I wasn’t going to feature any of the 4,000 corgi cartoons today, but David Rowe’s is less about the dog than Prince Charles, or, I suppose, King Charles III.
I just finished “The Guns of August,” Barbara Tuchman’s classic book about the opening of World War I, and what struck me in particular was that monarchs held a great deal more sway in Europe then than they do today: Both the Czar and the Kaiser were genuinely in charge, though obviously the Czar’s star was fading, while the kings of Britain and Belgium, though primarily figures of morale and spirit, still mattered a great deal. There was even a crown prince of some sort leading a German division in the war.
And just prior to that I was reading Dumas’s D’Artagnan series, in which the musketeer helped restore Charles II to the throne and became enmeshed with Louis XIV, who, as it happens, reigned for 72 years and 110 days, compared to Elizabeth II’s 70 years and 214 days.
The Economist’s lengthy obituary is headlined “Elizabeth II never laid down the heavy weight of the crown,” but, at least to a Yank, it seems that she had few actual governmental duties, perhaps scaled down because she realized that the days of the Divine Right of Kings (and Queens) were well past.
So Rowe does well to show Charles in a combination of personal sorrow and about to tackle the Solemn Duties of the Crown, which are to put on his late mother’s wellies and walk her dog.
However, I don’t find very much value in the other 3,998 corgi cartoons today and so I particularly like the 3,999th, in which Clay Jones reminds us that if a clever idea comes to you right away, it’s likely come to every other cartoonist on the face of the planet as well, which is also how we ended up with such a glut of Weeping Statues of Liberty on 9/12/01.
At least bereft and weeping corgis are cute, and at least, for all the reports of royal staff being nipped from time to time, the Queen favored Pembrokes, which are somewhat more trainable and socially adept than Cardigans, and the way to remember that is that Lord Cardigan was neither.
So enough about corgis, and about the solemn duties of European monarchs, a distinction to be made because there are still a few hereditary rulers in Asia and perhaps Africa who are taken somewhat seriously, though the one I’m most familiar with is Sihanouk, who abdicated the throne of Cambodia until his Vietnamese wife Monique wanted him to become king again.
His mother refused to let him unabdicate, which is why he became known as “Prince Sihanouk” and, for my part, I’d rather run around opening shopping centers and observing the Changing of the Guard than become a public relations pawn for the Khmer Rouge, and I’d rather do either than be part of the royal flush in Nepal.
I’m not sure it’s all that good to be king.
Pedro X. Molina (Counterpoint) suggests that God swept in to lift Elizabeth above the messes, both personal and political, over which she found herself presiding …
… while Glen LeLievre suggests, rather, that her long tenure on the throne left her needing to be dragged away rather than lifted.
Howsoever, as an American, and, in particular, as an Irish-American, I’m watching from a puzzled distance and I acknowledge Jeff Stahler (AMS)‘s take without quite understanding it.
Historically, Americans didn’t much like Britain up to about World War I, not only because we had to drive them off in 1776 and again in 1812, but because then they mucked about on behalf of the Confederacy during our Civil War, and it’s only in the past century that we’ve really embraced the UK, mostly, I suspect, because so few Americans speak a second language that they’re one of the few sorts of foreigners we can understand.
Though Spain still has a royal family hanging around and most Americans who do speak a second language could probably understand them. Stay tuned while we adjust our demographics.
As the woman in Stahler’s cartoon says, we seem more engaged with royal lives than with actual monarchy, but, on the other hand, I’d like to see the Venn diagram of people who got up at 3 a.m. to watch Charlie marry his poor, doomed child bride and people who think it makes good sense to attempt to install the children and wives of previous presidents in the White House.
For a nation that proclaims equality, we have an appetite for pomp, circumstance and hereditary rule.
I seem to be immune, though my take on the various royals is far from uniform. I never had much use for Princess Margaret and felt sorry not only for Diana but for Fergie and Meghan and others who seem to have blundered into things.
As for the Queen, however, I’ll admit to rather liking her, despite still being a little uncertain as to what she does, besides waving to the crowd, making an occasional royal speech and trying to keep a lid on her fractious offspring. Still, I think that if I were Canadian or Antipodal, I’d be happy to have Charlie decide to refrain from opening our shopping centers and putting his mug on our money.
But, of course, having been raised in the royal bubble, I’m sure he sees it all as it should be.
So here’s a respectful
Juxtaposition of the Day
No corgis, no wisecracks, just a pair of understated tributes, with the Yank quoting Shakespeare, and the Brit offering a silhouette bordered with rivers and estuaries that suggest a deep mutual attachment ‘twixt queen and country. (But see comments)
There are times when cartoonists must say something, but the cleverness here has more to do with artistry than with some overt statement.
Meanwhile, back in the funny pages
By happenstance, Johnny Hazard (Vintage KFS) is starting a new adventure from February, 1953, Elizabeth having become queen a year before but not formally crowned until June, 1953.
When I visited London, they told us England would endure as long as there were ravens at the Tower. Then the guide admitted that they clip the birds’ wings.
Make of that what you will.