Channel Islands

From ArticleWorld

The Channel Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Normandy, France, in the English Channel. They comprise two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

The Islands were annexed to the Duchy of Normandy in 933 A.D. In 1066, the Duke William the Conqueror invaded and conquered England, becoming the English monarch. Since 1204, the loss of the rest of the monarch's lands in mainland Normandy has meant that the Channel Islands have been governed as separate possessions of the Crown.

The Bailiwicks have been administered separately from each other since the late 13th century, and although those unacquainted with the Islands often assume they form one political unit, common institutions are the exception rather than the rule. The two Bailiwicks have no common laws, no common elections, and no common representative body. There is no common newspaper or radio station, but a common television station, called Channel Television.

The Islands acquired commercial and political interests in the North American colonies. Islanders became involved with the Newfoundland fisheries in the 17th century. In recognition for all the help given to him during his exile in Jersey in the 1640s, Charles II gave George Carteret, the then Bailiff and governor, a large grant of land in the American colonies, which he promptly named New Jersey, now part of the United States of America. Edmund Andros of Guernsey was an early colonial governor in North America, and head of the short-lived Dominion of New England.

During the Second World War, the Islands were the only British soil occupied by Germany (excepting that part of Egypt occupied by the Afrika Korps at the time of the Second Battle of El Alamein). The Nazi occupation 1940-1945 was harsh, with some island residents being taken for slave labor on the Continent; native Jews sent to concentration camps; partisan resistance and retribution; accusations of collaboration; and slave labor (primarily Russians and eastern Europeans) being brought to the islands to build fortifications. The Royal Navy blockaded the islands from time to time, particularly following the liberation of mainland Normandy in 1944. Intense negotiations resulted in some Red Cross humanitarian aid, but there was considerable hunger and privation during the five years of German occupation.

The Channel Islands fall into two separate self-governing bailiwicks. Both the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey are British crown dependencies, but neither is part of the United Kingdom. They have been part of the Duchy of Normandy since the 10th century and Queen Elizabeth II is often referred to by her traditional and conventional title of Duke of Normandy. However, pursuant to the Treaty of Paris (1259) she is not the Duke in a constitutional capacity and instead governs in her right as Queen. This notwithstanding, it is a matter of local pride by monarchists to treat the situation otherwise; the Loyal Toast at formal dinners is to "The Queen, our Duke" rather than to "Her Majesty, the Queen" as in the UK.