In this video I interviewed some native speakers and asked them about The Royal Family. Here are the results. Transcript below.
Man wearing a tie and sunglasses
[This man is originally from Wales but now spends his time in London, Wales and Vancouver Canada. He speaks with an RP accent, without strong regional pronunciation. He comes across as quite posh, well spoken and well educated]
Luke: Right, I’m asking people about the Royal Family today
Luke: So what do you think? Good thing? Bad thing? Bad thing? Good thing?
Man: Are you talking about the family or the institution of the monarchy?
Luke: Well, let’s start with the institution of the monarchy
Man: Can’t imagine why anyone would want to elect some super-annuated politician, as head of state
Luke: Ok, alright, so what about the family then, as people
Man: Well, families are families, we all have problems
Luke: Yes, yes, ok. Umm, alright, do you have a favourite or a least favourite member of the Royal Family?
Man: Well the Queen herself, obviously.
Luke: Why exactly?
Man: Because I’ve been… As long as I’ve been alive, pretty well, not quite… I was born in her grandfather’s reign but only just. So I survived her father’s reign, and he survived… me, and the war, we survived together. But the Queen has been around while I’ve been an adult.
Luke: What do you think of Charles? Do you think he’ll be a … do you think he’ll become King?
Man: Of course he’ll become King, there isn’t any other way! You start thinking about that then what are you doing? You’re electing a president. Thank you very much, no.
Couple in Green Park
[The young man is from London but has been travelling in India for a few years. The girl is from Sheffield in the north of England and recently moved down to London. They both speak without strong regional accents, so they speak with standard RP accents]
Luke: I’m asking people about the Royal Family. So what do you think? Are they a bad thing or a good thing? Good thing or a bad thing? What do you think?
Girl: Good thing.
Luke: Yeah? Yeah? What makes you say that?
Girl: It’s nice to have a figurehead. They don’t really have much power but they do a lot of good for charity. That’s nice.
Luke: Yeah, yeah, ok. What do you think?
Young man: Yeah, it’s nice to have, like, erm… Like there’s the stereotypical. like, English image is always really good, and you know, like, drinking cups of tea and bowler hats and like, I think the Royal Family is definitely part of that. I think that’s really really nice to have. It’s a bit of a drain on our economy, but in the general scheme of things we probably spend a lot of money on other things as well.
Luke: That image of people, sort of, erm, drinking cups of tea and being very posh and everything, is that really what we’re like?
Young man: No, not at all but it’s great to have the stereotype there.
Young man: I think it’s a really nice thing to have. Well, like, I think as Britain becomes a multi-cultural nation like I think we have been for so long now, like, the true British identity is definitely lost. But I think, you know, just to still have part of it there is still really good.
Luke: Yeah, ok. Do you have a favourite or least favourite member of the Royal Family?
Young man: I don’t know. I actually really like Prince Harry. I think he’s a really nice guy. I’ve seen a few interviews with him recently and he comes across like a really, you know, pleasant chap.
Luke: Yeah, yeah yeah.
Young man: But, err, least favourite.
Girl: Don’t have a least… I dunno
Young man: I don’t know them well enough, to be honest.
Luke: What do you think of Kate?
Young man: I have no opinions of her. I think she’s, you know, married rich, like, well done.
Man in reddish-pinkish-purple T-shirt
[This guy comes from Leeds so he has a slight Leeds accent (Yorkshire). Leeds is in the north of England, so he pronounces the /a:/ sound differently – listen to my podcast about British Accents for more information on that ;) ]
Luke: so what do you think of the Royal Family?
Man: Err, they’re all right, you know, they’re they’re sort of, just a figurehead err body, aren’t they, really. I don’t think they do much apart from cost us lots of money, and bring in tourists. So that’s good I suppose. The fact that tourists come here just to see, just over there, the Buckingham Palace, the Royal Family, yeah.
Luke: Would you keep them? Or would you get rid of them?
Man: Errrrm, I think yeah, I think we should keep them but I think that, I don’t know, I’m just amazed and confused as to why the media seems to love them so much, I mean, yeah.
Luke: Who’s your favourite Royal?
Man: Err, (laughs)
Luke: or least favourite
Man: Least favourite? My least favourite Royal. I don’t really like Prince Charles. Yeah. I dunno why, I just, I dunno, I wouldn’t like to think of him as being King. I think they should just skip. I think he should just do the honest thing and not, not, not accept the throne, when, when his time comes. Yeah.
Luke: Thank you. Thanks very much.
Man: That’s alright. That’s alright, ok.
Woman and man from Canada
[This couple come from Quebec in Canada. Their first language is French, so they (she) have French/Canadian accents.]
Luke: So what do you think of the Royal Family?
Woman: The what family?
Man: The Royal Family
Luke: The Royal Family. The people who live in that house behind us.
Woman: You have an accent. (Laughter) I think that they are very useful for newspaper(s)
Luke: Oh yes
Woman: They are making money for, they are making… making newspaper(s) making money
Luke: Yeah, they’re making money for newspapers
Woman: No no, they’re not… well they are helping newspaper(s) to make more money
Luke: I see
Woman: Don’t you think?
Luke: Well, yes, certainly, yeah, yeah. Okay , err. (Laughter) You’re being controversial, which is great. That’s a very good…. What, err, there’s a bit of history, isn’t there, sort of, in Canada and err, with the Royal Family, what’s the situation in Quebec. How do people in Quebec feel about, err, The Queen, ’cause you have in Canada the Queen on your bank notes, don’t you.
Woman: Yeah, well we don’t mind so much about the face of the Queen on the bank notes, but, you know, we don’t like, well, ‘we we’ it’s not us but in general people don’t like The Queen but this summer we had a visit of William and Kate and they were very very very very appreciate(d).
Luke: They… really?
Woman: Kate was appreciate(d)
Luke: Not William?
Woman: Yes, yes, but you know he was just there as the boyfriend of Kate.
Luke: So, she’s a celebrity, she’s not, sort of, err…
Woman: Yeah because she’s elegant and she’s… you know? It was her, her, how do you say in English – wardrobe? Wardrobe?
Luke: Yeah, her wardrobe, yeah. Her outfits and her clothes.
Woman: Yes, it was very important. That was the subject of discussion.
Luke: Yes, so you like Kate basically, don’t you? In Canada I mean, in Quebec at least.
Woman: No, in Canada they love everybody, but in Quebec Kate was appreciate(d) because she was natural.
Luke: Right, yeah yeah. She’s sort of, erm, yeah, she’s a normal person.
Woman: Yeah, a human being.
Luke: (Laughs) Are you saying that the Royals aren’t human beings? What are they, like, robots or aliens or…?
Woman: We don’t know, we don’t know, perhaps. What do you think?
Luke: Erm, I don’t know, I think they’re, I think they’re human beings but err, I don’t know, it’s, they’re different kind of people, you know.
Woman: But obviously people like because you know, you have, you see all those people next to the, to to to, to the fence
Luke: to the gates
Woman: to the gates, and they are like, “ooh!” You know, so here we feel some attachment
Luke: Yeah, yeah, yeah
Man: that we don’t have
Luke: Well, erm, I mean a lot of these people you’re seeing are tourists, you know, and they come because it’s, erm, you know, there’s lots of impressive buildings and things, and a lot of money and stuff like that, erm. Well, you see The Queen and the state are kind of the same thing so if you’re… I guess a lot of people are proud of being, you know, from their own country and so they use The Queen as a representation of their pride in their country. Erm, whether that’s a good or a bad thing, I don’t know, that’s err, another question, but err, yeah
[This girl is from South London and has a typical young Londoner’s accent. Her Dad was also behind the camera]
Luke: I’m asking people what they think of the Royal Family, so what do you think? Do you think they’re a good thing or a bad thing?
Girl: Good for tradition. Not much help. I dunno, they don’t do much. I don’t think.
Luke: Really? Yeah?
Girl: I don’t know
Luke: Do you feel like you have a strong opinion about The Royal Family?
Girl: Not at all
Luke: What do you think of William and Kate?
Girl: They’re a couple. They’re just… they’re just royal, married people.
Luke: Yeah, yeah yeah
The Girl’s Dad: Do you think they’re a nice couple or not?
Girl: I don’t think it matters. It doesn’t matter to me, personally.
Luke: Do you feel like you’ve got any connection to The Royal Family at all?
Luke: If you had a choice, would you get rid of them or would you keep them?
Girl: Keep them
Girl: Because it’s a British thing, I guess.
Luke: Would you rather we had, like, a president that was elected or would you rather we had a queen who wasn’t elected?
Girl: A president
Luke: Yeah? Like in America
Girl: Yeah. It’s more, err, …
Girl: That’s the word!
Luke: Do you want to say anything to the people of the world?
Girl: Hi, people of the world. Bye, people of the world.
Definitions of some words and expressions:
an RP accent = a standard British English accent without any regional differences in pronunciation, a ‘BBC accent’
he comes across as a pleasant chap = seems to be a nice person, gives the impression of being a nice person
a monarch = a king or queen
the institution of the monarchy = the political structure and administrative organisation of the Royal Family
super-annuated = old, out of date, obsolete
head of state = the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state
reign = period of time in which a king or queen serves as monarch
a figurehead = a person who represents a country but has no real power, just a representative function
charity = the practice of giving or caring without expecting anything in return. Charity work is often done by organisations called ‘charities’ such as UNICEF or The British Red Cross
bowler hats = traditional round hats worn by British business men in the past
a drain on our economy = something which takes money away from the economy, something which we spend money on
in the general scheme of things = in the general overall picture/situation
stereotype = a common vision or image of a person or group which is not completely realistic or true
pleasant = nice
chap = man (informal, a bit posh or old fashioned)
body = an organisation or institution
get rid of them = remove them, throw them away
accept the throne = agree to become king
wardrobe = clothes, outfits
democratic = a form of government in which all people have a right to have influence over the way a country is run by voting in elections