Elizabeths I and II, Victoria, Mrs. Simpson, and Princess Diana
When Americans look at Monarchy they see different things. Brits look at government and lineage; Americans see personalities and how they affect or even control history. Monarchy is not a natural condition. It installs people by birth not by merit; it tolerates foolish men and women in positions of authority that they would not enjoy under any other kind of system. That is why monarchies are so fragile, just waiting for either a dictator or a democracy in the wings to take over.
All of European dictators endured foolish incompetent monarchies – Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini. A series of brain dead landlords and war loads governed China until 1939 and then an even worse evil, Chairman Mao, took over. China still suffers today from this sad history.
It is all about succession
The issue for every nation is the one of succession, that issue solved by the Republican system of the United States. People often ask – what did you do to be so strong, so stable, so wealthy? Succession was the first and most important decision. George Washington was urged to be a king; after all that is what the newly transplanted Europeans understood so well. He rejected kingship making the clear decision to serve 8 years only, and then he promptly died almost on the very last day of the 18th century, just to prove that an entirely new day was beginning for this nation. And so it was!
Men with giant egos who think they can lead the country will run for office and then believe they should be there forever. Regular people know that long term authority usually deteriorates, and more importantly is not able to make the kind of decisions that a new populace and a changing culture demand.
5 Unlikely women
But back to the ladies. England went from one horror show to another with kings and those seeking the throne and fighting each other for power. Henry the VIII, who is known more for killing wives than governing, actually tried to keep the general peace, but he too had to chop off heads, sometimes the wrong ones.
His goal was to have a male heir. God had a better plan. Elizabeth the First learned well at her father’s knee – that England’s success would come with stability, a policy she followed, even though she had a religious war on her hands. Elizabeth II did the same thing, only she did not need to behead anyone, but she was a rock of stability through World War 2 and a host of domestic problems for much of the 20th century.
Elizabeth the Second came to power because of Mrs. Wallis Simpson the twice divorced American who became the wife of Edward, a sitting King. Historians focus on the love affair part, but the true value she brought to England was to rescue a weak king from a nation that needed strong leadership in the coming World War 2, which they almost lost. The Bible says God knows the end from the beginning. Thank heavens for that!
Much mocked Winston to the Rescue
Enter Winston Churchill, whose strong personality and wiley political instincts guided the nation through the perils of war, while Mrs. Simpson and her ex-king sat it out in France. Edward (his given name was David) never had the ambition or the wisdom to lead England. Americans saw that immediately and it is a well known fact that strong women will dominate weak men – she showed up at just the right time.
A New King of King
Then there is Diana. A tragic figure. What England needed, and what she provided was the Mother of a King, something the House of Windsor badly needed. She saw that even if others didn’t, and in her personal life she lived out how she thought William should rule. As Americans believe, she realized that kingship is not genetics – being a ruler is not in your genes, but in your character. Do you have the inner man who can lead a nation and be a model for its goals and ambitions without sacrificing moral stamina and love of the people? She did all that and then died. One can only wish that life after death was more regal than her 36 years. But today, as perfect revenge, she never grows old.
Americans know that to vote for a leader, there must be some reason besides good looks or celebrity. We make our mistakes of course, and occasionally are seduced by money or power, but in the long run we have some high quality leadership. And sometimes we do not realize that during their time in office, only after they leave and we see the fruits of their labor.
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The Ministry of the Watchman – An observer on the wall sharing a report of what God is seeing and doing in the world at large and also in the congregations of His people. Cornelia Scott Cree, Watchman, Change Agent, Essayist.
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