesh
22. 17 The Nawab of Tonk Pathan Rajasthan
23. 15 17 (Personal) The Maharaj Rana of Dholpur Jat Rajasthan
24. 15 17 (Local) The Maharaja of Alwar Rajput, Kachwaha Rajasthan
25. 15 The Maharawal of Banswara Rajput, Sisodia Rajasthan
26. 15 The Maharaja of Datia Rajput, Bundela Madhya Pradesh
27. 15 The Raja of Dewas Senior Maratha, Puar Madhya Pradesh
28. 15 The Raja of Dewas Junior Maratha, Puar Madhya Pradesh
29. 15 The Maharaja of Dhar Maratha, Puar Madhya Pradesh
30. 15 The Maharawal of Dungarpur Rajput Sisodia Rajasthan
31 15 The Maharaja of Idar Rajput Rathore Gujarat
32 15 The Maharawal of Jaisalmer Rajput, Bhati Rajasthan
33 15 The Maharaja of Kishangarh Rajput, Rathore Rajasthan
34 15 The Maharaja of Orchha Rajput, Bundela Madhya Pradesh
35 15 The Maharawat of Pratapgarh Rajput, Sisodia Rajasthan
36 15 The Nawab of Rampur Pathan Uttar Pradesh
37. 15 The Raja of Sikkim Tipihar Sikkim
38 15 The Maharaol of Sirohi Rajput, Chauhan,Devda Rajasthan
39 13 The Maharaja Raol Sahib of Bhavnagar Rajput, Gohil Gujarat
40 13 15 (Personal and Local) The Maharaja of Jind Sikh Jat, Punjab
41 13 15 (Personal and Local) The Nawab of Junagadh Babi Gujarat
42 13 15 (Personal and Local) The Maharaja of Kapurthala Sikh Ahluwalia Punjab
43 13 15 (Local) The Maharaja of Benares Brahmin Goutam Uttar Pradesh
44 13 15 (Local) The Maharaja Raol of Bhavnagar Rajput, Gohil Gujarat
45 13 15 (Local) The Raja of Nabha Sikh Jat, Punjab
46 13 15 (Local) The Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar Rajput, Jadeja Gujarat
47 13 15 (Local) The Maharaja of Ratlam Rajput, Rathore Madhya Pradesh
48 13 The Maharaja of Cooch Behar Rajput, Rajvanshi West Bengal
48 13 The Maharaja of Vizianagaram Rajput, Pusapati Andhra Pradesh
49 13 The Maharana Maharaja Shri Raj of Dhrangadhra Rajput, Jhala Gujarat
50 13 The Nawab of Jaora Pathan Madhya Pradesh
51 13 The Maharaj Rana of Jhalawar Rajput, Jhala Rajasthan
52 13 The Deewan of Palanpur Afghan Gujarat
53 13 The Maharaja Rana Sahib of Porbandar Rajput, Jethwa Gujarat
54 13 The Maharana of Rajpipla Rajput, Gohil Gujarat
55 13 The Raja of Tripura (princely state) Rajput Tripura
56 11 13 (Local) The Nawab of Janjira Siddi Maharashtra
57 11 The Sawai Maharaja of Ajaigarh Rajput, Bundela Madhya Pradesh
58 11 The Maharana of Ali Rajpur Rajput, Sisodia Madhya Pradesh
59 11 The Nawab of Baoni Pathan Madhya Pradesh
60 11 The Maharaja of Barwani Rajput, Sisodia Madhya Pradesh
61 11 The Sawai Maharaja of Bijawar Rajput, Bundela Madhya Pradesh
62 11 The Nawab of Cambay (Khambhat) Pathan Gujarat
63 11 The Raja of Chamba Rajput Himachal Pradesh
64 11 The Maharaja of Charakhari Rajput, Bundela Madhya Pradesh
65 11 The Maharaja of Chhatarpur Rajput, Parmar Madhya Pradesh
66 11 The Raja of Faridkot Sikh Jat, Punjab
67 11 The Thakur of Gondal Rajput, Jadeja Gujarat
68 11 The Raja of Bilaspur Rajput Himachal Pradesh
69 11 The Raja of Jhabua Rajput Rathore Madhya Pradesh
70 11 The Nawab of Maler Kotla Afghan Punjab
71 11 The Raja of Mandi Rajput Chandravanshi Punjab
72 11 The Maharaja of Manipur Rajput Manipur
73 11 The Thakur of Morvi Rajput Jadeja Gujarat
74 11 The Raja of Narsinghgarh Rajput Umat Madhya Pradesh
75 11 The Maharaja of Panna Rajput Bundela Madhya Pradesh
77 11 The Nawab of Radhanpur Irani Gujarat
78 11 The Nawab, Raja of Rajgarh Hindu,Rajput Madhya Pradesh
79 11 The Raja of Sailana Rajput Rathore Madhya Pradesh
80 11 The Raja of Samthar Gurjar Madhya Pradesh
81 11 The Maharaja of Sirmaur (Nahan) Rajput, Bhati Himachal Pradesh
82 11 The Raja of Sitamau Rajput Rathore Madhya Pradesh
83 11 The Raja of Suket (SunderNagar) Rajput Chandravanshi Himachal Pradesh
84 11 The Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal Rajput, Parmar Uttarakhand
85 11 The Maharana Raj Sahib of Wankaner Rajput, Jhala Gujarat
86 11 (Personal) The Maharaja of Kangra-Lambagraon Rajput Himachal Pradesh
87 9 11 (Personal) The Maharaol of Baria Rajput, Chauhan Gujarat
88 9 11 (Personal) The Raja of Dharampur Rajput, Sisodia Gujarat
89 9 11 (Personal) The Raja of Sangli Maratha, Brahmin administrators (Patwardhan) Maharashtra
90 9 11 (Local) The Sar Desai of Sawantwadi Maratha, Bhonsle Maharashtra
91 9 The Thakore Sahib of Wadhwan Rajput Jhala Gujarat
92 9 The Nawab Babi of Balasinor Irani (Muslim) Gujarat
93 9 The Nawab of Banganapalle (Muslim Shia) Andhra Pradesh
94 9 The Maharawal of Bansda Rajput Solanki Gujarat
95 9 The Raja of Baraundha Rajput Bargujar Madhya Pradesh
96 9 The Raja of Bhor Maratha, Brahmin Maharashtra
97 9 The Raja of Chhota Udaipur Rajput, Chauhan Gujarat
98 9 The Maharana of Danta Rajput, Paramara Gujarat
99 9 The Thakore Sahib of Dhrol Rajput, Jadeja Gujarat
100 9 The Maharaja of Jawhar Maratha, (Mukne) Maharashtra
101 9 The Maharaja of Kalahandi (Karond) Rajput, (Gangavanshi) Odisha
102 9 The Rao of Khilchipur Rajput, Chauhan,(Khinchi) Madhya Pradesh
103 9 The Thakore Sahib of Limbdi Rajput, Jhala Gujarat
104 9 The Nawab of Loharu (Muslim) Haryana
105 9 The Maharana of Lunawara Rajput, Solanki Gujarat
106 9 The Raja of Maihar Rajput, Kachwaha Madhya Pradesh
107 9 The Maharaja of Mayurbhanj Rajput, (Bhanj) Odisha
108 9 The Raja of Mudhol Maratha, Ghorpade Karnataka
109 9 The Raja of Nagod Rajput, Parihar Madhya Pradesh
110 9 The Thakore Sahib of Palitana Rajput, Gohil Gujarat
111 9 The Maharaja of Patna Rajput, Chauhan Odisha
112 9 The Thakore Sahib of Rajkot Rajput, Jadeja Gujarat
113 9 The Nawab of Sachin Siddi Gujarat
114 9 The Maharana of Sant Rajput, Parmara Gujarat
115 9 The Rajadhiraj of Shahpura Rajput, Sisodia Rajasthan
116 9 The Maharaja of Sonepur Rajput Odisha
117 9 (Personal) The Raja of Bashahr Rajput Himachal Pradesh

In 1948 The Hindu Rajput Maharana of Udaipur was raised to first place in the Order of Precedence, displacing the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar due to his stubborn stance of not acceding to the union .[1] The system of gun salutes continued in the Republic of India until 1971.

Although salutes with many more guns have been used for Western Monarchs (and dynastic and other associated occasions), the 21-gun salute has in modern times become customary for Sovereign Monarchs (hence also known as 'royal salute') and republic.

Some of the rulers not listed above were granted increased gun salutes after the independence, e.g. the Maharana of Mewar (at Udaipur, Maharajpramukh in Rajasthan) was raised to first place in the Order of Precedence, displacing the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar, and all 9-gun states were permitted the use of the style of Highness. However, it has not been possible to obtain complete details for all the rulers.

This system continued till 1971, when privileges and Privy Purses of ex-rulers were abolished by the Government of India.

Salute states that acceded to Pakistan in 1947 and 1948[edit]

Between August 1947 and March 1948, thirteen Muslim princely states in western India acceded to the new Dominion of Pakistan, created from British India by the Indian Independence Act 1947, thus becoming the Princely states of Pakistan. Between 1955 and 1974, they were all amalgamated into larger federations and provinces. All of the princely states were in the western part of the country, so all were merged into the eventual West Pakistan, which now covers the same area as the present-day republic of Pakistan. The states retained internal autonomy so long as they existed, but all had lost this by 1974. The styles and titles enjoyed by the former ruling families ceased to be officially recognised by the Government of Pakistan in January 1972, with the exception of the small states of Hunza and Nagar, which were incorporated into the Northern Areas of Pakistan in October 1974.

Four salute states acceded to Pakistan between 3 October 1947 and 27 March 1948. In order of precedence, they were as follows:

Serial No. Hereditary salute No. of guns Personal salute No. of guns Title of Rais Name of state Clan of Rais Present Location
1. 19 The Khan of Kalat Muslim Balochistan
2. 17 The Nawab of Bahawalpur Muslim Abbasi Panjab
3. 15 The Mir of Khairpur Muslim Billochi Sindh
4. 11 The Mehtar of Chitral Muslim Katur NWFP

After several promotions and two further post-colonial awardings – which India didn't do – the gun salutes enjoyed by the states in Pakistan were as follows in 1966:

  • Hereditary salute of 21-guns: The Amir of Bahawalpur
  • Hereditary salute of 19-guns: The Khan of Kalat
  • Hereditary salute of 17-guns: The Mir of Khairpur
  • Hereditary salute of 15-guns: The Mir of Hunza (granted by President Ayub Khan in 1966, previously non-salute)
  • Hereditary salute of 15-guns: The Wali of Swat (granted by President Ayub Khan in 1966, previously non-salute)
  • Hereditary salute of 11-guns: The Mehtar of Chitral

Salute states in Burma[edit]

Salute dynasties on the Indian subcontinent without states[edit]

Personal salute of 11-guns: only The Aga Khan (in fact a religious leader of the Nizari Ismaili branch of Islam), the only salute not attached to any territorial principality.

Furthermore, salutes were awarded to certain Political pensioners, notably:


The information below (quite possibly incomplete) had to be puzzled from different sources, mainly one concerning the 1912 situation which seems to ignore the differences between hereditary, personal and local salutes.

  • 31 guns – This unusual class was reserved for truly sovereign and independent Absolutist oriental monarchies, not under full British control:
    • HM the Muslim King (styled Badshah or Emir) of Afghanistan (Durranni dynasty)
    • HM the Buddhist King of Siam (the present Thailand)
  • 21 guns:
    • HH the Sultan of Mascat [the Ibadi Imamate became a sovereign nation as Sultanate of (Muscat –the core, named after the capital, of modern- and) Oman]
    • HM (since?) the King (a Maharajadhiraja) of Nepal (sovereign, Hindu kingdom in the Himalaya)
    • HM (since?) the Sultan/Hami of Zanzibar (an East African sultanate on the islands now part of Tanzania, set up by a branch of the Omani sultans)
    • HM the native (Amerindian tribal) King of Mosquito Coast (in present Nicaragua; styled His Majesty, most unusual as HM is normally reserved for the Paramount Ruler and its (independent) peers; under British protectorate since 1688, formalised in 1749 with appointment of a resident Superintendent; Britain relinquished control in 1783–87; Nicaraguan sovereignty was recognised in 1860 under the Treaty of Managua, hence the King considered a mere Chief, in 1894 militarily driven into exile to Jamaica)
  • 19 guns: HH the Dalai lama of Tibet, a semi-sovereign theocratic Buddhist nation before annexation by the People's Republic of China
  • 15 guns: HH the Druk Desi (since 1963 HM the Druk Gyalpo) & (since 1951) Maharaja of Bhutan [a sovereign Buddhist Himalayan nation]
  • 11 guns: HH the Emir of Kuwait; HH the Emir of Bahrain (promoted in 1932 from 7-guns)[5]
  • 9 guns: the Kabaka (native, tribal king) of Buganda (in [Western] Uganda, granted after (?) 1912, before 1939 permanent grant)
  • 7 guns: The Emir of Qatar (awarded in 1916)[5]
  • 5 guns: The Emir of Dubai (promoted from 3 guns in 1929)[5]
  • 3 guns: all in Trucial Oman, known as the 'Pirate Coast' (- ?no agency? Persian Gulf residency?; now all among the 7 constitutive emirates of the sovereign nation UAE):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b India (Salute) - The Royal Ark
  2. ^ Scribbles (16 February 1903). "King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, 1913". Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Yawnghwe (Shan State) (9 Gun Salute)
  4. ^ VIZIANAGRAM (Zamindari)
  5. ^ a b c pg 73. "Qatar: A Modern History." Fromherz, Allan James. Georgetown University Press, Washington, 2012