Robert Aldrich
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Monarchies, decolonisation and post-colonial Asia
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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This chapter argues that the institution of monarchy (and individual sovereigns) occupied a key but hitherto undervalued position in the process of decolonisation in Asia after the Second World War. Anti-colonial nationalists challenged many of the principles of hereditary rule, and the status of sovereigns, their families, advisers and courts. The future place of the kings, maharajas and sultans in the British, French and Dutch ‘protected states’ posed a central question in the period leading up to and following decolonisation, and questions were raised, as well, about monarchies in already independent Japan and Thailand. Some dynasties have survived, even with altered rights and powers, though others were overturned, often by post-independence revolutions or constitutional changes. The old colonial monarchies of Britain, the Netherlands and Japan meanwhile also had to refashion themselves in light of the loss of empire, in the case of the British crown attempting to find a new role for itself in the context of the Commonwealth.

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