Global Language and World Culture
Quotes and opinions on Great Britain

Quotes and opinions on Great Britain

Quotes, aphorisms, thoughts and opinions on Great Britain
Quotes, aphorisms, thoughts and opinions on Great Britain

To be the first to stand up and do the right thing
Graeme, Londonderry, UK

I feel blessed to be a Brit and thank God for it, To be part of a peoples called the United Kingdom which is the mother of much of modern western civilization is something to be very proud of!… God had a great purpose for Britain and still does! I’m very proud to be British… God bless the Queen!
Tony, Worcester, England

I left the UK to live in the USA at age 19, I returned to live in the UK in 2006… I am very American and love America, They know who they are and what they believe. I always felt England was my true home and I never became a US citizen by choice, Because in my mind and heart I was born British and proud of it. England has changed in many ways and in others not at all, However, I fear that those who try to live here as though they are still in their native land are not respectful of the culture here… “When in Rome do as the Romans do” has a lot of validity… All creeds welcome, but please make an effort to be part of the British culture or don’t reside here, and remain in your own culture please.
Anthony Evans, Worcester, England

I believe that being British can not be shown on a bit of paper or in a passport but just living in Britain should be enough to be able to say your British no matter where you came from or what colour you are.
Alexander, Burgess Hill, England

There is no being british. being british is about being multiculturaland this is celebrated
mcsblog, Oxford, England

We were once one of the greatest countries in the world. We will be again. Made me proud to be British.” A comment given to me after seeing my video “We Are The Brits”. It’s making people remember and recognise what it is to be British – with the modern world and media taking over every country somehow individual identity has become submerged and disregarded. People want to be proud to be British and able to say it out loud without being politically incorrect! I wrote this song for us all.
Anton Lorien, London, England

I am proudly English and not in the least embarrased in wearing My Patron Saint George badge and my St George Cross, hoisted in my garden always. Are not the Scottish/Welsh/Iris of mixed race also? but Blair/Brown were determined to be racist undermining the English, determined to irradicate my Country England, simply because they are from another part on this disunited kingdom! I am proud to be English (not British)Its time we had our own English Parliament exactly the same as the Scottish/Welsh/Irish Or would this be classed as rascism? It is simply political properganda from the 17 hundreds. The English will have their own Parliament without interference from other parts on this Island sooner than than one expects. Waes Hael.
Peter D Granville-Edmunds, Cheltenham, England

Being British is great however how much can we call it great with it being a complete democracy for not everyone
Dan, Shepshed, England

To support Britsh events! I.E football (Even if you don’t like it. Eat Britsh! Have freedom! Most of all be PROUD! 🙂
Unknown, Shepshed, England

I love being british no matter what people say about it it dont matter weather you at black of white we are all humans…
Bonnie, colchester, England

I personally don’t think many things make a person British. I think, firstly is a person having a British passport and also i think to some extend that the person should be born in Britian to class themselves as British. I also believe to say your British, you should agree with the British laws and rules within our country.
Tina, london, England

My view on being British is not necessarily someone who’s background is British. Anyone can become a British Citizen and have the British spirit. For example Britain is about people of all different cultures and backgrounds coming together when crises occur, such as the Riots. When they came to an end people came together of all ages and ethnicities to help clean up the mess of which fellow citizens of Britain had made, these people showed lack of respect towards there home ground and gave Britain a bad name as it was so focused in the media, and the after mass of people helping and coming together was not. Also the British Spirit is people who are not afraid to speak out for what they believe and are strong, free speakers who aim to make differences to the world. Therefor in history great Britain managed to gain an empire so Great, considering its such a small group of countries ruled by a small monarchy. I believe most British people are good leaders and have the spirit to want to make changes to society and lead other towards it. However the media can portray British people as being heavy drinkers who allot are on benefits, this is not the case many British people do work hard and do enjoy a drink to relax and socialise as the British are very sociable people just because a small minority do drink heavily shouldn’t be held against the mass of British people. British people are very family based as the majority of families live together or close by showing also that we are sociable and care for one another. In conclusion I believe Britain are free spirited, sociable, caring people who’s intentions are to help one another in the society we live in.
Georgie, birmingham, England

I reckon being British means that you have some sort of understanding of Britain and its culture. Also that you contribute to society, by means of education, work or even recycling. I think that if you are going to be considered British, you have to be proud of the culture, know the national anthem and respect the Nation for what it is
Joe, birmingham, England

To me a British citizen is someone who is proud to live in the United Kingdom and has respect for our country and has a job in the Uk to give back to society 🙂
Rebecca, birmingham, England

I’ve lived in Britain my entire life. I’m half Irish on my mother’s side, and my father was born in Argentina but lived in Banbury. I call myself British because I live here and work here and grew up here. I believe in British morals and British law. Support its government no matter how idiotic it may be sometimes. Even though I’m sixteen I have great pride for my country and its people. A British citizen is someone who supports the country, no matter the colour or race of said person. You need not live in Britain to be British.
William, King’s Lynn, England

I belive that we dont need to define Britishness, it is an abstarct word which we as people in Britain use and people in Britain make to show how proud they are to be in a resourced society. we as people living in Britain make the word Britishness.
C, twickenham, UK

Britishness is being proud of the country and the countries history as this is what makes the country how it is today. Following the rules and regulations is one of the biggest responsibilities that a British citizenship holds, ans this is one of the things that refelcts Britishness
Kawal, Hounslow, England

I feel that being British is made up of many things, such as the music you listen to down to the way you dress. A typical ‘British’ person may listen to British bands, such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and may also wear the latest fashions. ‘Britishness’ is also reflected in food, such as ‘Sunday Roasts’ and ‘Fish and Chips’. I feel that these little things make up Britain as a place, as we are recognized for this, and many people think of these as ‘typical’ British ways of living.
Ashley, Sandown, England

The definition of Britishness is always changing. However Britishness is based on the values that people living in Britain have. As well as the music and fashion people listen to and follow.
Pearl, Hounslow, England

I think to be British it means to follow and obey the British law. To help the running of the country, and to give your ideas on how it should be run.
Joseph, Hounslow, England

I think Britishness is something that everyone has their own view about. For me it is about adding you own aspect of life into society which follows the mainstream beliefs, to build upon society. ‘British’ is somethign we call outselves living in britain having a passport for example
Saif, Hounslow, England

Being British is a way of life and the way we live is determined by a alot of different things such as culture, religion, upbringing etc. Therefore I believe “Britishness” cannot be established through categories such as music, clothes or values – It’s a mixture of all these things and more.
Amrita, Hounslow, England

I believe that Britishness cannot be defined by any certain aspect of your life such as clothing, music etc however I believe that being British is only made certain from holding a British Passport.
Vneeta, Hounslow, England

To be fair i love being british… i dont care what you say
Megan, Bristol, England

To be British means -Say what you mean and mean what you say(be sincere). -Read in between the lines in the conversions you hear and instructions I read. -Use my discretion where applicable. -Apply Chivalry to a large extent, courtesy and manners are very important with words like sorry, please thank-you. -Use my sense of humor effectively and tickle others to laughter. – Be a deep thinker with a powerfully effective mind. Be fair and kind in my dealings with others. -Respect the feelings of others but never scared to tell the truth or speak my mind. – Take time to appreciate the differences every soldier, professional and successful person has made in the land and beyond. – Believe in the blessings of diversity of cultures.
Israel, London, UK

To me, being British means the spoken language and the pride of our country and i think people need to feel proud again as the pride is getting lost.
Gemma, Colchester, UK

Our group thinks that the terms being British is all about what the people of our nation have created for others to enjoy. We think that being British is all about being passionate about the country you live in. We also think that being British is creating amazing bands like The Beatles, Blur, The Rolling Stones and Pulp. Music connects people. We as the younger generation also feel that Britain provides comedy geniuses to the world. People like Russell Howard, Noel Fielding and Lee Evans can join the nation through laughter simply by cracking a joke. We as teenagers feel that in terms of food, the traditional Sunday roast or English breakfast entice people to our country to experience our culture. Tea for instance can join generations in a way that truly satisfies our taste buds.
Beth, Rachael and Hannah, Colchester, UK

Red Post boxes. Red buses. Number 10. The Queen. British Bull dogs. Sunday Roast. Black Cabs. The Beatles. Bowler hats. Loral and Hardy. Stiff upper lip. London. The Union Jack. Parliament. Guy Fawkes. British Ale. Margaret Thatcher. Charles Darwin. The internet. Britannia. Fish and Chips. Seaside Holidays. Blackpool. The BBC. The Church of England. Churchill. Lord Sugar. Sir Paul McCartney. Queen. The 80’s. CHAVs. Council Estates. Patrony.
Mary, Colchester, UK

Britishness is being proud of the country, living in the UK means having the right of freedom and democracy, all British citizens have the right to vote, join pressure groups etc. The British justice system is seen as very fair and the government look after people who are British citizens, for example the NHS and free education. Britishness is also being proud of the countries history as this is what makes the country how it is today. Britishness is also British people respecting each other and treating others how they would like to be treated. Britain is a multicultural country and therefore being British has developed a lot in the years, for example the food has changed from other cultures moving to Britain
Alice, Colchester, UK

I would say that to be British it means having a right of serving and providing speeches for freedom. Different races are involved and this is what British is all about. we are multicultral.
Liam, newcastle, UK

Beatles. The 80s. Vivienne Westwood. The Two Ronnies. London. British Bulldogs. Notting Hill. Queen Elizabeth. Football. Private schools. RED BUSES. London cabs. Night life. Freedom. Ethnic diversity. Long walks. Spitfire planes. Beaches. Fish and chips. Roast dinners with all the trimmings! Industrial revolution. History.
Bea Lee, Colchester, England

The population changes but the place remains the same. To gain an appreciation of the place, put yourself in the shoes of a continental, surrounded by arbitrary borders with other nations and languages. Jostling, always needing to re-assert identity. So then what is this Island to the North, perched on top of all? So lucky to be an Island, but cold! And rainy. Who would want to live there? People to whom identity is more important than comfort. So the British live less in their senses, more in their principles. They can relax in their identity, which leads to a certain kind of confidence. But this island has been periodically invaded. Ancestral memories of bitter struggles cause inner tension. Lately, Britain has been laid waste and made ugly by the engines of its prosperity. Unacknowledged denial masks the deep grief of despoliation. A brassy edge to the cockiness. It will come home to roost, but the British are no strangers to hardship. They adapt.
prentrup, UK

To me being british is about national pride and being part of the great empire, it also include a part of acceptance, living in britain we need to learn to live, learn and work side by side with people of other cultures and and other countries. being british is about being diverse.

Being British means being proud of our history, for without it we have nothing to base our future on. It is irrelevant whether we agree with what happened in our country’s past (as I am sure future generations will not like what we are doing now) history is a foundation to build on. If we had not had an Empire would we have such a diverse society as we do now? We need to be proud of all that we achieve. Being British also means in times of adversity getting on with life, supporting those weaker than ourselves, being a friend to others and a help to our neighbours. The British play by the rules, and enjoy Sunday pub lunches and still love cricket on the green
Jonny Gartside, Rochdale, UK

I hold the values of democracy and freedom of speech dearly and Britain was and is doing well to promote it. Cruel things may have been done to build the mighty empire that once ruled almost a third of the world. But, it also united the world and made it a smaller place: so that everything is no longer alien and people have become a lot more tolerant; this has lead to the birth of a multicultural society. It created a lot of stereotypes that are still used around the world today, for example: famous icons of the Royal Family, The Beatles, Sherlock Holmes, the Houses of Parliament, obsession with weather, congested road, takeaway food, multicultural society, pubs, football, cricket, rugby, kilts, and etcetera. The language seems to dominate a large part of the world and so we should all be proud – not in a conceited way – of what Britain has achieved and show some respect to the name Great Britain.
Anon, UK

I would define what it means to be British as living in a multicultural society; filled with people of a broad spectrum of ethnicity, this is due to Britain’s famous lenient policies on immigration. I would also say that the British people still feel proud of being British, clinging onto the once mighty British Empire, and the lead in the industrial revolution. I also think that the British sense of humour is very unique, our love of sarcasm and irony, that some other countries just don’t seem to enjoy like we do. Being British means getting takeouts, whether it is fish ‘n’ chips, Chinese, Indian or kebab, we are known for our love of them. When I think of Britain, school uniform also strikes me, contrary to the American’s casual clothes worn to school. The last thing I would add to what it means to be British is our obsession with social class.
Lewis Obrien, Newport, UK

Thanx for your efforts. I am an English person (male) who was born in the Uk in Hammersmith London in 1954.(currently living overseas) My family have informed me that I come from the blood of the English on my Mothers side, Welsh blood on my Fathers side,and possibly some some Irish and Scottish blood on my Mothers Fathers side.Her maiden name was Thompson and her Mothers maiden name was Sharpe. Does this qualify to make me a true Brit?
Nick Morgan, South Africa, South Africa

We need to look after the British Citizens that already inhabit
this country. I am a white, British, ex-army wife and when we came back to
the UK, my son was bullied and robbed at school, by some foreign children in
Harrow. Even saying this, at the time, his best friend was a muslim and my
son respected and still respects his friend’s family and their beliefs. But
I feel that they need to learn our rules and respect us too, if they want to
live here and feel welcome. So many of them don’t show us respect; is it any
wonder our children are so defensive?
Clare, Silverdale, UK

As an Englishman I am proud to be a gentleman, to lose gracefully and to stand in queues.
Oliver Clark, London, United Kingdom

As a child brought up during the war, we were marched from the school to the nearest cenotaph, where we sang hymns and Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. Bonny Colne (the town we lived in) and others, being told what a great country we were. We went back to school feeling so proud to be British. To this day, I still get a lump in my throat and puff up with pride when I hear these tunes even though I am 69 and am often ashamed of some of the things done in our country’s name
D Crew,

My idea of someone who is British is one who can take a camera, as Constable took his brushes, and capture the surroundings with a sense of appreciation and care. There should be a hidden talent to innovate and adapt to introductions of the styles that the new arrivals to the country inevitably bring. Finally a sense of tolerance that other parties have a point of view with less of the idea that the world revolves around themselves. Try levelling up not levelling down
Ian Smith, Bournemouth, United Kingdom

There are Scotsmen, there are Welshmen, there are Irishmen. When asked, I call myself an Englishman, not for any reason other than I was born in England. I was born in north east London in 1937. At three years of age I was sent off to somewhere in Essex with my gasmask, but was back home with my parents by 1944. People all across the British Isles from around my generation have good reason for patriotism and love of country, if only for support and admiration for the brave souls who laid down their lives for our freedom and the comradery of the people at home. However in 60 years things have become watered down drastically, most Brits – 25 or under – have never heard of Churchill, Nelson. And the Victoria Cross is just another train station somewhere in London. Come what may, I am an Englishman, away for 38 years, now retired, and back for two months each year to see all I have missed or never ever saw. More reason to be proud of one’s heritage is the coming together of all Brits at the VE Day and Trafalgar Day celebrations and the steadfast reaction against misinformed hooligans, this witnessed by the whole free world. Reasons in order of importance for me leaving the UK, trade unions undermining the auto industry in which I worked, the English weather and a quest for adventure
Alan Stevens, California, USA

Yes, I’m very proud to be British. I may not live in England anymore but ‘till the day I die, I will always be proud to be able to say I’m British. I’m proud of British strength, and common decency. I’m proud that I was able to serve in the W.R.A.F. I’m proud of all the British people from the past and present who withstood the bombings of the wars, and of all the British people who worked hard and instilled in their children the values that makes the British who they are today. Please don’t let your politicians, bow down to the EU and let them destroy British ways. No-one but the British people should dictate the future of Great Britain, too many good people have died to keep Great Britain
Maureen Biller,

All Indians who have lived here and taken British nationality feel British, live British and value British ways of life and justice. This does not mean men have to visit pubs every day and women have to sleep around with every other guy. Britishness means tolerance, justice and fair play and practice of religion without harming others. The problem is for the indigenous population in accepting dark skinned people as Brits even if they are born, bred and brought up in Britain.
Sridhar Rao, Bromley, Kent, United Kingdom

Being British means being proud of our history, for without it we have nothing to base our future on. It is irrelevant whether we agree with what happened in our country’s past (as I am sure future generations will not like what we are doing now) history is a foundation to build on. If we had not had an Empire would we have such a diverse society as we do now? We need to be proud of all that we achieve. Being British also means in times of adversity getting on with life, supporting those weaker than ourselves, being a friend to others and a help to our neighbours. The British play by the rules, and enjoy Sunday pub lunches and still love cricket on the green
Sue Fletcher, France

Britishness is reliance and on your friends and family rather than the state. This belief has allowed Britain to resist the statist doctrines of fascism, communism and socialism better than most. Worryingly, it is because they understand this so clearly, that the liberal left has waged a relentless war on the traditional married family. Divide the family and conquer the British?
Lance Grundy,

ost outstanding to me about being British (English with Scottish parents) is the sense of fair play and justice and wanting respect as you give to others. I am certainly not an EU fan, a long way from wanting a ‘super state’ being ruled from Brussels but I have respect for the individual European countries and for what they stand for. Now is the time to close ranks and be proud to be British, stand along side one another and support ourselves, be selfish to the point where we come first for a change and think of what is best for Britain and its loyal people
Rob, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Being British means everything to me. After almost forty years in Brussels, I still have tears in my eyes for an identity that has now become practically virtual. Being born British is reflected in an almost Victorian education. School uniform, being caned (as in bamboo cane) or having a ruler slash your finger tips by a furious headmistress when only six years old. As a child, books by Enid Blyton, Bronte sisters or the silly Beano, the Famous Five (my method of escaping and no television). The Archers, strawberries and clotted cream. The hymns that we sung meaninglessly and repeatedly but today brings tears to my eyes. Being born British was my passport to success. Being British meant the liberators of WW2. Being English, unfortunately, has come to be associated with hooliganism, drunken holidaymakers and dare I continue…
Ann Johnson, Brussels, Belgium

The joy of being a ‘pom’ in the Antipodes? Being the butt of a variety of ‘whingeing’ jokes, exasperation at our ‘better luck next time’ attitude to sport, and disbelief at our reserve in times of high drama. Most of all, and most gratifyingly, acknowledgment from all around me that there very few others in the world with the will and resolve not to be intimidated by those with corrupt and perverse ideology
Ian Matthews, New Zealand

Being British is: applauding the other team when they score. It’s being courteous to people serving me at a store. It’s giving way at a roundabout (somewhat nerve-wracking here) It’s helping my elderly next door neighbour for the pleasure of it. It’s respecting the values and traditions that were instilled into me by my parents along with a strong community spirit. It’s feeling profoundly satisfied with a Monarch who has served us faithfully for over 50 years
Linda, Sydney, Australia

As a British-born dual citizen living in Australia, I treasure my innate British values as a moral compass that I suspect that citizens of “newer” countries do not have. Britain to me is like an old-fashioned parent: it looks after you if you’re good, but doesn’t lavish you with praise like the Americans would, lest you become big-headed; it will also look after you if you’re bad, providing you show the appropriate level of remorse and promise to do better next time. If you’re really bad, you’re held up as a bad example and punished in front of your peers as a deterrent, but it won’t abandon you
Lorraine, Australia

Being British is to proud of our history and its Christian values. It is about defending our country, our freedom and these values. It is about integration and acceptance of our values. It is remembering those who have given up their lives for the same and be prepared, without question, to follow in their footsteps.
David Thijm, Stourbridge, United Kingdom

Being British is a state of mind, not just a stamp on a passport or a place of birth. If you believe that right and wrong do exist and that the former is preferable, in tolerance for another’s views, in supporting his right to do something of which you disapprove as long as it does not materially harm others, and if you oppose the State interfering unnecessarily in people’s lives, you qualify as British.
William Vincent, Sevenoaks, United Kingdom

As a British citizen living long term in Shanghai, China I have come to understand all that is great about being British. In Shanghai, when all are panicking around you, when it is considered acceptable to rush into a lift before you leave, to slam doors in other people’s faces and push and shove in queues one comes to learn that there is a fundamental decency to being British. Superficial as these things are, they are fundamental to the way in which we deal with each other and also other cultures. Respect for other people, politeness and an understated personal appearance combined with an inner confidence, these are the values that are fundamental to being British
Chris, Shanghai, China

To feel British is something you experience when you are away from Britain. Its green countryside. Safety when walking the streets. The fact that we band together against adversity. So many things have been invented in our country
Barry Ashcroft, Barnet, Herts, United Kingdom

Being British means having a respect and intellectual understanding of our institutions, and the continuity of our island life that they represent. It is to understand and accept that change comes about through evolution in society, not revolution. It means that when in doubt, we try and do the right thing and deploy a heavy dose of common sense. It means that when our political party does not win an election, and no matter how fiercely we disagree with the winners, that we become the Loyal Opposition. It means that we will tolerate any point of view, however outrageous, until it stops tolerating us. It means being able to laugh at ourselves and never take offence. It means that we will argue amongst ourselves, but be instantly united if our country is threatened. And, most importantly, it means that our patriotism is intellectual and born of a conviction that does not need to be expressed in words or flags because we are supremely comfortable and confident with who we are as a people.
Mark Newdick, Danbury, CT (Expat), USA

Living for last three years in Paris I now see more clearly the great British traits: tolerance, understatement, intelligence, the willingness to listen to others (sadly lacking in some other places), a respect for the law without being subservient to it, a love of our countryside and our monuments, and above all the joy of conversation and a good joke shared (preferably over a warm pint). Add to this a dash of eccentricity and a good dose of looneys, and you have a healthy and heady mix which will continue to survive the worst the world can throw at us. The steel of the nation has been wrought from the fire of its history
Andrew Wilson, Paris, France

Being British to me means that if we are tasked to do something we don’t just ‘do it’, we embrace it, we do it with style, panache and enthusiasm. I have no doubt that the world will see the best Olympics ever in 2012. Simply because we always produce the goods when we are given an opportunity to prove our worth to the world. Just wait and see
Steve Searle, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

Britain is a beacon to the world. The best and brightest individuals from across the world want to study in Britain because of what its institutions have to offer. There is no need to “reinvent” Britishness for the post-colonial, post-devolution age. The essence of what it is to be British is already there, and it can be found in the world around you. Ethereal though it may be, “Britishness” cannot be easily summed up – however it includes an undying belief in the principles of democracy and the rule of law; a desire to construct a society that is free, just and inclusive; and, above all else, “Britishness” is stubborn hope
Andrew Bowles, Ontario, Canada

I’m proud to be British, and proud to be English, too. My job has kept me out of England for many years, but I remain an Englishman, as Gilbert wrote. Britishness implies a tolerance of almost anything, up to the 59th minute of the 11th hour at any rate. It turns away from excessive exhibition of emotion, be it patriotic, antagonistic, whatever. “Steady on, old chap” is a reprimand as effective as a mouthful of insult. We look at life from a slightly cock-eyed, wry, humorous viewpoint. Not smug – we laugh at ourselves as much as at others. We’re proud of who we are, the freedoms for which we stand, but don’t cram them down other peoples’ throats nor pretend that we are their only champions. We embrace real progress, and are deeply cynical about change for change’s sake. We preserve our heritage with just enough zeal to avoid stagnation. We’re generally calm, understated, underestimated, and probably let too many take unfair advantage of us. The bulldog still has teeth, though, so don’t push us too far.
Roger French, Houston, Texas, USA

I grew up in a magnificent, large cockney family, we had nothing to speak of materially, and we “got on with it” yet maintained a sense of pride and dignity. Having lived in the USA for 35 years I no longer romantazise about the past London I knew, nor the good manners, the safety or the supportive neighbourhoods. One has to be away from it for a while, and upon a return visit, see things now as they really are. I love my heritage and I love my memories of the city I grew up in, and I shall defend England’s honour as long as I live
Barb Whitlock, Virginia/ex-Camberwell, USA

I have lived in Canada for 31 years but still consider myself to be British – and proud of it. I am proud to be a member of a nation that has offered so much to the world in the form of medical discoveries, scientific breakthroughs, world leadership, social reforms, a political foundation that is copied and envied the world over, whose people have a wry sense of humour and are able to laugh at their own quirks and foibles and above all else a tolerance for others that has sometimes been stretched to the limit – but has not been broken
Gareth J Green, Niagara Falls, Canada

I have been thinking a lot about this lately, and think that all the things mentioned by your other correspondents boil down to just one concept: “Fair Play”. Everything truly British is encompassed in that phrase – freedom, justice, respect for others, honesty and common sense – and everything the British really hate can be accurately characterised as a lack of fair play
Denis Smith, Norfolk, United Kingdom

Being British conjures up notions of fair play, rounded education, good driving, respect for laws, standing up for rights and against injustice, sharp humour (irony, self-effacement, puns etc), sociability, appreciation of foreign people and customs (yes, I really mean that!), generosity in giving to charitable causes, invention and creativity, independence, tolerance and flexibility. We are certainly not perfect and perhaps we still cling too much to the “glorious” past but we represent a lot of what is good in the world
John Barry, Paris, France

A country’s worth may be estimated solely by the values embraced by its people. Those values, fashioned over time, are a consequence of reactions to historical forces. They define the type of people of which they form part. Britain’s people, if not the best in the world, are amongst the best.Their greatest characteristic is their intrinsic decency. There are a myriad of others : their sense of fair play; courteousness; the manner in which adversity is confronted and their passionate love of freedom and justice. Yes, Britain has made mistakes, but what country has not? It has its share of criminals and ne’er-do-wells but so do all others. On balance, the way it runs its affairs is better than most – if not the best
Tony Warner, Wingham, Kent, United Kingdom

I am proud to be British. I am proud to be a Yorkshirewoman. I feel that being British isn’t something to be ashamed of, nor is it bigoted prejudice. Britishness doesn’t really cover things like accent or skin tone, but more a sense of history and dignity. Also I do not think that Britishness encourages slandering other countries, even the French, with whom we have many disputes and many family ties. To me, Britishness means Good Form, Decency, Rain Stops Play and glorious summer evenings. All right, it also includes being stuck on the M25 when I go North to visit my family, but the joy of being British is that the bad things are glossed over
Caryn Smith, Sussex, United Kingdom

I’m a hugely proud Englishman and a hugely proud Brit. Living abroad these last few years has given me an even better appreciation of the worth of our nation and just how much our small island has given to the world. Are we perfect? Of course not, nor does our society lack the vices common to most industrialised nations, but our characteristic decency, fortitude, sense of humour and fair play, and the freedom and toleration we so easily take for granted are all things that inspire a love of country within and act as a beacon for other people throughout the world
Andrew Robinson, Vancouver, Canada

As an expat who has never been inclined to changed her citizenship, being British means having a sense of fairness and consideration for others. Being British means considering the options before actions take place and having valid reasons for taking those actions. Being British means having a real sense of history and learning from our past mistakes
Sue Hains, Ontario, Canada

Lucky to be born in the prettiest place in the world among some of the most benevolent, caring, intelligent and compassionate people.
Bob Miller, Essex, United Kingdom

Freedom of speech. Freedom of movement. Freedom of Action within the confines of law. The ability to participate in well regulated Secret Ballot for positions of Social Responsibilty.
Richard MacLachlan, SCOTLAND, United Kingdom

Being of foreign origin, now nationalized, I think that what made me British is the love I felt for this country, and the wish to be part of it.
Luis Lozano, London (originally from Mexico), United Kingdom

Standing up for this land, regardless of race, gender, or age.
Marc, Brighton, United Kingdom

I struggled to feel British before events like the Queen Mother`s funeral, since them I have felt an increasing sense of British identity. Up until then I have always seen myself as European, as my ancestors were Italian, Irish and French.
Claire Taylor, United Kingdom

Citizenship classes are not just important for new immigrants into Britain, but they should also be taken by young people in school, as many already do. Being a citizen here means you understand the functions of this country, and its institutions. Learning about parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, what it means to have certain freedoms. That is what makes us all British – the capacity to have a common ground of society, with all of our individual characteristics and merits.
S. Chapman, United Kingdom

What makes me British? The fact that I was born in Britain and have never changed my national status since. End of story.
Jack Rawlinson, United Kingdom

A true Brit takes pride in his nation’s past achievements as well as its enviable position in the world today. In danger he remains loyal and has an abiding faith in the political system and his fellow countrymen. Race, birthplace and religion are irrelevant.
Anonymous, United Kingdom

When I was growing up I had a great sense of pride in my country, Britain, where I was born. Since I have studied history I have realised that the truth is that we have no more and no less reason pride than any other nation. We’ve had our share of heroes – often flawed – and our share of innovators and great leaders, but we also have had feckless rulers, demagogues, pirates and despots, and, of course, football hooligans who have given us a terrible reputation throughout the world and are not a source of pride. But I am proud of this extraordinarily ubiquitous language. That separates us from all other nations, because it is becoming the world’s mother tongue.
Randy, United Kingdom

If we must define ourselves through nationality, then I define myself as British for this reason: strength, pride, fairness, stubbornness and the British Monarchy!
Esther, United Kingdom

British characteristics are contradictory – eccentricity with privacy, pride with self-effacement, pragmatism with tradition. We’re a people of innovation, on a permanent nostalgia trip.
Tim Staddon, United Kingdom

It is to respect your country and the people in it. To respect the beliefs and rules and see it as a second country – if an immigrant. And treat it as you would your own; be prepared to live within these rules. To be able to obtain a passport and to enjoy British culture but at the same time contribute to the society ideology and culture from your background. Many of us are happy to have this input. Feel free to live your culture and live in peace and make friendships with people.
Chris, Bath, United Kingdom

Being British myself I find that this notion has many aspects. Although I have an Iranian father, I was born and raised here. However, I feel there are still some issues to be considered. I myself have had some difficulty with my name in the past when applying for jobs etc.. However, I am proud to be British in a multicultural society, and feel being British is about integration, tradition and progress. As a nation our economy is booming, and our way of life has improved over the years. We must therefore I feel embrace our identities as British people, look back at our cultures, histories and achievements and blend them into our proud heritage that is being British. Colour, creed and religion are all aspects of modern British identity, so embrace them and work towards keeping Britain a proud nation that continues to succeed in the international world economy, as well as our own nation, building a fair, just and tolerant society.
Shirvin Zeinalzade, Highgate, United Kingdom

What makes a person British?- I’ll tell you: A free market economy. Individual Freedom Limited Government National Parliamentary Democracy Personal and Family Responsibility The Rule of Law. Strong National Defences.
Peter, Cheltenham, United Kingdom

Several things: valuing unhurried, charming, (and at times frustrating) eccentric behaviors; displaying and expecting civic responsibility, broad tolerance, and an understanding of a morality common to humanity; fostering lower-case conservativism, cheery optimism, and persistence; understanding that the “small” things in life are the truly important things, and knowing that sweeping, deterministic utopian ideologies always lead to hideous and tragic dystopias; and hoping and believing that when it comes to important, common matters most people are decent most of the time.
James E. Davis, Jacksonville, Illinois, USA

I am English and British and in many ways proud of this. I do, however, consider myself more of a European and see this as the future rather than clinging to the past. Much of what once differentiated Britons from other races is now almost irrelevant in a modern multi-cultural world. “Britishness” needs to evolve and to take on the best of the immigrant cultures rather than highlighting the differences between ethnic white Britons and the new British subjects. Sadly many people who propound themselves as British display xenophobia at its worst.
Keith Widdop, England, United Kingdom

Being British is being able to moan about anything and everything, and not truly appreciate anything. The weather, the nhs, the roads, the schools, the crime levels – no one can be satisfied with anything. Oh yeah, and there’s the monarchy. Everyone seems up for ousting them, but I think for once we ought to be proud and more than content with our royal family. They are British – a unified family with moral values.
Shahid Hussain, United Kingdom

To be British is to be multicultural. The 4 nations that make up Britain, each with their own cultures, the many peoples that conquered us in our ancient history and the many we conquered in more recent times have all contributed to our multi-cultural culture and multi-lingual language
James, United Kingdom

I was born in Afghanistan and came to Britain (legally) as a child with my parents – I am a British Afghan. I am proud to be British and proud to be an Afghan. I value the cultural and religious diversity of the British society. Being a citizen is about making positive contribution to society and living in harmony with others. We Brits moan too much instead of appreciating the good things that we have!!
Safia, London, United Kingdom

You ask what it means to be British, and what are the unifying values that group us together. The answer is our sovereign as Head of State. To be British in the UK is to accept cultural diversity that has been brought to these shores largely due to the nation’s history. And anyone who chooses to become British and to live in this country does so knowing he is permitted to become part of that society at the goodwill of his host nation. Good manners dictate he acknowledges and respects the culture of his hosts, and makes every effort to intergrate into his adopted society.
Trevor Yang, London, United Kingdom

As someone born in the UK but with a Polish name, I regard myself as British. To be English you need to be of Anglo-Saxon origin, Welsh, Irish or Scottish people are of Celtic origin, each making up what it takes to be British. “British” is an all-encompassing adjective to describe anyone from the UK, whether English, Bangladeshi, Canadian or Kenyan in ethnicity. The passport is proof of Britishness, but let us not forget that that simple word is what gives the UK an advantage over France, the Netherlands and other countries with ethnic diversity – we have a word which aids integration: British.
Raymond Goslitski, Leuven, Belgium

This country is epitomised by surprise – nothing is as you expect it to be. Unlike a police state, there is a tradition of allowing eccentricity and variety in Britain. The language is terribly important. Of course they speak English elsewhere, but it does not have the same reverberations. That, for a writer, is one of the most important aspects.
UA Fanthorpe, poet, United Kingdom

Britishness is about valuing freedom, fair play, tolerance, inventiveness, adventurousness, and self-deprecating humour and irony. It is also about understanding that our responsibilities to society and the duty to contribute to it are just as important as standing on our rights. Important to all this is at least some understanding of the history of the British Isles – how and why our social and political capital has been accrued and protected over the centuries. And I would say that this should be accompanied by a basic level of appreciation of our territory – the portion of the earth that Britons share together, the landscape and ecology of which which is highly varied and intricate in proportion to its size. Finally, it’s about valuing and holding onto the depth of our rich language and vocabulary and not letting it get pared down into a kind of estuarial pigeon-English!
Ray, Bromley, United Kingdom

We’re the only race on earth which is so emotionally secure that we don’t mind our actors constantly being cast to play the Bad Guys in Hollywood movies. Come to think of it, we’re the only race on earth which still laughs at ridiculous phrases like “emotionally secure”…. for a little while longer, at least.
Ian Kemmish, Biggleswade, United Kingdom

Being British gave me the privilege of being taught by a wonderful man, Captain Keith Waterhouse he served through the whole of The Great War and the Second World War campaigns and still remained the most humanitarian person you could possibly meet, it was he together with a Russian Jewish émigré Mr Prinz who had a wonderful gentle and philosophical outlook on life and who introduced me to the subject of the natural world that had a huge influence on my childhood they are to me what is great about Britain the example they both set of tolerance and reason is one that has been hard to emulate but some of their influence lives on in most of those who came into contact with them. Being British is the feeling that there is a large rump of the population who may not have all the virtues of tolerance, reason, patience, generosity, fair play ect but between them can muster up most of them most of the time
Liverpool Lad, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Britishness is the countryside, individual liberty, unbroken tradition, and no revolutions. For the British countryside I would pick out the West Highlands, the Lake District and the West Country. There is a strange mistiness alight, such as Turner picked up on so brilliantly. It is a country of poetry.
Shirley Williams, Liberal Democrat peer, United Kingdom

I feel the most British characteristic of all is a sense of humour. Use it to mock authority and keep those who exert it from getting too big for their boots. Doesn’t matter if it’s satire, wordplay, sarcasm, farce or screwball. Jokes to beat tears when you’re sad, and jokes to get you out of saying anything too sentimental when you’re emotional. If you do not possess a highly developed sense of the ridiculous, you haven’t really arrived as a Brit yet. Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
Anon, United Kingdom

Only in Britain would you find its inhabitants whingeing and moaning about the country in which they live. Move! Leave the country! Deal with it! We’re extraordinarily lucky to live in a country where the majority of people are open minded, open to a multicultural society and such like. You can also wear what you want, worship what you want, say pretty much what you want. Isn’t that GREAT? I think so.
Charlotte, West London, United Kingdom

Being British means I would be willing to stand by the country that gave me the freedom and education to form into the honest and hardworking individual that I am.
Anon, United Kingdom

It’s tolerance, decency and a determination to talk about the weather on all occasions and a tendency, when a stranger stands on one’s foot, to apologise
Martin Bell, MP, United Kingdom

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