CSotD: Thank God We’re Surrounded By Water

Ann Telnaes asks a simple question, amid the continuing downpour of corgis and weeping guardsmen and crowns being passed around and royal hats and additional maudlin tributes to someone else’s dead monarch.

The answer, of course, is that, yes, we did, and, as noted here previously, we continued for nearly 150 years to view England and her crowned heads with a political skepticism that bordered on hostility.

But it’s important to point out that, even so, our dominant culture remained English or, at least, English-speaking, so that we still performed Shakespeare and read Dickens, who made a highly successful tour of the country.

In fact, they were both quite popular out in what we refer to as the Wild West, which wasn’t nearly so wild as the dime novels would have you believe.

Still, at that point, Shakespeare’s monarchs were a few hundred years in the past, while Dickens championed the underclass, so it doesn’t really explain people a century later getting up at three in the morning to watch some royal prat marry a kid who should have known better.

Anyway, I’ve nothing against Liz or Charlie, but I’ve met Neil Armstrong and Bob Hope and Linda Ronstadt and Flora MacDonald and all sorts of celebrities, and I didn’t have to bow or genuflect or prostrate myself on the floor for them.

None of those other famous people were accidents of birth, either.

The whole monarchy thing should be a puzzle to Americans, but, instead, the puzzle is why we are so fascinated by Queen Elizabeth’s funeral preparations or Mama June’s aversion to mayonnaise or people who come out on stage to sing dressed as giant rabbits while other people try to guess who they are.

We’re a curious lot, not in the sense of “inquisitive” but simply in the sense of “weird.”


We’re certainly easily led, and David Rowe criticizes the press for its excessive, obsessive, extended coverage, even in Australia where, there having only been occasional uprisings and never a proper revolution, voters chose to remain under the restrained monarchy of the House of Windsor.


However, as First Dog on the Moon points out, this does not mean that everyone down under is as complaisant about things as they might be, just that their press is force-feeding them a grieving narrative and that there is significant social pressure to gulp it down.


First Dog’s “inkwell King” being a reference to Charles having motioned for someone to get, not the inkwell as charged, but, rather, a tray of pens out of his way while he signed his agreement to take over the realm. He moved the inkwell himself, in a stunning act of normalcy.


Still, the gesture infuriated anti-monarchists in Australia and New Zealand and other parts of the former Commonwealth, which seems like setting a rather low bar for outrage, given the sorts of things — as seen in this documentary — that English monarchs have ordered in the distant past.

Now — the Guardian reports — the wretched creatures will have to suffer through the reign of Charles III anticipating the fact that their next king will be left-handed. In this country, only James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have been southpaws, and half of them only served one full term or less, which is likely how we’ve managed to squeak by.


This delightful “Letter from London” popped up on-line, purporting to be from “The Papua New Guinea Courier” but actually from a parody account called the Secret Tory.


Steve Brodner passes along some satire from this side of the Atlantic, and the real problem these days is not in thinking up silly things but in thinking up silly things that other people won’t propose in all seriousness.

For instance, someone spoofed Trump’s “Truth” account with a claim, purportedly from him, that Elizabeth had secretly knighted him, and people took it absolutely seriously, which is less a comment on their credulity than on his penchant for transparent absurdity.

On the other hand, CNN broadcast a perfectly serious conversation in which their recently appointed chief national affairs rightwing fellationist proposed that President Biden bring the Orange King along with him to the funeral.


Reality is getting out of hand, as this for-real video testifies.


There are, however, serious objections being raised to all the fol-de-rol, and Jordanian Emad Hajjaj notes the monarchy’s history of colonial exploitation.

Now, the royals themselves haven’t had the political power to blow their own noses for the past century, and you can’t really blame Elizabeth for the lingering damage done by previous governments under previous monarchs.

Which would be an excellent argument for forbearance, if we were just saying that the Queen has died and that’s too bad and here’s Charlie and come have some fish and chips while you wait for the changing of the guard.

But, as we’ve just been arguing, nobody seems to just be saying that.

The Danes and the Dutch and folks like them are able to enjoy their monarchs without a lot of pomp, circumstance and medieval triumphalism. By contrast, all the hoo-hah currently celebrating the English monarchy amounts to celebrating the system under which it flourished.

It’s old history in much of the world, but it’s current events in places like the Middle East and Africa, where British pens made lines on maps dividing up lands they’d never rightly owned in ways that made more trouble than sense.

Plus, as someone from a Caribbean nation explained to me, colonialism taught its subjects that whoever is in charge gets to take everything they can grab hold of, a tradition of greed and power that still echoes down the years in former British colonies.


Which brings us to this wishful cartoon by Pat Hudson, and wouldn’t it be nice if Charlie would take this opportunity of a new start to make a solid, concerted effort to reject, renounce and, to the extent possible, repair the past that his crown represents?

Alas, that seems more in keeping with Harry’s enlightened point of view, and we see what’s happened to that poor sod and his wife.

At least we Irish have the consolation of dark humor:

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Thank God We’re Surrounded By Water

  1. Good Lord. A future left-handed king?! Imagine the horror of knighting ceremonies when he’ll be as likely to lop off an ear as tap a shoulder. The 21st Century has truly gone too far this time.

    I watched the inkwell incident (or “Inkwell Incident”) a couple of times and couldn’t read if Charlie’s face expressed annoyance or bemusement. He sort of smiles but it’s a cold smile. What I mostly get is a man who’s used to having every little wrinkle of his day ironed out before he even knows it’s there, and suddenly, at this most symbolic and holy of moments, here sits this insignificant wrinkle of a pen tray in his way. I imagine he’s wondering, “Why wasn’t this sorted out six months ago?” I’m reminded of the viral video of a young boy rushing up the altar toward the Pope during a recent Mass, which the Pope just rolled with and even incorporated into his sermon. Charlie could better learn to roll with things.

    Just read an article about how Charlie could do a lot for international relations by returning the Koh-I-Noor diamond to India, though I’m not sure even he has the authority to raid the Crown Jewels. It’d be a start, although by the time he finished I’m not sure what treasures England would have left.

    I always appreciate your posts of “First Dog,” which I wouldn’t normally see on my own but are always worthwhile.

  2. That seriously small desk/table set up for King Charles is a metaphor for the power wielded by the modern royal family.

  3. The way that person from the Carribbean explained colonialism to you sounds awfully close to How the West Was Won.

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