Royal pains

Level B1

One of last January’s highest trending news items in the British press was the surprising ‘divorce’ between the Sussexes and the British Royal Family. It began when the Sussexes – Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex – decided to “step back” from their roles as senior royals. Their idea was to no longer work full-time for the Monarchy and to “carve out” a new role for themselves. To many people this sounded like a betrayal, and a serious one considering that Prince Harry is not just any member of the Family, but is the grandson of the Queen herself. The media pointed out that there is one precedent to this situation. In 1936, King Edward VIII wanted to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, but the Archbishop of Canterbury did not allow him to because the Church of England opposed marriage after divorce. The British government also sided against the King. In the end, Edward had to abdicate to marry the woman he loved.

 

Under pressure

Like Wallis Simpson before her, Meghan Markle has been the object of public attention. Like
Wallis, she is not British but American, and a divorcee. She is also biracial, her father being white and her mother black. Some saw all this as at odds with the traditional, all-British and all-white Royal Family. Always looking for gossip, scoops and drama, some tabloids treated Meghan as an ambitious ex-actress interested in money and titles. They suggested that she did not respect her new role and was not welcomed by other members of the Royal Family. The Sussexes reacted strongly to this. Last year they took legal action against several newspapers, accusing them of spreading false news and violating their privacy. Prince Harry made a direct reference to his mother, Princess Diana, who died in 1997 in a car accident while running away from the paparazzi. “My deepest fear is history repeating itself,” he said. “I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

 

Megxit (and to Meghan Markle)

All this pressure surely played a role in Harry and Meghan’s surprise decision, on January 8, to step back as senior royals. The usual tabloids called it Megxit – a portmanteau of the words Meghan and Brexit – suggesting her responsibility in this decision. Those that sided with Meghan, instead, coined a new verb: ‘to Meghan Markle’, which means ‘to preserve your own mental wellbeing by leaving an environment that doesn’t value you’. Whatever the reasons, the Sussexes’ idea was to work part-time for the Monarchy while also following their own path. Although the Queen said that she supported “their wish for a more independent life,” she did not agree with how they wanted to achieve this. Buckingham Palace released a statement saying that the Sussexes were very welcome to start a new life, but they could no longer be “working members of the Royal Family,” and, therefore, they could no longer use His/Her Royal Highness (HRH) titles. The Queen’s line was clear: you can’t be half-in and half-out of the Royal Family.

 

National identity

If the Sussexes hoped for more privacy, this new situation has increased the media attention on
them. But one should wonder: isn’t all this media circus too much? Is it not anachronistic, in the 21st century, to be so interested in the lives of princes and princesses? Is not the Monarchy itself an outdated institution? Apparently British people don’t think so. According to polls, only 14% of
Britons think that the United Kingdom should become a republic. There seems to be an emotional attachment to the Monarchy that goes beyond rational consideration of whether a group of unelected people should have a say in the running of the country. The Monarchy is part of national identity. It’s in the national anthem – “God save the Queen” – and in the very name of the nation: the United Kingdom. The Monarchy is also good business. Each year it costs taxpayers £300-350 million, but it generates about £1.8 billion in tourist revenue. No wonder that the story of the Sussexes has received so much attention.

 

Useful links

1)Here is the official website of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex:

https://sussexroyal.com/

2)Would you like to know more about a member of the Royal Family? Have a look here:

https://www.royal.uk/royal-family

3)Find out how to use the verb ‘to Meghan Markle’ in different situations:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/jan/24/to-meghan-markle-verb-how-to-use-it

4) Here is the original January 8 statement from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex:

https://sussexroyal.com/about/

5) Here is Buckingham Palace’s answer to Harry and Meghan mentioned in the article:

https://www.royal.uk/statement-her-majesty-queen-0

6) Would you like to learn the British national anthem? You can find it here:

https://www.royal.uk/national-anthem

There are also other versions of the national anthem. Have a look:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_Queen

 

COMPREHENSION

1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative.

1. Harry and Meghan at first decided that 

  1. they no longer wanted to work for the Monarchy.
  2. they wanted to work part-time for the Monarchy.
  3. they wanted to leave the Royal Family.

2. In regards to the desire of Edward VIII to marry Wallis Simpson, the British government

  1. sided with the Archbishop of Canterbury.
  2. remained neutral.
  3. sided with the King.

3. In the end, Edward VIII

  1. was told to resign by the Archbishop.
  2. never married.
  3. married, but only when he was no longer king.

4. Meghan Markle was seen as at odds with the Royal Family primarily because

  1. she is a divorcee and an ex-actress.
  2. she is American and biracial.
  3. she is an ambitious woman interested in money and titles.

5. Harry said that Meghan was like his mother because

  1. she is disliked by the media.
  2. she wants to leave the Royal Family.
  3. she is a victim of too much media attention.

6. The noun ‘Megxit’ is used to

  1. suggest that Meghan was responsible for the Sussexes decision.
  2. suggest that Meghan’s decision was wise.
  3. describe the Sussexes wish for a more independent life.

7. The verb ‘to Meghan Markle’ is used to

  1. suggest that Meghan was responsible for the Sussexes decision.
  2. suggest that Meghan’s decision was wise.
  3. describe the Sussexes wish for a more independent life.

8. The Queen

  1. was against Harry and Meghan’s wishes and refused their terms.
  2. supported Harry and Meghan’s wishes as well as their terms.
  3. accepted Harry and Meghan’s wishes, but not their terms.

9. In the UK, the Royal Family is

  1. a popular institution.
  2. an unpopular institution.
  3. liked by only 14% of the population.

10. The members of the Royal Family are

  1. chosen by the Queen.
  2. not elected by the British people.
  3. elected by the British people.

 

VOCABULARY 

2) Complete the sentences with the following words. Put the verbs and nouns in the right form, if necessary.

portmanteau   * path * royal pain  * to carve out * tabloid  * outdated * to run * to step back  * senior * national anthem  

1. The verb ______ does not only mean to move faster than walking, but also to manage, to govern

2. Every country has an official song that represents it, called the ______

3. The word ______, which means a small track or course, can also be used metaphorically. 

4. A ______ is a word formed by two words combined. A famous example is ‘brunch’, which indicates a late morning meal, half-breakfast and half-lunch.

5. An older member of a specific group of people (like a family, a club or a school) is usually called a ______, while a young member is usually called a junior

6. ______ is an idiom that indicates something or somebody who is truly irritating.

7.A newspaper more interested in gossip and scoops than in in-depth reporting is called a ______.

8. The opposite of ______ is up-to-date.

9. If he ______ from his position, there are many people willing to step forward and take his place.

10. She is a very talented artist; she ______ her own special place in today’s art world.

 

GRAMMAR – Indefinite determiners

3) Choose the correct indefinite determiner (some, any, no) to complete the following sentences.

1. ______ of my friends are really interested in the whole ‘Megxit’ drama.

2. Meghan Markle was an actress. Did you see ______ of her films?

3. I have ______ sympathy for royalty – I think Britain should become a republic.

4. I’m sorry, but the newspaper is sold out. There aren’t ______ copies left.

5. The Queen and her grandchildren, William and Harry, are ______ of the world’s most famous people.

6. Do you have ______ idea what it feels like be followed around by the paparazzi all day long?

7. You have ______ excuse for not finishing your homework!

8. I’ve run out of beer. Would you like ______ wine instead?

9. There is ______ coffee left. I have to go out and buy it.

10. I would like to get ______ recognition for my work!

 

SHORT ESSAY

4) Are you a fan or a follower of a celebrity (or of a member of a Royal Family)? Describe this person and explain why you are interested in him/her. (60-80 words)

5) Did you ever ‘Meghan Markle’? What situation was it? Describe. (60-80 words)

___

(Carlo Dellonte)

(Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, Wikimedia Commons)

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  1. Great Job. Thank you