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When did the British monarch become an Emperor? I know that Queen Victoria became Empress of India, that there is an order of the British Empire, but is there such a thing as a British Emperor?

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Not entirely sure that I understand the question. Disraeli and Victoria attached the title "Emperor" to the British Monarchy. Thus whoever occupies the throne gets the title (adjusted for gender). Thus when Edward assumed the throne after Victoria, he was "Emperor of India". –  Mark C. Wallace Aug 29 '14 at 12:13
Certainly from the times of James II/VI, Monarch of Britain and Scotland, the Monarchy had the right to the title, but I believe I've seen it even earlier; I just can't remember where I saw it. –  Mark C. Wallace Aug 29 '14 at 14:16

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The British were in charge of India from 1858 to 1947. During the period from 1877 to 1947 (or so), the British monarchs also called themselves "Emperor of India" or "Empress of India," in addition to their status as King or Queen. So Victoria signed letters as "Victoria RI," where the R was for "queen" (Regina) and the I was for "empress" (Imperatrix).

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So, if I understand correctly, there is a British Empire, but no British Emperor (just a British King/Queen that happens to be Emperor elsewhere)? –  Jean-Christophe Dubacq Feb 8 '12 at 23:13
That is essentially correct, yes. –  aeismail Feb 8 '12 at 23:55
John was styled Emperor of Ireland. –  Francis Davey Jul 22 '14 at 7:19
Queen Victoria was Empress of India, so she was an Empress. –  Oldcat Aug 29 '14 at 19:18

Victoria and her successors were king/queen of the United Kingdom (England + Scotland + Ireland) and emperor/empress of India in personal union, in part at least so as not to be outdone by the Hohenzollern (king of Prussia and emperor of Germany) and the Habsburgs (emperor of Austria and king of Hungary). “RI” (regina-imperatrix) is the exact equivalent of “k.u.k.” (kaiserlich und königlich).

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The sometimes used the title "King-Emperor". The main cultural region was England (& Britain), which had historically be "Kingdoms" not "Empire". Hence it was more cultural acceptable for the reigning monarch to be called "King", not "Emperor"

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This isn't correct—the monarchs were considered to be emperors of India during the period known as the British "Raj" in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. –  aeismail Feb 8 '12 at 12:31
Yes, Emperor of India. But King of Great Britian. –  Rory Feb 8 '12 at 19:32
That is correct. Don't know why this answer is down voted. +1 to compensate. Rory, you can perhaps clarify in your answer that Emperor of India and King of Great Britain and Northern Ireland were two different titles. –  Apoorv Khurasia Jul 28 '12 at 16:51
@MonsterTruck. Northern Ireland did not exist as a political entity at that time. –  TRiG Sep 12 '12 at 17:11
@TRiG Before 1927 the title used to be King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… –  Apoorv Khurasia Sep 13 '12 at 16:05

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