The British monarchy as an institution has not been a burning issue in British politics for several hundred years. There is almost no debate about the existence of the monarchy itself. Few people in Britain could be described as either 'monarchists' or 'anti-monarchists', in the sense in which these terms are often used in other countries. Most people are either vaguely in favour or they just don't care one way or the other. There is, however, a great deal of debate about what land of monarchy Britain should have. During the last two decades of the twentieth century, there has been a general cooling of enthusiasm. The Queen herself remains popular. But the various marital problems in her family have lowered the prestige of royalty in many people's eyes. The problem is that since Queen Victoria's reign, the public have been encouraged to look up to the royal family as a model of Christian family life.
The change in attitude can be seen by comparing Queen Elizabeth's 25' anniversary as Queen with her 40th anniversary. In 1977, there were neighbourhood street parties throughout the country, most of them spontaneously and voluntarily organized. But in 1992, nothing like this took place. On 20 November 1992, a fire damaged one of the Queen's favourite homes to the value of £60 million. There were expressions of public sympathy for the Queen. But when the government announced that public money was going to pay for the repairs, the sympathy quickly turned to anger, The Queen had recently been reported to be the richest woman in the world, so people didn't see why she shouldn't pay for them herself.
It is, in fact, on the subject of money that 'anti-royalist' opinions are most often expressed, hi the early nineties even some Conservative MPs, traditionally strong supporters of the monarchy, started protesting at how much the royal family was costing the country. For the whole of her long reign Elizabeth II had been exempt from taxation. But, as a response to the change in attitude, the Queen decided that she would start paying taxes on her private income. In addition, Civil List payments to some members of the royal family were stopped. (The Civil List is the money which the Queen and some other relatives get from Parliament each year so that they can carry out their public duties.)
For most people, the most notable event marking Queen Elizabeth's 40 anniversary was a television programme about a year in her life which showed revealing details of her private family life. In the following year parts of Buckingham Palace were, for the first time, opened for public visits (to raise money to help pay for the repairs to Windsor Castle). These events are perhaps an indication of the future royal style - a little less grand, a little less distant.
► The house of Windsor
Windsor is the family name of the royal family. The press sometimes refers to its members as 'the Windsors'. Queen Elizabeth is only the fourth monarch with this name. This is not because a 'new' royal family took over the throne of Britain four reigns ago. It is because George V, Elizabeth's grandfather, changed the family name. It was Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but during the First World War it was thought better for the king not to have a German-sounding name.
► The economic argument
Every tourist brochure for Britain in every country in the world gives great prominence to the monarchy. It is impossible to estimate exactly how much the British royal family and the events and buildings associated with the monarchy help the tourist industry, or exactly how much money they help to bring into the country. But most people working in tourism think it is an awful lot!
II. Choose the correct equivalent for the word:
a) official agreement; b) going up; c) military call.
a) plastic surgery; b) expression of an idea; c) entering into the spirit of a person.
a) choice of words to express meaning; b) ability to express oneself;
c) using the words in a strict sense.
a) to count the final result; b) to reach the highest point; c) to call or send for.
a) fading away; b) ending smth. c)impossibility to find an answer;
a) obligatory; b) not liable to; free from; c) taxable.
a) greatness; magnificence; b) self-importance; c) one of grand parent
III. Explain the meaning of the following:
1. to be defeated at an election
2. to command a majority
5. to pass a bill.
6. to go ahead with policies
IV. Correct or justify the following statements:
I......"the people is a very important concept in British law".
2......It's impossible to have a talk with a British citizen.
3......The Queen signs all the documents herself.
4....., It takes the Queen a long time compose the speech for the State Opening of Parliament.
5......The USA and Great Britain have similar symbols of the country?
6......All the ceremonial events in which the Queen participates are reduntant.
7. The glamorous lives of the Windsors provide a source of entertainment for the public. 8......The Queen has become less popular during the last two decades.
9......The Queen is the richest person in the world.
10. Parts of Winsdor Castle were opened for the world visits to raise money to help pay for the repairs of Buckingham Palace.
V. Say if you agree or .disagree with the following and explain why:
1. The monarchy isn't extremely popular with the British nowadays.
2. The existence of a ruling monarch in Great Britain contributes to the stability in the country.
3. The Queen and her family are quite indispensable for the economy of the country.
4. Nowadays the Windsors can not serve as an example of ideal Christian family life.
5. It is the subject of money spent on the royal family by the state that makes the Queen less popular even among her supporters.
VI. 1708; 1952; 1977; 1992. What happened in those years in Britain?
VII. Express your opinion on the following:
1. Would you advise the British to get rid of their monarchy?
2. Do you think Belarus would benefit from having a figurehead who could perform the functions of a monarch?