Introduction: The World in Miniature

  • Simon Sleight
  • Shirleene Robinson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Childhood book series (PSHC)


Outside Buckingham Palace in London, a celebratory vision of the ‘British world’ is embodied in stone. On a central pedestal, a venerable Queen Victoria resides on her imperial throne, flanked by statues of Truth and Justice. A winged Victory, together with figures of Courage and Constancy, rises above, while the reverse of the pedestal displays Motherhood in the tender image of a seated woman — a youthful Victoria, perhaps? — sheltering three infants. Four bronze lions (a gift from New Zealand) stand guard at Victoria’s feet, alongside Naval and Military Power, in muscular yet effortless repose, and associated fountains and reservoirs. Across the water, some distance beyond, a series of concentric gates and allegorical statues by British sculptors depict imperial dominions.1 These outlying figures are all notably youthful, the Australia statues especially so. Animals accompanying each national child further emphasize the apparent rawness of the imperial offspring. Canada nurses a seal and a bulging net of fish, South Africa tackles an ostrich and monkey, West Africa escorts a cheetah and Australia coaxes a large ram and kangaroo. Such associations contrast with the stateliness and settled bearing of Victoria and her immediate companions, whom the callow youths presumably hope to emulate. Forever petrified as children, and positioned to face their ‘Mother Queen’, the dominions orbit the imperatrix.


White Child British Child British Empire Settler Society Imperial History 
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© Simon Sleight and Shirleene Robinson 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simon Sleight
  • Shirleene Robinson

There are no affiliations available

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