Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast - the weekly English show where we speak about everything under sun. The major goal of this show is to help you with your English and of course learn something new. My name’s Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
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I wanna be a Vk superstar, so let’s…
Let’s help Benjamin to become a Vk superstar!
Yeah, I wanna help Benjamin become a vk superstar.
So show Benjamin some support, you know. A life goal.
It’s not easy becoming a superstar.
It’s definitely not. Almost as difficult as to become, you know, a king or queen in something. Have you noticed what I did here?
Oh man! How could we not notice it?
So yeah, we are here today to discuss the royalty – kings, queens, tsars, monarchies, all that. Do you know much on the topic? Benjamin knows much on the topic.
I mean I know the basics, but I don’t really… I wouldn’t say I’m an expert on the topic, but I’m interested in the topic nonetheless.
Well you’re supposed to know more than all of us together since you were the one living in the country with a monarchy. So. I have a lot of questions to you about it to be honest.
Well we Americans have a lot to do with it as well.
And I have a lot of questions about that too. So, first of all, Gary?
You looked like you wanted to say something.
No, I didn’t. Maybe I wanted to.
This is not the correct attitude, you know, when you’re recording a podcast.
I don’t want to anymore. I stopped wanting to, sorry.
So, first of all, what is a monarchy? So what the hell is it? What is the difference between monarchy and democracy for example?
Let’s talk about the divisions between kind of monarchies, because absolutely monarchy means that that one king had absolute power over everything. And then when there was a war in England, the English said no, we’re not going to do that anymore, we have to have our share of powers, then it became a constitutional monarchy.
That means shared powers, now we have the king and then we had the Parliament.
So and what is the difference between let’s say a monarchy and some other forms of government?
Well the monarch is the head of state in a monarchy. Whereas…
Right, it’s mono, it’s one. Arche is like government. So one person that’s kind of the absolute, not absolute…
And he was appointed by the divine. That’s the difference.
That was the original idea, yeah kind of. And then there is a tyranny which is a kinda ruled by one, but without consent. That’s the difference is that monarch is some kind of an idea… In monarchy there is an idea of at least some kind of consent meaning that the people or the nobles or whoever’s important, consent that this guy is going to be king, for example.
But if it’s tyranny, what if a monarch is a tyrant.
No, a tyrant is the kind of a monarch, it’s one, right, but he is ruling without consent. Right. He is just ruling because maybe he kills you if you don’t consent.
Well the monarch or anyone in power has to be very careful about this nice balance. Cause you gotta keep the masses halfway happy.
Yeah, yeah, cause or else they’re gonna be at your front door.
Right, but the original, if you go back to pharaoh and Persia and eastern kind of models, they’re tyrannies, it’s one ruler but no consent. It’s just by force, right. And of course there’s tyrannies that…
Well, you mean by consent of people.
But technically with all the monarchies, you know, it’s hereditary, right, so the throne is passes through generations. So it’s not like you have a random person who becomes a king or a queen. So there is not much consent anyway, so the people know that the next person in power on the throne is going to be someone of…
Well, there is… Sometimes there’s wars about that, right, between families that have claims, right. They think well I should be the monarch, no, we should be the monarch. So that’s been the source of a lot of wars, but the point is the ancient model is tyranny. Right, it’s not really… I don’t think it should be called monarchy exactly, but it’s a tyranny meaning you’ve got an absolute authority or absolute power.
I just had an interesting thought. What od you think the difference is between what you considered to be a classical monarchy for instance in the UK or the Netherlands et cetera and North Korea? Because surely they would fit… Well the leaders, the supreme leaders of North Korea would fit…
Well he’s a tyrant, he’s a tyrant, Stalin was a tyrant and the czars were tyrants and… I mean, just as…
Well the difference between the Soviet Union and North Korea is that, for instance, you have Kim II-Sung, Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un and they’re all related to each other. So it’s almost like a throne. It’s passed down, it’s hereditary.
They rule over their citizens because of fear. But like the queen, queen Elizabeth, I mean, she doesn’t rule, she’s just a head of state. She’s just a decoration, she’s a representation, representative of the country.
But then that would just not be the absolute monarchy, instead that would be the constitutional one.
Now it’s constitutional. Originally, I mean, the… anyway…
Because technically if you look at North Korea’s official name, it’s the democratic people’s republic of Korea.
It’s the what now? The what republic?
It’s called the DPRK, that’s what it’s officially called.
That’s to get brownie points on the international scale.
Well technically, I mean, I’m not so sure that there is consent. Maybe there is…
There is absolutely no consent.
Well maybe there is in a brainwashed way, I don’t know.
Well, yeah. That’s… It’s not classical consent in any sense.
Okay, so we’re talking about consent. So the difference with that later on, I’m not talking about ancient times, I’m talking around the American revolution, before that. This war with the English against the monarchy was that we had to have this sharing of power and that they had to be protected.
Their lives had to be protected and their property had to be protected. And this was the age of enlightenment, the age of rationalism. And when we with our revolutionaries, our founders, they got onto this idea of that we have natural rights. And natural rights means that it was given by our creator.
And inalienable rights, mean you cannot take these rights away from anyone. And so that’s how we got into this separation, this resistance against monarchy or absolute power or some tyrant. That we have rights.
Let’s talk about these two different types of monarchy then. So in the absolute monarchy the monarch is, well, he’s omnipotent, so he can do whatever they want, whatever they find…
He has divine power so to speak. In a brainwashed way.
So that means that the monarch is responsible for absolutely everything, everything happening in the country. What about constitutional monarchy then? So what is the, let’s say, the scope of power of a monarch then?
Well for instance in the UK the prime minister has this right called the royal prerogative which means that he has the rights to declare war, or she has the right to declare war, to do a lot of things that the monarch would normally be able to do. And I guess that’s a constitutional monarchy whereby the monarch grants powers to Parliament or to any other governing body. I guess that’s…
Yeah the law maker, so they’re making laws to protect the people or the interest of the people.
But then if there is, let’s say, a prime minister, there is parliament, what do the monarchs do? Do they have like a final word on things?
Yes they do. In the UK when any law is passed, well, it has to receive a royal ascent. So the Queen technically, yeah, puts a stamp on everything afterwards.
But at the same time, well, if we talk about Britain for example, the queen does not have the power just to say okay, I’ve decided this. This is the end of story.
Yeah she does technically have the power to do that. Technically.
She’s not going to. She technically can do whatever she likes.
In the constitution… Well you don’t have a constitution, right?
What do you have instead of…
It’s really interesting, it’s called common law. And there’s no written constitution in the UK. Which is fascinating and really confusing at the same time. But everything is… The structure of the UK law is essentially… I mean I’m not a lawyer, but it’s a set of acts and everything is based on prior common law.
Right. But the precedent would be the changing precedent, right, would be that the queen’s power is quite limited. I mean as far as her actual exercise. But even if theoretically maybe there is no law forbidding it…
Technically she can dissolve parliament and do whatever she likes. Technically. But she’s not gonna do it because she wouldn’t want a revolution.
Right, so there is no court or nobody can overrule her.
All the courts in the UK are Her Majesty’s courts, so everything is HM. So for instance Her Majesty’s Prison Service, Her Majesty’s HMRC, so Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs Agency, I think that’s what it is. Everything is HM. So she… The courts are called crown courts. The higher courts are called crown courts.
And the military as well, right?
Her Majesty’s Arm Forces, the Royal Air Force, everything has… Every arms force has the crown on top of it. And what’s really interesting is when the queen eventually passes away, every… I think there is a 8 billion pound contingency arrangement to change everything in the UK. From the banknotes…
Can I just… There is an 8…
Billion pound contingency arrangement meaning that…
So when something bad happens or when something happens, there is reserve, there’s reserve resources in place to…
I heard that when the queen dies, I like some people who say if the queen dies, so they say that the UK is gonna lose so much money cause then you will have to change absolutely everything, cause the next person in line is a man. So it’s long live the queen or her majesty something, but they will have to…
They’ve already got that in view, right?
The government has set aside 8 billion pounds. So and the BBC rehearses for this I believe every month. So every month there is a rehearsal for when the queen dies.
Well I mean she’s 95 or 96?
94 or something like that. Maybe.
So you know, they gotta be ready, 94.
I mean, long live the queen of course, but…
Well I believe there’ll be something like 10 days mourning where everyone on tv wears black and yeah…
I heard that even the banks wouldn’t be open for like 4 or 5 days losing just millions and millions of pounds.
To be honest, it could very well be the case, I’m not too sure. But it could very well be the case. It’s fascinating because ultimately the queen is supreme, it’s her country.
It’s actually interesting what they, the queens and the kings can actually do in different countries. Cause I don’t think in the case of a constitutional monarchy they are allowed to do whatever they find fit, you know. I still think that they are very limited by…
If nothing else custom would determine the boundaries, right, that’s part of common law does, I mean, practice before determined practice now. It’s basically the idea. So I mean there’s probably, I mean, theoretically, maybe there are no limits, but in practice there is tons of limits, right.
Because… I mean if anybody is limited by practice, it would be the queen. Because she… For her to go rogue, right, so to speak…
And those limits are essentially discussed in Machiavelli’s book The Prince, Il Principe and he discusses what contributes to a long reign of a leader, of a dictator or of a monarch. And he dictates... Well he discusses how fear…
Well, how it’s better to be feared than to be loved. But you can’t be too feared because nobody will be on your side. Yeah, definitely read the Prince by Machiavelli. Very short book, but interesting.
I mean there is some logic to it if you think about it.
Well that came out of Italian politics of the 15th century.
Yeah something like that.
And it… Which was pretty hairy shall we say so. It was bare knuckles we would say. Bare knuckles type of politics and there were a lot of dead bodies. I mean, it was rough.
So and do you know anything about the history of monarchy? I mean, how long has this form of government existed?
Well if we’re gonna talk… I’m gonna throw this.. I’m gonna throw this in while I can maybe, but monarchy as I understand it, which I review this. But anyway, it rose out of a feudal kind of situation, right. Feudalism being society being all divided into a lot of different units of authority, right. And what basically the king or the monarch becomes is the first among equals.
So that through maybe through charisma, apparently there was a king and you would know about this, but there is a king named Henry II who was in the 12th century. Who just by personal charisma was able, in England, to kind of unite things and began to expand the personal power. But he was building on a Germanic kind of background, because the basic population of England was Germanic.
And so the culture was… There was the culture of consent to rule the king. Like Germanic warriors would decide who was their chief. Of course it would be because of personal charisma and those kinds of things and success in war. And like that.
But that tradition kind of continued into England and Edward, who was powerful enough to just do whatever he wanted kind of, but he had to, he was wise enough to kind of go along with the flow of the culture and to seek for consent. Particularly to taxes, right. Which then became…
So monarchy in England, right, it’s kind of by country how monarchy developed. If I understand right. So that in England anyway, the monarchy arose from this process of consulting the king, kind of consulting with the rich lords, right. To get their consent, particularly to taxation. Okay. And so there was always this limited monarchy kind of that was in the sort of the DNA of the country.
Which was not in France’s DNA for example. Different story. So in England anyway the monarchy as such has this consultative part where the king is gonna consult with other significant figures and get their consent because they’re gonna be paying for his wars. That’s all… A lot of it is about how you pay for the wars.
And so out of this arose this acknowledgment of the king as above the others with the consent of the rest of them, the nobles. In France it was similar, different, but sort of similar idea of how power got centralized into one king over fragmented powers.
It’s interesting how monarchy appeared in the first place, how it all tarted back in the history. Cause if we think about it, it’s prehistoric, right. I mean in ancient Egypt we had, how do you call, the pharaoh?
Pharaohs. So and power was, it went… It was hereditary, right? Was it like from father to son or to daughter or what’s it?
Yeah it was hereditary I believe.
I guess we all come from monkeys ultimately and you look like a gorilla, you have to…
Yeah and then whoever’s the biggest basically is the king, so I guess it comes from…
From that time and we had the tribes and then there was the leader of the tribe. Well that makes sense.
You asked a good question, Gary. You said how do they…
I thought I was giving answers. Right. I’m trying to give answers. I didn’t know I was asking a question.
You don’t remember you asked a question.
How does a king stay… have money, right. You said, through taxes, which is true. But also expansion. So that was a whole deal about expanding to the new world, yeah. Expanding your territory, resources, whatever it takes to stay in power is the amount of wealth that you accumulate.
Cause that was the economic system at the time. I’m talking about 1600, the mercantile system. So all of these riches would go right back to the king. Of course the explorers certainly made their profit, but it was all about money. Cause they knew that resources, riches, kept you in power.
Yeah Britain succeeded in that I guess, with all the different countries. Wait, so what countries have monarchies right now?
Well the Netherlands, the king of the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway.
So in Saudi Arabia, the prince, the royal family has to share power with sharia law.
But they still have absolute power.
I think so, but they have to listen to the Muslim.
I think it even has a certain term, like Muslim monarchy. Cause the same situation is in Qatar and in Oman.
And in UAE too. They have the princes.
Yes, but they don’t have the absolute monarchy, they have more of constitutional or mixed type of monarchy, so it’s not the same as in Saudi Arabia. So and then we have in Europe you’ve mentioned many countries.
That’s true, they do. Thailand.
Yeah, Thailand, definitely, yeah.
So these are constitutional monarchies as far as I remember. And then what about places like Australia, Canada?
Does that mean… It’s ours.
So wait, what are the territories again? Canada, Australia.
Well obviously you have all the…
So actually interestingly Jamaica was, well, the queen used to be the queen of Jamaica, but recently Jamaica said no no.
I love it. You know what? We just… We thought about it and we decided that no no…
Yeah, pass. So so many places. There are a lot of islands as well, right?
So wait, does that mean that they are monarchies then?
Well the part of the Commonwealth.
Yeah I think that means that they have their own government, but they still recognize the queen in some…
The queen is still the head of state.
So it’s not a monarchy, but a commonwealth?
Yeah the commonwealth, so that’s… Yeah, that’s what it’s called. And we have for instance the commonwealth games which are the mini Olympics within the British, well, the queen’s territories.
Which there are plenty of.
I believe Jamaica is still in the commonwealth games.
You should say something like you’re welcome, Jamaica. As long as we let you to be in…
Picking and choosing is what they do.
So wait, let’s talk about this commonwealth. So does the queen have any kind of power over them?
Yeah, she is the queen of Canada, she is the queen of Australia, she can do what she likes.
Does she actually take part in any, in life of any of those countries?
Yeah. You see, also you see the royal family going to Canada and Australia all the time.
Honestly I never saw that, but okay.
I mean in practice, is it… Does she actually do anything besides being this historical kind of…
Well aren’t they supposed to do good in the world too? They’re supposed to go and feed the hungry and do good things, humanitarian work. Princes Di was doing that, she was big on that.
Well I mean I’d say the royal family is pretty humanitarian.
Yes, humanitarian oriented.
Cause for example when it comes to Canada, I’ve ever heard or seen in the news that the queen, you know, has done some…
Yeah. Well Canada has a parliament just like the UK has a parliament and..
So she’s like if you ever need anything…
And in their anthem, Oh Canada, do they mention the queen?
Oh to be honest, I can’t remember.
Oh we should sing it right now, but I don’t know the words.
I believe the queen’s head is on the Canadian dollar coins.
Canadian money is so cool If you look at their banknotes, they have hockey players.
They’re plastic, aren’t they?
Same as the UK now. We unfortunately, we don’t have paper notes, they’re now these annoying plasticky kind of notes.
Since, well, the 2015 or 2014. Something like that, they started phasing out paper notes.
Right, that shows us that money isn’t real anyway. It just represents.
So all the banknotes that I had in 2015…
I’m sure you can still use them.
Well on our website, the bigappleschool website we have an interesting article that someone wrote. I think…
Someone… Who might that be…
About currency and money, definitely check out that.
We definitely will. But yeah. Aw. Well, on the other hand there is a good side to having money, you know, if you get under the rain, nothing’s gonna happen.
I’m against it. I’m against plastic money.
It doesn’t feel right. I love Russian money, it feels like real money.
I don’t know. Russian money doesn’t seem real to me at all. I just… one thousand rubles, two thousand rubles. I don’t know what it is.
Russian money is cool. The euro seems like fake money.
American money, that’s strong, that’s what I like.
Yeah dollar’s real, I love dollars.
Is there a banknote of like a 2 dollar banknote?
There was at one point. What was it? Anthony?
Susan P Anthony, it was a 2-dollar coin and maybe paper as well. I’m not sure.
Yeah I’ve seen a 2 dollar paper note.
Yeah it didn’t last long.
We don’t want changes, we want the same. That’s what I think. Right, Gary? We want the same?
Not related to the topic of monarchy at all, but do you remember the quarters that had the states on them?
So I only have three left I think.
Well speaking about that, you weren’t alive then, but it used to be that quarters were completely all silver. And then like in the 60s it was devalued some way and they put copper in there. So you’d see the new ones in the 1960s with this copper rich. Remember, way back then?
I believe I do. I think my mother told me about the..
Yes, that’s probably so. Because I didn’t see them.
Well essentially all the coins had the heads on the coins, yeah.
I also remember when I was in Britain, we tried to… Apparently if you have certain coins, you can make a picture of the queen surrounded with… How do you call… Like not a flag, but it has a shape like this.
Oh like a banner or something.
Yeah a reef or a banner, something like that.
So and if you got certain coins, if you sometimes look on the tails, you would see that sometimes there is a weird part. I’m like what is that? Why is there no face? And they were like oh oh oh, let us show.
So we collected all the coins we had in the group when I was at a language school over there. So and we managed to make this picture, but you need different coins, like a pound coin, like 50 pence and something like that. So yeah, it looks cool.
Yeah. Alrighty and well, there are quite a lot of countries then that still have monarchy. So apparently… I found some information that as of 2021, so you know, in 2022 when you’ll be listening to this podcast, it might be different, you know. So there are 44 sovereign states in the world with a monarch as the head of state. There 13 in Asia, 12 in Europe, 10 in North America, 6 in Oceania and 3 in Africa. So 44.
10 in North America? How many sovereign states are in North America? Ah, North America meaning…
Well central America too, yeah.
So North America is technically Guatemala and…
The king of Belize, right. I’m the king and the Spanish accent, I have to change the accent. I can’t do it, so forget it. The king of Belize. How did they get 10 in North America? Sorry.
Well maybe some of their states have kings in them, you know, that we didn’t know about.
Maybe that’s what it is, yeah.
Well what countries are there in North America?
Oh, Hawaii, they certainly had a queen at one time. But I don’t know about now.
Well North America obviously Canada, US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica.
Canada has a queen. Right. That’s one. Okay. That’s… One is pretty far from ten though. Last time I counted.
You just add the zero to it, then it becomes ten.
There are some islands though.
Well I guess the Caribbean, yeah.
There are islands in North America, like where? The islands…
Kings… Well actually yeah, if you count all those British and former British, right, like Jamaica and what did… British would be…
Well Jamaica was part of the commonwealth, but…
Well, Jamaica is republic, I think it’s a republic now.
Bahamas, the Bahamas, is it over there? I am so bad at geography, I’m so sorry.
The Bahamas, yeah, the Caribbean.
Belize? Is Belize over there?
A little note, so in British English we say the Caribbean, don’t you say Caribbean?
Some people say Caribbean, some people say Caribbean.
Oh so you say Caribbean? Oh cool!
Oh no, I say both. Sometimes I say Caribbean and sometimes I say Caribbean.
Yeah, sometimes I talk sophisticated.
So like the word aluminium when we say aluminium and you say…
There’s no such thing as… How did you say it?
Aluminium. We say routes and you say routes.
Sometimes we say routes, sometimes I say…
Yeah, we say routes, yeah. We say both. Bilingual, right. Once again.
8 or 10 words where we are bilingual. That’s where a typical American is bilingual. 8 or 10 words.
You’re basically polyglots, right.
Right. Tacos, it’s from Spanish I believe.
What about a lot of French words, we have a lot of French words. Lingerie.
That word. You’ve got resume, that’s French.
Well English was obviously influenced by French heavily, coming back to monarchies.
Yes, of course, dominating power. Well that’s how Great Britain got into debt with all those wars against France and Spain and then of course America.
You name it. I think you can just put… Just pick any country, you’d be right. So okay. Okay, we more or less I think defined the power of a king or a queen.
Yeah. Hat about the role of the royal family? So, what about the rest of the family?
00:32:06 B: I couldn’t care less about them!
Right, now there is the American speaking. There is an American voice.
I’m in the wrong podcast here. I can’t stand the members of the Royal family. I don’t care.
I guess it just got really hot over here.
I’m glad there are two of us, we can restrain these two here. I think this is gonna come to blows sooner or later.
So but wait… So but what about the rest of the royal family? Do they have any kinda power? Do they have any kind of role? Are they just decoration?
Well I guess if they do something bad, they can just say come on mommy or grandma.
Prince Andrew is in a bit of a sticky situation right now.
I need more details, tell me, tell me, tell me.
It’s not nice, basically, he’s involved in…
Yeah it’s all adult stuff.
This is not very pleasant at all. Go on Netflix, there is an interesting documentary about Jeffrey Epstein. You know Jeffrey Epstein.
This has come up before. This has come up before.
Wasn’t that the episode about conspiracy theories?
Yeah. So Prince Andrew is…
Oh, oh, I remember you explained it. Yes. Okay, now I remember, okay.
Yes. Not that it’s going to force into anything. Just the act of being sued.
Yeah. So I mean I guess the queen would not want to have something happen in public with Prince Andrew, because that would completely destroy the reputation of the royal family.
Well if she dies, maybe it can happen after that.
So wait wait, getting back to the question, so do they have any power? What role do they play?
To be honest, I’m not too sure. I’m pretty sure that they are kinda above the law. I guess they kind of are.
Yes, I would think so. I mean, normally rich people are. But this… The humanitarian role is really important and so I’ve seen, you know, you see pictures and video of all these princes and princesses going places, duchesses.
That’s what I understand, that they are more of a social public function, you know, to show how royal families can do good, how, you know, they help the poor, help the hungry or whatever.
Yes, after centuries of domination of the people, then they come back and say see how nice we are.
It’s more for tourism. They bring a lot of tourism income essentially.
Okay. I know that in some countries mostly with absolute monarchy, like Jordan for example, Saudi Arabia, the members of the royal family can actually hold, you know, high positions in the military, in politics.
So prince, those princes…
Yeah, well prince Charles prances around in his military colors all the time.
Yeah they were. And prince William, he was a helicopter pilot, he was in Royal Airforce. And prince Harry was in the army.
Yeah he went to Afghanistan.
He did. And that’s actually quite a controversial issue because he technically could’ve put other soldiers’ lives at risk because obviously he would have been a prime target for the Taliban. And luckily, I mean, I can’t say but yeah.
Yes I remember there was some kind of controversy about that.
Yeah personally I don’t think he should’ve been on the front line.
He wasn’t there for very long anyway. When he did go in, he didn’t… He wasn’t there. He was pulled out.
I’m not fully versed on all the ins and outs of what happened. But yeah.
Do you think it was the personal choice, you know, to go into military? Or were they required to do something like that in order to, you know…
Yeah, if you go to war and you have a medal, it’s…
Means you’re a hero, you’re somebody.
Status. So but none of them actually has any kind of power, like political power, it’s only the queen, right?
I guess maybe they do have power via the queen.
Well don’t they have some kind of little territory that they’re in charge of? Cause they have different titles, not only is prince Charles a prince Charles, but he’s also a something of a something.
Something of a something.
That would be… not symbolic, but ceremonial.
Yeah. And nobody cares about Wales anyway. I’m joking, I’m joking.
Our many Welsh listeners are offended, we lost some Welsh listeners.
Yeah, Welsh listeners are gone.
They’re rubbing off even as we speak.
No, I mean Wales is a beautiful place. It is. But it is funny to joke about that.
Well, just like comedians, we can make fun of everybody, right? We tend to do that anyway. I know I’ve made fun of certain peoples.
Isn’t the bridge between England and Wales?
Not free now. Cause I remember there was a bridge that you could cross for free and then they built another one that was, that you had to pay for. And people were mad. They’re like who would want to pay to go to Wales?
Maybe to pay to get out of Wales?
Not only do they have to pay to get in there…
Alright, I wanted to speak to our Welsh listeners. I think it’s a wonderful country, I’ve never been there, haven’t seen any pictures Don’t know anything about it.
You dream is to go there.
I wanna go to Cardiff just because that’s where one of the tv shows was filmed.
I wanna go to the town with the longest name in the UK, I can’t even say it.
Oh my god, there was a moment about this place in Graham Norton show I think. And…
It was an interview with Michael Sheen and David Tennant. And Michael Sheen is like well there is this name and I bet you don’t even know this place with the longest name. And David Tennant just you mean lalalala? He’s like how did you do that? Oh I love this moment.
Well basically it’s property of the prince of Wales, it’s prince Charles’s place.
I get so confused in all these names of British royal family to be honest.
Yeah, there’s no need to go there.
Okay. So wait. Why don’t we talk a little bit more about them actually? So what is people’s attitude to them in Britain?
People are quite indifferent generally speaking. I mean you do have quite a few people who are strong republicans. Not as in US republicans, as in republicans in the sense that they want to get rid of the monarch.
And what do they want to have instead?
Well I mean this is not a unified movement, you just have various people who would rather not have a monarchy.
Right. So in general people don’t care?
Well I’ve seen interviews and they would belike 50/50. There would be someone like oh I love the queen, it’s so good for tourism. Yeah there’s some, like you say, done with the queen.
Well to be honest, no no no, to be honest I love having the monarchy there. It’s quite fun. Because they don’t really do anything, they just prance around and cause funny chaos in the news. So I mean and to be honest, it’s really cool having the history there, it really is.
Yeah good for representing…
So does that mean that people don’t mind paying, you know, higher taxes in order to provide for the royal family? Cause that’s…
It’s actually… They actually bring more than they cost, so it’s actually not an issue.
How come that they bring more?
Well this is kind of hard to calculate that figure. I’m sure maybe they have twisted some figures somehow. But apparently they bring in a lot more via tourism and so for instance… This is not direct income, so for instance if you give a company the royal warrant, so if you put the crown’s seal of approval on a product, that makes that product much more desirable.
So people from China and Saudi Arabia will definitely want to, or any country, would want to buy such products. Cause it has that prestigious trademark on it. And they bring in a lot of money to the country that way. But they don’t actually cost as much as the Dutch royal family and they apparently spend more money, more taxpayers’ money than the British royal family.
Oh wow. Do they have a bigger royal family? Cause British royal family is a lot of people.
Like I remember we… Whenever I have a lesson about family, so and we start to learn all these words like mother-in-law, father-in-law, you know, like all these in-laws.
So I usually print, you know, the family tree of the royal family and I remember when I did that first, you know, when I started teaching, I was shocked. I’m like wait a second, I thought there were like 8 or 10 of them. And then the tree goes on and on and on and on and on. Yeah. But I remember… I was in London when Kate Middleton gave birth to her daughter. What’s her name? Charlotte I think it is.
So and I remember people cheering and they just brought flowers to the palace or whatever. And everywhere, on the radio, people talking. Everyone’s like the princess, the princess was born, you know. Charlotte, they named her Charlotte! Charlotte Elizabeth Diana… Charlotte Diane Elizabeth. Something like that, she has a really long name and I was like oh wow, they are so excited. It was everywhere.
That reminds me of when Princess Di married prince Charles. And the wedding was all over American news, tv shows, we had to watch it like 24/7 for several days.
Yeah it was huge. It was huge worldwide. And don’t you think that it’s because… Partly it’s because we little girls want to be princesses?
No thanks. I don’t know, I never wanted to be one.
I wanted to become Dr Doolittle and talk to animals.
I’m sure once you put a little princess dress on, you would not wanna take it off.
Wait till my wedding and my wedding dress, then I’ll tell you. So and do people follow, you know, the news, the gossip about the royal family?
I guess everyone does to an extent. I mean I don’t think people care as much as they make it out to be.
So and what is people’s attitude to Meghan right now?
This is kinda of 50/50. I mean maybe more people dislike her than…
Do you know anything about the current situation?
Have you watched their interview with…
With Oprah. I mean I think it’s all for the show to be honest. I don’t think people…
What was this interview like?
I didn’t watch all of it, I watched clips of it, I mean, I don’t think people… I mean I’m sure there are some racist people out there, of course, but I don’t think there’s like a mass epidemic of racial hatred towards Meghan because of her skin color. But I’m sure there are some people out there who do dislike her for her skin color, but she is claiming that it’s like an epidemic of it and I don’t believe that.
I know, well, not I know, but I read that the queens really dislikes her cause she used to be an actress and, you know, she doesn’t have any kind of formal education like Kate does for example. And that’s why she’s not really… I don’t know all the details of this scandal when they kinda… Wait, didn’t they like quit the royal family or something like that?
And then they moved to Canada.
They’ve got some kind of show or something.
Yeah, they had a book deal or I don’t know.
I mean life of Harry must be really difficult, I understand why he would not necessarily want to be in the line, but it must be really weird life being a prince and having your life under surveillance 24/7.
Even though it’s luxurious and you can have whatever you like, I would not want to be in that position. On some hands, on one hand, I feel really bad for him. On the other hand I feel, do you know, what? This is the life you’d been given, you have to play of the cards …
I’m pretty sure now they’re gonna, you know, write a book or something about it and it will, well, certainly become a bestseller and they’re like oh, we’ll tell you all the secrets about the royal family life.
I’m not sure they are legally allowed to though, but that’s another story.
Well there’s that drama that I haven’t watched but it’s called the Crown. I don’t know if you’ve seen it.
Oh isn’t that with Olivia Coleman?
Technically they say that it’s historical fiction or something like that, they say like we are not responsible for whatever we show. Like, it’s not true to history. Just like there is a tv show the Great about Catherine the Great. But they just say don’t believe what we show here, it was different. Cause a lot of people started, you know, calling them out for showing everything wrong. And they’re like it kinda been like that and they’re like we never said we showed the truth.
Yeah that’s pretty difficult, I mean, if you’re gonna take historical figures, maybe you should try extra hard to be historically accurate.
Actually there is the debate of how historically accurate must you be? And you’ve got liberty, you don’t really have to be historically accurate. Which, I think, they should be. Why watch it? And why call it historical fiction? But yeah you don’t have to be historically accurate when you make something.
Yeah I guess there is room for, you can fill in blanks and provide things that aren’t included, but you don’t wanna go against facts.
Well what about that movie, it was about… I guess the Russian czar or something. And they showed a shot of the Red Square and it was before Lenin ever died and the Lenin tomb was shown.
Yeah. There were like a lot of…
So and wait. The US used to be a British colony as well, right? So it used to be monarchy technically. Can you tell us…
Well we were subjects, we were subjects of the monarchy. Yeah. And we American colonists knew that…
Yeah, we, Barbara and a couple of other people. They’re a little older.
I still relate to the American colonists… The Englishmen looked down on the American colonists. They said oh, they are second class citizens, they are second class subjects. And so that was one thing we American colonists wanted was just equality. We did not want to revolt and completely tear ourselves from the crown. We just wanted equality and stop overtaxing us. Just because your coffers were bare.
Can you give us a little bit of a history lesson? How did it all start? How did that territory become a British colony? It was a colony, right?
Yes, because the British was a world power and they had trading companies. They encouraged people to go out and get resources with these ships. And so they encouraged the ships to go out.
And the Dutch too as well.
Yeah and the Dutch was really very…
Everybody was doing this.
Right, right, it was all those names. And so they encouraged them and it would be protected by the king. So if anything happened, and bring back this wealth for us so that we can maintain our power. So that’s how it started.
Was that with the pilgrims or something?
Well pilgrims had another motive, right, they were… They were for religious motives, right, for their faith, they left…
From England, right. They left from Holland because they had already fled from England, which was not so free at the time.
So we were at the age of discovery. So the ships can go back and forth for economic reasons and, yeah…
Yeah, in that case it was specifically to practice their faith. And so they came… This is the Massachusetts, the pilgrims. And they…
Well that’s why they call these, this part of the US New England I guess.
And there were people who wanted to, remember we had that podcast about the plague, they were the English who were trying to get out of, you know, plague ridden England and go to a new world. Something, you know, fresh and expand. And so it was certainly a dangerous journey and then to be there, so many of them died. But it all started with this and being subjects of these powers.
They were the Englishmen, I guess they considered themselves Englishmen who were located, just living outside of the country, right.
Definitely. The English were going over there, it certainly felt like Englishmen.
Right. They were… I mean, they were Englishmen.
They were Englishmen. It was question of how, what… Part of the issue that arose between England and the colonies were did they have all of the rights of Englishmen? Which would include taxation, the problem of taxation. And could they consent to the taxes… Were they represented in parliament for as Englishmen, it was one of the issues among others.
The other issue of how the revolution started was also Britain restricted trade. The American colonists were no longer allowed to trade with, say, France. And France was right in their, in Canada, they were neighbors. Under the stamp act or the Stamp tax was that all of the paper products meaning, contracts or paper you need to use for contracts or newspapers, had to have the seal of the royal crown. And which means that you had paid your taxes. But just like this slogan they had – what is it?
No taxation without representation. Yeah.
Right. They want to be represented.
Yeah. They weren’t represented, so the parliament. They didn’t have any voice in parliament, but they were having all of these taxes put on them, that was part of the…
Yeah, and partly to enforce these taxes were the British troops in presence of… in the communities. And of course the American colonists really resented this presence of the troops. There was this horrible thing called the Boston Massacre where the British troops opened fire on these unarmed protestors.
And this was depicted in by Paul Revere, he had actually edged to this thing that he disseminated. That got people riled up, yeah, we don’t want British troops on our land and we’re going to.. Let’s break!
This big campaign, let’s get everybody on board, so we can break from the crown. Benjamin Franklin had this drawing of this serpent and he put on this join or die, meaning Join the revolution or die by British hands. And that’s considered to be the first political cartoon, did you know that? Join or die.
You have such good knowledge of history. That’s fantastic.
Then so once they got the decision to revolt, then they had to get the ideology for a reason, why are we revolting? Why are we going to separate ourselves? And that kinda place of all of our natural rights. And we have unalienable rights and we’re not going to stand for this anymore. And we’re grown up, we don’t need to be subject.
That’s what it was. It was all this standing up and saying we’re grown-ups, right, yes. That’s all it was. The teenagers were now saying we’re grown-ups now.
The grown-ups were saying, okay okay okay. Alright.
It was quite violent. Do you know what an effigy is?
So an effigy would like, clothes, and you stuff the clothes with straw and it’s supposed to represent like the tax collector or the governor or whoever in the political scheme.
Like a pinata, yeah. They would hang them or set a fire to them and this was to show how much we hate the taxmen. Set a fire to an effigy.
As long as it’s not the real taxmen, you know.
Yeah. But here was a lot of violence, a lot of violence for the revolt. And then we won.
And then who won, Barbara?
It’s always fun being in America on the fourth of July.
So and tell me, do you know much about Russian royal family?
Yeah, Nicholas II, the last one.
Benjamin, what do you remember about them?
Well I mean… Let’s just introduce the whole subject in general, you have Ivan the Terrible, you have the Peters. What else?
Oh we had the principalities when you’re talking about…
Catherine the Great, of course.
Right, into the 19th century.
Couple of Alexanders in there, right.
Yeah. Alexander III was Nicholas’s II father. And he was the second to the last czar and then Nicholas II was the last czar. And Nicholas II was the one who had this big bridge built, right? To connect Siberia to Moscow. To Novosibirsk.
Siberia. The wealth of Siberia.
Ah, the wealth of Siberia.
Well he built the Trans-Siberian.
Yeah, this bridge. Like, let’s build a bridge here.
I wonder if that’s why there is a monument to Nicholas II and his son Alexei in front of Alexander Nevsky cathedral in Novosibirsk.
Sure. I mean, and there is a railway bridge there and…
Wasn’t Novosibirsk called Novonikolaevsk?
Yeah, and it’s always been growing, it was such a success from the very beginning because there first were all these workers working on the bridge. And wherever you have workers, you have to have food. And you have to have stores and places to live and so it such grew out of this little tiny worker camp. And it’s been growing every since.
So if… Well if we think about the time of Russian royal family, the Romanovs, ruling, it was from 1613 and everything has been, well, not all the time, but you know, Russia has grown so much. It has developed new things, you know, if we remember all of them like Peter the Great, Catherine the Great. So why did it stop then? What happened?
They got to the East coast and there is no more land there.
Okay and then Nicholas II just said okay, nowhere to go anymore. I’m done over here.
That’s right, my work is done. Yes.
Benjamin, do you remember anything about that?
Well you had the revolution.
Yeah it was a little disagreement.
Nicholas II when he got into power, he was absolutely inexperienced. And people saw him as politically weak and then, so he came into power in 1917 he abdicated… So it was 1894. And then we had Russian Japanese war which was 1904-1905.
Which was really poorly handled. Really poorly handled. Then we had in 1905 the rising of the workers which was the bloody Sunday. So and then Russia got into the first world war and that was…
Yeah that was very unpopular, many people didn’t want to join the world war.
So and it showed him from a very bad perspective. So people realized that he’s weak and he cannot, you know, make Russian Empire rise and, you know, above Europe or something like that. So they just… Yeah, they made him abdicate.
Yeah and well and he had the whole revolutionary underworld or whatever, subculture developing, right, that was making it their business, it was their doctrine, that the old order should be overthrown and replaced.
The whole idea was to get the people so that first they were saying the workers, the proletariat, they’d get the workers on board. And they said oh we should include the people who are in the field, the field toilers. And so this big mass movement, it was pretty incredible.
So and then he abdicated in March of 1917, and in November the Bolsheviks already seized the power and just off they went.
Well there was an interim government, a provisional government. So once the abdication happened, there was this provisional government that was going to democratic for Lenin’s taste. And he said this is not what we fought for. And so they took over the provisional. And that was the storming of the winter palace.
What I was surprised about is that Nicholas II was cousin of Prince William, so and a lot of people in the Russian royal family were related to different royal families like Swedish Royal family, other royal families. And when I tried to understand the connection between all of them, I was like so… wait! So many people are related!
Yeah and Nicholas II married the… something of Germany, right.
To bring in, to consolidate their power and their wealth.
I think her name was Alex and then when she became the… Александра Федоровна.
They were like blessed by the church and then changed their name.
Yeah. I remember one of the interviews with Prince Philipp, the one who died not long ago. They were like why don’t you want to go to Russia and he’s like well, you know, my family has a history of being killed over there. So, yeah. Well, Russian royal family also has an interesting history, just like Russia in general does I would say. So and why don’t we finish with trying to think about pros and cons of monarchy. Are there any pros to having a monarchy?
I think there are. I mean if you have the history there, you’ve got it floated. And, yeah, not to be too American with it, but I mean if you have a wonderful history like that, you are to preserve it in some form. And it seems like, you know, British have preserved it in a way that isn’t destructive and is constructive because, you know, now in our world it’s hard to find things that unify countries. Right. It’s a problem of modernity. Barbara, don’t you think it’s the problem of modernity?
And really it is not enough things that unite people and Britain has the historical tradition that it can just enjoy or sort of celebrate even if it’s just somewhat largely historical, but still. It’s not nothing, it’s something. And it’s a pretty incredible history.
I’m on bord with Gary, I agree. I think that that historical…
Let’s talk about modernity. Whatever that was he was saying… I agree with that. Don’t know what it was, but I agree with it.
Tradition, not modernity.
Alright. Tradition, not modernity, alright.
Are there any other advantages to having a monarchy?
Well I guess just the tourism as we have already touched. It’s tied into what Gary was just talking about.
It brings money to the country, as it turns out.
Every, the whole world when something large scale happen in England, right, some great event, I mean it’s just the tradition. Maybe the whole world needs it, kind of. Because it’s just, you know, the whole world… I mean in America we don’t have any of that. Sorry, Barbara, but.
Yeah we need some kind of fantasy, like…
Right, we are more of fantasy people.
We’ll borrow it. We’ll borrow it, we’ll make the crown, we’ll cash in and then make everything else…
Would you say that with a monarchy there is a smooth transition of power? Cause I’m pretty sure now the next person in line… Who is the next person in line by the way?
So I’m pretty sure he knows, you know, what to do and how to do this when the queen dies. He’s been prepared for it.
Right. He’s had 75 years to practice and to prepare. He’s ready.
I’m pretty sure he’s been preparing for it, you know, during his life, so.
So it’s not like, you know, oh no, chaos.
You know like in, I mean like in a war, you need everything… Of course maybe the war unites country anyway, but you know, the tradition and the king’s speech, right. And, you know, all of those things – those are powerful things. We need those.
Wouldn’t you say that when there is monarchy, there is also faster decision making? Cause if I think about other countries…
First, you know, it has to go through the parliament. Well, I don’t even know… There are so many stages.
We call it a slow turn in democracy and it takes forever, yeah.
Yeah, there are ups and downs to both systems. I mean, if you look at Italy and Israel, like it takes forever to make decisions in parliament, because they have what is called a proportional representation system which means if someone so gets 5% of the votes, they get 5% of the representation et cetera.
And there’s always a deadlock in those parliaments. So that’s the downside, but the upside is that people have to get their say. And the upside to having a tyrant or a dictator is that things happen quick.
So okay. So that can be the disadvantage, the downside of having a monarchy. It can turn into tyranny. But, you know, if a monarch just feels too, you know, gets greedy with power…
So if queen Elizabeth started to just get to her head, all of a sudden she’s telling Canada what to do and New Zealand.
Well, you know, if a monarch just gets too greedy or, you know, blinded by the power, you can never be sure that they are not going to become tyrants. Any other downsides of monarchy?
Well I guess the tyrant thing is pretty bad.
Well you’ve just mentioned lack of diversity in the government. So what else can there be?
Well that’s the absolute monarchy, yeah. Without a parliament, yeah, that’s the different kind of monarchy.
So. Well in the case with the Netherlands, I think you said it was the Netherlands that the royal family needs a lot of money there.
Yeah, but they’re very chilled out people, they’re fun. I mean they’re…
They do cost a lot of money, but you know, they’re fun.
We’ll say as it is – they’re Dutch. They may have the absolute power, but they’re Dutch. That’s all. No problem, right, yes. What’s the problem?
So would you like to live in a country with a monarchy?
It would be quite interesting, yeah.
That would be. You are not the one who can, you know…
I don’t know, I’d probably be making fun of it a lot. I’d probably be wearing a princess dress to the grocery store.
Right, with your princess…
I meant living in a country with a monarchy, not being monarchy, you know, the royal family.
I don’t know, I’m quite fascinated by the idea of going to North Korea. I mean it’s kinda like a monarchy.
I mean I want to check it out, just to see.
Yeah you’re better not be stealing any posters off the wall.
Mr. Warmbier learned his lesson. But yeah.
Are you allowed to go to North Korea?
I know that Russians are allowed to go there, but not all of the country are allowed.
There’s a tour called Koreo tours, it’s 2000 rubles for a little week tour and you get a special…
I remember reading a post in one, of one of the bloggers who went to North Korea. And he said that a part of the program, whether you want it or not, is to go to the mausoleum, to look at… What’s his name?
Oh yeah, Kim Il… The great leader.
It’s a fascinating place, albeit terrifying in many ways, but it’s fascinating. It’s… Yeah. As long as you behave and you don’t take posters home with you, you’re gonna be okay.
Just take fond memories with you. Those are okay for now.
Just make sure to keep them to yourself as well.
And don’t spread any kind of information.
No blogging about your fond memories.
Well North Korea has the world’s biggest stadium and there they have what is called the Arirang games every…
Arirang games, I think that’s how you pronounce it. Arirang, something like that.
It’s just a celebration to the supreme leader, which might as well be a monarch.
It’s a beautiful, amazing spectacle. Maybe Barbara might like it, cause you like theatrical performance.
Probably not. I will say this… No, I’m obsessed, I’ve watched so many documentaries on North Korea and that’s a place I would not want to go.
Well yeah, I mean it’s not exactly beach holiday material.
Because they’re so fake, that’s why. And there’s not any like really interesting ideology or history about it at all.
Oh the history is fascinating, I mean, it’s fascinating.
I don’t think it’s fascinating.
It’s not as fascinating as like the Soviet Union history, that’s fascinating to me.
Yeah. Yeah, obviously. We’re all here because we’re somewhat fascinated by Soviet Union.
There is a… Since we’ve mentioned North Korea, there is a North Korean café in Novosibirsk that…
I heard it closed down, yeah. I really wanted to go and check it out.
Well you know how Kim Jung… Sorry, what’s his name? Kim Jung..
Kim Jong Un. You know how he supports his nuclear program. It’s through these workers, these workers go to other countries, like Russia, North Korean workers. And they don’t get paid. And all the money… Because there’s some big money contractors or something… And all this money’s funneled to this nuclear program.
Yeah there is an interesting documentary about that where they’re essentially lumberjacks and they sell the wood and…
Lumberjacks and even in construction too.
You do love your documentaries, don’t you, Benjamin?
Alright. Well. I sometimes wonder what would Russia look like if it was, still, you know, a monarchy. We’re not going to find out but, just curious, you know.
Well good thing you have managed democracy here.
Not gonna comment on that.
Okay, okay. Speaking about freedom. Go to freedomhouse.org – this is an organization that measures democracy across the world and you can click on an interactive map and on all…
And find Russia on the floor.
Yeah. And you can see how democracy has declined and they, the 100 points. The Netherlands have 100 out of 100. Canada is like 98/100.
What but is considered as… Cause there’s no such thing like a pure democracy.
01:10:36 B: No, freedom.
Yeah, freedom. So fair and free elections, free internet, freedom for civil rights and the United Stated unfortunately 83/100.
No no no, we are on the decline. Yeah.
I mean I wonder where Russia is.
That sounds about right. I mean we have North Korea…
China is 7/100 and Iran even is higher than China. So go to this place, freedomhouse.org – it’s a great organization.
Yeah, it’s curious. Alright. Alright. I think I’m gonna leave this room thinking a lot about what Russia would look like if we had, if we still had monarchy. Yeah. Alright. Well thank you very much, it was really fun to talk about all these serious things actually if we think about that.
So and that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed monarchies, royal family, British royal family in all the detail, you know, including all the gossip maybe. So thank you for listening and remember, if you struggle to understand our conversation, you are always welcome to our website which is…
I can see Gary mouthing thank you to Benjamin.
See, we’re taking up the baton, we’re…
Dividing the duties effectively. Division of labor, I like that!
Fantastic! Democracy, I guess.
Democracy at its finest. Yes.
So if you go to that website, you can find full scripts of each episode there and you can read the script while listening to the podcast, so that’s amazing. And if you want to get even more content which will help you learn English, you can follow us on any social media where you are, such as Instagram, Vk, Youtube, Telegram.
We are everywhere. Just search our name, which is again, BigAppleSchool. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
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