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Alternate History

New Elizabethan Era (Caroline Era)

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The New Elizabethan Era is the term used to refer to the period of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, from 1952 - 1983.

At the Queen's coronation, much of the British public were optimistic that her coming to the throne would usher in a new age of triumph for the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Edmund Hilary had just climbed Mt Everest, many television sets were bought specifically to watch the Coronation, there was virtually full employment and the National Health Service had just been founded. However, many others saw this as political rhetoric and the notion rapidly fell out of fashion.

With hindsight, however, parallels have been made between the two eras, and the adoption of the term "Caroline Era" has brought it back into vogue.

Nomenclature

Except at the beginning, the people living through the New Elizabethan Era tended to refer to their times and the recent past in terms of decades. This practice was standard from the 1920s onwards and has only fallen into disuse since the King's coronation. It should not be thought that the use of the terms implies support for the monarchy. An important difference between the two customs is that of length of time. Whereas the Edwardian Era refers practically to the first decade of the twentieth century, the use of the word "era" has a connotation of a longer period while at the same time suggesting discontinuity with the past. The use of these terms is, of course, confined to the Commonwealth, and in the US, the previously common nomenclature of decades is still used. To the British ear, this sounds both quaint and "short-term". In Canada and Australia, both terminologies are common.

It may be that this shift in language has led to a general perception of a longer time scale than the decade-based description of historical periods.

Major Events

The New Elizabethan Era begins with the death of the King George VI and ends with the Queen's abdication. Since her reign is "bookended" by the reign of two kings, some people see the era as being characterised by the rise of feminism. For example, the first female prime minister, unsuccessful though her premiership was, came to office during this time. Another feature of the period is the domination of culture by the baby boomers and the growth of youth culture.

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