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How old is ‘Big Ben’? The trivia Meghan Markle must know to become British

Reuters / Share:
Big Ben’s clock face is seen after the hands were removed during maintenance and restoration work on the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain last month. Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – US actress Meghan Markle will join Britain’s royal family when she marries Prince Harry this month but before she can become a British citizen, it will help her to know how big the Lake District is and the age of “Big Ben”.

Ms Markle plans to take the nationality of her new husband after their wedding on May 19 but, like tens of thousands of others wanting to become British every year, she will first have to demonstrate knowledge of some historical facts and obscure trivia that many Britons are oblivious to.

All would-be citizens must pass the “Life in the UK” test by successfully answering 18 out of 24 questions selected from some 3,000 facts, such as knowing the height of the London Eye Ferris wheel and how many lawmakers sit in the Scottish Parliament.

Even many Britons find the questions baffling. In a random survey carried out by Reuters, only 23 out of 41 Britons quizzed could correctly answer questions put to them, and many of those admitted they were guessing.

Becoming a citizen requires a person to have lived in Britain for three years, to have good knowledge of English, to be of sound mind – and to pass the 50 pound ($69) test.

However, the additional requirement of earning a combined income of at least 18,600 pounds should not prove to be too burdensome for a prince of the realm and his new wife.

For many applicants, though, the citizenship test is a major stumbling block. The most recent official figures showed that 133,490 tests were taken in 2016 with 47,312 failures.

Among the possible questions are who opened Britain’s first Indian restaurant (Sake Dean Mahomed), the size of the Lake District natural park in northern England (885 sq miles or 2,292 km), and the age of the famous “Big Ben” bell in parliament’s clock tower (it came into operation in 1859).

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