What is Tynwald Day?

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People often forget the British ties to the Isle of Mann. Though a Crown Dependency and not part of the United Kingdom, Her Majesty is the Lord of Mann. Though the involvement of a British monarch is seldom, this national observance is one of the most significant for the Manx people (residents of the Isle of Mann). Dating back to the Viking settlements of 8th Century AD, this tradition has continued unchanged for over 1000 years. No other parliament in the world has such a long unbroken record.

What is Tynwald Day?

Tynwald Day is the Manx National Day of the Isle of Man, usually observed on July 5. If this falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then it is observed on the following Monday.

Tynwald Day Events

It begins with a ceremony where the inhabitants of the Isle of Mann gather to hear the laws of their land proclaimed, to seek justice, and to air their grievances.

Tynwald Participants

King George VI was the first British Sovereign ever to preside over this occasion in July 1945, George VI presided in 1946, and Her Majesty The Queen presided in 1979 when the Millennium of Tynwald was celebrated. His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales presided on Tynwald Day 2000 as her representative.

The key representatives of this national event are as follows:

  • Lieutenant Governor – the legal representative of the Lord of Mann with the power to grant royal ascent
  • Sword-Bearer – who wears a scarlet uniform and carries the Sword of State which bears the triskelion which also appears on the national flag.
  • Legislative Council – the upper chamber of Tynwald parliament, consisting of 8 members elected by the House of Keys
  • Members of the House of Keys – the directly elected lower branch of Tynwald parliament but have much more power than the Council
  • Speaker of the House of Keys – wears a wig and black robes with gold decorations
  • President of Tynwald – the ex officio chairman and wears a wig and blue robes with silver decorations. The President’s robes also display the triskelion.
  • The Deemsters – Isle of Man’s highest judicial officers, wearing scarlet robes and long wigs.
  • State Officials of the Isle of Man – a long and prestigious list of governmental, religious, and royal persons including Her Majesty (Lord of Mann)
  • Guests of Honor – representatives of the United Kingdom and of other nations, usually including the Republic of Ireland and some Scandinavian countries. In recent years, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have sent separate representatives

Tynwald Procession

  • Guard of Honor – typically the Lord of Mann or Lieutenant Governor  provides inspection of the guard and lays a wreath at the National War Memorial, which was inaugurated in 1923.
  • Religious Service – At eleven o’clock, Tynwald convenes in the Chapel of St John the Baptist to begin the ceremony
  • First Procession – following this service, the participants, led by clergymen and certain government officials, proceed to Tynwald Hill via a path lined with both the red national flag and the blue parliamentary flag. It is also strewn with rushes; a Celtic tradition of propitiating the sea god Manannan by offering bundles of rushes on Midsummer’s Eve.
  • Tynwald Court Procession – the second procession follows this order: the officers of the House of Keys, the members of the House of Keys, the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man, the Speaker of the House of Keys, a messenger of the House of Keys, officers of the Legislative Council, members of the Legislative Council, the Attorney General, the Deemsters, the Bishop of Sodor and Man, the President of Tynwald and a messenger of the Legislative Council. Thereafter, two guards, the Sword-bearer, the Presiding Officer and the Lieutenant Governor (if not presiding)
  • Laws Pronounced – people come from every part of the Isle of Man to hear the laws pronounced. The six current coroners deliver their rods to the Governor and the first Deemster swears the new coroners in. Then every coroner kneels down before the Governor, and takes his rod from the hands of the Governor. The Coroner of Glenfaba reads the laws in Manx.

Tynwald Hill

The majority of events take place on Tynwald Hill known in the Manx language as Cronk-y-Keeillown, or the Hill of the Church of John. The Hill is basically a mound which is understood to include soil from all 17 of the Island’s parishes. The mound, approximately 12 feet (3.7 meters) in height, includes four circular platforms that consecutively decrease in size, one on top of the other.

The Lieutenant Governor, together with the Sword-Bearer and the officers and members of the Legislative Council, occupy the highest level of the Hill; officers and members of the House of Keys occupy the next level. Other officials are accommodated on the lower levels and at the foot of the mound. A tent covers the top platform. The flag of the Isle of Man flies from the flagpole except when the British Sovereign presides, when the Royal Standard flies.

  • Royal Anthem – more widely known as God Save the Queen is performed and sung by those in attendance.
  • Fence the Court – after the anthem is finished, the First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls, upon the instruction of the Lieutenant Governor, directs the Coroner of Glenfaba to declare these following words which the reader repeats in Manx (Isle of Mann’s tongue):

“I fence this Court of Tynwald in the name of our most gracious Sovereign Lady The Queen. I charge that no person do quarrel, brawl or make any disturbance and that all persons do answer to their names when called. I charge this audience to witness this Court is fenced. I charge this audience to witness this Court is fenced. I charge this whole audience to bear witness this Court is now fenced.”

  • Coroner’s Oath – ascend the Hill (in a clockwise direction around the Island) in order of precedence, beginning with the Coroner of Glenfaba, followed by the Coroner of Michael, the Coroner of Ayre, the Coroner of Garff, the Coroner of Middle and the Coroner of Rushen. The First Deemster administers the oath to the kneeling coroners. The Coroners then receive ceremonial staves from the Lieutenant Governor.
  • Proclamation of Laws – is traced back to the Norse practice of making public proclamations on mounds (hills). Each law is promulgated by the First Deemster in English and by the Second Deemster in Manx. This applies only to laws that have been enacted during the past year and which have received the Royal Assent.
  • Petitions and Grievances – once the laws are read, individuals present may submit petitions or air grievances. Petitions are presented at the foot of Tynwald Hill to the Clerk of Tynwald, who conveys them to the Lieutenant Governor. The petitions and grievances are then referred to a committee of Tynwald.

Tynwald Day Conclusion

Tynwald reconvenes at in the Chapel of St John the Baptist. The Lieutenant Governor, the President of Tynwald, and the Speaker of the House of Keys use quills to sign certificates documenting the promulgation of the laws. The Lieutenant Governor and the Legislative Council then withdraw, leaving members of the House of Keys for a session of their house where they will deliberate on proposed bills.

After Tynwald Day, Tynwald Court returns to Douglas, the Isle’s capital, for three further sittings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday following. After these sittings, Tynwald Court adjourns for the summer and does not reconvene until October.


 

26 Things You’ll Want to Know Before Moving to England

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So you’ve decided to move to England and feel completely overwhelmed by the endeavor. Where does one even begin? Well, aside from packing up your flat, I will help you make this transition as smoothly as possible with these top tips.

This topic actually came about over coffee with my friend Tara. We were talking about ideas for another British book I’m writing and she mentioned moving to England. She knew it would be an enormous undertaking moving from the US to the UK but would love a book to guide her. Consider this your mini guide, my dear friend.

Before You Leave and After You Arrive

I know there is a ton of stuff to get done before you even think about leaving your country for England. Here are some necessities to tackle before you leave and after you arrive.

  1. Immunizations – there are routine immunizations required before moving to England, usually 4 to 6 weeks prior to your arrival. Your jabs depend on which country you come from so check with the CDC for details.
  2. Passport – make sure you have an update one and that it doesn’t expire for at least 90 days after you return to your home country. Remember to keep your passport current while you’re living in the UK.
  3. Work Visa – this is required for most countries right off the bat. Even US citizens, who can stay up to 6 months without one, would be required to get a work visa if you plan to move to England and secure employment.
  4. Banking –Once you arrived, make sure to bring your passport and work visa with you to your bank of choice. Standard bank fees and monetary exchange rates will apply. Check with the British Banking Association for details.
  5. Mail – most national postal services do not provide an international change of address online. Visit your nearest post office for proper procedure.
  6. Phone – using your own mobile service, even if they provide international service, will stick you with a massive bill. Best to get an inexpensive phone or a new SIM card for your smartphone at a UK service provider.

Traveling To and Around England

If you’ve read my post on the London Tube, you learned some helpful tips, tricks, and protocols when traveling by Underground. Below is some other savvy travel tips, as well.

  1. Your Flight – book your flight as far in advance as possible and at off-peak times if you can.
  2. Travel Insurance – A necessary evil in case your trip goes pear-shaped. If all goes well, consider yourself a jammy beggar.
  3. From the Airport – you’ll need to hire a car unless you have friends to pick you up. Rent a car instead of a cab to save loads of dosh.
  4. Oyster Card – this is a must for transport around London and when you want to scamper about the English countryside as well. Make sure to have cash on hand so you can buy a ticket anywhere an Oyster Card is invalid.
  5. Walking, Standing, and Driving – walk on the left, stand on the right when taking the escalator, and do drive on the left if you want to live.

Currency, Taxes, and Credit Cards

  1. Credit Cards – Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. It’s helpful for booking flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars. Check with your merchant to find out the fees and exchange rates that apply. Once you can get a debit card for your British bank account, this will help eliminate the need to carry cash.
  2. Cash – British pounds is the currency of the UK and it’s best to use until you secure your own British bank account. This minimizes banking and ATM fees.
  3. ATMs – use bank ATMs and avoid “independent” ones. Flat transaction fees and percentage charges apply when you use “out-of-network” ATMs so withdraw larger amounts. ATMs are still cheaper than exchanging your cash at a bank.
  4. National Insurance Number – the British equivalent of a social security number so you can work and they can take taxes out. Go to the UK government website for details.

Learning British English

On our BritWordaDay social media channels, you’ll see daily posts of British words. It’s our goal to help you learn these wicked words for when you converse with Brits. Dialects change as you move about England but I’ve got a perfect solution for you.

  1. Learn the Lingo –Great Britain has many dialects and you’ll need to swot up on those as you travel around the country. Trust me. It’s like learning a whole new language. Check out my book for a proper guide to British words and beyond.
  2. Proper Pronunciation – places like Derbyshire (darbuhshuh) and Leicester (lesstuh) are common examples. Listen and adapt to British pronunciations to avoid sticking out like a sore thumb.

Basic British Culture and Customs

There are several I could mention here, including the quintessential sarcastic humor employed by Brits regularly. Trust me, if they take the mickey out of you then you’re in. Oh, and they use the word “sorry” quite a bit.

  1. Don’t Take It Literally – Brits rarely say what they mean so learn to read between the lines. Check this out to see several humorous examples.
  2. Compliments – they typically make many Brits nervous and they will often deflect with self-deprecating remarks, even if secretly pleased.
  3. Weather – can be dodgy so it’s best to carry a brolly. Be prepared to discuss the weather…A LOT.

Know Your Onions about Food and Drink

Don’t believe all the disparaging remarks you hear about British food. They have many  tasty dishes both savory and sweet. When in England, ask the locals where they prefer to get their fish and chips or Indian curry.

  1. Tea – the preferred drink of the UK, a solution to most problems (or so you will be told), and, yes, it is a meal. Read my blog post on British tea to better understand this revered British custom.
  2. Drinking – is a national past time in the UK and a cornerstone of British culture. Even if you don’t drink, go hang out a British pub if you want to know the Brits.
  3. Food – the Brits offer many tasty treats like Yorkshire pudding and Sticky Toffee Pudding but the Brits do love their offal (organ meat) and you’ll find it in things like Steak and Kidney Pie or Lancashire Hot Pot.
  4. Dining Etiquette – place your napkin on your lap instead of tucking it into your shirt. Say “please” and “thank you”. This is “British Politeness 101” Put your knife and fork together in the middle of your plate to indicate you’re finished. My book has a whole chapter dedicated this sort of thing.

British Electricity and Measurements

  1. Plugs and Voltage – the Brits use a specific 3-prong plug and the outlets are typically 220-240 volts. You can by conversion adapters but if you don’t want to run the risk of frying your blow dryer, buy a new one when you get there.
  2. A Mixture of Measurements – Distances on roads are calculated in yards and miles. Objects are measured in centimeters and meters. Height is stated in feet and inches. Food is weighed in grams and kilos. People are weighed in stones and pounds.

Hopefully, you’re feeling more prepared for your move to England. In my upcoming book this autumn, I’ll be sharing more detail about this very subject. If you want an easy-to-read top guide to British words and the various dialects of the UK for your move to England, then download my book from Amazon or iTunes.


19 Fascinating Facts about the Household Cavalry

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Most everyone knows about the chaps with the red tunics and black bearskin hats. They are an icon of Britain to be sure. If you’re a die-hard Anglophile you’ve probably seen these soldiers with shiny plumed helmets marching along or riding on horseback about London.  Maybe you’ve seen them in various parades on the telly but didn’t know their proper names or purpose. In light of Her Majesty’s upcoming birthday celebration, these particular guards feature prominently in The Queen’s Birthday Parade. However, these ceremonial roles only scratch the surface of the Household Cavalry.

Seeing the Household Cavalry in Action

The first time I actually saw these soldiers in action was at the Tower of London on Periscope. There was a tall, sturdy Life Guard performing his guard duty who kept utterly still. Many of the tourists pestered him but he did not flinch. I was astonished. As with the Foot Guards, the Life Guards and Blues and Royals are highly trained in their ceremonial duties including annoying tourists. All of the Royal Guards are empowered to yell and use certain force against the public who cross them. See an example of strength used by Horse Guards and Foot Guards in this amateur video:

Fascinating Facts about the Household Cavalry

Below are 14 fascinating facts about the Household Cavalry which are broken into 3 sections: The Household Cavalry, the Life Guards, and the Blues and Royals.

Household Cavalry

  1. British Army – the oldest and most senior regiments in the British Army are the Life Guards and Blues and Royals
  2. Colonel-in-Chief – Her Majesty, The Queen holds this title for both regiments of the Household Cavalry
  3. Colonel of the Regiment – Anne, Princess Royal holds this title for the Blues and Royals
  4. Motto – Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who evil thinks)
  5. Type and Regiment – they are both Horse Guards of the British Army; fully trained for combat on horseback and on foot in Windsor, London, and abroad
  6. Royal Duties – those assigned to the royal detail are known as The Queen’s Guard and The Queen’s Life Guard. Since 1660, their primary responsibilities are guarding royal residences and The Sovereign. They are fully-trained military officers who are armed with live ammunition and ready for any incursion against Her Majesty or any of the royal palaces.
  7. Ceremonial Roles – both the Life Guards and Blues and Royals are officially the Sovereign’s Escort during Royal Processions, i.e. Trooping the Colour. Two divisions ride ahead of the carriage and two behind it.

Life Guards

Impressive in their bright red tunics, white snug-fitting trousers, and shiny breastplates, The Life Guards execute their ceremonial duties with precision about the royal residences.

  1. Dress Uniforms – Red tunic, White plume, Black collar, and wear their chin strap below their lower lip
  2. Roles – Formation Reconnaissance (armored reconnaissance at a higher-level formation) and Ceremonial (public duties of ceremonial or historical significance)
  3. Formation – originally 5 troops; the first raised in 1658 as His Majesty’s Own Troop of Horse Guards by Charles II.
  4. Current Regiments – reorganized into 2 regiments in 1788 and from 1877 simply called 1st Life Guards and 2nd Life Guards, and then renamed The Life Guards in 1928.
  5. Nicknames – Piccadilly Cowboys, Donkey Wallopers, Tins, Tinned Fruit, Piccadilly Butchers
  6. Distinction – During WWII, they participated in the Normandy landings and the advance through France to liberate Brussels.

Blues and Royals

High upon horseback, in their dark blue coats and red-plumed helmets, the regal Blues and Royals sharply survey all around them, keeping a watchful eye out for anything amiss.

  1. Dress Uniforms – Blue tunic, Red plume, Red collar, and wear their chin strap under their chin
  2. Roles – Armored Reconnaissance (operate tanks and other armored vehicles) and Ceremonial (public duties of ceremonial or historical significance)
  3. Formation – began in 1969, from the merger of the Royal Horse Guards, The Oxford Blues, and The Royal Dragoons
  4. Current Regiments – formed a union for operational purposes with the Life Guards as the Household Cavalry Regiment in 1991. Instead of using their formal name of Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons, they are officially known by the nickname The Blues and Royals
  5. Nicknames – The Tin Bellies
  6. Distinction – They provided the two armored reconnaissance troops during the Falklands War of 1982

In addition to these facts above, there is a royal distinction to this particular regiment. William, Duke of Cambridge, and Harry, Prince of Wales joined the regiment as cornets in 2006.

Another royal tidbit: Prince Harry wore his Blues and Royals uniform to his brother’s wedding to Kate Middleton.

We’d Like to Know

Do you prefer the Life Guards or the Blues and Royals? Have you been to London to see these guards up close and personal? Do you know someone who has served in the British Army in any of these roles? Tell us your experience by logging into our website and posting your comments. Or you can tweet us at @BritWordaDay with your thoughts.


Savvy Tips for Using London Cabs Like a Boss

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If you’re not used to riding in cabs, it can be a bit intimidating at first. For those outside the UK, who do not travel by taxi, adding British currency and culture to the mix requires some swotting up. Read on, dear neophytes, and soon you’ll be using London cabs like a boss!

Brief History of the London Cab

London cabs were once horse-drawn carriages called “hackney carriages” which dates back to 1662. With the introduction of automobiles, the design of the London cab has changed several times over the years. It was in 1945 that the iconic black cab became the London taxi we all know and love today. Though this traditional style has endured for over 70 years, London cabs come in all sorts of colors and are often plastered with adverts.

Use London Cabs Like a Boss

Hailing a Cab

If you’ve been to the Big Apple, you’ve may have heard locals yell to flag down a cab. It’s a bit different in London as townies are not as “shouty” as New Yorkers.

  • DO – hold out your arm to a cab and they will stop.
  • DON’T – shout “TAXI” to a London cab driver. Technically, it is against the law and they will not stop for you.
  • Mind Where You Stand – it’s always a good idea to avoid hailing a cab near a bus stop, pedestrian crossings or any obstruction.
  • Availability – if the word “TAXI” on top of the cab is lit up then it’s available for hire. When already in service the light is off.
  • Reaching Your Destination – before getting into the cab, go to the front window and tell the driver your destination or ask if you’re unsure. If it’s a hotel, restaurant or landmark, just say the name and they know the way including the quickest route.
  • Sit in the Back – when you’ve finished speaking to the driver, hop in the back. There’s enough room for a total of five people (3 on the backseat and 2 on opposite fold-down seats).

Black Cab Culture

Remember, things are done differently in London than in other cities. Mind the culture, lovelies, for when in Rome…I mean England…

  • Know the Lingo – Whether a bloke or a bird, cab drivers are often referred to as “cabbies” and cabs are still referred to as “hackneys” from time to time.
  • Getting Gabby – If you’re a chatterbox, then cab travel is for you. Cabbies are fond of chatting with their passengers and it is certainly welcomed. They are a wealth of London knowledge and are happy to offer suggestions and advice.

Hiring a Cab

It’s your first time in London. You’re all dressed up and you’d like to hire a cab to join your mates at the swanky pub across town. You can ring up a local cab company or use an app.

  • Distance Requirements – drivers are required to accept any hiring up to 12 miles or up to a one-hour duration if the destination is in Greater London. They are also required to accept any hiring up to 20 miles for fares starting at Heathrow Airport.
  • Taxi AppsKabbee is an online service for minicabs which are cheaper than hiring black cabs. It’s also an app that works on iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows phones. For more cab apps, go to Transport for London – Taxi Apps.

Payment and Cab Fares

Cab fares vary due to time and distance. Your cabbie will tell you the fare once you’ve reached your destination. Fares are tracked by a meter and may be higher if there are delays or heavy traffic. Check out Transport for London Taxi Fare guide for details. Here’s some important fare and payment info:

  • Cash or Credit? – You can actually use cash, a credit or debit card, and there’s no extra charge for using your card.
  • Minimum Fare – you will pay a minimum of £2.60 at all times.
  • Extra Charges – extra charges must be added to the meter at the start of a journey.
    • There is an extra charge for up to £2 if the taxi is booked by phone or online.
    • There is an extra charge of £2.80 for journeys that start from Heathrow Airport.
    • There is an extra charge of £4 for journeys made on December 24 – 27 and December 31 – January 2.
  • Tariff Charges – There are 3 standard tariff periods set by Transport for London which increases fares at certain times and days of the week. Check out TfL Tariffs for more information.

Tipping a Cab Driver

  • For a Typical Fare – the customary tip amount is 10-15% of the total fare or round up to the nearest £1 and tell the driver to “keep the change”
  • Further Distance or Assistance – if you have a longer journey or the driver has assisted you with your luggage, it’s standard to tip a bit more and up to £5.

The Knowledge

London cab drivers have to pass a test called “The Knowledge” before they can drive a cab. The average time to study and pass the exam is 3 years because drivers have to memorize every London street within six miles from Charing Cross. This knowledge amounts to 320 routes, 25,000 streets, and 20,000 landmarks!

Did You Know These London Cab Facts?

Here are some interesting facts from Bloomsbury International:

  1. Most cabs in London are owned by the drivers and are run as independent businesses.
  2. London’s taxi industry is often ranked number 1 in the world.
  3. There are currently around 21,000 black cabs in London.
  4. Many black cabs have a turning circle of only 25 ft (8m). This means they can turn around in small spaces and go around very tight corners.
  5. The name “taxi” comes from the “taximeter” – the tool used to calculate fares.
  6. A cab must be tall enough to accommodate someone wearing a bowler hat!

Have you ever taken a London cab? Tell us about your experience by logging in and posting your comments or Tweet us at @BritWordaDay.


Amazing Secrets about the Tower of London

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The Tower of London is a pivotal structure in the history of England. The White Tower, built by William the Conqueror in 1066, is the main edifice and demonstrated Norman power as a military fortress. Possibly the most significant building of the Norman Conquest, the White Tower symbolized the strength and endurance of the new order. Internationally, The Tower was at the cutting edge of military building technology. Built on the north bank of the River Thames, the Tower of London literally “towered” over its surroundings until the 19th century.

Tower of London Historical Facts

The Tower of London has a multifaceted and bloody history. Here are some of the most intriguing facts:

  • Building and Expansion – In the 1220s, Henry III began a major expansion of the Royal Palace and buildings were added to the complex right up until the 16th century, most of which are now underground.
  • Crown Jewels History – Colonel Thomas Blood attempted to steal The Jewels in 1671 and in 1841 the Crown Jewels were rescued from a fire.
  • Gunpowder Plot – In 1605, Guy Fawkes was imprisoned and tortured at the Tower for the failed assassination attempt of James I.
  • Peak Prison Usage – the 16th and 17th centuries led to the phrase “sent to the Tower” for its peak prison usage. Only 7 were executed with its walls before the WWI and WWII. The bulk of the executions were commonly held on Tower Hill, which is north of the Tower.
  • Princes in the Tower – Prince Edward and Richard, Duke of York, sons of Edward IV, were imprisoned in the Tower by their uncle, Richard III. Richard had them declared illegitimate so he could steal the throne from Edward, who would have become king after his father’s death in 1483. The princes were never to be seen again and rumors of their murder spread. In 1674, a wooden box was discovered near the White Tower containing two small skeletons. The Church of England refused DNA testing so no one knows the fate of the princes to this day.
  • Religious Renown – the Tower shaped the Reformation in England. Those Catholic and Protestant prisoners, who survived, recorded their experiences which defined the Tower of London as a place of torture and execution.
  • Ronnie and Reggie Kray – these identical twins were the notorious gangsters of East End London and were held at the Tower in 1952.
  • Royal Executions – in the 16th century, 3 English queens were executed at the Tower: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, and Jane Grey but it was Elizabeth I who narrowly escaped her death.
  • Royal Menagerie – For 600 years, wild and exotic creatures were caged by kings and queens at the Tower of London. The Duke of Wellington had the animals relocated to the London Zoo in 1832.
  • The Tower is Breached – during the Peasants Revolt of 1381, was the one and only time the Tower of London was breached.

Tower of London Today

Officially Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Palace and Fortress, the White Tower is the most intact 11th-century structure remaining in Europe (additions were made in the 13th and 14th century). The Tower has also served as a model throughout the United Kingdom. Many other castle keeps were built in stone, resembling the Tower, such as Colchester, Rochester, Hedingham, Norwich or Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight.

Attractions of the Tower of London

Tours are conducted Tuesday through Saturday and more than 2 million tourists roam inside its walls per year. Due to the remarkable things inside, it’s no wonder the Tower of London has such massive amounts of visitors.

  • Ceremony of the Keys – a tradition of locking up the Tower of London for 700 years without fail. After all, the Crown Jewels and other valuables must be kept safe.
  • Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint – discover the fascinating story of the Mint during the years it was based at the Tower (1279 – 1812), and how 5 key coins and the monarchs behind them changed history.
  • Commemorative Poppies – there are 888,246 poppies installed in the Tower of London moat, one for each British fatality in WWI.
  • Crown Jewels – a spectacular display of crowns, scepters, priceless diamonds, and unique gems. You can discover how these jewels are regularly used by The Queen.
  • Fusilier Museum – rich with history about this British infantry regiment from its inception in 1685, the Constable of the Tower, and in the how they fought in the American War of Independence.
  • Medieval Royal Palace – this luxurious addition to the Tower is credited to Henry III and for hundreds of years, Kings and Queens stayed in these rooms. It was also a place where children lived and played.
  • Ravens at the Tower – Guardians of the Tower, it is said that if ever they leave the kingdom will fall. Seven reside at the Tower and respond only to the Raven Master so don’t get too close.
  • Royal Armory – the central keep and oldest part of White Tower, much of the arsenal can be traced back to medieval kings of England. The display includes suits of armor, swords, shields, battle axes, and even cannons.
  • Tower Green and Scaffold – also known as the Execution Site, prisoners died by the sword, hanging, and the axe, including some well-known queens of England.
  • White Tower – The oldest structure and heart of the Tower of London, it is the one of the most famous castle keeps in the world. It houses a Romanesque Chapel, the 11th-century Chapel of St John the Evangelist, and the Royal Armory. On the top floor is a block and axe, believed to be used at the last public beheading on Tower Hill in 1747.
  • Yeoman Warders – These ladies and gents will be your guides as you tour the Tower of London. They are the foremost authority on the Tower and you’ll learn even more of its secrets.

Your Tower of London Experience

If you have visited the Tower of London, what was your favorite experience? For those of you that have yet to take a tour, what do you look forward to the most? Log in and post your comments or tweet me at @BritWordaDay with your answers.


Things You Didn’t Know About the Duke of Windsor

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I know you must be thinking, Windsor, I know that name. It has been the house name of the current Royal Family since 1917. I’ve also written a blog post entitled “Who is a Duke in the British Royal Family?” where I named all the current Royal Dukes. You’re wondering if the Duke of Windsor was mentioned, right?

My Discovery of the Duke of Windsor

My neighbor, Mary, brought up the subject and asked if I had ever heard of the Duke of Windsor. Honestly, I had no idea who he was at all. She’d read a book about this duke and told me there was quite the scandal about him. As we discussed the Duke of Windsor, I was intrigued. So, I dug a little deeper to find out what I could about this mystery duke.

Who is the Duke of Windsor?

There was only one Royal Family member with the title Duke of Windsor and his name was Prince Edward, the son of George V and Mary of Teck. In addition, the Duke of Windsor was once a king. Yes, the prince became King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom from January 20, 1936, until December 11 of the same year. Such a short reign as sovereign, isn’t it? Indeed.

The Scandal of Edward VIII

Prince Edward had a series of torrid affairs with several married women and even a prostitute prior to settling down. His father, George V was reluctant to see Edward become king. Of the prince, he said, “After I am dead, “the boy will ruin himself in 12 months.” The prophetic voice of King George V would show itself to be true shortly after his death.

Only months into his reign, Edward VIII caused quite the scandal that raised legal, political, religious, and moral objections. He proposed marriage to Wallis Simpson; a divorced American, who was only separated from her current spouse at the time. As King and head of the Church of England, Simpson’s marital status did not allow Edward to marry a divorced woman whose spouse(s) was still alive. Wallis’ first divorce was not recognized by the Church of England and if challenged in court, may not have been acknowledged under English law. At the time, adultery was to be the only grounds for divorce by law. Therefore, her current marriage and pending third to Edward would both be deemed bigamous and rendered invalid.

Governmental Objections to King Edward’s Marriage

The Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada, and South Africa of the British Empire made their disapproval to this marriage quite clear. As a divorcee and separated from her current husband, Simpson was perceived as entirely unsuitable both politically and socially to be the consort of a British king. In addition, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin would have resigned his post if Edward were to go through with the wedding to Wallis. This would have forced a general election and ruined Edward’s status as a politically neutral monarch. Nevertheless, Edward’s love for Wallis prevailed and he would not give her up.

The Result of King Edward’s Choice

The continued rampant unwillingness to accept Simpson as the king’s consort compelled Edward VIII to make a choice. His refusal to give up Wallis Simpson finally led to his abdication of the throne in December 1936. He was succeeded by his brother Prince Albert, Duke of York as George VI. Edward VIII is the only British monarch to have voluntarily renounced his throne since the Anglo-Saxon period (roughly between 450 and 1066).

Becoming The Duke of Windsor

On December 12, 1936, after his abdication, Edward was given the title of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Windsor. He married Wallis Simpson the following year. Wallis gained the title of Duchess of Windsor upon their nuptials and they remained married until Edward’s death, 35 years later.

As the Duke and Duchess of Windsor produced no heirs, this dukedom ceased upon Edward’s death.

The Next Duke of Windsor

Though this dukedom has literally died out decades ago, there is speculation of a possible revival for Prince Harry. Once the prince is married, it is customary for The Queen to bestow the title of duke upon her grandson as she has done so with the Duke of Cambridge. Given the scandal surrounding this dukedom, do you think it likely Prince Harry will become Duke of Windsor? Most suppose the Duke of Ross or Duke of Sussex a more likely choice as there are no tainted associations with these titles. What are your thoughts about the Duke of Windsor and the events surrounding his life? Log in and post your comments.


Who is St. George and Why is He Celebrated?

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St. George is the patron saint of England, celebrated for his Christian martyrdom and having slain a dragon. Oddly enough, St. George is not English but a Roman soldier born in either Cappadocia which is now Turkey or Syria of Palestine. Moreover, St. George never set foot on English soil but legend states he fought during the Crusades and in the Hundred Years’ War for England.

The earliest documented mention of St. George comes from Bede, the English monk. He was a well-known author and scholar, most celebrated for his work: Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People). This gained him the title “The Father of English History” and no doubt gave credibility to the story of St. George, at least about his being killed for his faith.

Edward III, chief founder for the Order of the Garter, put it under the patronage of St. George. This is the highest order of chivalry and third most prestigious honor awarded by a British Sovereign. New appointments to the Order of the Garter are always announced on St. George’s Day, in honor of England’s patron saint.

The Story of St. George

St. George is one of the most revered saints of Christianity. He is also highly regarded as a military saint for the myth of George and the Dragon. It’s an unusual mix of Christianity and folklore regarding the story of St. George. This tale is full of tragedy, triumph, and miracles.

Legend of the Dragon

A plague-bearing dragon, residing in a huge lake, was poisoning the inhabitants of a city in Libya called Selene. When all the livestock had failed to feed the dragon, the lottery fell to the king’s daughter, Sabra. She was dressed as a bride and sent out to the lake to be fed to the dragon. St. George rode by on his horse and saw Sabra, determined to rescue her. He impaled the dragon with his lance, and using Sabra’s girdle, led the dragon back to the town of Selene. St. George promised the townspeople he would slay the dragon if they converted to Christianity and were baptized. Some fifteen thousand men were converted (not including women and children). A church was built on the location where the dragon was killed. A water spring miraculously emerged on the site and cured the people of the plague brought on by the dragon.

St. George’s Day in England

Once a national holiday, St. George’s Day is an observance celebrated on April 23 to honor the death anniversary of England’s patron saint. St. George served under a pagan emperor and as a Christian was persecuted, tortured, and finally beheaded for his faith. This martyrdom, his conversion of so many to Christianity, and the slaying of the Selene dragon are the cause for such celebration by the English.

Celebrations

Many churches will have special services to honor their patron saint on a Sunday closest to April 23. Holiday participants will don or carry the St. George’s cross, the flag of England. Others will wear a red rose on their shirts or jacket lapels, the national flower of England. Celebrations include parades, dances, reenactments of St. George’s battle with the dragon, and traditional English food. The Mummer’s Play, a folk drama based on the legend of St. George and the Seven Champions of Christendom, is usually performed on this holiday.

There are several pubs throughout England called The George and the Dragon and display symbols of St. George, a dragon, and the flag of England.

Food

There are quite a few British dishes that St. George’s Day participants enjoy. Many times picnic lunches are packed and enjoyed in a nearby park if the weather is pleasant. Others opt to visit the local pub after a St. George’s Day parade and tuck into some fish and chips with a pint. For the foodies, here are just a few main dishes and desserts (or puddings as the Brits would say) they might whip up for the occasion.

  • Coronation Chicken – chopped or shredded cooked chicken tossed with mayo, yogurt, curry powder, cinnamon, black pepper, and sultanas (golden raisins) or chutney. Served over a bed of lettuce or as a filling for sandwiches.
  • Melton Mowbray Pork Pies – various cuts of pork, including bacon, is seasoned with black pepper, allspice, and nutmeg, and then sealed in a crust made of flour, water, milk, and lard seasoned with salt and pepper. It is then baked until golden brown.
  • Steak and Kidney Pie – made of stew beef chunks and lamb kidneys in a gravy made of onions, carrots, mushrooms, mustard powder, red wine, thyme, and basil. It’s all cooked until thickened and then baked in a sealed pastry crust until brown and flakey.
  • Bakewell tart – short crust pastry filled with a layer of jam, topped with a layer of sponge cake made of flour, eggs, sugar, and ground almonds.
  • Custard Tarts – a sweet pastry made of flour, ground almonds, butter, sugar, and eggs is filled with heated custard made of milk, eggs, sugar, and nutmeg. It is baked until the filling rises into a slight dome.
  • Victoria Sponge Cake – a layer sponge cake filled with raspberry jam and whipped cream. The top of the cake is dusted with powdered sugar.

Your St. George’s Celebrations

To my travelers and resident Britons, what is your experience with St. George’s Day celebrations? Log in and post your experience.


Did You Know The Queen Has 2 Birthdays?

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It’s true. Her Majesty has two birthdays every year and why not? Queen Elizabeth II is the Sovereign of the United Kingdom and The British Commonwealth. She has served as Queen through WWII, birthed four children, celebrated a Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilee and is now the longest reigning British monarch. This is a definite cause for celebration. These accomplishments of such a notable individual beg the question: is two birthdays enough to celebrate such a remarkable monarch?

A Bit About The Queen

Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Mountbatten-Windsor was born April 21, 1926. She is the daughter of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother. Her only sibling is Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowden. She was married at age 21 in 1947 to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and gave birth the following year to Charles, Princes of Wales. She also a mother to Anne, Princess Royal, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Her Majesty has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Queen Elizabeth II is also the longest reigning queen regnant (reigns in her own right) in the world. Her Majesty will be celebrating her 90th birthday this year.

Thoughts on Birthdays

Personally, I would love more than one birthday. I believe in celebrating life and our birthday is the one day that we can truly claim for ourselves. People often dislike celebrating their birthday because of the reminder they are getting older. It certainly beats the alternative.

Maybe you’re one of those that hate the attention that goes with a birthday party. Since her ascension to the throne, The Queen has had a public birthday celebration where the entire country is invited. There is a telly broadcast of the event, too. Talk about being under the spotlight.

Celebrating Her Majesty’s Birthday

The Queen’s private birthday celebration is marked by a 41 gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21 gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62 gun salute at the Tower of London. The festivities begin noontime on April 21 while Her Majesty celebrates privately.

In 2006, Her Majesty celebrated her 80th Birthday greeting well-wishers in the streets outside Windsor Castle. This year, The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will do another walkabout Windsor on her birthday. At the foot of Castle Hill, Her Majesty will unveil a plaque marking The Queen’s Walkway. It is a 6.3 km (3.9 mi) self-guided trail which connects 63 points of interest in the town of Windsor. In the evening of April 21, The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, and the Duchess of Cornwall will light a beacon and observe two additional beacons lit along The Long Walk and at Copper Horse. On Her Majesty’s birthday, The Queen’s Walkway commemorates the longest reigning British monarch, Elizabeth II.

On her public birthday, in June, The Queen and the Royal Family will once again enjoy the renowned Trouping the Colour parade. Many thousands line the streets to watch Her Majesty’s birthday celebration.

Trooping the Colour

Also known as “The Queen’s Birthday Parade” Trooping the Colour has also marked the official birthday of the British sovereign since 1748. This auspicious parade was moved to its June date by Edward VII due to the more pleasant summer weather.

Performed by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry), these regiments pay tribute to Her Majesty with grand pageantry.

The parade begins at Buckingham Palace where the Royal Standard is flown atop the palace. The Queen, in the royal procession, is led down The Mall by an escort of the Household Cavalry (troops on horseback) to the Horse Guards Parade of St. James’ Park in Whitehall, London. There, Her Majesty is greeted by a royal salute after which she inspects the troops. This inspection is followed by the “musical troop” performed by various regimental bands. The escorted Regimental Colour carries down the ranks, followed by a march past of the Foot Guards, Household Cavalry, and a rank past by The King’s Troop and Royal Horse Artillery. The Queen takes a carriage ride back to Buckingham Palace for a Royal Air Force flypast from the palace balcony.

Do You Enjoy The Queen’s Birthday?

Have you been to The Queen’s public birthday celebration? What did you think of the parade and Trooping the Colour? Wouldn’t you love to be a guest of Her Majesty’s private family celebration? What a unique and amazing experience that would be, right? Below is the footage from 2015 Trooping the Colour parade. Check out the video and post your comments.


Quiz: Do You Know These Ulster English Words?

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Hint: We’ve Been Posting Them Recently

If you follow BritWordaDay on social media, chances are you’ve seen these Ulster English posts. It was part of our March Madness social media campaign. Also, to honour of our Irish friends of Northern Ireland, from which this dialect hails.

So, I was curious how much our followers were actually seeing these posts. Also, I thought a quiz might be a good way to assess our teaching progress as well as the absorption of our supporters. In other words, is BritWordaDay adding value? Are you learning this British dialect?

Do You Know These Ulster English Words?

Below is our quiz on this particular dialect. I’ve used common British words to give you hints as to the meaning of these Ulster English words. Best of British to you, mates!

Banjax

When something is ready for the knackered yard, one would say it is banjaxed, as well.

Blade

Blokes, if you’re chatting up a bird, then you are also chatting up a blade.

Carlin

A general term for a more mature bird, but don’t call your gran a carlin, ok?

Carnaptious

Caught in an argy-bargy or a row? Then you might be feeling carnaptious.

Drawky

Drawky would often describe Old Blighty which would require a brolly.

Foundered

When you’re feeling parky or it is quite Baltic, then you’ll be foundered, too, I’d expect.

Keenin’

Something wee bairns often do, keenin’ for their mummies to wipe those bums of poo.

Munya

The opposite of a boiler would be a munya bird, a top totty.

Poke

Take a holiday to the seaside where you buy a poke for 99p, perhaps for a bit more.

Whisht

Whisht would be the same as simply saying oi! or belt up!

Where to Find the Answers

BritWordaDay has Facebook albums, many of British words. If you’re curious as to the answers, for our quiz,  view our Facebook albums and see if you can find which album contains these Ulster English words. Email us at britwordaday@gmail.com with your answers.

If you answer all 10 of these quiz questions correctly, we will send you a special prize for the winners!


Who is a Duke in the British Royal Family?

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The title of Duke is given to males of the British Royal Family upon the death of a predecessor or in marriage. These dukedoms are established by Letters of Patent which is issued by a monarch, president or other head of state. Since 1413, a British sovereign also holds the title of Duke, regardless of gender. In the case of a Queen regnant (reigns in her own right), the title of Duchess is not used but Duke instead. Yes, Her Majesty, Elizabeth II is also a Duke.

Royal Style and Manner of Address

Those members of the Royal Family in possession of a dukedom are given the style of “His Royal Highness” and are addressed in these ways:

  • Announced As: His Royal Highness The Duke of (insert title here)
  • First Spoken to As: Your Royal Highness
  • Spoken to Thereafter: Sir

Current Royal Dukedoms

The title of Duke is the highest-ranking title of the United Kingdom, other than Sovereign. There are several members who hold this title in the British Royal Family.

Duke of Lancaster

Held by Queen Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI

Inception of the Duke of Lancaster

This dukedom was first created in 1351 for Henry of Grosmont, the 4th Earl of Lancaster. Its third and final creation, in 1399, was for Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales. In 1413, when he acceded to the throne as Henry V, this title merged into the crown.

This royal duchy was created to provide income for the British monarchy, specifically the reigning sovereign. The Duchy of Lancaster is the personal property of a British Sovereign and has currently 45,550 acres of land holdings. Only used while in Lancaster, England, Her Majesty is addressed as “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster”

Duke of Edinburgh

Held by Prince Philip, husband of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of Edinburgh

This title has been created 4 times since 1726. The final creation was in 1947 by King George VI for his son-in-law, Philip Mountbatten upon marriage to his daughter Princess Elizabeth. Prince Philip, who was in line for his own throne, had to renounce his Greek and Danish royal titles and any rights to the Greek throne before accepting this British dukedom.

Duke of Cornwall (England) and Duke of Rothesay (Scotland)

Held by Prince Charles – The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay

The Duke of Cornwall is a secondary title held by the eldest son of a British monarch. This title was created many times since its inception in 1337 by King Edward III, for his son Edward, the Black Prince. This particular duchy was fashioned to supply income for the Prince of Wales via landholdings currently totaling 135,000 acres.

The Duke of Rothesay title was created in 1398 by Robert III, King of Scots for his son David Stewart. It became the title of the heir apparent (first in the line of succession) of Great Britain from 1707 to 1801 via the union between England and Scotland. The Acts of Union in 1801, united Great Britain (England, Wales, and Scotland) with Northern Ireland, which now covers the United Kingdom. However, this title is only used in Scotland by the Prince of Wales.

These dukedoms were conferred upon Prince Charles after the accession of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II to the throne in 1952.

Duke of Cambridge

Held by Prince William, grandson of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of Cambridge

This title was first created in 1660 for Charles Stuart, son of James, Duke of York (later King Kames II). It became extinct after the death of Prince George of Hanover in 1904. It was revived for the fifth time in 2011 for Prince William and given upon his marriage to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

Duke of York

Held by Prince Andrew, son of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of York

This title was first created in 1385 for Edmund of Langley, the 4th surviving son of King Edward III. This style died out after the death of Prince Albert, son of King George V in 1936. It was revived for the eighth time in 1986, for Prince Andrew upon his marriage to Sarah Ferguson.

Duke of Gloucester

Held by Prince Richard, grandson of George V and cousin of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of Gloucester

This dukedom was first created in 1385 for Thomas of Woodstock by King Edward III. It was revived for the fifth time in 1928 for Prince Henry of Windsor, son of George V. Upon the prince’s death in 1974, the title passed to his son, Prince Richard. This is one of the few dukedoms that survived and was inherited by the current Duke of Gloucester.

Duke of Kent

Held by Prince Edward, grandson of George V and cousin of Elizabeth II

Inception of the Duke of Kent

This title was first created in 1710 for Henry Grey, the son of Anthony Grey, 11th Earl of Kent. A double dukedom of Kent and Strathearn was given to Prince Edward Augustus, King George III’s son. This particular title died out since Prince Edward had no male successor. However, the single dukedom was created a 2nd time for Prince George, the fourth son of King George V in 1934. It was then inherited by Prince Edward in 1942 after the death of his father, Prince George.

What Dukedom Will Prince Harry Receive?

Since Prince Harry is not in line to inherit a dukedom, I’m curious as to which title he will receive. The title will probably be a past dukedom such as the Duke of Albany, Duke of Clarence, Duke of Hereford or Duke of Sussex. It will mostly likely be upon his marriage and he still has time for that, right? What dukedom do you think The Queen will give Prince Harry?