Diamonds are Forever? Kipling's Imperialism

At Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in June 1897, pride in the British Empire seemed at its zenith, but in a fresh look at the commemorative poems of Rudyard Kipling, Denis Judd finds the poet pointing to cracks in the imperial fa├žade.

A hundred years ago, between June 19th and 24th, 1897, Britain and the British Empire celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations were chiefly staged in order to affirm the achievements of the British people and to glorify the British Empire. During the June festivities the public, both in Britain and throughout the Empire, were able to feast on a rich diet of ceremonial and display, speech-making and official processions, chief of which was the royal procession to St Paul's Cathedral for the Thanksgiving Service in the imperial capital on June 22nd. The festivities were generally marked by an outpouring of over-heated patriotic sentiment, by lavish spending on receptions, balls, street parties and shows, by military and naval displays, and by flags, bunting and glittering illuminations in the streets.

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