Many of the traditions which we think of as very ancient in their origins were not in fact sanctioned by long usage over the centuries, but were invented comparatively recently. This book explores examples of this process of invention – the creation of Welsh and Scottish ‘national culture’; the elaboration of British royal rituals in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the origins of imperial rituals in British India and Africa; and the attempts by radical movements to develop counter-traditions of their own. It addresses the complex interaction of past and present, bringing together historians and anthropologists in a fascinating study of ritual and symbolism which poses new questions for the understanding of our history.
Revd Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt FBA, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford: “As this country began to come to terms with its retreat from imperial narcissism, this was a dose of common sense which in the long term may help to break down myopic nationalisms. Our tabloid press has not begun on that path yet, and it is proving a long haul.”