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Paul Sparks - Online English Lesson Plans, Lesson Material and Ideas for "Culture of English Speaking Countries Lessons", Xiangtan Normal University...




The British Monarchy (Royal Family)


Source of information "The Official Royal Website":

The British Monarchy
: The Crown Jewels, (some shown in the picture) are famous world-wide, and are a symbol of monarchy for the British people and, as such, their value represents more than gold and precious stones. They have been used by English kings and queens since 1660 or earlier. The Crown Jewels are part of the national heritage and held by The Queen as Sovereign. When a sovereign (King or Queen) dies, or abdicates (retires from being King or Queen), a successor is immediately decided according to rules which were laid down at the end of the seventeenth century. The coronation of a new sovereign is a great ceremony of celebration that has remained essentially the same for over a thousand years. The new Sovereign succeeds to the throne as soon as his or her predecessor dies and is at once proclaimed at an Accession Council in St James's Palace. All members of the Privy Council are summoned. Members of the House of Lords, the Lord Mayor and aldermen and other leading citizens of the City of London, and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries are invited to attend. In London the public proclamation of the new Sovereign is first read out at St James's Palace; it is also read out in Edinburgh, Windsor and York.

Coronation: (The Ceremony to install a new King or Queen) The coronation of the new Sovereign follows an appropriate interval after the death of the King or Queen. The ceremony has remained essentially the same over a thousand years. For the last 900 years, the ceremony has taken place at Westminster Abbey. The service is conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of representatives of the Houses of Parliament, Church and State. Prime ministers and leading citizens from the Commonwealth and representatives of other countries also attend. The coronation is an occasion for pageantry and celebration, but it is a religious ceremony. During the ceremony, the Sovereign takes the coronation oath - the form and wording have varied over the centuries. 

Succession: The basis for the succession was determined in the constitutional developments of the 17th century, which culminated in the Bill of Rights (1689) and the Act of Settlement (1701). When James II fled the country in 1688, Parliament held that he had 'abdicated the government' and that the throne was vacant. The throne was then offered, not to James's young son, but to his daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange, as joint rulers. It therefore came to be established not only that the Sovereign rules through Parliament, but that the succession to the throne can be regulated by Parliament, and that a Sovereign can be deprived of his title through misgovernment. Succession to the throne is based on the principle of male primogeniture, according to which male heirs take precedence over daughters and the right of succession belongs to the eldest son. Daughters take precedence over the Sovereign's brothers. When a daughter succeeds, she becomes Queen Regnant and has the same powers as a king. Where a Sovereign has no children, the succession then lies with the Sovereign's eldest surviving brother and his children (sons, then daughters), as when William IV was succeeded by his niece Victoria. If a Sovereign has no brothers, or if those brothers have no children, then the line of succession passes to the Sovereign's sister(s) in age order, as when Edward VI was succeeded by his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth.

The Royal Household: The Royal Household assists The Queen in carrying out her official duties; there are 645 full-time employees. The Royal Household's functions are divided into six Departments, under the overall authority of the Lord Chamberlain, the senior member of The Queen's Household.

The Royal Castles and Palaces: Throughout the centuries, Britain's kings and queens have built or bought many places to serve as family homes, workplaces and as centres of government. The residences associated with today's Royal family are divided into the Occupied Royal Palaces, which are held by the Sovereign in trust for future generations, and the Private Estates which have been handed down to The Queen by earlier generations of the Royal family.

Buckingham Palace: Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and evolved from a town house that was owned, from the beginning of the eighteenth century, by the Dukes of Buckingham. 
"The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace" has taken place since 1660, it is where Household Troops have guarded the Sovereign and the Royal Palaces. Until 1689, the Sovereign lived mainly at the Palace of Whitehall and was guarded there by Household Cavalry. (They still mount guard at Horse Guards Arch today; the Changing of the Guard takes place daily at 11 am in the courtyard of Horse Guards Building and lasts half an hour. Other units such as The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, take over on occasions to enable the Household Cavalry to carry out their operational commitments.). 
In 1689, the court moved to St James's Palace, which was guarded by the Foot Guards. When Queen Victoria moved into Buckingham Palace in 1837, the Queen's Guard remained at St James's Palace, with a detachment guarding Buckingham Palace, as it still does today. When The Queen is in residence, there are four sentries at the front of the building; when she is away there are two. 

Windsor Castle: For over 900 years there has been a castle at Windsor. William the Conqueror chose the site, high above the River Thames and on the edge of a Saxon hunting ground. It was a day's march from the Tower of London and intended to guard the western approaches to the capital. Now the Castle continues to perform its prime role as one of The Queen's official residences. On 20 November 1992, the forty-fifth wedding anniversary of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, nine principal rooms and over 100 other rooms over an area of 9,000 square metres, approximately one-fifth of the Castle area, of the Upper Ward of Windsor Castle were damaged or destroyed by fire which began in the Private Chapel when a spotlight came into contact with a curtain over a prolonged period and ignited the material. 

St James's Palace: The senior Palace of the Sovereign and still the 'Court' to which foreign Ambassadors and High Commissioners are accredited, St James's Palace was built between 1532 and 1540 by Henry VIII on the site of the Hospital of St James, Westminster. For over 300 years it was lived in by kings and queens of England. Queen Anne brought the court to St James's in 1702 after the disastrous fire which destroyed the Palace of Whitehall in 1698. It has remained the official residence of the Sovereign, although since the death of William IV in 1837 the Sovereign has lived at Buckingham Palace.

Kensington Palace: In 1689 William III bought the Jacobean mansion originally known as Nottingham House from his Secretary of State, the Earl of Nottingham, and commissioned Christopher Wren to extend and improve the house. This included the construction of Royal Apartments for the King and Queen, a council chamber, the Chapel Royal and the Great Stairs. A private road was laid out from the Palace to Hyde Park Corner, wide enough for three or four carriages to travel abreast down it, part of which survives today as Rotten Row. Until the death of George II in 1760, Kensington Palace was the favourite residence of successive sovereigns. Queen Victoria was born and brought up in the Palace and news of her accession in 1837 was brought to her there by the Lord Chamberlain and the Archbishop of Canterbury. It had been expected that Victoria would reign from either Kensington or St James's Palace but almost immediately she moved to Buckingham Palace and never again stayed at Kensington. 

Balmoral Castle: The castle which the royal family use when they stay in Scotland.

Sandringham House: The Queen and other members of the Royal family regularly spend Christmas at Sandringham and make it their official base until February each year. The house was first opened to the public in 1977, and there is a museum with displays of Royal life and Estate history. 

Royal History: The current Royal Family are called the "Windsors", previous Royalty are as follows:

  • Kings of Wessex and England (802-1066) 

  • The Scottish Royal Dynasties (842-1625) 

  • The Continental Dynasties (1066-1216) 

  • The Plantagenet Dynasties (1216-1485) 

  • The Tudors (1485-1603) and the Stuarts (1603-1714) 

  • The Hanoverians (1714-1837) 

  • Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1837-1917) 

  • The Windsors (1917- present day)

Historical Kings and Queens

The Commonwealth: The Queen is not only Queen of the United Kingdom, but Head of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 independent countries. Most of these countries have progressed from British rule to independent self-government, and the Commonwealth now serves to foster international co-operation and trade links. While remaining entirely responsible for their own policies, member countries choose to consult and co-operate in certain areas such as strengthening democracy by good government, promoting human rights and working for social and economic development of poorer countries. Much of the strength of the Commonwealth is derived from its non-governmental and informal links, such as teacher-training schemes, youth ministries, distance education, science and environmental projects, shared sports and arts festivals. This means that it is as much a commonwealth of peoples as of governments.

The Queen - Elizabeth II: Queen Elizabeth II - By tradition, The Queen takes an abbreviated form of the Latin description when she signs formal and official documents and messages, using the signature 'Elizabeth R' (which stands for 'Regina' or Queen). The Queen was born in London on 21 April 1926, the first child of The Duke and Duchess of York, subsequently King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Five weeks later she was christened Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the chapel at Buckingham Palace. Princess Elizabeth (now the Queen) was educated at home with Princess Margaret, her younger sister. After her father succeeded to the throne in 1936 and she became heir presumptive, she started to study constitutional history and law. She also studied art and music; learned to ride horses and enjoyed amateur theatricals and swimming - she won the Children's Challenge Shield at London's Bath Club when she was thirteen. 

The Queens early public life: As the Princess grew older she began to take part in public life. She broadcast for the first time in October 1940, when she was 14; she sent a message during the BBC's children's programme to all the children of Britain and the Commonwealth, particularly to those children who were being evacuated for safety reasons. In early 1942 she was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards, and on her sixteenth birthday she carried out her first public engagement, when she inspected the regiment. In April 1943, Princess Elizabeth carried out her first solo public engagement, when she spent a day with a Grenadier Guards tank battalion in Southern Command. Thereafter her official duties increased, particularly in connection with young people: she was President of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in Hackney and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. From March 1944 onwards, she also began to accompany the King and Queen on many of their tours within Britain. Shortly after her eighteenth birthday in 1944, Princess Elizabeth was appointed a Counsellor of State during the King's absence on a tour of the Italian battlefields and, for the first time, carried out some of the duties of Head of State. In August that year, with Queen Elizabeth, the Princess received an address from the House of Commons, and replied on behalf of the Throne. In September 1944, the Princess carried out her first official tour of Scotland with her parents, including her first opening ceremony in October when she opened the recently reconstructed Aberdeen Sailors' Home. The Princess's first flight by air was in July 1945, when she accompanied the King and Queen on a two-day visit to Northern Ireland. In early 1945 the Princess was made a Subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). By the end of the war she had reached the rank of Junior Commander, having completed her course at No. 1 Mechanical training Centre of ATS and passed out as a fully qualified driver. 

After the end of the war, Princess Elizabeth's public engagements continued to grow, and she travelled extensively to attend public functions throughout the British Isles. These included the launching of a new aircraft carrier in Belfast and a tour of Ulster in March 1946, and attending the National Eisteddfod of Wales in August 1946. Her first official overseas visit took place in 1947, when she accompanied her parents and sister on a tour of South Africa. During this tour she celebrated her twenty-first birthday, and gave a broadcast address dedicating herself to the service of the Commonwealth - a dedication she repeated five years later on her accession to the throne. On her return from the South Africa tour, Princess Elizabeth received the freedom of the City of London in June 1947; in July, she received the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. In November 1947, Princess Elizabeth was created a Lady of the Garter at a private investiture by the King.

Marriage and family: Shortly after the Royal family returned from South Africa, the Princess's engagement to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten was announced. The couple, who had known each other for many years, were married in Westminster Abbey on 20 November 1947. Lieutenant Mountbatten, now His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was the son of Prince Andrew of Greece and a great-great-grandson of Queen Victoria. The Royal couple had four children, and so far have six grandchildren. Prince Charles, now The Prince of Wales, Heir apparent to the throne, was born in 1948, and his sister, Princess Anne, now The Princess Royal, two years later. After Princess Elizabeth became Queen, their third child, Prince Andrew, arrived in 1960 and the fourth, Prince Edward, in 1964. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were the first children to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria had her family. Their grandchildren are Peter and Zara Phillips (b. 1977 and 1981); Prince William of Wales and Prince Henry of Wales (b. 1982 and 1984); and Princess Beatrice of York and Princess Eugenie of York (b. 1988 and 1990). 

Prince Charles: "The Prince of Wales", eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is heir apparent to the throne. The Prince was born at Buckingham Palace on 14 November 1948, and was christened Charles Philip Arthur George. The Prince was educated at Cheam School and at Gordonstoun, Scotland. He spent part of the school year in 1966 as an exchange student at the Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Melbourne, Australia - the first member of the British Royal family to attend an overseas Commonwealth school. Between 1967 and 1970, the Prince read archaeology and anthropology and, for his last two years, history, at the University of Cambridge. 

Marriage and Family
(Diana, Princess of Wales, 1 July 1961 - 31 August 1997)
On 29 July 1981 The Prince of Wales married Lady Diana Spencer in St Paul's Cathedral. The marriage of The Prince and Princess of Wales was dissolved on 28 August 1996. The Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash on 31 August 1997 in Paris. Their two children, Prince William and Prince Henry, are second and third in line of succession to the throne. Prince William Arthur Philip Louis was born on 21 June 1982 at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in London. He was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Buckingham Palace and he was confirmed by the Bishop of London at St George's Chapel in 1997. Prince William is currently at Eton College, Windsor. He undertakes no official engagements on his own, although he attended the VE and VJ commemorations in 1995 in London with his family. Prince Henry Charles Albert David was born on 15 September 1984 at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington. He was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury in December 1984 in St George's Chapel, Windsor. 

Prince William: Prince William Arthur Philip Louis was born on 21 June 1982 at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, in London. He was christened by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Buckingham Palace. Prince William began his education at Mrs Mynor's Nursery School in west London in September 1985, aged 3. In January 1987, William was enrolled at Wetherby School, also in London, and was a pupil there until July 1990. He spent five years at Ludgrove School from September 1990 until July 1995. Prince William is currently at Eton College, Windsor, where he will study geography, biology and history of art at A Level, after sitting 12 GCSEs. 

Prince William is a keen sportsman and prefers football, rugby, tennis, swimming and water polo. At Ludgrove, he was rugby and hockey team captain and represented the school at cross-country running. William is also a crack clay pigeon shooter, winning the school's prize in 1994. He has acted in school plays, and enjoys reading and film-going.

Prince William's first public appearance was on a visit to Wales on St David's Day (1 March), at a service at Llandaff Cathedral, aged 8. In May 1995, Prince William accompanied his mother, father and brother to the 50th anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) commemorations in Hyde Park; he also accompanied his family to the VJ (Victory in Japan) Day 50th anniversary commemorations in front of Buckingham Palace and in the Mall in August 1995. He attended his mother's funeral at Westminster Abbey on 6 September 1997.

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