The political order in Britain is increasingly strained and the imperial system is challenged by new powers and movements which emerge from the chaos of World War I, known as the Great War to those who endured the catastrophe.
Edward VII was the epitome of a worldly, urbane gentleman who personified the fashionable, leisured elite of his age. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the race course and card table and was notorious for his affairs with numerous women. Some disapproved of his lifestyle and character, but others vicariously enjoyed the opulent lifestyle and easy-going dignity displayed by their sovereign - the ruler of ‘the greatest empire the world has ever seen’. His saving graces were good humour, personal charm and tact. As Prince of Wales, he had built up personal popularity with his regular travels throughout Britain. His tours of North America in 1860 and the Indian subcontinent in 1875 were also popular successes. He fostered good relations with European countries, especially France, for which he was popularly called ‘Peacemaker’; but he had always suffered a difficult relationship with his young nephew Wilhelm II, which became worse as the German Kaiser pursued policies of imperial rivalry with Britain and military superiority in Europe.
1901 The six Australian colonies form the Commonwealth of Australia.
~ Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) sends a wireless message from Cornwall to Newfoundland.
~ Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) publishes The Tale of Peter Rabbit, first of her books about anthropomorphic animals.
~ The British Academy for study of the Humanities and Natural Science is founded.
~ Elgar composes The Pomp and Circumstance march.