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British life : An intermediate level English resource.

Who will be Britain's next King ?

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    Most people in Britain have never known life without "the Queen".  She's been Britain's head of state since 1952, and in 2026, if she is still alive, she will reach the age of 100. People who know her say that she will not abdicate; but whether she does or not, she cannot continue for ever. In a few years' time, Britain will have a new head of state, and it will be a king. But which king? 
The Queen and Prince Charles
Prince Charles often accompanies or replaces the Queen on official duties, some formal, others less formal
Very few people alive in Britain today remember the time when Britain last had a king. Elizabeth II has been Queen of England since 1952, so only the very oldest people remember the last king, her father George VI.
    Queen Elizabeth has marked life and times in Britain for the past seven decades, and when she dies, Britain will change. It will be like losing the nation's  grandmother, since the Queen is part of national life, part of the national family, and a very popular figure. Opinion polls in 2020 showed that over 80% of people in Britain appreciate the Queen.
    There will be a moment of national trauma when she dies; it will probably not be as massive as the national trauma that came with the death of Princess Diana, but who knows? At the time of her death, Diana was popular more as a celebrity than as "a royal". The Queen is not just "a royal", she is the Queen, part of national life, a British institution,  a person whose image people see every day, on coins, on banknotes, on stamps, in magazines, in public places. All that will change.
    Following the Queen will be a hard act; so who will follow her? Indeed, who will want to follow her?
   By historic tradition, after the death of a monarch, the crown passes to the "next in line"; this is the Queen's eldest son, Prince Charles. Yet Prince Charles does not have to become King. He could decide to let the crown pass to the next in line after him,  his elder son Prince William. Barring unforeseen circumstances, the next British head of state will therefore be either King Charles III or King William V.  However a king does not have to use the same name as a prince. Like many people, both Charles and William have several given names (first names); they both have the name Arthur, so either could chose to become King Arthur II.... though that could cause problems, as the original "King Arthur", however famous he may be, is a legendary character who may not have really existed, and may not have been a real king  even if he did exist.

Will Charles become King?

Prince Charles is the heir to the throne, so he will become King unless he decides not to. While Charles is not unpopular, he is less popular than his mother the Queen, and less popular than his son Prince William.  
  He will probably choose to become King, but he may decide that he is too old to start a new job. Charles was born in 1948, so by 2026, when the Queen reaches 100, he will be 78. He may think that at 78 he should be stopping work, not taking on a big new career as Head of State. Yet he may look round and see that Joe Biden became president of the USA at the age of 78, and decide that 78 is a good age to take on the job. After all, being President of the USA is a harder job than being King of England; the President of the USA must take political decisions, the King of England cannot take part in politics.
   So who is Charles? He has spent his life in the shadow of the Queen. He has the image of a gentleman farmer, and is still actively involved in the agricultural life of his estates. Like his father, who was president of the WWF, Charles is very concerned about the environment and the natural world, and his farms are known for their organic produce. Indeed, Charles's farms became organic in 1985, long before the organic boom of recent years, and  "Duchy Organic", set up by Charles, is one of the biggest brands of organic foods in the UK, sold in the Waitrose supermarkets.
Prince William and Kate
Or will William and Kate, "the Cambridges", become the next king and queen?
  Charles has also spent a lot of time trying to help underprivileged youth in Britain's inner cities. His "Prince's Trust" is a charity that has helped thousands of kids from poor parts of Britain's cities to get good training and good jobs. He has also been active on the world stage, and in 2020 he encouraged world leaders at the Davos summit to "reset capitalism", in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. As a prince, he can say and do what he thinks; as Head of State, he would have to be more neutral.  So maybe he'll become King, maybe he'll decide to decline the offer.
   If Charles does not follow his mother, the next monarch will be Prince William.  Born in 1982, William will be 44  when the Queen reaches 100, so he will be at a good age to take over a top job when she eventually dies. After Her Majesty, Prince William is Britain's most popular "royal", and about three quarters of the people in Britain would like him as King. He is helped by the very good reputation of his wife Kate. William has the right qualifications for a top job, including a university degree and years with the armed forces. He is a qualified helicopter pilot and worked for several years with the coast guards in Wales, flying search and rescue missions.

   While nobody knows for certain who Britain's next king will be, it is fairly certain that Britain will remain a monarchy after the Queen dies. Both Charles and William carry out plenty of royal duties, so they know the ropes, and both are prepared to be king.
   Besides, few people  want Britain to become a republic. A poll in 2012 showed that 80% of people in Britain wanted the monarchy to continue, with only 13% wanting a republic. Perhaps this is understandable; in Britain, as in many other countries, politicians are not particularly popular these days! God save the King !

Word guide
abdicate: retire from the job of being monarch - poll: a study of what people think -  decade:  period of (about) ten years - trauma: shocked sadness - a royal*: a member of the Royal Family -  elder, eldest: older, oldest * -  legendary: mythical, invented -   heir: successor, person who comes next -  concerned: worried, anxious -   produce: things that are made or produced - brands: commercial names - underprivileged: people who do not have much money or much opportunity -  prevent: stop - eventually: in the end, one day - remain: continue to be - carry out: do, perform .

* Vocabulary notes: elder, eldest. These are comparative and superlative forms of old. There is no such word as eld. Elder and eldest imply relative age, not absolute oldness, and are only used of people. So a two-year-old could be an elder child.
A royal.  The adjective royal has been used as a noun in popular English since the late 20th century. It is very common in the media, since the alternative, a member of the Royal Family, is rather long.

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Student Worksheet

Who will be Britain's next king?
Expressing the future and modal verbs.  
Replace the missing verbs in this extract from the article.
Pay attention to the tenses, and choose the right modal verbs from among will, can, may, must, and should.
One of these will need to be in a negative form.
Prince Charles is the heir to the throne, so he become King unless he not to. While Charles is not unpopular, he is less popular than his mother the Queen, and less popular than his son Prince William.  
  He probably choose to become King, but he  decide that he is too old to start a new job. Charles was born in 1948, so by 2026, when the Queen 100, he be 78. He think that at 78 he be stopping work, not taking on a big new career as Head of State. Yet he look round and see that Joe Biden became president of the USA at the age of 78, and decide that 78 is a good age to take on the job. After all, being President of the USA is a harder job than being King of England; the President of the USA take political decisions, the King of England take part in politics.

Vocabulary :

Find words in the text that have the meaning of  :

Will be very difficult    _________________ 
Unless something unexpected happens   _________________  
plays an active part in   _________________  
in international situations  _________________  
they already have   _________________    


Reply in your own words.
Give two reasons why the Queen is so popular in Britain.
Why are people in Britain wondering who the next king will be?
Why could the next British king be King Arthur?
Charles or William, who should be the next king of Britain in your opinion? Explain your reasons.

For teachers

This is a long text, the audio reading being over seven minutes. It can however be easily used as two shorter texts, divided by the cross heading the the middle Will Charles become king?  The first section looks at the question the Queen's succession; the second part looks at the two people who could be Britain's next king.

Pay attention to the use of verbs, tenses and modals in this article. The text is rich in modal verbs (may, could, have to etc - see first exercise above), and in examples of use of the future with will. Pay attention to the half dozen examples where will is used in a main clause, while the present tense is used in a secondary clause, as in  when she dies, Britain will change. To stress this point, there are three examples using dies, and two using reaches 100.
    Note that as regards the modal verbs in this extracts, those used in the original text are not necessarily the only options possible. For instance the text says "He may look round and see that Joe Biden....." ; it could equally well have said "He might look round...", which, in this case, would mean exactly the same. So do not penalise students who choose a modal verb that is different from the original text, yet is also acceptable.
See Grammar: expressing the future.

Idiomatic expressions: a few idiomatic expressions used in the text are not explained in the vocabulary guide, but are the subject of the vocabulary exercise above.
And if you were wondering.......
King or king ?  The generally accepted rule is that as a title, the word King is spelt with a capital K; as a job it spelt with a small k. The same is true for Queen or queen, etc.

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Level - Intermediate.
IELTS Level :  4 - 5
Flesch-Kincaid  scores
Reading ease level:
66.2 - Plain English
Grade level: 9
Scores always give a high reading  if a text contains technical vocabulary

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This resource is © copyright Linguapress 2021.
Photos: Prince Charles and the Queen, by Raph_PH - Creative Commons licence
 William and Kate; photo by Minerva97 - Creative Commons licence

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