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The English monarchs, through inheritance of substantial territories in France and claims to the French crown, were also heavily involved in conflicts in France, most notably the Hundred Years War, while the Kings of Scots were in an alliance with the French during this period.
In 1603, the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland were united in a personal union when James VI, King of Scots, inherited the crowns of England and Ireland and moved his court from Edinburgh to London; each country nevertheless remained a separate political entity and retained its separate political, legal, and religious institutions.
It has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its first session in 1946.
It has been a leading member state of the European Union (EU) and its predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC), since 1973; however, a referendum in 2016 resulted in 51.9% of UK voters favouring leaving the EU, and the country's exit is being negotiated.
The adjective "British" is commonly used to refer to matters relating to the United Kingdom.
The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland.
The UK is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy.
Other major urban areas in the UK include the conurbations centred on Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Liverpool.
It has a high-income economy and has a "very high" Human Development Index, ranking 16th in the world.
It was the first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries.