Quick, who’s the queen of Holland? The emperor of Japan? The king of Saudi Arabia? Time’s up. Likely, you had no clue. Just as likely, you know that Elizabeth II is the queen of England.
For that matter, you could probably pick out her son, Charles, AKA Prince of Wales, in a police lineup. Maybe you could spot Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, in a crowd. You’d recognize a photo of the late Princess Diana at a glance, and you might (depending on gender) think young Prince Harry is on the hunky side.
The point is, we aren’t as disconnected from America’s ancestral monarchy as the Declaration of Independence might suggest.
The United Kingdom’s royal family is in the news again this week as the Brits celebrate Elizabeth’s diamond jubilee, the 60th anniversary of the start of her reign.
It has been a good run. She hasn’t sent any rivals to the Tower, nor has she invaded France or Ireland.
In fact, she’s been a model constitutional monarch: unassuming, discreet, white-gloved, bearing up gamely under a crush of royal duties such as state dinners, Commonwealth tours, pageants, rounds and rounds of public occasions, ceremonies and pomp – a whole lot of pomp in this job.
Many of us Americans can’t help looking.
Think we cut the apron strings 236 years ago? Think again – we may be as hungry for tiaras as ever.
Look at the music world. It has enough “princesses of pop” and “queens of pop” – Beyoncé, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Madonna, Janet Jackson and all the rest – to fill the royal courts of 19th-century Europe.
Then come the kings and queens of country, jazz, rock and roll, etc. Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, had a principality all her own in the 1970s. Elvis was just plain The King, apparently the king of everything.
High school homecomings have their monarchs. Every rural corner of America has its royalty – Pierce County’s own Daffodil queen and princesses, for examples. On the national political stage, think of the royal yearnings revealed in some Democrats’ adulation of the Kennedy clan.
It’s hard to explain: The mummy country still exercises a mystical sway over her wayward child, the United States. We had that bit of unpleasantness with old George III a couple centuries back, and we aren’t big on curtsies and bows, but some of us can’t quite say goodbye to the royal dazzle.