LONDON -- Queen Elizabeth II’s speech before Parliament on Tuesday may have been routine but at least nobody got bored to death. That would have been against the law.
Dying in Parliament is an offense and is also by far the most absurd law in Britain, according to a survey of nearly 4,000 people by a television channel showing a legal drama series.
And although the lords were clad in their red and white ermine cloaks and ambassadors from around the world were garbed in colorful national costumes, at least nobody turned up in a suit of armor. That would have been illegal.
Other rules deemed utterly stupid included one that permits a pregnant woman to urinate in a policeman’s hat and murdering bow-and-arrow-carrying Scotsmen within the city walls of York in northern England.
A law stating that in Liverpool, only a clerk in a tropical fish store is allowed to be publicly topless, was also ridiculous, according to a poll of 3,931 people for UKTV Gold television.
Nearly half of those surveyed admitted to breaking the ban on eating mince pies on Christmas Day, which dates back to the 17th century and was originally designed to outlaw gluttony during the rule of the Puritan ruler Oliver Cromwell.
The “stupid” laws and other regulations were culled from published research into ancient legislation that has never been repealed although subsequent statutes have rendered them obsolete.
Respondents were given a short list and asked to vote. Voted the 10 most ridiculous British laws are:
1. It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament (27 percent).
2. It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside-down (7 percent).
3. In Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless except as a clerk in a tropical fish store (6 percent).
4. Mince pies cannot be eaten on Christmas Day (5 percent).
5. In Scotland, if someone knocks on your door and requires the use of your toilet, you must let them enter (4 percent).
6. A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants, including in a policeman’s helmet (4 percent).
7. The head of any dead whale found on the British coast automatically becomes the property of the king, and the tail of the queen (3.5 percent).
8. It is illegal to avoid telling the taxman anything you do not want him to know, but legal not to tell him information you do not mind him knowing (3 percent).
9. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armor (3 percent).
10. In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow (2 percent).