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Portal:British Empire

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British Empire

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British Empire, 1897

The British Empire was the largest empire in history, and for a substantial time was the foremost global power. It was a product of the European age of discovery, which began with the maritime explorations of the 15th century, that sparked the era of the European colonial empires.

By 1921, the British Empire held sway over a population of about 458 million people, approximately one-quarter of the world's population. It covered about 36.6 million km² (14.2 million square miles), about a quarter of Earth's total land area. As a result, its legacy is widespread: in legal and governmental systems, economic practice, militarily, educational systems, sports (such as cricket, rugby, golf and football), traffic practices (such as driving on the left), and in the global spread of the English language. At the peak of its power, it was often said that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" because its span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous colonies or subject nations.

During the five decades following World War II, most of the territories of the Empire became independent. Many went on to join the Commonwealth of Nations, a free association of independent states.

Selected article

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Publication of an early version in The Gentleman's Magazine, 15 October 1745.

"God Save the Queen", or "God Save the King", is an anthem used as the national anthem of the United Kingdom, one of the two national anthems of New Zealand, and the royal anthem of Canada and of Australia. The title of the song varies with the gender of the reigning monarch, and so it now uses "Queen", though "King" has been historically more common. In countries not previously part of the British Empire the tune of "God Save the Queen" has also been used as the basis for different patriotic songs, though still generally connected with royal ceremony.

The authorship of the song is unknown, and beyond its first verse, which is consistent, it has many historic and extant versions: Since its first publication, different verses have been added and taken away and, even today, different publications include various selections of verses in various orders. In general only one, or sometimes two verses are sung, but on rare occasions three. One or two bars may also form a part of the Vice Regal Salute in Commonwealth realms outside the United Kingdom.

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Melton Prior - Illustrated London News - The Transvaal War - General Sir George Colley at the Battle of Majuba Mountain Just Before He Was Killed.jpg
Credit: Melton Prior

The Transvaal War: General Sir George Colley at the Battle of Majuba Mountain just before he was killed.

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Selected biography

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Rogerelliott.jpg

Major General Roger Elliott (ca. 1665 - May 15, 1714) was one of the earliest British Governors of Gibraltar. His nephew George Augustus Eliott also became a noted Governor and defender of Gibraltar.

Roger Elliott was born, possibly in London but more probably in the Tangier Garrison in Morocco, to George Elliott (ca. 1636 - 1668, the Chirurgeon to the Garrison) and his wife Catherine Maxwell (ca. 1638 - 1709). George Elliott was the illegitimate son of Richard Eliot, the wayward second son of Sir John Eliot.

Roger's father, George Elliott, died at the Tangier Garrison in 1668 and his widowed mother remarried there on February 22, 1670 to Robert Spotswood (September 17, 1637 - 1680, the assistant and replacement Chirurgeon at the Garrison), and thirdly to Rev Dr George Mercer, the Garrison schoolmaster. Roger was therefore an older half-brother to Alexander Spotswood (ca. 1676 - June 6, 1740), who would become a noted Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia. (more...)

Evolution of the British Empire

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British Empire evolution3.gif

This Map of the world animates the Empire's rise and fall.

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British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations

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* now a Commonwealth realm  ·   now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations
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