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British Empire

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Flash
4487.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:40 am Reply with quote

The question which interests me is this: was there a day on which the Empire officially ceased to exist? A day, perhaps, on which government papers stopped referring to "Empire" and substituted the word "Commonwealth"? When the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS) became just the CGS? When the "Imp." was taken off the coinage? When the seat on the UN Security Council was attributed to Britain rather than the Empire? Or was this all gradual, informal, and de facto?

I haven't found the answer to the question yet, but it seems that the handover of Hong Kong in 1997 is regarded as the effective end of the Empire. However, it remains the case that the sun is always shining over a British dependency somewhere. There are 13: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctica Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands, St Helena, Turks & Caicos Islands.

In order to stop mass immigration from Hong Kong, all the dependencies were deprived of the automatic right to a British passport. This has left the inhabitants of some of these tiny and remote communities effectively stateless and unable to leave.

 
Jenny
4658.  Fri Jan 16, 2004 11:44 pm Reply with quote

To keep things British together, it should be noted that there is a thread called 'British' which is currently lurking on page three of this forum - mainly to do with definitions of being British, and DNA and so on.

I found some interesting material about the British ensigns on Wikipedia:

Quote:
Prior to 1864, red, white and blue were the colours of the three squadrons of the Royal Navy, which were created as a result of the reorganisation of the navy in 1652 ? by Admiral Robert Blake. Each squadron flew one of the three ensigns.

The red squadron tended to patrol the Caribbean and north Atlantic, the white the coasts of Britain, France and the Mediterranean, while the blue patrolled the south Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The flags of the various former British colonies often have grounds of the same colour as their protective squadron. Hence Bermuda has a red ground and Australia and New Zealand blue. The flag of the United States of America also follows this pattern. Early flags of the American Revolution were modified Red Ensigns. The Grand Union flag, added six white stripes to the Red Ensign and this flag was used during the fight for independence until the Union Flag in the corner was replaced by the current stars in 1777.

In addition to the Admiral of the Fleet (who was Admiral of the Red), each squadron also had its own Admirals, Vice Admirals and Rear Admirals, e.g. Lord Nelson was Vice Admiral of the Blue


Surely there's got to be a nice question in the bit about the US flag...

 
DELETED
4664.  Sat Jan 17, 2004 9:04 am Reply with quote

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Frederick The Monk
4680.  Sat Jan 17, 2004 10:40 am Reply with quote

Quote:
The question which interests me is this: was there a day on which the Empire officially ceased to exist?


At a guess (and it is a guess) how about after the 'London Declaration' of 27th April 1949 that changed the rules of allegiance in the Commonwealth. Before that date Commonwealth countries were required to hold a "common allegiance to the Crown" i.e. they were to consider the monarch as their Head of State. This of course presented a bit of a problem when the new republic of India wanted to join, so the role of the monarchy in the Commonwealth was revised and the declaration produced a new wording in which the monarch was agreed to be the 'Head of the Commonwealth*' - hence marking the end of any nominal Imperial dominion over the former colonies.

*The word "British' had been dropped from in front of 'Commonwealth' in 1946


s:http://www.thecommonwealth.org/

 
Frederick The Monk
4686.  Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:13 am Reply with quote

Quote:
When the "Imp." was taken off the coinage?


The word 'Imp' on British coins was only ever used in connection with the word "Ind" preceeding it* - meaning of course 'INDIAE IMPERATOR' or 'INDIAE IMPERATRIX' - Emperor or Empress of India. As such it was removed from British coinage in 1947. BUT just to prove it's not that simple, Canadian coins of 1948 bear the legend 'Ind Imp' although, strangely enough they bear the date 1947 (but with a mapleleaf behind to indicate that they were minted in 1948). This is because no new dies were available in Canada in 1948 so the 1947 die was altered to show the difference. Some other Commonwealth coinage of 1948 also bears the old legend for much the same reason although no new dies after 1948 bear the words. As coins were not necessarily minted every year the first coins minted that don't bear the 'Ind Imp' are in many cases dated 1950 (such as in Austrialia).

*Now I'm sure there someone out there who'll cause trouble about this so let me add that there ARE of course other occurences of the word (or letter sequence) 'imp' on British coins. To my knowledge these are:
NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT on Scottish pound coins of 1984 and
SACRI ROMANI IMPERII ARCHI-THESAURARIUS ET ELECTOR, although this is usually abbreviated to S R I A TH ET EL - on some coins of George I, II and III.

s:http://www.24carat.co.uk/coininscriptions.html

 
Flash
4693.  Sat Jan 17, 2004 11:54 am Reply with quote

Good stuff. I hadn't heard the Diego Garcia story before - what an interesting story.

 
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4719.  Sat Jan 17, 2004 3:55 pm Reply with quote

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