Royal paradox: How Queen’s coronation ‘sparked crisis’ in US

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to lead the tributes to Her Majesty today, as Britain’s longest-serving monarch turns 94. The Queen, who has ruled for more than 68 years, is not expected to attend any public events amid lockdown measures to curb the spread of novel coronavirus. The Royal Family announced that the annual military parade of horses and gun carriages past Buckingham Palace and traditional gun salutes marking her birthday will not go ahead this year.

Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh left London for Windsor Castle last month as a “sensible precaution” amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Palace said.

Today’s anniversary marks the actual date of the Queen’s birth, while more events normally take place in June to mark her official birthday.

Born in 1926, the Queen has ruled since 1952.

She is currently the world’s longest-reigning monarch, with 67 years under her belt.

Her coronation marked a significant event for British history, as she fused medieval traditions with the modern world.

According to unearthed reports, though, the day Elizabeth II was crowned, was also particularly consequential for “the other side of the pond”.

Interest in the British monarchy spans the globe, but in the US it occupies a special place, spurred in recent years by the impact of media productions and real-life events.

James Vaughn, assistant director of British Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, told the BBC in 2018: “The status Britain’s monarchy has in US popular culture is extreme and a 20th century phenomenon.

“In the 18th and 19th Centuries the monarchy was viewed as the chief of the Old World, a redoubt of privilege and hereditary status, at odds with the new Republic’s freedom.

” [But] the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was a huge event in the US, and the phenomenon has continued from there.”

He added: “JFKs assassination, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, those all eroded public faith, and it’s now at its lowest level.

“So the fact Britain has this distinction between the head of government and a hereditary, non-powerful head of state who can’t be sullied in the same way as the head of government by dirty politics – many Americans like that.”

Mr Vaughn’s comments highlight a paradox, as the United States, a federal republic, was built upon principles of anti-royalism.

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For example, on the final day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when the US Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall to await the news of the government the founders had crafted.

They asked Benjamin Franklin: “What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?”

Mr Franklin famously replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Indeed, the country was built on the principle of overthrowing a monarch – namely King George III in 1776.

George Washington, Mr Franklin and other revolutionaries then established a series of checks and balances on presidential power, specifically to avoid a president wielding the same level of authority over US citizens as the king they had just overthrown.

Ever since, the American public has observed the Royal Family with romantic but cautious fascination – seen recently with the debate over Donald Trump’s authority over states during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.

As Mr Vaughn noted, the Queen’s coronation, though, appears to have shifted sentiment among Americans.

In 2015, while serving as Mayor of London, Boris Johnson echoed the expert’s claims, as he suggested the US’s fascination with Britain’s Royal Family reveals a hidden wish to be reunited with their previous colonial rulers.

Risking a diplomatic controversy, the Conservative politician made the tongue-in-cheek remarks during a trip across the pond.

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As US callers kept asking him questions about the monarchy on his weekly LBC Radio show – hosted from New York City – Mr Johnson jokingly said: “What does this show you?

”Deep down, in a primal way, they regret the fundamental schism of 1776 and they wish that we were in a single commonwealth of English-speaking peoples again united under Her Majesty.

“That’s what they secretly want.

“They have been deprived of it too long, that blissful pride that goes with a hereditary monarchy.”

Even former US President Barack Obama was aware of his country’s fascination with the Royal Family.

According to a 2015 report by The Telegraph, Prince Charles was forced to offer some consoling words to Mr Obama after the US president observed that the American public preferred British royals to their own politicians.

As the pair posed for the cameras in the Oval Office five years ago, Mr Obama said: “I think it’s fair to say that the American people are quite fond of the Royal Family.

“They like them much better than they like their own politicians.”

The Prince of Wales rebutted: “I don’t believe that.”

He then tried to rescue the moment by recalling his visit to the home of revolutionary leader George Washington the day before.

He said: “I tell you what was nice was going back to Mount Vernon yesterday.”

At the time, the former US President’s personal approval ratings had been “under water” for much of his second term.

His weekly Gallup rating languished at 47 percent.

Meanwhile, a CNN poll of American voters from 2012 found the Queen with an 82 percent approval rating, with Prince William on 77 percent and Prince Charles at 57 percent – ten points higher than his host.

According to a more recent YouGov poll commissioned by the Economist in 2019, Her Majesty is still the most favourable member of the Royal Family in the US.

The poll, of 1,500 American adults, asked “do you have a favourable or an unfavourable opinion of the following people”, and proceeded to list senior members of the Royal Family.

Respondents could answer “very favourable”, “somewhat favourable”, “somewhat unfavourable”, “very unfavourable” and “don’t know”.

The Queen came out on top in the poll, with 69 percent choosing either “very favourable” or “somewhat favourable”.

The late Princess Diana and her sons Prince William and Prince Harry also received significant backing.

Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry came in joint second, with 63 percent.

Sister-in-laws Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton trailed their husbands, on 58 percent and 61 percent respectively.

Older members of the Royal Family received mid-level popularity, with Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on 47 percent favourability.

Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, received mixed backing from the American respondents.

42 percent said they viewed him favourably, only slightly ahead of those who deemed him unfavourable (34 percent).

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