The United Kingdom has fought many wars throughout its history. However, it has been nearly a thousand years since any army successfully invaded and conquered the UK. But what about advancements in modern military technology? Would it be possible today for Great Britain to ever be invaded? Basically… no. And let us explain why…
1. The UK Is An Island Nation
A first reason why Britain could never be invaded is because it is an island.
It is very hard for an invading army to conquer an island. First, they must assemble both an army and navy strong enough to not only defeat the other nation’s military, but also be able to protect the waterways needed to resupply their forces. Secondly, any invading force must be able to land effectively on the other country’s coast, often whilst under heavy attack from defending troops. Throughout history, islands have always been hard to invade and modern military advancements have actually done little to reduce this.
Britain is an island nation. Although it may be close to France – only 32 kilometers at the closet point, the waters of the English Channel have long protected the UK from invasion. Very few times in the country’s history has Britain been invaded. In fact, the last, and very small attempt, to land forces on the British Isles was in 1797.
The fact that Britain is an island, and the challenges this poses to an invading army, is a major reason why no one will ever really try to conquer the UK.
2. Britain Has A Strong Army
A second reason why Britain could never be invaded is because of the strength of its armed forces.
The UK has around 80,000 active military personnel. This may not be many compared to some other countries; however, the UK has a highly professional and well trained armed forces. Britain also has access to some of the best military technology in the world, ensuring that it’s armed forces are highly capable on the battle field.
Any force invading the UK would need to defeat the British army. It would also need to fight off the Royal Navy – without doing so would make crossing the English Channel and landing a force in Britain extremely difficult. The Royal Air Force would also need to be defeated, to prevent it attacking ships crossing to invade or to resupply attacking forces. Most countries that have thought of invading the UK – for example Nazi Germany in World War Two, were unable to even defeat the Royal Navy and Air Force, meaning it was simply impossible to land forces on the British Isles.
The strength and power of the UK’s military is a key reason why the country could never be invaded.
3. The UK Has A Network Of Alliances
A third reason why the UK will never be invaded is because it has a strong network of alliances.
Firstly, the UK is a member of NATO. This is a defensive military alliance made up of 30 countries including the United States, Canada, France, Germany and Turkey. NATO provides a mutual security guarantee to all its members meaning an attack one is an attack on all. NATO is by far the most powerful military force in the world. The fact that any nation trying to invade Britain would need to fight every other member of NATO as well means it is certain that the UK will never be invaded.
As well as being a member of NATO, the UK also has a wide network of allies that would likely come to it’s aid if it was attached. Australia and New Zealand have long been staunch UK allies. Japan and South Korea also have good relations with Great Britain. The UK is also a member of the British Commonwealth – a network of 56 countries mostly across Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean. Although not a defensive alliance, the Commonwealth countries have fought alongside Britain in the past, and would likely to come to it’s aid if it was ever invaded.
The strength of the UK’s global network of alliances is a major reason why no other nation would try to conquer it.
4. There No Enemies In Close Proximity To The UK
One key reason why the UK will never be invaded is simply because there are no enemies close enough.
In order to launch an invasion of a country, the conquering force must control the strategic territory close by. As the UK is an island, this would mean not only controlling France, Belgium, the Netherlands Norway and potentially Ireland as well, but also dominating the oceans around Great Britain. Not since World War Two has any enemy of Britain attempted this. In the modern age, it is highly unlikely anyone would be able to control these territories.
The UK doesn’t really have any enemy states that would go to war with it. Although tensions are high with adversaries such as Russia, China and Iran, it is highly unlikely that these nations would go to war with Britain. Even if they did, they are all thousands of miles away. This would mean an invasion of mainland Britain by any country that could even conceivably go to war against it is almost impossible to imagine.
5. UK’s Large Population Would Resist In Invasion
A further reason why Britain would never be invaded would be because of the size of its population.
The UK has a population of 68 million. Although Britain is far from being the most populous country in the world, it still has a huge number of people. If an army tried to conquer the UK, it would need to subdue much of the population. With tens of millions of people in Britain, this would be almost impossible.
Although, as we discussed, Britain has a relatively small armed forces, if the country was invaded, much of the population would be mobilized to resist. The fact that the UK has a large population would mean it could muster significant forces to repel any invasion. This is a major factor in why few countries have tried to invade the UK, and why it is extremely unlikely that Britain will ever be conquered in the future.
6. No Incentive For Countries To Invade Britain
A major reason why the UK will never be invaded is because there is essentially no reason why a nation would undertake the challenge.
Modern conflicts are very different from the past. Rarely do nation states go to war against each other. Most countries fight their disputes through espionage, cyber and information warfare, and through diplomacy. Sanctions are also a tool often used by adversarial nations. However, countries nowadays do not see the advantages of going to war with other countries – especially major global powers. This is one reason why Britain will almost certainly never be invaded.
Countries only go to war if they think they can win. They also weigh up the costs in lives, materials and resources. Any nation that could conceivably go to war with Britain, is not going to have the incentive to invade the British Isles. This is one factor in why the UK will likely never be invaded.
7. Britain Has A History Of Resisting Invasions
A final reason why Britain could not be invaded is because it has a long history of not being conquered.
The last time Britain was successfully conquered was in 1066. In nearly a thousand years, there have been only one invasion of Britain. The UK has a long history of resisting invasions, and this is a key reason why the country will not be invaded in the future.
There are many reasons why Britain has historically been able to resist invasions. These are many of the same factors that we’ve discussed, and that still make Britain almost impossible to conquer. Although politics, economics and military technology may have evolved massively over the last centuries, still the foundational elements that protect the United Kingdom remain in-place. These all mean that Britain remains one of the hardest countries in the world to invade.