The Union Flag
, in its modern form, was first adopted in 1801. It incorporates St. Patrick's Cross to represent the inclusion of Ireland in the Union.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed on 1 January 1801 from the merger of the Kingdom of Great Britain (itself a merger of the former Kingdoms of Scotland and England in 1707) and the Kingdom of Ireland. The merger was facilitated by the decision of the exclusively Anglican Irish Parliament in College Green, Dublin in August 1800 to vote itself out of existence by passing the Act of Union. The British government awarded gifts of titles, land and money to Irish MPs to encourage their new-found unionism.
Whilst the Irish Free State became independent in 1922, after the Anglo-Irish War, 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 in accordance with the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927.
Under the terms of the merger, Ireland was to be represented by over 100 MPs in the united parliament, meeting in the Palace of Westminster. Part of the trade-off was to be the granting of Catholic Emancipation. However, this was blocked by King George III who argued that emancipating Roman Catholics would breach his Coronation Oath.
Generations of Irish leaders campaigned to establish home government in Ireland. Daniel O'Connell successfully forced the British Government to grant Catholic Emancipation finally in 1829. However, his campaign to 'repeal' the Act of Union failed. Later leaders, such as Charles Stewart Parnell, campaigned for a version of Irish self-government called Home Rule within membership of the United Kingdom, which was nearly achieved in the 1880's under the (British) ministry of W.E. Gladstone. However, the measure was defeated in Parliament, and following the ascension of the Conservatives to the majority, the issue was buried as long as their party was in power. The constant delaying of Home Rule created the frustration that eventually led to political violence and independence.
In 1919, Irish MPs elected to Westminster formed a unilaterally independent Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann with an executive under the President of Dáil Éireann, Eamon de Valera. A War of Independence was fought between 1919 and 1921. Finally in December 1922, twenty-six of Ireland's counties exited from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and formed an independent Irish Free State. Six counties, called Northern Ireland, remained in the United Kingdom, which was renamed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927.
List of monarchs
Though the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland effectively came to an end in 1922, the monarch continued to use the title of King or Queen of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until 1927. Then, under the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, new titles were introduced for the British monarch so that he would reign as 'King of Great Britain', in Britain, and 'King of Ireland', in Ireland.