Cool Britannia is a term used in some media to describe the contemporary culture of the United Kingdom, coined in the mid-1990s and closely associated with the "New Labour" government of Tony Blair. It is a pun on the title of the patriotic song "Rule Britannia".
The phrase "Cool Britannia" was first used in 1967 as a song title by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, but there is no connection between that usage and the modern coining of the term. This seems to have arisen from the description of London in Newsweek in late 1996 as "coolest capital city on the planet." The phrase was coined shortly after and widely used in the media and in advertising. The election of Blair's government in 1997 on a platform of modernisation and with Blair as a relatively young Prime Minister gave the idea fresh currency. (There is a strong parallel between this and the catch-phrase "Swinging London" during the early years of Harold Wilson's Labour government.)
To the extent that it had any real meaning, "Cool Britannia" referred to the transient fashionable London scene, 1990s bands such as Blur, Oasis, and later The Spice Girls, fashion designers and magazines. By 1998 The Economist was commenting that "many people are already sick of the phrase," and by 2000 it was being used mainly in a mocking or ironic way.
Similar terms for Wales and Scotland, "Cool Cymru" and "Cool Caledonia" respectively, were coined but had next to no currency whatsoever and to this day most people have never heard of them.
"Cool Britannia" was also a registered trade mark for one of Ben & Jerry's ice-creams (vanilla with strawberries and chocolate-covered shortbread), designed for the British market.
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