The flag of the United Kingdom is called the Union Jack or the Union Flag. It combines the crosses of the three patron saints of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The flag of the United Kingdom is called the Union Jack or the Union Flag. It combines the crosses of the three patron saints of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

The United Kingdom includes the countries of England (red), Wales (yellow), Scotland (blue), and Northern Ireland (green). (UKPhoenix79/GNU FDL/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The United Kingdom includes the countries of England (red), Wales (yellow), Scotland (blue), and Northern Ireland (green). (UKPhoenix79/GNU FDL/CC BY-SA 3.0)

William Wallace was one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. He wanted to free Scotland from English rule.

William Wallace was one of the main leaders during the First War of Scottish Independence. He wanted to free Scotland from English rule.

The Treaty of Union led to the creation of the new kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. England and Scotland became one kingdom.

The Treaty of Union led to the creation of the new kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. England and Scotland became one kingdom.

This sculpture of St. Augustine is at Canterbury Cathedral in England. (Saforrest/GFDL/CC-by-SA 3.0)

This sculpture of St. Augustine is at Canterbury Cathedral in England. (Saforrest/GFDL/CC-by-SA 3.0)

Who’s Who in the UK

Posted: March 1, 2021

How did the United Kingdom get the way it is today? That’s a long, long story!

People called Celts (pronounced with a hard C, like kelts) lived in the British Isles long ago. Later—after A.D. 410—Saxons, Angles, and Jutes showed up. They came from present-day Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. This second group spoke a language we call “old English” or “Anglo-Saxon.” Guess who speaks the modern version of that language now? You do! And so do people in present-day England. But many people in Ireland, Wales, and northern Scotland stick with versions of the old Celtic languages.

These two groups of people—Celts and Anglo-Saxons—had plenty of battles over the centuries. So the heat right now between Scotland and England is nothing new. How in the world did these people get along enough to unite as a single kingdom?

Well, we can tell you how it didn’t happen. People did not just decide to agree about everything. At first, England invaded and took over Scotland and Wales. The Scots did not like this arrangement . . . and that’s putting it mildly. They went to war with England twice. Scotland won its independence back. Wales never did.

In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I of England died. Her cousin was next in line for the throne. He was Scottish. About 100 years later, the two countries banded together into one kingdom with two separate parliaments, and the United Kingdom was born. Eventually Ireland joined in too. Later, Southern Ireland left. What a rollercoaster!

Unity is hard to achieve in any nation—especially one with a past like the United Kingdom’s. Maybe a rewind in history could give a lesson. In A.D. 596, Saint Augustine came from Rome as a missionary to the Saxons. That was way before the United Kingdom existed. His work in Britain led to greater unity. Instead of dividing over politics, many people united around a shared faith in Christ.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! — Psalm 133:1