COLUMN: God Save the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II’s wave is still as stereotypically dainty as it’s always been made out to be.
It was on display earlier today as she watched her Diamond Jubilee (the 60th anniversary of her reign over the British Empire-turned-Commonwealth) from the royal barge on the Thames, complete in a matronly white with a matching bonnet.
The Queen and the rest of the royal court took a barge trip through London, flanked by roughly 1,000 smaller riverboats, while members of the not-so-royal party cheered and waved from bridges and the shore.
And people in the U.S. cared — not just on page D4 of the life-and-style section, but in a very tangible front-page kind of way. It’s likely that if you watch the news, you heard about it, or very soon will. All this, while coverage of other monarchs (Monaco, Spain, etc.) is often lost in the shuffle.
And so for all the talk of American independence and the intrinsically American spirit of individuality, it’s still tinted by its Anglican history. You can take the Yankee out of England, it would seem, but you can’t take England out of the Yankee. American pop culture doesn’t acknowledge it too directly. This is because the relationship doesn’t have an easy analogy.
You can find it between James Bond and his CIA contact, when you compare Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. You can look at The Beatles, The Who, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly and Little Richard, and still come no closer to putting the U.S./U.K relationship into a simple sentence.
The Marshall Scholarship’s language says it all: the prestigious award for American college students is awarded as a means of furthering “the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments, and their institutions.”
This is a characterization of our ties across the pond that’s legal dryness at best, and complete vagueness at its worst.
It’s embedded in our culture, and there’s the rub: though we as Americans neither want nor care for a place on the English family tree (as evidenced by a sub-zero interest in joining the British Commonwealth), there’s a lingering sense of brotherhood among Americans and Britons, and an interest in what happens in the North Atlantic is something we’ve carried with us since our earliest days.
The royal wedding, Premier League soccer and a forest of Princess Diana books are enough evidence for that.
All this is a bit lengthy for the Marshall Scholarship’s website, though, so “enduring relationship” will just have to do. Today’s Jubilee marks another moment when Americans have glanced across the pond.
I can’t put into words exactly why we watched, your Highness, but on behalf of Yankees everywhere, God save the Queen.
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