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The United Kingdom is the name given to the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. England is part of Great Britain, which also includes Scotland and Wales.

Britain has the oldest parliamentary democracy in the world. The Queen is the Head of State while the leader of the Government is the Prime Minister. The Government is made from the party that has the largest number of seats in the House of Commons. There are elections every five years.

Elected politicians are called Members of Parliament and they go to the House f Commons where they debate and vote on bills. There are also other politicians who are in the House of Lords. The House of Lords also debates and votes on bills. A bill must go through the  Houses to become law. The House of Lords is not elected. The Lords are either  appointed by the Government or inherit the position from their parents.

The Royal Family

Queen Elizabeth II  is the 2nd Monarch (7th Queen). She is one of  the richest women in the world. As well as being the Head of State and the Church of England, she is also Commander in Chief of the armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force) and leader of the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth includes the third world countries  that were in the British Empire,  as well as  Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

In reality the Queen doesn't play an active role in the government of the country, although the Prime Minister has to meet her every week to discuss what the Government is doing. Every year she officially opens Parliament in one of the colourful state occasions that she performs. These state occasions are big tourist attractions.

The British State pays the Queen and the Royal Family for the job that they do. The people in the Royal Family who are paid by the state are called the "Civil List". The Queen now pays taxes but this is very recent. Love them or hate them, the Royal Family is an important feature in British culture.

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