Medals for Sudanese Chiefs
By Allan Woodliffe
At 7:30 am on 17th January 1912 HMS Medina, which was conveying their newly crowned Majesties King George V and Queen Mary home from the great coronation Durbar at Delhi, docked at Port Sudan.
The royal visit was for their majesties to meet the people of the Sudan, which was governed by the British as an Anglo-Egyptian Condominium – an unique political situation where Britain governed the Sudan in the name of the Khedive who actually had no say in the matter! A polite fiction which seemed to work.
The British Agent and Consul General in Egypt, Lord Kitchener, the Governor-General, Sir Reginald Wingate, and the principal Aid-de-Camp to the Khedive, Ramzi Tahir Pasha, boarded the ship to welcome the royal couple, who were then escorted to a pavilion in nearby Suakin to meet the principal Sudanese chiefs. The Guard of honour consisted of detachments of both the Yorkshire Regiment and 8th Egyptian Battalion.
At the pavilion the Governor-General read out address conveying the loyal welcome of the Sudanese people. In his reply the King said that he was pleased to pay a brief visit and regretted that he was unable to spare the time to penetrate further into the country, and went on to say that he was glad to meet representatives of the tribes, many whom have travelled hundreds of miles to welcome them. A number of principal chiefs were then presented, each receiving a specially struck medal to commemorate the occasion.
Later the royal party travelled by train the 10 miles to Sinkat for a grand review of native troops. They returned to HMS Medina at 7.00 pm, and the ship set sail for Suez.
The medal is 51mm (2”) diameter medal, was designed to be worn around the neck suspended from an 85 cm (33”) silver chain, and was commissioned from the Royal Mint especially for presentation to the Sudanese chiefs at the Suakin gathering. The medal is extremely rare as only 50 were struck. Incidentally the total cost of production was forty-eight pounds, nine shillings and three pence, a not inconsiderable sum in 1911.