Empires are not permanent entities; in fact, there is good historical evidence that empires tend to be shorter-lived than independent states. Concretely, in the case of the British Empire, what happened is that the UK's global military-political power did not survive the Second World War. The war with Germany resulted in the dismantling of both German and British empires de facto, with the Soviet Union and U.S. inheriting the empires previously divided between the European great powers. In the postwar period, the military power of the UK was so debilitated that it was unable to prevent the independence movement sweeping the globe, starting of course in India and Pakistan, and subsequently all over the globe, over two decades freeing hundreds of millions of people living in colonial imperialist conditions (subsequently in many of those former British colonies, people have been freed to endure neocolonial pressures from the US and continuing poverty and marginalization in the world system). One of the historical lessons empires must learn is that a cataclysmic military defeat for the metropole state usually leads to the breaking away of the colonies or provinces. This was a problem for the Alexandrian-Ptolemaic empire, for the Western Roman Empire, for the Spanish Empire, the Napoleonic Empire, for the Ottoman Empire...and, yes, the British Empire.