A sporting competition bringing together the members of the British Empire was first proposed by the Reverend Astley Cooper in 1891 when he wrote an article in The Times suggesting a "Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years as a means of increasing the goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire".
In 1911, the Festival of the Empire was held in London to celebrate the coronation of King George V. As part of the festival an Inter-Empire Championships was held in which teams from Australia, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom competed in events such as boxing, wrestling, swimming and athletics.
In 1928, Melville Marks Robinson of Canada was asked to organise the first ever British Empire Games. These were held in Hamilton, Canada two years later.
The first Games were held in 1930 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The name changed to British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, to British Commonwealth Games in 1970 and assumed the current name of the Commonwealth Games in 1978.
At the 1930 games, women competed in the swimming events only. From 1934, women also competed in some athletics events.
The Empire Games flag was donated in 1931 by the British Empire Games Association of Canada. The year and location of subsequent games were added until the 1950 games. The name of the event was changed to the British Empire and Commonwealth Games and the flag was retired as a result.