Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria and Melbourne, 1867–68
In 1867–8 the first British royal tour to Australia drew attention to two Victorias – the Queen and the colony. The visit by Queen Victoria’s second son, Prince Alfred, gave colonists a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how their society was worthy of its namesake. This chapter demonstrates how throughout his five-week visit, public festivities frequently reminded Prince Alfred of the link between the two Victorias. But the tour also drew attention to tensions within local society, between those who emphasised the colony’s civilised, genteel character and those who revelled in its opportunities to pursue drinking, gambling and whoring. Alfred represented many of the most attractive qualities associated with the colony – youth, modernity, expertise – as well as some more dubious ones. This chapter demonstrates that, for all the loyalty expressed to the Queen and the Prince in Victoria, the visit was ultimately most important in advancing the colony’s own reputation.
Prince Alfred’s precedent in overseas British royal tours, c. 1860– 1925
British princes Alfred Victor was in many ways the first British royal to tour major parts of the British empire and wider world. This chapter argues that his 1860s and 1870s journeys provided an important precedent for the more famous British princely tours that followed. With the partial exception of the tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York in 1901, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British royal tours borrowed generously, though not necessarily consciously, from Alfred's template. Alfred thus deserves to be remembered as the first major British royal tourist, from whom later princes borrowed 'something blue'. The 'royal naval arms race' accelerated in the early twentieth century. As nations vied to build bigger and more powerful warships, princes turned to these vessels for their overseas tours, which further enhanced their own status as naval officers.
Nineteenth-century photographs of the British naval community overseas
From approximately 1860, the vogue for both individual, carte-de-visite portraits taken in professional photography studios as well as group photographs, often taken outdoors, swept across the British Empire. Photography studios from Plymouth to Cape Town catered to an increasingly enthusiastic naval community. This chapter focuses on photographs taken in the 1860s of officers, their families and associates in and beyond the Royal Naval base at Simon’s Town near Cape Town, South Africa. Individual studio portraits such as ‘Officers of HMS Racoon, 1857–61’, outdoor shots of officers, women and children at naval picnics, photographs of dead officers as well as commemorative photographs of officers visiting Napoleon’s former tomb in St. Helena and Sir John Moore’s tomb at Corunna indicate the links made between the past and the present, and between, Navy, nation and empire. The album also provides a unique documentary record of Prince Alfred’s 1867 visit to the Cape whilst captain of HMS Galatea. When compared with the more formal, professional album of this cruise held in the Royal Archives in Windsor, the Wits album helps us to understand how photographs both identified and supported members of the British naval ‘family’ ashore as well as at sea.
In the 1940s, the British king, the Dutch queen and the Japanese emperor reigned
over colonial possessions in Asia, whose ‘protected’ indigenous monarchs
included Indian and Himalayan maharajas, Shan princes in Burma, and sultans in
the Malay states and the Dutch East Indies, as well as the Vietnamese emperor
and the Cambodian and Lao king in the French republican empire, and the ‘white
raja’ of Sarawak. Decolonisation posed the question about the form of government
to be adopted in successor states to the colonial empires and about the fate of
local dynasties. As their possessions gained independence, the European and
Japanese monarchies also had to adapt to a post-imperial world. This collection
of original essays by an international group of distinguished historians argues
that the institution of monarchy, and individual monarchs, occupied key roles in
the process of decolonisation. It analyses the role of monarchy (both foreign
and indigenous) in the late colonial period and with decolonisation. It examines
the post-colonial fate of thrones buffeted and sometimes destroyed by
republicanism and radicalism. It assesses the ways that surviving dynasties and
the descendants of abolished dynasties have adapted to new social and political
orders, and it considers the legacies left by extant and defunct dynasties in
Crowns and Colonies is a set of sixteen original essays by distinguished international scholars that explore the relationship between European monarchies and overseas empires. The essays argue that during much of the history of colonialism there existed a direct and important link between most colonial empires and the institutions of monarchy. The contributions, which encompass the British, French, Dutch, Italian and German empires, examine the constitutional role of the monarchs in overseas territories brought under their flag, royal prerogatives exercised in the empires, individual connections between monarchs and their colonial domains, such aspects of monarchical rule as royal tours and regalia, and the place of indigenous hereditary rulers in the colonial system. Several chapters also focus on the evolution of the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth and former British colonies.
Royal tours of the 1800s and early 1900s, and since, have created much documentation, perhaps the most obvious record contained in newspapers and magazines, newsreels and then radio and television broadcasts. Tours expressed and promoted royal and imperial authority, though in some instances they revealed resistance against expansionist designs. The royal visitor was the central actor in a tour, but was surrounded by an entourage of other people and a store of paraphernalia that played essential roles. This book examines how presentation is managed when ambassadors are sent in place of the royal personage. Sultan Alauddin of Aceh mounted a royal tour by proxy in which he was embodied - and concealed - in his gifts and in the humbler persons of his placeholders. Prince Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, provided a template for later royal tours in three ways. First, he pioneered a new relationship with the Royal Navy as a training institution for British princes. Second, his lengthy visits paved the way for similarly ambitious global tours. Alfred's tours cultivated a range of trusted support staff. Imperial citizenship and even Britishness were embraced by non- English and non- British subjects of the queen. One young prince who was present in Britain at some of the most glittering events was Thakur Sahib Bhagvatsinh, a Rajput who ruled Gondal. The book also discusses Kaiser Wilhelm II's tour, King Sisowath and Emperor Khai Dinh's tour to France, the Portuguese crown prince's tour of Africa, and tours during Smuts's Raj.
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.
The coronations of King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 illustrate the continuing but changing significance of the monarchy for the British Empire; George VI was proclaimed Emperor of India, and though Britain no longer ruled the Raj by the time of his daughter’s coronation, she was still Head of the Commonwealth and the head of state of a disparate assortment of independent countries and remaining British possessions. On both occasions, dignitaries from the dominions and colonies gathered in London for the coronation ceremonies, exotic imperial troops processed to Westminster Abbey, the sovereign read messages to subjects ‘beyond the seas’, and in such cities as Bombay and Penang, as well as many other outposts, the new monarch was cheered with loyal toasts. In the cases of other empires as well - from the suzerainty of early modern Spanish kings over their American empires to later links between the Dutch queen and the East Indies - the relationship between the crown and colonies has been a key aspect of the history of European expansion, though one that has gained little historical attention. This chapter identifies some key connections, including the constitutional role of monarchs in the colonies, the personal engagement of various sovereigns in empire (including tours by royals), and the use of the pageantry of the monarchy to inscribe imperial rule over distant domains. This chapter reviews historiographical and theoretical work on these relationships, and suggests new perspectives on the subject of crowns and colonies.
Tours developed a personal relationship between sovereign and colonial subjects, such as, viceregal officials, settlers, indigenous peoples and diasporic migrants. The expansion of European colonial empires provided a strengthened imperative for royal tours. Royal tours have also produced more official accounts by court chroniclers, often published in illustrated commemorative albums. Libraries, museums and private collections, and even landscapes, thus abound with evidence of royal tours. Tours by 'native' monarchs from Africa, Asia and Oceania presented, arguably, an even more complex scenario than those by Europeans. Partly because of risks and reservations, long-distance travel by European monarchs and other royals really emerged as a phenomenon only in the mid-1800s. The royal visitor was the central actor in a tour, but was surrounded by an entourage of other people and a store of paraphernalia that played essential roles.