This Week in History
The "Lyon" and the End of the British Empire
For the week of Monday November 13, 2006
On November 18, 1926, the delegates to the Imperial Conference in London, England adopted the Balfour Report. The Report redefined the status of the countries in the British Empire and created a Commonwealth of Nations, which then made these countries autonomous with respect to foreign affairs. Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King played a major role in the talks leading to the drafting of the Report.
During the heated debates, King emerged as a mediator and tried to find a solution that was acceptable for each party. British Lord Balfour, who chaired the Conference, was impressed by King’s wisdom in handling such an explosive situation, and he asked for the Prime Minister’s help in drafting a report that would satisfy the often-contradictory demands.
Reflecting the needs and particular situation of each Dominion, King and Lord Balfour essentially drafted the Commonwealth of Nations. According to the Report, the parties “… are 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.”
As a significant mediator during the Imperial Conference of 1926, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was designated a National Historic Person in 1967.
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