purpose of the text type : to raise a questions of topical interest, to point out possible arguments and express a personal opinion on the backdrop of the before mentioned arguments
- interesting attention grabber that raises the question (a personal anecdote, a news item, a quote…)
- clear paragraphs with clear arguments supported by concrete examples
- conclusion: clear opinion formed on the basis of the arguments
- every paragraph starts with a topic sentence that connects the paragraphs and introduces the topic of the new paragraph
- logical linking words/connectives that connect the arguments
- formal and correct language
The following texts were written by students of the English LK year 11 (junior year). The task was to write a comment on the question whether the British monarchy is an outdated institution or not.
The texts are the original student versions and have not been corrected by the teacher.
The British Sovereign – a proof of shortcomings or helpful dignitary?
Violence, poverty, oppression, death – the ravens are sitting well- mannered and full of expectation on the gibbet well knowing what feast they will attend when the ropes lengthen. What seems to be an excerpt of a shocking murder mystery set in the middle-ages, could be a factual report of what happened about 1000 years ago if a messenger delivered information his king was not too delighted by.
We all know that a lot of time has passed since these dark times but we still have a monarchy today in Great Britain. What are the positive aspects of the political system in Britain, and what are the drawbacks? And is there really no chance that we have to face a worst-case scenario with a monarch who, due to his unlimited power does whatever he wants to do?
The first question can be answered quickly – no, there isn´t any possibility that something like this happens. The British sovereign does all in all have only a very limited political power. This limit of power derives from several important documents as the Magna Carta from 1215 (a document which protected the people from the monarch´s capriciousness) and the Bill of Rights passed in 1689. Today Queen Elizabeth´s duties are rather ceremonial. She opens parliament, has frequent meetings with the Prime minister and receives foreign ambassadors. Also, while travelling through the Kingdom and to many countries of the Commonwealth, the queen represents the state and the people.
But the monarch´s office costs a lot. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Price Philip only receive about 44.5 million pounds per year. Most of this money derives from income taxes. In addition to that also the other royal family members get another 15 million pounds a year. Only to put it into comparison: the average GDP in Britain is 33,768 pounds (2015). That means that the Queens income is over 130 times higher than the one of an average worker. Everyone has to decide for his or her own whether such a discrepancy is fair. The most powerful man on earth – the president of the US – received 464 thousand pounds in 2013.
An aspect that must be taken into consideration and that maybe is only fully comprehensible if you are British are the feelings of unity, identity and stability the queen provides. The queen is not simply the head of her nations. Her policy and behaviour stays stable during the changeable ways of proceeding of many politicians and prime ministers. Thus, she forms a framework in politics from 1952 until today and therefore has an extent of experience that is not comparable to a single prime minister. There must be a reason why people cried when the queen just recently visited the hospital victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester were taken to. Furthermore, Elizabeth II honours work, recognises success and achievement. She also visits organizations and companies. Britain has a queen who really tries her best at having a close relation to her people.
Nevertheless, the Queen is not elected at all. She obtains her office by inheritance. The privilege of being head of nation stays within the family. It is obvious that the fact of inheritance crucially collides with the modern idea of democracy. And despite the Queen has only limited political power she could (over a time of nearly 70 years she has been ruling) have an enormous impact not only on the UK but on the world. One must not forget that Queen Elizabeth II currently is head of the Executive, Judiciary the Church of England and appoints the Prime Minister for a time she chooses.
On the one hand the Royal family has many positive effects on the British economy (apart from the money they claim). Especially the sights such as Buckingham Palace Clarence House and Kensington Palace attract thousands of tourists per year.
On the other hand, not only the idea of a sovereign but of the whole political system (constitutional monarchy) seems outdated. Politicians standing in front of old wooden panels and windows that convey the impression of being there for centuries, talking about electric cars and renewable energies – that appears peculiar.
Finally, one can say that the British political system is definitely not perfect and that some changes especially concerning the monarch´s income should be made, but it also has many benefits in store. And as long as the sentence “The Queen reigns, but she does not govern” is true, we can be sure that we are not going to end up as raven-food on a gibbet.
Queen Elizabeth II. – The British Kim Kardashian
Most of the people who know Kim Kardashian ask themselves what she’s famous for. She’s famous for being rich, and rich for being famous. Wait, that applies to Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, too. So she’s known and paid for being herself, as she was born into the royal family, right? Even though her life consists of more than just a show called “Keeping up with the Queen” or “Keeping up with the Windsors”, her statements, and speeches are still scripted, you could say. Can’t these politicians or whoever who wrote her speeches read them out loud themselves? Or why do we need someone to do that and pay them a whole lot of money?
Of course that’s not the exact role of the Queen. But in the following part you’ll understand why the British Monarch, who can’t be really chosen is questionable as her duties are unnecessary andin addition to that, almost everyone could undertake her role But to be fair, the central thesis will be summed up and explained a little further after having discussed the pros and cons of having one person as the “Head of State”.
The first argument against a British Souvereign is the fact, that you have to be born into the system. Choosing the Souvereign isn’t that fair as the family isn’t something you can choose. So why should the monarch only can be the monarch when he or she was born into the Royal Family? Why do elections only for politicians but not for the British King or Queen exist? I mean what if not just the nation dislikes its Head of State, but also no successor is found because no one wants to have so many responsibilities, become a public figure and so on? The Royal Family can’t just adopt the next king or queen from an orphanage, can they?
This possible problem brings another critical point along. If the Queen messes up, the nation has to deal with it. Removing the Queen isn’t possible as she’s entitled for her entire life. If she really messes up, causes problems, and does more harm than good the only way of ending her reign, is ending her life. So good luck, trying to pass all of the armed guards and trying to get rid of her, as you can’t just unelect her.
And do you know how much she’s paid annually? I bet it’s more than the triple of yours. Well, let me tell you something, her salary includes a lot of zeros. Instead of paying her for shaking hands, signing some papers and reading out what others wrote, the state could invest into the country and would’t have to spend so much money unnecessarily for making a person more rich than needed, and especially more than she already is.
But let’s list some of the positive aspects of the British monarchy.
Queen Elizabeth II. has constitutional and ceremonial duties. She appoints the Prime Minister and approves acts of parliament etc. So she has certain rights e.g the right to be consulted what balances out the political system and limits the parliament’s power as a non politician.
Sounds pretty good, but isn’t the parliament itself enough? It already consists of multiple houses including hundreds of sophisticated politicians. One final “Okay” should’t matter.
Besides that, the Queen is responsible for representing the country, not just through state visits but also by delivering speeches that express the nation’s mood when changes, complications and celebrations occur. Furthermore she is one of the people the country ‘s image strongly depends on. So when she conveys something wrong, it’s carried over the whole country. And why is even delivering the nation’s mood to the external so important? Isn’t it obvious, that e.g after an earth quake or an attack the people feel scared, speechless and scared? And neither blissful nor blessed.
All in all you could say even though the role of the British Monarch is a nice way to represent the country, it is also unnecessary and expensive, as all she does is presenting the preliminary work of others, probably of politicians. Besides that, it carries along several problems refering to choosing the right person as the “Head of State” as there is not much to choose from.