For a more detailed description of England see the Article about England in Wikipedia.
Shetland is currently linked to England via various political, social, cultural and economic structures. This is partly due to the annexation of Shetland by Scotland, and the subsequent absorption of Scotland by England in 1603 (Union of the Crowns) and 1707 (Act of Union).
Although not strictly a neighbour of Shetland, its influence on the islands predates the Union of Scotland and England.
London is the transport hub of the UK, especially when it comes to air travel from major airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick. The vast majority of ferry services from the UK to continental Europe also leave from here, mainly from the south coast of England, but also from Hull. Most major UK airlines are headquartered in England.
Most of the non-local TV & Radio available in Shetland is either broadcast from England, or headquartered there, e.g. the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky, and numerous radio stations. Similarly, many English newspapers and magazines are distributed in Shetland, e.g. Daily Mail, The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Mirror, The Guardian etc. TV licensing is also based there.
The cultural influence that England presently exerts on Shetland therefore cannot be underestimated.
Orkney and Shetland collectively send one MP to Westminster.
Most political decisions regarding Shetland, such as foreign affairs, defence, and taxation are taken in Westminster, and at Whitehall. However, since the 1970s, Westminster’s influence on Shetland affairs has declined, because of Scottish devolution on the one hand and the growing influence of the European Union (and its predecessors such as the EEC) on the other. Education, health and transport are now within the remit of the Scottish Parliament. Control of fisheries, metrification, exports/imports and human rights tend to fall under the European aegis now.
The British Royal Family are based in London.
The Union Jack contains the English flag within it, as does that of the Royal Navy (twice)
Geography and economy
England is a considerable distance from Shetland. Hamish Haswell-Smith points out that “Muckle Flugga is further from the Scottish/English border than Lands End”. England’s economic and political centre of gravity is of course, nowhere near the border, but down in south east England and the so called Home Counties. England has a considerable fishing industry, and English boats frequently visit Shetland waters, and vice versa.
England also has a few of its own North Sea oil and gas interests. English businesses, notably British Petroleum have been instrumental in the opening up of the fields off Shetland, and the construction of the Sullom Voe oil terminal.
It is uncertain when Shetland and (present day) England had their first contact. It may have been in pre-historic times, by traders. Alternatively, it could have been during the Roman period. It appears that Roman fleets did reach Shetland (although their galleys were notoriously unsuited to oceanic travel), and this exchange may not have been one way. The Roman province south of Hadrian's Wall was attacked by Picts, especially in the 3rd and 4th centuries, not just by land, but also by sea. It is possible that Pictish vessels from Shetland were involved in these attacks.
In the post-Roman period, both Northern England (notably Lindisfarne) and Shetland were evangelised by the Celtic Church. Given the long journeys made by culdees elsewhere, some exchange is possible in this period.
Later on, most of Northern England fell into the "Danelaw", a region governed by Norse law (see Udal Law) and mostly settled by Danes. There were one or two pockets of Norwegian settlement (as in Shetland) mostly on the coast of the Irish Sea, and especially around Cumberland/the Lake District.
English influence on Shetland was notable both before and after the annexation by Scotland. The English navy and private ships predated on many neighbouring countries such as Norway and Scotland. This was not unique to the English during the Middle Ages - most countries did it unfortunately.
On the more positive side, English trade, fishing, whaling etc also occurred during this period.
(See also Communication, Politics above)
From the 1960s onwards, there has been a considerable influx of English into Shetland, and they form one of the largest minorities in the islands.
Likewise, a number of Shetlanders have gone to live in England, particularly London and other large cities.
From time to time, certain people have proposed Shetland remain linked to London, if Scotland becomes independent/devolved.