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Keen, Caroline (2003) The power behind the throne: Relations between the British and the Indian states 1870-1909. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores the manner in which British officials attempted to impose ideas of 'good government' upon the Indian states and the effect of such ideas upon the ruling princes of those states. The work studies the crucial period of transition from traditional to modem rule which occurred for the first generation of westernised princes during the latter decades of the nineteenth century. It is intended to test the hypothesis that, although virtually no aspect of palace life was left untouched by the paramount power, having instigated fundamental changes in princely practice during minority rule the British paid insufficient attention to the political development of their adult royal proteges. In many cases traditional royal practice and authority were deemed expendable in the urgency to instigate efficient and accountable methods of administration in states. The five sections following the introduction examine the life cycle of an Indian prince and the role of British officials at each stage of the cycle. The first section examines the position of the British in determining disputed successions to the Indian princely thrones. The second section deals with the first generation of Indian rulers to be exposed to a western education, either under an English tutor attached to a court or at one of the new princely colleges. The third section looks at marriages of Indian rulers and the extent to which royal women were empowered by British indirect rule. The fourth section tackles the administration of princely states and the relative success of political officers in turning Indian princes from traditional rulers into westernised administrators. The final section looks at British efforts to alter court hierarchy and ritual to conform to strict British bureaucratic guidelines and ideas of accountability. In analysing this critical phase of princely development the thesis makes a major contribution to the understanding of the progression of indirect rule under the Raj.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:09

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