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Shakespeare and the National Trust have topped a list of symbols that inspire a sense of pride in the British public, beating the pound, the monarchy and the BBC, according to a survey.

Parliament and the legal system came bottom of the table in the poll commissioned by think-tank Demos.

Just 47% of respondents agreed with the sentence "I am proud of Parliament as a symbol of Britain" and 51% with the statement "I am proud of the legal system as a symbol of Britain".

Participants were asked whether they agreed that they were proud of the following things as symbols of Britain, and in order of popularity they were: Shakespeare 75%; National Trust 72%; Armed forces 72%; Union Jack 71%; The pound 70%; NHS 69%; The monarchy 68%; BBC 63%; Sporting achievements 58%; The Beatles 51%; The legal system 51%; Parliament 47%.

Demos also found that volunteering was the single most important factor influencing how patriotic people are, leading the organisation to recommend the introduction of at least 16 hours of accredited volunteering as a "practical" element of the Life in the UK citizenship test.

Only one in four of those who "strongly agree" with the statement "I am proud to be a British citizen" have never volunteered, compared to two in five who have volunteered in the last 12 months.

If someone has volunteered in the last 12 months there is a 35% chance that they strongly agree with the statement "I am proud to be a British citizen", compared to a 29% chance for those who have not volunteered in the past year.

People who volunteer are also more optimistic than those who do not - 27% of people who have volunteered in the past year disagree with the statement "Britain's best days are behind her", compared to 19% of those who have not.

Max Wind-Cowie, author of the report said: "Gaining citizenship without a volunteering element is like getting a drivers' licence after only passing the theory test. Britishness is more about what you do than what you know."


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