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124 THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM CHAP.
But the British Government, it may be suggested, might have met it by simply deposing the Khedive, who had deserted his country, and confirming the Regency of the Prime Minister for the duration of the war. This would have been no more arbitrary an exercise of their authority than either annexation or the proclamation of a Protectorate, and it would not have reacted so detrimentally as did the proclamation of a Protectorate upon our relations with our Allies and other neutral States. That was a measure hard to reconcile with the spirit of the reciprocal engagement already taken at our instance by the Entente Powers, that no territorial changes in favour of any one of them should become effective till the end of the war, when they should be discussed and settled by common agreement. For the proclamation of the Protectorate constituted a change in the status of Egypt, as hitherto established by international treaties, and a change to our own advantage. We were able to secure the acquiescence of France and Russia, as we were prepared to promise Syria to the former and the possession of Constantinople and the Straits to the latter. But it helped to embark the Allies on that dangerous course of secret agreements and treaties which led to so many misunderstandings, during as well as after the war. In the course of a semi-official mission on which I was sent by the Foreign Office to the Balkans in the summer of 1915, I had abundant opportunities of noting how serious an obstacle the prospect of Russia being established at Constantinople was to Entente diplomacy in Athens, Sofia, and Bukarest, and how general was the belief that it was the price we had been selfishly willing to pay at their expense for the permanent possession of Egypt. The only doubt, however, that appears to have arisen in London was whether His Majesty's Government should not proceed a step further and annex Egypt to the British Empire instead of merely proclaiming a British Protectorate. Lord Curzon has stated in the House of Lords that " the opportunity of incorporatinghe visit which heocialf light railways and the introduc