British nationality is a fairly recent concept in British history. The British Empire was a monolithic entity which ruled the world from the 16th century onwards until the end of Word War II. The status of its citizens was “Citizen of The British Empire”. The Empire itself covered several thousands of miles all across the globe and had a population of over half a billion people. Of course, there was a great diversity of territories and statuses for all these residents; there were colonies, protectorates, dominions, but all of this changed at the end of the World War II, when many of those former subjects were granted independence for good services rendered during the War effort.
It was in 1948 that the Commonwealth decided to give back individual citizenships to each of its members. In a certain way, it also helped Great Britain to define its own identity, no longer as an international ruling Empire but as a more modest nation state. The British Nationality Act was voted in 1948 and was concerned with defining a national identity for the residents of The British Isles. Nowadays, there are various determinations of “British” as it is called. There are British citizens, British nationals or British protected persons who can be people running away from persecution or harsh political regimes. Great Britain is one of the great democracies of the world and millions of people seek to become residents or citizens of this country. It offers great political rights and freedoms, it is an economic powerhouse which produces great wealth, the right of law rules the land, and people are free to practise whichever political or religious belief they choose.