According to urban legend, this was the instruction that Victorian brides received about coping with the sexual demands of their husbands. Childbearing was a patriotic duty.

In fact, Victorian attitudes about sexuality and reproduction were far more complex and varied - but this makes a good story.

Nowadays, the connotation is "you're about to get screwed."

I heard that this phrase actually found its origins after World War I -- enough English soldiers were lost during the war that England experienced a bit of a population problem, for a while, so the English ladies had to work overtime. Exhortations alternate to the one given above include "spread your legs and think of England" and "lie on your back and think of the Queen".

AFAIK, no woman has ever experienced orgasm while contemplating any of the Queens of England. But I could be wrong.

This is a slight distortion, or even a merging of two linked ideas and exhortations. The original advice and the common suggestion is "lie back and think of England".

Allegedly, Queen Victoria gave this instruction to her daughter on her wedding night, but it's more usually thought of as a general suggestion to new upper class Victorian brides who were brought up in ignorance and innocence and were not expected to have a clue about the delights of the bridal suite in their pretty little heads.

The supplement encouragement is
"Whatever happens, remember it happened to the Queen."
As in, "It may be disgusting, but it's perfectly normal. Just relax. The world won't end. Really, darling. Look, the Queen did it at least several times, so it's definitely the thing to do. Honest. Sorry we didn't tell you the details, but, buck up old thing."

This was intended as reassurance for times of surprise and trial, though thinking of the Queen (whether Elizabeth or Victoria) at any moment is a guaranteed passion-killer. i doubt it inspired many.

The best use of the phrase has to be in a Billy Bragg's song "Greetings to the New Brunette":
How can you lie back and think of England
When you don't even know who's in the team?

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