Tuesday, September 15, 2015

In Praise Of A Monarchy

For those of you who are not Anglophiles or Royal-watchers, here is some historic news from across the pond. As of September 9, 2015, Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom/Great Britain and the longest reigning female monarch ever exceeding Queen Victoria's reign of 63 year, 216 days (and counting). Hail Britannia. Now, I know this may seem odd that we as Americans who fought a war to extracate ourselves from the grip of another long-reigning monarch - George III (59 years, 96 days) should care about this monumental achievement. I can sum it up in one word - Tradition.

Now, before you think I am going to break out into a song from "Fiddler On The Roof" [Happy 5776, btw], let me expound. Through the Stephens, and Williams, and Edwards, and Henries, and Elizabeths, Annes, and Georges, what has held the United Kingdom together through all of their wars and trials and tribulation is their Monarchy. Even through the 17th Century civil war that brought the Commonweath where there the monarchy was deposed and the Restoration where it was restored, the British Empire has survived and endured. And Elizabeth II carries with her the entire 1500 years of British history. I bet every schoolchild in Great Britain can name all 66 of the monarchs. Not all of them benevolent, fair, or enlightened, but all part of their vast and rich history.

It has been generations since the monarchy of England actually wielded any real power. As it exists today, it is apolitical, neither liberal or conservative but always constant and steadfast. Prime Ministers come and go, but their monarchy survives. And the British are proud of their history and respect it. It was evident when archeologists located the final resting place of Richard III in 2012. You may know Richard III from Shakespeare as the deformed, evil dictator of Shakespeare's play who died in the field of battle during the War of the Roses in the 15th Century....a civil war. The only controversy surrounding him leading up to his reburial in March of 2015 was where to bury him.

It saddens me that we do not have the same respect for our own history. We have not been a "perfect union" and have had our own Civil War. But instead of embracing our history, there are those who want to erase it. Even now, we have a raging debate about extracating ourselves of our brief past by destroying statues of Confederate generals and removing the graves of Confederate soldier buried in Arlington Cemetary. Maybe it is because we do not have the constant of a monarchy. We do not have that one steadfast figurehead that keeps us rooted to our past and present or even our future.

Now, I am not advocating for a monarch, but it would be comforting to be able to point to a person or thing that embodies and carries with them our past, present, and future. That one constant touchstone that keeps us rooting to our past, and that constant guidestone for our present and future.

That constant should be our Constitution, but then maybe it is just who we are as Americans and there's no going back.



Kit said...

"I bet every schoolchild in Great Britain can name all 66 of the monarchs. "

Actually, Bev, I hate to burst your bubble but I'd be amazed if half could name even two.

Anthony said...

I did a trimester in England in 1995 and remember that the English used to view the royal family as a sort of national soap opera.

Of course, they were very attached to their soap opera. The months of mourning and screaming, weeping crowds demanding that the royal family join the mourning after Princess Diana died fleeing from the paparazzi with her latest boyfriend was something I wouldn't have predicted.

Also, its worth keeping in mind that the English destroyed Richard the 3rd's old grave five hundred years ago. Not saying we need to follow in their footsteps, but clearly the royal family doesn't make animosity magically go away.

Unknown said...

Bev......They did a poll of British adults recently that asked them to name as many monarchs as they could. The results were surprising:

1. Queen Elizabeth
2. Achmed Muhammed Hussein
3. Husseini Abdullah Muhammed
4. Muhammed Rashad Abdul
5. Muhammed Ali Abdullah

(Drum roll....and the number one most revered monarch in Great Britain)

The Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) ..... known and loved for almost 1400 years!


AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think most Americans do respect our history... don't let a handful of leftists fool you into thinking otherwise. What I like about our style though is that we aren't wedded to it like the Europeans. They view history as destiny. We view history as educational. The difference is that America is dynamic and forward looking, always looking to improve. The Europeans are static, thinking that the world can't change.

The irony in that view, of course, is that until 1945, Europe changed dramatically every dozen years or so.

Critch said...

I grew up in a Royalist family, my great grandmother was from Ayrshire, Scotland and we had tea at PM, etc. I still make some great Yorkshire Pudding. Queen Elizabeth came to the throne a couple of years before I was born. I think highly of her and her family. Phillip was quite the war hero in WWII, so was Louis Mountbatten. f the royalty is done away with, England will cease to exist.

AndrewPrice said...

Critch, I think you're right. Really all that makes Britain special today is their Royal Family and the pageantry. It's their primary export around the world Without that, they just become another bland European country with a decent-sized economy like modern Germany.

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry, I have been busy this morning.

Maybe it's because I am 5,000,000,000th in line for the Throne of England that I wax poetic about their monarchy.

Andrew - You are right that more than any other European Monarchy, the Brits really do market theirs well for the tourist trade. But then again, the newest generation (William, Kate, and Harry) seems to be very useful productive citizens in their own right. They seem to be refreshingly wholesome.

BevfromNYC said...

Anthony - Yes, the British and all of Europe have a long, stories history of trying to kill each other. But I cannot imagine a European country actively reevaluating their historical relics and seeking to destroy them either. That may change with the advancing refugees from Africa and the MIddle East.

tryanmax said...

Steering this more towards the topic of the damnatio memoriae of the Old South, an irony occurred to me. That which is called African American culture has its roots in the slaves impersonating and mocking the genteel manners of the Old South and juxtaposing them with their African traditions. In other words, there is none of the celebrated African American culture without that of the now disparaged Old South.

Examining the subject further, it is almost universally agreed among academics that--along with its other horrors--one of the tragedies of slavery was the forcible separation of millions of people from their culture. If the legacy of the Old South--either good or bad, much more both--were obliterated, would that not be revising that same tragedy upon the original victims' descendants?

BevfromNYC said...

If the legacy of the Old South--either good or bad, much more both--were obliterated, would that not be revising that same tragedy upon the original victims' descendants?

Tryanmax - Very interesting, And I would have to say yes, it would.

Anthony said...


Have you followed the whole Spanish Civil War drama? The Franco regime killed a bunch of left-wingers (sometimes in cold blood) and buried their bodies in mass graves. There is the school of thought that 'The past should be allowed to lie and the bodies should stay where Franco saw fit to put them' (that was the belief of those who held power for decades) and there is the alternate belief that the dead (many of whom have elderly living relatives who remember them) should be dug up and buried on family plots.

Also, a lot of ex-communist countries have decided to destroy select pieces of their history (including but not limited to memorials).

Countries invariably pick and choose which parts of their histories they venerate. Stuff which is tied into current politics is especially dicey.


The crumbling oval skeleton of the House of the Bulgarian Communist Party perches like a deserted flying saucer atop Mount Buzludzha, visible from miles around.

It is one of a number of enormous communist relics still standing more than two decades after the toppling of the regime they glorified, putting the Bulgarian authorities in a quandary since they can neither maintain nor dismantle them.

"This monument is unique in Europe and, if restored, it can attract tourists, especially Western, and bring money," said Boycho Bivolarski, the Socialist (ex-communist) party chief from the nearby city of Stara Zagora, central Bulgaria.

Neglect has left the once imposing structure in ruins. Thieves have stripped its roof of most of its panelling, leaving only a hammer-and-sickle emblem hanging sadly at the centre of a ceiling riddled with holes.

A wall mosaic depicting Bulgaria's communist dictator Todor Zhivkov has been destroyed, while those of communist heroes Marx, Engels and Lenin were damaged but still recognisable.

Most of the letters have fallen off the verses of the left-wing anthem "The Internationale" flanking the main entrance of the memorial, inaugurated in 1981, where a graffiti artist has scrawled in huge letters, "Forget Your Past."

Still, destroying it would amount to "vandalism" according to National Academy of Art professor Chavdar Popov.

"The monument could interest the young who otherwise ignore socialism," he said, adding that some of Bulgaria's best artists from the era designed the concrete and stone mega-monuments still dotting the country.

Anthony said...


I think Southern culture will survive the Confederacy being unpopular. To cite an example from out of left field, disco music was once very popular, but it is now wildly unfashionable and has been for decades (Remember Disco Demolition Night?).

However, wildly popular rap music draws heavy inspiration (and lots of samples) from now unpopular disco music.

Along those lines, I believe the Confederacy no longer being popular won't eliminate or even cripple modern Southern culture.

I got three hours of sleep last night and got a lot of exercise this morning so this might not be my most cogent argument ever :) .

BevfromNYC said...

Sorry I haven't been able to respond...just one of those days.

Anthony, you make great points. Throughout history even ours we keep some things and destroy others. Some to remember the bad parts asa cautionary tale and some to honor the good parts.

Critch said...

No one, no one, can beat the Brits at pomp and circumstance. I've seen the changing of the guard and few other British ceremonies in person and they are something to behold.

Rustbelt said...

Anthony, great article! My favorite part while reading through was how the building was given to the socialist party by the Bulgarian prime minister and told to take of it, if they love it so much.
It's just too bad to hear how many of these former Warsaw Pact countries still perform kowtow whenever Russia snaps its fingers.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, my concern isn't whether Southern culture can survive. Pieces of everything linger. My focus is on the thoughtless hypocrisy of those who would erase history in the name of atoning for historical sins and of those who cherish a culture in ignorance of what gave it rise.

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