According to “the official website of the British Monarchy” the queen claims to be head-of-state of Ireland.
In a FAQ it claims:
“Q9. In how many countries is The Queen Head of State?
A. Including the British Isles, The Queen is Head of State in 16 Commonwealth countries. Her Majesty is head of the Commonwealth which includes 53 countries.”
Now as I have discussed here before, the most common definition of the term “British Isles” that is accepted by many, including the British Ordnance Survey, the BBC, the British Council and the European Community Directorate of Translations , includes Ireland.
I know very well that the Queen is not head-of-state of Ireland. I don’t believe in this age of mutual respect between our islands that such an inflammatory remark would be made. However, based on the most widely accepted definition of the term “British Isles”, this is what is being claimed! Now we can take this as the definition doesn’t include Ireland, but does this not show how ambiguous and in some regards dangerous this term because of this?
Most worrying as not only is this the official site but it called “20 most asked questions”! Can people not see how confusing and misleading this is to, well, everyone, but especially those outside of the UK and Ireland who use the term widely influenced by the BBC and British Council. The British Council promotes the teaching of English widely and includes Ireland clearly in their definition of the “British Isles”, as discussed here previously.
It is clear from the use of the term in other parts of the website that they consider Ireland to be part of the “British Isles”:
“In the eighth century, smaller kingdoms in the British Isles continued to fall to more powerful kingdoms, which claimed rights over whole areas and established temporary primacies: Dalriada in Scotland, Munster and Ulster in Ireland. In England, Mercia and later Wessex came to dominate, giving rise to the start of the monarchy. “
This I hope demonstrates why the term should not be used or at least avoided. I hope that you see that when using the term you really have to think is this really what I mean? Is there not a simpler less ambiguous way of stating this? There is; she is head-of-state of the British Islands.
- Is there every a use for the term “British Isles”? (irelandsroar.wordpress.com)
- Ordance Survey Promoting the Use of the Term “British Isles” (irelandsroar.wordpress.com)
- Style-guide for Terms Referring to Ireland, Britain and the Islands Around Them (irelandsroar.wordpress.com)