Dearest Meghan,

Congratulations on your first official week here in the UK! As the soon-to-be bride of our favourite royal you’ve seamlessly settled in to your role as a champion of his charities up in Nottingham. Hopefully you will continue supporting your own charitable work, but understand first step is all about fitting in here.  And your style!! Wow! It’s already being called “The Meghan Effect”. The handbag you wore sold out in minutes (Strathberry) as did the trench coat you wore for that first outing. So, well done, you! No faux pas, fashion or otherwise!

Next up, however, is the “Life in the UK” test. I understand from the Palace that you will be taking the steps all Americans take (no special treatment for you! How egalitarian!) and that means you are now transitioning from your Visa to the wonderfully British moniker called “ILR”.  ILR means – and I kid you not – Indefinite Leave to Remain. Think about that. Cocktail party fodder: ‘Are you a British citizen yet?’ ‘No, but I do have Indefinite Leave to Remain!!’ Ahh, er, hmm. Why not just say “Stay”?

Anyway, in order to get ILR, you have to pass the Life in the UK Test. They have changed it since I took it in 2013 and you should be thankful! It used to be something like 40 or 50 questions out of a possible 1500 questions and you had to get at least 75% right.  It was insanely hard. Questions like:

TEST #1 (OLD TEST, 2013)

  1. What percentage of all ethnic minorities (living in the UK) live in the London area?
  2. What is a quango?
  3. In the UK, the number of children and young people under the age of 19 yrs old is A) 13 mill B) 15 mill C) 17 mill or D) 19 mill.
  4. Which service does income tax NOT pay for? A) roads B) rubbish collection C) Education D) Police
  5. Scotland has their own bank notes. Are they valid to be used anywhere in the UK?
  6. What percentage of the UK population lives in Wales?
  7. TRUE or FALSE: During the 1950s, the there was an immigration shortage and the UK recruited West Indies migrants to come drive buses.
  8. TRUE or FALSE: The Queen is the Head of State of the United Kingdom.
  9. How many seats does the UK hold in the European Parliament (MEP’s)?
  10. Information about training opportunities can be found at which TWO of the following? A) your local college B) LearnDirect C) The Home Office D) the post office


There was a disproportionate amount of questions (IMHO) on job centres, trade unions,  population statistics and the Welch education system, but perhaps that’s why they changed it. Now, there are online tests that include questions like (you must get 15 out of 20 right to pass):

TEST #2 (NEW TEST, 2017)

  1. When did Britain become permanently separated from the continent by the Channel? A) 50,000 yrs ago B) 10,000 yrs ago C) 15,000 yrs ago D) 18,000 yrs ago
  2. Who was reigning in Britain when Wales became formally united with England by the Act for the Government of Wales? A) Elizabeth I B) Henry VII C) Henry VIII D) James I
  3. Which flag has a diagonal red cross on a white background? A) Cross of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland B) cross of St. David, patron saint of Wales C) cross of St. George, patron saint of England D) cross of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland
  4. When did the War of Roses start? A) 1462 B) 1478 C) 1455 D) 1388
  5. How many members does the Scottish Parliament have? A) 60 B) 90 C) 129 D) 120
  6. TRUE or FALSE: Pool and darts are traditional pub games
  7. Which British sportsman won 5 consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games in the rowing category? A) Christopher Dean B) Sir Chris Hoy C) Sir Steve Redgrave D) Bradley Wiggins
  8. When did the UK join the EEC (European Economic Community)? A) 1963 B) 1957 C) 1973 D) 1977
  9. Which court deals with the most serious cases of children aged 10 to 17 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland? A) Youth Court B) High Court C) Magistrates’ Court D) Crown Court
  10. What is the name of the best preserved prehistoric village in northern Europe and which traces its origin back to the Stone Age? A) Skara Brae B) Maiden C) Bayeux D) Stonehenge
  11. When was the National Trust founded? A) 1890 B) 1895 C) 1980 D) 1910
  12. After the Black Death, new social classes appeared in England, including owners of large areas of land known as: A) Clans B) Nobility C) Gentry D) Judiciary
  13. Which of the following operas was written by Gilbert and Sullivan? A) Cats B) The Mikado C) The Mousetrap D) The Phantom of the Opera
  14. Who was the first English Prime Minister? A) Admiral Nelson B) Oliver Cromwell C) Henry Pelham D) Sir Robert Walpole
  15. How old do you need to be to apply for a free TV license? A) over 70 B) over 60 C) over 75 D) over 65
  16. Which British sportswoman won two gold medals for running in the 2004 Olympic Games? A) Dame Kelly Holmes B) Dame Ellen MacArthur C) Jessica Ennis-Hill D) Jayne Torvill
  17. What percentage of the total British population is located in England alone? A) 84% B) 79% C) 58% D) 60%
  18. Which court deals with cases involving personal injury, family matters, breaches of contract and divorce in England and Wales? A) Crown Court B) High Court C) County Courts D) Sheriff Court
  19. In which period did British film studios flourish? A) 1940s B) 1950s C) 1930s D) 1920s
  20. Where was the first tennis club founded? A) Brixton B) St Andrews C) Haywards Heath D) Leamington Spa

So much easier, right? 🙂 But you are a smart cookie.  You went to Northwestern, you’ll do fine!



My advice: Don’t do what I did. I sorta took it for granted that it would be a piece of cake. Most people going in there are refugees or immigrants who have scraped and scrabbled to get here. English isn’t even their first language! I was cocky – how hard could this be? There were about 20 of us in the waiting room and the ones who were cramming, noses in their books, until the very last minute were all the Eastern Europeans and the Asians (Chinese and Indians, mostly). The ones sitting back with arrogance and a yawn were us Americans, Canadians, Aussies, and New Zealanders.

What I did find somewhat ironic was when I went to take the exam, they give you a list of test centres closest to your address. For me, this was the Iranian Association in Hammersmith. Yes, I was taking a Life in the UK test at the Iranian Centre (?). I wasn’t entirely sure it was official — especially when i pulled up to a little run-down, nondescript store front on King’s Street in Hammersmith.

As we were about to be called, an Asian woman turned to me in broken English and asked “What day is St. David’s Day?” I replied, very self-assuredly and probably somewhat patronising, “Oh, I don’t think we need to know the exact date. We just need to know that St. Andrew is for the Scottish, St. David is for the Welch, St. George is for the English and St. Patrick is for the Irish.” “No, we need to know dates!” she said very frenetically, and started rifling through her book. I started to sweat. I hadn’t learned that! I started consulting my book too. March 1st for David, November 30th for Andrew, April 23rd for George and of course, because of my Boston roots, I already knew St. Patrick’s Day of March 17th.

The exam was quick and multiple choice or True False (and yes, there was a question about St. George’s Day). Once finished, you wait in the waiting room for them to call you into a glass-fronted office where you can all watch as they either hand you a certificate or they don’t.  I quickly called my husband “Can you use Scottish money in London?” “In Wales, do schools follow the Welch National Curriculum or do they have the same curriculum as England?” “Does the Queen appoint Life Peers or does the Prime Minister? Or does he advise her to do it and then she does it?” I was panicking. I watched as two Aussies – a boyfriend/girlfriend team who showed up with no books to hand – went in together and they both got rejected, came out looking rather sheepish.  Damnit! I should have studied more!

Needless to say, I did pass, but probably just barely. I know I got at least 4 or 5 questions wrong, so I was borderline.  So DO NOT do what I did. Study! Take it seriously! And then you’ll be on to learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road!! Another outrageously hard test here in the UK, which many people fail MANY times (there’s a story of a woman who has failed 90 times!). Perhaps, as you are going to be a Royal and all, you might not need it. But still, I shall guide you through.



OLD TEST: 1. 45% 2. non-departmental public bodies carrying out functions on behalf of the public 3. B. 4. B. 5. YES 6. 5% 7. TRUE 8. TRUE 9. 78 seats 10. A. and B.

NEW TEST: 1) B. 2) C. 3) A. 4) C. 5) C. 6) TRUE 7) C. 8) C. 9) D. 10) A. 11) B. 12) C. 13) B. 14) D. 15) C. 16) A. 17) A. 18) C. 19) C. 20) D.




  1. What a ridiculous,arbitrary bunch of irrelevant questions to ask to qualify for British citizenship. I think if you asked your average Brit, including myself, those questions our citizenship would be revoked! Does The Queen even know the answers to some of them?

    Liked by 1 person

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