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The Coronation

Why Americans love British royalty

Donald Trump after tearing up the Queen’s lawn. Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty

Many Americans will tune into the Coronation, says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph, “albeit groggily” at 6am their time. It’s telling of a curious phenomenon: that the “greatest admirers of the British monarchy” are often “foreign republicans”. When Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838, a visitor to Philadelphia was shocked to find that hotels and boats had been renamed in the monarch’s honour, and that tourists were “pestered to buy Victoria-branded riding hats, soup, soap and toothpaste”. In 1860, Prince Edward attended a grand ball at New York’s Academy of Music, where gate-crashing crowds caused the dance floor to cave in. By the time of George V’s crowning in 1911, excited Americans could travel to London for the spectacle, easily distinguishable with their “pork pie straw hats” and exotic cocktail orders.

As our monarchy gradually lost its absolutist power, it became “less of an existential threat” to Americans and more of a curiosity – “even a source of nostalgia”. And in the years since, many US citizens have found royal Britain to be a place, in many ways, more equitable than the land of the free. In the 1840s, black Americans would board ships to seek “refuge from republican slavery in monarchical England”. It’s similar today, with the US ruled over by bolshy presidents with “overblown” powers: the dynastic Clintons, Bushes, and Kennedys “fight for the crown like 15th-century magnates”. In 2019, when Donald Trump visited the late Queen, his “behemoth helicopter” tore up Buckingham Palace’s lawn. Minutes later, the then Prince Charles “pootled up the drive in a jolly little car” that looked as though it was cranked by hand. “A republican monarchy encountered an imperial presidency.”