A dive into historical past finds a number of protocol breaches by nervous American leaders, none extra awkward than Jimmy Carter kissing the Queen’s mom on the lips. It reveals Ronald Reagan making ready for an essential 1983 swing by means of Europe by, sure, gearing up for the high-stakes diplomacy, but additionally worrying about whether or not he had the right gear to go horseback using with the Queen. It turns up a 1951 journey to America throughout which Harry Truman remarked on assembly the inheritor to the throne, “After I was slightly boy, I examine a fairy princess — and there she is.” Then-Prime Minister Harold Macmillan would describe her subsequent journey to the US, in 1957, as so successful that it “buried George III for good and all.”
What set the Queen aside on this approach? It wasn’t the pageantry, lavish banquets or her arguably unparalleled fame. A part of the reason lies in the truth that presidents weren’t solely assembly the embodiment of America’s closest ally and its previous, but additionally, later in her reign, somebody who knew their predecessors higher than they did or ever would, and will due to this fact see them in right historic scale.
Her capacity to appeal and even strike up friendships with U.S. presidents was a not-so-secret weapon that helped make — and hold — the “particular relationship” particular. President Joe Biden was clear about that political significance in his tribute, describing the Queen as a “stateswoman of unmatched dignity and fidelity who deepened the bedrock Alliance between the UK and the US.”
It helped that the girl who was intently adopted and supported by American Anglophiles seems to have been one thing of an Americanophile. Simply because the particular relationship is about greater than the ties between two heads of state or heads of presidency, the Queen’s bond with America went past its leaders. Like many Britons of her technology — and like the fashionable Britain over which she reigned — the Second World Battle was a formative expertise wherein America’s contribution was decisive and unforgettable. On a extra private observe, she solely took a handful of overseas holidays throughout her reign, however 5 of them had been to America, typically — and maybe slightly improbably — to Kentucky horse nation.
The good-great-great-great granddaughter of the king who misplaced America acknowledged an extra debt to Britain’s former colony past the wartime alliance. In 1973, the UK authorities was sounded out on the thought of Elizabeth II attending celebrations three years later to mark America’s bicentennial. One of many prime minister’s advisors wrote a snooty observe to Buckingham Palace: “One would want to think about whether or not it was proper for the Queen to be related to the celebration of a rebel from the British Crown.” The Queen would go on to make the journey, although she arrived on July 6, as a result of, as one Embassy official informed the New York Occasions, “July 4th was actually pushing it. Forgiveness can solely go up to now.”
In a speech marking the event, the Queen herself can be extra gracious. “It appears to me that Independence Day needs to be celebrated as a lot in Britain as in America,” she mentioned to a crowd in Philadelphia. “Not in rejoicing on the separation of the American colonies from the British Crown however in honest gratitude to the Founding Fathers of this nice Republic for having taught Britain a really precious lesson… We learnt to respect the correct of others to manipulate themselves in their very own methods. With out that nice act in the reason for liberty, carried out in Independence Corridor 2 hundred years in the past, we might by no means have remodeled an Empire right into a Commonwealth.”
Given this fondness for America, the Queen’s loss of life doesn’t simply imply that Britain has misplaced a diplomatic and soft-power trump card, but additionally the guardian angel of the particular relationship. Will her son, King Charles III, be capable of fill that hole?
For British officers looking forward to him to step into his mom’s diplomatic position, Charles poses plenty of issues. The primary is that, by means of no fault of his personal, he merely can’t present the semi-mystical hyperlink to the previous that his mom got here to characterize to the entire world. One other, which threatens to make issues notably troublesome in the US, is that Charles is a much more political determine than his mom. Whereas she caught unstintingly to the narrowly outlined position of constitutional monarch — somebody above the fray who intervenes solely when strictly obligatory — he has been much more lively in society throughout his lengthy await the throne. The prince’s political exercise has targeted on local weather change and the setting, hardly uncontroversial points on this aspect of the pond, although extra contentious stateside. As prince, Charles insisted that the foundations are totally different for monarchs and heirs to the throne, promising to have interaction within the political sphere far much less typically as soon as he grew to become king. However it’s nonetheless straightforward to see how he may turn out to be a extra politicized determine than his mom right here in America.
If you happen to suppose a rustic’s standing and sway on the planet is set by greater than its wealth or army may, then it’s arduous to not see the loss of life of Queen Elizabeth II as something aside from a grave diplomatic loss for the UK. The departure of the final dwelling embodiment of a form of British greatness that’s simply understood on the world stage — and in America — will solely add to anxiousness about Britain’s place on the planet and its relationship with its closest ally. However that one-sided anxiousness has been a function of the particular relationship because the time period was coined by Winston Churchill in a 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri.
For all of the methods wherein the Queen helped make the particular relationship what it’s, her hyperlink with America can also be a reminder that the UK-U.S. ties can’t be diminished to 1 or two people. They characterize one thing far deeper, rooted in historical past, values, tradition, commerce and protection. Elizabeth II knew that. And if her American counterparts doubted it after they had been sworn in, they often noticed sense as soon as they’d had tea with the Queen.