Why am I enamored of British royalty? (And I am certainly not alone.)
So why do I care about the royals? Is it merely a distraction, similar to following movie stars? Am I living vicariously? Yes to all of the above questions. I love the pomp and circumstance, the ritual, the uniforms, and the beautifully dressed people. I adore the carriages, horses, color, discipline, and music. I admire the different suits for every occasion; the coats, hats, and fascinators for women; the little children's traditional styles. We do not have a monarchy thanks to the founders of our United States of America. Our federation of states and central government were formed in opposition to the English system. The colonial leaders abolished the longheld tradition of heriditary rulers. The writers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution adamantly refused any similarity to a sovereignty. A google search reveals numerous monarchies in the world, so why my interest in the British version? A multitude of reasons exist: our common language, culture, history, and democratic government (executive, legislative, judicial). England established a constitutional monarchy in 1688. Britain and the United States have been inexorably linked since the 17th century. U.S.A. is regarded by Brits as the rebellious child, the audacious independent thinker, and the guache relative. Reluctantly, we saved the behinds of the British after several years of pleading on the part of Churchill during World War II. These facts support my interest in the British royals as opposed to the Danish or Spanish kings and queens and their families. I am aware of the attrocities committed in the name of the British crown during centuries of world dominance. The Commonwealth has probably outlived itself and merely is an excuse for maintaining a hold on former colonies. The "firm," an unofficial nickname for the Windsors, possesses and spends exorbitant amounts of money. Only recently did they accept divorced and biracial spouses (the latter is still questioned). The Queen was old fashioned in a manner similar to my mother. So why am I fascinated? We are all complex with conflicting and inconsistent characteristics. So I can be a liberal but still be thrilled by royalty. I am attracted to order, ritual, and tradition. The British excel at these components. They know how to put on a show. Americans do this every four years for inaugurations and whenever state funerals are needed. We try, but we lack the flourish and spectacle--the sound and sights of a grand event. When King Charles III is crowned, I do not believe there will be a gray haired guy in a down jacket and bulky mittens slumped crosslegged in the parliament seating section (though I admire that particular man). There are numerous malicious contemporary and historical monarchs. I have only "known" Queen Elizabeth II in my lifetime. I was seven months old when she became queen. So, she was the generation of my parents. Her children fit into my age group. These are people of my life. We have experienced the same world order. The Queen suffered the trauma of bombings, deprivation, and the existential fears of a world war as my parents did. (It is well known that King George VI, his wife, and the two princesses lived at Windsor during the war.) We baby boomers share characteristics, raised by parents whose formative years were dominated by war. Certainly, the Queen erred, and she ultimately admitted her mistakes. I have not witnessed too many American leaders who have said "mea culpa." And these errors were monumental. But, all in all, Queen Elizabeth II remained steadfast, strong, persistant, and hard working for seventy years, traits I admire. She kept her promise to serve and to be neutral. Her seemingly never ending presence demanded respect. We actually have no idea about her political viewpoints. Due to the miracle of modern technology, the world witnessed her grief, stubborn reserve, and--lately--her humor. We know she loved animals which speaks volumes about a person. Therefore, QEII was a woman who changed in numerous ways; she began as a young, insecure leader dependent upon male advisors. Over the years, she became independent. Her Royal Highness was slow to alter the ways of the past. But she evolved and even pleased the public with lighthearted demonstrations, most recently with Paddington Bear. Her ability to adjust to the everpresent demands is why, to me, she was a good Queen. And what American leader has been on a biscuit tin?