On Thursday the last constant of my life passed on.
I am sixty-seven years old and have lived through thirteen presidents and seven popes, but only one Queen. Queen Elizabeth II was the last major world figure from my young childhood who was still alive and active.
Being of British descent (more through my mother than my father), I have always been a fan of British history, second only to my interest in American history. Both countries’ pasts have created infinite interesting tales of success, mistakes, hopes, dreams, despair – and fascinating drama, real and imagined. Neither the United States nor Great Britain is the greatest country in the world, but I admire both and am honored to be a citizen of one and to descend from the other.
I’ve also enjoyed my many visits to the UK to compare our two societies “separated by a common language.”
Last June, I saw on BBC Streaming the various celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee, an event that Great Britain will probably not see again for several hundred years. The Jubilee ended with 10,000 people of all ages and colors singing their national anthem “God Save the Queen” to an appreciative Queen Elizabeth. There was not a dry eye in the house. Considering the current state of divided politics in the United States, I can’t tell you how envious I was of a system where one person so completely unified the nation around their history, culture and traditions – warts and all. It also allows their elected officials to do what they do best – be politicians.
The United States does not have a ruling family (the “Father of our Country” was childless) and our class-fluid meritocracy system has served this country well. But Britain does have one and should appreciate its benefits. According to Google, the British monarchy costs the average Briton 1.29 pounds per person per year. For that Platinum Jubilee event alone, it’s a bargain.
So, to put my money where my mouth is, I am sending 67 years of back payments (about $100) to the Prince of Wales Trust. God Save the King!