Monarchy, the Armed Services and Royal Alliances: The Case of Britain and Japan, 1902–1975

  • Antony BestEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Modern Monarchy book series (PSMM)


This chapter begins a process of summarising the arguments about the robustness of the monarchic institution prior to the Great War, during that war and afterwards. It provides a focus on a sustained chronology of royal alliances, specifically that between Britain and Japan, and using as an interpretative tool what has been one of the traditionally most important aspects of any monarchical system: the link between the sovereign and the armed services. This is significant in many material and symbolic ways in the domestic sphere. But as this chapter demonstrates, it has a crucial role to play in foreign relations, especially in the case of alliances, and so in assessments of the usefulness of monarchy. In order to illustrate this point, this chapter looks at the part played by the court-military nexus in the working of the Anglo-Japanese alliance between 1902 and 1922 and how it was used as a means of bringing their respective armed services together into a closer union. It covers issues such as the politics of naval reviews, royal visits and the conferral of orders of chivalry. In addition, it addresses how in the 1920s, even after the alliance had lapsed, an effort was made by both parties to continue this aspect of their relations as a means of signalling respect. It concludes by observing how, in a later war, the antipathy created by the Japanese treatment of British prisoners-of-war and the change to the Japanese Emperor’s status made it difficult to revive the court-military nexus in the postwar period and how this contributed, in turn, to stultifying the revival of Anglo-Japanese relations.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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