Lesson 1: The UK formation.
Why British not English?
foreigners say 'England' and 'English' when they mean 'Britain', or the 'UK',
and 'British'. This is very annoying for the 5 million people who live in
Scotland, the 2.8 million in Wales and 1.6 million in Northern Ireland who are
certainly not English. (46 million people live in England.) However, the people
from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England are all British. So what is
the difference between the names 'Great Britain' and 'the United Kingdom' - and
what about 'the British Isles'?
The United Kingdom
an abbreviation of 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.
It is often further abbreviated to 'UK', and is the political name of the
country which is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
(sometimes known as Ulster). Several islands off the British coast are also
part of the United Kingdom (for example, the Isle of Wight, the Orkneys,
Hebrides and Shetlands, and the Isles of Scilly), although the Channel Islands
and the Isle of Man are not. However, all these islands do recognize the Queen.
the name of the island which is made up of England, Scotland and Wales and so,
strictly speaking, it does not include Northern Ireland. The origin of the word
'Great' is a reference to size, because in many European languages the words
for Britain and Brittany in France are the same. In fact, it was the French who
first talked about Grande Bretagne! In everyday speech 'Britain' is used to
mean the United Kingdom.
The British Isles
the geographical name that refers to all the islands off the north west coast
of the European continent: Great Britain, the whole of Ireland (Northern and
Southern), the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. But it is important to
remember that Southern Ireland - that is the Republic of Ireland (also called
'Eire') - is completely independent. So you can see that 'The United Kingdom'
is the correct name to use if you are referring to the country in a political,
rather than in a geographical way. 'British' refers to people from the UK,
Great Britain or the British Isles in general.
How was the United Kingdom formed?
took centuries, and a lot of armed struggle was involved. In the 15th century,
a Welsh prince, Henry Tudor, became King Henry VII of England. Then his son,
King Henry VIII, united England and Wales under one Parliament in 1536. In
Scotland a similar thing happened. The King of Scotland inherited the crown of
England and Wales in 1603, 50 he became King James I of England and Wales and
King James VI of Scotland. The Parliaments of England, Wales and Scotland were
united a century later in 1707. The Scottish and Welsh are proud and
independent people. In recent years there have been attempts at devolution in
the two countries, particularly in Scotland where the Scottish Nationalist
Party was very strong for a while. However, in a referendum in 1979 the Welsh
rejected devolution and in 1979 the Scots did the same. So it seems that most
Welsh and Scottish people are happy to form part of the UK even though they
sometimes complain that they are dominated by England, and particularly by
whole of Ireland was unit
ed with Great Britain from 1801 up until
1922. In that year the independent Republic of Ireland was formed in the South,
while Northern Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and
Northern Ireland. The flag of the United Kingdom, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross
is the cross of St George, the patron saint of England. The white
diagonal cross (with the arms going into the corners) is the cross of St Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross
is the cross of St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. St David is
the patron saint of Wales. The national anthem of the United Kingdom is 'God Save the Queen'.