As I have probably remarked in this space at some earlier time, I am grateful that the early tendency of Americans to make their president a king was squelched, although a minority might still prefer to hang the trappings of royalty on our First Family.
WRITING ON the Washington Post website Saturday, Alan Browne expressed my thoughts even more emphatically than I would have done.
Here’s what he said:
Over 224 years as a Republic has clearly shown that there is no need for monarchy anywhere. Liberal democracies work.
The monarchy is a dead institution that Brits can’t let go of easily due to a mix of constitutional, traditional and legal reasons. If they declared the monarchy dead it would take decades to tidy up. Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many others face the same problems when they inevitably tire of it.
The Brit monarchy has no real power and hasn’t really for over 200 years. The transition to an elected parliament began in Britain with the Magna Carta nearly 800 years ago and has produced an inexorable decline in the monarch’s power.
Since the early 1800’s the parliament (in England) has had all legislative powers and the monarchy became all but symbolic. It remained only as an anchor for the nobility and the peerage system (now in transition itself).
“The Company” is an institution in Britain and it is most fiercely protected by “The Company” and those who derive their livelihoods and profit from it.
The monarchy is a leech and, worldwide, monarchies need to be abolished.
PERHAPS this nay-sayer is correct. But the world’s fascination with Britain’s royal family, more than with any other country’s royals, makes it a tourist attraction that is one of the country’s greatest economic assets.
Early Presidents George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were not natural born citizens of the United States. To hold high office they did have to be residents here for 14 years at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. So, in theory, there was a time when a king could have given up his throne, moved to the colonies and become our republic’s president.
England’s national air, Rule Britannia, was written in 1740 as part of Alfred, a masque about Alfred the Great. It was first performed at Cliveden, country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales (the eldest son of George II and father of the future George III, as well as the great-grandfather of Queen Victoria), to commemorate the accession of George II and the third birthday of the Princess Augusta.
It had several versions. One of them began like this:
When Britain first, at Heaven’s command
Arose from out the azure main;
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
“Rule, Britannia, Britannia rule the waves:
“Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”
Sunday, as Queen Elizabeth II reviewed the 1,000 craft that processed past her on the River Thames, the London Philharmonic and chorus honored her as they sailed by, playing and singing Rule Britannnia.
IT’S BEEN many a year since its words had literal meaning.
In the days when “the sun never set on the British empire,” Brits could sing lustily about Britain ruling the waves.
Today’s Britain is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which comprise the United Kingdom. The UK, in turn, is one of 27 members of the European Union.
At least the Brits can still predict that they never will be slaves.