The pain of losing Empire was considerable to Churchill and other leaders under whom it happened. So a pseudo-Empire was created and called, rather pompously the “British Commonwealth”. It was ersatz imperialism , a gathering of nations that had little in common other than the fact that their citizens had once been subjects of a King or Queen Emperor/Empress in a Palace in London.
The Commonwealth was not designed to be or do anything substantial. It took over the “Empire Games” a quadrennial sporting tournament which the Brits rather liked because we won a lot of medals. A mini Olympics shorn of the best athletes.
The “British” designator was dropped, the number of nations expanded – some even with no British connection. That said there was still little of substance for the countries’ leaders to do other than eat well and exchange fraternal banalities.
The Commonwealth has never been political, and most of its members are republics. It was briefly a trade alliance (“Commonwealth Preference”) but never has the association acted collectively to do much. The countries mostly speak English but they are scattered around the globe. They have British High Commissions rather than Embassies but without collective power or authority the Commonwealth is a Ruritanian anachronism.
2 thoughts on “Farewell to the Commonwealth ?”
The British Commonwealth was originally an attempt by the monarchy and British governments to perpetuate its influence in former colonies. Sensibly many have had none of it and become republics. How long it will stutter on in its present scoliotic form is anyone’s guess.
The ludicrous spectacle of Canada’s great and good looking slightly embarrassed in fancy dress appointing Charles as head of state must have stirred some republican sentiments among Canadians.
Let’s be done with imperialism and all its works for good.
In terms of direct relevance to most people’s lives in the UK, there was the EU, Nato, the UN and then the Commonwealth. Having left the EU, many Brits have attempted to reclaim the Commonwealth, thinking it can take over from the huge gap left. Even then they dismiss 3/4 of the Commonwealth and concentrate on the natively white English-speaking parts, namely Canada, Australia and NZ.
And even these nations will grant their former colonial masters no special favours, as evidenced from the near one-sided trade deals with the Australians and N Zealanders. Expect Canada and perhaps esp India to play hard ball.