At the beginning of the twentieth century the British Empire covered almost one quarter of the globe, with territories in all continents and major oceans. It was the largest empire the world had ever known. It included India, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, along with parts of Africa, Asia, and the West Indies.
These territories were connected by the Royal Navy – the world’s largest, and a civilian merchant fleet serviced the industries of the ‘Mother Country’ that were supplied by the colonial markets. Many of the people from these territories were fiercely loyal to the British Crown and Empire, and were more than willing to join in a war.
George V was crowned in 1910. The grandson of Queen Victoria, he was also a cousin of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Because of anti-German sentiment, he renamed the British Royal family the House of Windsor in 1917, changing it from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.