May 4, 2011
Oh all right then, I did watch part of the William and Kate royal weddingthon despite myself: only bits, mind, and it made me proud to be an American. There’s something about seeing red-white-and-blue banners all over the place that stirs the soul.
Whether it’s the Union Flag or Old Glory, I’m impassioned. Having been born over there I have dual nationality - a British American - and if ever the two countries I love go to war against each other I’ll just dig hole and bury myself in sorrow.
But of course that will never happen. And the proof is in evidence once more in the planeloads of our countrymen flying back to the States after jollying it up with the locals in London. There was an enormous contingent of Americans over there, waving Union Jacks.
Once again we are reminded of the special relationship that exists between these former colonies and the country that gave birth to them.
What is it that binds the two together? Spain isn’t treasured the same way by Mexico and her other erstwhile American colonies. In spite of the common language there’s somewhat of a standoff between Old Spain and the Hispanic New World.
Surely that relationship should be as close as ours with Shakespeare’s Scept’r’d Isle, but no. And maybe it’s to do with the Conquistadores and their treatment of the indigenous folk and vice versa. Not that the Anglos and our Native Americans conducted themselves a whole lot better. Perhaps it was more a matter of degree. Here the native peoples were pushed out of the picture almost entirely; in Latin America the indios outnumbered the Europeans and absorbed them.
The two English-speaking nations work in tandem, and have been close at least since as far back as Churchill’s day, not just because his mother was American.
A secret think tank at a place called Bletchley Park broke Germany’s complicated military Enigma code and helped win the war. The brains were both British and American, working together, as they did again on the atom bomb.
Excluding Vietnam, my two countries have fought each major war together. We don’t count Grenada and in that Falklands fracas the US support had to be hush-hush because of America’s relationship with the Latin countries.
I do remember a pundit named Frank Gaffney deriding the British effort in the recent desert conflicts and I wrote him hey, those soldiers get themselves maimed and killed just the same as Americans do. And fighting for the same cause, as we do today, against the terrorists..
TV personality Linda Dano came back from London in tears after 9/11 – weeping for the US but her eyes also moist with beatitude at the true compassion she’d seen demonstrated in Britain. And she told viewers how a cab driver had pressed money in her hand to donate towards victims’ relief.
Canada, too, is part of the union, a half-way step between the two. And who can forget the gracious folk of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador in the wake of 9/11 who took those thousands of stranded American air passengers into their homes and hearts.
William and Kate, now officially the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, canceled their honeymoon abruptly just after she’d been seen buying swimwear and other leisure accoutrements. Why? Did security get wind of another impending Al Qaeda attack? Killing a future king would certainly be a feather in some terrorist’s turban.
It wasn’t just the Beatles who brought Britain back to America, but they certainly helped. Yeah, yeah yeah, the Rolling Stones too. It was others, as well from James Bond to Alastair Cooke to Stephen Hawking to Diana, the rebel princess.
A mistake many make is to assume that all Brits love the royal family. They didn’t in 1776 and they don’t today. It’s recognized that all the pomp and pageantry earns that country money, but once more there’s a growing movement to get rid of the monarchy.
Here’s my blood brother Tim Miles, the day of the betrothal: “I'm hiding under the covers this morning hoping the Royal Dreading will come and go without impinging upon my consciousness. Fat chance. The trestle tables are already being set up in our street for a communal party where we're expected to wear silly hats and bring our own pork pies and cocktail sausages. The highlight of the day: a visit by a fire engine decked out in bunting. Excitement reaches fever pitch. I'd run for the hills except so many streets are blocked off. So I'm going to remain doggedly anti-communal and stay in my back garden.”
Over here Nielsen reported that US coverage of the William and Kate affair eclipsed that in Britain itself. American media served up a smorgasbord of factoids and tittletattle and our citizens lapped it all up.
To be born into a title and be supported both financially and emotionally by a country’s fawning subjects is so un-American. Strange that the folks of this country seem to go against everything America stands for
Back in the 18th century the colonists spat out the name King George. Now, in a remarkable reversal, Americans embrace the British royals while the British themselves are increasingly fed up with them. The wheel has come full circle.