Major steps leading from the Empire to the dissolution of the United Kingdom
1. End of World War II: According to two of the major four theories that deal with the starting point of the decline of the British Empire, “World War II” and “Economic factors” support the idea that the end of the war and the entailed financial severity are the most crucial reasons for the dissolution of the Empire.
Being militarily impoverished and suffering from high debts made during war, the colony of Inida , additionally, turned into a financial burden, because it rose from a country of cheap labor to an emancipated business state.
2. The second big step was the partition of India in 1947. In order to survive WWII, Britain had mobilised Indian soldiers. Mahatma Ghandi and the Indian National Congress protested heavily against this measure, still Britain was handed over the man power it needed. However, this cooperation would not have succeeded if Britain had not offered a high price: full independence of India as soon as the war would be over.
Having lost a lot of money and a colony, the Empire lacked wealth and international influence.
3. This situation worsened unavoidably when Britain had to face the repayment of its debts and its replacement as the greatest world power by two new states. The United States and the Soviet Union overtrumped the Empire as new international players.
After having acknowledged the loss of power to the USA and the Soviet Union, the importance of tightening the strings to its other Commonwealth allies became obvious. As a central headstone for its remaining international power, the integrity of Suez Canal was decisive.
4. Nevertheless, this cornerstone broke in the 1950s with the Suez Crisis. The British Prime Minister Robert Anthony Eden revealed the narrow mindedness and stubbornness of the British policy of international affairs. It was more driven by voracity than a diplomatic plan of regaining power.
After having lost the second very important location of international trade, the financial situation of Great Britain degrades even more.
5. Between 1961 and 1963 three African colonies became independent. In order to prevail a colonial rule Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika, the British must have invested a huge mount of capital to throw over nationalist movements. Since the financial pressure on the UK was still very heavy, it decided to rather let these colonies go, then risk another costly military mission.
After the 1960s only few colonies remained part of the imperial union of Great Britain. Rhodesia, the Falkland Islands and Hong Kong were heavily competed for. The Hong Kong — affairs were one of the few that were dealt with in a diplomatic way. However even Hong Kong became independent in 1997.
Having summed up some of the most important incidents that led to the dissolution of the Empire, the question occurring now is: What will happen to the imperial legacy of the British Empire?
After the Brexit-referendum, nationalist movements within the Commonwealth gain strength. On the contrary, Britain strives to tie tighter strings to its Commonwealth partners fearing a crush of its trading successes after heaving left the EU.
I think the Brexit heralds a new age for the Commonwealth community. It is a union which was founded on the grounds of a common empire which has fallen now to its smallest entity, Great Britain. But even this union is endangered by nationalist movements in Scotland who strive for independence in order to stay part of the EU. Thus, when the end of the 19th century was the time of dissociation of the former colonies from England, the 21st century is the time of the empowering of the former colonies and maybe even of a future domination of these over Britain. Therefore a reversal of former relations leading into a dependency of Great Britain on its former colonies can be the future scenario of the former imperial ruler.