This is a question we were asked by a female professor at the MIT. I forgot her name. We were listening to her as a keynote speaker when we attended an HP event in Hannover.

It was all a long time ago. Those were good times. Hewlett Packard celebrated the “Wind of Change”, the victory of the UNIX servers against mainframes. And in the evening, shortly before they flew to Tokyo, the Scorpions played.
But first, the professor presented a wonderful oratory on “management and enterprise culture”; including a short story I remembered when I attended the
Workshop at Rise.


Here they are: story, question and answer.

The story:

Queen Victoria reigned over the “British Empire” for more than 60 years. During her reign, the upper and middle classes in Britain enjoyed an extraordinary time of economical wealth, and the British Empire was at the zenith of its power. She was the first British monarch who also held the title Empress of  India. Everybody called the time the Victorian Age.

But how was it possible for her to reign over her empire? Take for instance India. In India, her Governor General held the power. In the British Colonial Empire, he was the only person to hold the title of Vice Kind of India. This was meant to underline his authority over the local princes and chieftains.

British-India was reigned by the advice of the Governor General, who was a subordinate of the London “India Office”.

Now, the communication channels between Kensington Palace and Dehli where everything but short. Telex and radio engineering were going to be invented a century later. Consequently, a dispatch written by her Majesty the Queen took 6 to 8 weeks (one way!). That means the dialogue must have taken 12 weeks!

So far our professor. Now comes the question:

Looking at these circumstances, how was it possible to reign the “British Empire” so successfully? Just keep in mind that you can send and receive data around the world in seconds without much of an effort today!
Embarrassment and silence all over the room. The general opinion was that it could not be done. No telephone, fax or email.

Then came the answer to the question by our wise professor:

It was very easy, because the Governor General in Dehli thought in exactly the same way as Queen Victoria in London.

The story remains unforgettable to me. It contains a beautiful truth, which is why it is my pleasure to relate it.

(Translated by EG)

So here is a song:

Scorpions – Wind of Change – Red Square Moscow 2003

1 Kommentar zu “Entrepreneur’s Diary – #41 “How was it Possible for Queen Victoria to Reign the British Empire?” ♫”

  1. Chris Wood (Tuesday February 2nd, 2010)

    I must correct one thing. Queen Victoria did not rule the British Empire. Britain was then one of the most democratic countries in the world. The Empire was ruled by the British Parliament. Ironically this was elected only by men. It is hard to understand how it could happen that the lower classes were hardly represented in parliament, because they voted (if at all) for the bosses. Why was this? Perhaps that was a main reason for the tremendous growth in power and wealth.
    Yes, Victoria interfered a bit more than Elizabeth does now. For instance laws against homosexuality were restricted to men, because she did not believe there were homosexual women.
    Incidentally India including Pakistan was run by about 2000 British civil servants.

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