Sophia Dorothea of Celle
Sophia Dorothea of Celle was the repudiated wife of future King George I of Great Britain, mother of George II. The union with her first cousin was an arranged marriage of state, instigated by the machinations of his mother, Sophia of Hanover, she is best remembered for her alleged affair with Philip Christoph von Königsmarck that led to her being imprisoned in the Castle of Ahlden for the last thirty years of her life. Sophia Dorothea was born on 15 September 1666, the only child of George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg by his long-term mistress, Eleonore d'Esmier d'Olbreuse, Countess of Williamsburg, a Huguenot lady, the daughter of Alexander II d'Esmiers, Marquess of Olbreuse. George William married Eleonore in 1676. There was some talk of marriage between Sophia Dorothea and the future king of Denmark, but the reigning queen was talked out of it by Sophia of Hanover. Another engagement, to the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, was broken off after Duchess Sophia convinced her brother-in-law of the advantage of having Sophia Dorothea marry her cousin.
This occurred on the day the engagement between Sophia Dorothea and the Duke was to be announced. When told of the change in plans and her new future husband, Sophia Dorothea shouted that "I will not marry the pig snout!", threw against the wall a miniature of George Louis brought for her by Duchess Sophia. Forced by her father, she fainted into her mother's arms on her first meeting with her future mother-in-law, she fainted again. On 22 November 1682, in Celle, Sophia Dorothea married George Louis. In 1705 he would inherit the Principality of Lüneburg after the death of his father-in-law and uncle, George William, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, in 1714 the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland and became King George I of Great Britain through his mother, Duchess Sophia, a granddaughter of James VI and I; the marriage of George Louis and Sophia Dorothea was an unhappy one. His immediate family his mother Duchess Sophia and despised Sophia Dorothea; the desire for the marriage was purely financial, as Duchess Sophia wrote to her niece Elizabeth Charlotte, "One hundred thousand thalers a year is a goodly sum to pocket, without speaking of a pretty wife, who will find a match in my son George Louis, the most pigheaded, stubborn boy who lived, who has round his brains such a thick crust that I defy any man or woman to discover what is in them.
He does not care much for the match itself, but one hundred thousand thalers a year have tempted him as they would have tempted anybody else". These feelings of contempt were shared by George Louis himself, oddly formal to his wife. Sophia Dorothea was scolded for her lack of etiquette, the two had loud and bitter arguments. Things seemed better after the birth of their first two children: George Augustus, born 1683 King George II of Great Britain Sophia Dorothea, born 1686 wife of King Frederick William I of Prussia, mother of Frederick the GreatBut George Louis acquired a mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, started pointedly neglecting his wife, his parents asked him to be more circumspect with his mistress, fearful that a disruption in the marriage would disrupt the payment of the 100,000 thalers. George Louis and Sophia Dorothea became estranged—George preferred the company of his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, Sophia Dorothea, had her own romance with the Swedish Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck.
Threatened with the scandal of an elopement, the Hanoverian court, including George's brothers and mother, urged the lovers to desist, but to no avail. According to diplomatic sources from Hanover's enemies, in July 1694 the Swedish count was killed with the connivance of George, his body thrown into the river Leine weighted with stones; the murder was claimed to have been committed by four of Ernest Augustus's courtiers, one of whom was paid the enormous sum of 150,000 thalers, about one hundred times the annual salary of the highest paid minister. Rumours supposed that Königsmarck was hacked to pieces and buried beneath the Hanover palace floorboards. However, sources in Hanover itself, including Sophia, denied any knowledge of Königsmarck's whereabouts. George's marriage to Sophia Dorothea was dissolved, not on the grounds that either of them had committed adultery, but on the grounds that Sophia Dorothea had abandoned her husband. With the agreement of her father, George had Sophia Dorothea imprisoned in Ahlden House in her native Celle, where she stayed until she died more than thirty years later.
She was denied access to her children and father, forbidden to remarry and only allowed to walk unaccompanied within the mansion courtyard. She was, endowed with an income and servants, was allowed to ride in a carriage outside her castle, albeit under supervision, she remained under house arrest until her death more than thirty years later. Sophia Dorothea is sometimes referred to as the "princess of Ahlden". Sophia Dorothea fell ill in August 1726, she died aged 60 on 13 November 1726 of liver gall bladder occlusion. George placed an announcement in The London Gazette to the effect that the "Duchess of Ahlden" had died, but would not allow the wearing of mourning in London or Hanover, he was furious. Sophia Dorothea's body deposited in the castle's cellar, it was moved to Celle in May 1727 to be buried beside her parents in the Stadtkirche. Geor
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. On 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria was the daughter of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of King George III. Both the Duke and the King died in 1820, Victoria was raised under close supervision by her mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, she inherited the throne at the age of 18, after her father's three elder brothers had all died, leaving no surviving legitimate children. The United Kingdom was an established constitutional monarchy, in which the sovereign held little direct political power. Victoria attempted to influence government policy and ministerial appointments. Victoria married her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840, their nine children married into royal and noble families across the continent, tying them together and earning her the sobriquet "the grandmother of Europe". After Albert's death in 1861, Victoria avoided public appearances.
As a result of her seclusion, republicanism temporarily gained strength, but in the latter half of her reign, her popularity recovered. Her Golden and Diamond Jubilees were times of public celebration, her reign of 63 years and seven months was longer than that of any of her predecessors and is known as the Victorian era. It was a period of industrial, political and military change within the United Kingdom, was marked by a great expansion of the British Empire, she was the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, initiated the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father. Victoria's father was Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, the fourth son of the reigning King of the United Kingdom, George III; until 1817, Edward's niece, Princess Charlotte of Wales, was the only legitimate grandchild of George III. Her death in 1817 precipitated a succession crisis that brought pressure on the Duke of Kent and his unmarried brothers to marry and have children.
In 1818 he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widowed German princess with two children—Carl and Feodora —by her first marriage to the Prince of Leiningen. Her brother Leopold was Princess Charlotte's widower; the Duke and Duchess of Kent's only child, was born at 4.15 a.m. on 24 May 1819 at Kensington Palace in London. Victoria was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Manners-Sutton, on 24 June 1819 in the Cupola Room at Kensington Palace, she was baptised Alexandrina after one of her godparents, Emperor Alexander I of Russia, Victoria, after her mother. Additional names proposed by her parents—Georgina and Augusta—were dropped on the instructions of Kent's eldest brother, the Prince Regent. At birth, Victoria was fifth in the line of succession after the four eldest sons of George III: George, the Prince Regent; the Prince Regent had no surviving children, the Duke of York had no children. The Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Kent married on the same day in 1818, but both of Clarence's legitimate daughters died as infants.
The first of these was Princess Charlotte, born and died on 27 March 1819, two months before Victoria was born. Victoria's father died in January 1820. A week her grandfather died and was succeeded by his eldest son as George IV. Victoria was third in line to the throne after York and Clarence. Clarence's second daughter was Princess Elizabeth of Clarence who lived for twelve weeks from 10 December 1820 to 4 March 1821 and, while Elizabeth lived, Victoria was fourth in line; the Duke of York died in 1827. When George IV died in 1830, he was succeeded by his next surviving brother, Clarence, as William IV, Victoria became heir presumptive; the Regency Act 1830 made special provision for Victoria's mother to act as regent in case William died while Victoria was still a minor. King William distrusted the Duchess's capacity to be regent, in 1836 he declared in her presence that he wanted to live until Victoria's 18th birthday, so that a regency could be avoided. Victoria described her childhood as "rather melancholy".
Her mother was protective, Victoria was raised isolated from other children under the so-called "Kensington System", an elaborate set of rules and protocols devised by the Duchess and her ambitious and domineering comptroller, Sir John Conroy, rumoured to be the Duchess's lover. The system prevented the princess from meeting people whom her mother and Conroy deemed undesirable, was designed to render her weak and dependent upon them; the Duchess avoided the court because she was scandalised by the presence of King William's illegitimate children. Victoria shared a bedroom with her mother every night, studied with private tutors to a regular timetable, spent her play-hours with her dolls and her King Charles Spaniel, Dash, her lessons included French, German and Latin, but she spoke only English at home. In 1830, the Duchess of Kent and Conroy took Victoria across the centre of England to visit the Malvern Hills, stopping at towns and great country houses along the way. Similar journeys to oth
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698 until his death in 1727. George was born in Hanover and inherited the titles and lands of the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg from his father and uncles. A succession of European wars expanded his German domains during his lifetime, in 1708 he was ratified as prince-elector of Hanover. At the age of 54, after the death of his second cousin Anne, Queen of Great Britain, George ascended the British throne as the first monarch of the House of Hanover. Although over 50 Roman Catholics were closer to Anne by primogeniture, the Act of Settlement 1701 prohibited Catholics from inheriting the British throne. In reaction, Jacobites attempted to depose George and replace him with Anne's Catholic half-brother, James Francis Edward Stuart, but their attempts failed. During George's reign, the powers of the monarchy diminished and Britain began a transition to the modern system of cabinet government led by a prime minister.
Towards the end of his reign, actual political power was held by Robert Walpole, now recognised as Britain's first de facto prime minister. George died of a stroke on a trip to his native Hanover, he was the last British monarch to be buried outside the United Kingdom. George was born on 28 May 1660 in the city of Hanover in the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire, he was the eldest son of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, his wife, Sophia of the Palatinate. Sophia was the granddaughter of King James I of England through Elizabeth of Bohemia. For the first year of his life, George was the only heir to the German territories of his father and three childless uncles. George's brother, Frederick Augustus, was born in 1661, the two boys were brought up together, their mother was absent for a year during a long convalescent holiday in Italy, but corresponded with her sons' governess and took a great interest in their upbringing more so upon her return. Sophia bore Ernest Augustus a daughter.
In her letters, Sophia describes George as a responsible, conscientious child who set an example to his younger brothers and sisters. By 1675 George's eldest uncle had died without issue, but his remaining two uncles had married, putting George's inheritance in jeopardy as his uncles' estates might pass to their own sons, should they have had any, instead of to George. George's father took him hunting and riding, introduced him to military matters. In 1679 another uncle died unexpectedly without sons, Ernest Augustus became reigning Duke of Calenberg-Göttingen, with his capital at Hanover. George's surviving uncle, George William of Celle, had married his mistress in order to legitimise his only daughter, Sophia Dorothea, but looked unlikely to have any further children. Under Salic law, where inheritance of territory was restricted to the male line, the succession of George and his brothers to the territories of their father and uncle now seemed secure. In 1682, the family agreed to adopt the principle of primogeniture, meaning George would inherit all the territory and not have to share it with his brothers.
The same year, George married his first cousin, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, thereby securing additional incomes that would have been outside Salic laws. The marriage of state was arranged as it ensured a healthy annual income and assisted the eventual unification of Hanover and Celle, his mother was at first against the marriage because she looked down on Sophia Dorothea's mother, because she was concerned by Sophia Dorothea's legitimated status. She was won over by the advantages inherent in the marriage. In 1683, George and his brother, Frederick Augustus, served in the Great Turkish War at the Battle of Vienna, Sophia Dorothea bore George a son, George Augustus; the following year, Frederick Augustus was informed of the adoption of primogeniture, meaning he would no longer receive part of his father's territory as he had expected. It led to a breach between father and son, between the brothers, that lasted until Frederick Augustus's death in battle in 1690. With the imminent formation of a single Hanoverian state, the Hanoverians' continuing contributions to the Empire's wars, Ernest Augustus was made an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire in 1692.
George's prospects were now better than as the sole heir to his father's electorate and his uncle's duchy. Sophia Dorothea had a second child, a daughter named after her, in 1687, but there were no other pregnancies; the couple became estranged—George preferred the company of his mistress, Melusine von der Schulenburg, Sophia Dorothea, had her own romance with the Swedish Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck. Threatened with the scandal of an elopement, the Hanoverian court, including George's brothers and mother, urged the lovers to desist, but to no avail. According to diplomatic sources from Hanover's enemies, in July 1694 the Swedish count was killed with the connivance of George, his body thrown into the river Leine weighted with stones; the murder was claimed to have been committed by four of Ernest Augustus's courtiers, one of whom was paid the enormous sum of 150,000 thalers, about one hundred times the annual salary of the highest paid minister. Rumours supposed t
Anne, Queen of Great Britain
Anne was the Queen of England and Ireland between 8 March 1702 and 1 May 1707. On 1 May 1707, under the Acts of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain, she continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714. Anne was born in the reign of her uncle Charles II, her father, Charles's younger brother James, was thus heir presumptive to the throne. His suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England, on Charles's instructions Anne and her elder sister, were raised as Anglicans. On Charles's death in 1685, James succeeded to the throne, but just three years he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mary and her husband, the Dutch Protestant William III of Orange, became joint monarchs. Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne's finances and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary's accession and they became estranged. William and Mary had no children.
After Mary's death in 1694, William reigned alone until his own death in 1702, when Anne succeeded him. During her reign, Anne favoured moderate Tory politicians, who were more to share her Anglican religious views than their opponents, the Whigs; the Whigs grew more powerful during the course of the War of the Spanish Succession, until 1710 when Anne dismissed many of them from office. Her close friendship with Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, turned sour as the result of political differences; the Duchess took revenge in an unflattering description of the Queen in her memoirs, accepted by historians until Anne was re-assessed in the late 20th century. Anne was plagued by ill health throughout her life, from her thirties, she grew ill and obese. Despite seventeen pregnancies by her husband, Prince George of Denmark, she died without surviving issue and was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. Under the Act of Settlement 1701, which excluded all Catholics, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover.
Anne was born at 11:39 p.m. on 6 February 1665 at St James's Palace, the fourth child and second daughter of the Duke of York, his first wife, Anne Hyde. Her father was the younger brother of King Charles II, who ruled the three kingdoms of England and Ireland, her mother was the daughter of Lord Chancellor Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon. At her Anglican baptism in the Chapel Royal at St James's, her older sister, was one of her godparents, along with the Duchess of Monmouth and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Gilbert Sheldon; the Duke and Duchess of York had eight children, but Anne and Mary were the only ones to survive into adulthood. As a child, Anne suffered from an eye condition, which manifested as excessive watering known as "defluxion". For medical treatment, she was sent to France, where she lived with her paternal grandmother, Henrietta Maria of France, at the Château de Colombes near Paris. Following her grandmother's death in 1669, Anne lived with an aunt, Henrietta Anne, Duchess of Orléans.
On the sudden death of her aunt in 1670, Anne returned to England. Her mother died the following year; as was traditional in the royal family and her sister were brought up separated from their father in their own establishment at Richmond, London. On the instructions of Charles II, they were raised as Protestants. Placed in the care of Colonel Edward and Lady Frances Villiers, their education was focused on the teachings of the Anglican church. Henry Compton, Bishop of London, was appointed as Anne's preceptor. Around 1671, Anne first made the acquaintance of Sarah Jennings, who became her close friend and one of her most influential advisors. Jennings married John Churchill in about 1678, his sister, Arabella Churchill, was the Duke of York's mistress, he was to be Anne's most important general. In 1673, the Duke of York's conversion to Catholicism became public, he married a Catholic princess, Mary of Modena, only six and a half years older than Anne. Charles II had no legitimate children, so the Duke of York was next in the line of succession, followed by his two surviving daughters from his first marriage and Anne—as long as he had no son.
Over the next ten years, the new Duchess of York had ten children, but all were either stillborn or died in infancy, leaving Mary and Anne second and third in the line of succession after their father. There is every indication that, throughout Anne's early life and her stepmother got on well together, the Duke of York was a conscientious and loving father. In November 1677, Anne's elder sister, married their Dutch first cousin, William III of Orange, at St James's Palace, but Anne could not attend the wedding because she was confined to her room with smallpox. By the time she recovered, Mary had left for her new life in the Netherlands. Lady Frances Villiers contracted the disease, died. Anne's aunt Lady Henrietta Hyde was appointed as her new governess. A year Anne and her stepmother visited Mary in Holland for two weeks. Anne's father and stepmother retired to Brussels in March 1679 in the wake of anti-Catholic hysteria fed by the Popish Plot, Anne visited them from the end of August. In October, they returned to the Duke and Duchess to Scotland and Anne to England.
She joined her father and stepmother at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh from July 1681 until May 1682. It was her last journey outside England. Anne's second cousin George of Hanover visited London for three months from December 1680, sparking rumours of a potential marriage between them. H
English overseas possessions
The English overseas possessions known as the English colonial empire, comprised a variety of overseas territories that were colonised, conquered, or otherwise acquired by the former Kingdom of England during the centuries before the Acts of Union of 1707 between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland created the Kingdom of Great Britain. The many English possessions became the foundation of the British Empire and its fast-growing naval and mercantile power, which until had yet to overtake those of the Dutch Republic, the Kingdom of Portugal, the Kingdom of Spain; the first English overseas settlements were established in Ireland followed by others in North America and the West Indies, by trading posts called "factories" in the East Indies, such as Bantam, in the Indian subcontinent, beginning with Surat. In 1639, a series of English fortresses on the Indian coast was initiated with Fort St George. In 1661, the marriage of King Charles II to Catherine of Braganza brought him as part of her dowry new possessions which until had been Portuguese, including Tangier in North Africa and Bombay in India.
In North America and Virginia were the first centres of English colonisation. As the 17th century wore on, Plymouth, New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, New Scotland, New Haven and Rhode Island and Providence were settled. In 1664, New Netherland and New Sweden were taken from the Dutch, becoming New York, New Jersey, parts of Delaware and Pennsylvania; the Kingdom of England is dated from the rule of Æthelstan from 927. During the rule of the House of Knýtlinga, from 1013 to 1014 and 1016 to 1042, England was part of a personal union that included domains in Scandinavia. In 1066, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, conquered England, making the Duchy a Crown land of the English throne. Through the remainder of the Middle Ages the kings of England held extensive territories in France, based on their history in this Duchy. Under the Angevin Empire, England formed part of a collection of lands in the British Isles and France held by the Plantagenet dynasty; the collapse of this dynasty led to the Hundred Years' War between France.
At the outset of the war the Kings of England ruled all of France, but by the end of it in 1453 only the Pale of Calais remained to them. Calais was lost to the French in 1558; the Channel Islands, as the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy, retain their link to the Crown to the present day, Other early English expansion occurred within the British Isles. As early as 1169, the Norman invasion of Ireland began to establish English possessions in Ireland, with thousands of English and Welsh settlers arriving in Ireland; as a result of this the Lordship of Ireland was held for centuries by the English monarch, although it was not until the early 17th century that the Plantation of Ulster began. English control of Ireland fluctuated for centuries until Ireland was incorporated into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801; the voyages of Christopher Columbus began in 1492, he sighted land in the West Indies on 12 October that year. In 1496, excited by the successes in overseas exploration of the Portuguese and the Spanish, King Henry VII of England commissioned John Cabot to lead a voyage to find a route from the Atlantic to the Spice Islands of Asia, subsequently known as the search for the North West Passage.
Cabot sailed in 1497 making landfall on the coast of Newfoundland. There, he believed he had made no attempt to found a permanent colony, he led another voyage to the Americas the following year, but nothing was heard of him or his ships again. The Reformation had made enemies of England and Spain, in 1562 Elizabeth sanctioned the privateers Hawkins and Drake to attack Spanish ships off the coast of West Africa; as the Anglo-Spanish Wars intensified, Elizabeth approved further raids against Spanish ports in the Americas and against shipping returning to Europe with treasure from the New World. Meanwhile, the influential writers Richard Hakluyt and John Dee were beginning to press for the establishment of England's own overseas empire. Spain was well established in the Americas, while Portugal had built up a network of trading posts and fortresses on the coasts of Africa and China, the French had begun to settle the Saint Lawrence River, which became New France; the first serious attempts to establish English colonies overseas were made in the last quarter of the 16th century, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
The 1580s saw the first attempt at permanent English settlements in North America, a generation before the Plantation of Ulster. Soon there was an explosion of English colonial activity, driven by men seeking new land, by the pursuit of trade, by the search for religious freedom. In the 17th century, the destination of most English people making a new life overseas was in the West Indies rather than in North America. Financed by the Muscovy Company, Martin Frobisher set sail on 7 June 1576, from Blackwall, seeking the North West Passage. In August 1576 he landed at Frobisher Bay on Baffin Island and this was marked by the first Church of England service recorded on North American soil. Frobisher returned to Frobisher Bay in 1577, solemnly taking possession of the south side of it in Queen Elizabeth's name. In a third voyage, in 1578, he reached the shores of Greenland and made an unsuccessful attempt at founding a settlement in Frobisher Bay. While on the coast of Greenland, he claimed that for England.
At the same time, between 1577 and 1580, Sir Francis Drake was circumnavigating the globe. He claimed Elizabeth Island off Cape Horn for his queen, on 24 August 1578 claimed another Elizabeth Isl
The United Kingdom the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world; the Irish Sea lies between Great Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres, the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world, it is the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017. The UK is constitutional monarchy; the current monarch is Queen Elizabeth II, who has reigned since 1952, making her the longest-serving current head of state.
The United Kingdom's capital and largest city is London, a global city and financial centre with an urban area population of 10.3 million. Other major urban areas in the UK include Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire conurbations, Greater Glasgow and the Liverpool Built-up Area; the United Kingdom consists of four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their capitals are London, Edinburgh and Belfast, respectively. Apart from England, the countries have their own devolved governments, each with varying powers, but such power is delegated by the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution; the nearby Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Guernsey and Bailiwick of Jersey are not part of the UK, being Crown dependencies with the British Government responsible for defence and international representation. The medieval conquest and subsequent annexation of Wales by the Kingdom of England, followed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain, the union in 1801 of Great Britain with the Kingdom of Ireland created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Five-sixths of Ireland seceded from the UK in 1922, leaving the present formulation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. There are fourteen British Overseas Territories, the remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the 1920s, encompassed a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language and political systems of many of its former colonies; the United Kingdom is a developed country and has the world's fifth-largest economy by nominal GDP and ninth-largest economy by purchasing power parity. It has a high-income economy and has a high Human Development Index rating, ranking 14th in the world, it was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The UK remains a great power, with considerable economic, military and political influence internationally, it is sixth in military expenditure in the world. It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union and its predecessor, the European Economic Community, since 1973. The United Kingdom is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the Council of Europe, the G7, the G20, NATO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the World Trade Organization; the 1707 Acts of Union declared that the kingdoms of England and Scotland were "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain". The term "United Kingdom" has been used as a description for the former kingdom of Great Britain, although its official name from 1707 to 1800 was "Great Britain"; the Acts of Union 1800 united the kingdom of Great Britain and the kingdom of Ireland in 1801, forming the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Following the partition of Ireland and the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922, which left Northern Ireland as the only part of the island of Ireland within the United Kingdom, the name was changed to the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Although the United Kingdom is a sovereign country, Scotland and Northern Ireland are widely referred to as countries. The UK Prime Minister's website has used the phrase "countries within a country" to describe the United Kingdom; some statistical summaries, such as those for the twelve NUTS 1 regions of the United Kingdom refer to Scotland and Northern Ireland as "regions". Northern Ireland is referred to as a "province". With regard to Northern Ireland, the descriptive name used "can be controversial, with the choice revealing one's political preferences"; the term "Great Britain" conventionally refers to the island of Great Britain, or politically to England and Wales in combination. However, it is sometimes used as a loose synonym for the United Kingdom as a whole; the term "Britain" is used both as a synonym for Great Britain, as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Usage is mixed, with the BBC preferring to use Britain as shorthand only for Great Britain and the UK Government, while accepting that both terms refer to the United K
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, or the Royal Arms for short, is the official coat of arms of the British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom. Variants of the Royal Arms are used by other members of the British royal family. In Scotland, there exists a separate version of the Royal Arms, a variant of, used by the Scotland Office; the arms in banner form serve as basis for the monarch's official flag, known as the Royal Standard. In the standard variant used outside of Scotland, the shield is quartered, depicting in the first and fourth quarters the three passant guardant lions of England; the crest is a statant guardant lion wearing the St Edward's Crown, himself on another representation of that crown. The dexter supporter is a crowned English lion. According to legend a free unicorn was considered a dangerous beast. In the greenery below, a thistle, Tudor rose and shamrock are depicted, representing Scotland and Ireland respectively.
This armorial achievement comprises the motto, in French, of English monarchs, Dieu et mon Droit, which has descended to the present royal family as well as the Garter circlet which surrounds the shield, inscribed with the Order's motto, in French, Honi soit qui mal y pense. The official blazon of the Royal Arms is: Quarterly and fourth Gules three Lions passant gardant in pale Or armed and langued Azure, second quarter Or a Lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules, third quarter Azure a Harp Or stringed Argent, the whole surrounded by the Garter. Motto "Dieu et mon Droit" in the compartment below the shield, with the Union Rose and Thistle engrafted on the same stem; the Royal Arms. They appear in courtrooms, since the monarch is deemed to be the fount of judicial authority in the United Kingdom and law courts comprise part of the ancient royal court. Judges are Crown representatives, demonstrated by the display of the Royal Arms behind the judge's bench in all UK courts.
In addition, the Royal Arms cannot be displayed in courtrooms or on court-house exteriors in Northern Ireland, except for the courtrooms of the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast and the courts in Armagh, Downpatrick, Magherafelt, or Omagh, the exterior of court buildings that had them in place prior to the 2002 law. As the United Kingdom is governed in the monarch's name, the British Government uses the Royal Arms as a national symbol of the United Kingdom, and, in that capacity, the coat of arms can be seen on several government documents and forms, passports, in the entrance to embassies and consulates, etc. However, when used by the government and not by the monarch the coat of arms is represented without the helm; this is the case with the sovereign's Scottish arms, a version of, used by the Scotland Office. The Royal Arms have appeared on the coinage produced by the Royal Mint including, for example, from 1663, the Guinea and, from 1983, the British one pound coin. In 2008, a new series of designs for all seven coins of £1 and below was unveiled by the Royal Mint, every one of, drawn from the Royal Arms.
The full Royal Arms appear on the one pound coin, sections appear on each of the other six, such that they can be put together like a puzzle to make another complete representation of the Royal Arms. The monarch grants Royal Warrants to select businesses and tradespeople which supply the Royal Household with goods or services; this entitles those businesses to display the Royal Arms on their packaging and stationery by way of advertising. It is customary for churches throughout the United Kingdom whether in the Church of England or the Church of Scotland to display the Royal Arms to show loyalty to the Crown. A banner of the Royal Arms, known as the Royal Standard, is flown from the royal palaces when the monarch is in residence, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace being her principal abodes; this protocol applies to the monarch's principal residences in Scotland, where the Royal Standard is flown. When the monarch is not in residence the Union Flag, or in Scotland the ancient Royal Standard of Scotland, is flown.
The sold British newspaper The Times uses the Hanoverian Royal Arms as a logo, whereas its sister publication, The Sunday Times, displays the current Royal Arms. The Royal Arms are displayed in all c