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New monarch, old memories

7 Comments
By Henry Hilton

It seemed like it happened half a million years ago and was never to be repeated.

Yet it remains indelibly fixed in my memory box of how a well-scrubbed schoolboy was told to behave and wait patiently for the arrival of the woman in the Rolls-Royce.

Similar tales are being rehashed across the globe as Queen Elizabeth the second lies in state before her funeral in Westminster Abbey on Sept 19. Nearly all are just personal recollections of one-off events and seemingly of very little but family import, though when combined and recalled they form an emphatic political statement.

Mine was of a 30-second glimpse of the young queen, an ancient archbishop in gaiters and a stern headmaster in his best academic gown. She was visiting as part of a mission of deciding with her husband on the serious and very middle class business of which school to send Prince Charles to.

Rarely taking much interest in the royals, unlike my mother who followed the court circulars day after day and knew when the queen would be at Windsor or Balmoral or Melbourne or Accra, I remain ambivalent about the whole business.

At least I did until last week. Two factors are forcing me to shed some of my decades of indifference and cynicism. First, the scale of the crowds in Edinburgh and now London quite prepared to wait for hours to pay their respects. 

And secondly doubts about the supposed virtues of republicanism. The determination of key American newspapers to tell the world that the United Kingdom is both deservedly doomed shortly to splinter into bits and has yet to get over its shady and positively inglorious imperial past where painting a quarter of the globe pink was all done in the monarch's name is way over the top.

Unfortunately for The New York Times, rightly or wrongly, the majority of the British people are now prepared to put aside their often vocal criticism of individual royals and concentrate on the death of the queen and support her long apprenticed successor, King Charles the third.

Of course, all this is not part of the American script but Britain in September 2022 is sending a strong and emphatic message that constitutional monarchy has a decent and secure future.

Republicanism, no doubt, has a better democratic argument but to assume automatically that the American version of one individual acting as both head of state and head of government is the best and only way to run a country is little short of perverse.

It might have been better if the founding fathers in Philadelphia had devised what is today the more normal practice of having both a ceremonial head of state doing the donkey work of representing his or her country and a politician left to concentrate on running the real show. Of course, it is not about to happen but Italy and Ireland demonstrate that it is perfectly possible to get along with presidents and prime ministers doing their own thing.

Hereditary monarchy can and does take many forms -- everyone living in Japan knows this and some of its citizens would like to see cautious changes in how its own imperial system functions. But for now the spotlight is on London where the Crown is very far indeed from down and out.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

7 Comments
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Getting a job simply for being born is not a good idea. After all, that is the only qualification Charles, Naruhito, and others needed to become king, emperor, whatever.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

Republicanism, no doubt, has a better democratic argument ...

Hardly. The great thing about having a monarchy is that it is a constant reminder to the Prime Minister (or President or whatever) that they are not the ultimate authority. It is a daily check on power, a safeguard against the ambitions of those at the top. The monarch is a defence of democracy.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Ina sense, hereditary monarchy is the fairest system of all. Everyone has a shot at being king or queen when they're born, and everyone has an equal chance. I was born into a normal, middle-class British family; Charles was born the oldest child to the heir of the throne.

With the elected presidential system, however, only the most ruthless and well-funded stand a chance of winning.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"The determination of key American newspapers to tell the world that the United Kingdom is both deservedly doomed shortly to splinter into bits and has yet to get over its shady and positively inglorious imperial past where painting a quarter of the globe pink was all done in the monarch's name is way over the top."

OK, so this "article" is a barely veiled rant against American views of the British monarchy. OK, fair enough. But why the obsession on the part of some guy presumably living in Japan with American views of the British monarchy? Honestly just very weird.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thousands are canceling the New York Times subscriptions because of the articles on the death of the queen, and the royal family it has published.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The UK has been as divided, politically, as the US since Brexit. But unlike the US, we have something that persistently unites us. The more toxic and self-destructive American politics becomes, the more benefits become apparent in having a constitutional monarchy .

America could consider itself more purely democratic, if it were not for the millions of dollars required to get anyone into office. The federal model itself may be inherently flawed. All the democracy in the world will not save the US from civil conflict, if enough people in opposition states oppose the imposition of laws by federal government. And as Trump has proved, Presidential decrees can function like the letters patent of an absolute monarch.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The determination of key American newspapers to tell the world that the United Kingdom is both deservedly doomed shortly to splinter into bits and has yet to get over its shady and positively inglorious imperial past where painting a quarter of the globe pink was all done in the monarch's name is way over the top.

The truth hurts, and it seems a common lesson is learned---facts don't care about your feelings.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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