Kingdom of Britannia
“We are Her Britannic Majesty’s representatives, sir, and hence we can go anywhere, with anything, at any time we damn well please.”
– Admiral Sir William Wynn-Shawcross, RN, to an obdurate Spanish commodore, Cadiz, 1866
If any single nation can be said to have ushered in the modern age, then the Kingdom of Britannia is surely it. It was here, in the mid-seventeenth century that the first modern industrialisation began; spurred on, as with so many other advances, by the throes of a war. It was here, also, that ships were first built of iron, that the steam engine was first perfected; that the railway was pioneered. Almost every technological advance that the world now takes for granted has its root somewhere in Britannia’s recent history.
Nor has the Kingdom sat upon its laurels. The Britannians took this knowledge and used it to carve up a huge slice of the world for themselves, making their small collection of home islands the centre of a vast military and commercial empire with territories on almost every continent and a merchant fleet that carries nearly half of all goods moved over water. There is nowhere in the world where the Kingdom’s unmistakeable flag cannot be seen flying proudly over some far flung outpost of Queen Victoria’s domains. Nor is the Kingdom becoming in any way complacent. Britannian scientists and engineers, having seen others capitalise on the inventions their predecessors pioneered, are now hard at work on the next generation of technological breakthroughs, while its explorers and military expeditions are constantly seeking out new areas for expansion.
The Kingdom of Britannia commands the greatest maritime empire in the world. Although not as large overall as the FSA or the Russian Coalition – at least not yet, according to the Kingdom’s more belligerent politicians – its holdings are present everywhere apart from Antarctica. The Britannians exert control over the entirety of Canada, India (through their semi-independent vassal organisation, the East India Company), the western and southern portions of Australia, New Zealand, many of the Caribbean island chains, the tip of South America, the Indochinese peninsula, half of the East Indies islands and large tracts of territory along the western and southern coasts of Africa from Morocco to the Cape.
These extensive territories provide a flow of raw materials for Britannia’s great industries, and destinations for waves of hopeful settlers from the home islands as well as secure bases for the nation’s military forces to operate worldwide. Every Britannian subject knows that, should some mishap befall them, then no matter where they are, the welcome sight of the Union Flag – generally flying atop the masts of a battleship, or emblazoned on the side of a tank – will soon be forthcoming to rescue them.
Naturally, the empire encompasses a vast array of different peoples and cultures, many of them wildly differentdue to the sheer distances involved. For the most part these differences are accepted, if not tolerated outright. Of all the imperial powers, the Britannians operate the most ‘hands-off’ governing policy in regards to its subject peoples; it is enough for them that taxes be paid and Her Majesty’s representatives be accorded the respect due to them. Britannian officials and soldiers also show a surprisingly frequent tendency to ‘go native’ when placed on long foreign postings. While this often causes muttered disapproval in the rarefied atmosphere of Whitehall, such unorthodox behaviour often leads to much better relations between local peoples and the imperial authorities.
Her Britannic Majesty Queen Victoria of the House of Hanover is the current head of state of the Kingdom of Britannia. Ascending the throne at the tender age of 18 in 1837, the young queen quickly learned to be a shrewd political operator. Now, after nearly forty years on the Britannian throne, encompassing marriage, widowhood and every conceivable act of political and military strife, she had matured into an able and respected monarch who reigns over her dominions with the calm assurance of caring but stern matriarch. The Britannian people, no matter what their attitude towards their government, treat their Queen with great reverence. It is a rash person indeed who criticises the Queen within earshot of subject of the Kingdom.
The actual machinery that carries out the difficult and often dirty job of real governance is the Britannian Parliament, the world’s oldest democracy. The leader of the governing party is the Prime Minister, who wields the power of the monarch on his or her behalf in the form of the Royal Prerogative. The current Prime Minister is the immensely charismatic and popular Viscount Palmerston. Although now nearly 90 years old and more or less confined to his patented Brunel Arachnoped chair, Palmerston still has a vigorous appetite for the responsibilities of power. Palmerston’s main preoccupation is balancing the interests of the two major factions in Parliament – the Knights, who press for more vigorous and aggressive colonial expansion, and the Rooks, who counsel a much more cautious and methodical approach of consolidating the nation’s gains. The Parliament’s will is carried out (most of the time…) by the monolithic organisation of the Britannian Civil Service, whom many see as the real rulers of the empire.
Britannia’s colonies are governed in more or less the same manner, each having a Governor-General as the Queen’s representative, supported by an administrative council. However, the Britannians generally prefer to leave local governance of their colonies to the same authorities that held sway before they arrived, so as to limit the need for direct intervention.
The Kingdom of Britannia was the first nation in the world to field Land Ships in battle, against the Prussians in 1815. A combination of superior technology and an acknowledgement that they could not match the Prussians in terms of sheer numbers led Britannian engineers to develop these massive machines as a means of evening the odds when faced with a numerically superior enemy. Such was their impact that they eventually compelled the Britannian government to reorganise its entire military organisation in 1826, to the form it still holds today.
The Britannian military is split into three branches, or Armadas – Naval, Land and Air. The naval branch is oldest and most senior, for it is they who bind the far-flung empire together. The Kingdom operates the largest blue-water navy in the world, split into several battle-fleets; the Grand Fleet, protecting the home islands, the Mediterranean Fleet, based in Gibraltar and Morocco, the Indian Ocean Fleet, covering India and Indochina, the South Pacific Fleet, based in New Zealand, and the Falkland Islands Squadron. The Britannian Navy operates more Battleships, Dreadnoughts and Fleet Carriers than any other nation, supported by a huge shipbuilding concern. Britannian ships tend to be lighter armoured than others to increase their range, but they carry large complements of engineers to quickly make good any battle damage. Such is the primacy of the Naval Armada that it is frequently said that the main job of the other two branches is to support it.
This has been true of the Land Armada, which has long provided the three specialist Armada Regiments; 34th Sheffield (Sea), 90th Lowlanders (Air) and its own 6th Norfolk, as garrison troops for the war engines of all three military branches in addition to its regular infantry regiments, although with the influx of new recruits following the Prussian raid on London in 1870, the Land forces are scheduled to grow exponentially in their own right. Never very large and composed almost wholly of volunteers, the Britannian army is a highly trained force, its regular soldiers capable of holding their own against other nations’ elite troops, especially as marksmen. The Land Armada is also heavily armoured – in addition to its Brunel-designed Land Ships, the Armada operates numerous Tank Regiments, and many infantry formations are in fact fully mechanised with armoured transports and self-propelled artillery. In addition, large new forces are being raised from the peoples of the Kingdom’s many overseas colonies, providing both security and offensive power worldwide.
The Air Armada is fast becoming renowned as one of the most effective of aerial forces in terms of sheer finesse. The Britannians fight in the air as they do at sea; with graceful manoeuvres and speed, deftly employing the wind and weather conditions to best advantage in combat. Britannian air fleets are adept at striking from unexpected quarters, often in ambush, so that the enemy isn’t even aware of them before the killing stroke falls.
With its forces worldwide working up to take on both old and new enemies in east and west, the Kingdom of Britannia is once again prepared to demonstrate why they have been noted as such a formidable power for so long.