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Ever wonder which British stereotypes are true and which aren’t?
What do people think of the Brits, and is it really accurate in real life?
When talking about these British stereotypes, let’s keep in mind that all stereotypes are generalizations.
Just because most British people drink tea (this is a true stereotype about the British!), doesn’t mean that every single person does – duh.
But as an American who has lived in the UK for over 10 years, I’ve come to realize which of these stereotypes about British people are true and which aren’t, and that’s what we’re diving into today because the world deserves to know that British food isn’t bad, and that British people really do love talking about the weather!
So whether you’ve moving to the UK or just coming for a visit, bookmark this page!
1. They Drink a Lot of Tea: true
One of the oldest and most common British people stereotypes is that they drink a lot of tea.
And this is so true.
The UK ranks third in the world when it comes to tea consumption, and tea here is enjoyed by all of the social classes.
While it began as an elixir for the upper class, it soon became more available to the middle class and finally trickled down to the working class who enjoyed it as a way to warm up and take a break from a hard day of labor.
Tea in the UK isn’t just something to drink. It’s a culture and a truly comforting aspect of the day for many people.
So, yes, it’s true that Brits love tea, and if you want to learn more about what I’ve learned about British people and tea, check out my video about the differences between American and UK tea!
2. British Food isn’t Good: false
British food has a reputation of not being good, and that turns a lot of people away from trying “British” cuisine, but actually this isn’t true.
Whether it’s a perfectly done sausage roll, a freshly battered fish and chips, a scotch egg or a full English breakfast, there are so many wonderful and filling foods in Britain to true.
So where does this British stereotype come from?
In my opinion, having lived here for 10 years, there are two reasons.
The first, and this is an unfair reason, is that many of the stereotypes about British food are sort of stuck in the post-war era, when the country was on hard times and people were on rations.
It seems that the stereotype hasn’t updated for many people since then.
However, the perhaps more fair reason for this negative stereotype is that I have found it common for Brits to not season their food or use as much flavor as they would in other cuisines.
Definitely there is a little bit of truth to vegetables cooked at home being often boiled, for instance, instead of other more flavorful methods of cooking, but this is down to the individual and doesn’t mean that the entire country lacks culinary skills.
3. British People are Polite: true and false
One of the positive stereotypes about British people are that they are polite.
In my experience, this is both true and untrue.
The truth is that yes, British people are very polite from an outsider’s perspective!
I would say they are far more polite than us Americans in general day to day life, and they are more unassuming and willing to cooperate in social settings.
That being said, there is nothing the British are better at than a really good passive-aggressive “tut” at someone when they do something wrong, like cutting them in line (the queue) or standing on the left-hand side of the tube (never do that).
So while they are seemingly polite and you wouldn’t expect a British person to bash through a crowd or have an insane amount of road rage, they’re definitely judging you inside (and we love them for it!)
4. Brits Have Bad Teeth: false
One of the negative stereotypes about British people is that they have bad teeth, particularly when compared to Americans.
I’m saying this stereotype is false, because what the case really is is not that British people have overwhelming unhealthy teeth, but rather that there is not an emphasis on cosmetic dentistry in the UK like there is in the US.
Americans are all about their smile – dentists make a ton of money each year “fixing” people’s smiles and whitening teeth, but in the UK, dentistry is more back to the basics of making sure that your teeth are healthy and not filled with cavities or gum disease or other ailments, but there isn’t much beyond that for many people.
So of course, when you compare a British person’s natural teeth with the teeth of someone in America who may have a dentist appointment every 6 months or regular whitening or Invasalign or all of the ways Americans
5. Everyone is Classy: false
There’s a stereotype of British people that everyone seems to wear a top hat and be the classiest person you’ve ever met, and while there are definitely some people like that, it’s untrue that the entire nation is somehow more sophisticated than the rest of the world!
British people are…people, too, and there are definitely some British people who make a bad name for themselves when traveling abroad (there is a whole stereotype about British people by Europeans that they can be the nationality you don’t want to come visit your resort because they’ll just be loud and obnoxious – see, it’s not just Americans who get stereotyped like this!).
I’m not saying British people aren’t classy to put anyone down, I’m just saying British people are human and they’re not all how people like David Beckham and Posh Spice portray themselves.
There’s a whole mixture of classes, social backgrounds, and level of “refinement” – just like any other country.
6. British People Speak like the Queen: false
While you may be most familiar with the accents of the Royals or of British actors or musicians, it’s a false stereotype that that is the main British accent.
It’s a specific British accent, known as Received Pronunciation, and it’s definitely an upper class accent.
It’s also relatively easy to understand.
But it’s often said that British accents change as you turn the corner, much less go to a new town or city and a London accent is very different from the Royal’s accent which is very different from a Liverpool accent or a Scottish accent or a Welsh accent – the list goes on.
So, no, they don’t all speak like the Queen – and that’s a good thing for the diversity of accents you’ll get to hear within the UK.
7. They Say Sorry a Lot: true
One stereotype about British people is that they say ‘sorry’ a lot, and this is definitely true.
It’s sort of just a filler word in social situations, mainly, to express that they apologize for any sort of inconvenience or for doing anything that could have gotten in your way.
So they’re not fully, heartily, apologizing, but rather being polite with a lot of “oh sorry, can I squeeze past you?” or saying sorry when someone else has actually bumped into them (figure that one out!).
8. British People Love the Royal Family: true and false
While Americans are obsessed with the royal family and all of their events, celebrations, weddings, births, and more, it’s actually not a true stereotype that British people love the royal family.
Yes, some people in the UK do love the royal family and follow them – they’re the ones you’ll see on the news talking about how they woke up at 3am to stand outside the hospital for the royal family birth or wedding, etc.
But many people are either indifferent about the royal family or at odds with the idea of having a monarchy.
Many younger Brits err towards the side of a monarchy being an outdated concept, and so it’s important to know that a large percentage of the British population do not have the same feelings about the monarchy as foreigners do.
It is a much more complicated and complex issue within the UK than many people understand on the surface.
9. They Like Talking about the Weather: true
One of the most true stereotypes about British people that I’ve ever heard is that they like to talk about the weather.
Well, maybe they don’t “like” it as much as they just do it – constantly!
The British weather changes so often – it is an island nation after all, and it’s a fantastic small talk topic of conversation, whether you’re trying to fill empty space in a conversation in the office, around extended family members, or with acquaintances
When I grew up in Florida, we almost never talked about the weather because it was so predictable. How many times can you say “it’s hot”?
But in the UK, when it could be hailing and cold in the morning and then full sunshine and hot in the afternoon, where one day it could feel like Spring and the immediate next day could feel like the depths of winter, where the rain comes and goes off-and-on at its own will and with no predictability, the weather is on everyone’s minds!
10. Brits are Reserved: true
As a whole, British people are stereotyped as being relatively quiet and reserved, and while this doesn’t hold true for certain cultures within the UK (the Scots tend to be much more talkative in my experience!), overall I would say this one is true when you compare it to Americans.
I’ve experienced that British people take longer to “open up” to others and like to keep themselves to themselves more.
They’re not necessarily the culture to knock on your door to welcome you to the neighborhood when you’ve first moved in – in fact, they would probably feel like they’re intruding.
I am not even that loud of a person, but I definitely get told that within the context of British culture, I come across as very loud at times, which goes to show just how reserved they can be as a society.
It’s that “stiff upper lip” that they’re so famous for.
11. British People Love to Queue: true
Again, maybe this one isn’t true in the sense that Brits don’t LOVE queuing, but man do they do it with great dedication.
Waiting your turn and forming an orderly queue/line is something the Brits are great at – heck, their tennis tournament, Wimbledon, is famous for the queue itself!
This isn’t a culture of pushing people out of the way to go Black Friday shopping.
There is definitely a culture in the UK of following the rules, which means lining up properly, whether that be for the bus, at Wimbledon, in the store, for an event, or anywhere else you might need to keep some order and prevent a rush!