One of my favorite blogging buddies left this comment on a recent post:
Trumps come and go. Sometimes humanity has to step back to make a bigger step forward. Most important is to stay human in any circumstances. Better future comes when people change their mentality, not when they change their government.
And she should know. She’s Irish and they’ve had their fair share of Trumps. A few years back we embarked on a suicidal mission to see as many historic sights in the United Kingdom as possible in just two weeks. We undertook this mission with only rudimentary knowledge of the English monarchy. This is akin to mowing the lawn with nail clippers. After only a couple of tours of places like the Tower of London and Westminster Cathedral we were forever lost in all those Plantagenet, Norman, Beaufort and Tudor spats and back stabbings. So we bought this book to help us make sense of it all:
It promised to transport the reader “on a regal journey from the earliest days of anglo-saxon monarchs, through famous battles and the foundations of historic buildings.” Those of you who know a lot more about the British Royal Family than I do will probably scoff. You can’t really learn much from a 126-page book whose aim is to leave tourists marveling at the enduring institution of the monarchy. For example, the five pages devoted to the current royal family contain not one picture of Princess Diana nor is there mention of the Duke of Windsor’s ties to Adolph Hitler. Indeed, the book ends with this sentence: The monarchy continues to be a strong thread in the fabric of national life, its powers reduced, its pageantry more symbolic but its magic at times hardly any the less diminished.
In the United States we number our presidents and, from the results of the last election, do not favor the idea of dynasties. But it was interesting to read that from the 9th century to the 21st there have only been 56 kings and queens (not counting the formerly separate realms of Wales and Scotland). Since 1776 the US has had 45 presidents. Of course the more frequent turnover, in my humble opinion, has not always been positive. When the Dems get in power they undo what the GOP has done and vice versa. This seesaw only hurts people and the environment.
Another difference between our two systems is we do not elect infant presidents (until now that is), whereas many of the British monarchs were preteens used as pawns in bloody struggles for the crown. Those who had “protectors” with their best interests at heart might just make it to adulthood but most were left in the hands of murderous rival gangs.
One thing I particularly enjoyed while reading the history of the Kings and Queen was learning how monarchs earned their nicknames:
- Harold Harefoot (Harold I) so named not because of his hairy feet but because he was “fleet of foot.”
- And Silly Billy (William IV) who never expected to be king and apparently enjoyed his youth enough to be thought of as “frivolous.” He was also the oldest person to be crowned (64) but it appears Prince Charles will beat that record.
The kings were often known for their interests: there were warrior kings, sailor kings, farmer kings and kings who just liked to ride around on their horses and hunt. There was even one king with a passion for digging ditches (Edward II). The queens also got nicknames: Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen (no sex for her) and Mary I, Bloody Mary (no Protestants for her).
So Inese is right. We will somehow survive and perhaps learn something. Is that too much to ask? By the way – please check out Inese’s blog. She’s an amazing photographer/blogger. And to all my friends in the UK, kindly remember that I got my facts from a book written for clueless tourists!