British subject with ‘royal’ status visits the Queen (1847)

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Source: The Glasgow Herald, 15 October 1847

James Brooke is credited in the history books as being the founder of modern state of Sarawak. His rose to political power in this part of Borneo was considered an anomaly. Having successfully assisted the Sultan of Brunei empire to thwart rebellion by native people at the empire’s southern area, he was awarded a piece of land around Sarawak river and was crowned the first leader of the newly formed Bornean state and given the title White Rajah. While other British sphere of influence was formed through chartered companies or annexation through direct imperial rule (from London), Sarawak then was considered relatively independent and the White Rajah has the power of a national leader to administer governmental matters with minimal influence from Britain. The news article gives the glimpse of his ‘royal’ status even when meeting with Queen Victoria.

James Brooke dikenali sebagai pengasas kepada era moden negeri Sarawak. Kenaikan kuasa politik beliau di Sarawak dianggap sebagai satu perkara yang luar biasa. Setelah berjaya menolong Sultan Brunei menentang pemberontakan penduduk pribumi di bahagian selatan empayar tersebut, dia dianugerahkan satu kawasan yang meliputi sungai Sarawak dan dimahkotakan sebagai pemerintah pertama negeri Sarawak yang baru dibentuk dan seterusnya diberi gelaran White Rajah. Jika di kawasan pengaruh Britain yang lain dibentuk melalui syarikat-syarikat berpiagam atau penjajahan melalui pemerintahan terus dari London, Sarawak dianggap negeri yang secara relatifnya bebas dan White Rajah memiliki hak sebagai ketua negara dalam menguruskan hal-hal kerajaan dengan pengaruh yang minima dari Britain. Petikan akhbar ini memberi pandangan sekilas status ‘diraja’ beliau meskipun bertemu Ratu Victoria.

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