Many foreign people often think that the Queen and Royalty of England are, naturally, the people in charge. As we shall find out, it’s not quite that simple..
England is run by the British Parliament. England is of course the largest country in Britain. The other countries are Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Parliament is basically a mix of important people and groups who together, run the the country.
England is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional Monarch as the ‘Head of State’.
English (British) democracy works on the basic principle that the people of England and Britain elect Members of Parliament (known as ‘MPs’).
The Government has some principle officials, namely: The Head of State – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Then, Prime Minister (Head MP) – The Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, MP. (Rt. Hon. stands for ‘Right Honourable’ and is a mark of respect). So Parliament itself is made up of the House of Commons, together with another ‘House’ called the House of Lords and then the Monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth).
Yes, alright! But what does Parliament actually DO?
Ah, ok ok. Essentially the Parliament has one main job – the creation of Law. Parliament passes new laws, amends laws, discusses laws and then other matters such as taxation. Foreign matters are often discussed along with domestic issues.
The Houses of Parliament sit next to the river Thames, a river that runs right through London. The impressive buildings are the subject of many a tourists photography!
Each MP who sits in the House of Commons (which sits inside the Houses of Parliament) has been elected, as I mentioned. Each individual MP ‘represents’ one of 659 constituencies in the U.K. Each of the constituencies has one ‘seat’ in the House of Commons, so called because that is where the MP gets to sit while the House debates the various issues of government.
MPs are also grouped by the particular party they belong to. There are three main political parties in the system; New Labour, The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. The party that gets the most ‘seats’ elected by the people becomes the ruling government.
2001 saw the General Election won by New Labour. They won an impressive 413 ‘seats’ (i.e. 413 constituencies voted a New Labour MP into power). By comparison, the Conservatives won 166 ‘seats’ and the Liberal Democrats got 52. As it happens, we’re coming up to the next General Election at the moment. May 5th, 2005 will once again see the English people voting for who will run their country.
The English Lion supports the shield from the left hand side while the right is upheld by the Unicorn. In this case, the Unicorn is a symbol of Scotland.
Many people often ask why the Unicorn is shackled to the shield – is this to imply something about the relationship between England and Scotland
Alas, no, the Unicorn is chained because in the days when this coat was created, a unicorn unshackled was considered unlucky, as they were mythically very dangerous beasts!
The coat of arms features the motto of England, described below.
The Motto of England
Dieu et mon Droit is written on many things such as money and indeed, the coat of arms. It is French for ‘God and My Right’. This motto was first used by Richard I, King, in 1198. Henry VI adopted it as the motto of England later.
The Coat of Arms also includes another motto:
The Motto of the Order of the Garter:
Honi soit qui mal y pense means ‘Shamed be he who thinks ill of it’.
The shield amidst the coat of arms shows the royal emblems that refer to specific parts of the United Kingdom.
The Three lions of England, the Harp of Northern Island and the Unicorn of Scotland. The shield of England with the three lions is popular now thanks to English football.
Richard the Lionheart used the symbol originally on a scarlet backgroud. It was a symbol of power and the English Throne used extensively during the crusades.
These famous words were used by Admiral Nelson to inspire his battle squadron at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The battle was to be his last.
His death was a great loss to England. His leadership was renown for his compassion towards his men, and he was famous for the respect he gave those under him.
On the flip side, the Admiral was also known to be a glory-seeker,
As a commander he was known for bold action and sometimes disregarding orders.
His occasional defiance garnered him several victories against the Spanish and also at the Battle of Copenhagen where he memorably ignored orders to cease battle by placing his telescope to his one blind eye and pretending he couldnt see the signal from the other ships.
Under his leaderhsip, the Navy proved time and again its supremacy over the French.