Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is celebrating her 70th year on the throne this week. And, if you follow United States of America broadcast news organizations, you would think that our ancestors never escaped the yoke of monarchial oppression. This and That Specials are slated all week as they try to outdo each other in fawning over the vestigial relic of the bad old times for which our revolution signaled the demise.
Granted, today’s queen lacks the powers which resulted in the more than two dozen grievances against George III justifying our Declaration of Independence. But, her presence should only remind us of why we kicked off the traces of British imperialism.
Thomas Paine, the staunchest democrat among our founders, repeatedly mocks the origins of the British crown – descending as it does from the conquest of the island by William of Normandy, “the son of a prostitute, and the plunderer of the English nation.”
“Governments thus established,” Paine says, “last as long as the power to support them lasts; but that they might avail themselves of every engine in their favor, they united fraud to force, and set up an idol which they called Divine Rights….”
He elaborates, ”When it is laid down as a maxim, that a King can do no wrong, it places him in a state of similar security with that of idiots and persons insane, and responsibility is out of question with respect to himself.”
Furthermore, “All hereditary government is in its nature tyranny. An heritable crown, or an heritable throne, or by what other fanciful name such things may be called, have no other significant explanation than that mankind are heritable property. To inherit a government, is to inherit the people, as if they were flocks and herds.”
And they are certainly sheep who put up with such degradation.
This is the glorious tradition represented today by Queen Elizabeth II – and other parasitical monarchs still hanging around – including Spain’s emeritus king Juan Carlos I, caught up in so many shady dealings that he spent the last year and a half hiding in the United Arab Emirates.
When he returned to Spain briefly in mid-May to attend a regatta, reporters asked for explanations “over the various legal cases that marked the end of his reign,” according to Catalan News. He replied: “¿De Que?” (“Of What?).
He can afford – well afford – such arrogance since the Law of Forgetting passed by the Falangists controlling the Spanish Parliament after Franco’s death granted impunity to the complicit crown while also granting themselves immunity from prosecution for any tortures they carried out under Franco.
Such immunity also applies to the British monarchy, the royal website itself bragging “civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law.” The unnecessary caveat that, “The Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law” is moot considering her actions by law are unchallengeable.
And what makes a royal? Besides conquest, luck.
In 1613, the second farthest Edmondson that I can trace, Thomas, married Grace Cliburne, both of whose grandfathers were minor knights – and you can hardly be more minor than the Cumberland border country in the north of England.
That connection, fueled by the need to do something with non-inheriting royal and noble offspring – traces back to Edward III and beyond. A careful examination of Internet genealogy – which is safer once you reach those nobles who have kept records to prove their property rights – makes me related to every major character in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” plays. (Mortimer had the better claim than Henry after the murder of Richard II.)
And, while I have little doubt that I would be regarded as smarter, wittier, handsome and quirky not contrarian if one of my ancestors had recaptured a title, my antipathy to titled supremacy is based on philosophy, not jealousy.
Thomas and Grace’s son John, a persecuted Quaker, arrived in Maryland in the 1640s. It stands to reason that, if we can trace our line back to an English king, odds are that many more residents of Great Britain can do so, too, after another 380 years. Many, no doubt, have as legitimate, blood-line claims to the British throne as those occupying it and in line. (And, that’s not even considering Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Stuart bunch that was kicked out.)
No, those Windsors are not more special than the rest of us regardless of what fancy titles they bestow upon themselves – “childish names and distinctions,” Paine says.
He elaborates, “Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title. The thing is perfectly harmless in itself, but it marks a sort of foppery in the human character which degrades it.”
This gets us back to the degrading fawning of American news people before such foppery. I guess they feel special by the slightest association though, Paine reminds us, “It requires some talents to be a common mechanic; but to be a king, requires only the animal figure of a man.”
I can agree with him, too, “That monarchy is all a bubble, a mere court artifice to procure money, is evident, (at least to me), in every character in which it can be viewed.”
Our networks would better serve the country by looking west across America to celebrate accomplishments beyond pampered longevity and to investigate and expose those fascists who would destroy our fragile republic.
Instead we get the mindless diversion to glorify “What is called the splendor of a throne (which) is no other than the corruption of the state. It is made up of a band of parasites living in luxurious indolence, out of the public taxes.”
I wish no ill will toward Elizabeth II and her family. I just don’t care to know their every move or reality show dispute. Nor do we need their exiles – “qualified” only by titled birth – instructing us on subjects of which they have little knowledge. Leave those ciphers to our unfortunate delusional cousins still paying for that bill of bad goods.
She ain’t my queen.
(Duncan resident Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)