United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland
Sovereign state
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors)
Flag President of Ireland
1801-1922¹ Flag of the United Kingdom
Flag of Ireland
Flag of the United Kingdom Coat of arms of the United Kingdom
Flag Coat of arms
Dieu et mon droit  (French
"God and my right"
God Save the King (Queen)
UK of Britain & Ireland in Europe
Capital London
Language(s) English (de facto official), Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Scots, Welsh
Government Constitutional monarchy
 - 1801–1820 George III
 - 1820–1830 George IV
 - 1830–1837 William IV
 - 1837–1901 Victoria
 - 1901–1910 Edward VII
 - 1910–1927 (cont as King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.) George V
Prime Minister
 - 1801, 1804-1806 William Pitt the Younger
 - 1924–1927 (In name-cont.) Stanley Baldwin
Legislature Parliament
 - Upper house House of Lords
 - Lower house House of Commons
 - Act of Union 1800 1 January 1801
 - Irish independence 6 December 1922
 - UK name changed 12 April 1927
 - 1801 315,093 km² (121,658 sq mi)
 - 1801 est. 16,345,646 
     Density 51.9 /km²  (134.4 /sq mi)
 - 1921 est. 42,769,196 
     Density 135.7 /km²  (351.6 /sq mi)
Currency Pound sterling
1 The Irish Free State seceded from the United Kingdom in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, but this fact was not reflected in the long-form name of United Kingdom until the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act in 1927. The current British state, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, is universally accepted to be a direct continuation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and should not be imagined to be a break from it or a new state formed after it.
² The Royal motto used in Scotland was Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (Latin for "No-one provokes me with impunity").

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name and the state form of the United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 until 12 April 1927. It was formed by the merger of the Kingdom of Great Britain (itself having been a merger of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland) and the Kingdom of Ireland, with Ireland being governed directly from Westminster through its Dublin Castle administration.

Following Irish independence on 6 December 1922, when the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty came into effect, the name continued in official use until it was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act of 1927. The part of the island of Ireland that remained seceded from the United Kingdom in 1922 was succeeded by the state of Ireland in 1937.[1]

Terms of the UnionEdit

George III of the United Kingdom-e

George III, the first king of the new United Kingdom.

Under the terms of the Act of Union, the separate Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland were abolished, and replaced by a united Parliament of the United Kingdom.[2] The new House of Commons consisted of all Members of Great Britain's 18th Parliament and 100 Irish MPs co-opted in a special election in 1801.[2] The new House of Lords consisted of all members of Great Britain's House of Lords, and 4 Lords Spiritual and 28 Lords Temporal from the Irish House of Lords.[2] The new Parliament met in the Palace of Westminster, formerly the home of the Parliament of Great Britain and, until 1707, the Parliament of England.

Part of the trade-off for Irish Catholics was to be the granting of Catholic Emancipation, which had been fiercely resisted by the all-Anglican Irish Parliament. However, this was blocked by King George III who argued that emancipating Roman Catholics would breach his Coronation Oath to act as protector of Protestantism.

The United KingdomEdit

Dublin UK

Sackville Street in Dublin in the United Kingdom, c. 1908,

The merger was initially seen favourably in Ireland, given that the old Irish parliament was seen as hostile to the majority Catholic population, some of whose members had only been given the vote as late as 1794 and who were legally debarred from election to the body. The Roman Catholic hierarchy endorsed the Union. However, King George III's decision to block Catholic Emancipation fatally undermined the appeal of the Union. Leaders like Henry Grattan, who sat in the new parliament, having been leading members of the old one, were bitterly critical.

The eventual achievement of Catholic Emancipation in 1829, following a campaign by Daniel O'Connell, MP for County Clare, who had won election to Westminster and who could not for religious beliefs take the Oath of Supremacy, removed the main negative that had undermined the appeal of the old parliament, the exclusion of Catholics. From 1829 on a demand grew again for a native Irish parliament separate from Westminster. However, his campaign to repeal the Act of Union ultimately failed.

Aspects of the United Kingdom met with popularity in Ireland during the 122-year union. Hundreds of thousands flocked to Dublin for the visits of Queen Victoria in 1900, King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1903 and 1907 and King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. About 210,000 Irishmen fought in Irish regiments of the United Kingdom and Allied armies in World War I, at a time when Ireland was the only home nation where conscription was not in force.

Irish home ruleEdit

Later leaders, such as Isaac Butt and Charles Stewart Parnell, the first leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, campaigned for a version of all-Ireland self-government called home rule within the United Kingdom, which was nearly achieved in the 1880s under the (British) ministry of William Ewart Gladstone who introduced two Irish Home Rule Bills. However, the measures were defeated in Parliament, and following the ascension of the Conservatives to the majority, the issue was buried as long as that party was in power.

With the return to power of the Liberals in 1910 supported by the Irish Party under John Redmond who now held the balance of power in the Commons, the veto power of the Lords was removed under the Parliament Act 1911 and a Home Rule Bill introduced in 1912 passed Parliament as the Third Home Rule Act in 1914, but was temporarily suspended for the duration of World War I. However the constant delaying of Home Rule and the opposition of the Orange Order in Ulster created the frustration that eventually led to political violence and the 1916 Easter Rising. The European situation changed the political climate such that in the 1918 general election, the Irish Party lost most of its seats to the new Sinn Féin party.


The new boundaries
In 1922, twenty-six Irish counties left the United Kingdom and six counties remained.

Breakdown of the UnionEdit

In 1919, Sinn Féin MPs elected to Westminster formed a unilaterally independent Irish parliament in Dublin, the first Dáil Éireann with an executive under the President of Dáil Éireann, Éamon de Valera. A War of Independence was fought between 1919 and 1921. The island of Ireland was partitioned on 3 May 1921 under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 into two distinct autonomous United Kingdom regions, the short-lived Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland.[3] On 6 December 1922, a year after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed, the entire island of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and formed a new Dominion, the Irish Free State. However, as was widely expected, Northern Ireland almost immediately exercised its right under the Anglo-Irish Treaty, to opt out of the Irish Free State and back into the United Kingdom.[4] With that, the Irish border became an international frontier.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland continued in name until 1927 when it was renamed as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927.


Passport UKGBI

A passport from the Realm.

Despite increasing political independence from each other from 1922 and complete political independence since 1949, the union left the two countries intertwined with each other in many respects. Ireland used the Irish pound from 1928 until 2001 when the euro replaced it. Until it joined the ERM in 1979, the Irish pound was directly linked to the pound sterling. Decimalisation of both currencies occurred simultaneously on Decimal Day in 1971. Coins of equivalent value had the same dimensions and size until the introduction of the British twenty pence coin in 1982, the first new coin to be issued since the break with sterling. British coinage, therefore, although technically not legal tender in the Republic of Ireland was in wide circulation and usually acceptable as payment, and vice versa. The new British twenty pence coin and later British one pound coin were the notable exceptions to this, as there was initially no equivalent Irish coin value, and when subsequently, Irish coins of these values were introduced, their designs differed significantly, thereby not allowing for 'stealth' passing of the coins in change.

Irish citizens in the UK have a status almost equivalent to British citizens. They can vote in all elections and even stand for Parliament. As well as this, some people born in the Republic of Ireland before 1949, but after 3 March 1922, are British subjects. (Thus Terry Wogan, the radio DJ and personality, born in 1938, has received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II and is Sir Terence Wogan, whereas Bob Geldof, born in 1951, received only an honorary knighthood (as Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1986.) British citizens have similar rights to Irish citizens in the Republic of Ireland and can vote in all elections apart from presidential elections and referendums. Under the nationality law of the Republic of Ireland, people from Northern Ireland can have Irish, and therefore dual, nationality.

List of monarchsEdit

Until 1927, part of the monarch's royal title included the words King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1927, the words United Kingdom were dropped from the royal title so that the monarch was instead styled as King of Great Britain, Ireland...[and other places]. The words United Kingdom were restored to the monarch's title in 1953 with the reference to Ireland replaced with a reference to Northern Ireland.

See alsoEdit


  1. Article 4 of the Constitution of Ireland
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Act of Union 1800, Article 4.
  3. Order in Council of 3 May 1921 (SR&O 1921, No. 533). Their constitutional roots remained the Act of Union, two complimentary Acts, one passed by the Parliament of Great Britain, the other by the Parliament of Ireland.
  4. On 7 December 1922 (the day after the establishment of the Irish Free State) the Parliament resolved to make the following address to the King so as to opt out of the Irish Free State: ”MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN, We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Senators and Commons of Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, having learnt of the passing of the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, being the Act of Parliament for the ratification of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, do, by this humble Address, pray your Majesty that the powers of the Parliament and Government of the Irish Free State shall no longer extend to Northern Ireland". Source: Northern Ireland Parliamentary Report, 7 December 1922 and Anglo-Irish Treaty, sections 11, 12. If Northern Ireland had not done so it would have became an autonomous part of the Irish Free State.

External linksEdit

Preceded by:
Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Ireland
United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland

Succeeded by:
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Irish Free State
af:Verenigde Koninkryk van Groot-Brittanje en Ierland

ca:Regne Unit de la Gran Bretanya i Irlanda cs:Spojené království Velké Británie a Irska cy:Teyrnas Unedig Prydain Fawr ac Iwerddon da:Det Forenede Kongerige Storbritannien og Irland de:Vereinigtes Königreich von Großbritannien und Irland es:Reino Unido de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda fr:Royaume-Uni de Grande-Bretagne et d'Irlande gv:Reeriaght Unnaneysit ny Bretyn Mooar as Nerin ko:그레이트브리튼 아일랜드 연합 왕국 id:Kerajaan Bersatu Britania Raya dan Irlandia it:Regno Unito di Gran Bretagna e Irlanda he:הממלכה המאוחדת של בריטניה הגדולה ואירלנד hu:Nagy-Britannia és Írország Egyesült Királysága nl:Verenigd Koninkrijk van Groot-Brittannië en Ierland ja:グレートブリテンおよびアイルランド連合王国 no:Det forente kongerike Storbritannia og Irland nn:Det sameinte kongeriket Storbritannia og Irland pl:Zjednoczone Królestwo Wielkiej Brytanii i Irlandii pt:Reino Unido da Grã-Bretanha e Irlanda ro:Regatul Unit al Marii Britanii şi al Irlandei ru:Соединённое королевство Великобритании и Ирландии sco:Unitit Kinrick o Great Breetain an Ireland simple:United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland sv:Förenade kungariket Storbritannien och Irland th:สหราชอาณาจักรบริเตนใหญ่และไอร์แลนด์ vi:Vương quốc Liên hiệp Anh và Ireland tr:Büyük Britanya ve İrlanda Birleşik Krallığı zh:大不列顛與愛爾蘭聯合王國