To most Europeans, almost all Americans and a good number of Brits, the differences between Great Britain and the United Kingdom can be a little confusing. The origins of the differences are pretty opaque too.

When you throw in the sporting paradigm, things continue to blur the situation. For example, Ireland – technically speaking The Republic of Ireland – and Northern Ireland are separate countries but unite as one geographical island of Ireland for Rugby Union. England, Scotland and Wales compete in many sports as a separate nations, but then come together as ‘Team GB’ for athletics and to compete in the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth championship events.

I always think it’s a tad odd seeing winning athletes with a Union Jack flag draped round them, since it’s not the flag of the country they’re from, especially since they’re running for another ‘entity’ called Great Britain. And what is it to be British anyway? The Scots and Welsh don’t like being lumped into the ‘Brit’ melting pot, whereas the English seem to mind less, which probably has something to do with their overwhelming population and about a millennium of history.

Being English and belonging to Britain is different to being in a state like Kansas and belonging to a federation like the US, and different again to belonging to a regional entity like the European Union. Confused yet?

According to my passport I’m a citizen of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but I don’t know what it is to be British. I usually say I’m from England originally, which I find the most accurate. It’s probably best not to go into the politics of nationality, because that’s not the purpose of this post. What is the purpose of this post is this brilliant, witty account in a shade over 5 minutes of what the differences are between England, Great Britain and the United Kingdom by CPG Grey. You also get some bonus info on stuff like British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. It’s a real education; enjoy.

 

 

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