March 11, 2008
Britain is considering having schoolchildren pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth just as Americans pledge allegiance to the U.S. flag.
A pledge to the monarch, which would be given at a “coming of age” ceremony when children graduate, is part of a series of proposals delivered to Prime Minister Gordon Brown Tuesday in an effort to instill a greater sense of citizenship.
Also proposed: a new public holiday to celebrate “Britishness” that would be similar to Australia Day, which Australians celebrate every Jan. 26 to reflect national pride.
The proposals were made by Lord Peter Goldsmith, a former British attorney general. Brown asked Goldsmith last year to review aspects of British citizenship and the rights and responsibilities that accompany it.
Brown sought the review at a time when Britons have been increasingly concerned about an influx of immigrants, questioned whether its policy of multiculturalism was creating separate enclaves within British society and shocked that so-called “homegrown terrorists” were involved in attacks like the July 7, 2005 London transit bombing that killed 52 passengers.
The proposals are bound to stir controversy.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, a civil rights lawyer and member of the House of Lords, told BBC that she saw giving a pledge of allegiance as “an empty gesture.”
“To ask 16-year-olds to troop into a hall and like Americans put their hands on their heart and take an oath of allegiance is risible,” she said.
Goldsmith told BBC radio that if anti-monarchists might object to pledge allegiance to the queen they could swear an oath to the nation.
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