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Margaret Thatcher and Princess Margaret shared a close friendship, often discussing matters related to the Iranian hostage crisis and the Muhammad Ali. Similar correspondence exists with her cabinet secretary, Robert Armstrong, and Secretary General of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. Today, the National Archives in Kew released previously confidential letters from the Thatcher administration.

Perhaps one of the most prominent topics within the archives is Thatcher's resignation and its reverberations throughout London, Washington, and Moscow. Thatcher provided a "resignation action plan" for November 22nd, 1990 in which she took the opportunity to thank her constituents and emphasize her free-market goals for the future. As a result of her stance on the poll tax, Thatcher's departure signified an important change in both British and world politics. The documents within the Archive yield more information on the balance of power within the Conservative Party. The emergence of such divergent policies were further accentuated in Kissinger's statement that "nobody outside Britain – indeed nobody outside Westminster – could understand how your fellow Conservatives could have done this."

The correspondence with the Royal Family thus enables historians to understand the challenges that Thatcher faced and the personal relationship she had with her peers. Indeed, the "Iron Lady" faced a barrage of criticism after her resignation due to the effects of her deregulation within the iron and steel industry. Whether her policies can be attributed to upward and downward business trends remains questionable, and causality is surely difficult to prove. Nevertheless, Thatcher has continued to play an influential role for both politicians and historians alike who seek to interpret the dynamic ideals of economic and individual liberty in a period of uncertainty.

Related Links:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/30/they-are-so-easy-to-please-letters-between-thatcher-and-princess-margaret-released
http://indianexpress.com/article/world/thatchers-resignation-shocked-leaders-in-us-ussr-archives/
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/thatcher-and-princess-margaret-saw-eye-to-eye/news-story/5fb28378fecfb45f6ff76b7253837054
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/30/margaret-thatcher-resignation-shocked-us-ussr-files
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2500004/margaret-thatcher-shared-warm-friendship-with-princess-margaret-as-secret-letters-come-to-light/

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The popularity of Christmas in Britain arose during Queen Victoria's reign. With her marriage to Prince Albert, the royal family brought many traditions to Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. A Christmas tree filled with ornaments was commissioned in Buckingham Palace. Christmas cards gained popularity as low barriers to entry in the card market promoted the commercialization of a rebranded Christmas holiday. Caroling and musical entertainment also gained traction among the royal family, and soon spread across the country. These instances were often popularized in novels such as A Christmas Carol, which supplemented the genesis of a new holiday spirit.

World War 1 also fostered an unprecedented rise in Christmas traditions. Indeed with the tragic battles and dismal conditions of war-torn Europe, many Britons found themselves comforted by Christmas songs and food. The Christmas Truce of 1914 witnessed an unofficial ceasefire among French, German, and British soldiers. Although some instances of holiday gift-giving were only attempts to distract from the horrors of war, the movement did promote a new spiritual mindset in Britain and paved the way for Christmas traditions of today.

Related Links:
http://www.historyextra.com/feature/first-world-war/how-christmas-celebrated-during-first-world-war-soldiers
http://www.bbc.co.uk/victorianchristmas/history.shtml

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Since the mid-nineteenth century, Britain has championed the principles of free trade in an effort to promote economic growth. Indeed, the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 marked the first instance in which imported goods, that is grain, would no longer be limited by the restrictions of high tariffs. Yet naturally, as one line of thought gains popularity, objections and dissent tend to emerge as well.

The historic lessons from the emergence of protectionist policies merits a discussion on the rationale of high-tariff ideals. Espoused by politicians including Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, protectionism in the twenty-first century begets placing higher tariffs on both raw materials, which may hinder domestic manufacturing, and manufactured goods, which will tend to push prices upward. Such sacrifices, by the same logic, promote internal stability and locally sourced products. However, the conviction of a protected Britain leads to further questions on the alleged subsequent economic growth.

From the abolition of the Corn Laws up until World War I, Britain had largely maintained this ideology of free trade. Comparative advantages between the island and its colonial possessions, as well as foreign nations, was the catalyst for mutually beneficial growth. One British historian, Sir Robert Ensor, claimed that the repeal decimated the British agricultural industry. The contribution of agriculture to the national income declined from 17% (1871) to 7% (1911). At the same time, GDP per capita (adjusted for purchasing price parity) rose from $1706 (1820) to $3190 (1870), and continued to $4921 (1913). Although this rise may have been a natural result of the Revolution's technological advancements, economists have been quick to point out that such growth also saw general improvements in standards of living in areas with which the Industrial Revolution was most strongly associated. Free trade allowed for more competition and gave the much needed resources for Britain to succeed in the long run. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the labor force quickly moved to factories and adapted with the changing names. The parallel with the modern-day shift from a manufacturing-based to a service-based economy bears similar trends.

Free trade, at its most fundamental level, pushes for the promotion of a stronger Britain in a world that seeks to find the balance between competition and cooperation. Although the factors associated with "Brexit" are complex and too intrinsically linked to issues with EU management and immigration reform (and this post will make no such claims that overall Brexit was good or bad), sudden explosive growth in the economy is an unlikely result. The history of Britain's industrial growth has been linked to free trade, and that ideology will be needed more than ever post-Brexit.

Related Links:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/04/steel-crisis-protectionism-sounds-nice-but-will-cost-jobs-in-the/
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0014498382900390
http://www.ehs.org.uk/dotAsset/11cabff5-3f6a-4d69-bba0-1086d69be6c7.pdf
http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/tradeindustry/importexport/overview/freetrade/
http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21587382-globalisation-depends-technology-and-politics-railroads-and-hegemons

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Noted by financial and historical scholars alike, Theresa May's arrival in India can be viewed as a revival of Britain's attempted "special relationship" with India. Throughout the Brexit campaign, the Leave supporters have supported renewed trade agreements with the major economies of the East. India is no exception to this agenda item.

Naturally, since the formation of the EU and its predecessors, Anglo-Indian trade had fallen drastically. Today, Britain accounts for some 2% of Indian trade. The May administration would like to see a renewed exchange of capital flow, as was likely the topic of her meeting with Narendra Modi. Indeed, the UK government is planning on also relaxing the requirements of the visa system for Indian nationals. Modi declared that education will "define" relationships between the two countries going forward. As of March 2015, Indian citizens had received the largest share of UK visas at close to 86,000 for the previous year. A growth in this figure is likely to follow suit should the trade agreement be finalized.

As opposed to Modi's educational integration, May strongly favored cooperation in the financial services sector. To rebuild a post-recession Britain, May sought out great opportunities for British investments in Indian markets and infrastructure plans with sizable returns. It is perhaps most imperative that Britain prove to Europe that it can continue to flourish as one of the world's financial hubs without the euro. However, the divergent goals between May and Modi may prove challenging for a plan for economic integration. The two will have to use both plans or some combination thereof in order to implement a successful Anglo-Indian partnership.

Related Links:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/08/world/europe/uk-britain-india-theresa-may-narendra-modi.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-11-08/india-pushes-u-k-to-figure-out-its-economic-future
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/07/india-tells-theresa-may-to-grant-more-student-visas-as-part-of-t/

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The politicization of studying empires is a difficult obstacle that historians often face. Any narrative of a military expedition or colonial takeover will inevitably leave out information or be remiss in addressing all aspects of the situation. Even primary sources have "silences" in the way the archive, digital or physical, was constructed. The historian not only has to overcome his/her own biases, but also those of the archivist.

To understand broader aspects of British colonialism, historians should look to make sure that they are emphasizing topics of interest and not attempting to make overarching statements of large swaths of territory.

Related Link:
https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/14/studying-the-empire-can-history-students-avoid-pitfalls-of-the-past

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In the early years of the Age of Exploration, Spain and Portugal were the leaders in establishing trade routes around the globe. Meanwhile, England seriously lagged behind. After Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I, the nation had to find new allies and non-Catholic trading partners in order to keep the economy afloat.

Trade agreements with the Ottoman Empire and Morocco were essential to England's evolution into a global economic power. The joint stock company was an invention of the early-17th century which allowed for commercial voyages to and from the Levant, India, and China. Many historians have written accounts of the East India Company in India and China, but few have ventured to uncover the importance of Englishmen in the Middle East.The high demand for goods including sugar, saltpeter, spices, and silk prompted greater support for trade and economic development.

Related Links:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/opinion/sunday/englands-forgotten-muslim-history.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35843991

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Lagos Colony was established as a British colony in 1862. As one of the largest cities in West Africa, the area was a significant stronghold in the area and acted as a territorial claim in a soon-to-be French-dominated region.

Today, the remnants of colonial rule are rarely noticed or even remembered by locals. Some historians argue that the buildings are symbols of the good things the Empire brought to the region, such as European infrastructure. However, it should also be noted that they serve as solemn reminders to the colonial past. Does this past hold significance if few remember the days of colonial rule? This question holds for not only the Lagos Colony, but other overseas territorial possessions of the Empire.

Related Link:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/02/colonial-ruins-epitaph-british-empire-commonwealth

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Numerous articles have been written on the Sykes-Picot Treaty of 1916, in which a British politician, a French diplomat, and a Russian foreign minister, arbitrarily divided the land of the Middle East following the expected collapse of the Ottoman Empire. One hundred years ago yesterday this document still remains an important part of the history that has come to shaped the Middle East.

But can a single agreement truly be the cause of later developments of political upheaval and military conflict? It is unlikely that a singular document could be the sole contributor to what has come to pass. However, it does appear that the combination of several treaties at the time, including the conflicting McMahon–Hussein Correspondence of 1916, led to a high degree of uncertainty in the region.

Related Links:
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/05/sykes-picot-centennial/482904/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-36300224
https://www.chathamhouse.org/expert/comment/how-well-do-you-know-sykes-picot#

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Historical revisionism is nothing new to modern scholars. Various interpretations of the past can lead to some that may "sugarcoat" violent or aggressive events. Such is the current debate for issues with describing the British "invasion" of Australia. As oppose to previous usage of the "settlement," invasion is a world that better encapsulates the events of the 18th century. University of New South Wales students have protested this because, as the argument goes, there were Indigenous Australians who were already in Australia. By definition of the word "invasion," it is clear that many were killed in the attempt to create Australia as a penal colony. Neither is the term "discovery" justifiable because it assumes that Australia was a paradise of natural resources and no inhabitants prior to its "founding." The dynamism of the past continually causes rebranding of particular events, and we as historians strive to best portray these events as they actually happened.

Related Links:
http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/postcolonial-blog/2016/mar/30/its-not-politically-correct-to-say-australia-was-invaded-its-history?CMP=fb_gu
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-35922858

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The Falkland Islands are again caught in a territorial dispute between the United Kingdom and Argentina. Since its colonial days, the island has been fought over for its natural resources. Oil exploration alone brings a steady stream of revenue to Britain. However, a recent UN commission challenges the British claim over the islands and seeks to return the island to Argentinian jurisdiction.

Related Links:
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/mar/29/falkland-islands-argentina-waters-rules-un-commission?CMP=fb_gu
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35914839
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