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British customs, traditions and holidays.

I think that British monarch is tradition number one in the country: "Elizabeth II by the Grace of God" of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, defender of the Faith.

Her life is quite busy. There are hundreds of traditional ceremonies, which the Queen has to keep. Let us take, for example, Royal Garden parties at Buckingham Palace. About 8 thousand guests come to each party.

The Queen acts as head of the government: so, every day she reads official papers from the government and once a week she has a meeting with Prime Minister. She also has to read the report of the day from Parliament. Any law really becomes the law only if the Queen agrees to it.

Many British traditions are associated with the Houses of Parliament. Here are some of them. The Lord Chancellor sits on the Woolsack. The Speaker wears an ancient robe and a wig and sits on a green chair, which has been given to the Commons by Australia. On the Speaker's chair there is a switch that puts on the light in the Clock Tower above Big Ben to tell Londoners that Parliament is in session. If you stand outside the Houses of Parliament on the day of its opening, you will suddenly see a dozen men in flat black hats and red coats ornamented with gold, with lanterns, poles and axes in their hands. This is Her Majesty's bodyguard of the Yeomen from the Tower. They search all the cellars of the Houses of Parliament so that no harm from there may again threaten the King or Queen.

And it did threaten! Guy Fowkes, who was the chief organizer of a plot to blow up the Parliament building in the early 17th century, did try to do it on November the fifth - the date, on which Parliament was going to be opened. But the plot was discovered and the plotters executed. It was in 1605. And now there are popular celebrations with which this date is marked annually. A dummy staffed with straw and representing Guy Fowkes is publicly set on fire. That's how some people preserve their traditions.

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