Following up on Wednesday’s post (Part I of this two-part series), today I’ll delve into how Great Britain came about for those of you moving to London and seeking to understand the UK better. First of all, as I clarified last time, Great Britain does NOT equal UK. As a refresher, the full name for UK is United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We talked about Northern Ireland’s formation and inclusion in the UK Wednesday, so today I’m giving a nod to its other components as well: Scotland, England, and Wales (collectively, “Great Britain”).

Prior to the 17th century, Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland were each regarded as separate nations with their own separate flags. As recently mentioned in my “Weekend Warrior Sunday: London Leaders” post, Wales united with England during the reign of Henry VIII in 1543. In the meantime, Scotland and Ireland continued on with their own governments as their own kingdoms.

In 1603, succession to the English throne worked out such that King James VI of Scotland was also King James I of England. He was the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was the cousin of Elizabeth I, Queen of England. Having no children of her own, Queen Elizabeth I named James her heir, and so it was that Scotland and England were ruled by the same monarch; the Scots were even regarded as English citizens as of 1606. However, it wasn’t until King James’s son Charles assumed the throne, was overthrown by the New Model Army, tried, and executed that Oliver Cromwell presided as England’s leader (as Lord Protector, not “King”) and officially united Scotland with England in 1652.

With Great Britain thus established, it was in 1801 that Ireland united with it to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. And I guess I approached this backwards, but if you want to know how this title changed to say “Northern Ireland” instead of “Ireland,” please refer to Part I of this post.

At any rate, combining England’s St. George’s Cross, Scotland’s St. Andrew’s Cross, and Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Cross gives you the Union Jack flag of the UK. Wales is not represented on it because it was a principality, not a kingdom.

So there you have it, fellow expats moving to London. If you were as confused about the difference between UK – Great Britain – Britain – British Isles – who’s considered “British” – etc. as I was, I hope this spells it out. Now it’s time for you to sort out the other details relating to your international relocation to London, including finding your lovely London apartment with the help of our lovely London Relocation services. 🙂