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It's around 1895 and the British Isles have fallen to a communist uprising. Or sunk underwater. Or invaded by Germany or covered in ice or something. So the government, the Royal Family and a large part of the population has been successfully evacuated to the colonies. The Royal Navy is still intact and still the largest in the world. The British Empire is still the largest Empire in the world. But what I'm wondering is where would the capital be? Singapore? Ottawa?, Bombay?, Cape Town? And how much of a world power would the British Empire be without Britain?

The new capital should preferably be somewhere in a strategic position and not some isolated place just waiting to be annexed e.g. Gibraltar or Hong Kong.

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  • $\begingroup$ Simla. Not my idea: See S.M. Sterling's "The Peshawar Lancers" (or something like that - it's been a while since I read it.) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 15 '17 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ Did giant subterranean space bats steal the London again? $\endgroup$ – M i ech Apr 15 '17 at 5:17
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    $\begingroup$ On a serious note: I think the empie might simply collapse. All the suppressed independence movements would rise up again, and stir other movements. Other colonial powers would annex land immediately, and navy isn't enough to stop them without army. Finally, navy would quickly crumble without maintenance - shipyards are gone, and what's left can't afford upkeep anyway. $\endgroup$ – M i ech Apr 15 '17 at 5:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Miech Very right. The Empire could not stand without the industries on Britain. Not to mention the psychological effects of loosing the homeland. $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Apr 15 '17 at 10:55
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The choice of site might depend on why Britain fell.

If it was war then they might relocate to be with allies to continue participation - France was allied with Britain in the Crimean war and WW1 and would be a logical choice if they were allies again in this war.

If it was a domestic uprising and other European nations were at risk (which I think would be the case if Britain fell to communists) then Canada makes sense - adjacent to a strong ally not interested in annexation.

If the ice sheets are coming then not Canada and probably not France. India was the jewel in the crown of empire and toasty warm.

If it was zombie armageddon sweeping the continent and British Isles then I pick Iceland for its defensibility and proximity. And hospitality.

This answer is not going to make a lick of sense once you amend your question to specify the reason for the fall.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer is interesting as it takes into consideration the different causes of the fall of the British Isles but I don't understand what you mean by having the capital in France or Iceland. It's possible that the British could invade and occupy Iceland but it was owned by Denmark at the time and starting a war in those times could ignite a spark that- wait a minute, if there were zombies they would probably overwhelm Denmark so it wouldn't matter anymore. $\endgroup$ – Ethaba Apr 15 '17 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for going of course. What do you mean by having the capital of Britain in another country? $\endgroup$ – Ethaba Apr 15 '17 at 3:27
  • $\begingroup$ Is France part of the British Empire? Would France let them have their capital there? I thought the idea was to put it somewhere where the British already were--part of the Empire already. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 15 '17 at 4:37
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    $\begingroup$ I envisioned this more as government in exile, like the Free French. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_France. If Britain were taken by people (not a disaster) the Brits would never stop scheming to get it back. I considered the government site / mass population refugee site as separate questions. The question specifies that mass population is in colonies so it would not be a refugee crisis for Iceland or France. Friendly / allied neighbors are optimal strategically for a government in exile.. $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 15 '17 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ Re Iceland - I cannot imagine any more welcome guest in the case of zombie armageddon than the Queen and accompanying Royal Navy. Right behind them will be dozens of warlord wannabe military splinter groups who, like me, saw Iceland on the map and realized it made sense. The Brits can repel the bad ones and help sort out the refugees. $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 15 '17 at 16:11
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Evacuation from the entire country would only be a very last resort. However it is a given in your story, so we will work from there.

It's around 1895 and the British Isles have fallen to a communist uprising. Or sunk underwater. Or invaded by Germany or covered in ice or something. So the government, the Royal Family and a large part of the population has been successfully evacuated to the colonies.

  • Communist uprising: I find it unlikely that communism would spread to such an extreme in Britain, given the mentality at the time and the pride in the empire. If the mindset of the people were such that this was possible I don't think the British would have been as successful in building an empire. Also I find it unlikely that the rest of Europe would stand by and let an influential power like Britain fall to communism - doing so would embolden communists in their countries too.

    • A second point on a communist uprising is that they may well attempt, once they have taken Britain, to take some of the colonies too - limiting our options of where to go.
  • Sunk underwater: Well this one gets marks for being a clean slate, no enemies to think about just a "Well you just can't pick Britain anymore." However I'm not sure I need to point out how impossible is it for a whole country to just sink....but as stories go, you don't need everything to be believable.

  • Invaded by Germany: Okay, so this could be possible (though Germany would strike closer to home in an initial attack, long supply routes through countries that may object to your war are expensive). However I don't think the British would leave/would be allowed to leave. You say you want a large part of the population to be evacuated but why would the Germans not just sink those ships? It is likely the British will be back for their country before too long.

  • Covered in ice: Like sinking this has the benefit of being a magic wand we can wave and say we have no choice, however it is hard to see how the rest of Europe wouldn't suffer a similar fate (thus changing the whole dynamic of world power and making a prediction of where to go mostly guesswork).

I'm going to assume we're taking the magic "Britain just isn't an option anymore"

The Royal Navy is still intact and still the largest in the world. The British Empire is still the largest Empire in the world. But what I'm wondering is where would the capital be? Singapore? Ottawa?, Bombay?, Cape Town? And how much of a world power would the British Empire be without Britain?

Here are the limitations as I see them:

  • Short journey: There are a lot of reasons for this but primarily:

    • Disasters at sea aren't unheard of and transporting people, wealth and the monarchy across large distances increases this risk.
    • Pirates, think of that wealth again, it is likely some pirates (or other European powers) would attempt to take some of it.
    • Period of uncertainty - the months it would take to reach a new home would be time in which the colonies could become restless and revolt. A lot of the weight behind power would come from Britain itself. I suspect other European powers would like to spread word that the empire lost its home country.
  • A position we most want to keep: It is likely that the Empire will see revolts as news of this loss spreads. We want, therefore, for the weight of the monarchy and the power that brings, to sit somewhere the Empire needs to keep.

  • Want to be central/close to Europe still: The Americas were seen as a new world, separate from the rest of the world and would remove the Empire entirely from the European power play.

  • A country large enough to fit everyone in: Malta or Gibralta are probably too small.

I can't seem to find any times given for a route between Britain and each of the colonies so going purely off distance I would say Egypt or India (though both routes offer tactical ambush points for pirates). These both satisfy the condition of being positions we want to keep. India was a hub of trade, used to British rule and tactically important for relations in the region. Egypt is home to the Suez canal - a real turning point the world trade.

I would, therefore, choose either Cairo or Bombay as the new capital. Whichever you choose has its own benefits. India has been used to British influence since the East Indies company in 1600 and was much less opposed to further rule than Egypt was. Integration here would have been much easier...however the flip side of this is that, if we choose Egypt India is more likely to stay within the Empire and the new influx of British people could turn the tide of Egyptian rebellion and thus retain the larger empire.

I would choose Cairo, but there are so many factors it really depends how you want to play it.

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Calcutta or Delhi.

They called India the jewel in the crown for a reason: it generated far more income than any of the other colonies. In a situation where the Empire is at risk of collapse, you want to hold on the the biggest asset, especially since the other ones have the same ethnic majority as the homeland, thus are less likely to leave.

So why Calcutta? Well, it was the centre of the British Raj from Clive onwards until about 1920 when they moved to Delhi, the traditional capital of northern India. All the infrastructure of government was already there, so it would simply be a question of moving in.

Delhi would be a major contender, as it was historically been considered the centre of any north Indian empire for at least the last 800 years. Placing the capital there would be an announcement that the British were there to stay. The problem is that the Raj, unlike previous rulers kept themselves separate from the native population: colonists, not rulers. Placing the government in Delhi would only happen if the Raj were ready to "go native".

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I think evacuation would never be successful, British Empire was too widely dispersed, you couldn't move everyone to India for example without a strong home base supplying the move.

More likely scenario if it fell to communists is counterattacks until they were destroyed rather than meekly running away.

If somehow your scenario could evacuate then I think India would be their best base. It was a rich fertile land used to British rule with experienced and competent British Armies.

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