The meeting of the English Club “Planet”
The symbols of the UK
The teacher: Attention everybody! You are invited to take part in a very interesting and exciting excursion round the countries of the United Kingdom.
How many countries does the UK consist of? Of course you know it definitely - four countries. They are: Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. During our excursion you will find out a lot of facts about the flags, the coat of arms, the Saint Patrons of each country, about the floral symbols and animal symbols, about the traditional national dress and musical instruments.
I’m holding the flag in my hand. It’s the national flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack, or the Union Flag. The question is, “How many flags does it consist of?” Surely, their number is - three. It consists of the red cross of Saint George (patron saint of England), the Cross of Saint Patrick (patron saint of Ireland), and the Saltire of Saint Andrew (patron saint of Scotland). Wales is not represented in the Union Flag because England and Wales joined in 1543 well before the Act of Union.
It’s time to get acquaintance with the Coat of Arms of the UK.
The Royal Arms we see today have evolved over nine centuries, since Richard the Lion heart chose three
lions to represent England.
The Shield of the UK Royal Arms represents England and contains three gold lions passant on the red field in the first and fourth quadrants, the second quadrant represents Scotland and contains a red lion rampant on a gold field; the third quadrant represents Ireland and contains the gold harp of Ireland on a blue field. On the left, the shield is supported by the English Lion. On the right it is supported by the Unicorn of Scotland. Below, a thistle, Tudor rose and shamrock are depicted, representing Scotland, England and Ireland.
This coat has the motto of English monarchs, Dieu et mon Droit (God and my Right), and the motto of the Order of the Garter which surrounds the shield, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil to him who evil thinks).
Wales is not represented on the shield and Coat of Arms.
The UK has its National Anthem.
'God Save the King/Queen' was a patriotic song first publicly performed in London in 1745, which came to be known as the National Anthem at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
(Let’s listen to the Anthem.)
Speaker 2: Well, let me introduce the tourist guides who will be with you during our excursion.
The1-st group: We are from England.
The 2-nd group: We are from Scotland.
The 3-rd group: We are from Wales.
The 4-th group: We are from Northern Ireland.
Speaker 2: So, let’s start!
Speaker 1: Our first stop is England. Travel around this wonderful country and enjoy its history!
Guide 1: Well, we have arrived in England. Look at this flag.
It’s the national flag of England which consists of a red cross on a white background.
St. George's Cross is symbolic of Saint George, the patron saint of England.
Pupil 1: I’m quite curious to know why Saint George became the patron saint of England?
Guide 2: I’ll try to inform you. He was recognized as a saint by 900AD for his bravery and his efforts to protect Christians. His emblem was a red cross on a white background. His bravery and chivalry inspired a red cross on the white tunics worn by the Crusaders and Richard the Lion Heart and brought the emblem to England in the 12th century. Two hundred years later he was acknowledged as the patron saint of England.
Guide 1: But there is another variant as to this question. Saint George is best known for his role in the legendary tale of a terrible dragon that controlled the countryside. Saint George, in order to protect the princess, fought the dragon covering himself with the Sign of the Cross. Since that time St. George's Cross and the dragon have become national symbols.
St George’s Day is celebrated on 23rd of April.
Pupil 2: I have heard that there is a special flag in England showing some lions. What do they present?
Guide 2: The fact is curious. The current arms of England were used by Richard the Lion Heart from 1198 and formally described as 'three identical gold leopards with blue tongues and claws, walking and facing the observer, arranged in a column on a red background.
The lions in heraldry were first used by the Normans, and they invaded England in 1066. William the Conqueror (William I) was the first Norman king of England.
In heraldry the lion symbolises bravery, strength, and royalty.
Guide 1: Because of the fact that the lion is a symbol of bravery it was often used to depict the courageous warriors of medieval England. Today, it remains the national animal of the country and is used in sports, teams’ names, logos, icons, and so on.
Pupil 3: We know that there are floral national symbols in every country. What about England? Are there any national plants, flowers or tree symbols?
Guide 2: Surely there are. First of all, the red rose is known as the national flower of England. The roots go back to the historic wars of the Roses in the 15-th century. These were the wars between the representatives of two Houses struggling for the English throne. The red rose was the emblem of the Lancastrians and the white rose was that of the Yorks. The war ended with the victory of the Lancastrians. Since those times the red rose has become the national emblem of England.
Pupil 4: I would like to know about the England's national costume.
Guide 1: Oh, it’s unusual but England has no official national dress.
Some people think men in England wear suits and bowler hats, but it is very unusual these days to see anyone wearing a bowler hat.
A better choice for an English national dress was chosen out of many customs and traditions in England. First, there is a wide variety of costumes from the spectacular ceremonies associated with monarchy to the traditional costumes worn by Morris dancers.
Now look at the slide. People are wearing the costume of Morris dancers. Morris Dancing is a traditional English form of folk dancing. The dances are usually performed at festivals such as May Day and Christmas. The costume consists of trousers, a white shirt, a pad of bells worn around the leg, a hat, decorated with ribbons and flowers. Even before the time of William Shakespeare Morris Dances were performed in hundreds of English farm villages. The original dance teams were made up of men only.
(Video film) – Morris dance
I’m a tourist guide but today I’m wearing a very interesting national dress called the dress of a Pearl King. The Pearly King/ Queens were the leaders of the Victorian street sellers. They got their name because they wore 'pearl' buttons on their hats as a sign of authority. Later they began to wear clothes covered with buttons.
Video film - the Pearly Kings / Queens
Guide1: Some more information is to your attention. Beefeaters are very important. Some people say this is the nearest thing to the national costume in England.
They were responsible for looking after any prisoners at the Tower and safeguarding the British crown jewels. The costume consists of a scarlet tunic, the scarlet knee-breeches stockings and a round hat.
They are bodyguards of the British Monarch and wear their cross belts from the left shoulder. Today, the Yeomen of the Guard have a purely ceremonial role. Armed with a Wilkinson sword they accompany the sovereign at various occasions.
Yeomen of the Guard:
Yeomen Warders working at the Tower of London are usually wearing the blue uniform granted to them by Queen Victoria in 1858.Their uniforms include the thistle, rose and shamrock – emblems of Scotland, England and Ireland. The initials ER on their uniforms stand for Elizabeth Regina (Regina is Latin for the queen).
Guide 3: Our next stop is Scotland. This is the country which every visitor admires at first sight.
Have a look at The Flag of Scotland which is also known as St. Andrew Cross or the Saltire.
The legend claimed that the flag originated in 832 AD when the Picts and Scots, under the leadership of Oengus, fought against the army of Angles. The leader of the Scots made a vow on the night before the battle that if he won then Saint Andrew would become the Patron Saint of Scotland. In the morning white clouds appeared in an X shape on the blue sky and the Picts and Scots were victorious. So St. Andrew became Scotland’s saint and a white X-shaped cross on the blue background is one of the Scotland's symbols.
The 30th of November is St. Andrew’s Day.
Guide 4: Oh, I’ve got some words to add. Although the national flag of Scotland is the blue and white 'Saltire', the Scottish people also have a second, very different, flag which is called the 'Lion Rampant'.
It's a more colorful and dramatic flag than the Saltire. The rampant lion design was first used as a symbol of the Scottish kingdom by King Alexander II (1214 - 1249 AD). The same symbol was also used by King Richard the Lion Heart later in the 12 century.
Guide 3: Well, poetically described as "the ruddy lion ramping in his field of tressured gold", this flag is also the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms and is still widely used today as a symbol of Scotland.
Pupil 5: Sorry, I wonder why there is a unicorn on the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms? Is it symbolic?
Unicorns have been linked to Scotland for centuries. Like this proud beast Scots would fight to remain brave, courageous and unconquered.
The unicorn was first used on the Scottish royal coat of arms by William I in the 12th century.
The unicorns are the symbols of great heart, purity, courage and freedom.
Why is the unicorn chained by a golden chain around its neck and all around its body?
The unicorn was believed to be the strongest of all animals – wild and untamable. It is possible that it symbolizes the power of the Scottish kings.
Pupil 6: One more question, please. On the Royal Coat of Arms we see the green field with some flowers. Could you explain what it means?
Guide 3: With great pleasure. This is the floral emblem of Scotland, its national emblem - a thistle. The thistle has nothing pleasant in it, especially if you carelessly touch its horns. But it has an important meaning for the people of Scotland.
Why did the Scottish people choose this plant as the national emblem of their country?
The answer is interesting, and it can be found in the history of Scotland. Many years ago the thistle saved their land from foreign invaders.
The legend says that during a night attack by the invaders the soldiers were awakened by the shouts of the invaders as their bare feet touched the thorns of the thistles while they were crossing the field.
This, of course, was a good reason to choose the thistle a national emblem.
Pupil 7: We’d like to know about the national costume the Scotts wear. Could you share some information about it?
Guide 4: Definitely I can describe it. When it comes to the Scottish national costume, we think about Scottish kilts! They're colorful, exotic, stylish... and just cool! Traditional kilts are recognized around the world as a symbol of Scotland. But it all started here in Scotland hundreds of years ago. It is often seen at ceremonies and official occasions from weddings to military parades. A kilt is a piece of tartan worn around the waist. A 'proper' kilt is usually accompanied by:
Guide 3: Traditional Scottish music is played with such instruments as bagpipes, piano accordion, fiddles and the clarsach (or cello), the oldest musical instrument in Scotland. However, each region has some difference in Scottish music in general. Visitors can attend traditional Scotland music festivals.
Bagpipes in Scotland have been famous for centuries. Bagpipes originally appeared in the British Army during the 18th century.
Speaker 1: Now you’re welcome to the exciting country with its great history – Wales.
Guide 5: Have you ever been to Wales? No? Then I invite you to the Welsh History Museum. We start with the flag.
The flag of Wales consists of a red dragon on a green and white field. The use of green and white refers to the colours of the House of Tudor, the 15th century royal family of Welsh origin. The significance of the dragon in Welsh culture is believed to date back to the legend about the King Arthur when Merlin had a vision of a red dragon- representing native Britons -fighting with a white dragon - the Saxon invaders. The red dragon won the battle. So this animal is known as a national symbol.
Pupil 9: Every country has its patron saint. Could you tell us about a Patron Saint of Wales?
Guide 6: David has been of royal descent. On his father’s side he was linked with a Welsh prince and his mother was a niece of King Arthur. David was born in South West Wales, in the late fifth or early sixth century. He was educated in a monastery and became a missionary traveling around Wales, England and Brittany, converting the pagan Celts to Christianity. He is described as a tall strong man who had a vegetarian diet with bread and herbs. If to speak about his character, he was a gentle giant who lived a very simple life. Images of him often include a leek and a dove, perhaps as symbols of his vegetarian way of life and his gentle nature. It is said that he lived for 100 years and died on the 1st of March in 589.
This day is celebrated by the Welsh as St. David’s Day.
Guide 5: The next interesting point is about The Coat of Arms.
New Royal Badge of Wales was approved in May 2008. It is based on the arms by Llywelyn the Great, the famous 13th century Welsh prince, with the addition of the imperial crown, together with a wreath consisting of the plant emblems of the 4 countries of the UK. The motto which appears on the scroll, PLEIDIOL WYF I’M GWLAD (I am true to my country), is taken from the National Anthem of Wales.
Teacher: We have heard a lot about a lot of national symbols of Scotland and England. I think it’s high time to learn something about national symbols of Wales. Will you tell us about them?
The story of Wales is long and, at times, confusing. This explains why the emblems of Wales include a dragon, a vegetable, a harp, and a flower. In those pagan times people worshipped trees, flowers and plants and saw magical properties in them. The leek - this humble root vegetable is a symbol of Wales. Historical fact exists that the Tudor dynasty used leeks to be worn by their guards on March 1, known as St David’s Day. The origin of the leek goes back to the days of the druids, the priests and holy men who controlled society in the centuries before the Romans came to Britain. The leek could cure colds, keep away evil spirits and could foretell the future.
Guide 5: There is one more floral symbol - the daffodil.
The origin of the national flower of Wales is an attractive story introduced during the 19th century. David Lloyd George, the only Welshman to serve as Prime Minister, was a public advocate of the Narcissus (its Latin name) and its appearance in early spring as a symbol of nature’s optimism neatly coincides with St David’s Day on March 1.
Guide 6: Wales has also a musical instrument as a symbol - the Welsh harp.
This harp has three rows of strings. The Italians invented this particular instrument of melody during the 17th century, but 100 years later it was widely known as the Welsh harp.
The unique Welsh hat was used as an icon of Wales from the 1840s.
The Welsh costume became a traditional costume worn by the wives and daughters of the rich farmers, who wore it for special occasions.
The typical female costume was made up of the following:
Speaker 2: Now you are invited to travel across an amusing country which is worth seeing and being spoken about.
Guide 7: I’m going to present you The Ulster Banner which consists of a red cross on a white field, upon which is a crowned six-pointed star with a red hand in the centre.
It was adopted in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Since 1972, the Ulster Banner has had no official status as the Union Jack is the only official standard. Those who wish to have the Ulster symbol, they can use the banner. However, the Ulster Banner is still in common use by loyalists, and it presents Northern Ireland internationally in some sport competitions.
Pupil: By the way, why is there a red hand on the Ulster Banner?
Guide 8: Well, there is an interesting legend which tells that two thousand years ago two Viking leaders were going with their men to Ireland in two big boats. The first leader’s name was O’Neill, the name of the other isn’t known to us. They agreed that the first man who touched the Irish land would be the king of the country. At last they were near the Irish land. The two boats were going faster and faster.
Unfortunately, O’Neill’s boat was not as fast as the other one. And O’Neill had an idea. He wanted to be the king so much that when the boats were very near the land, he quickly cut off his right hand and threw it over to the land. He became the King of Ireland because his hand was the first which touched the land.
This story explains why there is a red hand on Irish soldiers’ coats.
Speaker 1: Every country as we know already has got its Saint Patron.
What about Northern Ireland?
Guide 7: He’s saint Patrick. He was born in Roman Britain in the family of Roman parents. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. When he was 16 he was captured by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery working as a shepherd. Here his spiritual life blossomed in spite of the hardships and he learned the Celtic language which was helpful to him in his later missionary work among the Celts. He learned about the Celtic religion from his master who was a druid. After six years he managed to escape and return home to share his faith with the Celts. The date of his death is generally believed to be March 17th 461AD.
The 17th of March is celebrated as Saint Patrick’s Day.
Guide 8: Of course everybody would like to know if Northern Ireland has an official coat of arms. The answer is: this country does not have an official coat of arms. The image of a historical coat of arms used from 1924 to 1972 is a Celtic harp on an azure field.
Guide 7: I’d like to inform about a floral symbol of Ireland – it’s the shamrock. The Celtic druids were the first who began using the shamrock as a symbol of luck and path leading the Irish to glory. It is also connected to St. Patrick. Saint Patrick is most famous for bringing Christianity to Ireland. The legend tells that he used the shamrock, a kind of a white clover, with three leaves to explain the Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Guide 8: From early times to the end of the 19th Century Ireland is unique in having a musical instrument, the harp, as its national emblem. The harp on a green background symbolising Ireland first appeared in July 1642 when O’ Neill returned from Spain to head the Ulster armies in the 1641 rebellion. Gradually the green flag with yellow harp came to be seen as the emblem of Ireland.
The national flag, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was known as the Green Flag and always showed a gold harp on a green background.
Traditional Irish dress is a complicated subject. The country has no official national costume, so “Irish dress” may refer to anything from historical clothing to modern step-dance costumes.
During the Medieval and Renaissance periods, Irish people wore a very large linen shirt, called a leine, which was usually dyed yellow. Men wore this with a woolen jacket, breeches and a type of shaggy cloak called a mantle. Women wore a long dress, often laced up the front, and an unusual headdress composed of a roll of linen.
The spread of English law and cultural pressures in the 18th and 19th centuries discouraged the Irish from wearing their traditional clothing. During this time period, these clothes were actually illegal. Irish men and women tended to dress like the English. There were a few national preferences. For instance, Irish women of the 19th century are often described wearing a red petticoat, and men tended to wear a style of coat called a swallow-tail.
Irish step dancing is currently associated with kilts and embroidered dresses, which many people mistake for traditional clothing. Kilts became popular in the step-dance world in the 1930s and 1940s as Irish dress. Many people believe that the kilt is a part of historical Irish dress, especially worn by male step dancers. However, there's no evidence that historical Irish dress included a kilt. Irish dancers in the 19th century generally wore their Sunday best, with the men in knee breeches. But with the Gaelic Revival around the turn of the 19th century people began to wear costumes specifically for dancing.
Speaker 2: Our meeting has come to the end. We hope that you have found out a lot of interesting and useful information and facts about official and unofficial symbols of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In conclusion, try to answer some questions.