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The men who guard the Queen


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Intermediate English

THE MEN WHO GUARD THE QUEEN     

  Who are the red-coated soldiers who stand guard outside Buckingham Palace ?
    Are they an army of clones, or actors? Or are they real soldiers?
 
Guardsmen in London
Royal guards - among the elite of the British army 
 They are perhaps the best known icons of Britain, and if you've ever been to London, you've probably seen them. They are the soldiers in bright red jackets or shining helmets, who stand outside Buckingham Palace, or in Whitehall. They are men who can stand absolutely still, even when tourists tell them jokes, touch them, push them, or try to make them move.
    They look identical, and they march like robots.
    But who are these soldiers? Are they an army of clones, or actors? Or are they real soldiers?
    Some people are surprised to learn that they are real soldiers; and the guns that they carry are very real too. The guns are not just for show; they are loaded!
    The men who stand guard outside Buckingham Palace and certain other royal palaces are in fact some of the best-trained soldiers in the British army. They belong to a number of historic regiments, such as the Grenadier Guards or the Scots Guards.
    There are two main groups of guards, those who have horses and those who do not. The former are known as the "foot guards", and the latter as the "Household Cavalry".
    Ceremonial duties are just a small part of a guardsman's life.
    The footguards are the senior infantry regiments in the British army; most of the time, they train like other soldiers, a long way from London. Sometimes they may find themselves in war zones. In recent years they have also been sent to Bosnia and to Kosovo, to Iraq and Afghanistan in order to help with the international peace-keeping forces.
    The Household Cavalry is taken from two armoured regiments, called the Lifeguards, and the Blues and Royals. Three hundred men from these regiments are based in London for ceremonial duties on horseback; but most of the time, the
Guardsmen in London
Guardsmen on a different day
men from these regiments are based elsewhere. When they are not taking part in ceremonial duties in London, they will be training in other parts of Britain, or serving in other parts of the world.
    One other group of soldiers sometimes takes part in guard duties; the famous "Gurkhas". Like the famous "Foreign Legion" in France, the Brigade of Gurkhas is different from any other regiment in the British army, because it is made up of foreigners. The Gurkhas are men from Nepal, a small state in the Himalayas, and they are one of the best fighting regiments in the British army.
    Of course, guards do not always wear their well-known red and blue uniforms. These are only worn for ceremonial duties. Most of the time these men wear normal military uniforms, just like other soldiers. And of course, under the uniforms, there are just ordinary young men, mostly in their twenties. They are very fit young men, but apart from that they are just like other young men of their age. Don't expect to find a robo-guard! These men are some of the best-trained soldiers in the world .


WORDS:
duties: jobs, tasks - fit: in good physical condition - elsewhere : in other places - for show: to be seen - helmet: metal hat - icon: symbol - infantry : foot soldiers - latter: second group - loaded: containing bullets - made up of: composed of - senior: top, number one

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Question forming: Imagine that you have been interviewing a guard. Here are his answers; complete the questions 
You: Are you allowed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: Oh no, never. That’s against the rules!
You: Have you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: Of course not! Not once in my life!
You: Do you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: No, this is just one of our jobs.
You: Are you . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: Well we’re some of the best trained soldiers in the British Army, so we do lots of things.
You: Do. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: Of course we do
You: Have . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Guard: Yes, I was with the international forces in Afghanistan.
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Readability - Plain English. Flesch-Kincaid Grade level: 7.4
Reading ease level:  69.3

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