The British Army played a decisive role in the creation of the nation state of Great Britain, as we recognise it today. Our Army is not called the Royal Army (unlike the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force) because, after a historic struggle between Parliament and monarchy, the British Army has always been answerable to Parliament and the British people. If you live in Britain today, the actions of the British Army have affected the culture, traditions, government and laws of the society you live in, and, on a global scale, are continuing to do so today.
Well before the last battle was fought by our Army on British soil, British trade interests developed globally, first in India and the American colonies, and then, after the loss of America, across the rest of the world. Her global interests brought Britain into direct conflict with France, whose ideological revolution and the imperial ambitions of Napoleon threatened the peace and independence of much of Europe. Concerned to maintain a 'balance of power' among the nations of Europe so that her trade interests could continue uninterrupted, the British Army was instrumental in overcoming tyranny and establishing peace in the continent.
Later in the 19th century British trade interest inched into imperial design. With the Army, British culture, traditions, language and values were exported across the globe, and global influences were brought back to Britain.
As the world descended into two catastrophic world wars Britain and many of the countries associated politically, militarily or culturally with her fought for their shared values. Their victory in world war assured the independence of our own and many other nations. Wherever you are from, the actions of the British Army - and the many nations who have fought within it - have helped to shape the world we live in today.
Today, the British Army is operational in over 80 countries across the globe, and its actions continue to impact the world now and into the future.
The National Army Museum presents historical fact. We know that many different people will interpret the information that we provide, both on our website and in the galleries, in different ways. We recognise that while many people in Britain and beyond will support some of the actions of the British Army in the past, today, and in the future, others will disagree with or condemn these actions. Our concern is to provide the facts that may help our users to form their own opinions, either through a visit to this website or to the Museum itself.
Our permanent galleries tell the ordinary and extraordinary stories of the men and women who have served in Britain’s armies across the globe, and how they have helped shape the world today.
Admission is free.
National Army MuseumRoyal Hospital Road, Chelsea
London Greater London United Kingdom SW3 4HT