Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom

THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND Area: total: 244,820 sq km Population: 63,181,775 (2011 Census) Division: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland Capital: London Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II Government: Constitutional monarchy Language(s): English, Welsh, Scots Gaelic Currency: 1 pound sterling (GBP) £ = 100 pence Natural resources: oil, natural gas, coal, iron ore, limestone, arable land, salt. EU Status Member: 1973   Fig. 1. The four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).   Chapter One Names and symbols.  

The names of the country

Some historical and poetic names Albionis a word used by poets and songwriters to refer, in different contexts, to England or to Scotland or to Great Britain as a whole. It comes from a Celtic word and was an early Greek and Roman name for Great Britain. The Romans associated Great Britain with the Latin word ‘albus’, meaning white. The white chalk cliffs around Dover on the English south coast are the first land formations one sights when crossing the sea from the European mainland. Britanniais the name that the Romans gave to their southern British province (which covered, approximately, the area of present-day England and Wales). It is also the name given to the female embodiment of Britain, always shown wearing a helmet and holding a trident (the symbol of the power over the sea). The figure of Britannia has been on the reverse side of many British coins for more than 300 years.

Lying off the north-west coast of Europe, there are two large islands and hundreds of much smaller ones. The largest island is called Great Britain. The other large one is called Ireland. In this geographical area there are two states. One of these governs most of the island of Ireland. This state is usually called The Republic of Ireland. It is also called “Eire” (its Irish language name). Informally, it is referred to as just ‘Ireland’ or ‘the Republic’. The other state has authority over the rest of the area (the whole of Great Britain, the north-eastern area of Ireland and most of the smaller islands). Its official name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but this is too long for practical purposes, so it is usually known by a shorter name. At the Eurovision Song Contest, at the United Nations and in the European parliament, for instance, it is referred to as ‘the United Kingdom’. In everyday speech, this is often shortened to the UK’ and in internet and email addresses it is ‘.uk’. In other contexts, it is referred to as ‘Great Britain’. This, for example, is the name you hear when a medal winner steps onto the rostrum at the Olympic Games. The abbreviation ‘GBP’ (Great Britain Pounds) in international bank drafts is another example of the use of this name. In writing and speaking that is not especially formal or informal, the name ‘Britain’ is used. The norm al everyday adjective, when talking about something to do with the UK, is ‘British’.

Why is Britain Great? The origin of the adjective ‘great’ in the name Great Britain was not a piece of advertising (although modern politicians sometimes try to use it that way!). It was first used to distinguish it from the smaller area in France which is called ‘Brittany’ in modern English.

People often refer to Britain by another name. They call it ‘England’. But this is not correct, and its use can make some people angry. England is only one of ‘the four nations’ in this part of the world. The others are Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. Their political
unification was a gradual process that took several hundred years. It was completed in 1800 when the Irish parliament was joined with the parliament for England, Scotland, and Wales
in Westminster, so that the whole area became a single state – the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. However, in 1922, most of Ireland became a separate state. At one time, culture and lifestyle varied enormously across the four nations. The dominant culture of people in Ireland, Wales and Highland Scotland was Celtic; that of people in England and Lowland Scotland was Germanic. This difference was reflected in the languages they spoke. People in the Celtic areas spoke Celtic languages; people in the Germanic areas spoke Germanic dialects (including the one which has developed into modern English). The nations also tended to have different economic, social, and legal systems, and they were independent of each other.

National Flags

The flag of England. The St George's Cross is a red cross on a white background. It is the national flag of England. It is believed to have been adopted for the uniform of English soldiers during the Crusades of the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. From about 1277 it officially became the national flag of England. The flag of England (as opposed to the United Kingdom) remains St George's Cross, and continues to be used when showing allegiance to England alone. Nowadays this is primarily done at events such as international football and rugby union competitions. Saint George is the patron saint of England and various other countries and regions. The flag of St George is also the rank flag of an Admiral in the Royal Navy, and civilian craft are forbidden to fly it.

The flag of Scotland features a white saltire, X-shaped cross representing the cross of the Christian martyr Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, on a blue field. It is named the Saltire or the Saint Andrew's Cross. The flag of Scotland is one of the oldest flags in the world, traditionally dating back to the 9th century, and is the oldest national flag still in modern use.

The flag of Northern Ireland.Northern Ireland has not had its own unique government sanctioned flag since 1972, when its government was prorogued. The Saint Patrick's Saltire is sometimes used by the government to represent Northern Ireland alongside the other countries of the United Kingdom.

The flag of Wales. The national flag of Wales is The Red Dragon. It consists of a red dragon, passant, on a green and white field. The flag was granted official status in 1959, but the red dragon itself has been associated with Wales for centuries. The green and white stripes of the flag were additions by the House of Tudor, the Welsh dynasty that held the English throne from 1485 to 1603.

The Union Flag.The flag of the UK, known as the Union Jack, is made up of three crosses. The upright red cross on a white ground is the cross of St. George, the patron saint of England. The white diagonal cross on a blue ground is the cross of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross on a white ground is the cross of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Wales is not represented in the Union Flag because when the first version of the flag appeared Wales was already united with England.

Name of the flag.The first use of the name 'Union' appears in 1625. There are various theories as to how it became known as the 'Union Jack', but most of the evidence points to the name being derived from the use of the word 'jack' as a diminutive. This word was in use before 1600 to describe a small flag flown from the small mast mounted on the bowsprit, and by 1627 it appears that a small version of the Union flag was commonly flown in this position. For some years it was called just 'the Jack', or 'Jack flag', or 'the King's Jack', but by 1674, while formally referred to as 'His Majesty's Jack', it was commonly called the Union Jack, and this was officially acknowledged.

St. George’s cross                St Andrew’s cross                      St Patrick’s cross




                                                The Union Jack

Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom

The Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion.



     Royal Shield

   (Coat of Arms )


Since 1837 the royal coat-of- arms has depicted a shield with the three English lions, the Scottish lions and the Irish harp, surrounded by the Ribbon of the Order of the Garter with its motto: "Evil be to him who evil thinks". The shield is supported by an English lion and the Scottish unicorn (The lion is a symbol of the Monarchy and at the same time it is a symbol of strength and power. The unicorn is a mythical creature, it symbolizes history and rich cultural heritage); standing on a field with the emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland, below this is the royal motto "God and my right".

The British National Anthem

The National Anthem is God Save the Queen. The British National Anthem originated in a patriotic song first performed in 1745. It became known as the National Anthem from the beginning of the nineteenth century. On official occasions, only the first verse is usually sung, as follows:

God save our gracious Queen!

Long live our noble Queen!

God save the Queen!

Send her victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

God save the Queen.

The National Symbols

The red rose is the national emblem of England. It is connected with the history of the country. The Wars of the Roses were the wars between the representatives of two contending Houses struggling for the English throne - the Lancastrians and Yorkists. The red rose was the emblem of the Lancastrians, the white rose was that of the Yorkists. The rivalry between the Roses ended by the marriage of Henry VII, the Lancastrian, with Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV, the Yorkist. Since those times the red rose has become the national emblem of England.

The thistle is the national emblem of Scotland. There is a curious legend that in ancient times the Norsemen once landed somewhere on the east coast of Scotland with the intention of settling in the country. The Scots assembled to protect their land and took their station behind the river Tay. As they arrived late in the day, weary and tired after a long march, they pitched the camp and rested, not expecting the enemy before the next day. The Norsemen, however, were near. They crossed the river and wanted to take the Scots by surprise and slaughter them in their sleep. They took off their shoes so as to make the least noise possible. But one of the Norsemen stepped on a thistle and screamed. The alarm was given in the Scots' camp. And for the timely and unexpected help from the thistle, the Scots took it as their national emblem.

Welshmen all over the world celebrate St. David's day by wearing either leeks or daffodils. The link between the leek and St. David is the belief that he is supposed to have lived for several years on bread and wild leeks. The daffodil is also associated with St. David’s Day, due to the belief that it flowers on that day.

What the red rose is to Englishmen and the leek to the Welsh, the little shamrock is to the Irish. A popular notion is that when preaching the doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish St. Patrick used the shamrock, a small white clover bearing three leaves on the stem as an illustration of the mystery.

John Bull is the name given to an imaginary typical Englishman, representing English people as a whole. He is usually shown in pictures as a fat man with a red face, wearing a top hat, a waistcoat and high boots. He also often has a bulldog, suggesting that he is like the dog in having a brave, fierce and independent character.


Identifying symbols of the four nations

  England Wales Scotland Nothern Ireland
Flag   St. George’s cross                     Dragon of Cadwallander St Andrew’s cross                           St Patrick’s cross
Plant   Rose Leek/Daffodil Thistle Shamrock
Patron Saint St. George St. David St. Andrew St. Patrick
Saint’s day 23 April 1 March 30 November 17 March


1. Answer the questions.

1. Could you tell any names which were suggested in this chapter for the group of islands off the North-Western coast of Europe.

2. What historical and poetic names of the UK do you know?

3. What is the name of the national flag?

4. Describe the coat of arms. What symbols does the shield show? What do the animals symbolize?

5. Enumerate the plants which are the symbols of constituent countries (parts) of the UK. Explain their meaning.

6. Think of the well-known symbols and tokens of nationality in your country. Are they the same types of real-life objects (e.g. plants, clothes) that are used in Britain?


2. Quiz
Choose the correct answer.
1 What is the common internet domain address for
A ,br
B .gb
C .uk
2 Which of these is not an acceptable short name for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?
A England
B Great Britain
C the United Kingdom
3 How many parts does the UK contain?
A 2
B 1
C 4
4 Which of the following figures is not associated with Britain?
A Britannia
B John Bull
C Uncle Sam
5 Which of the four nations’ flags is not incorporated in the flag of the UK?
A Ireland
B Scotland
C Wales
6 By what name is the UK flag often known?
A The Britannia
B Old Glory
C The Union Jack
7 O f which country is St. David the patron saint?
A England
B Scotland
C Wales

8 The shamrock is the national emblem of

A Scotland

B Wales

C Northern Ireland

9 “United Kingdom” stands for

A Great Britain and Irish republic

B Great Britain and Northern Ireland

C England, Scotland and Wales

10 The cross of St Andrew is

A the red diagonal cross

B the white diagonal cross

C the blue diagonal cross 


3. Match the word and definition.

1. Census -c   2. Patron saint-a   3. Saltire - e   4. Coat of arms - f   5. Unicorn - h   6. Motto - d   7. Anthem - g   8. Pagan - b   a. A person who has the right of presenting a member of the clergy to a benefice; the protecting or guiding saint of a person, place, etc. b. A person not subscribing to any of the main religions of the world, irreligious. c. An official count of members of a population (not necessarily human), usually residents or citizens in a particular region, often done at regular intervals. d. A short, suggestive expression of a guiding principle; a maxim. e. Geometric design in the shape of an X. It usually occupies the entire field in which it is placed (heraldry). f. A heraldic representation of a mythical beast (resembling a horse with a single, straight, spiraled horn projecting from its forehead) used as a charge or as a supporter. g. Elaborate choral composition usually based on a passage of scripture for church use or a solemn hymn of praise etc. h. The ensigns armorial of a family, consisting of figures and colors borne in shields, banners, etc., as marks of dignity and distinction, and descending from father to son.


4. Watch the video «Introduction to Great Britain»

5. Fill in the gaps.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is situated on the British ___________. It consists of _______ parts: England, _________, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

_____________ has known to be the capital city of England and the UK. It’s the most _________________ region, urban zone and metropolitan area in the UK. London is a leading global city with strengths in the arts, _____________, education, entertainment, fashion, finance, ______________, video, professional services, _______________ and development, tourism and transport all contributed into its _________________.

It’s one of the world’s leading financial centers and has been the 5th or 6th largest __________________ area GDP in the world. It’s a world cultural centre.

___________ is a country which is the part of the UK and the island of GB, __________ by England to its East, the Irish Sea to its North and West and the Bristol Channel to itself.

Wales is largely ______________ with the highest peaks in the North and Central areas including Snowdon, its highest Summit.

The climate lies within the North ____________ Zone and has a changeable very timed climate.

At the _______________________________, development of the mining and mineralogical industries, transform the country from an _____________________ into an industrial nation. Now but the countries traditionally __________________ that heavy industries have gone or ________________. Wales’s economy depends on the public sector like ______________________and tourism.


Scotland is a country that is a part of the UK, occupying more than __________ of the island of Great Britain. Scotland shares the border with England to the South and _______________________________ with the North Sea to the East and the North Channel in the Irish Sea to the south west. In addition to the main bound the country is made up more than ________________ islands. Including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

_____________ is the capital city of Scotland, situated in the ______________ of the Firth of Forth. It’s the second most populous city in Scotland and the 7th most populous in the UK.

Northern Ireland is a part of the UK of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the northwest of the island of Ireland. It’s _______________________ as a country or region of the UK amongst other terms. NI shares the border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland.

NI had historically ­­­­­­­­_________________________ region of the Ireland. After declining as a result of _______________________ terminal of the troubles its economy has grown _______________________ since the late 1990s. This is partly due to the peace dividend and partly due to _______________________ with the Republic of Ireland. This has resulted in the significant increase in tourism, investment and business from around the world.


6. Make up a PowerPoint presentations on the following topics:

1. British character

2. The English

3. The Scots

4. The Welsh

5. The Irish


Каждую презентацию готовят 2 человека – продолжительность 5 минут, таким образом, каждый говорит 2-2.5 минуты. С листа читать нельзя. Основная информация выносится на слайд. Оформление презентации в Power Point или Prezi в зависимости от возможностей и желания. 


7. Explain the meaning of the following countrystuding realia:



Coat of arms


Union Jack

Red rose





John Bull

St. George’s cross

St Andrew’s cross                      

St Patrick’s cross

Dragon of Cadwallander


8. Give the summary of the chapter.


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