Great Britain is a parliamentary monarchy. Head of State is Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (took office on February 6, 1952, coronation on June 2, 1953) with her deputy, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (Prince Charles). The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament. The parliament is a bicameral system: the members of the lower house, House of Commons, are elected every 4 years in free, equal and secret ballot by the people. There are only direct candidates and no list candidates as in Germany.
The House of Commons has around 650 MPs. The House of Lords, House of Lords, currently has 696 seats and today consists of members of the non-hereditary merit nobility, some nobles with hereditary titles and 26 Anglican bishops.
The official name of the country is:
Listing of the kings of England and Great Britain
- William the Conqueror (“William the Conqueror”, 1066-87) – The Normandy king triumphed over the Saxon king Harold and subjugated the entire country.
- William II (1087-1100)
- Henry I (1100-35)
- Stephen (1135-54)
- Henry II (1154-89)
- Richard I (1189-99)
- John I (1199-1216)
- Henry III (1216-72)
- Edward I (1272-1307)
- Edward II (1307-27)
- Edward III (1327-77)
- Richard II (1377-99)
- Henry IV (1399-1413)
- Henry V (1413-22)
- Henry VI (1422-61 and 1470/71)
- Edward IV (1461-70 and 1471-83)
- Edward V (1483)
- Richard III (1483-85) – was king during the bloody Wars of the Roses between the Houses of York (white rose badge) and Lancaster (red rose)
- Henry VII (1485-1509)
- Henry VIII (1509-47) – founder of the “Royal Navy” and famous for his numerous marriages. Break with the Roman Catholic Church through his divorce from Catherine of Aragón and the secularization of the monasteries.
- Edward VI (1547-53)
- Mary I (1553-58) – “Bloody Mary”, tried to reintroduce Catholicism in a very brutal way.
- Elizabeth I (1558-1603) – finally established the Protestant Church and helped England to gain naval rule against Spain by defeating the Armada. Her reign shaped the cultural development and arrival of the Renaissance in England, also through important personalities such as William Shakespeare.
- Maria Stuart – The great-granddaughter of Henry VII laid claim to the English throne in 1559. In 1567 Elizabeth I had her locked up in the Tower of London for twenty years and executed in 1587 for high treason.
- James I (1603-25)
- Charles I (1625-49) – was executed by Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War that arose out of the Crown’s dispute with Parliament.
- 1649-60 Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell
- Charles II (1660-85) – Restoration of the Monarchy
- James II (1685-88)
- William III and Mary II (1689-1702)
- Anne (1702-14)
- George I (1714-27) – beginning of the Georgian era
- George II (1727-60)
- George III (1760-1820)
- George IV (1820-30)
- William IV (1830-37)
- Victoria (1837-1901) – The Victorian era, significantly shaped by the World Exhibition in 1851 and England’s industrial supremacy in world economy and politics.
- Edward VII (1901-10
- George V (1910-36)
- Edward III (1936)
- George VI (1936-52)
- Elizabeth II (since 1952)
The exact origin and timing of the national anthem of Great Britain is the cause of much speculation. Among other things, the composition of Dr. John Bull from 1619 and a number of pieces by Henry Purcell. The first publication of the hymn was in “Thesaurus Musicus” in 1744 and was performed publicly for the first time for King George II the following year. Although it is not the oldest, “God Save the Queen” is the first national anthem, which is where other European countries developed it. She was also adopted for the Prussian hymn “Heil Dir im Siegerkranz”. Inspired by one of his trips to London, Joseph Haydn composed a very similar hymn around 1794 for the birthday of the Austrian Emperor (God preserve Franz the Kaiser).
|In English||In the German translation|
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.2nd stanza
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save the Queen.3rd stanza
Thy choicest gifts in store, on her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen 1).
God protect our gracious queen!
Long live our noble queen,
God protect the queen!
Send her victory,
luck and glory,
That she may rule us for a long time!
God Save the Queen!2nd stanza
O Lord our God, help her,
Scatter her enemies,
And let her perish;
Confuse their (the enemy’s) policy,
Thwart their scoundrels!
We place our hopes on you.
God Save the Queen!3rd stanza shower her
with your choicest gifts
, to please you,
That she reign for a long time,
That she enforce the law
And always give us reason
loudly and from the heart: God protect the queen!
Depending on whether the monarchy is led by a king or a queen, in addition to Queen/King and her/his, the last two lines of the third stanza change to:
“With heart and voice to sing
God save the King.”
The Union Jack is the traditional name of the national flag of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; it is called the “Union Flag” in official usage. The name “Jack” was previously used to designate bow flags on (war) ships.
The first Union Jack was created back in 1606 and has been changed many times since then. The Union Jack in common use today is a combination of the English, Scottish and Irish flags. The first Union Jack was an overlay of the flag of England (red cross on a white background, the so-called St. George’s Cross) and the Scottish flag (white St. Andrew’s cross on a blue background). The Union Jack was first used from 1606 to 1649 after the personal union between Scotland and England, later changed many times and partly supplemented by an Irish harp. From 1660 to 1801 the original Union Jack was used again.
In 1801, with the political integration of Ireland, the Irish flag (red St. Andrew’s cross on a white background, the so-called St. Patrick’s Cross) was included in the Union Jack. In 1809, the Union Jack was officially declared the British national flag by Parliament.
The flag of Wales, the fourth British state, was never included in the Union Jack. In the Commonwealth of Nations, the Queen uses her own flags that contain the national coat of arms and differ from the Union Jack. These are called “Royal Standards”.
The Union Jack in what is now Britain
In view of the multicultural composition of the population of Great Britain, there has been discussion since the 1990s to change the flag by adding a black St. Andrew’s cross.
The controversial slogan “There ain’t no Black in the Union Jack” was used in this context by both racist and anti-racist groups to advocate for or precisely against it.