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Tourist Britain: Blending Tradition And Modernity

1056 words - 5 pages

To tourists, Britain presents itself as full of tradition and pride in history. People from outside Britain believe it to be a land of red telephone booths, guards in fuzzy hats, tartan-clad bagpipe players, and double-decker buses. People imagine a strict adherence to tradition: pausing for afternoon tea, always stopping for a good lunch of fish and chips, and declaring “God save the Queen!” However, tourist Britain is not all tradition. Modern technology, ideas, and innovation have percolated into Britain, surprising tourists, and resulting in a mostly successful balance of tradition and modernity.
Though modernity has blended into the traditions of Britain, some fixtures of pure ...view middle of the document...

Britain does not solely rely on outdated attractions, but makes an effort to present other traditional fixtures with a modern slant.
A popular traditional British image is the Changing of the Guard. The ostentatious ceremony exchanges the Old Guard with the New Guard and includes displays of marching and music. The Changing of the Guard attracts millions of people, mostly tourists, to witness the event (Changing the Guard). In less exciting moments of the ceremony, a military band performs, playing selections from classical to modern pop, sometimes even including themes from James Bond movies. Many visitors are surprised to hear these recent compositions, but the musical choices only reflect the presentation of traditional elements in a modern way. Further extending the reach of modernity into traditional practices, the royal website advertises an app for smartphones to accompany the changing of the guard, including extra information and activities for children. The app features “an interactive map which locates the user in the vicinity of Buckingham Palace, behind-the-scenes interviews with Guardsmen and a handy checklist for identifying the five footguards regiments of the Household Division” (Changing the Guard). A seemingly traditional ceremony is successfully inundated with modern features, bringing Britain to the future.
Closely linked to the Changing of the Guard is the Royal Family, who is of high interest to visitors. Though closely linked to traditional ceremonial practices like coronations, jubilees, and weddings, the Royal Family has taken great strides to portray themselves as a modern family. This task is easier for the younger members, like Harry, William, and Kate, who regularly attend award ceremonies, parties, and other important events. Queen Elizabeth, the epitome of tradition, has even taken steps to present herself in a modern light. During the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympics in London, the Queen (represented by a stunt double) dove from a helicopter with James Bond, landing her in a new position (James Bond and The Queen London 2012 Performance). Instead seeing the Queen as a representation of tradition, people instead saw her as a figure in tune with modern interests.
Britain’s historic sites contribute mostly to the traditional image of Britain, but are not as traditional as they appear. These sites, like Christopher Wren’s City...

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