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Essentially British?: Bradford Coronation Procession (1902)
In the Classroom


Empire and monarchy are the key areas here. Canada, India and the four nations are represented in this shot of the procession. What other territories would have been included in the procession? Having established what countries comprised the British Empire, challenge students to prioritise them - what colonies were Britons most proud of and how might this have been demonstrated in this coronation procession? Extend students' knowledge of the Empire, looking at the decades following Edward VII's accession. The aftermath of WWI saw the last major expansion of British rule - what countries came under British rule during Edward's reign and that of his son, George V?

This procession suggests that the Empire was a source of pride and linked in some way to the British monarchy. Ask students to investigate this further - how did the Empire bolster Britain's reputation as a world power and what was the role of the British monarch with regard to the colonies?

Ask students to look carefully at how the people of Canada and India are represented in the procession. What does this suggest about the way Britons thought about the Empire? What Britons were likely to visit parts of the Empire?

Even if students have no prior knowledge of the British Empire, they should be able to generate some ideas about the impact of imperial rule on Britain's former colonies. Offer students a few 'taster' facts about the Empire - ie. at it's height the British Empire had power over roughly one-quarter of the world's population and around one-quarter of the world's land area. In what ways might Imperial rule have affected Britian's former colonies? Encourage students to think about government and military systems, language, legal practice, language and sport. To get them thinking, why not show students the second clip of Cricket, in which we are shown matches taking place in India, the Caribbean and South Africa.

Alternatively, introduce the concept of the Commonwealth with From the Four Corners, in which a Canadian, New Zealander and Australian talk about why they signed up to fight in WWII. Why might these countries have been granted 'equal status' in 1931, long before other territories reached independence?

Finally, there is potential to use this film as the starting point for an investigation into the formation of the UK and Britain's complex relationship with Ireland, in particular.

Useful films for comparison

  • From the Four Corners (1941): three Commonwealth soldiers chat to Leslie Howard about their motives for signing up.
  • Cricket (1951) Clip two: a celebration of the game of cricket as we visit various countries in which the game is played.


This film could be used as part of a unit of work on the origins of the diverse ethnic and religious identities in the UK today, perhaps in conjunction with other films on the DVD including Springtime in an English Village (1948), Return to Life (1960) and I'm British But... (1989) which cover issues associated with Empire, immigration and asylum.

In addition, you might choose to focus on the four nations of the UK represented in the procession. What is the relationship between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland? How has it changed more recently (Irish Home Rule and Northern Ireland, devolution etc.). Are regional ties more important than national ones? I'm British But... (1989) and the second clip from Think of England (1999) would compliment this line of enquiry.

Useful films for comparison

  • Springtime in an English Village (1948): a different perspective on the links between Britain and her colonies, as a young African girl is crowned Queen of the May in a Cotswolds village.
  • I'm British But... (1989): a group of young Asian Britons from Glasgow, Belfast, London and South Wales discuss their plural identities.