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Is it whither Britain?


It was a Scotsman (James VI of Scotland who was James I of England) who coined the term Great Britain, but it was Athelstan, in the 10th century, who was the first to be called King of all Britain.

"Great Britain is the island made up of England, Scotland, and Wales and the smaller offshore islands, including Lindisfarne, the Isle of Wight, the Scilly Isles, Anglesey, the Hebrides, the Orkney Islands, and the Shetland Islands. Strictly speaking Britain does not include the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, or any part of Ireland. " (For our attempt to make sense of all this, see WHAT'S IN A NAME?)

The people of Britain are English, Welsh, and Scottish; they are also Brits. I think about these two identities as comparable to having a Christian (first) name and a surname. Over time they have shared anger and affection, despair and delight, hope and triumph. Or so it seems to one who loves them.

A break-up has been bruited. Disagreements have, naturally, occurred. I hope that Brits will surprise those who think divorce is in the cards.

In November of last year, the Scottish Executive announced plans for a year-long commemoration of the Union including an education project led by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, an exhibition of Union-related objects and documents at the National Museums of Scotland and an exhibition of portraits of people associated with the Union at the National Galleries of Scotland.

I'll be looking for them when the scent of honey is in the heather.