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The term ''Dominion'' is used to refer to one of several self-governing nations of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as th ...
. "Dominion status" was first accorded to
Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic O ...
,
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
,
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ) is an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Souther ...
,
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (; french: Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador; frequently abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic region. The province comprises the island of Newfoundland and the continental regio ...
,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the ...
, and the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between ...
at the 1926 Imperial Conference through the
Balfour Declaration of 1926 The Balfour Declaration of 1926, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the Uni ...
, recognising Great Britain and the Dominions as "autonomous within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations". Their full legislative independence was subsequently confirmed in the 1931 Statute of Westminster. Later
India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on th ...
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, ...
, and Ceylon (now
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...
) also became dominions, for short periods of time. With the dissolution of the British Empire after World War II and the formation of the
Commonwealth of Nations The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the ...
, it was decided that the term ''Commonwealth country'' should formally replace dominion for official Commonwealth usage. This decision was made during the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference when India was intending to become a republic, so that both types of governments could become and remain full members of the Commonwealth, and this term hence refers to the autonomous dominions and republics. After this, the term dominion without its legal dimension stayed in use for thirty more years for Commonwealth countries which had the crown as head of state, before gradually, particularly after 1953, being replaced by the term realm, as equal realms of the crown of the Commonwealth.


Definition

The term ''dominion'' means "that which is mastered or ruled". It was used by the British to describe their colonies or territorial possessions. Use of ''dominion'' to refer to a particular territory within the British Empire dates back to the 16th century and was sometimes used to describe
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
from 1535 to around 1800: for instance, the Laws in Wales Act 1535 applies to "the Dominion, Principality and Country of Wales". ''Dominion'', as an official title, was conferred on the Colony of Virginia about 1660 and on the Dominion of New England in 1686. Under the British North America Act 1867, the partially self-governing colonies of British North America were united into the Dominion of Canada. The new federal and provincial governments split considerable local powers, but Britain retained overall legislative supremacy. At the Colonial Conference of 1907, the self-governing polities of Canada and the
Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
were referred to collectively as ''Dominions'' for the first time. Two other self-governing colonies—New Zealand and Newfoundland—were granted the status of Dominion in the same year. These were followed by the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape, Natal, Tr ...
in 1910. The Order in Council annexing the island of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to th ...
in 1914 declared that, from 5 November 1914, the island "shall be annexed to and form part of His Majesty's dominions". ''Dominion status'' was formally accorded to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State at the 1926 Imperial Conference to designate "autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations". The British Government of Lloyd George had emphasised the use of the capital "D" when referring to the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between ...
in the Anglo-Irish Treaty to assure it the same constitutional status in order to avoid confusion with the wider term "His Majesty's dominions", which referred to the British Empire as a whole. At the time of the founding of the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: link=no, Société des Nations ) was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 by the Paris Peace Conference th ...
in 1924, the League Covenant made provision for the admission of any "fully self-governing state, Dominion, or Colony", the implication being that "Dominion status was something between that of a
colony In modern parlance, a colony is a territory A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a country, person, or animal. In international politics International relations (IR), sometimes ...
and a state". With the adoption of the
Statute of Westminster 1931 The Statute of Westminster 1931 is an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that sets the basis for the relationship between the Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose ...
, Britain and the Dominions (except Newfoundland) formed the British Commonwealth of Nations. Dominions asserted full legislative independence, with direct access to the Monarch as Head of State previously reserved only for British governments. It also recognised autonomy in foreign affairs, including participation as autonomous nations in the
League of Nations The League of Nations (french: link=no, Société des Nations ) was the first worldwide intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. It was founded on 10 January 1920 by the Paris Peace Conference th ...
with full power over appointing ambassadors to other countries. Following the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ...
the changes in the constitutional relationship between the countries that continued to share a common sovereign with the United Kingdom led to the upper case term 'Dominion' falling out of use. An unofficial term that has no legal standing in any country,
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonw ...
, is sometimes used in non-formal contexts instead. The United Kingdom legal term, ''Her Majesty's dominions'', is still used in legal documents in the United Kingdom.


"His/Her Majesty's dominions"

The status of "Dominion" established by the Statute of Westminster in 1931 was capitalised to distinguish it from the more general sense of "within the crown's dominions". The phrase ''the crown's dominions'' or ''His/Her Majesty's dominions'' is a legal and constitutional phrase that refers to all the realms and territories of the British sovereign, whether independent or not. These territories include the United Kingdom, and its colonies, including those that had become Dominions. Dependent territories that had never been annexed and were not colonies of the Crown, were notionally foreign territory and not "within the crown's dominions". When these territories—including protectorates and protected states (a status with greater powers of self-government), as well as
League of Nations mandate A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for adminis ...
s, which then became
United Nations Trust Territories United Nations trust territories were the successors of the remaining League of Nations mandate A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following Wo ...
—were granted independence, and at the same time recognised the British monarch as head of state, the United Kingdom act granting independence declared that such and such a territory "shall form part of Her Majesty's dominions", and so become part of the territory in which the Queen exercises
sovereignty Sovereignty is the defining authority within individual consciousness, social construct, or territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the perso ...
, not merely
suzerainty Suzerainty () is the rights and obligations of a person, state or other polity who controls the foreign policy and relations of a tributary state, while allowing the tributary state to have internal autonomy. While the subordinate party is ca ...
. The legal status of "Dominion" under British nationality law ceased to exist from 1 January 1949, when it was determined each Dominion would legislate for its own citizenship. However, "Dominion status" itself never ceased to exist within the greater scope of British law, because acts pertaining to "Dominion status", such as the Statute of Westminster 1931, have not been repealed in both the United Kingdom and historic Dominions such as Canada. The term "within the crown's dominions" continues to apply in British law to those territories in which the British monarch remains head of state, and the term "self-governing dominion" is used in some legislation. When a territory ceases to recognise the monarch as head of state, this status is changed by statute. Thus, for example, the British '' Ireland Act 1949'', recognised that the Republic of Ireland had "ceased to be part of His Majesty's dominions".


Historical development


Responsible government: precursor to Dominion status

The foundation of "Dominion" status followed the achievement of internal self-rule in British Colonies, in the specific form of full responsible government (as distinct from " representative government"). Colonial responsible government began to emerge during the mid-19th century. The
legislature A legislature is an assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis o ...
s of Colonies with responsible government were able to make laws in all matters other than foreign affairs, defence and international trade, these being powers which remained with the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off th ...
.
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia ( ; ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemis ...
soon followed by the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, in the Report on t ...
(which included modern southern
Ontario Ontario ( ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada.Ontario is located in the geographic eastern half of Canada, but it has historically and politically been considered to be part of Central Canada. Located in Central C ...
and southern
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is one of the thirte ...
) were the first Colonies to achieve responsible government, in 1848. Prince Edward Island followed in 1851, and
New Brunswick New Brunswick (french: Nouveau-Brunswick, , locally ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and one of the four Atlantic provinces. It is the only province with both English a ...
and
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (; french: Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador; frequently abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic region. The province comprises the island of Newfoundland and the continental regio ...
in 1855. All except for Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island agreed to form a new
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government ( federalism). In a federation, the self-gover ...
named Canada from 1867. This was instituted by the British Parliament in the ''British North America Act, 1867''. ''(See also: Canadian Confederation).'' Section 3 of the Act referred to the new entity as a "Dominion", the first such entity to be created. From 1870 the Dominion included two vast neighbouring British territories that did not have any form of self-government: Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory, parts of which later became the Provinces of
Manitoba , image_map = Manitoba in Canada 2.svg , map_alt = Map showing Manitoba's location in the centre of Southern Canada , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Win ...
,
Saskatchewan Saskatchewan ( ; ) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the bas ...
,
Alberta Alberta ( ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada, provinces and territories of Canada. It is part of Western Canada and is one of the three Canadian Prairies, prairie provinces. Alberta is bordered by British Columbia to t ...
, and the separate territories, the
Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories (abbreviated ''NT'' or ''NWT''; french: Territoires du Nord-Ouest, formerly ''North-Western Territory'' and ''North-West Territories'' and namely shortened as ''Northwest Territory'') is a federal provinces and territo ...
,
Yukon Yukon (; ; formerly called Yukon Territory and also referred to as the Yukon) is the smallest and westernmost of Canada's three territories. It also is the second-least populated province or territory in Canada, with a population of 43,964 as ...
and Nunavut. In 1871, the Crown Colony of
British Columbia British Columbia (commonly abbreviated as BC) is the westernmost province of Canada, situated between the Pacific Ocean The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's five oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocea ...
became a Canadian province, Prince Edward Island joined in 1873 and Newfoundland in 1949. The conditions under which the four separate Australian colonies—
New South Wales ) , nickname = , image_map = New South Wales in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of New South Wales in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = Australia Australia, officially the Commonweal ...
,
Tasmania ) , nickname = , image_map = Tasmania in Australia.svg , map_caption = Location of Tasmania in AustraliaCoordinates: , subdivision_type = Country , subdi ...
,
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Southern Ocean to th ...
,
South Australia South Australia (commonly abbreviated as SA) is a state in the southern central part of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the ...
—and New Zealand could gain full responsible government were set out by the British government in the '' Australian Constitutions Act 1850''. The Act also separated the Colony of Victoria (in 1851) from New South Wales. During 1856, responsible government was achieved by New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, and New Zealand. The remainder of New South Wales was divided in three in 1859, a change that established most of the present borders of NSW; the Colony of Queensland, with its own responsible self-government, and the Northern Territory (which was not granted self-government prior to
federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing provinces, states, or other regions under a central federal government ( federalism). In a federation, the self-gover ...
of the Australian Colonies).
Western Australia Western Australia (commonly abbreviated as WA) is a state of Australia occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territories. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the north and west, the Southern Ocean to th ...
did not receive self-government until 1891, mainly because of its continuing financial dependence on the UK Government. After protracted negotiations (that initially included New Zealand), six Australian colonies with responsible government (and their dependent territories) agreed to federate, along Canadian lines, becoming the
Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
, in 1901. In South Africa, the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony In modern parlance, a colony is a territory A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a ...
became the first British self-governing Colony, in 1872. (Until 1893, the Cape Colony also controlled the separate Colony of Natal.) Following the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire The British Empire was compose ...
(1899–1902), the British Empire assumed direct control of the Boer Republics, but transferred limited self-government to Transvaal in 1906, and the Orange River Colony in 1907. The Commonwealth of Australia was recognised as a Dominion in 1901, and the Dominion of New Zealand and the
Dominion of Newfoundland Newfoundland was a British dominion in eastern North America, today the modern Canadian province A province is almost always an administrative division within a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, ...
were officially given Dominion status in 1907, followed by the
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape, Natal, Tr ...
in 1910.


Canadian Confederation and evolution of the term ''Dominion''

In connection with proposals for the future government of British North America, use of the term "Dominion" was suggested by
Samuel Leonard Tilley Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley (May 8, 1818June 25, 1896) was a Canadian politician and one of the Fathers of Confederation. Tilley was descended from United Empire Loyalists on both sides of his family. As a pharmacist A pharmacist, also ...
at the London Conference of 1866 discussing the
confederation A confederation (also known as a confederacy or league) is a union of sovereign groups or states united for purposes of common action. Usually created by a treaty A treaty is a formal, legally binding written agreement between actors in ...
of the
Province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, in the Report on t ...
(subsequently becoming the provinces of
Ontario Ontario ( ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada.Ontario is located in the geographic eastern half of Canada, but it has historically and politically been considered to be part of Central Canada. Located in Central C ...
and
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is one of the thirte ...
),
Nova Scotia Nova Scotia ( ; ; ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemis ...
and
New Brunswick New Brunswick (french: Nouveau-Brunswick, , locally ) is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is one of the three Maritime provinces and one of the four Atlantic provinces. It is the only province with both English a ...
into "One Dominion under the Name of Canada", the first federation internal to the British Empire. Tilley's suggestion was taken from the 72nd Psalm, verse eight, "He shall have ''dominion'' also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth", which is echoed in the national motto, " A Mari Usque Ad Mare". The new government of Canada under the ''British North America Act, 1867'' began to use the phrase "Dominion of Canada" to designate the new, larger nation. However, neither the Confederation nor the adoption of the title of "Dominion" granted extra autonomy or new powers to this new federal level of government. Senator Eugene Forsey wrote that the powers acquired since the 1840s that established the system of responsible government in Canada would simply be transferred to the new Dominion government: The constitutional scholar Andrew Heard argues that Confederation did not legally change Canada's colonial status to anything approaching its later status of a Dominion. For decades, the Dominions did not have their own embassies or consulates in foreign countries. International travel and commerce were transacted through British embassies and consulates. For example, matters concerning visas and lost or stolen passports of Dominion citizens were carried out at British diplomatic offices. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Dominion governments established their own embassies, the first two of which were established by Australia and Canada in Washington, D.C., in the United States. As Heard later explained, the British government seldom invoked its powers over Canadian legislation. British legislative powers over Canadian domestic policy were largely theoretical and their exercise was increasingly unacceptable in the 1870s and 1880s. The rise to the status of a Dominion and then full independence for Canada and other possessions of the British Empire did not occur by the granting of titles or similar recognition by the British Parliament but by initiatives taken by the new governments of certain former British dependencies to assert their independence and to establish constitutional precedents. What was significant about the creation of the Canadian and Australian federations was not that they were instantly granted wide new powers by the Imperial centre at the time of their creation; but that they, because of their greater size and prestige, were better able to exercise their existing powers and lobby for new ones than the various colonies they incorporated could have done separately. They provided a new model which politicians in New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, Ireland, India, Malaysia could point to for their own relationship with Britain. Ultimately, " anada'sexample of a peaceful accession to independence with a Westminster system of government came to be followed by 50 countries with a combined population of more than 2-billion people."


Colonial Conference of 1907

Issues of colonial self-government spilled into foreign affairs with The Second Boer War (1899–1902). The self-governing colonies contributed significantly to British efforts to stem the insurrection, but ensured that they set the conditions for participation in these wars. Colonial governments repeatedly acted to ensure that they determined the extent of their peoples' participation in imperial wars in the military build-up to the
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in ...
. The assertiveness of the self-governing nations was recognised in the Colonial Conference of 1907, which implicitly introduced the idea of the Dominion as a self-governing nation by referring to Canada and Australia as Dominions. It also retired the name "Colonial Conference" and mandated that meetings take place regularly to consult Dominions in running the foreign affairs of the empire. The Colony of New Zealand, which chose not to take part in Australian federation, became the Dominion of New Zealand on 26 September 1907;
Newfoundland Newfoundland and Labrador (; french: Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador; frequently abbreviated as NL) is the easternmost province of Canada, in the country's Atlantic region. The province comprises the island of Newfoundland and the continental regio ...
became a Dominion on the same day. The
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape, Natal, Tr ...
was referred to as a Dominion upon its creation in 1910.


First World War and Treaty of Versailles

The initiatives and contributions of British colonies to the British war effort in the First World War were recognised by Britain with the creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917, which gave them a say in the running of the war. Dominion status as self-governing states, as opposed to symbolic titles granted various British colonies, waited until 1919, when the self-governing Dominions signed the Treaty of Versailles independently of the British government and became individual members of the League of Nations. This ended the purely colonial status of the Dominions.
The First World War ended the purely colonial period in the history of the Dominions. Their military contribution to the Allied war effort gave them claim to equal recognition with other small states and a voice in the formation of policy. This claim was recognised within the Empire by the creation of the Imperial War Cabinet in 1917, and within the community of nations by Dominion signatures to the Treaty of Versailles and by separate Dominion representation in the League of Nations. In this way the "self-governing Dominions", as they were called, emerged as junior members of the international community. Their status defied exact analysis by both international and constitutional lawyers, but it was clear that they were no longer regarded simply as colonies of Britain.


Irish Free State

The
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between ...
, set up in 1922 after the Anglo-Irish War, was the third Dominion to appoint a non-UK born, non-aristocratic Governor-General when Timothy Michael Healy, following the tenures of Sir Gordon Drummond in Canada and of Sir Walter Davidson and Sir William Allardyce in Newfoundland, took the position in 1922. Dominion status was never popular in the
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between ...
where people saw it as a face-saving measure for a British government unable to countenance a
republic A republic () is a " state in which power rests with the people or their representatives; specifically a state without a monarchy" and also a " government, or system of government, of such a state." Previously, especially in the 17th and 1 ...
in what had previously been the
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state in the British Isles that existed between 1801 and 1922, when it included all of Ireland. It was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the Kingdom of Gre ...
. Successive Irish governments undermined the constitutional links with the United Kingdom. In 1937 Ireland, as it renamed itself, adopted a new republican constitution that included powers for a president of Ireland. At the same time, a law delegating functions to the King, not as King in Ireland but as the symbol of the co-operation amongst Commonwealth countries with which Ireland associated itself, continued to apply in external relations. The last statutory functions of the King with respect to Ireland were abolished in 1949.


Balfour Declaration of 1926 and Statute of Westminster

The
Balfour Declaration of 1926 The Balfour Declaration of 1926, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the Uni ...
, and the subsequent Statute of Westminster, 1931, restricted Britain's ability to pass or affect laws outside of its own jurisdiction. Significantly, Britain initiated the change to complete sovereignty for the Dominions. The
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in ...
left Britain saddled with enormous debts, and the Great Depression had further reduced Britain's ability to pay for defence of its empire. In spite of popular opinions of empires, the larger Dominions were reluctant to leave the protection of the then-superpower. For example, many Canadians felt that being part of the British Empire was the only thing that had prevented them from being absorbed into the United States. Until 1931, Newfoundland was referred to as a colony of the United Kingdom, as for example, in the 1927 reference to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for the Crown Dependencies, the British Overseas Territories, some Commonwealth countries and a few institutions in the United Kingdom The United Kin ...
to delineate the Quebec-Labrador boundary. Full autonomy was granted by the United Kingdom parliament with the Statute of Westminster in December 1931. However, the government of Newfoundland "requested the United Kingdom not to have sections 2 to 6 onfirming Dominion status pply automatically to it until the Newfoundland Legislature first approved the Statute, approval which the Legislature subsequently never gave". In any event, Newfoundland's
letters patent Letters patent ( la, litterae patentes) ( always in the plural) are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is th ...
of 1934 suspended self-government and instituted a "
Commission of Government The Commission of Government was a non-elected body that governed the Dominion of Newfoundland from 1934 to 1949. Established following the collapse of Newfoundland's economy during the Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) wa ...
", which continued until Newfoundland became a
province of Canada The Province of Canada (or the United Province of Canada or the United Canadas) was a British colony in North America from 1841 to 1867. Its formation reflected recommendations made by John Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, in the Report on t ...
in 1949.


White Dominions

Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Irish Free State, Newfoundland and South Africa (prior to becoming a republic and leaving the Commonwealth in 1961), with their large populations of European descent, were sometimes collectively referred to as the "White Dominions".Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction; John Merriman and Jay Winter; 2006; see the British Empire entry which lists the "White Dominions" above except Newfoundland


Dominions


List of Dominions


Australia

Four colonies of Australia had enjoyed responsible government since 1856: New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. Queensland had responsible government soon after its founding in 1859. Because of ongoing financial dependence on Britain, Western Australia became the last Australian colony to attain self-government in 1890. During the 1890s, the colonies voted to unite and in 1901 they were federated under the British Crown as the
Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
by the '' Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act''. The
Constitution of Australia The Constitution of Australia (or Australian Constitution) is a constitutional document that is supreme law in Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Au ...
had been drafted in Australia and approved by popular consent. Thus Australia is one of the few countries established by a popular vote. Under the
Balfour Declaration of 1926 The Balfour Declaration of 1926, issued by the 1926 Imperial Conference of British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the Uni ...
, the federal government was regarded as coequal with (and not subordinate to) the British and other Dominion governments, and this was given formal legal recognition in 1942 (when the '' Statute of Westminster'' was adopted retroactively to the commencement of the Second World War in 1939). In 1930, the Australian prime minister, James Scullin, reinforced the right of the overseas Dominions to appoint native-born governors-general, when he advised King
George V George V (George Frederick Ernest Albert; 3 June 1865 – 20 January 1936) was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936. Born during the reign of his grandmother Q ...
to appoint Sir Isaac Isaacs as his representative in Australia, against the wishes of the opposition and officials in London. The governments of the states (colonies before 1901) remained under the Commonwealth but retained links to the UK until the passage of the '' Australia Act 1986''.


Canada

The term ''Dominion'' is employed in the Constitution Act, 1867 (originally the British North America Act, 1867), and describes the resulting political union. Specifically, the preamble of the act states: "Whereas the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom..." Furthermore, Sections 3 and 4 indicate that the provinces "shall form and be One Dominion under the Name of Canada; and on and after that Day those Three Provinces shall form and be One Dominion under that Name accordingly". According to the ''Canadian Encyclopedia,'' (1999), "The word came to be applied to the federal government and Parliament, and under the Constitution Act, 1982, 'Dominion' remains Canada's official title." Usage of the phrase ''Dominion of Canada'' was employed as the country's name after 1867, predating the general use of the term ''Dominion'' as applied to the other autonomous regions of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as th ...
after 1907. The phrase ''Dominion of Canada'' does not appear in the 1867 act nor in the Constitution Act, 1982, but does appear in the Constitution Act, 1871, other contemporaneous texts, and subsequent bills. References to the ''Dominion of Canada'' in later acts, such as the Statute of Westminster, do not clarify the point because all nouns were formally capitalised in British legislative style. Indeed, in the original text of the Constitution Act, 1867, "One" and "Name" were also capitalised. Frank Scott theorised that Canada's status as a Dominion ended when
Canadian parliament The Parliament of Canada (french: Parlement du Canada) is the federal legislature of Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the W ...
declared war on Germany on 9 September 1939, separately and distinctly from the United Kingdom's declaration of war six days earlier. By the 1950s, the term Dominion of Canada was no longer used by the United Kingdom, which considered Canada a "Realm of the Commonwealth". The government of Louis St. Laurent ended the practice of using ''Dominion'' in the statutes of Canada in 1951. This began the phasing out of the use of ''Dominion'', which had been used largely as a synonym of "federal" or "national" such as "Dominion building" for a post office, "Dominion-provincial relations", and so on. The last major change was renaming the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982. Official bilingualism laws also contributed to the disuse of ''Dominion'', as it has no acceptable equivalent in French. While the term may be found in older official documents, and the Dominion Carillonneur still tolls at Parliament Hill, it is now hardly used to distinguish the federal government from the provinces or (historically) Canada before and after 1867. Nonetheless, the federal government continues to produce publications and educational materials that specify the currency of these official titles. The Constitution Act of 1982 does not mention and does not remove the title, and therefore a constitutional amendment may be required to change it. The word ''Dominion'' has been used with other agencies, laws, and roles: * Dominion Carillonneur: official responsible for playing the carillons at the Peace Tower since 1916 * Dominion Day (1867–1982): holiday marking Canada's national day; now called Canada Day * Dominion Observatory (1905–1970): weather observatory in
Ottawa Ottawa (, ; Canadian French: ) is the capital city of Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is borde ...
; now used as Office of Energy Efficiency, Energy Branch, Natural Resources Canada * Dominion Lands Act (1872): federal lands act; repealed in 1918 * Dominion Bureau of Statistics (1918–1971): superseded by
Statistics Canada Statistics Canada (StatCan; french: Statistique Canada), formed in 1971, is the agency of the Government of Canada commissioned with producing statistics to help better understand Canada, its population, resources, economy, society, and cu ...
* Dominion Police (1867–1920): merged to form the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) * Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (1918–present); now part of the National Research Council Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics * Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (1960–present); now part of the National Research Council Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics * Dominion of Canada Rifle Association founded in 1868 and incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1890 Notable Canadian corporations and organisations (not affiliated with government) that have used ''Dominion'' as a part of their name have included: * The Dominion Bank, opened 1871 ** The
Toronto-Dominion Bank Toronto-Dominion Bank (french: links=no, Banque Toronto-Dominion), doing business as TD Bank Group (french: links=no, Groupe Banque TD), is a Canadian multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Toronto T ...
, its successor since a 1955 merger with the Bank of Toronto; as of 2016 one of the country's major banks * The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, founded in 1887; bought out by Travelers in 2013 * The Dominion Atlantic Railway, in Nova Scotia, formed by the 1894 merger of two railways; controlled by the
Canadian Pacific Railway The Canadian Pacific Railway (french: Chemin de fer Canadien Pacifique) , also known simply as CPR or Canadian Pacific and formerly as CP Rail (1968–1996), is a Canadian Class I railway incorporated in 1881. The railway is owned by Canadi ...
after 1911, shut down in 1994 * Dominion Stores, a supermarket chain founded in 1927; following a series of acquisitions the last Dominion stores were renamed as Metro stores in 2008 * The Dominion Institute, created in 1997 to promote awareness of Canadian history and national identity ** The Historica-Dominion Institute, its successor following a 2009 merger with the Historica Foundation; renamed
Historica Canada Historica Canada is a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to promoting the country's history and citizenship. All of its programs are offered bilingually and reach more than 28 million Canadians annually. A registered national charita ...
in 2013


Ceylon

Ceylon, which, as a Crown colony, was originally promised "fully responsible status within the British Commonwealth of Nations", was formally granted independence as a Dominion in 1948. In 1972 it adopted a republican constitution to become the Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka. By a new constitution in 1978, it became the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.


India, Pakistan and Bangladesh

British India The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance on the Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a physiographical region ...
acquired a partially representative government in 1909, and the first Parliament was introduced in 1919. Discussions on the further devolution of power, and granting of Dominion status, continued through the 1920s, with The Commonwealth of India Bill 1925,
Simon Commission The Indian Statutory Commission also known as Simon Commission, was a group of seven Members of Parliament under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon. The commission arrived in India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), ...
1927–1930, and Nehru Report 1928 being often cited proposals. Further powers were eventually devolved, following the 1930–32 Round Table Conferences (India), to the locally elected legislatures, via the Government of India Act 1935. The Cripps Mission of 1942 proposed the further devolution of powers, within Dominion status, to the political leadership of British India. Cripps's plan was rejected and full independence was sought.
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, ...
(including Muslim-majority East Bengal forming
East Pakistan East Pakistan was a Pakistani province established in 1955 by the One Unit Policy, renaming the province as such from East Bengal, which, in modern times, is split between India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a ...
) seceded from India at the point of Indian Independence with the passage of the
Indian Independence Act 1947 The Indian Independence Act 1947 947 CHAPTER 30 10 and 11 Geo 6is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Gr ...
and ensuing partition, resulting in two dominions. For India, dominion status was transitory until its new republican constitution was drafted and promulgated in 1950.The Statesman's Year Book, p. 635 Pakistan remained a dominion until 1956 when it became an Islamic Republic under its 1956 constitution. East Pakistan gained independence from Pakistan through Liberation War, as
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either c ...
, in 1971.


Irish Free State / Ireland

The
Irish Free State The Irish Free State ( ga, Saorstát Éireann, , ; 6 December 192229 December 1937) was a state established in December 1922 under the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. The treaty ended the three-year Irish War of Independence between ...
(Ireland from 1937) was a British Dominion between 1922 and 1949. As established by the Irish Free State Constitution Act of the United Kingdom Parliament on 6 December 1922 the new state—which had Dominion status in the likeness of that enjoyed by Canada within the British Commonwealth of Nations—comprised the whole of Ireland. However, provision was made in the Act for the Parliament of Northern Ireland to opt out of inclusion in the Irish Free State, which—as had been widely expected at the time—it duly did one day after the creation of the new state, on 7 December 1922. Following a plebiscite of the people of the Free State held on 1 July 1937, a new constitution came into force on 29 December of that year, establishing a successor state with the name of "Ireland" which ceased to participate in Commonwealth conferences and events. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom and other member states of the Commonwealth continued to regard Ireland as a Dominion owing to the unusual role accorded to the British Monarch under the Irish External Relations Act of 1936. Ultimately, however, Ireland's Oireachtas passed the Republic of Ireland Act 1948, which came into force on 18 April 1949 and unequivocally ended Ireland's links with the British Monarch and the Commonwealth.


Newfoundland

In 1934, after a series of financial difficulties (owing in part to Newfoundland's railway debt from the 1890s, and its debt from the First World War, both of which were exacerbated by the collapse of fish prices during the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States The United Stat ...
) and a riot against the elected government, Newfoundland voluntarily relinquished its elected parliament and autonomy, becoming a dependent territory of the British Empire until 1949. During these 15 years, Newfoundland was ruled by the Newfoundland Commission of Government, an unelected body of civil servants who were directly subordinate to the British Government in
London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary down to the North Sea, and has been a ma ...
, under the authority of a British statute, the Newfoundland Act, 1933. Despite the suspension of its legislature, and its formal loss of Dominion status, Newfoundland continued to be regarded during these 15 years as a de facto Dominion - evidently shown by the fact that Newfoundland continued to be a responsibility of the Dominions Office in London - the intention of its commission of government not only to deal with Newfoundland's affairs, and dire economic situation, but to prepare the populace for the day that the legislature would be reconvened, and nationhood thus resumed. After two referendums in 1948, Newfoundlanders rejected both the continuance of the Newfoundland Commission of Government and return to responsible government, voting instead to join the Canada as its 10th province. This was achieved under the ''British North America Act, 1949'' (now known as the '' Newfoundland Act''), which was passed in the
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off th ...
on 23 March 1949, prior to the London Declaration of 28 April 1949.


New Zealand

The New Zealand Constitution Act 1852 gave New Zealand its own Parliament (General Assembly) and home rule in 1852. In 1907 New Zealand was proclaimed the Dominion of New Zealand. New Zealand, Canada, and Newfoundland used the word Dominion in the official title of the nation, whereas Australia used
Commonwealth of Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands. With an area of , Australia is the largest country b ...
and South Africa
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape, Natal, Tr ...
. New Zealand adopted the Statute of Westminster in 1947 and in the same year legislation passed in London gave New Zealand full powers to amend its own constitution. In 1986, the New Zealand parliament passed the Constitution Act 1986, which repealed the Constitution Act of 1852 and the last constitutional links with the United Kingdom, formally ending its Dominion status.


South Africa

The
Union of South Africa The Union of South Africa ( nl, Unie van Zuid-Afrika; af, Unie van Suid-Afrika; ) was the historical predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into existence on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the Cape, Natal, Tr ...
was formed in 1910 from the four self-governing colonies of the
Cape Colony The Cape Colony ( nl, Kaapkolonie), also known as the Cape of Good Hope, was a British colony In modern parlance, a colony is a territory A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a ...
, Natal, the Transvaal, and the Orange River Colony (the last two were former
Boer Boers ( ; af, Boere ()) are the descendants of the Dutch-speaking Free Burghers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. From 1652 to 1795, the Dutch East India Company The Unite ...
republics). The South Africa Act 1909 provided for a Parliament consisting of a Senate and a House of Assembly. The provinces had their own legislatures. In 1961, the Union of South Africa adopted a new constitution, became a republic, left the Commonwealth (and re-joined following end of Apartheid rule in 1994), and became the present-day Republic of South Africa.


Southern Rhodesia

Southern Rhodesia (renamed Zimbabwe in 1980) was a special case in the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates, and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as th ...
. Although it was never a Dominion de jure, it was treated as a Dominion in many respects, and came to be regarded as a de facto Dominion. Southern Rhodesia was formed in 1923 out of territories of the
British South Africa Company The British South Africa Company (BSAC or BSACo) was chartered in 1889 following the amalgamation of Cecil Rhodes' Central Search Association and the London London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, w ...
and established as a self-governing colony with substantial autonomy on the model of the Dominions. The imperial authorities in London retained direct powers over foreign affairs, constitutional alterations, native administration and bills regarding mining revenues, railways and the governor's salary. Southern Rhodesia was not one of the territories that were mentioned in the 1931 Statute of Westminster although relations with Southern Rhodesia were administered in London through the Dominion Office, not the Colonial Office. When the Dominions were first treated as foreign countries by London for the purposes of diplomatic immunity in 1952, Southern Rhodesia was included in the list of territories concerned. This semi-Dominion status continued in Southern Rhodesia between 1953 and 1963, when it joined Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland in the Central African Federation, with the latter two territories continuing to be British protectorates. When Northern Rhodesia was given independence in 1964 it adopted the new name of Zambia, prompting Southern Rhodesia to shorten its name to
Rhodesia Rhodesia (, ), officially from 1970 the Republic of Rhodesia, was an unrecognised state in Southern Africa Southern Africa is the southernmost subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populo ...
, but Britain did not recognise this latter change. Rhodesia unilaterally declared independence from Britain in 1965 as a result of the British government's insistence on no independence before majority rule (NIBMAR). London regarded this declaration as illegal, and applied sanctions and expelled Rhodesia from the sterling area. Rhodesia continued with its Dominion-style constitution until 1970, and continued to issue British passports to its citizens. The Rhodesian government continued to profess its loyalty to the Sovereign, despite being in a state of rebellion against Her Majesty's Government in London, until 1970, when it adopted a republican constitution following a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct vote by the electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a representative. This may result in the adoption o ...
the previous year. This endured until the state's reconstitution as Zimbabwe Rhodesia in 1979 under the terms of the Internal Settlement; this lasted until the Lancaster House Agreement of December 1979, which put it under interim British rule while fresh elections were held. The country achieved independence deemed legal by the international community in April 1980, when Britain granted independence under the name Zimbabwe.


From Dominions to "independent Commonwealth countries"

Initially, the Dominions conducted their own trade policy, some limited foreign relations and had autonomous
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct ...
, although the British government claimed and exercised the exclusive power to declare wars. However, after the passage of the Statute of Westminster the language of dependency on the Crown of the United Kingdom ceased, where the Crown itself was no longer referred to as the Crown of any place in particular but simply as "the Crown". Arthur Berriedale Keith, in Speeches and Documents on the British Dominions 1918–1931, stated that "the Dominions are sovereign international States in the sense that the King in respect of each of His Dominions (Newfoundland excepted) is such a State in the eyes of international law". After then, those countries that were previously referred to as "Dominions" became Commonwealth realms where the sovereign reigns no longer as the British monarch, but as monarch of each nation in its own right, and are considered equal to the UK and one another. The
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great powers—forming two opposi ...
, which fatally undermined Britain's already weakened commercial and financial leadership, further loosened the political ties between Britain and the Dominions. Australian Prime Minister John Curtin's unprecedented action (February 1942) in successfully countermanding an order from British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 during the Second World War, and again from ...
that Australian troops be diverted to defend British-held
Burma Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John Wells explai ...
(the 7th Division was then en route from the Middle East to Australia to defend against an expected Japanese invasion) demonstrated that Dominion governments might no longer subordinate their own national interests to British strategic perspectives. To ensure that Australia had full legal power to act independently, particularly in relation to foreign affairs, defence industry and military operations, and to validate its past independent action in these areas, Australia formally adopted the Statute of Westminster in October 1942 and backdated the adoption to the start of the war in September 1939. The Dominions Office merged with the India Office as the Commonwealth Relations Office upon the independence of India and
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, ...
in August 1947. The last country officially made a Dominion was Ceylon in 1948. When the British Nationality Act 1948 entered into force on 1 January 1949, the former Dominions became fully independent, and adopted their own legislation governing nationality. In British nationality law, the Dominions were then referred to as "independent Commonwealth countries"; other former British dependencies that joined the Commonwealth were added to the list of "independent Commonwealth Countries" as they gained independence.
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic Ocean, in Northwestern Europe, north-western Europe. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Grea ...
ceased to be a member of the Commonwealth on 18 April 1949, upon the coming into force of the Republic of Ireland Act 1948. This formally signalled the end of the former dependencies' common constitutional connection to the British Crown. India also adopted a republican constitution in January 1950. Unlike many dependencies that became republics, Ireland never re-joined the Commonwealth, which agreed to accept the British monarch as head of that association of independent states (although most of the individual countries had become republics). The independence of the separate realms was emphasised after the accession of Queen
Elizabeth II Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; 21 April 1926 – 8 September 2022) was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states durin ...
in 1952, when she was proclaimed not just as Queen of the United Kingdom, but also Queen of Canada, Queen of Australia, Queen of New Zealand, Queen of South Africa, and of all her other "realms and territories" etc. This also reflected the change from ''Dominion'' to ''realm''; in the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth II's new titles in 1953, the phrase "of her other Realms and Territories" replaced "Dominion" with another mediaeval French word with the same connotation, "realm" (from ''royaume''). Thus, recently, when referring to one of those fifteen countries within the Commonwealth of Nations that share the same monarch, the phrase ''
Commonwealth realm A Commonwealth realm is a sovereign state in the Commonwealth of Nations whose monarch and head of state is shared among the other realms. Each realm functions as an independent state, equal with the other realms and nations of the Commonw ...
'' has come into common usage instead of ''Dominion'' to differentiate the Commonwealth nations that continue to share the
monarch A monarch is a head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its internat ...
as
head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State itself or representatitve of its international persona." in its unity and ...
(Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica, etc.) from those that do not (India, Pakistan, South Africa, etc.). The term "Dominion" is still found in the Canadian constitution where it appears numerous times, but it is largely a vestige of the past, as the Canadian government does not actively use it (''see
Canada Canada is a country in North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic O ...
section''). The term "realm" does not appear in the Canadian constitution. The practice of designating a diplomatic representative named "High Commissioner" (instead of "ambassador") for communication between the government of a Dominion and the British government in London continues in respect of members of the Commonwealth, including those that were never Dominions and those that have become republics.


Newly independent territories sometimes referred to as Dominions

The term "Dominion" remained in informal use for some years when relating to newly independent territories and was sometimes used to refer to the status of former British territories during an immediate post-independence period while the British monarch remained head of state, and the form of government a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The legal status of Dominion in British nationality law had ceased to exist on 1 January 1949. However, leaders of the independence movements sometimes called for Dominion status as one stage in the negotiations for independence (for example, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana). Moreover, while these independent states retained the British monarch as head of state, they remained "within the Crown's dominions" in British law, leading to the confusion of terminology. These constitutions were typically replaced by republican constitutions within a few years. As the above quote indicates, the term Dominion was sometimes applied in Africa to
Ghana Ghana (; tw, Gaana, ee, Gana), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It abuts the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of ...
(formerly the Gold Coast) during the period from 1957 until 1960, when it became the Republic of Ghana;
Nigeria Nigeria ( ), , ig, Naìjíríyà, yo, Nàìjíríà, pcm, Naijá , ff, Naajeeriya, kcg, Naijeriya officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of G ...
from 1960 until 1963, when it became the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya ) , national_anthem = " Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"() , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , ca ...
from 1962 to 1963;
Kenya ) , national_anthem = " Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"() , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Nairobi , coordinates = , largest_city = Nairobi ...
, from 1963 to 1964; Tanganyika from 1961 to 1962, after which it became a republic and then merged with the former British protectorate of Zanzibar to become
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region. It borders Uganda to the north; Kenya ) , national_anthem ...
;
Gambia The Gambia,, ff, Gammbi, ar, غامبيا officially the Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa ...
from 1965 until 1970;
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone,)]. officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, Uni ...
from 1961 to 1971; and Mauritius (1968–1992), Mauritius from 1968 to 1992. Malta also retained the Queen as head of state from 1964 to 1974 under the name of State of Malta. Similar occasional references to Barbados (which retained the Queen as head of state from 1966 to 2021) as a "dominion" can be found in publications as late as the 1970s.


See also

* Changes in British sovereignty * Colonisation * Timeline of national independence


Notes


References

* Buckley, F. H., ''The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America'', Encounter Books, 2014. * Choudry, Sujit. 2001 (?)
"Constitution Acts"
(based on looseleaf by Hogg, Peter W.).
Constitutional Keywords
'.
University of Alberta The University of Alberta, also known as U of A or UAlberta, is a public research university located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It was founded in 1908 by Alexander Cameron Rutherford,"A Gentleman of Strathcona – Alexander Cameron Ruth ...
, Centre for Constitutional Studies: Edmonton. * Holland, R. F., ''Britain and the Commonwealth Alliance 1918–1939'', MacMillan, 1981. * Forsey, Eugene A. 2005
''How Canadians Govern Themselves''
, 6th ed. () Canada: Ottawa. * Hallowell, Gerald, ed. 2004. ''The Oxford Companion to Canadian History''.
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest unive ...
: Toronto; p. 183-4 (). * Marsh, James H., ed. 1988.
Dominion of Canada
''et al.'' ''
The Canadian Encyclopedia ''The Canadian Encyclopedia'' (TCE; french: L'Encyclopédie canadienne) is the national encyclopedia of Canada, published online by the Toronto-based historical organization Historica Canada Historica Canada is a Canadian charitable organiz ...
''. Hurtig Publishers: Toronto. * Martin, Robert. 1993 (?)
1993 Eugene Forsey Memorial Lecture: A Lament for British North America
''The Machray Review''. Prayer Book Society of Canada. A summative piece about nomenclature and pertinent history with abundant references. * Rayburn, Alan. 2001. ''Naming Canada: stories about Canadian place names'', 2nd ed. ()
University of Toronto Press The University of Toronto Press is a Canadian university press founded in 1901. Although it was founded in 1901, the press did not actually publish any books until 1911. The press originally printed only examination books and the university cale ...
: Toronto.


Further reading

* {{Subject bar, portal1=Australia, portal2=British Empire, portal3=United Kingdom , portal4=Canada, portal5=History, portal6=India, portal7=Ireland, portal8=Monarchy, portal9=Pakistan, portal10=Sri Lanka, portal11=South Africa, portal12=New Zealand, portal13= Trinidad and Tobago, d=y Governance of the British Empire History of the Commonwealth of Nations History of the Republic of Ireland Legal history of Canada Monarchy Client state