Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

"An American Coronation"

America has simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy.

An American Coronation, writes the Los Angeles Times, and who can disagree with them given the lavish preparations now underway in Washington. Words can be deceiving, but appearances generally are not.

It was a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt explained that an American President is "an elective King", making the implausible point that the United States was essentially a monarchical country within a republican framework. Contrast the power of His Mightiness with the limitations of our own Monarch, and you see increasingly the reverse in Commonwealth countries; that is, republican governments camouflaged within a monarchical framework, to the point where they effectively become "crowned republics" completely sapped of their royalist spirit.

As David Flint points out in President Obama: the elective King inaugurated, "The considerable British jurist, Lord Hailsham explained that the American system centres on ‘an elective monarchy with a king who rules with a splendid court and even...a royal family, but does not reign.’ He contrasted this with the Westminster system which he said involves ‘a republic with an hereditary life president, who being a queen, reigns but does not rule’."

But the important fact here is that both trends run contrary to the conservative impulse, as both are marked by a distinct lack of constitutional deference. American republicans are weary of their countrymen swooning over Princess Obama and becoming a monarchy in all but name, and Commonwealth monarchists are concerned about the increasing emasculation of their own constitutions, with the creeping regicide of Her Majesty.

The BBC's Katty Kay, for her part, is somewhat appalled at "the coronation of King Obama":

So this is why you booted us out a couple of centuries ago. You simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy and with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy. OK, you didn't opt for the dynastic duo of Bush and Clinton, which really had us scratching our crowned European heads, but the fanfare with which Caroline Kennedy has entered the political picture suggests your infatuation with royal families is still not over.

This week Washington feels like London in the run up to one of our own grand royal events. Hostesses twitter on the phone, or just Twitter, to woo A-list guests to pre- and post-inauguration parties. A-list guests measure their piles of invites in feet, not inches...

Still, there is a more serious problem with treating Barack Obama as an elected monarch; one that affects us journalists, in particular. Put a man on a pedestal and suddenly it's hard for the press to drag him through the political wringer. It happened in 2003 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and risks happening again.

In Britain, we invest the Queen with our ceremonial hopes which leaves us free to treat our prime minister as exactly what he is—an elected official, paid for by the taxpayers, and serving at the people's will. While George W. Bush was being asked patsy questions by a subdued White House press corps, Tony Blair was being drubbed by un-cowed political hacks. It is far easier to do when you don't stand the moment the man walks into the room.
Certainly it is no secret that the political ambition of the British Left is to abolish the British Monarchy, but how does one square that with the Kennedyesque tendency of the American Left to institute its own national dynasty? Probably because the Left wants untrammeled democracy, equality and "progress", and the Right wants limited democracy, liberty and constitutionalism.

That is why an elective monarchy is intuitively fine for an American Democrat, whereas hereditary monarchy is an insufferable anachronism for the British, Canadian and Anzac lib-laboury. What right does a hereditary monarch have to say no to an elected government, they chime.

And there is reason to believe that this contradiction at the heart of the American soul, which has in recent years led several congressman, including Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Harry Reid, to introduce legislation to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, may continue to evolve towards monarchy USA. In each of 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, Rep. Jose Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. Each resolution, with the exception of the current one, died without ever getting past the committee.

But with Congress going formidably Democrat, and President Obama assuming Office, one has to believe they now have a fighting chance.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Barack Obama, America's King-Saint and President for Life.

Lord Best said...

I wish Obama well and will refrain from pre-judging his presidency.
Having said that, I am not sure anything amount of good leadership (if so it is) can bring the US back from the abyss. Before anyone starts jumping up and down and talking about Bush, I am not blaming him (not that he helped) for America's abyss perambulation, the rot started decades ago.

Lord Best said...

Sorry, 'anything' should of course just be any.

Adrian Kidney said...

I also wish Obama well.

It amuses me, the term-limits thing. It was explained to me recently as 'a purposeful exemption from the democratic principle'. If that's the case, and they justify it as such, then surely the monarchy can be seen in the same light. Purposefully walling off the highest office from vulgar political competition for the greater good of the democracy it serves.

Neil Welton said...

Don't look now but Sooty is about to enter The White House. :-)

Indeed, whatever you make of these great and wonderful events today as you watch them, one thing is clear.

Our generation, the younger generation, has ensured that "Sooty" has come a long way since those days when he was only seen fit to serve the drinks at Polo.

As a generation we can be proud of that.
Very proud of that.

Shame Dr. King isn't here to see it. However, that only proves another point. For you can kill a man - but you can't kill a dream.

Just watch this.

Lord Best said...

Perhaps Sooty-UK could lend Sooty-USA one of his personalised number plates for Limousine One or whatever name they give it?

But in all seriousness, this is a historic event for African Americans (and everyone else, if you are so inclined) and I do wish people would not sully it for them with petty whining* and predictions of doom. Show a bit of sportsmanship and wish the man well, and give him a chance to prove himself, what?
Three and a half hours ro the inauguration, I believe. I shall not be staying up till 3:30am to watch it. I do hope he wears at hat though, preferably a homburg or fedora over a stovepipe topper.
No personal or financial connection to this website, but I support what they are doing.

*This is NOT aimed at anyone on the Monarchist.

Anonymous said...

A ridiculous notion, but one we find batted about every four years. The American system is of three equal divisions of government, and it is the weakness of the American people and the US Congress that the executive acts not as a monarch but a pouting dictator.

Monarchy, and to my feeling the Westminster system, are far better both in form and in function to the three-headed serpent of the US.

To Best: it was built with rot from the start.

Matt said...

I doubt many Americans would quibble with the idea that we have an elected monarch. When I was a school boy I was taught the our (I am an American) system of government was based, roughly, on the British system: The rights in our Bill of Rights are the same rights that Englishmen had in 1776, that our President has all the same powers George III had.

Nomennovum said...

To Anonymous at 20 Jan. 2009 14:58:

You said "[I]t [America and its constitutional or political system ?] was built with rot from the start."

Interesting ... yet here we are. Something must account for that. Perhaps we are the least rotten of all the others.

Spencer said...

The coronation of "The One" wasa more "triumph of the Will" than freedom

J.K. Baltzersen said...

I doubt many Americans would quibble with the idea that we have an elected monarch. When I was a school boy I was taught the our (I am an American) system of government was based, roughly, on the British system: The rights in our Bill of Rights are the same rights that Englishmen had in 1776, that our President has all the same powers George III had.


I have no such recollection from when I was a school boy. My elementary school was an international school with a mostly American curriculum.

On another note, if I were to say anything on Articles of Amendment to the United States Constitution regarding the Presidency, I would say that XXIII – providing for Electoral College electors to the federal district – is the one that needs to be repealed. Why? Because it distorts the concept that it is the States that elect the President.