Team GB, UK, Britain etc

I am often asked

I am sometimes asked

This morning, Jamie asked me about the distinction between Britain, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, etc

It is not that straightforward, and must be really confusing to foreigners.  But roughly, here it is:

England.  We know what that is.  
England as seen by some Londoners, i.e. England south of Watford Gap. Includes the Channel Islands, on the basis that they are largely populated by people from Essex. Also probably the Isle of Man, on the basis that the annual motor cycle race there , the Isle of Man TT is weally awl wight, innit?  
England as seen by Yorkshiremen, i.e. areas in and about Yorkshire.  
England as seen by early English Kings.  Included variable but always large areas of France.  Until the continental territory (except Calais) was lost by that screaming imbecile King John in the 13th century. Not a good man.  No English king has used the name “John” since then.  
England, prior to 1558.  Included Calais.  
England and Wales.  The area in which the law of England and Wales (usually called the law of England) applies.  
Mainland Britain. Just the main island.  
Great Britain is the whole of the main island, i.e. England, Scotland and Wales, together with the other little islands, including the Isle of Wight (off the south coast of England) and Anglesey (off the coast of Wales) and of course umpteen islands off the coast of Scotland. But not any part of Ireland. Oh no.  
United Kingdom. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. But does not include the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Not to be confused with the united kingdom, which does.  
British Islands.  A rarely used expression to mean the United Kingdom plus the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Roughly also, the area from which the Olympic Team GB is drawn.  
British Isles. England, Wales, Scotland, all of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man  
British Empire (old meaning). Big.  
British Empire (now). Small.  
British Commonwealth. Now properly known as the Commonwealth of Nations. Still surprisingly big.  
Britain is one of those words that means more or less according to personal taste. For many English bods, it means those parts of the British Isles where one could be reasonably confidently that the locals would not burn down your holiday cottage or piss into your beer. I.e England, the Scottish Islands, The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.  

I hope this helps. I notice that the Irish (North) have been complaining about the name Team GB, and the BBC has now changed the way they describe “Team GB” to Great Britain & N. Ireland. 


1 Comment

Filed under Culture, History, Politics, Sport

One response to “Team GB, UK, Britain etc

  1. It’s really a nice and helpful piece of info. I am satisfied that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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