At its height, the British Empire was not just the largest empire in the world but the largest in history. At one point, the empire included what is now the USA, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Australia and Canada. The empire began to wane late in the 19th into the 20th centuries. There are a few reasons but the main reason is the British Pound. The Pound Sterling was the world's reserve currency at the time under a classical gold standard and collapsed in 1914. The first world war forced England to borrow and devalue their currency. From this point on, the Pound Sterling has continued to lose value to this day.
India, having been under colonial rule since 1857, gained independence in 1947. England was able to subdue India though trading ventures in the 1700s by use of the British East India Company which eventually paved the way for complete British dominance.
While Canada is still a member of the commonwealth and Queen Elizabeth II still head of state, Canada gained the right to permanent self-rule in 1982. Australia soon followed Canada's lead in 1986. England relinquished power over Hong Kong in 1997 after a 99 year lease expired.
Now, we can add another to the list. Overnight, Barbados severed colonial ties with the empire, after almost 400 years of colonial rule and is now an independent country and its first president, Sandra Mason said, "We must shape its future. We are each other's and our nation's keepers. We the people are Barbados."
Prince Charles was in attendance while the Queen sent warm regards to the people of the new island nation. Megastar Rihanna, originally from Barbados was also in attendance to witness the swearing in of the republic's first president, followed by fireworks, music, dancing and singing.
Congratulations to the peoples of Barbados for their newfound independence. It's been a long time coming.
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