Friday, 25 March 2011

RIP Anthony Brooke

A couple of people have drawn my attention to the recent death of Anthony Brooke, described by some as 'the last White Rajah'.

He was the great-great-nephew of James Brooke and would have almost certainly have become Rajah in time, had his uncle, Vyner Brooke (the third Rajah) not negotiated with Britain to hand over rule to the British Crown after the Second World War. Anthony Brooke wasn't ever technically the Rajah, though he was Rajah Muda (heir apparent) and ruled for six months in Vymer's absence. He was, understandably, unhappy with the handing over of Sarawak to Britain, which he considered robbed him of his birthright. His anger was shared with many of those in Sarawak: the first British governor was assassinated shortly after his arrival in the country.

After leaving Sarawak, Anthony Brooke devoted much of his life to campaigning for World Peace, which he believed might ultimately be imposed by visitors in flying saucers. His campaign to bring morality back to British politics has clearly been equally unsuccessful.

Anthony Brooke was the last representative of a dynasty notable for eccentricity combined with a passionate desire to do good, albeit often imperfectly realised. James Brooke's huge achievement was to rule well enough for his Raj to continue for three generations, sustained not by armed force but by the support of the people. It is significant that Vymer Brooke's resolution to pass the country to Britain was opposed by native representatives and forced through by European government officials. There is no doubt that James Brooke, had he been alive, would have supported Anthony's opposition to his uncle.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Now available in the best bookshops.

Foyles, for those who don't know, is arguably London's best bookshop. It's certainly the most famous. And this is my book, on sale there.