British Empire at its apex: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.”
It was an incredibly expansive empire that rivaled that of Rome. Like the Romans, the British left lasting cultural impressions upon the lands it controlled, both good and ill. The map below illustrates the parts of the globe that were under British rule (and some are still a part of the Commonwealth today). The empire reached its apex in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901).
In 1867, Canada became the first colony to be transformed into a self-governing ‘Dominion’, a newly constituted status that implied equality with Britain. The empire was gradually changing and Lord Rosebury, a British politician, described it in Australia in 1884 as a “Commonwealth of Nations”. –thecommonwealth.org
The empire would eventually become smaller as various nations began to declare independence. India, the “jewel” of the British empire, became an independent nation on August 15, 1947. In January of 1950 the Republic of India was officially proclaimed.
In 1949 The London Declaration recognized King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. The Queen is the head of the Commonwealth today.