The World of Lu

Creating a digital heritage while engaging in some quality musings!

Archive for the category “Hail Britannia, Baby!”

Diamond Jubilee 2: Long Live The Queen!?!

“Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl… I’d like to tell her that I love her alot but…”          (pre-Sir Paul)

Long Live the Queen?  Well of course!  We wish the old girl the best health that money can buy and the providential good fortune that only God can provide.  We, Americans, are good-natured souls, aren’t we?  Of course… Long Live the Queen!

The monarchy is the feel good story of the UK right now. 60 years of queenly reign from Elizabeth, an opulent celebration called the Diamond Jubilee which followed the highly successful Royal Wedding. Who doesn’t love the commoner Catherine become princess!  She’s beautiful, intelligent, charming and a PR gold mine.  Britain is in a swoon over the monarchy.  And it won’t be revving down anytime soon. Just wait for the next helping of Royal Love with the Summer Olympics in July to show itself brightly!  Presently a whopping 80%+ of her subjects favor the monarchy and its continuation.

But here in the States there are different sentiments.  Most could care less, I think.  One co-worker I talked to said it was “silly”, another chortled “mighty fine tourist attraction!”.  It’s a “waste” another said, “they’re just grasping at nostalgia”.  Others seemed disinterested when asked their opinion.  If someone mentions that taxes go to funding the royals you’ll get a little rise in emotion around the room.  One snorted, “You gotta be kiddin’ me. Isn’t it about time they got rid of the whole thing… geez, it is the 21st century, isn’t it!?!”

And so the comments go… though women are a little more sympathetic.  Well, duh! The jolly good reigning monarch is a woman no less! To be fair, women seem to like the whole bunch (well maybe not as fond of Camilla!).  And much more than that they simply “loved” the wedding!  My wife woke up very, very early to enthusiastically join the masses around the world to bask in the televised real-life fairy-tale  ceremony’s glow last year. 

And now we have the Diamond Jubilee! She loved the musical offerings of this celebration, tuning in to the performances of Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul and others.  We both thought it was wildly exciting to see thousands upon thousands of Brits frantically waving their hand-held Union Jacks like so many red, white and blue hummingbird wings!  Interestingly disestablishmentarian types such as Elton John and Paul (belly full of wine…) McCartney who in earlier days would have feigned disinterest or showed outright disapproval have changed their tunes.  I guess being knighted is just too cool to pass up!

I talked to one of my Brit friends the other day and he understood the difficulty of explaining the popularity and support of a monarchy.  Rulers based on nothing more than lineage, on blood line as if that was magical is kind of hard to swallow for the “Don’t Tread on Me” American.  My friend sees a link to the heritage of Arthur and Camelot, the Magna Carta and William the Conqueror.  We see “No Taxation Without Representation” and colonial rebellion flows through our veins.  It doesn’t matter if the UK monarchs have but a shadow of the kingly power of by-gone eras and that what they do have is surely not enough to be even mildly despotic. Nevertheless the American Revolutionary in us cries “I must be totally free!  Give me Liberty or Give me Death!”

Though I secretly enjoyed this stuff more than I admit (at least until you ask me to donate to the Monarchy Establishment Fund!) the truth is that the contrast between the Brit and the American is never more polarized and clear than when we see the monarchy lifted up into the limelight.  Paying to have a king? You kidding? We have no need of a king here, dear friends, never did and never will!  We celebrate Thanksgiving, thank you very much! Our hearts have been touched in different ways.  We have no history of monarchy, theirs is rooted in it. This makes for some interesting dynamics with our individual responses to the true King of Kings.  Brit vs Yank… any difference? I definitely want to look at that in my next “Diamond Jubilee” post.

So until then… “Long Live the Queen!” we ex-colonists say… as long as she’s yours and not ours! 

(Part 3 to come… The King He Reigns)


Diamond Jubilee 1: The Magic in Monarchy

Her Majesty’s a pretty nice girl…”     (Sir Paul)

Tuesday marked the end of the four-day rousing hoopla known as the Diamond Jubilee. This auspicious event was in honor of Queen Elizabeth, celebrating her 60 year reign.  London streets were filled with partying and revelry. “Long live the Queen!” 

Paul McCartney was there (rather Sir Paul, excuse me!) and Sir Elton John and other celebrities and of course a host of dignitaries.  Piers Morgan of CNN was especially ebullient over this celebration and boasted how the monarchy had grown in favor with himself and with a myriad of other commoners over the past few years.  The Royal Wedding of Prince William & Catherine Middleton on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey was a definite hit with its Cinderella-like magical ceremony and was quite a catalyst in raising the approval ratings.

For me all of this was fascinating.   Anything significant that goes on in the UK always catches my eye. Being born there (yes, yesterday was my birthday!), in London in fact, demarcates the country as a special place in my heart, it’s my point of origin.  You see, I’m an immigrant who came over with his Polish mum and dad from England when I was 2 1/2 years old.  So if there is a celebration in Londontown you have my attention, I am automatically enthralled.

Kings and queens, barons and dukes, lords and ladies… Britannia has them all.  The love of royalty has survived into modern culture.  Rock stars such as McCartney and Elton John get knighted.  Pomp and ceremony put on display at the Royal Wedding and gazillions watch glued to tv’s. We dress our daughters as princesses from an early age and feed our children healthy doses of Disney DVD’s. 

Brits still take personal pride in their royalty and strike up the cheers when the trumpets sound and the queen appears with her entourage with Prince William and Princess Catherine smiling regally. What is our fascination with this pageantry, with royalty, with monarchy? What is it about banners, castles, knights and kingdoms and silver and gold, velvets and jewels and crowns on parade that stir our hearts?   Is there some kind of magic in monarchy that captures our imaginations? Is that what thrills our souls?

There are, I’m sure, many good theories. But not having time to research them all I have to say that I think we are fascinated because we equate kings and queens and the like with happy endings and generally good things.  And good kings are really good things. And good kings (and queens and the like) usually win.  I think of Lord of the Rings and Narnia.  And I think we also like to project ourselves as kings and queens.  Fairy-tale monarchs without a care in the world!  Hopefully we would wield the power, riches and rulership well enough. Better to rule over than to be ruled methinks!  We even might be quite good at it.

Then again maybe some of us would be just as happy to be sons and daughters of a benevolent monarch. We’d be princes and princesses… happy-ever-aftering!  Though I think there is more to this than meets the eye… (more to come… stay tuned for Part 2)

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