When I was knee-high to a grasshopper and had recently arrived in Spain an older boy asked me if I came from Great Britain...to be honest I was about four and had never heard the words Great Britain, especially in Spanish, so as it sounded rather cool, I boldly announced that I was from Great Britain. I use to hear my father lament in the 1970s that there was nothing ‘great’ about Great Britain any longer and that also rather stuck in my brain.

It was Margaret Thatcher who said on the steps of Downing Street at the end of the Falklands war that it was Great Britain again.

The other day a reader of this newspaper said that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be putting the great back into Britain. But as far as I am concerned the great never went away...you just have to listen to what many Spaniards say about Britain.

It is Great Britain for them because of the rule of law, the culture, the parliamentary system. It is a long list. So despite what some might believe back in Britain, their country is still well respected on mainland Europe for fundamental and in some cases, historical reasons.

I would never say that I am from Great Britain but I believe it; for reasons that range from the sacrifices made by so many people during the Second World War to the British sense of fair play and of course The Royal Navy.

As regards Boris Johnson he could be accused of taking the Great out of Great Britain...but I could never comment on that because being British is also about being diplomatic.


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James / Hace over 2 years

Without wanting to be anti-patriotic, the “great” refers to the size of Britain compared to Brittany and Normandy from whence many British originally came from. Brittany in Spanish is Bretaña, thus the Gran Bretaña.