"Please stand by for an important message from the prime minister, the honourable Mr Ian Douglas Smith"
Bakelite Radio
GNU Free Documentation LicenseBakelite Radio - Credit: Robneild

On 11 November 1965, the Rhodesian Government, led by Prime Minister Ian Smith, illegally severed links with the British Crown. Britain had insisted that independence would be granted only on condition of universal suffrage and shared power for the majority black population.

Ian Smith
Public DomainIan Smith
 We may be a small country, but we are a determined people who have been called upon to play a rôle of world-wide significance. We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinaire philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. And, even if we were to surrender, does anyone believe that Rhodesia would be the last target of the Communists in the Afro-Asian block?

We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilization, and Christianity; and in the spirit of this belief we have this day assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all.

          - Ian Smith, Universal Declaration of Independence speech


Harold Wilson
Public DomainHarold Wilson - Credit: US Department of Defense
 I still find it incredible - and the House, when it reads the records, will find it incredible - that this action should have taken place this morning (Remembrance Day)… the British Government condemn the purported declaration of Independence by the former Government of Rhodesia as an illegal act and one which is ineffective in law. It is an act of rebellion against the Crown and against the Constitution as by law established, and actions taken to give effect to it will be treasonable. The Governor, in pursuance of the authority vested in him by Her Majesty The Queen, has today informed the Prime Minister and other Ministers of the Rhodesian Government that they cease to hold office. They are now private persons and can exercise no legal authority in Rhodesia.

          - Response from Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Rhodesian Independence Video