A new monarchy for a new commonwealth?
Monarchy and the consequences of republican India
in Crowns and colonies
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In April 1949 the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ meeting in London issued a joint declaration stating that it accepted India’s decision to become a republic and remain part of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth had hitherto been a grouping of realms and colonies that owed allegiance to a common monarch. Though attention has been given to how the inclusion of India affected the Commonwealth, far less research has been given to how this transformative action influenced the monarchy. The chapter investigates the ideas that were debated at the time. Did India’s republican status within the Commonwealth spell the demise of the Crown as the embodiment of British prestige, leaving it as an embarrassing vestige of vanishing glory? Or did the 1949 London Declaration, rather, usher in a new era for the Monarch to revive the relevance of the Crown in the post-war age as Head of the Commonwealth, a position shorn of imperial pretensions and open to new international opportunities? This chapter explores whether the London Declaration, which marked the beginning of the “New Commonwealth”, also extended to making a “New Monarchy”. India had caused Victoria to be raised to the exalted status of Empress in 1876, but what would that country, less than a century later, make of her successors?

Crowns and colonies

European monarchies and overseas empires


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