The last several days have been overloaded with televised coverage of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Elizabeth II of Great Britain. In an era which as seen the steady demise of monarchies, she has taken the British crown from the end of the horse – drawn, barely electrified period of her antecedent, Victoria, into the nuclear weapon possessing power that has undergone the mostly peaceful divestiture of colonies from its empire.
While I would not exchange our republic for England’s monarchy, there is still much of England that we should have retained, or that we should emulate.
I would not have the U.S. subjects of a monarchy. However, given the amount of interest in the British royal family, I can’t say for certain that all Americans feel as strongly as I do about monarchy as a form of government.
In the course of less than a century, Britain has transitioned from having the largest navy in the world to occupying the number 5 slot worldwide. Rather than controlling an empire upon which the sun never set, Britain now heads a commonwealth containing 54 independent nations.
After WWII Britain took steps to nationalize many industries and many means of production. It established a national health service the U.S. would do well to emulate. England no longer regards military adventurism as necessary. Despite that, they have remained staunch members of NATO and have somewhat foolishly followed the U.S. into its latest un-necessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Our legal system is largely derived from England’s common laws. Our diplomatic service contains elements of England’s. Our civil ceremonies, honors afforded to our elected officials, are much less steeped in pomp and pageantry than are those of England. Our military ranks and customs are largely patterned after those of England.
In short, we hold a secret love for the rituals and regalia we left behind on that small but mighty island nation. IF England did not exist, we should have to invent it.
Kipling notes the comparisons between England and the English.
“Peace is declared, and I return
To 'Ackneystadt, but not the same;
Things 'ave transpired which made me learn
The size and meanin' of the game.
I did no more than others did,
I don't know where the change began;
I started as a average kid,
I finished as a thinkin' man.
“If England was what England seems
An' not the England of our dreams,
But only putty, brass, an' paint,
'Ow quick we'd drop 'er! But she ain't!”