Americans have an enviably healthy attitude to Britain royalty

They regard it as somewhere between curio and twee celebrity

Rashmee Roshan Lall

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Even Poundland is getting into the spirit of the coronation. Photo: Rashmee Roshan Lall

Is it the distance that comes with time — after all, America kicked the British out some 200 years before India and other colonised countries — but the American media appears to be a great deal more clear-eyed about the May 6 coronation than some of its decolonised/decolonising counterparts elsewhere.

Ahead of the coronation, one American journalist correctly described it as a ritual in modern British history that was so rare “ it last occurred 70 years ago, roughly the wait between sightings of Halley’s comet”.

Nice one. It deftly situates the monarchy where it should be — somewhere between curio and a familiar, if rather twee celebrity.

Soon after the Halley’s comet comment, another American journalist suggested that it may be King Charles III’s lot to be “Britain’s first post-colonial monarch”. This was a smart observation but not Smart Aleck-y, a propensity that is sometimes observed in the outpourings from decolonised/decolonising outposts of the former British Raj.

Instead, the American journalist (who, incidentally, is of Indian ethnicity) saw the trajectory of recent events as significant. He noted Charles’ presence — and public remarks — in the Caribbean nation of Barbados as it became a republic and dropped Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. At the time Charles said: “From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our histories, the people of this island [Barbados] forged their path with extraordinary fortitude. Emancipation, self-government and independence were your waypoints. Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.”

It’s a moot point how many more such speeches will he have to deliver in his lifetime. Jamaica and Belize have already said they plan to start down the path of de-royalising their identity and processes of governance. Even Canada, Australia and New Zealand — the white Commonwealth — are treading carefully. King Charles won’t feature on Australia’s new five-dollar note, for instance.

The implications, as the American journalist identified, are profound. “If Elizabeth represented a post-imperial monarch — the Windsor who stoically watched the British Empire shrink decade-by-decade — Charles could be Britain’s first post-colonial royal — the king who sloughs off the faded trappings of empire and directly acknowledges (if not necessarily apologizes for) a deep legacy of injustice.”

He may be on to something there. That said, no need to get over-excited about the whole world dumping the British monarch as head of state. King Charles, remember, remains head of state of a 14 former colonies — eight in the Caribbean, three Pacific islands, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.)

Originally published at https://www.rashmee.com

Also read:

Britain’s new Carolean age is beset by the unfinished business of history

The woman who led Barbados in its brave leap forward

The first coronation of the social-media era

Coronation countdown II: Look who’s celebrating

Coronation countdown

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Rashmee Roshan Lall

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Writer. My novel 'Pomegranate Peace' is about my year in Afghanistan. I teach journalism at university in London