Daisley: Cheers to Britain's quaint crown

Royal memorabilia featuring Britain's Queen Elizabeth II are

Royal memorabilia featuring Britain's Queen Elizabeth II are displayed for sale at a shop in central London, on June 1, 2012. (Credit: Getty/MIGUEL MEDINA)

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BY LAUREN DAISLEY

 

There's one woman with whom I can't compete. My husband is utterly devoted to her.


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I take comfort in the fact that they don't meet in person. In fact, it's very unlikely he's even attracted to her. But he's got pictures of her all over our house. Framed on the wall. Stuck to the fridge. Her face is even on the mug I use for my sacred, morning cup of coffee.

This other woman is the queen of England, whose 60th anniversary on the throne -- her Diamond Jubilee -- they're celebrating across the pond right now. As you might have guessed, my husband is British.

While there's a lot to love about his native culture -- the bacon flavored "crisps," for example -- it's been hard for me, as an American, to understand why he and so many other Brits idolize the queen. Isn't the royal institution a drain on taxpayer money? Isn't it an antiquated, even brazen emblem of an inequitable class system? Isn't it just all around undemocratic?

Before inaugurating any of our leaders, we Americans make them go through scores of debates, answer our questions directly at town hall meetings, and release the occasional tax form or birth certificate. Sometimes they even sing Al Green on TV. And after all that, they still have to win our votes.

It seems downright wrongheaded to give someone an international leadership position -- even a ceremonial one -- because she was born into it. What if royal family members developed a habit of marrying their siblings instead of their cousins?

My husband's take on it has an expat's pithy wisdom. He believes the Queen's role is sacrosanct precisely because she didn't seek it out.

Republican or Democrat, the uniting, most nonpartisan characteristic of politicians is their megalomania. Sure, for many of them, there's real altruism in the mix. But generally speaking, they appear to be driven to rise to such power by who-knows-what demons and psychological flaws. It's no accident actors run for office with some frequency. The presidency just might be the ultimate Oscar.

Add to this that there's a causal relationship between having money and winning. We Americans do elect our leaders, but we pluck them from a self-selecting pool. Many of them bow down to rich donors -- or themselves are as over-the-top wealthy as any queen.

How democratic is that?

But the royals don't choose their roles, which at least rules out the personality flaws that come with striving to win elections.

That's not to say there haven't been some truly horrific kings and queens in England's history. Henry VIII was no John F. Kennedy (except maybe in his low regard for women).

Elizabeth, though, seems to be a beneficent and unwavering presence who has calmly led her people through the terms of 11 U.S. presidents and 12 British prime ministers.

So now that the queen's Diamond Jubilee is under way, I lift my coffee cup to her. Just this once, I've even filled it with tea.

Lauren Daisley is a contributing writer for the online magazine The Morning News. A version of this piece aired on "CBS News Sunday Morning."

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