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British Empire

The British Empire was the name used by the United Kingdom during its time as a colonial power.


Early history[]

In the 18th century, the British Empire set its sights on Australia, a landmass whose north and west coasts had been charted by 17th century Dutch explorer Tasman. In later years, the south coast was charted by Captain James Cook of the Endeavour and, on 28 April 1770, his nephew Isaac Smith became the first Englishman to step foot on the east coast. The Empire claimed the land of Australia and used it as a prison colony to ship convicts to. The idea was recommended to the British government by Joseph Banks after he was confronted by Ian Chesterton who accidentally gave Banks the idea. (AUDIO: The Transit of Venus)

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the British established a lucrative opium trade in India and China. In December 1800, the British Trade Concession in Canton was threatened by a local uprising stoked by the Chinese Emperor and his Chief Astrologer who sought to stamp out the harmful and corrupt opium trade. (PROSE: Foreign Devils)

19th century[]

Queen Victoria founded the Torchwood Institute to defend the British Empire. (TV: Tooth and Claw)

In 1814, Lord Sutcliffe claimed to the Twelfth Doctor that he was helping move the Empire forward. (TV: Thin Ice)

When Ryan Sinclair visited Villa Diodati with the Thirteenth Doctor in 1816, Mary Shelley assumed that he was from the British colonies. When Ryan played a tune for her on the piano, Shelley asked if it was popular there. (TV: The Haunting of Villa Diodati)

Through most of the 19th century, the British Empire was ruled by Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India. (TV: Tooth and Claw)

In the late 1830s and up until 1842, the Empire went to war with Afghanistan after occupying the country in a gambit to prevent Russian expansion in Central Asia from encroaching on British territory in India. After a disastrous performance from the British Army, a new army invaded Afghanistan to put an end to the war. (PROSE: Mire and Clay) Some years later, the Empire fought a second war against the Afghans. (PROSE: All-Consuming Fire)

By 1850, the British Empire was the most powerful empire in the history of Earth up to that point. (AUDIO: 1963: The Assassination Games)

Before the 1860s, the Empire fought alongside the French against the Chinese Empire in the Opium Wars. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger, The Nightmare Fair, AUDIO: The Nightmare Fair) In the 1860s, after the wars had ended, the British continued to station troops in China. (PROSE: The Eleventh Tiger)

In 1877, the British Empire annexed the Transvaal in South Africa. (PROSE: White Man's Burden) As the Sixth Doctor explained to Peri Brown, the Dutch Boers had settled in the Transvaal, which was rich in gold and diamonds. Hearing about this, many of the British flocked there to make their fortunes. Soon there were more British than Boers, but the Boers refused them any political rights. The British used this as an excuse to take over the Transvaal, including its gold and diamond mines. This led to the Boer Wars which ultimately ended in victory for the British. (PROSE: Players)

In 1879, Queen Victoria survived an assassination attempt by a werewolf who sought to create an "Empire of the Wolf". Despite their part in saving her life, the Queen saw the Tenth Doctor and Rose Tyler as a danger and so, after having them knighted, she banished them from the Empire, ordering them to never return. In addition, recognising that Great Britain had "enemies from beyond imagination", the Queen founded the Torchwood Institute to investigate other "strange happenings" and to watch for the Doctor, anticipating his return. (TV: Tooth and Claw)

Once the Institute was formed by the Queen's Torchwood Charter on 31 December 1879, (TV: Children of Earth: Day One) branches and facilites were established across the Empire. Torchwood One was based in London, England. Torchwood Two was based in Glasgow, Scotland. Torchwood Three was based in Cardiff, Wales. In addition, there also existed Torchwood Four (TV: Everything Changes) and Torchwood India. The latter, founded to find alien technology in the British Raj, (AUDIO: Golden Age) was active by 1887. (AUDIO: The Death of Captain Jack)

In 1881, British troops were taken to Mars by a wounded Ice Warrior and sought to claim the planet in the name of the Empire and gather its mineral riches. They came into conflict with Ice Queen Iraxxa and her Ice Warriors, but departed after Colonel Godsacre made peace. (TV: Empress of Mars)

In 1883, Josiah Samuel Smith hoped to take over the British Empire by having Redvers Fenn-Cooper assassinate Queen Victoria. (TV: Ghost Light)

The Paternoster Gang protected the Empire as part of their job. (WC: The Battle of Demons Run: Two Days Later; TV: Deep Breath)

In 1899, operatives of Torchwood Cardiff were motivated by their service to the Empire. Alice Guppy shot dead an alien Blowfish who she deemed to be a threat to the Empire whilst Emily Holroyd urged the immortal Jack Harkness to assist the Empire by working for Torchwood lest he be deemed a threat as well. (TV: Fragments)

20th century[]

The British Empire was among the allied powers opposing the Central Powers, including the German (COMIC: The Dalek Project) and Ottoman Empires (AUDIO: What Have I Done?) during the First World War. (COMIC: The Weeping Angels of Mons) ANZAC, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp, was composed of soldiers from Australia and New Zealand whom fought with the British Army. (PROSE: Direct Action) Ultimately, the war ended in victory for the allies. (PROSE: Illegal Alien, Just War)

As early as 1924, the Torchwood Institute anticipated the end of the Empire and so sent Captain Jack Harkness to shut down Torchwood India and confiscate all of its artefacts. (AUDIO: Golden Age)

In November 1926, anti-Empire protests took place in Burma. The tigress Dawon was captured by Lady Adela Forster in the protests. (AUDIO: The Emerald Tiger)

Winston Churchill was a passionate believer in the British Empire. (TV: Victory of the Daleks

The British Empire participated in the Second World War, fighting primarily against Nazi Germany (TV: The Empty Child, Victory of the Daleks) and Imperial Japan. (AUDIO: The Forsaken, PROSE: Just War, The Scales of Injustice) Through the Empire, the British received assistance from Australia, (COMIC: The Instruments of War) Canada, South Africa, (PROSE: Just War) and India. (TV: Demons of the Punjab) Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, felt strongly about the Empire, telling the Eleventh Doctor in 1941 that he wept for it as well as the country. (TV: Victory of the Daleks) Soldiers serving the British Empire specifically fought "against fascism". (TV: The Idiot's Lantern) Britain, serving as part of the Allied powers, ultimately proved victorious in the conflict. (PROSE: Magic of the Angels, TV: The Doctor Dances)

The cost of the war proved high, however, and the Empire was crippled by war debts. (PROSE: Endgame) India became independent in 1947. (TV: Demons of the Punjab) The British Mandate of Palestine ended in 1948, (TV: The End of Time) and the Arab-Israeli conflict erupted. (PROSE: The Suns of Caresh) In 1953, the Mau Mau attempted to gain self-rule for Kenya and Nairobi. The British eventually granted self-rule when ending the uprising through diplomatic means. Other countries soon followed. (AUDIO: A Thousand Tiny Wings) By 1964, many of the British Empire's colonies had gained independence. (AUDIO: State of Emergency)


Yvonne Hartman sought to bring about a new British Empire. (TV: Army of Ghosts)

Yvonne Hartman of Torchwood One hoped to use alien artefacts to rebuild the British Empire, much to the Tenth Doctor's confusion. (TV: Army of Ghosts) This plan was abandoned after the Torchwood Institute's "old regime" was destroyed in the Battle of Canary Wharf in 2007. (TV: The Sound of Drums)

Upon visiting Venus in the far future, Henry Gordon Jago suggested claiming the planet for Queen Victoria and the British Empire. (AUDIO: Voyage to Venus)

A human colony, Britzit-247, venerated the British Empire, modelling its world after the Empire's aesthetics. (COMIC: Remembrance)

Alternate timelines[]

However, the British or English Empire moniker was also used to denominate several alternate variants of the United Kingdom. For the most part, these were usually more extreme versions of the British government, totalitarian states subject to xenophobia. (AUDIO: Jubilee; PROSE: The Domino Effect) One of these parallels was visited by the Sixth Doctor and his companion Evelyn Smythe, which came about when a time fissure caused them to appear simultaneously in England in 1903 and 2003. In the 1903 timeline, they successfully thwarted a Dalek invasion of England, but the local authority seized them both and the remnants of the invasion, scavenging the technology and using it to establish the highly xenophobic English Empire, which by 2003 had all but subdued the entire world under its banner.

In an alternate timeline, the Sixth Doctor's thwarting of a Dalek invasion in 1903 led to the creation of the English Empire. (AUDIO: Jubilee)

The Doctor and Evelyn were imprisoned in the Tower of London, where Evelyn died of starvation; after repeated escape attempts, the Doctor's guards opted to have his legs amputated. This timeline was destroyed when the Doctor intercepted the Dalek invasion fleet before they managed to establish a foothold. While he was successful in restoring history to normal, he was unable to fully erase the taint of the Empire, worried some of it still endured in the minds of the English people. He hoped they would dare to look into the darkness and confront it, eliminating the possibility of the Empire's resurgence. (AUDIO: Jubilee)

Another such parallel came to be due to an alternate Sabbath's manipulations, based on the Oracle, a malicious entity from the Time Vortex. It diverged when, on the Oracle's orders, various agents were spread to murder key personnel essential to the development of the computer. This version of the Empire cowed its citizens into submission and enforced its xenophobia by routinely staging acts of terrorism and blaming them on minorities, terrified of the idea of change. Its ruling council, the Star Chamber, was convinced by the Oracle to prevent the development of weapons that could threaten its citizens and endanger their decent lives, though the Eighth Doctor saw through the flimsy argument and learned of the Oracle's manipulations. It was destroyed when Alan Turing, who was forced to become the focal point of the entire reality, was killed. (PROSE: The Domino Effect)