Queen Elizabeth Land

21 Dec

The decision by the Foreign Office to rename a 169,000 square mile chunk of the British Antarctic Territory, ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’ is a lovely ‘retro’ step.

Before the Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961, explorers named discoveries after their monarch/country routinely: Victoria Land, Queen Maud Land etc. When Mawson reached the area that contained the South Magnetic Pole in 1909 he took possession of it in the name of the British Empire and, in the Imperial Conference of 1926, he proposed that the Empire should control the Antarctic section between 45 and 160 degrees East (nearest to Australasia).

The Foreign Office decision, that rounds off the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, is bound to cause  diplomatic problems with Argentina. Argentina disputes British claims to the area and has its own claim to land some of which overlaps the newly renamed land.

Undoubtedly more to follow!

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