English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Alternatively, why was it called the British Empire when it was really the Kingdom of Great Britain? To me, having a empire without an emperor is as nonsensical as having a kingdom without a king. They seem to imply each other, yet it didn't work that way. Is there a good explanation for it?

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Jasper Loy, simchona, FumbleFingers, Bravo, kiamlaluno Jul 4 '12 at 9:16

Questions on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange are expected to relate to English language and usage within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

I've seen this question before... This Question – TecBrat Jul 4 '12 at 0:52
The "British Empire" included England, India, Australia, etc., etc., en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire – GEdgar Jul 4 '12 at 0:56
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The reason is simple the unpredictable course of history. It was first proposed to George III that he take the title of Emperor upon the union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. However, he rejected this title.

Then in 1876 Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India, which had previously been the title used by the Mughal Emperor (as the Padishah). This title held until the 1947 independence of India and Pakistan. George VI and Elizabeth (later Queen Mother) were the last Emperor and Empress to hold that title.

Under the Commonwealth, the member states are assumed to be equal and so there is no Emperor. Elizabeth is legally the Head of the Commonwealth.

share|improve this answer

The ruler of the British Empire was indeed an Empress (at least until 1997, when Hong Kong was given back to China). She also happens to be a Queen.

share|improve this answer
but never styles her/his self that way... I suppose that makes sense. It is strange that the British will refer to themselves as the British Empire but not call their monarch an empress officially, but I guess thats just historical. – Lawton Jul 4 '12 at 2:01
After the handover of Hong Kong there is officially no longer any Empire, although there is still an OBE. – Mark Beadles Jul 4 '12 at 2:02
Aah! True that. As soon as I leave school, the world starts changing. OK, Elizabeth WAS an Empress, but apparently is not now. – user16269 Jul 4 '12 at 3:10
Thanks @MarkBeadles, I have edited the answer accordingly. – user16269 Jul 4 '12 at 3:47

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.