Difference between Governor-General and Viceroy

Governor-General and Viceroy are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually have very different meanings.

The main difference between Governor-General and Viceroy is their positions in the government. Governor-General is the representative of the Queen in a country, while Viceroy is the representative of King in a country.

Before we move to the differences, let’s understand what are Governor-General and Viceroy:

  • Governor-General: The Governor-General was the representative of the King or Queen in British colonies. They were appointed by the monarch and they oversaw all aspects of colonial government, including appointing local officials, passing regulations, setting policies, and ruling on disputes.
  • Viceroy: The term “Viceroy” was used in British colonialism to refer to a governor-general of an overseas territory who had been appointed by the monarch.

Governor-General vs Viceroy

Now, let’s move to Governor-General vs Viceroy:

Major differences between Governor-General and Viceroy

Governor-General Viceroy
Governor-Generals were appointed during the time of 1833-1858. Viceroys were appointed during the time of 1858-1948.
Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General of British India. Lord Canning was the first Viceroy of the British India.
Chakravarti Rajagopalachari was the last Governor-General of British India. Lord Louis Mountbatten was the last Viceroy of British India.
The Governor-General post was brought by the Charter Act of 1833. The Governor-General post was changed to Viceroy by the Government of India Act, 1858.
Governor-Generals reported to the Court of Directors of East India Company. Viceroys reported directly to the British Crown.

That’s it.

Note that sometimes, the question might also be asked as “distinguish between Governor-General and Viceroy”.

Also see:

Final words

It is quite clear that a Governor-General and a Viceroy were two very different things, despite the fact that they both occupied similar positions in the government.

While they both had duties related to the country’s military, the head of state and other aspects of government, they had very different roles.

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