My biggest news this week is the letter from the Home Office telling me that they have accepted my application for British Citizenship. So on the 9th of May, I have an appointment in my local town hall for a swearing ceremony: I shall swear allegiance to Queen and country.
Amazing! On the 9th of May 2011, I will be officially British. It’s funny really because when I started the application process, I didn’t really think it was going to change my life. I mean, not deeply. I thought I would still be French, but I will also be a British citizen. I realise now it isn’t just getting a certificate and off I go back to my daily life only now I can vote in the next general elections. Since I got that letter, I found myself smiling inside about certain things that are all British, things that never moved me before.
For example the Royal Wedding on the 29th of April: I am suddenly feeling all warm and fuzzy for Kate and William, and I really really would like to be there, in the crowd of well-wishers, waving a little British flag, and shouting: “I love you William! I love you Kate!” I have never really thought much about the Royal Family. Now, I actually found myself thinking fondly about Her Majesty – Look! I have just called her Her Majesty! I have never done that before!!!
It is all obviously a hell of a lot more than just getting a certificate that says I am British. And it is very interesting for me to realise just how much more it is. I have never been in a situation where an authority of any kind has ever demanded of me a high level of integrity in order to proceed with some sort of official event. I have seen movies where a witness must swear to say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in a tribunal, and those scenes always made me laugh as I thought that it will never stop anyone from lying should they wish to.
However, I feel that on May the 9th, it will be with tremendous honesty and integrity that I shall raise my right hand, along with the other people who will be there with me, and swear to serve Queen and Country for ever. When I think about it for a moment, it kind of makes sense: I am the girl who is completely unable to lie about anything, no matter how trivial.
I think I really need to learn the lyrics for the national anthem! It just wouldn’t do to be British and not be able to sing God Saves the Queen when needed. I watched the movie Casablanca, many years ago. There is a scene in a bar where all the French people there stand up and start singing the French anthem in answer to some German person who was annoying everyone. I can’t remember the details of the scene, but I do remember how I felt when they all started singing: I actually cried with pride for my fellow compatriots who were all together standing up to the German invader. After I have been made officially British, I must find myself a movie where people start singing the British anthem to see if I cry with similar tears. Actually, come to think of it, I just remembered something: when I saw “The King’s Speech”, I felt particularly emotive during the very last scene where the King makes the said speech. In fact, I even had a very strong urge to stand up and clap! …mmmmh… perhaps I was always a lot more British that I really thought…
Unfortunately, becoming British, as well as still being French, is also going to put me in a very difficult position during major football events. If France plays against England, who will I support? Argh! What a painful dilemma… I wonder if I can just cheer for both sides?
I can’t wait for someone to ask me for my nationality, or to fill in a form of some sort asking me about my nationality, because for the first time ever, I will be able to answer: I am British.
This feels good. This feels right. I always was an expat. A French girl living in Britain. Someone who came for a short while but ended up staying by accident. Always thinking that if everything goes wrong for me, I can always go back to France. Britain became home a long time ago, but for some reason, being British makes it even more like home. Home, with a capital H.
I am SO excited about it all! I can’t wait for the day after the 9th of May: I think I will come to work with a little British flag and stick it on my computer screen. And I shall also try to find a cake with a British flag on it to bring to work in order to celebrate.
On the 11th of May, it will be my birthday. My first birthday as a British citizen.