Tuesday, 14 December 2010

God Save the Queen!

I pledge allegiance, to the queen, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and to the monarchy, for which she stands, one woman, under gowns, indominable, with lager and jam sandwiches for all.

Well, almost like that. David and I had our citizenship ceremony yesterday, down at Southwark Town Hall (just down the road from here). Robin and Paul were our guests. So, we wandered on down there about 1015am and found ourselves in a room of, well, foreigners. Lots of Africans, Middle Easterners and Chinese. Not so many North Americans, Aussies or Kiwis. Welcome to Southwark! Picked up some paperwork, got our nametags, got a nice little plasticated paper flag. We all milled around in there for a while, then were shepherded off, in smaller groups (with guests) to a smaller room for some more milling around, this time with biscuits and tea (or coffee) (and biscuits being cookies, don't forget). After about half an hour, guests were asked to head to the visitor's section of the council chambers, and those of us taking part in the ceremony were seated around where the councillors would normally sit.

Two very boring speeches, both of them essentially about being nice to one another (one of them was by an ex-Mayor of Southwark, resplendant in her gown), as well as some community organizer type guy (Irish - couldn't they have gotten a British one? Whatever). Anyway, boring speeches finished, we were asked to each say "I, [Name]", in turn, after which we recited two pledges.

This was the non-God ceremony - the afternoon one had swearing to God. This one just had affirming. We also had the handshake or no handshake option. I chose handshake. Anyway, it's worth quoting the pledge, and comparing it to the US Oath of Allegiance, and US citizenship ceremonies. Rather different!

UK: Oath of allegiance
I (name) swear by Almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law.


Affirmation of allegiance
I (name) do solemnly and sincerely affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according
to law.

After the oath or affirmation, you will make the citizenship pledge:
Citizenship pledge
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.

The Mayor, or the Mayor's representative, will then present you with your citizenship certificate and a gift.

At the end of the ceremony the new citizens listen to the National Anthem.

Photographs are taken with the Mayor to round off a special, meaningful and enjoyable occasion.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

How different.

I have to say I don't think I could have ever become a citizen of the USA were I not already, b/c I sure as hell would never say that pledge!

Anyway, we filed up then to get our certificates and get our pictures taken, and I, being a complete spaz, managed to drop mine on the floor. Great. Auspicious start. I did manage to say something about wanting to provide the entertainment, but, truthfully, I wanted to just die right there - poof, little pile of ash! Sigh - well, this just goes with the Doug territory I guess.

And then we all stood to listen to the first stanza of the national anthem, which is, rather conveniently, sung to the same tune as 'My Country 'tis of Thee...'

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.

Probably the funniest part of the whole thing, other than me making a dumbass out of myself, was when we were walking home. Set the scene - four silly queens, generally dressed nicely, walking up London street. Three of us are white, with generally shaved head. One is black, but wearing a hat and gloves. (This is relevant). We're walking along with our flags, which is not a normal thing to do here. For the most part, one only sees flags at official occasions, sports events, and being used by white power groups. Anyway, this guy pulls up in a car, leans out, and asks, "Are you guys English Defence League"? (skinheads). Yes, with our new black member. Dumbass! Ah, my fellow countryman...

It was a bit of an anticlimax then to head back to work, though I was, to my amusement, greeted with a flag and cutout of the queen on my monitor. Who said Hackney didn't have class?

Anyway, lots of other stuff, but I'm mostly too tired to mention it at the moment. Maybe tomorrow. We're in the process of getting the kitchen done, have travelled numerous times to Ikea, hardware stores, builder's supply stores, furniture stores, etc... We're moving most of the stuff on the weekend, then actually moving in the 22nd, when the fridge arrives.

So tired.


Jan Blawat said...

Sorry to lose you, but I would also prefer to pledge allegiance to a nice, civilized monarch than to be a pawn of whatever politician of the day we have to endure. The benefits of the revolution have long since faded.

Katherine Plumer said...

We didn't lose him, he has dual citizenship! Pretty nifty. Congratulations Dougiepoo and David! :-)