Do you know The Queen?
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.