Loyalists (United Kingdom)
Loyalists can be considered in the United Kingdom to be people who are committed to the political ideology of maintanence of the United Kingdom in its present form. This can include British nationalists and tends to imply those who are militant, and sometimes even violent, in their views. Most often from the latter part of the 20th century, it has been applied specifically to people in both Northern Ireland and Scotland. Historically however, the name has been applied to various people of different periods in the British Isles.
Wars of the Roses
Cavaliers and Roundheads
Ireland and Scotland
Ostensibly, loyalism can be regarded as describing people who are loyal to the British monarchy and to the country as an entity under that monarchy. Therefore the term Royalist could logically also be applicable. However, that is not always the case. Supporters of independence for Northern Ireland, while they have only ever been in a minority, have been described as loyalists. Some loyalists are republican, in the sense of desiring the United Kingdom, in its present form, to become a republic (as opposed to proponents of 'Irish Republicanism' who are separatists).
Opponents of Ulster Unionism often refer to unionists generically as loyalists, regardless of whether said unionists are moderate or militant in views and deeds.
With regard to violent outbreaks in Northern Ireland where loyalists have been involved, the media more often leans toward the use of the word loyalist, but sometimes also uses either "unionists" or "Protestants".
At the same time, some loyalists have been non-violent or have reformed with regard to violence.