Royal Tourists, Colonial Subjects, and the Making of a British World,

Royal Tourists, Colonial Subjects, and the Making of a British World, 1860-1911 (Manchester University Press, 2016) examines the ritual space of nineteenth-century royal tours of empire and the diverse array of historical actors who participated in them. The book is a tale of royals who were ambivalent and bored partners in the project of empire; colonial administrators who used royal ceremonies to pursue a multiplicity of projects and interests or to imagine themselves as African chiefs or heirs to the Mughal emperors; local princes and chiefs who were bullied and bruised by the politics of the royal tour, even as some of them used the tour to symbolically appropriate or resist British cultural power; and settlers of European descent and people of color in the empire who made claims on the rights and responsibilities of imperial citizenship and as co-owners of Britain’s global empire. Royal Tourists, Colonial Subjects, and the Making of a British World suggests that the diverse responses to the royal tours of the nineteenth century demonstrate how a multi-centered British-imperial culture was forged in the empire and was constantly made and remade, appropriated and contested. In this context, subjects of empire provincialized the British Isles, centering the colonies in their political and cultural constructions of empire, Britishness, citizenship, and loyalty.

Available to all as a selection in the Knowledge Unlatched project, a grant-funded open-access project curated by a committee of librarians from 12 countries


“Reed describes the interplay of local, colonial and imperial identities in forging a connected British World. He tries to decentre explanations of imperial networks and favours the colony over Britain. While the royals stand out in this study, so does the emerging indigenous intelligentsia, which straddled both imperial and metropolitan worlds. In telling this story, Reed ably handles a large academic literature. Within the unfolding drama, readers are helped to understand the prehistory of today’s royal visits and how they connected, and still connect, overlapping transnational cultures that always owed more to Empire than to London.” – Donald M. MacRaild, Times Higher Education

“The book is timely in that it pursues a currently rich vein of interconnected, trans-imperial history writing… It shows that there is much to be gained by bringing the British monarchy more fully into the imperial historiography, and not just as symbols around which pro-imperialists could cohere… This is an original work which extends the so-called ‘new imperial history’ but also helps further an emerging agenda of combining its strengths with those of the more conventional historiography.” – Alan Lester, University of Sussex

“Through the medium of royal tours, he argues for the repositioning of cultural and political agency from the British metropole to a multiplicity of historical actors and peripheral imperial spheres… It marks a solid contribution to present historical understanding of how local and nationalist identities are adapted within the ritualised framework of royal tours, themselves increasingly prominent within concurrent and swiftly expanding spheres of inter-disciplinary scholarship on imperialism in all its guises.” – Laura Cook, Royal Studies Journal

“The book’s determination to to pursue [a contingent, local Britishness] beyond borders, with all the historiographical challenges this entails, is commendable. There is much to be gained by considering the empire as its subjects and rulers once did: as an amorphous yet connected entity, rather than as a series of separate colonies with discrete histories. Reed demonstrates the importance of the colonies in creating their own versions of Britishness, and the royal tour as an apt example of the types of networks that helped transmit imperial ideas at the same time as they helped build it together.” – Felicity Barnes, New Zealand Journal of History

“Reed provides deep and also wide-ranging scholarly coverage of the highly symbolic, planned, stage-managed and mediated official visits that were undertaken by members of the British monarchy to the Empire… during the period … and their reception by those visited.” – Philip E. Long, Journal of Tourism History

Table of Contents

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Prologue: Chief Sandile Encounters the British Empire
1. British royals at home with empire
2. Naturalising British rule
3. Building New Jerusalems: Global Britishness and settler cultures in South Africa and New Zealand
4. “Positively cosmopolitan”: Britishness, respectability, and imperial citizenship
5. The empire comes home: colonial subjects and the appeal for imperial justice
Postscript and conclusion

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