Why the United Kingdom Has So Many Titles
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Why the United Kingdom Has So Many Titles

Originally called Pretania as far back as the 1st century, and later re - named Britannia by the Romans,with it's people known as Britons, this low lying island nation of 216,777 sq km lying on the north west coast of continental Europe is today officially known as the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Originally called Pretania as far back as the 1st century, and later re - named Britannia by the Romans,with it's people known as Britons, this low lying island nation of 216,777 sq km lying on the north west coast of continental Europe is today officially known as the United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The name Great Britain does not reflect upon any sort of superiority, but on the fact that the main island is a united union between Scotland and England, so in this case great refers to ' all of ' or ' the whole of '.

The title Great Britain is attributed to just the large, main island consisting of England, Scotland and wales


The British Isles however, refers to the island group of over a thousand islands, of which only around 136 are inhabited, which geographically includes Britain, the largest island, The Shetland Islands, The Orkney Islands, the Inner and Outer Hebrides all situated off the Scottish coast and the islands of Anglesey, the-isle-of-man, the Isle of Wight, the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland ( Eire ), as well as many more smaller islands. 


           Great Britain's Royal Coat of Arms.

Politically Ireland ( Eire ) a soverign state in it's own right, the-isle-of-man and the Channel Islands are all seperate entities and not part of Great Britian, but are geographically part of the British Isles.

This fact is most prominant on our national flag, known as the Union Jack.

For centuries this island group were seperate nations in their own right, with their own governments and royal families.

On the 1st of May 1707, Queen Anne, oversaw the mergence between of the nations of Scotland and England with the signing of the Articles of Union. 


Ireland became part of the union 100 years later in 1800, and the new Union flag was formed.  

The word 'Jack' is a nautical term for flag, as the flag was more frequently used in it's early days as a royal flag on British war ships.

Because of this the flag is also known as the ' Kings Colours '.

Today it is more commonly referred to as the Union Flag, as this is exactly what it is, as it shows a combination of the flags of the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland. 


Ireland ( Eire ) gained independence from Great Britain in 1922 after the three year War of Independence, but Northern Ireland exised it's right to opt out of the union, and remained with Britain, heralding the Partition of Ireland, and resulting in the flag of St Patrick, whose saint day is on March 17 ( Ireland's patron saint ) by a red cross or saltire, remaining on the union flag.

wales has always been classified as part of Britain, although it too was an independent nation for centuries, although it is not recognised within the union flag.

However, plans are under way to change this, with a new flag design incorporating the Welsh emblem of the Red Dragon within the old design of the three original crosses.. As yet this is not officially in place.

The Welsh flag is represented by the red-dragon passant of King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd on a background of the green and white colours of the Royal House of tudor.

Wales' patron saint is St David, whose feast day is celebrated on the 1 of March.

                                    (  Read all about how the Red Dragon became the symbol of Wales 

                                            y-ddraig-goch-the-legend-behind-the-symbol-of-the-red-dragon )

Scotland's patron saint is St Andrew whose feast day is November 30 and his flag is represented by way of the blue cross or saltire on a white background..

England's patron saint is saint-george whose feast day is April 23 and his flag is represented by way of a red cross on the white background of the Royal Navy's white Ensign.

Therefore The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland refers to all lands within the political status of Great Britain of whose people are known as British.

Where as the British Isles refers to the island group around and consisting of Great Britain,of which not all are politically annexed, but which are all annexed geographically and geologically. 

The island group takes it's overall title from Britain simply because Britain is the largest and most dominant landmass within the group. 


                                                 The British Empire in 1919.


During the reign of Queen Victoria during the 19th century, until the 1920's Great Britain held sway over one quarter of the world's land mass by way of it's British Empire.

One hundred years on, Great Britain now has only 14 British Overseas Territories and three crown dependencies, resulting in the Union Jack being displayed in some part, on various nation's flags across the world. 


                                            British Overseas Territories.  













                                                                                         © D.B.Bellamy. April 2010 

                                                                              All Images courtesy of wikimedia commons.

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Comments (7)

A very nice article Thanks friend!

Great work. This was an excellent discussion of the complex subject of national identity.

Ranked #5 in Europe

Excellent work; thanks for sharing us this information. I also love the picture you have put by : Great Britain’s royal coat of arms.

Ranked #1 in Europe

Well it's a day to be patriotic today, in England at least, so I thought I'd write a little piece about the homeland.

GREAT article, rule Britannia

Ranked #17 in Europe

A very interesting piece of history. Very well illustrated. Thank you.

Excellent article!