British Culture & Expressions

UK, Great Britain, and the Union Jack

The UK is a constitutional monarchy where the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with an unwritten constitution. Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms since 2 June 1953. She was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon).

The United Kingdom of Great Britain ( England, Scotland and Wales) and Northern Ireland

In the UK, constitutional monarchy, the Queen is the ceremonial head of state whilst the Prime Minister is the head of Government. As a Parliamentary democracy, UK’s government is formed by the party (or a coalition of parties) with the greatest representation in the parliament (legislature). The parliament is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom. The parliament is bicameral, consisting of an upper house (the House of Lords) and a lower house (the House of Commons). The House of Commons is an elected chamber with 650 single member constituencies held every five years under the first-past-the-post system.

UK’s national or royal anthem is “God Save the Queen

Union Jack Evolution

The term ‘Union Jack’ possibly dates from Queen Anne’s time (r. 1702-14), but its origin is uncertain. It may come from the ‘jack-et’ of the English or Scottish soldiers, or from the name of James I who originated the first union in 1603. Another alternative is that the name may be derived from a proclamation by Charles II that the Union Flag should be flown only by ships of the Royal Navy as a jack, a small flag at the bowsprit; the term ‘jack’ once meant small.

It combines the crosses of the three countries united under one Sovereign – the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (although since 1921 only Northern Ireland has been part of the United Kingdom). Cross of Saint Andrew counter changed with the Cross of Saint Patrick, over all the Cross of Saint George.

Union Jack

 

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