by David Twiston-Davies
Found in: Reference
All Frontline Books
Published: 16 April 2009
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Many senior representatives of the imperial high noon had passed on by the mid-1980s but there were still some remarkable figures who would have been recognisable to Queen Victoria, such as Sir Rex Niven of Nigeria. There are a host of colourful diplomats such as Sir Michael Weir, the British ambassador in Egypt, who started out as a resident in Arab states and was responsible for escorting a sheikh to the Queen's Coronation in 1953.
Other figures featured are Michael Thwaites, the Australian poet, naval officer and Communist spycatcher; Dane Eugenia Charles, the Dominician Prime Minister known as 'The Iron Lady of the Caribbean'; Desmond O'Hagan, the Kenyan district officer who kept a pet elephant and the Earl of Egmont, an Alberta farm boy whose father inherited '300,000 in 1929 and who came over to live in Britain.
The stories of these characters beautifully illustrate the way the Imperial influence spread British culture around the world in the form of practices, traditions and history, sometimes positively and deliberately, often unconsciously and sometimes even in the face of considerable hostility.
This compilation is divided up by regions, beginning with India, followed by the dominions Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and concluding with the individual colonies in Africa and the South Pacific, as well as the North and South Poles.
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Born in Montreal, he was educated at Downside before taking jobs with the East Anglian Daily Times and the Winnipeg Free Press. Among tasks at the Telegraph, he has edited the Peterborough diary and the letters column when he lived in Royal Tunbridge Wells, home of the legendary letter-writer "Disgusted".
As deputy to the late Hugh Massingberd, when the paper did much to make obituaries an important feature throughout the Commonwealth he helped to establish the obituaries column with a set place in the paper every day, concentrating his efforts on the Empire and the two world wars.
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