Ron Fraser, who died in 2014, wrote this article for the July 2007 Philadelphia Trumpet. Following the historic Brexit vote, we reprinted it in the November 2016 True Education because it shows the profound heritage of the British Empire.
The year 2005 marked the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, which cemented Britain’s rule over the waves for the following 150 years. It was an occasion for celebration in Britain.
In 2007, the Royal Navy that Adm. Horatio Nelson commanded in that decisive battle against the combined naval forces of the French and Spanish celebrated its 400th anniversary. The occasion just happened to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union, which brought into being the United Kingdom of England, Scotland and Wales, upon which was built the great British Empire.
These anniversaries, for which this article was written, gave time for reflection on the past, and on the key institutions that guaranteed our memorialization of crucial events in the history of both nations and empires.
Queen Elizabeth ii is the living testimony of the singular institution that bound together the greatest empire in the history of the world: the grand British Empire. That institution is the royal throne of England, which possesses a heritage that traces back to the time of David, king of ancient Israel.
Three female monarchs dominated the development of the British nation as it rose to the height of its empire and then fell to second-rate-power status.
It was during the mid-16th- to early-17th-century reign of courageous Queen Elizabeth i that the term “British Empire” first became fashionable. One of her close advisers, Welshman John Dee, introduced the term in the context of the prospects for expansion of British international trade. Britain had already established overseas trading interests within the Caribbean and Western Canada during the 16th century. Under the rule of Elizabeth i, Sir Francis Drake led the battle that ended with the destruction of the Spanish Armada, freeing the high seas from Spanish domination. Elizabeth then funded Drake’s great voyages that led to the colonization of the New World.
Victoria became queen and empress over the vast possessions obtained by Britain during the two centuries previous to her reign. These possessions were consolidated by a combination of intercontinental British trade, the securing of Britain’s overseas trading posts by the British Navy, the garrisoning of British troops to ensure order within the growing trading empire, and the institution of the rule of law and effective civil administration of the colonies.
After World War i, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire led to Britain acquiring Palestine and Iraq in 1918. The Treaty of Versailles handed Britain most of Germany’s African colonies in 1919. Thus, immediately following the Great War, Britain ruled the greatest extent of territory of any empire in history.
In the 15 years that followed, daily events on every continent were dominated by the British Commonwealth and Empire.
Growing Up in the Empire
During the Australian Constitutional Convention in February 1998, Attorney General Daryl Williams QC, reminiscing over those initial postwar years, declared, “I grew up happily reading the British Empire Youth Annual.”
So did I, and so did a good portion of pre-baby-boomer generation youth in the British Commonwealth and Empire during the decade following the Second World War.
We were generally a fairly comfortable generation of youth, secure (and taught to be so) in the knowledge that we were part of one of the most blessed nations on Earth, enjoying freedoms amid a peace bought at heroic cost by the success of the Allies of the free English-speaking world in their conquest of aggressive tyranny in two great world wars.
The youth of the empire had no embarrassment at all about their British heritage in my day. In fact, we were schooled to honor and respect it. It was a natural thing for us to be comfortable with God, king, empire and the Ten Commandments, which most of the majority non-Catholic population of my generation learned by rote in our subteen years.
In those days, we took great pride in flying the flags of both nation and empire.
As we crossed the threshold from the years of recovery from war in the 1940s into the 1950s, it seemed the sun shone every day in the great British dominion of Australia. Then on Feb. 6, 1952, it appeared that, suddenly, the whole world stood still. The king had died in his sleep. A young woman in her mid-20s, still in the early years of motherhood, was thrust into the world spotlight.
On June 2, 1953, the eldest daughter of King George vi, Elizabeth, was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of all other realms and territories of the British Commonwealth and Empire.
All over the British Commonwealth and Empire on that memorable day, guns boomed in royal salute, church bells rang, and sirens resounded as the young queen took the royal oath and was anointed to shouts of “God save the Queen”—a declaration that, for the subjects of the ancient British race, dated back well over 3,000 years (1 Samuel 10:24).
I still remember watching two Vampire jets screaming in overhead to land at nearby Kingsford Smith airport in Sydney, bearing the precious film of the coronation of Elizabeth ii. That film traveled the world to be shown in cinemas in every city and major town across the empire.
A year later, on a bright summer morning in 1954, we rose early, trekked into Sydney, and assembled along Hyde Park wall to view our monarch during her first visit to Australia. Happily, we waved our Union Jacks and the seven-starred flag of Australia at the beaming young queen. We all enjoyed our Camelot for a day.
The bbc commentary on the tremendous welcome the queen received following her return from that highly successful yet very arduous trip to her vast possessions in 1954 bears reading, if only to compare the mood in the nation at the time to that of today.
Under the headline “1954: Queen Returns After Lengthy Voyage,” bbc News reported: “The royal family has returned safely from their six-month tour of the Commonwealth to a rapturous welcome in London. Thousands flocked to the banks of the River Thames to see the Royal Yacht Britannia bringing the Queen home. Ships’ sirens and factory hooters welcomed the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and their two children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. …
“A huge red-and-white banner was hung from Tower Bridge bearing the words, ‘Welcome Home’. … The banks of the Thames at Westminster were again packed with a cheering, whistling crowd as the royal family at last disembarked onto dry land. …
“The royal family continued to Buckingham Palace in three carriages, through streets lined with cheering, flag-waving people, some of whom had waited all night to see the Queen and her family pass by.
“Even when the Queen arrived at Buckingham Palace, no sooner had the door closed behind her than the cry began to go up: ‘We want the Queen!’ Within 10 minutes, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, with their two children, appeared on the balcony to roars of approval from the crowd.
“It was the first of four appearances, the last at nearly 23:00 bst [11:00 p.m.]. Even then, the crowd was persuaded to leave only when the lamps floodlighting the palace were switched off.”
Changing Fortunes—Changing Mood
Back then, this smiling queen, engulfed by a wave of natural affection from her subjects, with her first two children enjoying the wonder of the cheering crowds, could hardly have foreseen on the 40th anniversary of her reign declaring 1992 her annus horribilis.
Resident in Britain at the time, I watched images of that small, sad and seemingly lonely figure walking among the debris of St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle following the great fire that erupted there on the 45th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh, Nov. 20, 1992. Four days later, reflecting on the failure of the marriages of her daughter Ann, and second son, Andrew, publicly announced that year, and the castle fire on her wedding anniversary, Elizabeth declared, during a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of her accession, that of all her years, this had been her most horrible.
By the time she had reached the golden jubilee of the 50th anniversary of her reign 10 years later, another failed marriage and the tragic death of her daughter-in-law Princess Diana had compounded the tragedies suffered during the latter years of her reign.
Yet, with an empire of such rich and illustrious vintage as Britain has possessed, there are bound to arise some highly significant anniversaries, some great occasions on which to celebrate past glories upon which present blessings are built.
Who Is Celebrating?
It may surprise many that 2007 was the year when Britons had the unsurpassable opportunity to celebrate 300 years as a United Kingdom and 400 years of the naval power that once secured for them every major sea gate on the globe.
Who, after all, was really celebrating?
Since most post-1960s-generation Britons have been taught to be ashamed of their colonial past by the tormented revisionist historians, small wonder that these great historic events are the subject of little emphasis by both government and public at large.
Which other nation can boast of possession of the oldest continuously inhabited castle in the world? Which nation crowns its monarch seated over an ancient rock that dates back to the time of the anointing of the patriarchs of a 3,000-year royal lineage? Which nation has remained united as a kingdom continuously for three centuries? Which nation on Earth can boast of a naval heritage lasting four centuries?
Britain has been the sole possessor of all these unique blessings. Yet in the very year of the 300th anniversary of its kingdom and the 400th anniversary of the navy that has provided its security from foreign incursion, the average Brit seems to stifle a yawn at the prospect of finding the energy and the motivation to respond at anywhere near even the beginnings of the level of emotion that outpoured just a little over a half century ago during the early years of Elizabeth ii’s reign.
Of course, it may well be that the British are too embarrassed at the prospect of raising any positive hoopla over a 300-year-old United Kingdom that, in the very year of its tricentennium, posts headlines about the prospect of Scotland seceding from its ancient and most profitable union with England. It may be that some still hear the echo of Margaret Thatcher’s words: “Never negotiate with a terrorist,” ringing in their ears as the leader of the Protestant Unionists, Ian Paisley, capitulates to form a government in Northern Ireland in coalition with the political wing of the ira terrorists, Sinn Fein.
Perhaps even more embarrassing are the announcements that have come during the fourth centennial of the British Royal Navy: that it has sunk to a size less than the navy of France for the first time since it licked Napoleon’s navy under the heroic Horatio Nelson at Trafalgar—that it no longer has the capacity to sustain overseas missions under a liberal socialist government that has overseen its reduction to a force not much larger than a typical coast guard.
Yes, on second thought, perhaps one can understand the lack of overt patriotic outburst on these multicentennial anniversaries of British unity and greatness, given the combination of the effects that subversive elements have had on the once-great Britain in recent decades.
The Sun Has Almost Set
The days when the sun never set on the British Empire have long gone. The sun is now almost set on Britain’s glorious past. Imperial decline commenced with the yielding up of the jewel in Britain’s crown, the colony of India, to independent rule in 1947. As Britain reached beyond the midpoint of the 20th century, its famed industry and local government structure became fractured by a rampant communistic labor movement, its church entered rapid moral decline, its governments became politically exhausted, and in the wake of all its postwar woes, it rapidly gave away most of its vast colonial possessions.
In the 1960s, Britain’s moral, industrial and political decline accelerated markedly. “England Swings,” shouted the headlines as four mop-haired Liverpudlians commenced turning the nation’s youth off demonstrating any attachment to their old imperial heritage and tuned them in to the mantras of banal rock music, Eastern religion and mind-bending drug binges. There followed the impact of the woolly-headed revisionist historians as university campuses were taken over by liberal socialists. By the mid-1970s, the treasonous politicians of both left and right dragged Britain into a union with Europe that destroyed its agrarian economy and helped desolate its industrial base.
Then came the politically correct police largely wrecking the basic common sense of ancient British Common Law. This was quickly followed by the humbling capitulation of government, church and academia to the rank paganism, foreign religion and culture of peoples who, once decrying their being ruled by the British during the times of empire, now rushed to Mother England’s doorstep to demand residence within her shores.
The combined effects of these phenomena have had a powerful negative impact on the British psyche.
But perhaps the most soul-destroying image of all appeared on television screens worldwide in early 2007 of celebration of national unity and naval power: the image of 15 British Marines capitulating to their Iranian enemy, uttering treasonous lies about their mission, then hugging their captors, having begged and obtained their shameful release to return home only to start flogging off their stories to the highest bidder.
That both government and military would justify such wretched behavior from representatives of the Queen’s forces is unprecedented in the long history of the peoples that Winston Churchill was once proud to declare were “a nation and the race dwelling all around the globe that had the lion’s heart.”
The lion’s heart has simply failed.
British leaders of the ilk of Winston Churchill—who declared, when the British were truly lionhearted, that he had the privilege “to be called upon to give the [lion’s] roar”—have long passed from the scene.
The sun is rapidly setting amid the twilight years of Britain’s now well-faded glory. The signs are there for all to see. Glory is turned into shame. The British monarchy, at its government’s behest, now disposes its honors on court jesters and perverts, when once it knighted men of true honor, demonstrable bravery and intellectual integrity.
It’s a sad day for Britain when it demonstrates shame for its past glories, and defers, within its own gates, to the perverse practices of interlopers to whom it was once given responsibility to civilize within their own gates!
Yet this is all so prophetic!
For as the prophet declared long before God bestowed unmatched blessings on the British peoples, “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low. He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail” (Deuteronomy 28:43-44).
What ought to be a year of great celebration for all British people has instead become a reflection on Britain’s shame.
A sad day indeed—yet read on! For this shame will yet be turned into a glory far beyond anything experienced by the British peoples at the very height of empire!
The prophecies of your Bible speak of the future that follows the twilight of the British peoples, a future of great and unmatched revival!
Believe it or not, the British peoples are, yet once again, to become great colonizers.
But this time, they will do it right—and be truly thankful to their God for the opportunity, as they willingly subscribe to His government! This time, the nations will praise their benefactors and willingly yield to their rule!
Sound fantastic? It surely is! But it is as sure as tomorrow’s rising sun, which is guaranteed by the great and Almighty God who created it!
Whether or not you are of British stock, you need the hope that is embedded in that future prophesied in your Bible. Request your copy, gratis, of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, and lay a firm grasp on that hope now!