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The Queen has important ceremonial roles, such as the opening of the new parliamentary session each year. On this occasion.
One British tradition is the pantomime. Many theatres produce a pantomime at Christmas time. They are based on fairy stories and are light-hearted plays with music and comedy, enjoyed by family audiences.
The Speaker is neutral and does not represent a political party, even though he or she is an MP, represents a constituency and deals with constituents’ problems like any other MP.
Remembrance Day, 11 November, commemorates those who died fighting for the UK and its allies. People wear poppies (the red flower found on the battlefields of the First World War).
The conflict between those wishing for full Irish independence and those wishing to remain loyal to the British government is often referred to as ‘the Troubles’.
As well as getting the right to vote, people on the electoral register are randomly selected to serve on a jury. Anyone who is on the electoral register and is aged 18 to 70 can be asked to do this.
County Courts deal with a wide range of civil disputes. These include people trying to get back money that is owed to them, cases involving personal injury, family matters, breaches of contract, and divorce. In Scotland, most of these matters are dealt with in the Sheriff Court.
The first Jews to come to Britain since the Middle Ages settled in London in 1656.
People in the UK are living longer than ever before. This is due to improved living standards and better health care. There are now a record number of people aged 85 and over. This has an impact on the cost of pensions and health care.
Proceedings in Parliament are broadcast on television and published in official reports called Hansard.
The decade of the 1960s was a period of significant social change. It was known as ‘the Swinging Sixties’.
New Year, 1 January, is a public holiday. People usually celebrate on the night of 31 December (called New Year’s Eve). In Scotland, 31 December is called Hogmanay and 2 January is also a public holiday. For some Scottish people, Hogmanay is a bigger holiday than Christmas.
The Tower of London was first built by William the Conqueror after he became king in 1066.
In Elizabeth I’s time, English settlers first began to colonise the eastern coast of America.
If your driving licence is from a country in the European Union (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway, you can drive in the UK for as long as your licence is valid.
Scientific discoveries, such as James Watt’s work on steam power, helped the progress of the Industrial Revolution.
Drivers can use their driving licence until they are 70 years old. After that, the licence is valid for three years at a time.
A lot of people have gardens at home and will spend their free time looking after them. Some people rent additional land called ‘an allotment’, where they grow fruit and vegetables.
Father’s Day is the third Sunday in June. Children send cards or buy gifts for their fathers.
In 1860 Florence Nightingale established the Nightingale Training School for nurses at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. The school was the first of its kind and still exists today, as do many of the practices that Florence used. She is often regarded as the founder of modern nursing.
Most shops in the UK are open seven days a week, although trading hours on Sundays and public holidays are generally reduced.
The National Anthem of the UK is ‘God Save the Queen’. It is played at important national occasions and at events attended by the Queen or the Royal Family.
Napoleon, who became Emperor of France, continued the war. Britain’s navy fought against combined French and Spanish fleets, winning the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Admiral Nelson was in charge of the British fleet at Trafalgar and was killed in the battle.
England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have a national saint, called a patron saint. Each saint has a special day:
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