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1926 Imperial Conference

King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers. Standing (left to right): Monroe (Newfoundland), Coates (New Zealand), Bruce (Australia), Hertzog (Union of South Africa), Cosgrave (Irish Free State). Seated: Baldwin (United Kingdom), King George V, King (Canada).
King George V (front, centre) with his prime ministers. Standing (left to right): Monroe (Newfoundland), Coates (New Zealand), Bruce (Australia), Hertzog (Union of South Africa), Cosgrave (Irish Free State). Seated: Baldwin (United Kingdom), King George V, King (Canada).
The 1926 Imperial Conference was the sixth Imperial Conference held amongst the Prime Ministers of the dominions of the British Empire. It was held in London from 19 October to 22 November 1926.[1] It was notable as the conference that produced the Balfour Declaration, which established the principle that the dominions are all equal in status, and not subordinate to the United Kingdom.[1]

The conference was hosted by King-Emperor George V, with his British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. The other Prime Ministers present were:

  • Stanley Bruce
  • W. L. M. King
  • W. T. Cosgrave (whose title was President of the Executive Council)
  • Walter Monroe
  • Gordon Coates
  • J. B. M. Hertzog[1]

The conference was arranged to follow directly after the 1926 Assembly of the League of Nations (in Geneva, Switzerland), to reduce the amount of travelling required for the dominions' representatives.

The conference created the Inter-Imperial Relations Committee, chaired by Arthur Balfour, to look into future constitutional arrangements for the Commonwealth. In the end, the committee rejected the idea of a codified constitution, as espoused by South Africa's former Prime Minister Jan Smuts, but also fell short of endorsing the 'end of empire' espoused by Smuts's arch-rival, Barry Hertzog.[1] The recommendations were adopted unanimously by the conference on 15 November, followed by an equally warm reception in the newspapers.[1]

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