Belgian royals on tour in the Congo, 1909– 1960
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King Leopold's 'personal colony', based on ruthless exploitation and violence, was annexed by the Belgian State in 1908, after years of heavy criticism both in the country and abroad. The new authorities eliminated the extreme forms of violence and extortion prevalent in Leopoldian Congo, but coercive practices remained, including forced recruitment of labourers. The effects royal voyages had on the Congolese themselves are extremely difficult to assess. The domestic political tensions relating to the Question royale might explain the relative discretion of the Belgian authorities. The development of photography and film had important effects on the staging and impact of royal and princely voyages. During the interwar period, royal and princely voyages gradually opened up to propaganda through press articles and images, but distrust of or lack of interest by the media persisted. From 1960, the international significance of royal visits to the Congo of course changed drastically.

Royals on tour

Politics, Pageantry and Colonialism


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