Edmund Vivian Gabriel was born on 28 March 1875. Educated at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge (B.A., 1896), he entered the Indian Civil Service in 1897 and the Indian Political Service in 1913. In his early years he served as attaché to the 1903 Coronation Durbar, Political Advisor to Chandra Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana, Prime Minister of Nepal (1907), Resident of Western Rajputana States (1908), and Chief Secretary, North-West Frontier Province (1910).
During the First World War he was first assigned to the Imperial General Staff, War Office, in London, where he was closely associated with Lord Kitchener, then Secretary of State for War. He subsequently joined the British Military Mission with the Italian Royal Army, as the head of the intelligence section, and later served as liaison officer to the naval forces in the Aegean Sea (British Aegean Squadron). In 1917 he was deployed to Cairo and assigned to the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. On 11 December he entered Jerusalem with General Edmund Allenby and was appointed financial advisor and assistant administrator of Palestine (then known as Occupied Enemy Territory Administration South). In 1919 he was however asked to resign in reason of his pro-Arab views.
After the war he moved to Britain and maintained his services with the Territorial Army, reaching the rank of colonel. His London residence was 40, Wilton Crescent. On 11 December 1924 he married Mabel McAfee, an American citizen, in a celebration held at Saint Thomas Church in New York City. In 1925 he was appointed to King George V's household as a Gentleman Usher in Ordinary, a title he maintained until his death. In the 1937 Coronation Honours he was knighted by King George VI. During the Second World War he was a member of the British Air Commission to the United States of America.
Edmund Vivian Gabriel descended from the Gabrielli, a noble Italian family from Gubbio, a branch of which had settled in England in the 17th century. He maintained there a residence at 10, via Ducale, was honorary curator of the local Palazzo Ducale, and supported the restoration of local artifacts and buildings. In the 1920s he decided to bequeath the collection of art he had gathered during his stay in Asia to the municipality of Gubbio: the Vivian Gabriel Oriental Collection of Tibetan, Nepalese, Chinese and Indian Art is today exposed in the Palazzo dei Consoli in the Umbrian hilltown. For this and his services during the war he was appointed by King Victor Emmanuel III Officer, Order of the Crown of Italy, and Officer, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus. He also was a Knight of Justice of the Venerable Order of Saint John of Jerusalem.
He died in Antigua, Leeward Islands, British West Indies on 13 February 1950, at the residency of the Governor, the 2nd Earl Baldwin.
His portrait by John Newman Holroyd is exposed at the Museum of the Order of St John in London.
- Vivian Gabriel. The troubles of the Holy Land, London, 1922
- C. Hayavadana Rao. The Indian Biographical Dictionary. Pillar & Co., Madras, 1915
- The London Gazette, 1 January 1929
- John Debrett. Debrett's Baronetage, Knightage, and Companionage. Dean & Son, London, 1931
- Supplement to the London Gazette, 11 May 1937
- The Guardian. The Mandate years: colonialism and the creation of Israel. theguardian.com, 31 May 2001
- Paul John Rich. Creating the Arabian Gulf. The British Raj and the Invasion of the Gulf. Lexington Books, 2009
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