‘Oh, you’re from Scotland! Do you live near Big Ben?’

It appears that most of Europe is yet to clock on to what ‘Great Britain’ means or what the ‘UK’ is. If you speak English, people in Europe presume you come from England. If you tell people you’re from Scotland, they ask you what London is like in the springtime…

I blame you, continental geography teachers.

Enough is enough. Read on for a (much needed), very, very simplified explanation of the UK.

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The United Kingdom refers to the union of four DIFFERENT COUNTRIES: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Scotland and England were separate kingdoms with separate heirs to their thrones until 1603.

The next in line of succession to the English throne was James VI, King of Scots, who became known as James I in England. You are welcome England.

Wales and England had an Act of Union in 1536 and in  1707 an Act of Union passed by the Scottish parliament and the Westminster government in England united these countries so that the United Kingdom of Great Britain was formed.

Ireland joined the union in 1801 and and the then United Kingdom of Great Britain became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

In 1922, the southern counties of Ireland, Eire, became an independent self – governing Dominion . The UK then became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (In 1948 Eire became the Republic of Ireland.)

See, simple!

Life lessons you should have learnt: Even people in the UK (myself included) get confused about the details, but the most important thing is not to confuse a Scotsman with an Englishman- in Glasgow you’ll receive a Glasgow kiss and that’s not as pleasant as it sounds.

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