Does America Need a Queen?

That is what Melanie Phillips suggests in the London Times. She argues that Britain, having just completed its celebration of Elizabeth II’s 70 year reign, is united by the monarchy despite its political differences. She contrasts the situation in the U.S.:

In the US, meanwhile, the jubilee has been regarded variously with wonderment, bafflement or even derision. Few Americans see below the flummery to understand why the monarchy is so valuable and why it touches some of people’s deepest emotions about their country.

I don’t think that is true. I think most Americans enjoyed and appreciated the pageantry, and do understand the role the monarchy plays in British public life.

Over the weekend I was with a number of Americans at a dinner table. They proceeded to tear each other apart: Democrats v Republicans, pro-Trump Republicans v anti-Trump Republicans. Then they observed despairingly that their country as a whole was tearing itself apart in this way and wondered aloud why this was happening.

It was no longer possible, they lamented, to have a civilised discourse and respect differences of political opinion. America was in danger of breaking up on these rocks of dissent.

It’s a familiar story. America is indeed breaking up, and disunion has become, or soon will become, a serious possibility. Many Americans would rather separate than live under a socialist, racist, anti-American regime. And some on the Left would just as soon separate, as well.

But could a queen save us? It is too late to undo the events of 1776 et seq. So what’s the point?

[W]hat was so moving was that great outpouring of love and enthusiasm for the Queen, which could only happen because she is a uniquely unifying force.

Of course, that had much to do with the person of the utterly admirable queen. It is not obvious that a similar outpouring will greet the demise, someday, of Prince Charles.

This insulates the country to a large extent against the kind of existential disintegration that now threatens America. It means that whatever damage a rogue, charlatan or fool in No 10 may do to the country, he or she cannot destroy the nation’s sense of itself.

That is embodied in the Queen, whose bond of duty with the people is absolute, unbreakable and unconditional because of the sacred oath she took upon herself at her coronation. Sailing above politics, which inescapably entails division, the crown thus embodies the public interest itself, or the welfare of all.

Point taken. But since the Civil War, no one in America has been talking about disunion, until now. The country has been held together by a common patriotism that, in our case, did not require royalty to distract us from political divisions. What has changed, I think, is not that we suddenly rue the absence of a king or queen, but rather that the underlying patriotism that has provided essential unity since the nation’s founding is now shattered.

To be blunt, we have two major political parties, and one of them is no longer patriotic. That creates a divide that is hard, maybe impossible, to bridge. The task is too great, I suspect, even for a personage as illustrious as Queen Elizabeth II.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.