‘I’ve been in Qatar for only five months. My partner works here, and there are better work opportunities and weather. I’m enjoying the different cultures and way of life. It’s very relaxed, whereas London is very fast-paced living. The attitude of the Brits is very different from many people’s; we have a stiff upper lip and are hard-working. We also have a sarcastic sense of humour that no-one else gets, and we know how to queue (why is it that no-one else knows how to do this?). We are the home of a good roast dinner and a big fry-up with bacon and sausages (real ones). We are also a very proud nation and Britain is full of history. I’m a big fan of the royals. They’re a lovely couple and I wish them all the best. I can’t wait to watch it on TV as it will be a day to go down in history; it will be the Prince Charles and Princess Diana wedding of the 21st century. I know it is big back home and they are trying to arrange street parties like the ones they used to have back in the day. They have also made it a national bank holiday as well. The place I go when I miss the UK is the beach; it reminds me that life here isn’t so bad and I’m lucky to live in a country where I can go to the beach most of the year. I like to surround myself with good friends and I’ll make a big roast dinner with Yorkshire puddings.’
‘Doha has the fastest-growing economy in the world, with better job opportunities here than the UK post-financial crisis. I’ve been here for 18 months. I’m originally from Oxford. I would say Qatar and Britain are diametric opposites – not necessarily a bad thing. Obviously, the biggest difference is the weather, but dress sense is a big one. Biggest thing I miss about the UK? Bacon. The British community in Qatar, it’s alright, but I try to take advantage of the international flavour of Qatar and enjoy meeting people from different countries and cultures. When I miss home, I go to the Ritz for high tea and scones. As for the royal wedding, Kate Middleton is pretty hot. If he wasn’t a royal, I’d say William was punching way above his weight.’
‘I’ve been here six months. A job offer was presented, which allowed me to experience new cultural surroundings – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was a bit of a culture shock at first, but now it feels like home. I’m originally from Yorkshire and, other than my friends and family, I miss the nightlife. What makes me British? My manners, my love of Yorkshire pudding and my ability always to find a way to speak about the weather. When I miss home I surround myself with the people I feel closest to here and watch a film while curled up on the sofa. I appreciate the cultural differences of Qatar; however, driving is very different here – more dangerous, and in the UK we know how to queue! The royal wedding is good for British nostalgia, and what an opportunity for Kate. I’ll bet she never imagined as a little girl that she would be the next Queen of England.’
‘I’ve been here one-and-a-half years. How did I move here? I got on a plane. Why? I was offered a job. It has its ups and downs. I try to avoid speaking to or dealing with certain companies or banks, as they’re pretty useless, and I have high standards for customer service, so I just get frustrated. On the plus side, I like my job and I’ve been able to travel a lot more for business and pleasure. I was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, but spent most my upbringing in Knightwick, Worcestershire, and went to schools in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. The UK is a metropolis of cultures and different vibes. It’s a diverse, accepting society where we don’t mix religion and governance, so everyone has a chance to live their lives as they wish, within the confines of the law, of course. I go back home often enough, so I don’t really have a chance to miss it much. I don’t normally get homesick, as I travel a lot and nip off to Dubai for weekends. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I make a point of hanging out with Brits.
Of course, I do have British friends, but know people now from lots of different countries all over the world. As for William’s wedding, I quite like the royal family. I think they provide a great service to the UK and support our interests around the world. I’m happy that William has been allowed to marry whom he wishes. I don’t have any big opinions on the wedding. At the end of the day, they’re just two young people getting married – as millions do. Good luck to them.’
The United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Great Britain comprises the first three of those. It used to be said ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire,’ which in the 1920s spanned more than a quarter of the world – the largest empire in history. It was the first industrialised nation, and the major world power for most of the last two centuries. Today, the empire comprises just 14 overseas territories; however, many former colonies are still part of the Commonwealth, and 15 countries share a head of state with the UK. The empire’s vast reach left a mark – from political structure and systems of measurement to the English language.
The UK exports vast amounts of culture to the world, and has been the birthplace of musical movements, from the Beatles to punk, as well as great writers, from Shakespeare to JK Rowling. In 2006,
it was the largest publisher of books in the world. British football, cricket and other sports are televised globally and, with the 2012 Olympic Games, London will become the only city to have hosted the Olympics three times.
• For her wedding in 1947, Princess (now Queen) Elizabeth had to use ration coupons to buy the materials for her wedding gown, just like every bride in post-war Britain.
• When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, over 750 million people (one in six people on the planet) watched ‘the wedding of the century’ on TV, making it the most popular programme ever broadcast. They moved the ceremony to St Paul’s Cathedral to accommodate the 3,500 guests. Over two million people lined the streets to watch the procession.
• The royals have set wedding fashion trends: Queen Victoria began the custom of brides wearing white, being the first major figure to do so. She later had the dress restyled and wore it again – a common practice among brides until the 20th century. Lady Diana Spencer’s dress had a 25ft train, and set another fashion trend.
• Prince William and Kate Middleton have approved a line of merchandise to celebrate their wedding; after some debate, royally sanctioned tea towels were deemed appropriate, while aprons, cushions and T-shirts were rejected as ‘poor taste’. Sales are expected to reach QR260 million. The Royal Mint is producing a celebratory £5 coin, and the Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a special coin series, with Canada Post and New Zealand Post among those creating commemorative stamps.