British protectorates were protectorates under the jurisdiction of the British government. Many territories which became British protectorates already had local rulers with whom the Crown negotiated through treaty, acknowledging their status whilst simultaneously offering protection. British protectorates were therefore governed by indirect rule. In most cases, the local ruler, as well as the subjects of the ruler, were not British subjects. British protected states represented a more loose form of British suzerainty, where the local rulers retained absolute control over the states' internal affairs and the British exercised control over defence and foreign affairs.
When the British took over Cephalonia in 1809, they proclaimed, "We present ourselves to you, Inhabitants of Cephalonia, not as invaders, with views of conquest, but as allies who hold forth to you the advantages of British protection." When the British continued to occupy the Ionian Islands after the Napoleonic wars, they did not formally annex the islands but described them as a protectorate. The islands were constituted by the Treaty of Paris in 1815 as the independent United States of the Ionian Islands under British protection. Similarly, Malta was a British protectorate between the capitulation of the French in 1800 and the Treaty of Paris of 1814.
Other British protectorates followed. In the Pacific Ocean the sixteen islands of the Gilberts (now Kiribati) were declared a British Protectorate by Captain Davis R.N., of HMS Royalist between 27 May and 17 June 1892. The Royalist also visited each of the Ellice Islands, and Captain Davis was requested by islanders to raise the British flag, but he did not have instructions to declare the Ellice Islands as a protectorate. The nine islands of the Ellice Group (now Tuvalu) were declared a British Protectorate by Captain Gibson R.N., of HMS Curacoa, between 9 and 16 October of the same year. Britain defined its area of interest in the Solomon Islands in June 1893, when Captain Gibson R.N., of HMS Curacoa, declared the southern Solomon Islands as a British Protectorate with the proclamation of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate.
In 1894, Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone's government officially announced that Uganda, where Muslim and Christian strife had attracted international attention, was to become a British Protectorate. The British administration installed carefully selected local kings under a program of indirect rule through the local oligarchy, creating a network of British-controlled civil service. Most British protectorates were overseen by a Commissioner or a High Commissioner, rather than a Governor.
British law makes a distinction between a protectorate and a protected state. Constitutionally the two are of similar status, in which Britain provides controlled defence and external relations. However, a protectorate has an internal government established, while a protected state establishes a form of local internal self-government based on the already existing one.
Persons connected with a former British protectorate, protected state, mandated territory or trust territory may remain British Protected Persons if they did not acquire the nationality of the country at independence.
The last British protectorate proper was the British Solomon Islands, now Solomon Islands, which gained independence in 1978; the last British protected state was Brunei, which gained full independence in 1984.
List of former British protectorates
- Barbados (1627–1652) (as a proprietary colony under William Courteen, followed by James Hay I)
- Mosquito Coast (1655–1860) (over Central America's Miskito Indian nation)
- Aden Protectorate (1872–1963); precursor state of South Yemen
- Eastern Protectorate States (mostly in Haudhramaut); later the Protectorate of South Arabia (1963–1967)
- Western Protectorate States; later the Federation of South Arabia (1959/1962-1967), including Aden Colony
- Sultanate of Egypt (1914–1922)
- Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899–1956) (condominium with Egypt)
- Cis-Sutlej states (1809–1947)
- Kingdom of Sikkim (1910–1947)
- Kingdom of Sarawak (1888–1946)
- British North Borneo (1888–1946)
- British Cyprus (1871–1914) (put under British military administration 1914–22 then proclaimed a Crown Colony 1922–60)
- Malta Protectorate (1800–1813); Crown Colony of Malta proclaimed in 1813) (de jure part of the Kingdom of Sicily but under British protection)
- Sicily Protectorate (1806-1815) (de jure part of the Kingdom of Sicily but under British protection)
- Barotseland Protectorate (1900–1964)
- Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885–1966)
- East Africa Protectorate (1895–1920)
- Gambia Colony and Protectorate* (1894–1965)
- Kenya Protectorate* (1920–1963)
- Northern Nigeria Protectorate* (1900–1914)
- Northern Rhodesia (1924–1964)
- Gold Coast (British colony) (1902–1957)
- Northern Territories of the Gold Coast (British protectorate)
- Nyasaland Protectorate (1893–1964) ( British Central Africa Protectorate until 1907)
- Sierra Leone Protectorate* (1896–1961)
- Southern Nigeria Protectorate (1900–1914)
- Swaziland (1902–1968)
- Uganda Protectorate (1894–1962)
- Walvis Bay (1878–1884)
- Sultanate of Zanzibar (1890–1963)
*protectorates which existed alongside a colony of the same name
- British Somaliland (1884–1960)
- Territory of Papua (1884–1888)
- British Solomon Islands (1893–1978)
- Cook Islands (1888–1901)
- Gilbert and Ellice Islands (1892–1916)
- Niue (1900–1901)
- Tokelau (1877–1916)
List of former British protected states
As protected states, the following states were never officially part of the British Empire and retained near-total control over internal affairs; however, the British controlled their foreign policy. Their status was rarely advertised while it was in effect, it becoming clear only after it was lifted.
- Brunei (1888–1984)
- Emirate of Afghanistan (1879–1919)
- Bhutan (1910–1947)
- Kingdom of Egypt (1922–1936)
- Federation of Malaya (1948–1957)
- Federated Malay States (1895–1946)
- Unfederated Malay States (1904/09–1946)
- Maldive Islands (1887–1965)
- Tonga (1900–1970)
- British Residency of the Persian Gulf (1822–1971); headquarters based at Bushire, Persia
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But the British Government, established at Delhi since 1803, interevened with an offer of protection to all the CIS-SUTLEJ STATES; and Dhanna Singh gladly availed himself of the promised aid, being one of the first chieftains to accept British protection and control.
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