The Commonwealth began with the recognition of the sovereign independence and equality of the Dominions (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada) in the Statute of Westminster, 1931, with certain residual and largely formal rights remaining in Britain. The most important event in the creation of the modern Commonwealth was India’s decision to join it as an independent republic. As they gained independence, almost all the other colonies followed the Indian lead, but the Commonwealth soon seemed on the point of breaking up because of passionate political differences. The main problem was the British attitude towards the racist policies of South Africa, which alienated most of the African states. Britain, in turn, was beginning to feel that the Commonwealth was something of a liability.
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