This article explores how the meaning of Empire Day in the British World was manipulated and transformed through a range of urban institutions before reaching the public at large. Selecting cities in England and the Antipodean colonies for comparison, we shall challenge the assumption that a hegemonic imperial ideology was streamed uncontested and unaltered to urban populations. Indeed, it is argued here that because of significant differences in urban development in Britain and colonial towns, the meaning of the imperial message was variable. In the British context imperial meaning was directed to cure perceived local crises while, alternatively, within a colonial setting imperial propaganda came secondary to national priorities. The conclusion is that, in the case of Empire Day, the urban setting is decisive to understanding how imperial propaganda was transformed to meet the needs of local or national environments. Key differences in the way civic culture and the provincial press evolved in Britain and her colonies ensured that Lord Meath’s desire that Empire Day would nurture a unifying and homogenous imperial identity proved an elusive aspiration.
- Empire Day
- civic culture