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Posted at 03:38 PM ET, 06/05/2012

Jubilee envy — time for an American monarchy?


I want one! (Lefteris Pitarakis - Associated Press)
The queen’s Diamond Jubilee is over. She waved. Jets flew overhead. She told the nation she was humbled.

I wish we had royals, if only because we currently have no excuse to bother a nice old lady in a hat with loud music and fireworks.

But this is America. We don’t have Jubilees. We used to have cherries jubilee, but sometime in the 1960s we lost the recipe and didn’t search very hard to find it again.

We don’t have royals, except in Kansas City. We don’t have a royal family. We have the Kardashians, which is as close to the opposite of a royal family as you can get. And we like it that way.

There are no kings in America. George Washington was very clear on that point.

Of course, we can’t help glancing over every now and then to see how the British are doing with theirs.

It’s not that we regret letting them go. No. Things are better now. King George III was a real piece of work. He used to wander around greeting people as “My lords and peacocks,” and at one point he tried to address a pillow as Prince Octavius. He once conducted a long conversation with someone who turned out to be a tree. Obviously he was unfit for the job. And there was that whole taxation-without-representation gaffe. I’m sure the tea party would have had strong words for him.

Besides, I doubt whether he could have produced a birth certificate capable of passing Donald Trump’s muster.

Still, we do like a monarch every now and then. We loved “The Queen.” We gave the Oscar to “The King’s Speech.” Some of us even went to see “The Last King of Scotland” because we got confused.

“Hey,” people generally say, “do you want to see a movie about a middle-aged man who has difficulty with public speaking?”

“No.”

“Are you sure? Keep in mind that there is no sex or violence and everyone in it is over 40.”

“I’ll pass.”

“They’re royals.”

“HOW MANY OSCARS CAN WE GIVE IT?”

There is something about all that pomp that speaks to us.

During Jubilee week, between the star-studded concerts to the boat parades and the flyover of jets and the Rare Address from Her Highness herself, we worry that we are missing out on a good thing.

It’s not quite so bad as it was during the Royal Wedding (when was the last time anyone made this big a fuss about a balding man marrying his college girlfriend?), but it still rankles.

I know people who awakened at 4 a.m. to watch it and eat crumpets. Forget the transit of Venus. That’s just a distant speck crossing the sun. We shall never again glimpse such splendor in our lifetime!

Perhaps a royal family could be a nice change.

It wouldn’t change much. The royalty are largely decorative. They are the little mannequins atop the giant wedding cake of state. They have no say in what gets cut. They are the observed of all observers.

To be powerless except to inspire is not to be entirely powerless, but every so often it must occur to people that a mascot in a cheerful suit could do the job and then you could take the weekends off. The queen cannot take the weekends off.

We have nothing like this. Our celebrities are distinctly unimpressive. Our presidential candidates have to run around pretending not to know how to open a lobster. Offered fine wine of excellent vintage, they have to squint angrily at it and demand Budweiser instead.

Every since Andrew Jackson came tramping into the White House with his muddy boots, we knew which way things would go. Sure, there were islets of taste. But we’re still angry at Nancy Reagan for that china. We’d much rather have a president who wants to have a beer with you than one who wears kid gloves and waves.

We have no regrets. We have the Constitution. It’s great, but it doesn’t respond very enthusiastically to jet flyovers. Besides, people who really like the Constitution seldom like anything else.

And sometimes you find yourself jonesing for a little pomp.

I’m not sure whom we’d crown. Someone we’ve already heard of? The Palins? The Kardashians? Or someone totally obscure?

We would have to compensate them amply. Hereditary celebrity is the worst sort of inherited condition.

But how strange it must be to associate patriotism with the knowledge that someone is being forced to eat four-course meals using lots of tiny forks, to live in a much nicer place than we will ever get to visit without someone yelling at us that the Furniture Is Not To Be Sat On, and to deliver the occasional Inspiring Speech.

That is the last thing we want.

Look at the difficulty Mitt Romney is having relating to the public, if only because it suspects that he probably belongs to a country club somewhere. No, here, everyone is created equal, and if they were born with silver spoons in their mouths, they at least have the decency not to throw parades about it. Just save the money and buy an election later on.

Monarchs are like British accents. If we had one, we wouldn’t be nearly so impressed.

“Well,” we say, “that was fun. But give me a hamburger any time.”

The kind of veneration the queen gets is the sort of thing we reserve for large rocks, minor celebrities and the return of the McRib.

This is America. We are ostentatiously unostentatious. We don’t parade around in strange hats unless we are headed to a party in Bushwick.

Monarchs are lovely, to be sure. They look nice, in-store. But we have nowhere to put one.

Still, it’s fun to sneak a peek from time to time.

By  |  03:38 PM ET, 06/05/2012

Tags:  monarchy

 
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