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The story of the royal family
For more than a thousand years Britain has always had kings or queens except for the ten years between 1649 and 1659. In the past, kings had great power and they really helped to make history. They started wars, made lows, and did things in their own way. But gradually more and more power went to Parliament. What does the queen do now? Why does Britain need monarchy? And does it?
A job for life
Elizabeth II calls the Windsor family a “Firm”. She thinks of it as a business rather than a family. And the main business of the royal family is… well, probably being royal. And they are paid for it. The queen is one of the richest woman in the world and yet she gets about 8 million pounds a year to be a queen. But many people agree that she does her job well and she deserves her salary.
The work of the royal family has continued through all the changes of the last fifty or sixty years. There are hundreds of traditional ceremonies which the Queen has to keep. Each year, in September or October, there is the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen, wearing her crown, arrives at the Houses of Parliament by carriage. There she reads the Queens Speech, which discusses the government’s work for the next year.
Another traditional ceremony takes place on the Thursday before Easter Sunday. The Queen gives out purses of money to older people who have done good work. This is called “Maundy money” and the tradition is almost seven hundred years old.
Every summer the Queen gives three or more royal garden parties at Buckingham Palace. About 8,000 guests come to each party. They drink about 27,000 cups of tea and eat 20,000 sandwiches and 20,000 pieces of cake.
The Queen and other members of the royal family often travel abroad as guests of others countries. They meet important visitors. They are invited to the opening of hospitals, schools, museums, embassies-not long ago Princess Anne came to Moscow for the opening ceremony of the new British Embassy. So their life is quite busy. Besides, the Queen acts as head of the government and once a week she has a meeting with the Prime Minister. She also has to read the report of the day from Parliament. Any law made by Parliament really becomes a law only if the Queen agrees to it. But no king or queen has refused a new law since 1701!
When Elizabeth was born nobody knew she would be queen. Her grandfather, King George V, had six children. His eldest son, Edward, was the next in line to be king and Elizabeth’s father, Albert, was only second child. Edward loved a good time. He enjoyed women, drink a lot, spent money, liked fashionable clothes. Albert, or Bertie, as his friend called him, was rather shy, he stammered, and all his life it was difficult for him to make speeches. As he did not expect to become king, he the Navy. When he took exams at naval College, he came only 68 th . It wasn’t very impressive since there were only 68 students in the class.
He married lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon- she is the Queen Mother now and this year she has celebrate her 100 th anniversary! -And they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret.
The family lived in a house on Piccadilly. It was not a palace, but it was a nice place with twenty-five bedrooms, a library and a room for dance and parties. The girls had a private teacher, they also studied music, dancing and art. As a child Elizabeth was nicknamed Lilibet-because that was the way she pronounced her name. She was a serious, tidy little girl, but her governess said that Lilibet and Margaret could fight on occasions.
In 1936 King George died. When his coffin with the crown on top of it was carriage through the streets on a horse drawn carriage, the crown fell. Many people through it was a bad sign. Indeed, 1936 became “The year of the kings”. In January, after his father’s death, Edward became king. In December he refused from the throne and his younger brother Bertie took his place.
War times, marriage and future
Bertie became King George. The family moved into Buckingham Palace. During the war the family lived in Windsor. It was dangerous to stay in London because the city was often bombed especially East End.
When Elizabeth was 13 she met Prince Philip of Greece. He was six year older than her. Certainly at that time she was only schoolgirl, but later they fell in love and in 1947 they got married.
As we now after that was born a daughter, which name is Diana. In 1989 year Princes Diana got married with Prince Charles. They had two sons, William and Harry. The year part of Windsor Castle was badly damaged by a fire. The government refused to pay for the repairs. So the Queen opened Buckingham Palace to playing tourist to get the money. Later she decided that their favorite royal ship Britannia was too expensive and it had to go. Queen agreed to pay taxes.
After Diana’s die many people asked if Charles would be king or the crown would go to his eldest son, William? Prince William is 18 now, he looks very much like his mother. He and Prince Harry are the royal family of the future. Both boys study at Eton, they spend a lot of time with their father and often visit their grandmother.
England has had kings and queens for a thousand years-probably they’ll have them for another thousand, and people believe in the Royal Family!