Lifting the Lid on the Queen’s Upper-Crust Received Pronunciation

A Real-Time Study in Linguistic Change

  • Lorna Richards Department of English, Aarhus University
Keywords: British Monarchy, the Queen, formants, Received Pronunciation (RP), Standard Southern British (SSB), regional dialect, vowel, vowel space, sound change within lifespan, English Linguistics 3: English in Its Social Contexts


This acoustic analysis of Queen Elizabeth’s speech in her Christmas broadcasts from 1995 to 1999 investigates whether her dialect becomes less Upper-Crust Received Pronunciation, and more Standard Southern British (SSB), after the Princess of Wales died in 1997; whether there is a correlation with this change in speech style; and the need to increase the popularity of the British Monarchy which declined in the aftermath. A formant analysis of the Queen’s TRAP [æ], STRUT [ʌ] and the happy-tensing [ɪː] vowels was conducted in Praat. The results are discussed on their own but also contrasted with those reported in Harrington et al. (2000), and Harrington (2006). This study concludes that although the Queen’s speech underwent variation around the time of the Princess of Wales’s death, the variation had started in the months prior to the accident.

How to Cite
Richards, L. (2018). Lifting the Lid on the Queen’s Upper-Crust Received Pronunciation. Leviathan: Interdisciplinary Journal in English, (3), 51-65.