Festival of Empire

With the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in mind, Nigel Burton looks back at the 1911 Festival of Empire and the concept of an 'Inter-Empire Games.

When the Queen opens the Commonwealth Games in Manchester on July 25th, marking a key moment in her Golden Jubilee celebrations, she will be renewing a tradition of friendly sporting rivalry which, the war apart, has run every four years since its inception at Hamilton, Canada, in 1930. But the link between sports in the former Empire and dominions and royal celebrations dates back still further. The 1911 Festival of Empire, a great extravaganza of the manifold cultural, industrial and military achievements of the British Empire, was held at Crystal Palace to mark the Coronation of George V. Included among its many attractions was the first ever sporting competition between teams representing Britain and its dominions.

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