Britain is a small island near Europe. It likes two things - invading places, and wars. Please see the following chart which explains how the British developed their empire:
Britain (Also known as the United Kingdom, Great Britain, or Limey Twats) started out as a collection of crappy miniature countries. There was Scotland, which was divided up amongst the clans, but still recognised as a single entitiy. There was Ireland, which nobody really knew or cared that much about, as well as Wales which had various collections of tribes, and then there was England. England was divided into various tiny kingdoms, each with their own Kings, until the Anglo Saxons gradually took control of the whole area now known as England.
That went well for a little while, but then the Vikings started raping and pillaging the place, and it all got a bit shitty. It stayed that way until in 1066, when the Normans (under the command of a viking no less) invaded, shot King Harold in the eye, and erected flat pack castles. Please note that this does not count as a French victory.
Not much happened for a very long time, but eventually, and over the course of serveral different monarchs, the following happened to England: a civil war; a monarch was killed; monarchs were reintroduced; Ireland was captured; Scotland was captured, revolted, then captured again; and Wales didnt do anything of any consequence.
Not Pictured: Anyone giving a shit about Wales
As a general rule, if it happened prior to 1914 (and then for a few years after 1918) and it involved killing unarmed people, you can bet your ass Britain was involved. There is a long standing European tradition of capturing land from people who dont stand a chance against you, and in many respects Britain can be considered the best at this. Such favourites include:
The golden rule of British Military success is "only fight natives who have never seen a gun before", which worked a treat for a little while, leading to the colonisation of massive chunks of the world. Of course, the Queen got greedy and the Generals got even more inbred and upper class, which led to some truly pathetic defeats, but one or two success stories:
India was colonised properly in 1857, at which point the British Empire set about doing what it did best - pissing people off to the point where they snap. The preferred tactic was to tax the native population for all they were worth, whilst at the same time exploiting them for cheap labour. One of the dumbest taxes prevented Indians from making their own salt (so the British could have a monopoly over it), and this eventually made them so annoyed, that one guy dressed up as Ben Kingsley in a towel and started a peaceful protest movement so powerful that the British were forced to give back India (but not before they shot as many of the fuckers as they could reasonably get away with - read: loads and loads)
Pictured: More power than the British Army
In what can probably be considered one of the worlds most crushingly embarrassing defeats, the British forces in South Africa were eventually repelled by a group of mad-as-hell peasant farmers. Shit hit the fan when the British got envious of the Dutch settlers who were occupying what is now South Africa, and decided they would go and take it from them in 1899. They were pretty used to this working, but they lost sight of that “Golden Rule” we mentioned earlier, because of course Dutch people are not native to South Africa! Who Knew!?
As it transpired, the Dutch settlers known as Boers, had not only seen guns before, but were really fucking good at using them. They were also good at:
The British were down but not yet out for the count – to get back at the Boers they devised a super idea that was dubbed “Scorched Earth”. This involved loading up the army into trains, travelling slowly through the country, sending raiding parties out periodically to capture all the women and children and burn down their houses... Oh. Not so super after all. They took the captured peasants back to... oh dear - Concentration Camps, where they were more or less left to die from dysentery and hunger. Unsurprisingly the Boers did not give in, and if anything, seemed to get more angry if you can imagine such a thing. The war was done by 1902, but the British did manage to cling on to some of the land they had stolen.
Dont mention this one in Britain.
Long story short, once again the British tried taxing the natives (who werent technically natives), and once again, the natives weren’t happy. Tea was thrown in water, Monarchy was rejected, soldiers were sent home. Now let us never speak of it again
Come 1839, Britain had its eye on Afghanistan. It was a desolate shit hole, but the Russians wanted it and since that absolutely could not be allowed to happen, an invasion was necessary. Curiously, it panned out almost exactly the same way that Iraq did in the 21st century.
The invasion went well, and they had control of the country within a few months. Then, the natives decided they didn’t like being ruled by the British and all the native tribes rallied against them. The British General attempted to negotiate, and for his efforts he was beheaded. His replacement then had to plead with the Afghans to allow him 5 days to retreat out of the country. The Afghans agreed. For a while. As the 14,000 British soldiers retreated through the mountains, they were attacked repeatedly until they were eventually massacred. According to Wikipedia, only one man escaped. OK so that last bit hasnt happened in Iraq. Yet.
Technically speaking, it was England (not Britain) that captured Scotland, but in the process, the two became Great Britain, with England at the centre of it all.
Scotland has always claimed independence (and always will), and England has always called bullshit (and always will). Wars have been fought, and eventually they were subdued, forever to resent England and the Monarchy. As Renton points out in Trainspotting:
"I hate being Scottish. We're the lowest of the fucking low, the scum of the earth, the most wretched, servile, miserable, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some people hate the English, but I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. We can't even pick a decent culture to be colonized by. We are ruled by effete arseholes. It's a shite state of affairs and all the fresh air in the world will not make any fucking difference"
These days, nobody listens to their bitching because England has heard it all before and doesn’t care, Ireland is too busy bitching about other problems, and Wales is too busy... well... Nobody cares what Wales is doing.
Ireland was trying to gain its independence from England (and later Britain) almost immediately after it was captured, but tensions hit boiling point some time around 1800. The Irish got organised, and started lobbying for 'Home Rule'. Naturally, they were laughed at, whilst at the same time hated. So hated in fact that the Prime Minister of Britain, Robert Peel, fully intended to fight a duel against the leader of the Irish Nationalists (Daniel O'Connel). The only reason he didnt is because O'Connel got arrested shortly before it was due to take place.
Because they couldnt be bothered putting up with their shit (and because it would really piss off Scotland), England gave the Irish their independence in 1912. However, not everyone wanted to be independent, and so a militia group (The Ulster Volunteers) was set up to resist the rest of Ireland, who in turn set up their own damn militia, called the Irish Volunteers. Parliament simply passed another Home Rule bill allowing for a split Ireland. Then the first world war broke out and Home Rule was suspended.
This didnt go down well with the nationalists, who in 1916 launched the Easter Uprising, which was a complete and utter failure from a military perspective (they got butchered, and the survivors were executed) but sure as fuck made the English look bad for killing all those people.
As time went on, the squabbling continued and then the IRA came along. Initially they were actually an army, and then they kind of became terrorists. They spent decades blowing up bins and cars, but as of the last decade they have been mostly quiet now that everyone is mature enough to talk to each other without resorting to names and bombs. They do shoot up pizza delivery men from time to time though.
Wales isnt taken seriously by anyone, except Welsh people, which makes it all the funnier for the rest of Britain. It was independent once upon a time, but England didnt even want it, and if England didnt want your country, you knew it was shit. They even built a wall on the border, and only allowed the Welsh in on "periodic market days". Eventually England changed its mind and decided it was a shame to just leave it there, so they stole it from the Welsh - they didnt really have to do anything though, just declare it was theirs now.
Some Welsh MP's (Members of Parliament - they let them in, but not too many) claim they want to be independent, but they are laughed at even by other Welsh people - at least Scotland has oil.
Pictured: Something more valuable to the English than all of Wales
In many ways, British Culture is like internet culture - unless you spend a long time observing it, you can never hope to have a clue whats going on, and will probably be repulsed and confused very quickly.
Things that all of Britain like:
Things that all of Britain hate:
Things that England likes/dislikes:
+ Fawlty Towers
+ Monty Python (anything with John Cleese basically)
+ The Monarch
Things that Scotland likes/dislikes:
+ Hating the English
+ Having better stuff than the English
+ Complaining about wanting to be Independent
- The Monarch
- The Conservative party
Things that Northern Ireland likes/dislikes:
+ Having a body of water between it and England
+ Being part of the UK (they wont admit it, but they do really - why else would they have fought to stay part of it?)
+ Not having to live off potatoes anymore
- The Republic of Ireland
- The Conservative party
- English man, Scottish man, Irish man jokes - they're always the puncline
Things that Wales likes/dislikes:
Nobody really knows since nobody has ever asked them, but CRACKED has thoroughly researched the matter and concluded that:
As you can see, the British Army is not very good at this newfangled 'war' business. These days, they are better, but still suffer from a crippling lack of enemies who dont fight back.