“When I was a girl…”

When I was a girl, the idea that the British Empire could ever end was absolutely inconceivable. And it just disappeared, like all the other empires. You know, when people talk about the British Empire, they always forget that all the European countries had empires.

Doris Lessing


I personally think that this brilliant quote represents what many Britons thought of the British Empire.

That it is great, strong, unyielding and unchanging.

Britain was the most powerful and important nation in the world for quite some time, with an empire that encircled the globe, and dominated not only militarily.

In the 20th century the British Empire was the largest empire in the world and, for over a century the foremost global power (http://www.victorianschool.co.uk/empire.html).

Some British subjects probably even thought that they were doing the world a favour by taking the British government to the rest of the world.

They did end slavery and barbaric traditions and brought ‘civilisation’ and an international ‘Pax Britannica’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/history/uk_through_time/ ) but they also brought war, famines, racism, maltreatment and exploitation.

By 1914, millions of square miles of territory and millions of people were added to the British Empire.

By the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 Britain was the ‘Mother Country’ of a worldwide empire which covered a fifth of the land in the world, and Britannia ‘ruled the waves’.“ http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/history/uk_through_time/

After the First World War though, it became increasingly difficult for Britain to hold on to her Empire.

Finances played a very big role and maintaining an Empire is a costly thing, plus there were increasing fights for independence.

Then there is also the fact that other countries had colonies as well. They may not have been as big as the British but they nontheless destroyed lives, cultures and families.

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