Queen Elizabeth II

What the Queen can teach you about Britain

If this is a blog about British culture, I’m going to have to mention the Queen at least once. She has been on the throne for over 60 years, technically owns about one-sixth of the Earth’s land (though no passport) and was probably the world’s most famous person of the pre-Gangnam Style era. She’s also incredibly popular with the common people of Britain: at the time of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 she could count around 90% of the population as fans, and in early 2014 she was voted the most admired Briton. She might seem a bit disconnected from real British life, but there’s a surprising amount you can learn about the state of Britain by taking a moment to examine its Head…

We’re surrounded by sea…

The Queen's fish
…and the Queen owns all the biggest fish.  Specifically, whales, dolphins, porpoises and sturgeon all belong to the Monarch, according to the ancient law of Royal Fish, although in Scotland this only applies to whales that cannot be pulled ashore by “six oxen”.  Glad that’s clear then.  Oh, and the Queen also owns all mute swans found in open water in the United Kingdom, if they are unmarked.

We drink a lot…

…but the Queen drinks the most. According to her cousin, the Queen’s drinking routine is as regular as the changing of the guard. Before lunch she has a gin and Dubonnet (an obscure French wine and herb-based aperitif), with ice and a slice of lemon. Then with lunch she has wine, followed in the evening by a dry Martini and a glass of champagne. The World Health Organisation classifies this as an episode of heavy drinking, something which 28% of Brits do at least once a month. Of course that still makes us light drinkers compared to the Queen, who does it every day. Well, she’s probably under a lot of stress.

We like dogs…

Queen with dog

In fact, the Queen likes her Corgis so much she often takes them with her on her private aeroplane.  Perhaps less well known is that the Queen created her own breed of dog – the “Dorgi” – by breeding a Daschund with a Corgi.  Her Majesty is also an expert dog-handler, able to “control labradors from 800 yards using just hand signals and whistles“.  Her former Highland Gamekeeper, Bill Meldrum, himself an expert dog-trainer, has said she is the best dog-handler he has ever seen – “probably the best in the country”.  That’s pretty good in a country whose main pastime (after drinking) seems to be taking the dog for a walk.

We’re computer addicts…

Queen's golden Wii

…but the Queen was at it first.  She sent her first email from an army base in 1976, a good 20 years before most of Britain got on the internet.  More recently she has admitted she’s “addicted” to playing the Nintendo Wii which Kate Middleton bought for Prince William.  Actually she now owns a special edition golden Wii, which she was sent as a PR stunt by some crafty company.

Our economy is changing…

Queen working during war

Before the Second World War, Britain’s economy was primarily industrial, and our Queen was still a young princess.  During the Second World War, the war tended to dominate proceedings, and the teenaged Princess Elizabeth signed up for the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service as a driver and mechanic.  Since the war, the British economy has gradually become more knowledge-based, and the Queen is more likely to be seen touring university laboratories, such as the the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the University of Cambridge, where she observed the work of my mate Dean.

The Queen and Dean

We make some good films…

…for example, The Queen, starring Helen Mirren.  It paints an interesting picture of what life might be like for Her Royal Highness, but it isn’t easy to check the facts as Her Majesty has never given a press interview. Apparently she liked the film though, so it can’t be far from the truth.

Stay tuned to Cult United Kingdom for some other good British films that are not about the Queen.

What do you think?

Our Correspondent
Cult United Kingdom correspondent
Duncan - Newcastle

After a largely trouble-free birth in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I swiftly grew up and moved to London to study Philosophy, before leaving to travel the world on my motorbike. I spent some time working in France, Germany, Italy, Canada, USA and (a long time ...

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About United Kingdom
About this place

Continent: Europe
Capital: London
Population: 62,348,400
Area: 244,820 km2
Currency: Pound
Languages: English

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