But wait a minute!
But wait a minute!
The Queen of Great Britain has died. CNN and the networks were there 24/7 as the people of America tuned in to watch the Royals and everyone else mourn the Queen’s death and celebrate her family. Me too. I just couldn’t get away from the tube. It was as if I had a personal stake in the whole thing. My bet is that you were there with me.
I was sincerely touched and for no explicable reason wet around the eyes and I don’t usually cry at funerals. Go figure! I found myself comparing what goes on in this country with what is happening in Great Britain as America and the world watches. The UK and America are different. Different cultures, different histories, different leadership. If we look back on our histories, we’ve got Ike, they’ve got Churchill, but we have no royalty. We are, of course, proud of our ‘democracy.’ We have a written Constitution, they do not. They have a Parliament; we have a genuinely corrupt Congress.
This is the same England that we fought for our independence and in the War of 1812. But we do have a lot of historical togetherness. Maybe it’s the common struggle during the two World Wars or maybe it’s just our shared history but whatever it is, the networks certainly got it right. CNN made the most of it. Apparently, we Americans just couldn’t get enough. I could not begin to imagine that British-styled salute to leadership happening in this country. Maybe when Lincoln or Roosevelt died we saw something comparable, but certainly not lately. I guess a 70+ year reign counts for something.
Can you imagine President Donald Trump eliciting the kind of love and affection that the British have shown for their Queen and her offspring? Sure, the royal brothers didn’t always get along but ultimately, this demonstration of family affection has gone a long way toward showing that when things get testy between relatives, they can usually be straightened out. Maybe that’s why I got teary as things unfolded. That and the fact of the Royals walking among their subjects, collecting flowers and exchanging obviously heartfelt words with the people. Contrast that with a Trumpian mob at one of his rallies.
We do not have a monarchy in this country and if you asked our people whether they would like to have one, they would undoubtedly say no. And yet, there is something about the relationship between our two countries that has become clear over the Queen’s death. Queen Elizabeth seems to be at the heart of it as we see the royal family coming together. Hey, think about all those lifelong family fights that happened over nothing. My twin brother, Lewis, often spoke about one such fight in our family. It seems that someone stole someone else’s flowers at a cemetery funeral for my paternal grandmother and presented them as their own. This became the celebrated war known as “Who stole the flowers off Bubbe’s grave?” Apparently, that battle went on for years.
Elizabeth may have been the Queen of Great Britain yet there is something in the American psyche that celebrates her and her closest offspring. Maybe her mother’s title, “The Queen Mother,” might be applied to her in her relationship with the American people.
Just think about the politics of England, with its rather genteel modern history and contrast that country with the raucous, chaotic United States which can produce such louts as Donald Trump who rise and pollute our very existence. Perhaps it’s the fact that the US is not long on manners. To the contrary, we are a place where anything goes, where crime often seems rampant, and where our population represents an unusual amalgam of all types and personages.
Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected].