What a wonderful Platinum Jubilee we have enjoyed, celebrating Her Majesty’s long reign of 70 years of exceptional service to her country and hearing her speak about important moments in her life.
Listening to the Queen’s voice and particularly her accent, it is noticeable how her accent has changed over the years. In the post-war days of the early 1950s, the Queen’s speech was clipped, precise and she used a fairly high register, mirroring the style of her parents and others of that era. Throughout her reign, however, whenever the Queen speaks, she invariably sounds sincere, interested and engaged, regardless of her accent.
Accent changes over the years in part due to the influence of the media and the mobility of the workforce. Accents used to be easily recognisable and people were judged by their accent and pigeon-holed into a ‘class’, either looked up to (and respected) or looked down upon (and dismissed) by others.
The Queen’s accent is still strongly associated with years of history and authority, yet it has softened over the decades and her grandson, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, second in line to the throne, speaks with a modern version of Queen’s English. Prince William also uses contemporary reference points and colloquialisms that are departures from the old style of speaking.
It is interesting to notice the changes in the royal accent, often referred to as ‘Queen’s English’, BBC English or Received Pronunciation. Does accent prejudice still occur? People can still be dismissive of what would traditionally be called a ‘working class’ accent and have preconceived ideas of what a person is like, based entirely on their accent.
People can also have preconceived ideas about people with an ‘upper class’ accent and make positive or negative recruitment decisions influenced by this.
Is it possible to change your accent? It is perfectly possible to change your accent, but it can be a challenge. We have successfully worked with many, many people who have wished to change their accent. Although an accent can change depending on the accent of those around you (we tend to ‘accommodate’ or imitate others’ accents), it is possible to learn new sounds which will change your accent.
Speech is created using a combination of vowel and consonant sounds and a fair smattering of pauses and intonation thrown in for good measure. Your accent can change using the muscle shapes and combinations of your articulators. It is up to you how well your old muscle memory can be interrupted and re-programmed with the new habits, giving you a new accent.
Many of our clients get in touch wanting to have a more ‘Queen’s English’ accent. What is important, however, is sounding sincere, interested and engaged and speaking with confidence and authority.
Voice coaching is multi-layered and includes speaking using pauses, taking time to use all the sounds in words and importantly, learning how to breathe to support the voice.
Using a combination of new speech habits and taking care to use the sounds in words, can have an incredibly positive impact on other people.
If you would like to change your accent, improve your speaking skills, get more confidence or even speak like the Queen, please get in touch – we’ll be delighted to organise a chat by phone or Skype / Zoom to discuss how voice coaching might be able to help you.