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Episode
206

Queen Elizabeth II

Oct 29, 2021
History
-
26
minutes
Great Britain
The Queen
Kings & Queens
Life in the UK
The British Empire
British class system
UK politics
20th Century

She is the longest-serving monarch in British history and has lived through 14 British prime ministers and 13 US presidents.

In this episode, we'll take a look at the remarkable life of Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, and ask ourselves how she, the monarchy, and the country have changed since she became queen almost 70 years ago.

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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about a lady called Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, a lady you probably know by the name “Queen Elizabeth II”.

[00:00:35] We’ll talk about the life of Queen Elizabeth, how she was never meant to be queen in the first place, how she, and the country developed over the years. We’ll talk about some of the controversies she has survived, how she changed the monarchy, and we’ll also have time to hear about some unusual experiences she has had.

[00:00:56] And of course we will also talk about the particular type of English that she uses, a type of English so famous that it has its own name, “The Queen’s English”. 

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:12] Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was never meant to be queen, and in more ways than one her almost 70 years on the throne have been unlikely.

[00:01:23] For starters, until 2013, when the law was changed, a son came above a daughter in the line of succession.

[00:01:33] That is, no matter how many daughters a king or queen had, and how old they were, if a son was born he would automatically go to the front of the line when the king or queen died.

[00:01:48] So, as a woman, the odds were already against the young Elizabeth. She had a younger sister, Margaret, who was no competition, but if her parents had another child who was male, a son, he would leapfrog both of them in the line of succession.

[00:02:08] What’s more, neither Elizabeth’s father nor mother were on the throne when she was born, nor were they directly in line to the throne.

[00:02:18] When she was born, in 1926, her grandfather, King George V, was King of England.

[00:02:27] He had five sons and two daughters. His second son, George, was Elizabeth’s father.

[00:02:34] Next in line to the throne in the event of King George V’s death would be his first son, Edward.

[00:02:43] And so it was, when George V died in 1936, when Elizabeth was 10 years old, that the throne passed to her uncle, who became Edward VIII.

[00:02:55] He wasn’t to last for long though. He was in love with an American lady called Wallis Simpson, who had already divorced one man and was in the process of divorcing another.

[00:03:08] Long story short, there was strong opposition to the new king’s relationship with this American divorcée, and instead of leaving her, he left the monarchy, abdicating his position as king and passing the throne to his brother, Elizabeth’s father.

[00:03:28] To state the obvious, this was unexpected

[00:03:32] It had never happened before. No British monarch had ever voluntarily given up the throne before, especially for something as trivial as love.

[00:03:44] Elizabeth’s father became king, much to his surprise as well. 

[00:03:49] And in an instant, or at least in under a year, Elizabeth went from being a relatively minor young royal to being next in line to the throne, aged only 10 years old.

[00:04:04] Even though her father was now king, he was only 40 years old. 

[00:04:09] Young, comparatively speaking, and Elizabeth no doubt thought that she would be able to live out her childhood in relative obscurity, as a semi-normal person before having to take on the duties of queen herself, if that was what was required.

[00:04:28] It wasn’t to be. 

[00:04:29] In 1952, after 15 years on the throne, her father died of a blood clot, when Elizabeth was only a couple of months away from her 26th birthday.

[00:04:42] Like many men at the time, he had been a heavy smoker and died shortly after his 56th birthday.

[00:04:51] Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time, on a tour with her new husband, Phillip. She learned of her father’s death from the local news.

[00:05:00] In an instant all eyes were on her, on this 25 year old girl.

[00:05:07] Up until then, she had lived a relatively secluded life. She hadn’t gone to school, and instead had been taught by private tutors at her family home. 

[00:05:19] As a young woman, Elizabeth had got married, she had enjoyed time living in Malta with her new husband, Prince Phillip, and she had been enjoying life out of the spotlight.

[00:05:31] Her father had been unwell for several years, and had actually had his left lung removed. So Elizabeth, in preparation for the day she would become queen, reportedly brought black clothes with her wherever she went, just in case she received the news and had to change into mourning clothes.

[00:05:55] So she was prepared, from a practical view at least, but no doubt there is not much that can really prepare you for life as Queen.

[00:06:07] At her coronation, in 1953, she became the most famous woman in the country, and one of the most famous women in the entire world.

[00:06:18] Her face was on the money not only in the UK but in Canada, Australia, and all over British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

[00:06:28] She was on postage stamps, she was all over the newspapers.

[00:06:32] You could take a picture of the queen to almost any town or village in the world and people would know who she was.

[00:06:41] To state the obvious, it must have been an incredible amount of pressure for anyone, but especially for someone who had grown up in a tiny bubble.

[00:06:53] Now, let’s quickly reflect on the world, and the country, that Elizabeth found when she became queen in 1952.

[00:07:02] The Second World War had finished only 7 years before, there was still rationing in Britain, meaning that there were still limits on food and certain goods, and indeed the queen used her ration coupons to buy her wedding dress.

[00:07:19] Britain still had colonies all over the world, Europe was rebounding, the United States had been fighting in Korea, the Cold War was just getting started.

[00:07:31] By 1952 the process initiated by the first majority Labour government in Britain of getting rid of colonies and starting the Commonwealth was well underway, and Britain’s empire was firmly on the decline.

[00:07:49] And talking specifically about the British monarchy, the public hated the queen’s uncle, Edward VIII for abdicating, and his brother, King George VI had a tough job at trying to win back public support and trust in the British monarchy.

[00:08:08] The post-war period was a period of change in the UK. People questioned the status quo, the Labour government introduced heavy taxes on wealth, and there were real question marks over whether the UK should have a monarch as its head of state. 

[00:08:27] Looking across the Channel, France seemed to be doing ok without a monarch, Italy had got rid of its monarch, and let’s not forget that the British people had revolted against their monarch before, and executed the king and abolished the monarchy in 1649, so it wasn’t a complete impossibility that it could happen again.

[00:08:51] So, when Elizabeth was crowned queen, the UK, its monarchy, and the wider world was in a slightly precarious, a difficult, situation.

[00:09:03] If she makes it to February 6th of 2022, when she will only be a couple of months away from her 96th birthday, she will become the first monarch to celebrate her platinum jubilee, the celebration of 70 years on the British throne.

[00:09:22] To state the obvious, a lot has happened in those 70 years, in the UK, to the world, to the monarchy, and to the queen personally.

[00:09:31] Instead of going through the queen’s life chronologically, we are going to focus on three main themes.

[00:09:39] Firstly, her personal life, and how much we know about her as a human being.

[00:09:46] Secondly, how the monarchy has changed with her at its head.

[00:09:52] And thirdly, the controversies she has managed to survive and the problems she has faced.

[00:09:59] So, her personal life. It is somewhat of a contradiction that the queen might be one of the most famous women in the world, yet we really know very little about her as a human being. 

[00:10:14] Throughout the years she has remained mute, silent, on political issues, and we really don’t know what she thinks about almost anything.

[00:10:25] People have interpreted various things she has done as being signs of her beliefs, for example wearing a hat that looked a little bit like the EU flag was interpreted as showing her support of the EU, but we really don’t know what she actually thinks.

[00:10:44] Royal commentators have always commented on her sense of duty and loyalty to the crown, and suggested that she wants to remain almost invisible, anonymous, because the important thing is what she represents–the British monarchy–and showing her personality and true character would get in the way of what she represents.

[00:11:10] We do know a little bit about what she likes.

[00:11:13] In particular, she is a huge fan of a type of dog called a Corgi, which is a type of small dog originally from Wales. 

[00:11:23] On an interesting linguistic note, the word “corgi” actually comes from the Welsh words for “cor”, meaning dwarf, or very small, and “ci”, meaning dog. So “corgi” just means “dwarf dog” in Welsh.

[00:11:41] In any case, the Queen loves them, and has had over 30 different corgis over the course of her life. They are, reportedly, not very well behaved, and run all over Buckingham Palace, sitting on the sofas and generally causing trouble. 

[00:11:59] There are all sort of stories about how the Queen does things like drinks a glass of champagne every night before bed, and how she has been wearing the same nail polish since 1989, but these stories tend to use a lot of “anonymous sources”, and although they might make for fun newspaper articles, they’re probably as much fiction as they are fact. 

[00:12:25] Our second theme is how the monarchy has changed under her tenure, while she has been queen.

[00:12:32] As far as this is concerned, even the most devout republican would have to admit that the Queen has been effective at modernising the British monarchy and appealing to the public, both in the UK and abroad.

[00:12:49] She and other members of the Royal Family have made thousands of public appearances, visiting hospitals, schools, becoming patrons of charities. She has allowed documentaries to be made about the Royal Family, and has presented the Royal Family as more accessible and more human than ever before.

[00:13:11] And this is in a large part due to the queen, personally, due to Elizabeth. 

[00:13:18] She as an individual is still very popular in the UK and abroad.

[00:13:24] In the UK, recent surveys have around 72% of the population saying that they approve of her.

[00:13:32] She is also hugely popular in America. There’s been a national poll in America of the public’s most admired man and women every year. 

[00:13:44] Since 1948, the Queen has been in the “top ten” list 38 times, more than any other woman in history. 

[00:13:54] The second, by the way, is Jackie Kennedy, who has appeared 27 times.

[00:14:00] In 2021, the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, when he was asked about Australia becoming a republic, said, about the queen. “She's been an extraordinary head of state, and I think frankly, in Australia, there are more Elizabethans than there are monarchists”.

[00:14:20] So, he is saying that people in Australia are bigger fans of the queen the person than what the queen represents. 

[00:14:30] This is somewhat ironic, given how hard the queen tries to hide her personality and put all the focus on what she represents, but she would no doubt be happy that she is helping solidify the reputation of the monarchy for the next generation.

[00:14:49] It hasn’t, of course, all been simple for the queen, and this leads us on to our third part: the controversies and tougher times. 

[00:15:00] She has made some bad mistakes, and there have been plenty of times when it looked like it would be difficult to come back.

[00:15:09] 1992, for example, she called her “annus horribilis”. Two of her children, Anne and Andrew, separated from their partners. 

[00:15:18] It was revealed that her eldest son, Charles, was having an affair, and there were intimate conversations published between Princess Diana and another man, James Gilbey.

[00:15:31] There was even a large fire at one of her residences, Windsor Castle, and there was a public outcry when it was suggested that the repairs would be paid for with public money. As a result, the queen agreed to partially pay for it herself, and also agreed to start paying income tax, which as a monarch she wasn’t legally required to do.

[00:15:57] In 1995 Princess Diana was killed, and the Queen’s reaction to her death was considered by many to be emotionless and cold. 

[00:16:08] Indeed, her popularity reduced dramatically in the period after Diana's death, and a record 17% of Brits said that the monarchy should be abolished

[00:16:21] Yes, 17% isn’t that much, but just three and a half years before, partly out of sympathy for the queen’s terrible year, only 9% of people wanted to abolish it.

[00:16:35] More recently, as you may be aware, her grandson Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, decided that they would remove themselves from the British monarchy, and did several high profile interviews directly and indirectly criticising senior members of the royal family.

[00:16:54] And let’s not forget the ongoing problems with her third, and reportedly favourite, son, Andrew, and his association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

[00:17:08] As far as the queen’s mistakes go, it is worth reminding ourselves that the queen is 95 years old, was married for 73 years and has had 4 children, the oldest of whom is 72 years old.

[00:17:23] It’s a long life and a larger than average family, so it is only human that there will be mistakes and unhappiness along the way. The main difference is that her mistakes and unhappiness are incredibly public, and are splashed all over the newspapers.

[00:17:43] Critics of the queen would certainly say that the fact that she has ended up with three of her four children in failed marriages, and her reportedly favourite child, Andrew, accused of sex abuse suggests that she may have neglected her duties as a parent.

[00:18:02] Now, as a final part to today’s episode, let’s talk about the language of Queen Elizabeth.

[00:18:09] You have probably heard the expression “The Queen’s English”. Some people think that this is the same as BBC English or Received Pronunciation, but it’s really not.

[00:18:21] Or at least the Queen doesn’t speak in BBC English or in Received Pronunciation or what we might call “Standard English”.

[00:18:30] I’ll play a little clip of her speaking in a minute, but there are a few things I want to tell you to look out for first.

[00:18:39] Firstly, look out for how she pronounces “o” - it’s more like “ohh”, it’s a very guttural sound. Listen to how she says “ago” and “often”, instead of “ago” and “often”.

[00:18:55] Her vowel sounds tend to be quite a lot longer, so she says “heyappy” rather than “happy”, listen out for it in “Happy Christmas” (or "Happy Christmas").

[00:19:09] The clip I’m actually playing is from her first Christmas Broadcast, by the way, in 1957. She has made a Christmas message ever since. Listen to this one first, then we’ll see how her voice has changed over the years.

[00:19:26] OK, here goes.

[00:19:28] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. 

[00:19:49] Interestingly enough, her accent has actually softened quite a bit since this first speech, which you could also see as an example of her adapting to be more normal, speaking more like a normal person.

[00:20:05] Of course, her accent is still far from normal, but as you’ll see in the next clip, it is a lot less pronounced than it was when she first took the throne.

[00:20:19] Here's her speaking in one of her most recent Christmas messages.

[00:20:23] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:20:35] Can you see the difference?

[00:20:38] Here they are again for you.

[00:20:39] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas. Day 

[00:20:59] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:21:13] Now, just because this is the queen speaking, please don’t think that you need to speak like that - if you copied this accent perfectly people would look at you in a very strange way, so there is absolutely no need to speak the way she does.

[00:21:30] OK, we have time for a couple more unusual stories about the life of the queen.

[00:21:36] Firstly, did you know that once a drunk man managed to climb over the fences of Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence, managed to get into the palace and actually into the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping?

[00:21:53] It’s true. A man called Michael Fagan managed to get into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and found his way to the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping.

[00:22:05] Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, and it’s still not clear exactly what his motivations were, why he did it.

[00:22:14] Over the years he has claimed that he was in love with the queen, that he was on drugs, and that he hoped she could help him in some way. It caused a huge scandal, and since then security has been significantly tightened.

[00:22:30] The queen also, as part of her plan to make the royal family more approachable, has answered more than 3.5 million different letters from members of the public, and sent more than half a million cards to people in Britain who have either turned 100 years old or celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

[00:22:52] And over the years of travelling all over the world and being given presents from people from all different countries, she has amassed quite a collection.

[00:23:03] It reportedly includes an elephant, a pair of cowboy boots, 7kg of prawns, and two tortoises. 

[00:23:11] Now, the question that you might be thinking, and one we haven’t yet covered, is what happens when she dies?

[00:23:21] Well, on a practical level, the throne will pass to her eldest son Charles, assuming he is still alive, and he will either become king or decide to pass it straight down to his son, Prince William. Opinion polls suggest people would love him to do this, to pass it to Prince William, but it seems unlikely.

[00:23:45] In any case, that’s the easy part.

[00:23:48] The harder part is how the British monarchy moves on, how it opens a new chapter. Queen Elizabeth is already the longest-serving monarch in British history, and at the time of making this episode the fourth longest serving monarch in world history. 

[00:24:07] She is only two and a half years away from being the longest-serving monarch in history, and she would overtake Louis XIV of France, who got a bit of a head start on her because he became king at the age of four.

[00:24:23] She has been a remarkably consistent figure in UK history. 

[00:24:27] She has lived through a world war, there have been 14 different prime ministers that have served under her, and 4 out of 5 people in Britain, including myself I should add, weren’t alive when she was crowned queen. 

[00:24:42] So, the vast majority of people in Britain, everyone under the age of 68 to be precise, has only lived under one British monarch: Queen Elizabeth.

[00:24:55] She may have her flaws, but is certainly a remarkable woman.

[00:25:00] One of the great ironies, however, is that although she is one of the most recognisable people on the planet, and she exists on banknotes, coins, and postage stamps all over the world there will be very few people who will ever be able to say that they have really known the true Queen Elizabeth.

[00:25:20] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II.

[00:25:29] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:25:33] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode. 

[00:25:38] I know that the queen and the British monarchy is a subject of great fascination for lots of people outside the UK, so tell me, what do people think about Queen Elizabeth in your country? 

[00:25:51] What do you think will happen when she is gone? 

[00:25:54] I would love to know.

[00:25:56] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:26:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF EPISODE]


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[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about a lady called Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, a lady you probably know by the name “Queen Elizabeth II”.

[00:00:35] We’ll talk about the life of Queen Elizabeth, how she was never meant to be queen in the first place, how she, and the country developed over the years. We’ll talk about some of the controversies she has survived, how she changed the monarchy, and we’ll also have time to hear about some unusual experiences she has had.

[00:00:56] And of course we will also talk about the particular type of English that she uses, a type of English so famous that it has its own name, “The Queen’s English”. 

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:12] Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was never meant to be queen, and in more ways than one her almost 70 years on the throne have been unlikely.

[00:01:23] For starters, until 2013, when the law was changed, a son came above a daughter in the line of succession.

[00:01:33] That is, no matter how many daughters a king or queen had, and how old they were, if a son was born he would automatically go to the front of the line when the king or queen died.

[00:01:48] So, as a woman, the odds were already against the young Elizabeth. She had a younger sister, Margaret, who was no competition, but if her parents had another child who was male, a son, he would leapfrog both of them in the line of succession.

[00:02:08] What’s more, neither Elizabeth’s father nor mother were on the throne when she was born, nor were they directly in line to the throne.

[00:02:18] When she was born, in 1926, her grandfather, King George V, was King of England.

[00:02:27] He had five sons and two daughters. His second son, George, was Elizabeth’s father.

[00:02:34] Next in line to the throne in the event of King George V’s death would be his first son, Edward.

[00:02:43] And so it was, when George V died in 1936, when Elizabeth was 10 years old, that the throne passed to her uncle, who became Edward VIII.

[00:02:55] He wasn’t to last for long though. He was in love with an American lady called Wallis Simpson, who had already divorced one man and was in the process of divorcing another.

[00:03:08] Long story short, there was strong opposition to the new king’s relationship with this American divorcée, and instead of leaving her, he left the monarchy, abdicating his position as king and passing the throne to his brother, Elizabeth’s father.

[00:03:28] To state the obvious, this was unexpected

[00:03:32] It had never happened before. No British monarch had ever voluntarily given up the throne before, especially for something as trivial as love.

[00:03:44] Elizabeth’s father became king, much to his surprise as well. 

[00:03:49] And in an instant, or at least in under a year, Elizabeth went from being a relatively minor young royal to being next in line to the throne, aged only 10 years old.

[00:04:04] Even though her father was now king, he was only 40 years old. 

[00:04:09] Young, comparatively speaking, and Elizabeth no doubt thought that she would be able to live out her childhood in relative obscurity, as a semi-normal person before having to take on the duties of queen herself, if that was what was required.

[00:04:28] It wasn’t to be. 

[00:04:29] In 1952, after 15 years on the throne, her father died of a blood clot, when Elizabeth was only a couple of months away from her 26th birthday.

[00:04:42] Like many men at the time, he had been a heavy smoker and died shortly after his 56th birthday.

[00:04:51] Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time, on a tour with her new husband, Phillip. She learned of her father’s death from the local news.

[00:05:00] In an instant all eyes were on her, on this 25 year old girl.

[00:05:07] Up until then, she had lived a relatively secluded life. She hadn’t gone to school, and instead had been taught by private tutors at her family home. 

[00:05:19] As a young woman, Elizabeth had got married, she had enjoyed time living in Malta with her new husband, Prince Phillip, and she had been enjoying life out of the spotlight.

[00:05:31] Her father had been unwell for several years, and had actually had his left lung removed. So Elizabeth, in preparation for the day she would become queen, reportedly brought black clothes with her wherever she went, just in case she received the news and had to change into mourning clothes.

[00:05:55] So she was prepared, from a practical view at least, but no doubt there is not much that can really prepare you for life as Queen.

[00:06:07] At her coronation, in 1953, she became the most famous woman in the country, and one of the most famous women in the entire world.

[00:06:18] Her face was on the money not only in the UK but in Canada, Australia, and all over British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

[00:06:28] She was on postage stamps, she was all over the newspapers.

[00:06:32] You could take a picture of the queen to almost any town or village in the world and people would know who she was.

[00:06:41] To state the obvious, it must have been an incredible amount of pressure for anyone, but especially for someone who had grown up in a tiny bubble.

[00:06:53] Now, let’s quickly reflect on the world, and the country, that Elizabeth found when she became queen in 1952.

[00:07:02] The Second World War had finished only 7 years before, there was still rationing in Britain, meaning that there were still limits on food and certain goods, and indeed the queen used her ration coupons to buy her wedding dress.

[00:07:19] Britain still had colonies all over the world, Europe was rebounding, the United States had been fighting in Korea, the Cold War was just getting started.

[00:07:31] By 1952 the process initiated by the first majority Labour government in Britain of getting rid of colonies and starting the Commonwealth was well underway, and Britain’s empire was firmly on the decline.

[00:07:49] And talking specifically about the British monarchy, the public hated the queen’s uncle, Edward VIII for abdicating, and his brother, King George VI had a tough job at trying to win back public support and trust in the British monarchy.

[00:08:08] The post-war period was a period of change in the UK. People questioned the status quo, the Labour government introduced heavy taxes on wealth, and there were real question marks over whether the UK should have a monarch as its head of state. 

[00:08:27] Looking across the Channel, France seemed to be doing ok without a monarch, Italy had got rid of its monarch, and let’s not forget that the British people had revolted against their monarch before, and executed the king and abolished the monarchy in 1649, so it wasn’t a complete impossibility that it could happen again.

[00:08:51] So, when Elizabeth was crowned queen, the UK, its monarchy, and the wider world was in a slightly precarious, a difficult, situation.

[00:09:03] If she makes it to February 6th of 2022, when she will only be a couple of months away from her 96th birthday, she will become the first monarch to celebrate her platinum jubilee, the celebration of 70 years on the British throne.

[00:09:22] To state the obvious, a lot has happened in those 70 years, in the UK, to the world, to the monarchy, and to the queen personally.

[00:09:31] Instead of going through the queen’s life chronologically, we are going to focus on three main themes.

[00:09:39] Firstly, her personal life, and how much we know about her as a human being.

[00:09:46] Secondly, how the monarchy has changed with her at its head.

[00:09:52] And thirdly, the controversies she has managed to survive and the problems she has faced.

[00:09:59] So, her personal life. It is somewhat of a contradiction that the queen might be one of the most famous women in the world, yet we really know very little about her as a human being. 

[00:10:14] Throughout the years she has remained mute, silent, on political issues, and we really don’t know what she thinks about almost anything.

[00:10:25] People have interpreted various things she has done as being signs of her beliefs, for example wearing a hat that looked a little bit like the EU flag was interpreted as showing her support of the EU, but we really don’t know what she actually thinks.

[00:10:44] Royal commentators have always commented on her sense of duty and loyalty to the crown, and suggested that she wants to remain almost invisible, anonymous, because the important thing is what she represents–the British monarchy–and showing her personality and true character would get in the way of what she represents.

[00:11:10] We do know a little bit about what she likes.

[00:11:13] In particular, she is a huge fan of a type of dog called a Corgi, which is a type of small dog originally from Wales. 

[00:11:23] On an interesting linguistic note, the word “corgi” actually comes from the Welsh words for “cor”, meaning dwarf, or very small, and “ci”, meaning dog. So “corgi” just means “dwarf dog” in Welsh.

[00:11:41] In any case, the Queen loves them, and has had over 30 different corgis over the course of her life. They are, reportedly, not very well behaved, and run all over Buckingham Palace, sitting on the sofas and generally causing trouble. 

[00:11:59] There are all sort of stories about how the Queen does things like drinks a glass of champagne every night before bed, and how she has been wearing the same nail polish since 1989, but these stories tend to use a lot of “anonymous sources”, and although they might make for fun newspaper articles, they’re probably as much fiction as they are fact. 

[00:12:25] Our second theme is how the monarchy has changed under her tenure, while she has been queen.

[00:12:32] As far as this is concerned, even the most devout republican would have to admit that the Queen has been effective at modernising the British monarchy and appealing to the public, both in the UK and abroad.

[00:12:49] She and other members of the Royal Family have made thousands of public appearances, visiting hospitals, schools, becoming patrons of charities. She has allowed documentaries to be made about the Royal Family, and has presented the Royal Family as more accessible and more human than ever before.

[00:13:11] And this is in a large part due to the queen, personally, due to Elizabeth. 

[00:13:18] She as an individual is still very popular in the UK and abroad.

[00:13:24] In the UK, recent surveys have around 72% of the population saying that they approve of her.

[00:13:32] She is also hugely popular in America. There’s been a national poll in America of the public’s most admired man and women every year. 

[00:13:44] Since 1948, the Queen has been in the “top ten” list 38 times, more than any other woman in history. 

[00:13:54] The second, by the way, is Jackie Kennedy, who has appeared 27 times.

[00:14:00] In 2021, the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, when he was asked about Australia becoming a republic, said, about the queen. “She's been an extraordinary head of state, and I think frankly, in Australia, there are more Elizabethans than there are monarchists”.

[00:14:20] So, he is saying that people in Australia are bigger fans of the queen the person than what the queen represents. 

[00:14:30] This is somewhat ironic, given how hard the queen tries to hide her personality and put all the focus on what she represents, but she would no doubt be happy that she is helping solidify the reputation of the monarchy for the next generation.

[00:14:49] It hasn’t, of course, all been simple for the queen, and this leads us on to our third part: the controversies and tougher times. 

[00:15:00] She has made some bad mistakes, and there have been plenty of times when it looked like it would be difficult to come back.

[00:15:09] 1992, for example, she called her “annus horribilis”. Two of her children, Anne and Andrew, separated from their partners. 

[00:15:18] It was revealed that her eldest son, Charles, was having an affair, and there were intimate conversations published between Princess Diana and another man, James Gilbey.

[00:15:31] There was even a large fire at one of her residences, Windsor Castle, and there was a public outcry when it was suggested that the repairs would be paid for with public money. As a result, the queen agreed to partially pay for it herself, and also agreed to start paying income tax, which as a monarch she wasn’t legally required to do.

[00:15:57] In 1995 Princess Diana was killed, and the Queen’s reaction to her death was considered by many to be emotionless and cold. 

[00:16:08] Indeed, her popularity reduced dramatically in the period after Diana's death, and a record 17% of Brits said that the monarchy should be abolished

[00:16:21] Yes, 17% isn’t that much, but just three and a half years before, partly out of sympathy for the queen’s terrible year, only 9% of people wanted to abolish it.

[00:16:35] More recently, as you may be aware, her grandson Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, decided that they would remove themselves from the British monarchy, and did several high profile interviews directly and indirectly criticising senior members of the royal family.

[00:16:54] And let’s not forget the ongoing problems with her third, and reportedly favourite, son, Andrew, and his association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

[00:17:08] As far as the queen’s mistakes go, it is worth reminding ourselves that the queen is 95 years old, was married for 73 years and has had 4 children, the oldest of whom is 72 years old.

[00:17:23] It’s a long life and a larger than average family, so it is only human that there will be mistakes and unhappiness along the way. The main difference is that her mistakes and unhappiness are incredibly public, and are splashed all over the newspapers.

[00:17:43] Critics of the queen would certainly say that the fact that she has ended up with three of her four children in failed marriages, and her reportedly favourite child, Andrew, accused of sex abuse suggests that she may have neglected her duties as a parent.

[00:18:02] Now, as a final part to today’s episode, let’s talk about the language of Queen Elizabeth.

[00:18:09] You have probably heard the expression “The Queen’s English”. Some people think that this is the same as BBC English or Received Pronunciation, but it’s really not.

[00:18:21] Or at least the Queen doesn’t speak in BBC English or in Received Pronunciation or what we might call “Standard English”.

[00:18:30] I’ll play a little clip of her speaking in a minute, but there are a few things I want to tell you to look out for first.

[00:18:39] Firstly, look out for how she pronounces “o” - it’s more like “ohh”, it’s a very guttural sound. Listen to how she says “ago” and “often”, instead of “ago” and “often”.

[00:18:55] Her vowel sounds tend to be quite a lot longer, so she says “heyappy” rather than “happy”, listen out for it in “Happy Christmas” (or "Happy Christmas").

[00:19:09] The clip I’m actually playing is from her first Christmas Broadcast, by the way, in 1957. She has made a Christmas message ever since. Listen to this one first, then we’ll see how her voice has changed over the years.

[00:19:26] OK, here goes.

[00:19:28] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. 

[00:19:49] Interestingly enough, her accent has actually softened quite a bit since this first speech, which you could also see as an example of her adapting to be more normal, speaking more like a normal person.

[00:20:05] Of course, her accent is still far from normal, but as you’ll see in the next clip, it is a lot less pronounced than it was when she first took the throne.

[00:20:19] Here's her speaking in one of her most recent Christmas messages.

[00:20:23] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:20:35] Can you see the difference?

[00:20:38] Here they are again for you.

[00:20:39] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas. Day 

[00:20:59] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:21:13] Now, just because this is the queen speaking, please don’t think that you need to speak like that - if you copied this accent perfectly people would look at you in a very strange way, so there is absolutely no need to speak the way she does.

[00:21:30] OK, we have time for a couple more unusual stories about the life of the queen.

[00:21:36] Firstly, did you know that once a drunk man managed to climb over the fences of Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence, managed to get into the palace and actually into the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping?

[00:21:53] It’s true. A man called Michael Fagan managed to get into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and found his way to the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping.

[00:22:05] Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, and it’s still not clear exactly what his motivations were, why he did it.

[00:22:14] Over the years he has claimed that he was in love with the queen, that he was on drugs, and that he hoped she could help him in some way. It caused a huge scandal, and since then security has been significantly tightened.

[00:22:30] The queen also, as part of her plan to make the royal family more approachable, has answered more than 3.5 million different letters from members of the public, and sent more than half a million cards to people in Britain who have either turned 100 years old or celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

[00:22:52] And over the years of travelling all over the world and being given presents from people from all different countries, she has amassed quite a collection.

[00:23:03] It reportedly includes an elephant, a pair of cowboy boots, 7kg of prawns, and two tortoises. 

[00:23:11] Now, the question that you might be thinking, and one we haven’t yet covered, is what happens when she dies?

[00:23:21] Well, on a practical level, the throne will pass to her eldest son Charles, assuming he is still alive, and he will either become king or decide to pass it straight down to his son, Prince William. Opinion polls suggest people would love him to do this, to pass it to Prince William, but it seems unlikely.

[00:23:45] In any case, that’s the easy part.

[00:23:48] The harder part is how the British monarchy moves on, how it opens a new chapter. Queen Elizabeth is already the longest-serving monarch in British history, and at the time of making this episode the fourth longest serving monarch in world history. 

[00:24:07] She is only two and a half years away from being the longest-serving monarch in history, and she would overtake Louis XIV of France, who got a bit of a head start on her because he became king at the age of four.

[00:24:23] She has been a remarkably consistent figure in UK history. 

[00:24:27] She has lived through a world war, there have been 14 different prime ministers that have served under her, and 4 out of 5 people in Britain, including myself I should add, weren’t alive when she was crowned queen. 

[00:24:42] So, the vast majority of people in Britain, everyone under the age of 68 to be precise, has only lived under one British monarch: Queen Elizabeth.

[00:24:55] She may have her flaws, but is certainly a remarkable woman.

[00:25:00] One of the great ironies, however, is that although she is one of the most recognisable people on the planet, and she exists on banknotes, coins, and postage stamps all over the world there will be very few people who will ever be able to say that they have really known the true Queen Elizabeth.

[00:25:20] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II.

[00:25:29] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:25:33] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode. 

[00:25:38] I know that the queen and the British monarchy is a subject of great fascination for lots of people outside the UK, so tell me, what do people think about Queen Elizabeth in your country? 

[00:25:51] What do you think will happen when she is gone? 

[00:25:54] I would love to know.

[00:25:56] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:26:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF EPISODE]


[00:00:00] Hello, hello hello, and welcome to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English. 

[00:00:12] The show where you can listen to fascinating stories, and learn weird and wonderful things about the world at the same time as improving your English.

[00:00:22] I'm Alastair Budge, and today we are going to be talking about a lady called Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, a lady you probably know by the name “Queen Elizabeth II”.

[00:00:35] We’ll talk about the life of Queen Elizabeth, how she was never meant to be queen in the first place, how she, and the country developed over the years. We’ll talk about some of the controversies she has survived, how she changed the monarchy, and we’ll also have time to hear about some unusual experiences she has had.

[00:00:56] And of course we will also talk about the particular type of English that she uses, a type of English so famous that it has its own name, “The Queen’s English”. 

[00:01:08] OK then, let’s get started.

[00:01:12] Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was never meant to be queen, and in more ways than one her almost 70 years on the throne have been unlikely.

[00:01:23] For starters, until 2013, when the law was changed, a son came above a daughter in the line of succession.

[00:01:33] That is, no matter how many daughters a king or queen had, and how old they were, if a son was born he would automatically go to the front of the line when the king or queen died.

[00:01:48] So, as a woman, the odds were already against the young Elizabeth. She had a younger sister, Margaret, who was no competition, but if her parents had another child who was male, a son, he would leapfrog both of them in the line of succession.

[00:02:08] What’s more, neither Elizabeth’s father nor mother were on the throne when she was born, nor were they directly in line to the throne.

[00:02:18] When she was born, in 1926, her grandfather, King George V, was King of England.

[00:02:27] He had five sons and two daughters. His second son, George, was Elizabeth’s father.

[00:02:34] Next in line to the throne in the event of King George V’s death would be his first son, Edward.

[00:02:43] And so it was, when George V died in 1936, when Elizabeth was 10 years old, that the throne passed to her uncle, who became Edward VIII.

[00:02:55] He wasn’t to last for long though. He was in love with an American lady called Wallis Simpson, who had already divorced one man and was in the process of divorcing another.

[00:03:08] Long story short, there was strong opposition to the new king’s relationship with this American divorcée, and instead of leaving her, he left the monarchy, abdicating his position as king and passing the throne to his brother, Elizabeth’s father.

[00:03:28] To state the obvious, this was unexpected

[00:03:32] It had never happened before. No British monarch had ever voluntarily given up the throne before, especially for something as trivial as love.

[00:03:44] Elizabeth’s father became king, much to his surprise as well. 

[00:03:49] And in an instant, or at least in under a year, Elizabeth went from being a relatively minor young royal to being next in line to the throne, aged only 10 years old.

[00:04:04] Even though her father was now king, he was only 40 years old. 

[00:04:09] Young, comparatively speaking, and Elizabeth no doubt thought that she would be able to live out her childhood in relative obscurity, as a semi-normal person before having to take on the duties of queen herself, if that was what was required.

[00:04:28] It wasn’t to be. 

[00:04:29] In 1952, after 15 years on the throne, her father died of a blood clot, when Elizabeth was only a couple of months away from her 26th birthday.

[00:04:42] Like many men at the time, he had been a heavy smoker and died shortly after his 56th birthday.

[00:04:51] Elizabeth was in Kenya at the time, on a tour with her new husband, Phillip. She learned of her father’s death from the local news.

[00:05:00] In an instant all eyes were on her, on this 25 year old girl.

[00:05:07] Up until then, she had lived a relatively secluded life. She hadn’t gone to school, and instead had been taught by private tutors at her family home. 

[00:05:19] As a young woman, Elizabeth had got married, she had enjoyed time living in Malta with her new husband, Prince Phillip, and she had been enjoying life out of the spotlight.

[00:05:31] Her father had been unwell for several years, and had actually had his left lung removed. So Elizabeth, in preparation for the day she would become queen, reportedly brought black clothes with her wherever she went, just in case she received the news and had to change into mourning clothes.

[00:05:55] So she was prepared, from a practical view at least, but no doubt there is not much that can really prepare you for life as Queen.

[00:06:07] At her coronation, in 1953, she became the most famous woman in the country, and one of the most famous women in the entire world.

[00:06:18] Her face was on the money not only in the UK but in Canada, Australia, and all over British colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

[00:06:28] She was on postage stamps, she was all over the newspapers.

[00:06:32] You could take a picture of the queen to almost any town or village in the world and people would know who she was.

[00:06:41] To state the obvious, it must have been an incredible amount of pressure for anyone, but especially for someone who had grown up in a tiny bubble.

[00:06:53] Now, let’s quickly reflect on the world, and the country, that Elizabeth found when she became queen in 1952.

[00:07:02] The Second World War had finished only 7 years before, there was still rationing in Britain, meaning that there were still limits on food and certain goods, and indeed the queen used her ration coupons to buy her wedding dress.

[00:07:19] Britain still had colonies all over the world, Europe was rebounding, the United States had been fighting in Korea, the Cold War was just getting started.

[00:07:31] By 1952 the process initiated by the first majority Labour government in Britain of getting rid of colonies and starting the Commonwealth was well underway, and Britain’s empire was firmly on the decline.

[00:07:49] And talking specifically about the British monarchy, the public hated the queen’s uncle, Edward VIII for abdicating, and his brother, King George VI had a tough job at trying to win back public support and trust in the British monarchy.

[00:08:08] The post-war period was a period of change in the UK. People questioned the status quo, the Labour government introduced heavy taxes on wealth, and there were real question marks over whether the UK should have a monarch as its head of state. 

[00:08:27] Looking across the Channel, France seemed to be doing ok without a monarch, Italy had got rid of its monarch, and let’s not forget that the British people had revolted against their monarch before, and executed the king and abolished the monarchy in 1649, so it wasn’t a complete impossibility that it could happen again.

[00:08:51] So, when Elizabeth was crowned queen, the UK, its monarchy, and the wider world was in a slightly precarious, a difficult, situation.

[00:09:03] If she makes it to February 6th of 2022, when she will only be a couple of months away from her 96th birthday, she will become the first monarch to celebrate her platinum jubilee, the celebration of 70 years on the British throne.

[00:09:22] To state the obvious, a lot has happened in those 70 years, in the UK, to the world, to the monarchy, and to the queen personally.

[00:09:31] Instead of going through the queen’s life chronologically, we are going to focus on three main themes.

[00:09:39] Firstly, her personal life, and how much we know about her as a human being.

[00:09:46] Secondly, how the monarchy has changed with her at its head.

[00:09:52] And thirdly, the controversies she has managed to survive and the problems she has faced.

[00:09:59] So, her personal life. It is somewhat of a contradiction that the queen might be one of the most famous women in the world, yet we really know very little about her as a human being. 

[00:10:14] Throughout the years she has remained mute, silent, on political issues, and we really don’t know what she thinks about almost anything.

[00:10:25] People have interpreted various things she has done as being signs of her beliefs, for example wearing a hat that looked a little bit like the EU flag was interpreted as showing her support of the EU, but we really don’t know what she actually thinks.

[00:10:44] Royal commentators have always commented on her sense of duty and loyalty to the crown, and suggested that she wants to remain almost invisible, anonymous, because the important thing is what she represents–the British monarchy–and showing her personality and true character would get in the way of what she represents.

[00:11:10] We do know a little bit about what she likes.

[00:11:13] In particular, she is a huge fan of a type of dog called a Corgi, which is a type of small dog originally from Wales. 

[00:11:23] On an interesting linguistic note, the word “corgi” actually comes from the Welsh words for “cor”, meaning dwarf, or very small, and “ci”, meaning dog. So “corgi” just means “dwarf dog” in Welsh.

[00:11:41] In any case, the Queen loves them, and has had over 30 different corgis over the course of her life. They are, reportedly, not very well behaved, and run all over Buckingham Palace, sitting on the sofas and generally causing trouble. 

[00:11:59] There are all sort of stories about how the Queen does things like drinks a glass of champagne every night before bed, and how she has been wearing the same nail polish since 1989, but these stories tend to use a lot of “anonymous sources”, and although they might make for fun newspaper articles, they’re probably as much fiction as they are fact. 

[00:12:25] Our second theme is how the monarchy has changed under her tenure, while she has been queen.

[00:12:32] As far as this is concerned, even the most devout republican would have to admit that the Queen has been effective at modernising the British monarchy and appealing to the public, both in the UK and abroad.

[00:12:49] She and other members of the Royal Family have made thousands of public appearances, visiting hospitals, schools, becoming patrons of charities. She has allowed documentaries to be made about the Royal Family, and has presented the Royal Family as more accessible and more human than ever before.

[00:13:11] And this is in a large part due to the queen, personally, due to Elizabeth. 

[00:13:18] She as an individual is still very popular in the UK and abroad.

[00:13:24] In the UK, recent surveys have around 72% of the population saying that they approve of her.

[00:13:32] She is also hugely popular in America. There’s been a national poll in America of the public’s most admired man and women every year. 

[00:13:44] Since 1948, the Queen has been in the “top ten” list 38 times, more than any other woman in history. 

[00:13:54] The second, by the way, is Jackie Kennedy, who has appeared 27 times.

[00:14:00] In 2021, the prime minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, when he was asked about Australia becoming a republic, said, about the queen. “She's been an extraordinary head of state, and I think frankly, in Australia, there are more Elizabethans than there are monarchists”.

[00:14:20] So, he is saying that people in Australia are bigger fans of the queen the person than what the queen represents. 

[00:14:30] This is somewhat ironic, given how hard the queen tries to hide her personality and put all the focus on what she represents, but she would no doubt be happy that she is helping solidify the reputation of the monarchy for the next generation.

[00:14:49] It hasn’t, of course, all been simple for the queen, and this leads us on to our third part: the controversies and tougher times. 

[00:15:00] She has made some bad mistakes, and there have been plenty of times when it looked like it would be difficult to come back.

[00:15:09] 1992, for example, she called her “annus horribilis”. Two of her children, Anne and Andrew, separated from their partners. 

[00:15:18] It was revealed that her eldest son, Charles, was having an affair, and there were intimate conversations published between Princess Diana and another man, James Gilbey.

[00:15:31] There was even a large fire at one of her residences, Windsor Castle, and there was a public outcry when it was suggested that the repairs would be paid for with public money. As a result, the queen agreed to partially pay for it herself, and also agreed to start paying income tax, which as a monarch she wasn’t legally required to do.

[00:15:57] In 1995 Princess Diana was killed, and the Queen’s reaction to her death was considered by many to be emotionless and cold. 

[00:16:08] Indeed, her popularity reduced dramatically in the period after Diana's death, and a record 17% of Brits said that the monarchy should be abolished

[00:16:21] Yes, 17% isn’t that much, but just three and a half years before, partly out of sympathy for the queen’s terrible year, only 9% of people wanted to abolish it.

[00:16:35] More recently, as you may be aware, her grandson Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, decided that they would remove themselves from the British monarchy, and did several high profile interviews directly and indirectly criticising senior members of the royal family.

[00:16:54] And let’s not forget the ongoing problems with her third, and reportedly favourite, son, Andrew, and his association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

[00:17:08] As far as the queen’s mistakes go, it is worth reminding ourselves that the queen is 95 years old, was married for 73 years and has had 4 children, the oldest of whom is 72 years old.

[00:17:23] It’s a long life and a larger than average family, so it is only human that there will be mistakes and unhappiness along the way. The main difference is that her mistakes and unhappiness are incredibly public, and are splashed all over the newspapers.

[00:17:43] Critics of the queen would certainly say that the fact that she has ended up with three of her four children in failed marriages, and her reportedly favourite child, Andrew, accused of sex abuse suggests that she may have neglected her duties as a parent.

[00:18:02] Now, as a final part to today’s episode, let’s talk about the language of Queen Elizabeth.

[00:18:09] You have probably heard the expression “The Queen’s English”. Some people think that this is the same as BBC English or Received Pronunciation, but it’s really not.

[00:18:21] Or at least the Queen doesn’t speak in BBC English or in Received Pronunciation or what we might call “Standard English”.

[00:18:30] I’ll play a little clip of her speaking in a minute, but there are a few things I want to tell you to look out for first.

[00:18:39] Firstly, look out for how she pronounces “o” - it’s more like “ohh”, it’s a very guttural sound. Listen to how she says “ago” and “often”, instead of “ago” and “often”.

[00:18:55] Her vowel sounds tend to be quite a lot longer, so she says “heyappy” rather than “happy”, listen out for it in “Happy Christmas” (or "Happy Christmas").

[00:19:09] The clip I’m actually playing is from her first Christmas Broadcast, by the way, in 1957. She has made a Christmas message ever since. Listen to this one first, then we’ll see how her voice has changed over the years.

[00:19:26] OK, here goes.

[00:19:28] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas Day. 

[00:19:49] Interestingly enough, her accent has actually softened quite a bit since this first speech, which you could also see as an example of her adapting to be more normal, speaking more like a normal person.

[00:20:05] Of course, her accent is still far from normal, but as you’ll see in the next clip, it is a lot less pronounced than it was when she first took the throne.

[00:20:19] Here's her speaking in one of her most recent Christmas messages.

[00:20:23] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:20:35] Can you see the difference?

[00:20:38] Here they are again for you.

[00:20:39] Happy Christmas, 25 years ago. My grandfather broadcast the first of these Christmas messages. Today is another landmark because television has made it possible for many of you to see me in your homes on Christmas. Day 

[00:20:59] We will be with our friends. Again, we will be with our families again, we will meet again, but for now I send my thanks and warmest good wishes to you all. 

[00:21:13] Now, just because this is the queen speaking, please don’t think that you need to speak like that - if you copied this accent perfectly people would look at you in a very strange way, so there is absolutely no need to speak the way she does.

[00:21:30] OK, we have time for a couple more unusual stories about the life of the queen.

[00:21:36] Firstly, did you know that once a drunk man managed to climb over the fences of Buckingham Palace, the queen’s official residence, managed to get into the palace and actually into the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping?

[00:21:53] It’s true. A man called Michael Fagan managed to get into Buckingham Palace in 1982 and found his way to the queen’s bedroom while she was sleeping.

[00:22:05] Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, and it’s still not clear exactly what his motivations were, why he did it.

[00:22:14] Over the years he has claimed that he was in love with the queen, that he was on drugs, and that he hoped she could help him in some way. It caused a huge scandal, and since then security has been significantly tightened.

[00:22:30] The queen also, as part of her plan to make the royal family more approachable, has answered more than 3.5 million different letters from members of the public, and sent more than half a million cards to people in Britain who have either turned 100 years old or celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

[00:22:52] And over the years of travelling all over the world and being given presents from people from all different countries, she has amassed quite a collection.

[00:23:03] It reportedly includes an elephant, a pair of cowboy boots, 7kg of prawns, and two tortoises. 

[00:23:11] Now, the question that you might be thinking, and one we haven’t yet covered, is what happens when she dies?

[00:23:21] Well, on a practical level, the throne will pass to her eldest son Charles, assuming he is still alive, and he will either become king or decide to pass it straight down to his son, Prince William. Opinion polls suggest people would love him to do this, to pass it to Prince William, but it seems unlikely.

[00:23:45] In any case, that’s the easy part.

[00:23:48] The harder part is how the British monarchy moves on, how it opens a new chapter. Queen Elizabeth is already the longest-serving monarch in British history, and at the time of making this episode the fourth longest serving monarch in world history. 

[00:24:07] She is only two and a half years away from being the longest-serving monarch in history, and she would overtake Louis XIV of France, who got a bit of a head start on her because he became king at the age of four.

[00:24:23] She has been a remarkably consistent figure in UK history. 

[00:24:27] She has lived through a world war, there have been 14 different prime ministers that have served under her, and 4 out of 5 people in Britain, including myself I should add, weren’t alive when she was crowned queen. 

[00:24:42] So, the vast majority of people in Britain, everyone under the age of 68 to be precise, has only lived under one British monarch: Queen Elizabeth.

[00:24:55] She may have her flaws, but is certainly a remarkable woman.

[00:25:00] One of the great ironies, however, is that although she is one of the most recognisable people on the planet, and she exists on banknotes, coins, and postage stamps all over the world there will be very few people who will ever be able to say that they have really known the true Queen Elizabeth.

[00:25:20] OK then, that is it for today's episode on the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II.

[00:25:29] I hope it's been an interesting one, and that you've learnt something new.

[00:25:33] As always, I would love to know what you thought about this episode. 

[00:25:38] I know that the queen and the British monarchy is a subject of great fascination for lots of people outside the UK, so tell me, what do people think about Queen Elizabeth in your country? 

[00:25:51] What do you think will happen when she is gone? 

[00:25:54] I would love to know.

[00:25:56] You can head right into our community forum, which is at community.leonardoenglish.com and get chatting away to other curious minds.

[00:26:05] You've been listening to English Learning for Curious Minds, by Leonardo English.

[00:26:10] I'm Alastair Budge, you stay safe, and I'll catch you in the next episode.


[END OF EPISODE]