Balfour Declaration of 1926

The Balfour Declaration of 1926, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire leaders in London, was named after Lord President of the Council (and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) Arthur Balfour. It declared the United Kingdom and the Dominions to be:

... autonomous Communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown, and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

The Inter-Imperial Relations Committee, chaired by Balfour, drew up the document preparatory to its unanimous approval by the imperial premiers on 15 November 1926.[1] It was first proposed by South African Prime Minister J. B. M. Hertzog and Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Gws balfour 01
Arthur Balfour, Earl of Balfour

The Declaration accepted the growing political and diplomatic independence of the Dominions in the years after World War I. It also recommended that the governors-general, the representatives of the King who acted for the Crown as de facto head of state in each dominion, should no longer also serve automatically as the representative of the British government in diplomatic relations between the countries. In following years, High Commissioners were gradually appointed, whose duties were soon recognised to be virtually identical to those of an ambassador. The first such British High Commissioner was appointed to Ottawa in 1928.

The conclusions of the imperial premiers conference of 1926 were re-stated by the 1930 conference and incorporated in the Statute of Westminster of December 1931, by which the British parliament renounced any legislative authority over dominion affairs, except as specifically provided in law.

King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers at the 1926 Imperial Conference.
Standing (left to right): Monroe (Newfoundland), Coates (New Zealand), Bruce (Australia), Hertzog (Union of South Africa), Cosgrave (Irish Free State).
Seated: Baldwin (United Kingdom), King George V, William Lyon Mackenzie King (Canada).


  1. ^ Marshall, Sir Peter (September 2001). "The Balfour Formula and the Evolution of the Commonwealth". The Round Table. 90 (361): 541–53. doi:10.1080/00358530120082823.

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1923 Imperial Conference

The Imperial Conference of 1923 met in London in the autumn of 1923, the first attended by the new Irish Free State. While named the Imperial Economic Conference, the principal activity concerned the rights of the Dominions in regards to determining their own foreign policy.

Where previous Imperial Conferences were held in public session, the 1923 conference allowing for in camera discussion with a resolution "that at meetings of this nature, where questions of high policy and of the greatest consequence to all parts of the British Commonwealth are surveyed and dealt with, it was of the first importance that the representatives present should feel able to speak among themselves with the utmost freedom and in a spirit of complete confidence."The conference occurred in the wake of several important developments in Empire diplomacy. The Chanak Crisis of 1922 was a threatened military conflict between the newly formed Republic of Turkey and the United Kingdom. During the crisis, the British cabinet issued a communiqué threatening to declare war against Turkey on behalf of the UK and the Dominions. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had not consulted the Dominions and Canada disavowed the British ultimatum: when Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King referred the issue to the Canadian parliament, it declared that it alone had the authority to declare war on behalf of Canada. The other Dominion prime ministers failed to support Lloyd George's action. When a new peace treaty, the Treaty of Lausanne, was negotiated with Turkey in 1923, the Dominion governments did not participate in the negotiations or sign and they declared that the UK acted only for itself and not on behalf of the Dominions.In addition, prior to the Imperial Conference, Canada negotiated the Halibut Treaty with the United States and did so without involving the United Kingdom or allowing the British government to sign on Canada's behalf. This was a departure from earlier practice in which the British government had sole responsibility for imperial foreign affairs and a constitutional right to conduct foreign policy on behalf of the dominions, including signing treaties on their behalf.The British, Australian, and New Zealand governments wished the conference to adopt a broad common foreign policy statement however Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and South African Prime Minister J. B. M. Hertzog argued that allowing the conference to make decisions that were binding on the dominions would encroach on their autonomy and that foreign policy of each Dominion should be determined by that Dominion's parliament (henceforth referred to as the King-Hertzog principle).The Conference affirmed the Canadian position that dominions had the right to pursue their own foreign policy autonomously from Britain and the Empire and could negotiate and sign treaties on their own behalf. It was also recognised that each member of the Empire was obliged to avoid taking any action that would injure another member and that neither the Dominion governments nor the British government could commit another to an action without its consent.The conference's final report affirmed the Canadian and South African position and thus was a step away from the concept of a centralised British Empire in favour of a more decentralised British Commonwealth without central authority, subsequently affirmed by the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931.On the issue of trade, Australian prime minister Stanley Bruce lobbied hard and consistently for the Conservative government of Stanley Baldwin to make changes to Great Britain's trading arrangements to give preference to Dominion products over imports from elsewhere. Bruce argued for Empire-wide economic trading arrangements that would see domestic demands filled by production from member states before seeking supplemental imports from other countries and empires. Baldwin and the Conservatives would attempt to introduce such a scheme in Britain; however, the British public feared higher prices for basic products (particularly food), and this fear was a factor in the Conservative government's defeat in the election of December 1923. Baldwin's successor Ramsay MacDonald repudiated the plan and it would not see fruition until the British Empire Economic Conference of 1932.

The conference attempted to coordinate industrial research for the purposes of promoting intra-empire trade and this was largely successful, with Departments of Scientific and Industrial Research being founded in the UK, New Zealand and India, and the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry being restructured in Australia.

Asia–Canada relations

Canada-Asia Relations are relations between Canada and Asian countries. These include bilateral relations between Canada and individual Asian states and multilateral relations through groups such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

British High Commission, Ottawa

The British High Commission in Ottawa, Ontario is the main diplomatic mission of the United Kingdom in Canada. It is located at 80 Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, across the street from the National Arts Centre and not far from Parliament Hill.


A Dominion was the "title" given to the semi-independent polities under the British Crown, constituting the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State, and then from the late 1940s also India, Pakistan, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.

Earlier usage of dominion to refer to a particular territory dates to the 16th century and was used to describe Wales from 1535 to 1801 and New England between 1686 and 1689.

Dominion of New Zealand

The Dominion of New Zealand (Māori: Te Tominiana o Aotearoa) was the historical successor to the Colony of New Zealand. It was a constitutional monarchy with a high level of self-government within the British Empire.

New Zealand became a separate British Crown colony in 1841 and received responsible government with the Constitution Act in 1852. New Zealand chose not to take part in Australian Federation and became the Dominion of New Zealand on 26 September 1907, Dominion Day, by proclamation of King Edward VII. Dominion status was a public mark of the political independence that had evolved over half a century through responsible government.

Just under one million people lived in New Zealand in 1907 and cities such as Auckland and Wellington were growing rapidly. The Dominion of New Zealand allowed the British Government to shape its foreign policy, and it followed Britain into the First World War. The 1923 and 1926 Imperial Conferences decided that New Zealand should be allowed to negotiate its own political treaties, and the first commercial treaty was ratified in 1928 with Japan. When the Second World War broke out in 1939 the New Zealand Government made its own decision to enter the war.

In the post-war period, the term Dominion has fallen into disuse. Full independence was granted with the Statute of Westminster in 1931 and adopted by the New Zealand Parliament in 1947. However, the 1907 royal proclamation of Dominion status has never been revoked and remains in force today.

High commissioner of Newfoundland to the United Kingdom

The High Commissioner of Newfoundland to the United Kingdom was the Dominion of Newfoundland's foremost diplomatic representative in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (after 1922, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), and was in charge of Newfoundland's diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom. Though Newfoundland was granted dominion status in 1907, it was not until November 22, 1918 that its High Commission was established in London with the appointment of Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring who took the position at his own expense. The High Commission was abolished in 1934 when Newfoundland's dominion status was suspended, along with self-government on the island, and direct rule by London was established with the commission of government.

Britain did not begin to send High Commissioners to Dominions until after the Balfour Declaration of 1926 in which it was agreed that Governors-General would no longer represent the British government. While Britain began appointing high commissioners to Canada in 1928, South Africa in 1930, Australia in 1936, and New Zealand in 1939, no High Commissioner was sent to Newfoundland due to the suspension of the establishment of the Commission of Government in 1934 which made such an appointment redundant.

House of Windsor

The House of Windsor is the reigning royal house of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. The dynasty is of German paternal descent and was originally a branch of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, itself derived from the House of Wettin, which succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy following the death of Queen Victoria, wife of Albert, Prince Consort.

The name was changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor (from "Windsor Castle") in 1917 because of anti-German sentiment in the British Empire during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the house of Windsor to date: three kings and the present queen, Elizabeth II. During the reign of the Windsors, major changes took place in British society. The British Empire participated in the First and Second World Wars, ending up on the winning side both times, but subsequently lost its status as a superpower during decolonisation. Much of Ireland broke with the United Kingdom and the remnants of the Empire became the Commonwealth of Nations.

The current head of the house is monarch of sixteen sovereign states. These are the United Kingdom (where they are based), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. As well as these separate monarchies, there are also three Crown dependencies, fourteen British Overseas Territories and two associated states of New Zealand.

Imperial Federation

The Imperial Federation was a proposal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to create a federal union in place of the existing British Empire. The project was championed by Unionists such as Joseph Chamberlain as an alternative to William Gladstone's proposals for home rule.

Irish republicanism

Irish republicanism (Irish: poblachtánachas Éireannach) is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic. The development of nationalist and democratic sentiment throughout Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was reflected in Ireland in the emergence of republicanism, in opposition to British rule. This followed hundreds of years of British conquest and Irish resistance through rebellion. Discrimination against Catholics and nonconformists, attempts by the British administration to suppress Irish culture, and the belief that Ireland was economically disadvantaged as a result of the Act of Union were among the specific factors leading to such opposition.

The Society of United Irishmen, formed in the 1780s and led primarily by liberal Protestants, evolved into a revolutionary republican organisation, inspired by the American Revolution and allied with Revolutionary France. It launched the 1798 Rebellion with the help of French troops. The rebellion had some success, especially in County Wexford, before it was suppressed. A second rising in 1803, led by Robert Emmet, was quickly put down, and Emmet was hanged. The Young Ireland movement, formed in the 1830s, was initially a part of the Repeal Association of Daniel O'Connell, but broke with O'Connell on the issue of the legitimacy of the use of violence. Primarily a political and cultural organisation, some members of Young Ireland staged an abortive rising, the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Its leaders were transported to Van Diemen's Land. Some of these escaped to the United States, where they linked up with other Irish exiles to form the Fenian Brotherhood. Together with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, founded in Ireland by James Stephens and others in 1858, they made up a movement commonly known as "Fenians" which was dedicated to the overthrow of British imperial rule in Ireland. They staged another rising, the Fenian Rising, in 1867, and a dynamite campaign in England in the 1880s.

In the early 20th century IRB members, in particular Tom Clarke and Seán MacDermott, began planning another rising. The Easter Rising took place from 24 to 30 April 1916, when members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army seized the centre of Dublin, proclaimed a republic and held off British forces for almost a week. The execution of the Rising's leaders, including Clarke, MacDermott, Patrick Pearse and James Connolly, led to a surge of support for republicanism in Ireland. In 1917 the Sinn Féin party stated as its aim the "securing the international recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish Republic", and in the general election of 1918 Sinn Féin took 73 of the 105 Irish seats in the British House of Commons. The elected members did not take their seats but instead set up the First Dáil. Between 1919 and 1921 the Irish Republican Army (IRA), who were loyal to the Dáil, fought the British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), a predominantly Roman Catholic force, in the Irish War of Independence. Talks between the British and Irish in late 1921 led to a treaty by which the British conceded, not a 32-county Irish Republic, but a 26-county Irish Free State with Dominion status. This led to the Irish Civil War, in which the republicans were defeated by their former comrades.

The Free State became an independent constitutional monarchy following the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931 and formally became a republic with the passage of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948. That same year, the republican movement took the decision to focus on Northern Ireland thereafter. The Border Campaign, which lasted from 1956 to 1962, involved bombings and attacks on Royal Ulster Constabulary barracks. The failure of this campaign led the republican leadership to concentrate on political action, and to move to the left. Following the outbreak of The Troubles in 1968-9, the movement split between Officials (leftists) and Provisionals (traditionalists) at the beginning of 1970. Both sides were initially involved in an armed campaign against the British state, but the Officials gradually moved into mainstream politics after the Official IRA ceasefire of 1972; the associated "Official Sinn Féin" eventually renamed itself the Workers' Party. The Provisional IRA, except during brief ceasefires in 1972 and 1975, kept up a campaign of violence for nearly thirty years, directed against security forces and civilian targets (especially businesses). While the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) represented the nationalists of Northern Ireland in initiatives such as the 1973 Sunningdale Agreement, republicans took no part in these, believing that a withdrawal of British troops and a commitment to a united Ireland was a necessary precondition of any settlement. This began to change with a landmark speech by Danny Morrison in 1981, advocating what became known as the Armalite and ballot box strategy. Under the leadership of Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin began to focus on the search for a political settlement. When the party voted in 1986 to take seats in legislative bodies within Ireland, there was a walk-out of die-hard republicans, who set up Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA. Following the Hume–Adams dialogue, Sinn Féin took part in the Northern Ireland peace process which led to the IRA ceasefires of 1994 and 1997 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. After elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, republicans sat in government in Northern Ireland for the first time when Martin McGuinness and Bairbre de Brún were elected to the Northern Ireland Executive. However, another split occurred, with anti-Agreement republicans setting up the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Real IRA. Today, Irish republicanism is divided between those who support the institutions set up under the Good Friday Agreement and the later St Andrews Agreement, and those who oppose them. The latter are often referred to as "dissident" republicans.

List of high commissioners of New Zealand to the United Kingdom

The high commissioner of New Zealand to the United Kingdom is New Zealand's foremost diplomatic representative in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and in charge of New Zealand's diplomatic mission in the United Kingdom.

The High Commission of New Zealand is located in London, the United Kingdom's capital city. New Zealand has maintained a resident high commissioner in the United Kingdom since 1905, and a resident Agent-General since 1871. The high commissioner to the United Kingdom is concurrently accredited as Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland and High Commissioner to Nigeria.

As New Zealand was created as a part of the British Empire, its diplomatic relationship with the United Kingdom is its longest-standing; the position of high commissioner in London pre-dates New Zealand's dominion status by two years, the Balfour Declaration of 1926 by 21 years, and the adoption of the Statute of Westminster of 1931 by 42 years. New Zealand appointed a high commissioner to Canada in 1942, and a high commissioner to Australia in 1943.

As fellow members of the Commonwealth of Nations, diplomatic relations between New Zealand and the United Kingdom are at governmental level, rather than between Heads of State, with member countries exchanging high commissioners, rather than ambassadors.

List of national independence days

An Independence Day is an annual event commemorating the anniversary of a nation's independence or statehood, usually after ceasing to be a group or part of another nation or state; more rarely after the end of a military occupation; and in the unique case of Singapore, expulsion from Malaysia.

Most countries observe their respective independence days as national holidays.

London Declaration

The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership in the Commonwealth of Nations after its transition to a republican constitution. It was made in London on 28 April 1949 and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth. Drafted by the Indian statesman V. K. Krishna Menon , the declaration had two main provisions: It allowed the Commonwealth to admit and retain members that were not Dominions, so including both republics and indigenous monarchies, and it changed the name of the organisation from the British Commonwealth to the Commonwealth of Nations, reflecting the first change. The Declaration recognised King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. Following his death, the Commonwealth leaders recognised Queen Elizabeth II in that capacity.The former term included the device of terminology that would reflect both the developing political independence and the right of countries in the Commonwealth to be republics and the commonality of allegiance that was the cornerstone of the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931. This proved to be a major stumbling block, until a compromise position was proposed by the Canadian Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, who planned a position of Head of the Commonwealth, separate but held by the same person as the monarch.The declaration stated vis-à-vis India:

This formula has since been deemed to be a sufficient precedent for all other countries.

The issue had been discussed at the 1948 Prime Ministers Conference, the agenda of which was dominated by the imminent decisions of two states—India and Ireland—to declare themselves republics. At the meeting, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru proposed a Ten Point Memorandum on the settlement between India and the Commonwealth. The Cabinet Committee on Commonwealth Relations recognised that Nehru's proposals could not constitute a basis for continued Commonwealth membership, and that a further conference would be required.On 16 May 1949, during the Constituent Assembly Debates for the framing of a republican constitution, Nehru declared in the house that:

At the next conference, in April 1949, Nehru, seeking above all to avoid two-tiered membership, conceded a more agreeable three-point programme, based upon common Commonwealth citizenship, a declaration of India's continued membership, and recognition of the monarch in a separate capacity than that as monarch. This met general agreement, particularly with the new South African Prime Minister Daniel François Malan, and, over the next two days, the draft was crafted into a final agreement. To avoid criticisms about dropping the word British from the name of the Commonwealth, Nehru conceded a reference to the "British Commonwealth of Nations" in the opening paragraph of the document as an historically-appropriate reference.King George VI was reticently in favour of the separation of the positions of king and Head of the Commonwealth, having met and liked Nehru, but was concerned with the practicalities. News of the agreement was hailed by all those on the opposition benches in the British House of Commons, including Winston Churchill and Clement Davies. By contrast, Jan Smuts, who had been defeated by Malan in the South African general election the previous year and was considered second only to Churchill as a Commonwealth statesman, was bitterly opposed.India became a republic in 1950 and remained in the Commonwealth. However, Ireland, which was in the same situation, having passed the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, declared itself a republic on 18 April 1949, ten days before the declaration, and therefore left the Commonwealth.

Monarchy of Grenada

The monarch of Grenada is the head of state of Grenada. The present monarch is Elizabeth II, who is also Sovereign of a number of the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen's constitutional roles are mostly delegated to the Governor-General of Grenada. Royal succession is governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701, which is part of constitutional law.

Monarchy of Saint Lucia

The monarchy of Saint Lucia is a system of government in which a hereditary, constitutional monarch is the sovereign and head of state of Saint Lucia. The present monarch of Saint Lucia is Elizabeth II, who is also the Sovereign of the Commonwealth realms. The Queen's constitutional roles are mostly delegated to the Governor-General of Saint Lucia.

Royal succession is governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701, which is part of constitutional law.

The present queen Elizabeth II has reigned over the separate Saint Lucian monarchy since 22 February 1979. She along with her husband and other members of the Royal Family undertake various official, ceremonial and representational duties.

Monarchy of Solomon Islands

The monarchy of Solomon Islands is a system of government in which a constitutional monarch is the head of state of Solomon Islands. The present monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who is also the head of state of fifteen other Commonwealth realms.

The Queen's constitutional roles in Solomon Islands are delegated to the Governor-General of Solomon Islands.

Monarchy of the Bahamas

The Monarchy of the Bahamas is a system of government in which a hereditary monarch is the sovereign of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The current monarch and head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since the country became independent on 10 July 1973. The Bahamas share the Sovereign with the other Commonwealth realms. The Queen does not personally reside in the islands, and most of her constitutional roles are therefore delegated to her representative in the country, the Governor-General of the Bahamas. Royal succession is governed by the English Act of Settlement of 1701, as amended by the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, with the latter statute reflecting the Perth Agreement, to which the Bahamas government acceded. The two acts are part of constitutional law.

New Zealand Constitution Act 1852

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 (15 & 16 Vict. c. 72) was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that granted self-government to the Colony of New Zealand. It was the second such Act, the previous 1846 Act not having been fully implemented.The Act remained in force as part of New Zealand's constitution until it was repealed by the Constitution Act 1986.

The long title of the Act was "An Act to Grant a Representative Constitution to the Colony of New Zealand". The Act received the Royal Assent on 30 June 1852.

Statute of Westminster 1931

The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and modified versions of it are now domestic law within Australia and Canada; it has been repealed in New Zealand and implicitly in former Dominions that are no longer Commonwealth realms. Passed on 11 December 1931, the act, either immediately or upon ratification, effectively both established the legislative independence of the self-governing Dominions of the British Empire from the United Kingdom and bound them all to seek each other's approval for changes to monarchical titles and the common line of succession. It thus became a statutory embodiment of the principles of equality and common allegiance to the Crown set out in the Balfour Declaration of 1926. As the Statute removed nearly all of the British Parliament's authority to legislate for the Dominions, it had the effect of making the Dominions fully sovereign nations in their own right. It was a crucial step in the development of the Dominions as separate states.

The Statute of Westminster's relevance today is that it sets the basis for the continuing relationship between the Commonwealth realms and the Crown.

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