Definition of protected state
: an internationally recognized state under the protection of another usually larger and more powerful state; specifically : a state having a relatively stable and traditional government that has entered into treaty relations with the British Crown to avail itself of British protection and that while giving the British government certain rights and responsibilities usually retains supervision of its domestic affairs while placing its foreign relations under British control the two British Settlements and the nine protected states which together form the Federation of Malaya — M. E. Cooper — compare protectorate
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