A kind of larger Belgium

In 1956, writes Dalrymple, it became unmistakably clear as never before that Britain,

after two centuries of world influence, was reduced to the status of a third-rate power, which could disappear from the face of the earth without anyone beyond its shores noticing that anything very much had happened.

Such abrupt losses of status

are apt to result in a reduction of cultural self-confidence, both individually and collectively, as well as in a change of sensibility amounting to a gestalt switch.

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