Last time I talked about the difference between England, Britain and UK. You may have heard of other names that people associate with England (we’ll stay away from the rude ones ok?), so here we go.
British Isles – the Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea in between England and Ireland, and Jersey and Guernsey are located in the England Channel, closer to France than England. All three are self governing Crown Dependency ie they have their own legislative assemblies and legal system. If you’re thinking of visiting, good news, there is no border control from UK. Crown Dependencies have never been, and are not part of UK but UK is responsible for their defence and international relations. Collectively, the UK and these Crown Dependencies are called the British Isles.
British Overseas Territories BOT – there are fourteen of these. Like the Crown Dependency, they are all self governing, and UK is responsible for their defence and international relations. However, they all used to be part of the former British Empire, have not chosen independence and all still have the Queen as their head of state. More well known BOTs includes Gibraltar near Spain, the Falkland Islands near Argentina, Bermuda, and tax havens such as Cayman Island and British Virgin Islands. Hong Kong used to fall in this category before it was handed back to China in 1997.
Commonwealth Realm – there are fifteen of these, sixteen if you include UK itself. These are part of the former British Empire who have become independent. However, they still have the Queen as its head of the state. Australia, Canada, Jamaica and New Zealand are all part of the Commonwealth Realm. In 2011 the UK wanted to change its succession law so the first born child of the future monarch will become King or Queen regardless of sex. This change had to be agreed by all other 15 Realms as the succession law was ingrained in the constitution of these Realms when they became independent, so if the succession law changed they would have to change their constitution accordingly. Republicans in some of the Realms used this opportunity to suggest removing the monarchy as head of state, but eventually the proposal was agreed by everyone.
Commonwealth – finally we come to the big family which consists of fifty three sovereign states across five regions. At the peak of the British Empire it was said “the sun never sets on the British Empire”. Members include the Commonwealth Realm and other countries that have become independent from UK and no longer have the Queen as its head of state such as Singapore, Barbados, Nigeria, India and South Africa.
UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth is bonded by its strong history and in the post British Empire era mainly focuses on culture, sport, education, social development and humanity projects. On the economic side, UK’s relationship with EU has taken priority. Now that UK has voted for Brexit, it will be interested to see how UK’s relationship with the Commonwealth will develop.
不列顛群島British Isles – 曼島Isle of Man位於英格蘭和愛爾蘭之間的愛爾蘭海峽，而澤西Jersey和耿西Guernsey就位於英格蘭海峽，距離法國比英格蘭還要近。這三個島都是自治的皇家屬地Crown Dependency，它們有自己的立法機構和法律系統，但它們的國防和外交關係由英國負責。這三個皇家屬地從來都不是英國的一部份，不過如果你可以隨時從英國到訪，因這兩地之間並沒有邊境控制。UK及皇家屬地就被稱為不列顛群島British Isles。
英國海外領土British Overseas Territories BOT – 總共有十四個。跟皇家屬地一樣，它們都是自治地區，而國防和外交關係也由英國負責。不同的是它們都曾經是前大英帝國的一部分，但之後並沒有獨立，所有仍然視英皇為他們的國家元首。大家較熟識的海外領土包括西班牙附近的直布羅陀Gibraltar，阿根廷附近的福克蘭群島Falkland Islands，百慕大Bermuda，和稅務天堂如開曼群島Cayman Island和英屬維京群島British Virgin Islands。香港在一九九七回歸前也是一個英國海外領土。
大英國協王國 Commonwealth Realm – 連英國本身在內總共有十六個。這些都是前大英國帝國的一部分但現在已成為獨立主權國家。然而，它們仍然視英皇為國家元首。澳洲，加拿大，牙買加和新西蘭都是大英國協王國的一部分。在二零一一年時，英國決定更改其皇室繼承法，好讓未來英皇出生第一個孩子不論性別都可以繼承皇位。這跟已有三百年傳統的男先女後繼承法很不同。因為各協王國獨立時的憲法都包含英國繼承法，所以如果英國要修改繼承法，必須其他協王國也同意，因為它們需要修改憲法，否則將來的元首角色就會混淆不清，結果這方案被大家一致接納。當時有些協王國的共和主意者曾借機提倡廢除英皇為元首，但這建議得不到支持而不了了之。
大英國栛／英聯邦Commonwealth – 最後要說說橫跨五大洲共五十三個主權國家，巔峰時有“日不落大英帝國” 之稱的大家族。英聯邦成員包括以上介紹過的協王國，還有其他已經成為獨立主權國但並不以英皇為元首的國家，如新加坡，巴貝多，尼日利亞，印度和南非等國家。