Orangists in a red empire
Salutations from a Dutch queen’s supporters in a British South Africa
in Crowns and colonies
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In 1910 the Union of South Africa became a British Dominion. However, rather than proclaim loyalty to the British monarch –the titular head of the British empire – some South Africans, notably those who identified as Afrikaners or Netherlanders, professed loyalty to the monarch of a rival empire, the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina. This chapter examines oorkonden (decorative letters) sent to Wilhelmina from her supporters in South Africa throughout her reign (1898–1948). The letters provide new evidence of how links with a Dutch colonial past that pre-dated British colonisation were revived by a white community reeling from defeat in the South African War (1899–1902), who continued to contest certain modes of their integration into a British imperium. The letters also suggest the particular appeal of a female king to Afrikaner women in a nascent women’s movement. Finally, the letters reveal the persistence of a notional ‘Dutch world’ that exceeded the bounds of the Netherlands’ formal empire in the early twentieth century.

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires

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