The decline of British Empire

So there, Scotland has (barely) decided to stay within the UK. Jolly good! The Isle + Northern Ireland remain in the same country and everything is merry.

The Union stays strong
The Union stays strong

But, any good student will remember British Empire was the biggest empire ever, until just decades ago. Bits of Europe, half of Africa, India, North America, Australia,… even freakin’ Antarctica! It was the “empire on which the sun never sets”.

Splendid, old chap!

But recently it shrunk to mostly just one big island and one part of a smaller island, that we now know as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Meh.

How did a giant of such expanse fail so miserably in such a short timespan?

It all started in 1941, with the Atlantic Charter. Atlantic Charter, kids.

The year is 1941. World War II has been on for two years and UK is in grave trouble – constantly attacked and scared of invasion by Nazi Germany, its army next to destroyed and its economy down on its knees. The country is exhausted and PM Churchill is desperate to seek help, so he goes and talks to Mr. Roosevelt the American president.
What basically happened next was:

Churchill: Um, we lack supplies in basically everything. Can you help?
Roosevelt: OK, sure. But you’ll have to give up on your colonies.
Churchill: Oh… Well… ‘Kay… I guess…

And so it was! USA helped UK survive, Allies eventually won the war, but the almighty British Empire, now closely overlooked by its stronger brother, started losing one by one of its widespread colonies. From Sudan and Ghana in the 1950s all the way to Hong Kong in 1997, dozens of territories have said Cheerio! to the Crown.

60 years of descentThat’s what you get for drinking too much tea. Or for having an insanely aggressive neighbour. Or both.

Admittedly, thanks to bits of land such as Pitcairn, the sun still never sets on the UK.
Well, at least not on its dependencies. But that’s another story.

And even with still having Scotland onboard, the parachute of UK’s descent has failed as spectacularly as would a pair of old knickers trying to soften the fall of an elephant.


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