Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 485

I know jack about the UK

My American buddy asked me about how the UK was made up (notably because of the hot topic of Scotland), and what was Britain and what was Great Britain and I began to explain. ‘Hold up,’ said he (cos he is American, and not British – if he were British he would have said ‘hang on’ πŸ˜‰ ). ‘We were taught in school that Britain is England and Wales.’

‘Oh,’ said I. ‘I did not know that.’

So I checked, and goddammit, he’s right! What was I taught in school?!

Here’s the info that I did not know (hangs British/England/UK/Great British head in shame).

Great Britain is the official name given to the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, and the principality of Wales.

Is Great Britain the same as the UK?
No, Great Britain and the United Kingdom refer to different areas.

Great Britain is very often, but incorrectly, used as a synonym for the sovereign state properly known as the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ (UK).

The UK includes Great Britain AND Northern Ireland.



Great Britain is a political term which describes the combination of England, Scotland, and Wales, the three nations which together include all the land on the island. It is also a geographical term referring to the island on which the greater parts of England, Wales and Scotland are situated.

Is Great Britain the same as Britain?
Great Britain and Britain do not mean the same thing.

Great Britain is made up of Scotland, England and Wales, where as Britain is just England and Wales. The name Britain goes back to Roman times when they called England and Wales “Britannia” (or “Britannia Major”, to distinguished from “Britannia Minor”, ie Brittany in France). The Roman province of Britannia only covered the areas of modern England and Wales. The area of modern Scotland was never finally conquered.

However, it is important to note here that Britain has not existed in the true sense since the Roman times. Wales became a separate country in its own right, and then became a principality of England, which it still is today. The Union in 1707 joined Scotland and England and Wales to create Great Britain.

Britain was the name made popular by the Romans when they came to the British islands.

Great Britain
The term Great Britain was first used during the reign of King James I of England (James VI of Scotland) in 1603, to refer to the separate kingdoms of England and Scotland on the same landmass, that were ruled over by the same monarch. Despite having the same monarch, both kingdoms kept their own parliaments.

King James 1

King James 1

England used to be known as ‘Engla land’, meaning the land of the Angles, people from continental Germany, who began to invade Britain in the late 5th century, along with the Saxons and Jute.

United Kingdom (The uniting of kingdoms)
The ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain’ was formed in 1707 by the Act of Union that created a single kingdom with a single Parliament. (Scotland has always retained its own legal system) copyright of pro

A hundred years later the Act of Union of 1801 joined Ireland to ‘Great Britain’ and the name “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” was first used. (Since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom and so the name changed).

History lesson complete πŸ™‚

But, many questions remain if Scotland take independence. Such deep and meaningful questions as:

What about the Great British Bake Off?
Will Andy Murray play for Scotland and leave us with a hope in the tennis?
What will they call Britain’s Got Talent?

So much to consider! πŸ˜‰


America, I must share with you this ingenious thing called ‘chevrons’ which we have on the roads in the UK, Great Britain or whatever the hell it’s called.



They are designed to make you keep your distance between you and the car in front of you. Fancy that!

Just imagine, America, if you had these and abided to them! Then you wouldn’t be driving RIGHT UP MY ARSE all the time.


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4 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 485

  1. Mindy Helms says:

    Thanks for the history lesson. We Americans do find it confusing and do get it wrong all the time. As for Chevrons, BRILLIANT idea! πŸ™‚

  2. Andy says:

    Bloody hell, they don’t take any notice of stop signs, red lights, speed limits or ‘slow, school’ signs here, so what chance would we have of chevrons on the road working? (Can you tell I had a bad commute to work this morning?)

  3. EmmaK says:

    To make matters more confusing Welsh and Scottish and N.Irish people don’t really refer to themselves as British, only English people sometimes refer to themselves as British.

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