Of Monarchs and Commoners

The mind of a monarchical subject is as inaccessible to me as that of a horseshoe crab or slime mold. I’m a republican through and through—a “low-Anglo tyrannophobe” in the diction of one notable high-bred WASP legal scholar—for whom politicians are objects of scorn or possibly begrudging support, but never outright veneration. So when the Queen of England died last week at an impressive 96 years of age, I felt a vague, distant prick of melancholy like one might feel when an old store I never really visited goes out of business, or when a B-list alt rock band from the 90s finally calls it quits (hadn’t they a decade ago?)—but seeing the fawning adoration bestowed upon her and her station by real existing monarchists in the United Kingdom and play-acting celebrity-obsessed Americans was like watching a ritual dance of a tribe of Amazonian cannibals. Of ethnographic interest, certainly, as it’s clearly meaningful to their form of life, and forms of life are always interesting—but my interiority contains no correlate.

If the American revolution meant anything for the commoner, it granted freedom from caring about kings. The constitution promised each citizen enjoyment of their place beneath the sun free of any Alexander to disturb them. My kindness shall be extended to a fellow man or woman because they are my fellow; if the president himself knocked on my door I might invite him in for a drink, but only because he is a stranger like any other. The Queen, too, would be deserving of such hospitality. And likewise, if she is to be revered or her life to be emulated, it is for the same reason that any commoner’s might be: on account of her virtue, the nature of which, like health, is the same in any man or woman.

So yes, God save the Queen—but God save the rest of us too, “for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”

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