I’m about to set off for London this week to join crowds of thousands at a nationwide celebration of pageantry and pomp, befitting its guest of honor, Queen Elizabeth II, for the Platinum Jubilee commemorating her 70-year reign.
The queen’s Platinum Jubilee has received huge coverage in U.S. print and broadcast outlets during the last few weeks. Why is there so much American interest in a foreign, nonagenarian great-grandmother, when we rejected the institution she heads nearly 250 years ago?
FILE – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II holds on to her hat in high winds as she arrives for a visit to RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales on April 1, 2011.
For my part, it’s personal. No stranger to encountering heads of state and government, thanks to spending a decade as a Congressional aide focused on foreign affairs, I’m committed to making this trip to honor the service and example of one of the world’s most honorable public figures, who, in spite of wielding no political power, has, in her dignified and unobtrusive way, made an indelible mark on the world in our times, ultimately making it a better place.
We Americans might have fought to establish ourselves as a republic, but we are, nevertheless, powerfully drawn to the mystique and presence of the woman who has reigned over our closest ally and a commonwealth of nations, longer than most of us have been alive.
Princess Elizabeth represents the King at colorful trooping ceremony.
The interest the queen inspires and the power she exerts does not stem from military might or trade policy. Rather, the respect Queen Elizabeth is accorded relates to her unique ability to represent the qualities of the nation that is our most trusted ally; and the one that inspired the freedoms and representative government that led to the U.S. becoming a model of democracy for the world.
For 70 years — from Truman to Biden, from Elvis to Gaga and from post-Blitz to COVID, the queen has been a constant in our lives. But her significance goes far beyond simple longevity.
In this photo provided by Buckingham Palace on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, the official Platinum Jubilee portrait of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, photographed at Windsor Castle recently.
(Royal Household/Ranald Mackechnie via AP)
If any are left wondering, consider how even heads of global superpowers and U.S. celebrities are humbled to meet her. Perhaps they whose leverage comes from large GDPs, weapons arsenals, or Instagram followers, see in her what is lacking in themselves – a sincere and lifelong commitment to nation, duty and service to others.
In our times of toxic division, when leading societal institutions feel compelled to apologize for “historical sins,” Queen Elizabeth is a living example of how important mindfulness of continuity and the wisdom of the past is to a stable and optimistic future.
Who but she, who has served through some of civilization’s darkest moments—and continues to serve—could credibly provide confidence that we will prevail and thrive against our own fearsome moments of crisis?
Judging from the obsession with the queen and her family in American popular culture, many have shared this admiration over the numerous decades of Elizabeth’s reign.
From pop artist Andy Warhol to Netflix’s smash success “The Crown,” glittering images of the queen have tantalized all sectors of America.
FILE – Queen Elizabeth II lights a beacon to celebrate her 90th birthday on April 21, 2016 in Windsor, England.
(Photo by Chris Jackson)
The interest that started immediately upon her coronation, when 85 million American viewers tuned in, has never waned over seven decades.
On some level, the obsession is a desire for what we don’t and can’t have. But judging from Her Majesty’s recent approval ratings among Americans (they would make President Joe Biden salivate), I should be in good company celebrating this historic milestone.
For 70 years, Elizabeth II has reminded her countrymen, and all the rest of us fortunate enough to coincide with her tenure–in words and example– of the best virtues of humanity: service, duty, community, commitment and faith.
God save the Queen. Would that she could reign forever.
Lee Cohen, a senior fellow of the Bow Group and the Bruges Group, was adviser on Great Britain to the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee and founded the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus.