Early this morning I watched the House of Lords and the House of Commons presenting their condolences to King Charles III. Later I watched the solemn pomp and ceremony that carried the mortal remains of Queen Elizabeth II from Holyroodhouse to St. Giles.
I’m struck, more than anything else, with a sense of regret – of the road not taken. When the American colonies careened towards independence in the 1760s and ’70s, there was something greater in our grasp. With negotiation, we could have had American Members of Parliament, American Peers, and unity of the English speaking peoples throughout an Imperial Commonwealth. In the fullness of time, I like to speculate that America could have emerged as a center of gravity to rival the mother country within the Empire.
But we didn’t. A few men in Boston didn’t want to pay three pence a pound on their tea. The rabble roused, a minority of the population set us off inexorably on the road to independence. More fool us.
We say Americans have no interest in royalty. Our rapt attention during their great occasions – their births, weddings, and now their funerals – says differently. We’re still very much invested in ebbs and flows of the family of King George III.
We could have been part of that great stream of history stretching back beyond the Conqueror, beyond Alfred, but here we are, simple spectators despite our ongoing and profound interest. I’m not advocating we turn back the clock. That particular ship has, sadly, sailed. But, God did we miss an opportunity.
My dear friend Jeff. I do understand your admiration for the pomp and circumstance of the crown. But do remember that up until the point where the English monarchy lost all its real power it was a bloody mess. One we did well to rid ourselves of. Elizabeth seemed a fine lady. She had no real power other than opening and closing parliament and signing already passed bills. Oh and she approved Britain’s real leader. Chuck now has the same. There’s a reason His Excellency George Washington would never bow before the crown. I’ll stick with the home team on this one. Mess and all.
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