The Empire Strikes Back!


The flags were out in Germany- but only in a subdued, 'let's not flaunt it' kind of way. Some colourful wing-mirror covers on the BMW, a display in the estate agent's window. Imagine -had England somehow managed to bring home the World Cup, the whole country would have been decked out in red and white until Christmas! Why so muted, I asked my hosts? They explained that given Germany's history, displays of flag-waving nationalism are kept to a minimum, although it is acceptable to wave a flag, as long as it's only for the footie.

Contrast that to the sea of flags out in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, where 54 countries have come to compete for sporting glory. Formerly known as the Empire Games, almost all of the competing countries were once part of the British Empire, which at its height is said to have encompassed one quarter of Earth's land area, and one fifth of its population. Following the independence of almost all of these nations, one would think most of them would be happy to wave good-bye to former colonists for good- but happily most joined the Commonwealth, a club of nations promoting co-operation in areas of trade, sport, aid and even law-making.

With the Queen as Head, this 'club' was seen as so desirable that some countries (such as Mozambique) joined up, even though they'd never been part of the former Empire. Today, the Commonwealth comprises 54 countries, 19  of which are in Africa, and includes some of the world's most populous and dynamic nations, such as India, Malaysia and South Africa.

 Even today, Comonwealth countries are home to just under one third of the world's population, and 50% of those people are under 25 years old. In the next 5 years, the combined GDP of these countries is predicted to grow 3 times faster that that of the Eurozone. These people will speak English as well as their native tongues, have the Queen's descendants as their Head of Commonwealth, and be hungry for the economic power that the Old World has enjoyed for so long.

So come on Germany, be proud and get the flags out while you can- because the flag-wavers of the future will be many and spread right across the globe and some of their flags may even have a small Union Jack in the corner. A case of the Empire ( sorry, Commonwealth) strikes back?


subdued- quiet, not showy

to flaunt something- to show off about something you are proud of

to be decked out- to be decorated in, covered in

muted- quiet, restrained, reserved ( mute button on TV etc= silent)

footie- Brit slang for football( US soccer)

to encompass- to include, to cover

to comprise- to be made up of, to include



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