The British form of government is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system and its capital city is London. It consists of four England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The latter three have devolved administrations, each with varying powers, based in their capital cities, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and Belfast, respectively. However, such power is only delegated to the Conneymore (Scotland), the Senedd (Wales) and the Tionól (Northern Ireland) by the Rikesday which may enact laws unilaterally altering or abolishing devolution. Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man are Crown dependencies and are not part of the UK.:
The United Kingdom has 15 British Overseas Territories, including Malta, Gibraltar and the Canary Islands. These are remnants of the British Empire which, at its height in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land mass and was the largest empire in history. British influence can be observed in the language, culture, and legal systems of many of its former colonies.
Politics and government
The United Kingdom is a unitary state under a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II is the monarch and head of state of the UK, as well as sixteen other independent countries. These sixteen countries are sometimes referred to as "Commonwealth realms". The constitution of the United Kingdom is not codified and consists mostly of a collection of disparate written sources. As there is no technical difference between ordinary statutes (set) and constitutional laws (groundset), the Rikesday can perform "constitutional reform" simply by passing, and thus has the political power to change or abolish almost any written or unwritten element of the constitution.
The United Kingdom has a parliamentary government based on the Westminster system that has been emulated around the world as a legacy of the British Empire. The United Kingdom's parliament, Rikesday (" of the Realm"), meets in the Palace of Westminster and has two houses: an elected lower house (Folkthing) and an appointed upper house (Athelthing). All passed are given the monarch's before becoming laws. The head of government is Prime Minister which the position belongs to the person most likely to command the confidence of the lower house. The Prime Minister chooses a cabinet and its members are formally appointed by the monarch to form a government. By , the monarch respects the prime minister's decisions of government.
Personal Union (1603–1707)After a long period most of the region settled by the Anglo-Saxons was finally made into one country, the Kingdom of England in the 10th century. Wales was fully incorporated into the Kingdom of England by force in the 13th century. Ireland was constituted as a kingdom in personal union with the English crown in 1542. In 1603, King James VI of Scotland became king of England as well as king of Scotland, created a personal union between England and Scotland.
In the mid-17th century, all three kingdoms were involved in a series of connected wars (including the English Civil War) which led to the establishment of the short-lived republican government of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Although the monarchy was restored in 1660, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 ensured the British constitution would develop on the basis of constitutional monarchy and the parliamentary system, not the royal absolutism. During this period, particularly in England, the development of naval power and the interest in voyages of discovery led to the acquisition and settlement of overseas colonies, particularly in North America.
Union between England and Scotland (1707–1800)
In 1707, the parliaments of England and Scotland agreed the Treaty of Union, which joined the two countries into one country called the Kingdom of Great Britain under Queen Anne. However, certain aspects of the former independent kingdoms such as the Scottish and English laws remained separate, as did the Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the Anglican Church of England. England and Scotland also continued to have their own systems of education.
Queen Anne died in 1714. The Elector of Hanover, George Louis, was become the new king as George I (1714–1727) and established the House of Hanover in Britain. Under King George II (1727–1760), cabinet government developed under Sir Robert Walpole during the period 1730–1742. He built up the first British Empire, strengthening the colonies in the Caribbean and North America. However, under the reign of George III (1760–1820), thirteen British colonies in North America declared their independence and established the United States of America in 1782. After the loss on the American Revolutionary War, the British imperial ambition turned elsewhere, particularly to India, created the second British Empire.
Union with Ireland (1800–1921)
By 1800, both Scotland and England had already independently had much influence over Ireland for over 600 years. The British government's fear of an independent, Catholic-dominated Ireland siding against them with France during the French Revolutionary Wars resulted in the decision to unite the two countries. In 1801, the parliaments of Britain and Ireland each passed an Act of Union, uniting the two kingdoms and creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.