Thesis title: 'Between the Courts of Lahore and Windsor: Anglo-Indian relations and the re-making of royalty in the nineteenth century'
My thesis examines the political and social worldview of British and Indian royalty during the nineteenth century. Rather than viewing them as mere ‘ornamental’ figureheads, it seeks to highlight and scrutinise the ideas held by monarchs (sovereign or deposed) about empire and the role of royalty; as well as considering how evidence of attempts made by monarchs to actively pursue such ideas can complicate existing narratives about the relative influence and authority of royalty in this period.
Above all, this thesis breaks new ground by adopting a transnational approach in its study of such royal ideas and endeavours. Ruling dynasties, monarchs and courts have long been part of an interconnected, if rarefied, world encompassing Europe and Asia, though this is not adequately reflected in the historiography on the nineteenth century. This is despite the fact that in that century, many royal houses were brought closer together than ever before, through the impact of growing global empires, and advancing communications and transportation networks. The first direct meetings between British and Indian royalty took place during this period, in the early 1850s, and are closely examined in my work.
Based on a core case-study of the longstanding relationship between the Punjabi and British dynasties of Maharajah Ranjit Singh and Queen Victoria, and using a wide variety of textual and material sources, my thesis captures royal perspectives of their status and role in an evolving world, alongside considering how British and Indian royalty directly or indirectly influenced one another. This study effectively de-centres the British imperial official as the primary agent in Anglo-Indian elite encounters, and goes further to demonstrate that whether in the case of the connections between royal personages, or in the ties between ‘monarchy, nation and empire’, the capability for royal agency to shape the nature of such relationships evolved over time and was a consistently contested issue.
I would be happy to be consulted for media or heritage projects, particularly relating to my research interests in the British Raj, nineteenth-century monarchy and Anglo-Sikh history.
I have experience of working on outreach and media projects: e.g. for the University's undergraduate admissions team; the BBC; and museums such as the National Museum of Scotland and Newarke Houses Museum.