Friday, April 10, 2009

Pedants Corner

I struggle every day to not be pedantic. I'm becoming more accepting of really bad English, mainly thanks to a recent Stephen Fry Podgram where the T'Internet Messiah Himself admitted he too struggled with language pedantism and needed to get over it. But there is one subject on which I cannot stop myself correcting "mistakes": Britain.

I know, the United Kingdom has only been around a couple of hundred years and is very likely not to last another decade. I am slowly accepting this. But even so I cannot stand people referring to British monarchs as "English". It drives me to distraction. Call them wastes of space. Call them German. But please don't suggest Queen Victoria was "Queen of England". Please do not even think that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is "Queen of England". It's just wrong. I'm not being political here, although as a unionist I'm sure you know where I fall in a Britain vs. England political argument. But calling Her Queen of England is not correct. It is not true. It might make sense to some people, but I've always been more a "de jure" person rather than "de facto".

So you can imagine my disgust when my brother showed me some chocolates Mum had bought him when she went to Hampton Court Palace this week. No, I wasn't jealous of the chocolates (he was giving them to me.. mmm...) but instead was shocked by the fact the chocolates were themed on the "Kings and Queens of England". Included among the Stuart and Tudor monarchs (who I will accept had the titles "of England") were Queen Victoria, King George III and King George IV. They are British monarchs. These chocolates had educational "tidbits" on the back and I just thought, how can they be educational when they are historically wrong?

So I sent the House of Dorchester a message explaining that it was wrong. And I feel bad about it. No, not about pointing out their obvious mistake (made no doubt by some poor soul who doesn't understand how disrespectful to the rest of the British population it is to suddenly steal Queen Victoria for England alone). But instead I worry about what that makes me. I find everyone else is so much less dogmatic and pedantic than I am about history and our monarchy. I wish I could be so flexible with the truth. I wish I could not be a pedant but embrace the St. Georges flag (note he never killed a dragon and he never came here so exactly what the heck is this Christian martyr doing as our patron Saint???) and just enjoy myself. Instead I find myself watching everyone else embracing their Englishness and feeling ever more sickened with it all.

I'm just going to have to accept that whilst I'll never consider myself English, the cause of being British is lost. Maybe I can set up a musuem. Where the chocolates have British monarchs and English monarchs and even, imagine, Scottish monarchs. That would be a hell of a lot of more educational.

And Dear "Foreign" Constant Reader do me a favour. Next time you here someone talking about the Queen of England (and not refering to Queen Anne or someone earlier) correct them. Just do it for me. Please. And I'll make sure people over here know Sydney is not the capital of Australia, that the United States of America is not full of idiots and that Holland is just a small part of the Netherlands.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist


  1. Thanks for the statement about The Netherlands. I really hate it when people talk about Holland instead of The Netherlands

  2. Is she not "Queen Elizabeth the second of England" and "Queen Elizabeth of Scotland"? (as they havent had a Queen Elizabeth part 1)???

    But she is certainly Queenie of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!

    She'd make a fine President though.


  3. Thanks Steve, it annoys me too! LOL

    And Stephen, did you really want to open that can of worms??? *shudders at arguments passim*

    The controversy over Elizabeth II in Scotland is based on a lack of understanding of the succession process in the United Kingdom, which has been inherited from the previous Kingdoms of Scotland and England.

    So as there was an Elizabeth I of England there is now an Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. If, one day, we had a King Constantine he would be King Constantine IV of the United Kingdom as there has already been a Constantine the III of Scotland

    And, if one day we were to have another James he would not be James the Third, but James the Eigth. I hope that clears that up!

    Not that that will happen as I very much doubt the United Kingdom or the Royal family have much time left.

  4. Stephen sort of mentions what I was going to say - Britain and the United Kingdom are not the same thing eg if you look at your passport it will use the UK of GB&NI.

    The difficulty is, suppose you are a citizen of say France or US. Do you say QE of England, the British Queen, the Queen of the United Kingdom (why Kingdom when 120ish of the last 170 years have had a Queen?), or do you throw in the Commonwealth, too, because she's Queen of Australia and other places.

    I suspect constitutional pedants are worse than grammar pedants!

  5. I agree Gert, I really do!