The birth of ‘white’ republics and the demise of Greater Britain
The republican referendums in South Africa and Rhodesia
in The break-up of Greater Britain
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Since the late nineteenth century, the British monarch was the constitutional head and cultural symbol of Greater Britain, a spiritual nexus providing unity and identity to a worldwide community of Britons. With the advent of decolonisation, however, republicanism emerged as a disruptive force that swept the British imperial world. This chapter sheds light on how monarchism and republicanism was perceived among white anglophone communities during the republican referendums in South Africa (1960) and Rhodesia (1969). These events marked the first and second time the British monarchy was dissolved by whites by popular vote and, as such, signalled bad tidings for the future of Britishness as a global civic idea. In these contexts, the chapter argues, republicanism served as a tool to entrench white domination and thereby wrong-foot the logic of decolonisation. Ultimately, it shows how the republican question was caught up in the processes of decolonisation, new nationalism and the break-up of Greater Britain.

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