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offtopic:the_united_kingdom

United Kingdom

Her Majesty's glorious United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a prominent state notable for many wonderful things although its premier export is homosexual innuendo. Many AH.commers are residents of the UK. The inhabitants display a certain melancholia, interspersed with bouts of casual violence.

The capital, and largest city, is London, the greatest city ever built by mankind (though some would argue that Londoners do not necessarily fit into the category of “mankind”).


Administrative and territorial organisation

After the waning and gradual dismantling of the British Empire during the 20th century, the modern day United Kingdom can be best described as a country of countries or a polity of polities. And it shows…

a.) Cultural divisions (constituent countries) of the UK:

Islands and archipelagos that are part of the UK, but not the UK's crown dependencies: The Shetlands, Orkney (Islands), the Hebrides (Inner and Outer), Anglesey (Ynys Môn), Scilly islands, Isle of Wight, etc.

b.) Crown dependencies of the UK:

Autonomous members of the UK, located on the Channel Islands and the eponymous Isle of Man. In looser association with the UK than the constituent four countries, but still part of the monarchy.

c.) Overseas territories of the UK:

Formed from former colonies and various overseas territories that have chosen to remain within the United Kingdom, as their citizens either don't seek independence or don't find it a realistic prospect for political or economic reasons.


Country naming terminology

This is designed to be deliberately confusing to foreigners and indeed natives, so as to hamper any attempted invasion. However, a quick primer:

  • The name of the country, the political entity, the state, is “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. This is correctly abbreviated either to “the United Kingdom, the UK”, or “Britain” - though some Irish people may object to the latter. Britain is not the same thing as Great Britain. Something from the United Kingdom is 'British'. Someone from the United Kingdom is a 'Briton'. A lot of British military people refer to the country as “UK” with no article, as in “we shall be returning to UK in September”.
  • Great Britain is the name of the largest island in the country, the one which includes the mainlands of Scotland, Wales and England. In between 1707 and 1801, England (including Wales) and Scotland were merged into one entity called the Kingdom of Great Britain. This was the name of the British state at the time of the American Revolutionary War, perhaps explaining why many Americans confuse Great Britain with Britain (the UK). In 1801 Ireland was added in a second Act of Union, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, which then became the modern United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of Southern Ireland (Eire, the modern Irish Republic).
    • If that's Great Britain, what's Little Britain? Well, depending on what theory you believe, it's either Brittany, Ireland, or a shitty and inexplicably popular “comedy” show on BBC 3.
  • England is the name of one of the four home nations that make up the country, the others being Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England is not the same thing as either Great Britain or Britain/the UK. Although England has a large majority of the population, it only takes up about half the land area of the UK.
    • Note that England no longer exists as a political entity due to it being subsumed into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 and, unlike Scotland or Wales, does not even have its own devolved parliament. For that reason, it is incorrect to describe Her Majesty as the “Queen of England”.
  • The British Isles is the name of the geographical area consisting of Great Britain, Ireland, and all the small islands surrounding them. It is not a political entity. Some Irish people object to the name 'British' but this is largely due to modern political connotations - classically the name derives from the proto-Welsh Brython tribes, anyway.
  • The British Islands, on the other hand, are the same thing but excluding the Republic of Ireland, i.e. all the parts of the (geographically) British Isles that are (politically) British. Confused yet?
  • To confuse matters further, the United Kingdom team competes in the Olympics under the name “Great Britain”, for no obvious reason other than to piss off the Irish (before the 1920s) and to piss off the Northern Irish thereafter.

It is accurate to use this term to refer to the British state after 1801, when the Act of Union joined the formerly independent Kingdom of Ireland with the Kingdom of Great Britain to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. When southern Ireland became independent, eventually as the Irish Republic, the name of the country was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Exactly when this happened is a bit debatable and could be said to be anywhere from 1920 to 1949. The present Queen was the first monarch to be crowned using the modern name in the title, in 1952.

Note therefore that it is anachronous to refer to “the UK” at any point before 1801, and the term “United Kingdom” was only one of several names considered in 1801 in OTL, so putting a UK in place with an early POD is probably quite implausible.


Misconceptions

  • Many American AH.commers have misconceptions about the UK. Most of these seem to stem from a view of the UK as it existed in the late 1870s and involve boiled food and bad teeth. In reality, modern British cuisine now features a vast array of international fusion dishes such as chicken roasted in tandoori dressing with red pepper chutney on a bed of rocket, winter greens and asparagus tips. Or something of the sort. The national dish is chicken tikka masala.
  • Another misconception seems to be related to the power of the British aristocracy. In a desperate attempt to justify the Rebellion of 1776 (a minor front of the War of the Bourbon Alliance), many Americans have attempted to criticise British politics while working on the assumption that the toffs still retain any real form of power.

In AH.com Culture

Northern Ireland is an anomaly, as its capital is not, in fact, within the territory's boundaries but is the North American city of Boston.

Cornwall is often included as a separate constituent country by some overeager people, as - according to research performed on AH.com - it appears to take up about a third of the island's land area. (In any case, Cornwall does have justifiable claims at being a separate traditional cultural division.)

An interesting political fact is that the House of Windsor is not acknowledged by Flocculencio who insists on being recognised as the Indian Viceroy of Anglistan, on behalf of the Padishah. This has led to several unfortunate, yet simultaneously wildly popular, pogroms where Slough was wiped from the face of the Earth. To everyone's dismay, this has only proven to be a temporary measure as Slough has repeatedly regenerated, full-formed, like some malign fungus.


Various UK Stuff

AH.commers

Discussions

See Also

Great Britain - About the island of Great Britain and the eponymous predecessor state of The United Kingdom.

Britain - Generalized page for the UK and its territories (due to technical purposes).

England - About England.

Wales - About Wales.

Scotland - About Scotland.

Northern Ireland - About Northern Ireland.

The British Empire - About the British Empire and its appearances and roles in the alternate history genre.

British Timelines and Scenarios

British Points of Divergence

Useful Resources about The United Kingdom


offtopic/the_united_kingdom.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/29 15:13 (external edit)