Timeline of Modern United Kingdom (1945-present)

As part of the Visual Timeline series


Countries that gained independence from the UK. Source


Update: Boris Johnson 2019-2022. Lizz Trus 2022-present. Source

– WW2 ends: Germans surrender in May, Japan in Aug.
– (Jul) Atlee succeeds Churchill as Britain PM.

– (Mar) Churchill “Iron Curtain” speech
– (Mar) UK leaves Iran
– (May) Jordan independence from UK.

– (Aug) UK suspends pound’s convertibility; much to anger of US and other international investors.
– (Aug) India and Pakistan independence from UK; India-Pakistan partitioned ased on religious demographics

– Burma (Myanmar), Ceylon (Sri Lanka) gains independence from UK
– Malayan Emergency (1948-1960); Commonwealth troops defeat Communist guerilla forces

– Allies unite occupied Germany into West Germany
– De Havilland Comet first passenger jet UK
– UK devalues pound 30% against USD; full convertibility restored in mid/late 1950s

1950: British leave India (India Republic Day)

1952: Great Smog of London; thousands of deaths; Clean Air Act passed 4 years later

– British and US intelligence engineer coup in Iran in response to oil nationalization; restoring power to shah Reza Pahlavi
– Stalin dies; succeeded by Kruschev
– Queen Elizabeth II coronation (queen at 1952) at 25yo

Queen Elizabeth II coronation, 1953. Source

1955: West Germany regains sovereignty from Allies; joins NATO. Warsaw Pact formed in response.

1956: UK-France-Israel invade Egypt in response to president Nasser nationalizing Suez Canal in Jul; US & Soviet pressure forces withdrawal; Suez canal closed Nov56 to May57.

– Federation of Malaya gains independence from UK
– Nigeria gains independence from UK
– Windscale fire nuclear accident in northwestern England

1959: Singapore gains independence from UK

– French president de Gaulle vetoes first UK application to join European Economic Community
– Kuwait gains independence from UK.

1964: UK pop group Beatles launches first album

1965: White settlers in Southern Rhodesia declares independence from UK

1968: Sterling Agreement of 1968 guarantees pounds to hold 90% of dollar vlaue

1969: UK suppresses unrest in Northern Ireland

1971: Bahrain, Qatar, and UAE gain independence from UK

– OPEC oil embargo (Oct73-Mar74)
– UK finally joins European Economic Community (French president de Gaulle vetoed first two applications in 1961 and 1967), symbolizing increasing reliance on trade with Europe than its former colonies

1978: Winter of Discontent; labour strikes around UK; public services halts

1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes UK PM; begins privatization of state-firms and deregulation of financial markets

Thatcher (right), alongside US president Reagan (left). Source

1980: Zimbabwe (formerly Southern Rhodesia) gains independence from UK

1982: Falklands War (21May-14Jun). UK recaptures Falkland Islands after Argentina invaded on 26Mar; Thatcher strengthens political popularity

HMS Hermes welcomhome after returning from Falklands War, 1982. Source

– UK breaks diplomatic relations with Libya after London Libyan embassy shoots protesters and British police officer.
– Brunei gains independence from UK
-UK coal miner’s strike (1984-1985)

UK coal miners strike 1984-1985 (context of Billy Elliott film). Source

1989: Fall of Berlin Wall

1990: Germany reunified

1991: Soviet Union dissolved

1993: Dowing Street declaration in Northern Ireland; peaceful proposal

1994: UK-France Channel Tunnel completed

1996: EU bans British beef exports amid Mad Cow Disease fears

1997: Princess Diana of Wales killed in car accident in Paris

Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry at Highgrove in 1986. Source

1998: Good Friday Agreement for Northern Ireland

– Islamist terror attacks in London
– Irish Resistance Army announces end of violent campaign for united Ireland

2012: London hosts Olympic Games

2014: 55% in Scottish referendum vote to stay in UK

2016: Brexit. UK votes to leave EU


2022: Queen Elizabeth II dies, ending 70 year reign

96yo Queen Elizabeth II in Jun22, few months before her death. Source

See also:

Visual Timeline Series