The British Empire - An Equivocation

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20180627

A reappraisal of the British Empire, from one its finest historians, Jan Morris.

Jan Morris is probably best known for her writing about the world's great cities. But she says her real fascination over her long life has been what she calls that 'vast old dominion', the British Empire. Her 'Pax Britannica' trilogy took her ten years to write and in his programme she records how her feelings about British imperialism have changed over the years. Illustrated with her choice of music, she relates how, in her view, the Empire brought both the best and the worst out of the people who ruled it. In practice it was at heart exploitative, mostly unfair and sometimes cruel. But on the other hand it gave many of its more principled colonial administrators a strong sense of duty, service and purpose. And never since has Britain felt so clear about its place in the world. Jan Morris really is in two minds about the British Empire, which is why she has called it 'An Equivocation.'

Producer: Gareth Jones, BBC Wales.