AboutBritain.com Logo

The 20th Century


During the 20th century, towns expanded into cities where people worked and commuted by train, bus or car. Great technological advances and a time of prosperity followed the two World Wars.

After 64 years reign, Queen Victoria died and her son became King Edward VII. He was known as Edward the Peacemaker and ruled for 9 years. He was buried at Windsor and his second son succeeded him to the throne.

King George V saw many changes in his time as king. Women were given the vote for the first time, thanks to the protests of the British Suffragette Movement led by the Pankhurst family. The Sinn Fein Easter Rising led to an independent Parliament for Ireland in 1918.

Some of the key events during the 20th century were:

1901 Edward VII was crowned king
1910 George V was the first king of the House of Windsor
1914-18 World War I
1936 Edward VIII came to the throne but abdicated
1936 George VI was crowned king
1939-45 World War 2
1952 Elizabeth II was crowned queen

King George V saw many changes in his time as king. Women were given the vote for the first time, thanks to the protests of the British Suffragette Movement led by the Pankhurst family. The Sinn Fein Easter Rising led to an independent Parliament for Ireland in 1918.

In 1914 the First World War began. Families were separated as men went to war. The country suffered many air raids and 835 people were killed in air attacks.

This was followed by a severe world depression and then the Second World War broke out in 1939. Many children were evacuated from the cities to live with strange host families in the countryside. The blitz of London in 1940 caused much of the city to be destroyed or damaged including St Paul’s Cathedral. This time 30,000 residents in London were killed by the bombings.

George V died in 1936 and his eldest son came to the throne as King Edward VIII. He ruled for just 362 days and then abdicated to marry Mrs. Wallis Simpson, a divorcee. Under English law the king was not allowed to marry a divorcee and he chose love over power.

His younger brother quickly stepped in and became King George VI. He ruled with his wife Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon until 1952. They and their two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret stayed at Windsor Castle, refusing to leave London during World War II and were respected and loved for their dedication.

Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister throughout most of World War II and his decisive leadership was widely respected. The Churchill Museum and Underground Cabinet War Rooms are a major London attraction today.

Sherborne Castle had many interesting uses as a Red Cross Hospital in WWI and the Commando Headquarters for the D-Day landings in WW2.

The late 20th century saw a time of unrivalled progress and prosperity. The National Health Service was founded and Britain experienced great social change after the war.

Air travel opened up the world to everyone and many new airports were built as well as a network of motorways. The RAF Museum at Cosford records fascinating 20th century aviation history.

In 1952 Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne upon the sudden death of her father. She was married to Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey and continues to make her London home in Buckingham Palace. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002.

Later in the century, Britain elected the first woman Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, the voting age was lowered to 18 and Britain joined the European Common Market.

Share this article













Copyright © 1999-2017 Excelsior Information Systems Ltd. All rights reserved.
About Us  Press Room  Terms of Use  Privacy  Link to Us  Index  Site Map  Contact Us

Made with Responsive Grid System by Graham Miller