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British Life and Culture

by Mandy Barrow

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British life and culture - England, Scotland and Wales
Where does the name United Kingdom come from?

Our country's full name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although most people just refer to it as United Kingdom or the UK.

On this page we will share with you the origins of the full name .

Before 17th Century

Up until the seventeenth century there had been four 'countries' in the British Isles:

English flag
Scottish flag
Welsh flag
Irish flag

Each one had its own separate sense of identity, its own history, even its own language. There was no such word as British. People were simply either English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish.

End of 18th Century

By the end of the eighteenth century, all this changed. The word British was used for the first time, Rule Britannia song was composed and the Union Flag created.

Union Flag

The Making of Great Britain

England and Wales

In 1543, during the Tudor times, England and Wales were united as one country. Scotland and Ireland remained separate kingdoms, with their own parliaments and laws until the much later.

England and Scotland

In 1603 England and Scotland shared the same king. King James VI of Scotland became also James I of England.

James I was very keen to be King of Great Britain, and from 1606 Scots were officially called English citizens. However, it wasn't until 1652, that the two countries were united together through force by Oliver Cromwell. The Scots had never accepted this action.

Kingdom of Great Britain

In 1707 the Act of Union meant that Scotland lost her Parliament and her independence and became part of a new country to be called 'Kingdom of Great Britain'.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

In 1801 a second Act of Union was passed, creating yet another new country, the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland'.

Interesting Fact
English/British monarchs had been also monarchs of Ireland since Henry Vlll claimed regal sovereignty in 1542.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921 removed mainland Ireland from the UK. Six northern Irish counties (Northern Ireland) remained part of the UK.

The current name of the country, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, was adopted in 1927

See also the story behind the UK Flag

Facts about the UK

All about the UK

Interactive Map of the UK

Great Britain
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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the Mandy Barrow.

© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2014

Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites and are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consultant.
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

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