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Year 1 History and Geography

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Kings and Queens

king and queen

What do you think people in other countries know about Britain? One thing that almost everyone knows about us is that we have a Queen and that she lives in Buckingham Palace. We have had kings and queens for hundreds of years, and the history of Britain is closely tied up with them. Some of them were good people who tried to rule wisely and do their best for their subjects.

However, some were not quite so good. Some kings were cruel and mistreated people who disagreed with them or would not do what they wanted. Some kings were greedy, and they took away so much of people's money and possessions that people felt they were being treated unfairly. But what could they do? The King was the King!

People began to feel that the king should not rule completely on his own. Even a very good king could not know everything he needed to know to make the best decisions. It was felt that the king should have some wise people to advise him, and that some of the great nobles, who owned a lot of land and had many people who were loyal to them, should play a part in the government of the country.

Sometimes the king found it helpful to call together these groups of nobles and church leaders to advise him on what to do, because it made it easier for him to govern the country if he had supporters in different areas. However, it was up to the king to decide whom to ask to join his group of advisers and it was up to him to decide when they met and whether he took their advice or not. Sometimes he did and sometimes he didn't!

These gatherings came to be known as 'parliaments' [PAR-leeya-ments]. The word comes from the French word 'parler' [par-LAY] which means 'to talk.' So a parliament is a place where you talk about things.

When the members of parliament became responsible for passing laws and raising taxes, they still needed the King or Queen to agree to whatever they wanted to do. The King or Queen used to sit with the most important members of parliament, who are called ministers. The Prime Minister became the person who was in charge of the meetings of the ministers.

Things have changed over time, but to this day the Prime Minister still meets with the Queen every week to tell her what the government is doing. The Queen listens and offers good advice to her Prime Minister. Once a year, the Queen gives an important speech at the State Opening of Parliament. She sets out what the government will work on during the coming year.



This activity is adapted from page 141 and pages 146 - 148 of What Your Year 1 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

This activity has connections: click below to see related activities.

history and geography owl
history and geography owl