By the time the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland formed in 1800, America had won its War of Independence, but that regional loss of power was offset by Great Britain's version of the Industrial Revolution and the massive growth that would soon follow.
Queen Victoria assumed the throne in 1837. During her productive and popular reign, Britain's economy exploded with new growth; universal education was introduced, labor unions formed and Britain was transformed into the world's greatest power, bar none.
In a somewhat shocking turnabout, the human and financial costs of World War I, countrywide labor unrest in the 1920's and the crushing depression of the 1930's put England and Great Britain into a tailspin. Then came Hitler and WWII; Britain's military and its determined citizens (all sparked by Winston Churchill) as well as the resources and manpower of the United States and other allies defeated the German war machine.
The enormous price of freedom had repercussions. The British Empire began its decline, losing influence and colonies around the globe. At home, in an effort to survive financially, the (majority) Labor government nationalized the Bank of England, railroads and other critical businesses.
In the 60's, Britain rebounded for a time as John, Paul, George and Ringo (the Beatles), the Rolling Stones and other pop groups burst onto the stage; a youth culture emerged, Twiggy modeled miniskirts and London was again fashionable. At the same time, across the Irish Sea, Northern Ireland exploded in violence.
Following the 1970's economic stagnation and Margaret Thatcher's (love it or hate it) term as Prime Minister in the 1980's, the fractured nation rallied for change in the form of a new Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
After a time the British public felt Blair's government both succeeded and failed, as they remained polarized on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, immigration, their membership in the EU, and a litany of other nationalistic issues.
Then, in the 2010 general election, the people voted for change and David Cameron was appointed Prime Minister. At age 43, he became the youngest British Prime Minister since the Earl of Liverpool 198 years earlier.
Shakespeare once described England, his native land, by writing, "this royal throne of kings...this fortress built by nature...this blessed plot." Well, he should have added, "this innovative and optimistic lot," as England and its brilliant and resilient people have changed our world for the better more than once, and surely they will do it again. In fact, you can take that to the bank!
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