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Queen Victoria and the Romans: The Psychology of the Coloniser and the Colonised

Towards the end of her reign, Queen Victoria, who was not only the British monarch, but also the Empress of India, became captivated by her servant, Abdul Karim. She asked him to teach her the Hindustani language, among other things. In the end, Queen Victoria had fallen in love with her imperial possession and the coloniser had become, to some extent, the colonised.

India’s conquest of Queen Victoria is not a unique example in the history of the relations between the coloniser and the colonised. The Roman Empire also went through the same process. When they had taken possession of Greece, the Greek culture and the Greek language also captured their hearts. Like Victoria, they had become mastered by their captive possession.

These examples demonstrate the ambiguity in the relations of master and mastered, queen and subject. Before imperial conquest, there exists the desire for that conquest and a desire to be a part of that country. Perhaps the culture of the captured country has already captured the master’s or mistress’s heart before he or she possesses it. And after conquest, the question remains: who or where has whose heart?



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