As an English person living abroad, I often encounter many stereotypes from other people about the English. People expect me to be unable to speak any language other than my own, and to drink tea constantly. However, I can speak French, and people are always shocked to discover that I don’t like to drink tea! The most frequently asked question, though, is about the British Royal Family. Everyone asks me if I know The Queen! My university is just outside London, so I do spend a lot of time in the city. However, I haven’t visited Buckingham Palace since I was little! If you don’t know about Buckingham Palace, it is one of The Queen’s residences, and a huge tourist attraction in London. One of its main attractions is that it is guarded by ‘The Queen’s guards’, who famously must stay straight-faced all day. Because of this, lots of tourists try to trick them and make The Queen’s guards laugh! Traditionally, the guards had to remain straight-faced and serious as a sign of respect and dedication to their work (protecting The Queen). Today, I think it is just to keep tradition! I’ve made all my students laugh by showing them videos of tourists trying everything from joke-telling, to singing, to dancing, and even serenading the guards to try to break their serious expression. However, true to their jobs, the guards never smiled! When I was five years old, it was my ambition to be The Queen of England - I wanted to make the rules! My reply to the question, ‘do you know The Queen?’ - apart from ‘no’, of course! - is ‘if you were a king or queen, what would you do? Would you invite the public in to your palace for a chat or for tea?’ Often they say no. Instead, one boy told me that he would give away a small present to each person who visited his castle. Another told me that she would make a rule that no-one could wear black clothes - instead they would have to wear bright colours to make everyone happy.
How would you try to make The Queen’s guards laugh? If you were the Queen or King of your country, what rules would you make?