War of the Worlds: Earth is set at the dawn of the 20th Century. You have the legacy of Victoriana, the sunset of the British Empire and the rise of other nations including the independence of former colonies. Even back then, state education was available to all, the British Empire (even as late as 1921) held sway over nearly half a billion people and covered about a quarter of the Earth’s total land area. Britain became a global policeman (the origin of Pax Britannica) and due to it’s prominence in world affairs became increasingly influential even in economies where they held no sway. Remnants of their influence are felt worldwide in legal systems, economics, the military, educational reforms, sports and most obviously in language.
We have to remember, however, that War of the Worlds: Earth paints a post-apocalyptic picture of Britain. The Government had, for the most part, fallen during the invasion which lasted merely three weeks. Refugees streaming out of the flaming cities would be a melange of social classes with Lord and Lady mixing up with paupers and cadgers. The rigid barriers of society were shattered and with everyone seen in the same light, broken spirited and soiled from their rout from home, it was not possible to tell apart Prince from pauper.
Afterwards, rebuilding society would have been incredibly difficult with thousands dead or missing and even those who returned to their homes would not always be the same. What right of ascendancy did the nobility possess when all were equalised by the invaders? More than anything, the new society of the 20th Century must embrace the potential for revolution, for regime change.