An exploration of British colonial history reveals that the country’s modern identity is inseparably linked with the British empire. Apart from the numerous statues in honor of imperialists, schools named after them, and apologies for past deeds, there are more profound ways in which the British empire has affected us all.

To illustrate, the Earl of Meath campaigned for the establishment of Empire Day to celebrate the achievements of British imperialism. He succeeded in 1916 when the British government made Empire Day official.

Though it was renamed British Commonwealth Day in 1958, Empire Day achieved its aim of promoting colonialism. And today, there is a need for a sort of Empire Day 2.0 with a different focus: to teach people how colonialism has shaped the Britain we have today.

In the Hobson-Jobson Dictionary, we find that “Dam” was formerly one-fortieth of a rupee that was considered worthless. Britons in India were known to employ the phrase, “I won’t give a dumri,” the source of the expression: “I don’t give a damn!”

In terms of economics, Shell was established by Marcus Samuel, an importer of seashells from the Far East. It was this business that morphed into the oil company. Wembley Stadium was formerly known as the Empire Stadium. It was built for the 1924 Empire Exhibition.

London, Glasgow, and almost every other major city in Britain have imperial history etched into their DNA. The concept of free school meals in schools originated from the empire. Some historians argue that the social reforms that produced the current welfare state mostly stemmed from a political quest to maintain imperialism and prevent unrest.

Culinary is not left out because most of the mainstream dishes originated from our colonial past. When you think the royal family is as British as you get, you should remember that not only does the family have foreign roots, but Queen Victoria was known to have spoken German and was dubbed “Empress of India.”

Did you know? “Juggernaut is a corruption of the Sanskrit term “Jagannatha” that means “Lord of the Universe.”

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