What does it mean to be English?

When I arrived in London, I expected to be surprised by a lot of things, but I instead found that it was remarkably similar to the United States. People in England have to go to school and work just like we do, they have to buy food just like we do, and the food they eat is similar to ours. People are people and under our global capitalist system, we all have to do the same things to provide for ourselves.

One difference I felt in the UK was that everyone was nicer. It seemed like all of the signs were designed to directly connect with people’s emotions. People are less selfish in the UK than in the US. I suspect this is because of the ideal of individuality in the US. Egocentrism is encouraged by politicians and this rubs off by citizens. I don’t think egocentrism is encouraged very much in the UK.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the US and the UK is the UK’s obsession with royalty. In the UK, you can see “E II R” on every phone booth, books about the Queen line the front shelves of every bookstore, and even advertisements have references to royalty in them. In the US, we only have tabloids about the royal family in grocery stores that nobody looks at. One may argue that the prevalence of royalty in London is due to tourism. This is probably true, but people talk about the royal family seriously in the UK. BBC, the most important news service in the country, has often been talking about Prince Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein. In the US, we have never had royalty, so the British royals family is something for us to point and laugh at.

This is an example of how people are products of their environments. While people in the UK are obsessed with the royal family, us yankees get glued to our TVs whenever it’s time for another presidential election. These things both look stupid from the outside, but we copy what other people are doing, so it is normal to us. When you make fun of other people. don’t forget that you could be made fun of as well.

How London has preserved its history

London is a very historical place. For nearly a thousand years, London has been the home of the English monarchy, which eventually came to control the whole island. I have visited two major historical buildings during my London trip: Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. The former is where monarchs have been coronated for over a thousand years; the tradition still continues today. The latter is where several important people were executed in order for monarchs to solidify their claims to the throne. How well have these two important historical sites been preserved?

Tomb and effigy of King Henry VII of England

In Westminster Abbey, everything is well preserved. It has the tombs and effigies of monarchs in the past, as well as plaques honoring other important people like Isaac Newton. The most significant part of it in my mind was the Coronation Chair because most English monarchs have sat on it. I could feel the historical significance of Westminster Abbey during my visit.

Very heavy armor on display in the White Tower
Location of several executions in the Tower of London

I was excited to visit the Tower of London because of the numerous members of the royal family that died there. I got some of the historical appreciation that I wanted. The monument put in place for the executions is in very good taste. However, I was a bit disappointed that the rest just feels like another tourist attraction. The armor and weapons put on display are very nice, but it detracts form the historical significance of the area. The Tower of London could have been better preserved.