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The Real Jobs of the British Royal Family

In hard economic times, people may grumble or wonder about the cost to the taxpayer of the Royal Family: why don’t they get (proper) jobs? Well, they have. Sometimes people argue that the Monarchy is a drain on public resources. In fact, demonstrated by events like Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding in April 2011, the institution raises interest and tourism income into Britain, and if there wasn’t a Royal Family, there’d be an elected head of state that would cost money too. A television series from US Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Monarchy, the Royal Family at Work (2006), declared: ‘to handle 4,000 state visits, balls, school dedications, nursing home visits, and charity events, the Queen depends on her husband, her children, cousins, and now a new generation of grandchildren’. She … Read entire article »

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Parliamentary e-Petitions: Another Gimmick Or Democratic Reform?

In touch with the web’s people power, Parliament is now offering voters a chance to petition their requests for laws directly online. A Petition to Parliament is a ‘prayer’ for or against action a policy. The ancient right stems possibly from Saxon times, allowing petition to the Monarch for redress of grievance. Since the Middle Ages, this has effectively meant a petition to Parliament, although the Queen today still gets requests from citizens. For hundreds of years, petitions have been presented to Parliament by Members placing them in The Petition Bag hanging behind the Speaker’s Chair in the Commons chamber. She/he can introduce with a short speech, or simply insert it. The bag is emptied periodically, and the demands are reported in the House proceedings and forwarded to appropriate departments. Historic … Read entire article »

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The Cultural and Economic Importance of the Eisteddfod

There are eisteddfodau around the world, but it’s the big International August one that brings cultural and financial benefits to the whole of Wales. The term ‘eisteddfod’ (plural: eisteddfodau) derives from the Welsh eistedd (to sit) and bod (to be). Bod is mutated to fod, and the whole means ‘sitting/being together’. It’s a gathering that has become a fixture in the Welsh calendar (first week of August) along with Christmas and Easter. Alternating between north and south Wales, the Eisteddfod celebrates Welsh language and culture, and is the largest of its kind in Europe. It’s a mix of daily competitions with evening concerts, plays, gigs, comedy and exhibitions. Unlike many cultural festivals, this is competitive, with contests in dance, recitation, singing, brass bands, poetry. Events are conducted in Welsh, but as … Read entire article »

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The Economic Importance of Irish Culture

As Ireland suffers fall out from banking and Eurozone crises, it’s timely to look at how Irish culture and tradition contribute to economic well-being. In most countries, culture, tradition and history intertwine and add to their richness. In Ireland, it’s particularly marked. Ancient Celtic history, folk legend and epic poetry fuse with contemporary lifestyles, rural and urban, language, music, performance and celebration/ritual. Irish traditional and Country & Irish music evolved from mythology to create unique strands. Fiddles, harps, banjos, bodhrans (hand drums), whistles, accordians and violins have become synonymous with the music. Irish dancing paralleled it, with evolutions of jigs, hornpipes, reels, polkas and step dancing to accompany songs about emigration, civil strife, everyday love and life. Harmonies and melodies in elegant simplicity are hallmarks of the music. Any list of … Read entire article »

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The Cultural and Economic Importance of the Edinburgh Festivals

2011 sees twelve major diverse events, many of world-class quality, helping to make Edinburgh the heartbeat of Britain’s cultural body. The UK, particularly in the summer months, has wall-to-wall festivals, from parish churches to major open-air marathons. Most cities and many stately homes host festival crowds enjoying music, theatre, film, flowers, aircraft and politics of every conceivable kind, which pull in money and heighten publicity. Edinburgh 2011’s offerings run from Science (31st March-13 April); Imaginate Children’s (7-14 May); Film (15-26 June); Jazz and Blues (22-31 July); Art (4 August-4 September); Military Tattoo (5-27 August); Fringe (5-29 August); International (12 August-4 September); Books (13-29 August); Mela (2-4 September); Storytelling (21-30 September) and Hogmanay (30 December-2 January). It’s the ‘International’ that most people think of as the ‘Edinburgh Festival’, but in fact events … Read entire article »

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