I pledge allegiance to the ... queen?
( USA TODAY )- Britain wants students to pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth, similar to how Americans say the pledge to the U.S. flag.
A pledge to the monarch, to be said at a "coming of age" ceremony when teens graduate the equivalent of high school, was among several proposals delivered to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday to instill stronger citizenship.
Also proposed: a new public holiday to celebrate "Britishness," much like Australia Day, which Australians honor every Jan. 26 to reflect national pride.
The recommendations come as Britons debate the influx of immigrants and question whether Britain's policy of multiculturalism has created separate enclaves within British society. These discussions were sparked by the shock of homegrown terrorists - people born in Britain or who grew up here involved with the July 7, 2005, London transit bombing that killed 52 passengers.
Britain doesn't have a national holiday similar to the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving in the USA. Adopting a version of the U.S. sense of patriotism brought some criticism.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, a civil rights lawyer and member of the House of Lords, told BBC Radio that giving a pledge of allegiance was "an empty gesture."
"To ask 16-year-olds to troop into a hall and like Americans, put their hands on their heart and take an oath of allegiance is risible (laughable)," she said.
And people in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland could balk at pledging allegiance to the monarch.
Jim Mather, Scotland's enterprise minister, said, "Sovereignty still lies with the Scottish people."
Lord Peter Goldsmith, a former British attorney general, made the proposals after Brown asked him last year to review aspects of British citizenship and its responsibilities. Any measures would need approval by Parliament.
Brown has said he admires Americans for flying U.S. flags on their lawns. He has repeatedly hit on the theme of British citizenship and unity during his first year as prime minister. Goldsmith said having a British holiday would be "an opportunity to celebrate that we do belong to a nation."
Goldsmith also proposed steps to support learning English, encourage long-time residents to become citizens or a new category of associate citizens, and urge people to volunteer in civic activities.
He said the plan would "promote the meaning and significance of citizenship within modern Britain."