Operation Legacy was a British Colonial Office (later Foreign Office) programme to destroy or hide files, to prevent them being inherited by its ex-colonies. It ran from the 1950s until the 1970s, when the decolonisation of the British Empire was at its height.
MI5 or Special Branch agents vetted all secret documents in the colonial administrations to find those that those that could embarrass the British government—for instance by showing racial or religious bias. They identified 8,800 files to conceal from at least 23 countries and territories in the 1950s and 1960s, and destroyed them or sent them to the United Kingdom. Precise instructions were given for methods to be used for destruction, including burning and dumping at sea. Some of the files detailed torture methods used against opponents of the colonial administrations, such as during the Mau Mau Uprising.
As decolonisation progressed, British officials were keen to avoid a repeat of the embarrassment that had been caused by the overt burning of documents that took place in New Delhi in 1947, which had been covered by Indian news sources. On 3 May 1961, Iain Macleod, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote a telegram to all British embassies to advise them on the best way to retrieve and dispose of sensitive documents. To prevent post-colonial governments from ever learning about Operation Legacy, officials were required to dispatch "destruction certificates" to London. In some cases, as the handover date approached, the immolation task proved so huge that colonial administrators warned the Foreign Office that there was a danger of "celebrating Independence Day with smoke."
Academic study of the end of the British Empire has been assisted in recent years by the declassification of the migrated archives in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) 141 series. After the UK government admitted in 2011 that it had secret documents related to the Mau Mau Uprising, it began to declassify documents and by November 2013 some 20,000 files had been declassified. These documents can now be accessed at the National Archives in Kew, London.
Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the second-longest recorded of any monarch of a sovereign country. At the time of her death, Elizabeth was queen of 14 other Commonwealth realms in addition to the UK.
Elizabeth was born in Mayfair, London, as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York (later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth). Her father acceded to the throne in 1936 upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII, making Elizabeth the heir presumptive. She was educated privately at home and began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In November 1947, she married Philip Mountbatten, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, and their marriage lasted 73 years until his death in April 2021. They had four children together: Charles III; Anne, Princess Royal; Prince Andrew, Duke of York; and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex.
When her father died in February 1952, Elizabeth—then 25 years old—became queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon (known today as Sri Lanka), as well as Head of the Commonwealth. Elizabeth reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, devolution in the United Kingdom, the decolonisation of Africa, and the United Kingdom's accession to the European Communities and withdrawal from the European Union. The number of her realms varied over time as territories have gained independence and some realms have become republics. Her many historic visits and meetings include state visits to China in 1986, Russia in 1994, the Republic of Ireland in 2011, and visits with five Popes.
Significant events include Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012, and 2022, respectively. Elizabeth was the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch, and the second-longest verifiable reigning sovereign monarch in world history, only behind Louis XIV of France. She faced occasional republican sentiment and media criticism of her family, particularly after the breakdowns of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992, and the death of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. However, support for the monarchy in the United Kingdom remained consistently high, as did her personal popularity. Elizabeth died on 8 September 2022 at Balmoral Castle, Aberdeenshire. She was succeeded by her eldest son, Charles III.
- "Queen Elizabeth II has died" | 2022-09-08 | 11 Upvotes 1 Comments