This is a very long story about the British Empire, right up to the present day. From Paul Cudenac at Winter Oak via off-guardian.org:
In the middle of the 19th century, the British Empire ran into what what would today be termed a “public relations crisis”.
Influential domestic voices were starting to criticise its industrial system and worldwide domination on ethical grounds, not least the art critic John Ruskin.
He wrote that all he had found at the heart of what was supposedly a great civilization was “insane religion, degraded art, merciless war, sullen toil, detestable pleasure, and vain or vile hope”.
Lack of public support for the empire at home from the wave of “Little Englander” sentiment also risked affecting the way Britain’s activities were viewed abroad.
As Carroll Quigley writes, its success was partly due to “its ability to present itself to the world as the defender of the freedoms and rights of small nations and of diverse social and religious groups”.
It was therefore decided, by a powerful group based around Cecil Rhodes and Lord Milner, along with aristocrats such as Lord Esher, Lord Rothschild and Lord Balfour, to rethink the form and appearance of Britain’s economic sphere of influence.
Gradually, the Crown’s possessions were encouraged to become supposedly independent nations, though very much remaining under Britain’s wing, and eventually, after the Second World War, The Empire was rebranded “The Commonwealth”, whose current flag features at the top of this page.