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Interesting Facts About the British Monarchy

Interesting Facts About the British Monarchy

Many people, including those who are not British subjects in particular or not belonging to the Queen’s realms, have been fascinated about the British monarchy.

That’s because while the British monarchy is still adhering to the age-old traditions, it also has a much odder side which most of us find surprising — and more interesting. And we are more drawn towards the lesser-known facts about the British monarchy — from the reigning name to the the Queen’s guards. Here we compile some of them that will satisfy your curiosity!

Elizabeth I and II

Monarchs have still held separate titles for England and Scotland since James VI of Scotland also became James I of England and Ireland. And as for the Queen, she is recognized by England and other Commonwealth realms as “Queen Elizabeth II.” However, “Queen Elizabeth II” created quite a stir in Scotland as there has never been a “Queen Elizabeth I” there.

As a result, all Royal Mail boxes and vehicles in Scotland were stripped of the symbols containing the Queen’s initials. Instead, those old symbols were replaced by new symbols of the Crown of Scotland, which bore no such initials.

Gun Salutes

Like many countries, the United Kingdom also uses the 21-gun salute — but in this case, a royal salute. That’s the basic one. But how if the gun salute is held at some other places and on special royal occasions?

How these gun salutes are conducted and where they are held are kind of unusual. So the basic Royal gun salute has 21 rounds. But when the salute is held at Hyde Park, 41 rounds are fired because apart from the basic 21, another 20 rounds are added because it is a royal park.

But get ready for the the Tower of London — 62 rounds are fired there on royal anniversaries such as the Queen’s birthday! It consists of the basic 21 plus 20 more as the Tower of London is also a royal palace plus another 21 for the “City of London.” Imagine much noise they seem to make if you happen to be in London on a special holiday — but it’s the royal way!

The Tower of London also holds the record for the most shots fired in a single salute with 124 rounds. It happened on June 10, when the Queen’s official birthday (not her actual birthday, by the way) also coincides with the actual birthday of her husband, Prince Philip. So 62 rounds of shots plus another 62 equals 124 rounds in one gun salute!

Majestic Plural

The majestic plural “we” has been in use since the mid-12th century, by either religious or sovereign leaders. In British monarchy, the use of “we” basically is the use of a plural pronoun which refers to the sovereign. Traditionally, this majestic plural is deemed a divine right of kings (and queens). It means that when a monarch uses the “we” pronoun, it means that he or she speaks in the voice of God. However, most people nowadays see the usage of “we” by a monarch as speaking on behalf of his or her own people and the entire nation.

The majestic plural “we” is commonly used in certain formal contexts such as letters patent and acts of Parliament.

Monarch's Regning Name

So when a king or queen dies or abdicates, and a successor gets to inherit the throne, one of the most common issues is the reigning name (or regnal name) they would like to be addressed.

The answer is entirely up to the new monarch — they can use their first baptismal names, or choose an entirely different one. Since ancient times, British monarchs have often been using regnal names that are entirely different to their own given names (usually first baptismal names). However, there are also a few monarchs who have chosen their first baptismal names as their reigning names.

It’s mostly tradition that influences the choice of names. For example, Queen Elizabeth II’s father Prince Albert, Duke of York, became King George VI upon the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII. Albert chose the regnal name George because he wanted to stress the tradition and continuity.

If Prince Charles, Duke of Cornwall, one day succeeds his mother Queen Elizabeth II, most likely he would like to be called King George VII in honor of his grandfather. He wouldn’t want to be called King Charles III because of the negative image surrounding “King Charles.” The first King Charles was beheaded, the second one led a rather hedonistic lifestyle and had many mistresses, while “Charles III,” aka Bonny Prince Charles, was a pretender to the throne.

Queens Guards

Outside the Buckingham Palace, guards in red coat and tall bearskin hats stand idly at the palace’s gates, looking stiff, unamused and rather lonely. Contrary to popular belief, the Queen’s guards are not just for ceremonial and decoration purposes. These guards are real soldiers from the British Army, which uses both of their Horse Guards and Foot Guards to serve as Queen’s guards.

The Queen’s guards do not idly stand there doing the “Queen guarding” throughout the year. They usually “perform” this for one week, and the next you will see them in action, battling the Taliban in Aghanistan. So just to let you know, that the Queen guards aren’t just for decoration and ceremony, they perform real guard and soldier duties. As you may realize, the guards are armed, not with swords, but with machine guns.

Queen’s Home Not Monarch’s

We all know that the Queen and and the Duke of Edinburgh reside at the Buckingham Palace. However, it is not the official residence of the monarchy as many people believe. The true seat of the monarchy belongs to a little-known building — only a few meters down the road from Buckingham Palace — called the St. James Palace.

While the Queen never resides at St. James Palace, it is technically the Sovereign’s official residence. After all, this is also the building where the Accession Councils convene to read out the proclamation of the new king or queen. The St. James Palace is also the location where the foreign diplomats are assigned, and the Queen’s guards also make it as their headquarters. But rarely does the Queen use the forgotten building as her residence.

Some Titles Are Meant To Be…

Even before the members of the royal family would be born, titles have already been reserved for them, depending on their birth order. For instance, the title The Duke of Cornwall is reserved for the eldest son of the monarch. Another title The Duke of Rothesay is also reserved for the eldest son of the monarch as he’ll be called that way in Scotland. Prince Charles has both of these titles.

As for the second-born son of the monarch, he’ll be given the title the Duke of York. Prince Andrew currently holds this title. The title Princess Royal is given to the eldest daughter of the monarch; Princess Anne currently carries the royal handle. The Queen’s husband, Prince Philip, has the title of Prince Consort.

State Opening Of Parliament

The State Opening of Parliament is considered as the most extravagant and elaborate event, of any other royal activities. The Queen is present on the opening of the Parliament to perform ages-old ceremony. There, she gets to read a speech prepared by her government, outlining the plans for the next political year.

The State Opening of Parliament is not even a compulsory event to be performed in the government, nor does it have any deeper roots or significance. In other words, the ceremony really doesn’t have any much substance, it’s all about pomp and circumstance and grandiose pageantry. The event merely seems to give another opportunity for the Queen to say, once and again: “I’m still the supreme leader of this country.”

The Queen as a public figure

Britain’s current queen Elizabeth II is the second longest-serving ruler in the British monarchy serving for 63 since ascending the throne in 1952. Since becoming Queen, Elizabeth II has won several honors and awards — over 387,000 of them. These awards have earned her great respect not only from her subjects but to other people in the world. She and the rest of the Royal Family mount Royal Garden Parties each year, which has been attended by thousands of guests. These parties made the Queen and her family especially popular and well-loved not only in Britain but from other parts of the world.

A Royal Peculiar

A “royal peculiar” doesn’t mean that the monarch is odd, but the phrase refers to churches which fall under the control of the monarch. Royal peculiars are exempt from the control of the church jurisdiction as in the case of other churches.

Examples of royal peculiars are the Chapel Royal and the Queen’s Chapel at St. James Palace, The Chapel Royal at Hampton Court, The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist and the The Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London, as well as the Westminster Abbey.

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