“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)