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The sun sets on Empire

Parting Shots, Series 2 Episode 3 of 3

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 13 October 2010

Despatches from diplomats in the last outposts of Empire capture the dying days of British rule. With Matthew Parris.

The valedictory despatch - an open letter to the Foreign Secretary which for decades British diplomats would send before leaving an overseas post - was often a platform for bittersweet reflection about the past.

During the period of decolonisation, many Ambassadors and High Commissioners expressed misgivings about the manner in which Britain was shedding its imperial role. In this programme, diplomats from the old school argue the case for the Empire as a force for good, and bemoan the unseemly haste with which Britain hauled down the flag in colonies across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Producer: Andrew Bryson.


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