The United Kingdom entered the twentieth century as the most powerful nation on earth, and the centre of the greatest empire in history. But there were shadows at high noon. In South Africa, British troops were engaged in an increasingly bitter and costly war against the Boers, the Afrikaans-speaking ‘white tribe of Africa’. It was a war which was as divisive at home as it was bloody on the battlefield. To make matters worse, it was not obvious that it was being won. The queen herself, symbol of the age to which she had long since given her name, was old, remote and virtually a recluse. When she died in January 1901, the mourning was at least secretly tempered by sighs of relief. Her funeral procession, however, was an unforgettable political statement; it was led by emperors and kings, almost all of them her relations, and guarded by troops from every continent. Yet underneath the splendour, the British economy was beginning to lag. Germany, France and the United States had all industrialised later than Britain, but were rapidly catching up. By many measures they were outperforming the United Kingdom when Edward VII succeeded his mother (Kennedy 1989: 248-354).