Britain has a very valuable lesson to teach us: If you colonize someone, they will hate you. There’s another valuable lesson: if you’re an imperialist power, other imperialist powers will hate you. Because almost everyone between the years 1700 and 1900 was a colony or an imperialist, almost everyone hated Britain.
Maybe the best way to illustrate this is through a series of testimonies. Which is exactly why Switzerland decided to conduct interviews with countries whose lives Britain ruined.
Competition is a great source of animosity, isn’t it?
“Why do I hate Britain?” France exhaled slowly and gently fell back in his chair. “How much time do I have?”
Switzerland didn’t look up from his notepad. “I stop caring about conversations about five minutes in, so make the most of that time.”
“We were destined to be rivals!” France said grandly. “As you know, I’ve been fighting with England since 1066. It was unpleasant at first, as feuds usually are. But then we grew so accustomed to fighting each other, so comfortable in our hatred, that we felt bad when we weren’t at battle. That is why we took opposing sides at almost every opportunity possible–and, being European, there were plenty of those.”
“Sounds like my last relationship.” Switzerland scribbled something on the pad: Clever injection of topical romance humor. Then he looked up at France. “You still hate him, don’t you? Why is that?”
“Because,” France said, tone already sounding so matter-of-factly,” he can’t dress, he can’t cook, and he has a terrible taste in wine.”
Some scares never really go away.
“It’s not hatred I feel,” India said while pouring chai, “It’s disgust. 200 years of looting, torture, and murder is inexcusable.”
Uncharacteristically, Switzerland was actually taking notes during this interview. “Why don’t you resent them?”
“We’ve recovered from the things Britain did to us,” India told him. “We’ve overcome every bit of pain and suffering. Under colonial rule, my riches were taken from me and my economy was sucked dry. Now I am one of the largest economies in the world. Simply put, I have no time to hate Britain. I have only time to progress.”
Switzerland asked, “You once tweeted that the only good things to come out of Britain were Harry Potter and the Beatles.”
India gave the European a deathly serious look. “Do you know what my Patronus would be? An antelope.”
If there was one thing America learned from Britain, it was how to force your culture on someone.
“They tried to Westernize me,” Hong Kong said. “Tried to isolate me from Asia and make me into well-behaved, voiceless colony. But guess what? It didn’t work.” She punched the air, startling Switzerland. “Their culture has no power here.”
While she held that dramatic, fighter-like stance, Switzerland’s gaze drifted down to her sneakers. The words “Walsh: Made in England” and a Union Jack glared at him from the tongue of her shoes.
She caught this. “I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. These jeans? They’re Levi’s.”
Everyone hates their parents at one point in time.
“I don’t like being told what to do, yanno?” America explained from behind a sick pair of sunglasses. “And England was a shitty parent. Like, grade A shitty. He neglected me for the longest time and then suddenly started to come at me with all these oppressive and ridiculous rules that I totally didn’t even follow anyway. Of course I was gonna rebel.” America paused his rant to fan himself int the June heat.”Hey, dude, you want to drink or something?” He asked, digging into the cooler next to them.
“Do you have Dr. Pepper? I only drink Rivella and Dr. Pepper.”
America shot Switzerland a look then tossed him an ice cold bottle of the Coca-Cola Company’s Frankenstein drink.
“Anyway,” he continued, “When I finally bailed, I was glad to be out of that messed up family—if you could call it that. First, I have this parental figure who’s going around making colonies literally everywhere—and this asshat has no idea how to raise any of them without hurting people. Then, said parental figure goes and joins up with another country to make this thing called ‘Great Britain.’ Okay, so how does this work? Do I belong to both of you? Do I have two dads now? Will the second dad be a better parent than the first dad? Damn, I hope so.”
Creating a drug addiction epidemic isn’t cool or appreciated.
Switzerland tried to focus, but that was hard with the strong smell of fragrance oppressing the office air.
“As a general rule,” China said, “I hate everyone. But I harbor a special animosity for anyone who tries to keep me from making money. Britain was jealous that I had no use their European exports all while Western markets lusted after my silk and tea.” He shook his head. “Those fools and their tea. It was out of desperation that they trafficked opium into my country, then had the nerve to suggest legalizing the drug so they could tax it.” China leaned into the incense burner on his desk, closed his eyes, and inhaled deeply.
Switzerland just stared at him quietly and wondered if inhaling so much incense like that was safe.
“I lost the First Opium War,” China said, inhaling again. “And the second. They took Hong Kong. They took Kowloon.” His next words were calm and slow. “But they did not take my dignity.”
“Well,” Switzerland said, “that’s good.”
Finally China opened his eyes, and when he looked at Switzerland he did so in such a way that the European swore the other could see into his soul.
“Have you ever tried opium, Switzerland? It is as addictive as they say.”
“Oh, look at that,” said Switzerland, standing up. “I suddenly need to leave.”
Love-hate is the best kind of relationship.
When Ireland was asked why she hated Britain, she went off on a passionate rant that consisted of a lot of f-bombs, guttural noises, and shrieking.
Switzerland had no idea what she was saying, but he was able to make out a few words. Such as: “Catholicism,” “potatoes,” “Bloody Sunday,” “Conservatives,” “IRA,” “Margaret Thatcher,” and “dickbrain.”
But at the end of the rant, in a rare moment of utter vocal clarity, Ireland said, “They’re gran’ so. Oi mean, feck dohs bastards. But they’re gran’ so.”
“Can—Can I say something in self-defense?” England pleaded at a bar counter.
“No,” Switzerland said while mashing buttons on his phone as he played an RPG game.
“Alright, then, can I ask? What did the others say?”
“Scotland and the others.”
Switzerland set his phone down and turned to England. “They said you were a ‘giant wanker.'”
“Yeah,” Switzerland said as he hopped off the stool. “But then they said that even though you’re a giant wanker, you’re their giant wanker.”
England watched him walk away. “Wait… Wait! Was that—was that supposed to make feel better? Because it fucking doesn’t!”
This was inspired by fellow history blogger everythingtudorblog. They wanted me to write something about why everyone hates Britain and I just couldn’t say no to such a perfect suggestion. If you’ve got a thing for English history or really like the Tudors, you’ll fall in love with their blog. Go check ’em out.
I just wanna point out that England got the most mentions in this because it was going around colonizing the world and starting problems before Great Britain was even officially a thing.
- I could only use a handful of countries in this story. If you want a complete list of all British colonies throughout time, here ya go.
- Oh, and here’s something that was super helpful in my writing India’s part; it’s Indian responses to the question “Why does India think of Britain?”
- Since we’re on the topic of Scotland and England, I found this video funny: Shit Scottish Guys Say To English Guys.
- I actually used this accent/dialect translator to write Ireland’s part. It’s kind of a cool tool, though I’m not 100% sure of how accurate it really is.