God save the King?


According to the BBC and UK media, the British monarchy is immensely popular, but how true is that?

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Useful vocabulary

establishment: people and institutions that control power in society

ruling class: the societal class that is economically and politically in power

half-mast: when a flag is halfway down the pole

oath: a solemn promise to a god and/or monarch

grief: mental suffering or distress over a death

to pull sth: to withdraw, remove

laid-back: relaxed and easy going

dissent: difference in thinking or opinion, esp. from the majority

to stamp on sth: to crush or extinguish 

pomp: grand display

spotlight: the area of public attention

Listen to the audio and read the text.

God save the King?

I was in Newcastle on 8th September when at 18:30, the BBC presenter, wearing a black jacket and tie, solemnly said, “A few moments ago Buckingham Palace announced the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

What followed was an incredible example of how the establishment and their media manufacture consent. 

Operation ‘London Bridge’ was immediately put into action. The British ruling class felt this was necessary as they were aware that Charles was not as popular as his mother and they had to get him firmly sitting on the throne before republican sentiments could spread.

Day Zero (Sept. 8) – The royal household notifies the public of the queen’s death. Prince Charles immediately succeeds to the throne upon his mother’s death. He will be known as King Charles III. His wife, Camilla, becomes queen consort. The couple stay at Balmoral* overnight.

Flags fly at half-mast on British government buildings, and remain so until 8 a.m. on the morning after the queen’s funeral.

Day 1 (Sept. 9) to Day 11 (Funeral) – Senior members of Parliament took an oath of allegiance to King Charles III. The two houses of parliament continued their tributes and framed a message of condolence to the king.

Meanwhile, all Premier League football matches are cancelled, because it was thought that fans would not show the required level of grief and respect. 

The BBC cancelled ‘inappropriate’ programmes and broadcast extended news and commercial TV pulled all advertising. 

BBC Radio and independent stations paid their respects by playing more laid-back music mixed with occasional news announcements. Lot’s of Elton John but no ‘God Save the Queen’ by The Sex Pistols!

Dissent was stamped on. A young man was attacked in Edinburgh for heckling Prince Andrew, the new King’s brother, who was accused of sexual assault. A man was arrested at Charles’s proclamation in Cardiff for shouting, “who elected him?”

Despite all the pomp and ceremony, it seems the monarchy with Charles as King does not have much of a future, especially as his real character is being revealed, now he is in the spotlight. 

41% of 18-24 year olds say Britain should have an elected head of state. As the Pistols sang, ‘NO FUTURE! NO FUTURE! NO FUTURE, FOR YOU!’ 

Written by ECP coach John Hird

Let’s chat about that!

  1. What was operation ‘London Bridge?’
  2. Can you explain the theory of manufacturing consent?
  3. Who was more popular, the Queen or Charles? Why do you think that?
  4. Were you surprised by anything you learned in the article?
  5. What does ‘to heckle’ mean? Can you guess from the context?
  6. What do you think is the future for the British monarchy?
  7. What are the differences and similarities between the British and Spanish monarchies?