January 11, 2020

It's one thing to blithely opine "Why America Needs a Royal Family/Yes, this is the conclusion I have drawn from Megxit."

I've seen that proposal a thousand times, and here we are again, this time with Jennifer Weiner in the NYT. But it's quite another matter to figure out who would be the royal family.

I'm not interested in reviewing the pro-royalty argument. You know what it is. I'm only interested in the question of how — if we were to restructure America with a royal family akin to Britain's — we would pick the actual hereditary family.

I can't find the old post, but I believe I once blogged about who would be king/queen of the U.S.A. now if George Washington had become king. Wherever that post is, I'm sure it included this video:



My archive search did turn up this video about George Washington (which I just watched twice)(warning: some questionable factual assertions):



Anyway, here's how Jennifer Weiner addresses the question who'd be king/queen of America:
We could keep it simple and give the gig to Miss America, who’s already been chosen and already has a tiara. Or we could have a televised reality contest (a roy-ality contest — see what I did there?) to elect our king and queen. We could recruit the glittering couples we think would be best suited for the job of representing America on the world stage (Beyoncé and Jay-Z! Jennifer Lopez and A-Rod! George and Amal Clooney! Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman! Ina Garten and Jeffrey!)...
Oh! She's utterly giving up the hereditary angle. No, you have to commit. You have to believe in royal blood. No elections. That would debase. You've got to have magic.

But isn't it funny that Weiner pictures an election, homes in on entertainment couples — all heterosexual, by the way (tsk tsk) — and doesn't think to offer up the most obvious entertainment couple: Donald and Melania Trump? Well, Donald is already President, and the point is to separate the head-of-state functions, but he'll have served his term(s) by the time the election for king/queen happens. And once you recognize that, you ought to see that the final nominees for the position could be Donald and Melania — or should it be Ivanka and Jared? — against Barack and Michelle. I'd watch those debates.

Barack and Michelle would win, of course, if for no other reason that that they're far more successful at getting top-level entertainers to perform in the White House (yes, under, Weiner's plan, the king and queen live in the White House, and the boring President of the United States is relocated "to more modest digs").

81 comments:

wendybar said...

Trump is ANYTHING but boring. Just because you have Progressive friends that are entertainers, it doesn't make you a leader.

Ann Althouse said...

"Trump is ANYTHING but boring. Just because you have Progressive friends that are entertainers, it doesn't make you a leader."

The idea, as Weiner correctly puts it, is to make the presidency boring. Under the new system, with the king and queen separated and the glamorous things extracted from the presidency, you might get a boring President, and that would be a good thing. That's the idea!

Ann Althouse said...

Trump's non-boringness would give him some chance in the election for king and queen. I have him as a potential finalist. I just don't think he and Melania would beat Barack and Michelle.

Meade said...

Duh — Elvis.

Big Mike said...

Barack and Michelle would win, of course ...

Don’t bet your pension.

Ann Althouse said...

Trump is more of a standup comedian, and that doesn't convey the feeling of royalty. I'm picturing Barack and Michelle in the audience at these gala performances with all the best musical performers giving their best.

Lucid-Ideas said...

Kings and queens? Yawn. We need an emperor. An imperial family. Praetorian guard. Neutered senate. Tributary nations. The whole shabang. Worked well the last time.

iowan2 said...

Royalty descends from blood lines. If someone "wishes" the US has royalty, it is about as effective as a man "wishing" he were a she. Life is hard, especially for stupid people. Discussions about Star Wars movies are more more interesting

gspencer said...

Chelsea's performance as an American family royal princess never did measure up. Besides, the glass slippers are really difficult to adjust,

Right foot,
https://www.snopes.com/tachyon/2017/10/maxresdefault.jpg

Left foot,
https://live.staticflickr.com/3252/3079881224_ee31e6df04_b.jpg

Karen of Texas said...

Well obviously it would have to come from the Kennedy branch. After all, we did have Camelot for awhile when JFK and Jackie were in the should-be-boring position, but I think their progeny should lay claim to "pick us".

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Hillary for King, Bill for Queen.

AllenS said...

A lot of good men died to remove their lives and the lives of their offspring from being ruled by royalty.

Lincolntf said...

Start with Governor William Bradford, he had four kids, hopefully he still has some descendants around. If not, go with the Standish family. Anybody but the Kennedys.

Jim Gust said...

This is the stupidest, most unAmerican idea I have ever encountered.

Francisco D said...

I'm picturing Barack and Michelle in the audience at these gala performances with all the best musical performers giving their best.

The British royalty is notorious for low IQ likely due to inbreeding. They are quite dull despite all attempts to glamorize them. Brits seem to be happy with it because the royalty really doesn't cause any trouble aside from social scandals.

Maybe Barack and Michelle would fit the role.

Mr. Forward said...

America's Royal Family: Albert, Freddie and B.B.

gilbar said...

The choice is Obvious, though troublesome

CLEARLY. since our revolution came about through britan's UNHOLY REJECTION of their divinely appointed rulers, the Stuarts (which caused the '45, which caused GERMAN USURPERS to control britain, which caused truethinking people to reject england, and move here); the Obvious choice is...
Franz, Duke of Bavaria who IS the successor to the British crowns of the House of Stuart

This is troublesome though, for it means a GERMAN would again be in power :(
However, it would be a STUART german, and thus: Divinely allowed

The other course would be to find a MacGregor to rule for us

stlcdr said...

Humor? Mockumentary? The Onion?

Sounds like turning it up to eleven.

tcrosse said...

Canada has a Governor General to fulfill ceremonial and constitutional duties of the Crown. It's typically a 5-year appointment by HMQ with advice from the Canadian PM.

Ralph L said...

A TV news anchor might be the best bet. They're trained to read other people's words dispassionately. The trick is shutting them up the rest of the time.

Meade said...

And don’t forget the king of kings lord of lords.

tcrosse said...

America's Royal Family: Albert, Freddie and B.B.

Don't forget Burger, Mattress, and Carpet.

Ray said...

The Bidens. With all the seed Hunter has spilled across the land, heirs will be abundant.

Leland said...

Why live at the White House? Elizabeth doesn't live at Buckingham. The King and Queen should live at Camp David. Nobody should live at the White House. It should be for ceremonial state dinners. The President should have an apartment at Watergate.

Fernandistein said...

We could keep it simple and give the gig

That's not how it works. A king is a dictator who chooses his subjects, and if they don't like it, they can try to stop him.

But isn't it funny that Weiner pictures an election,

No it's not funny.

all heterosexual, by the way

No homosexuals or schizophrenics? A pity. Some schizophrenics are rather amusing, at least from a distance.

And you wouldn't want the Obamas as hereditary royalty because their offspring have already regressed to their mean; contrast with Trump.

"Royal[ty]" is a primitive concept, probably based on the dictators' claims that god put them in charge, so I guess it makes sense that Webster's has a funny circular definition:
royal = kingly ancestry, and
kingly = having royal rank

Hagar said...

So what became of the Kennedys?

rehajm said...

Barack and Michelle would be deities not mortal kings and/or queens.

Ray said...

"Barack and Michelle would be deities not mortal kings and/or queens."

"This is not who we are", thus says lord Obama

Ann Althouse said...

"Humor? Mockumentary? The Onion?"

Jennifer Weiner is a humorist, yes.

JAORE said...

What, not a single mention of the Kardashians?

Kaitlyn would be a terrific queen.

Curious George said...

"Jennifer Weiner is a humorist, yes."

You don't have to be funny to be a humorist, I guess.

Curious George said...

"all heterosexual, by the way"

Well, we're looking for a King and a Queen, not a pair of Queens, right?

Nancy said...

I kept thinking Anthony Weiner when you wrote Weiner. Anthony and Huma?

RNB said...

I nominate the "Duck Dynasty" clan. Let's see how that flies.

Bruce Hayden said...

I can see the allure of Barack and Michelle. They were in it for the perks of the office, and never seemed that engaged in the day to day running of the government. Instead, that was what all those minions were there for, except in reality, that meant that Obama was a mere figurehead. Which, I guess is part of this whole idea - having well credentialed bureaucrats actually running the country, with a powerless king reigning over everything.

And, btw, the Obamas wouldn’t work because they are too lazy and entitled. Actual royals spend much of their time touring the country, cutting ribbons, going to hospitals, etc. that wasn’t something that they did much of when Barack was President. Much less than either the Bushes ahead of them, and the Trumps after them. So, what is the purpose again of us having a king and queen - so the Obamas can move back into the White House?

The problem though is that the remaining royals in the world can trace their lineages back centuries, and in the British case, most of a millennium. And, yes, hence the inbreeding. What probably makes more sense is a President/Prime Minister system, where you have elected heads of state and government.

Phil 314 said...

We Americans like our Kings and Queens in movies and mini-series but not in reality.

tcrosse said...

What probably makes more sense is a President/Prime Minister system, where you have elected heads of state and government.

The Prime Minister doesn't have to be boring. I cite Boris Johnson as an example.

Robert Cook said...

No royalty, ever, anywhere!

William said...

I can't think of any circumstances where the investiture of a King wouldn't be as divisive and conflict ridden as the election of a President.....The royalty in Europe are royalty because of the accident of birth which is to say they were chosen by God. Here we or more likely the media would get to anoint the Royal Family. They wouldn't be chosen by God. Maybe we could import some Norwegian royalty. They're reasonably good looking and seem like very nice and polite people. They're the kind of people God wants to rule in His stead.

Quaestor said...

Jennifer Weiner is a humorist, yes.

Only if she pronounces her surname Wee'-nur — with a strong nasal emphasis on the wee.

traditionalguy said...

NB: Re-starting an American Royal Family would also be the Establishment of a State Religion. No way around that. Kingdoms are hierarchies that cannot exist without also owning and running the State Church. Otherwise they are raiders who are robbing and raping the country under Martial law.

Marc said...

That first video is a perfect example why a paragraph of text is immeasurably more efficient than video at imparting information. I wanted to know who the Washington heirs are in each of the three suggested lines. 'Wanted to know' in a very extenuated sort of way, ahem, since because the French are still wallowing in their liberté, égalité, fraternité nonsense, I'd make the Duc d'Anjou king over here. Or, perhaps, although nobody else would much approve a king who would eventually reign in Bavaria, the United Kingdom, and Liechtenstein, Prince Wenzel von und zu Liechtenstein.

gilbar said...

RNB said... I nominate the "Duck Dynasty" clan. Let's see how that flies.

That could work! They certainly seem likely to be Jacobites

rcocean said...

An American King - descendants of George Washington - would've have prevented the Civil War. If you want Royalty in 2019, just import a Foreign Prince and make him King. That's what the Brits did. I suggest someone from Japan, they seem scandal free.

Josephbleau said...

The masters of our lower house seem to want a parliamentary system anyway, with their votes of no confidence. The problem with that is that in a real parliamentary system the PM is always the same party as the majority of the lower house or at least part of the coalition. A parliamentary system is intended to overtly maintain power in the hands of the elite, while our system does this covertly.

Having a person embody the State is only needed for an immature and stupidly sentimental nation.

narciso said...

one from the south or the north, of course Charles 1th was unusually incompetent in provoking Cromwell, so there is that,

John henry said...

The post of Senate Majority Leader always had a number of powers. Senate majority leaders were always too polite to use them. It became one of those posts senators avoided getting elected to.

Many of the powers were so disused as to be forgotten.

Until lbj volunteered for the job. More fool he, they thought.

Until he dusted off the powers and started using them like a battle axe. As SML, some argued, he had more power than the president. Certainly as much, in terms of running the country.

See Caro "Master of the Senate" for full details.

The British royal family is similar. Lots of pretty absolute and dramatic powers. Too meek/polite to use them.

Let's make president trump king with heriditary roles for the descendants.

But only if we give him the same powers as queen Liz.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

John Henry

Mark said...

An American King - descendants of George Washington - would've have prevented the Civil War.

An American king would have guaranteed civil war -- beginning in the 1780s.

Mark said...

The revolution soon became one against royalty and nobility as much, if not more, than anything else. What they were fighting for was that in America, the law would be king.

The patriots didn't fight against one king just to get another (and another and another).

Crazy Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JaimeRoberto said...

The presidency would be boring if so much power hadn't been centralized in Washington DC and in the Executive specifically. Calvin Coolidge was boring. We should try to get back to that.

Crazy Jane said...

Jim Gust has it right: This is the stupidest, most unAmerican idea I have ever encountered.

We're already gaga over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Imagine how insufferable they will be if they relocate to Beverly HIlls instead of Canada. Do you want to bow or curtsy to those clods?

Then ratchet it up 1,000 times. Watch while our homegrown and idle royals produce progeny whose IQs and EQs regress to one or two standard deviations below the mean. (Think Hunter Biden on steroid -- and, yes, for all we know he could be on steroids.

No, no, a thousand times no.

J. Farmer said...

This has long been an old hobby-horse of mine. I do not think that combining the roles of head of state with head of government into a single executive was a good idea. It is probably true that over the long run, constitutional monarchies prove to be more stable than presidential systems, but there are likely far too many cultural and historical reasons existent to allow any kind of heredity-based system to take hold. But maybe a national vote requiring a 2/3 majority and a 20-year term wouldn't be a bad way of picking a head of state.

Is there anyone who could even get 2/3 of Americans to vote for him or her? Tom Hanks, maybe?

Sheridan said...

Royalty? Sure! So long as the "Charles I Rule" applies. Serve as Monarch for 10 years, then get beheaded. None of your children can succeed you. Your spouse cannot succeed you. No one in your immediate/extended family can succeed you. No extensions, no waivers, no pardons, no commutations. Off with your head! Who wants to be Monarch??

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Crazy Jane said...

Just look at how gaga we are over the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Imagine how insufferable they will be if they relocate to Southern California instead of Canada. Do you want to bow and curtsy for those clods?

They'd never do that, though. Harry's title would have social cachet in the US among certain social sets, but would carry no real weight and you know Meghan is going to work that title for all it's worth. That's why they're moving to Canada; it's like living in the US, but their title will still means something because Canada is a part of the Commonwealth.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

RNB said...

I nominate the "Duck Dynasty" clan. Let's see how that flies.

Now that would be great! Someone does genealogical research and finds out that Phil Robertson is a direct descendant of one of the bastard sons of Charles II.

rehajm said...

Is there anyone who could even get 2/3 of Americans to vote for him or her? Tom Hanks, maybe?

Dolly Parton.

Roger Sweeny said...

So what became of the Kennedys?

Congressman Joe is running against incumbent Ed Markey for Senator from Massachusetts. You see, Markey is an old white man and Joe is, well, he's young and HE'S A KENNEDY!

Spiros said...

The English royal family is a bit dysfunctional and a bit disconnected from its subjects. But it is not the stuff of legend. In 2001, the crown prince of Nepal massacred the royal family because the queen objected to his choice of bride. During the killing spree, the prince killed the king, queen and six other relatives. WOW!!!!

As for Harry. Why not just cut the cord? A. He's a total douche-bag. And, B. Harry always sticks out in his family portraits. Is there any real chance he's not Princess Di's "illegitimate" child?

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

“America's Royal Family: Albert, Freddie and B.B.”

Now you’re talking.

Wince said...

Assuming the people who would be king (or queen) today would be born at all had there been a US monarchy is ridiculous.

Nate Silver said (elsewhere)...
It involves a lot of path-dependency and a lot of nonlinearity, and the candidates’ performances can interact with one another in fairly complicated ways.

Amexpat said...

This has long been an old hobby-horse of mine. I do not think that combining the roles of head of state with head of government into a single executive was a good idea.

There's another solution to this other then a hereditary monarchy. Some countries with a parliamentary system, like Germany and Israel, have a ceremonial President acting as head of state. Of course the issue becomes how to choose the ceremonial president. One solution would be to require a 2/3 majority in Congress/Parliament. That would ensure choosing someone with bipartisan support. Hard to think of a national figure in the US that could get that now.

tcrosse said...

A lot of the objection to Trump is that as effective as he is as head of government, he isn't to everyone's taste as head of state. Obama was the opposite.

Marc said...

I see that there are (in effect) at least two votes for the Stuarts; this is what is called true progress. 'In effect' because if the fantasy were to move closer to becoming reality, I'd abandon Louis XX in favor of Wenzel. This adaptability on my part may or may not augur well for a court appointment.

elkh1 said...

What would be the fate of the American king and queen? Would be the same fate as the French King Louis XVI and his lovely Queen Marie Antoinette.

Hagar said...

I believe the Norwegian and British crowns are the only ones that are strictly hereditary. All the others involve some sort of election in the selection process. In Europe anyway.

Amexpat said...

I believe the Norwegian and British crowns are the only ones that are strictly hereditary. All the others involve some sort of election in the selection process. In Europe anyway.

As a practical matter, I believe that all the European crowns are hereditary now, when there is a direct heir. That's the case in Denmark, which has the longest continuous monarchy in Europe. In Spain, which is a new monarchy, Felipe VI succeeded his father and I don't recall any discussion about that. Sweden did choose a French commoner as monarch in 1818, but that was because there was no direct heir. Today, Victoria is the Crown Princess in Sweden and there's no question that she will succeed her father.

Narayanan said...

New plot hatching.

Megxit brings Baby Archie to claim USA Throne

Hagar said...

The Dane used to elect their kings after a negotiation between the nearest heir to the throne and the Danish nobility about the terms under which he would rule if elected. The "rightful succession" was never broken, but the presumptive heir always kept as his ace in the hole that if the Danish nobility got too greedy, he would say the hell with it and retire to his domains in Norway and its far-flung "empire", which were his by inheritance, no election nonsense involved.

The Swedes did not have any such formal process resulting in a written agreement between the presumptive heir and the nobility, but Riksdagen chose a presumptive heir outside the line of succession more than once. The Swedish presumptive heir was chosen while the reigning king was still alive. Just how it happened is still being argued about, but Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Marshal of France and Prince of Pontecorvo, (that title also won as one of Napoleon's generals) was elected to follow Karl XIII, and he was the Swedes' second choice after their first, Prince Christian August of Norway and the leader of the Norwegian army in the 1814 war against Sweden, died of a heart attack while in Sweden for the election ceremonies.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

It's unseemly for any self-respecting American to be paying attention to this stuff.

Hagar said...

Correction: Prince Christian August had been elected crown prince of Sweden and was serving as such when he died during a Swedish army military review in Scania.

PaoloP said...

Liberals are really, really missing their God-given place at the helm of their Kingdom... I mean: at the helm of the country!

Narayanan said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...

Is there anyone who could even get 2/3 of Americans to vote for him or her? Tom Hanks, maybe?

Blogger rehajm said...

Dolly Parton.
__&&&+++
If she gained a breast it could be unanimous.

Narayanan said...

If she garnered another breast it could be unanimous.

Mark said...

King: I am king.

Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society.

Woman: Well, I didn't vote for you.

Dennis: Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just because some watery tart threw a sword at you! If I went 'round saying I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away!

Mark said...

"A French bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. It certainly hath no divinity in it. However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right; if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion."
-- A guy who would have called for armed rebellion if America had established a king.

Narr said...

Late here-- has anyone mentioned that South Park already has it figured out?

Narr
As with so many matters

tcrosse said...

The Telegraph has announced a big summit at Sandringham where HMQ, Ward, and Wally figure out what to do about the Beav. Yoko will be dialing in from Vancouver. In years past Phillip would have been the one to lay down the law, but at 99 his authority has run out.

Narr said...

The Swedes hired Bernadotte (one of the least of Napoleon's marshals) because he was married to one of the Emperor's former fiances and it was thought 1) that he was a superior military commander and 2) would know how to work Napoleon coming and going.

Bad bets.

I guess I'll break the bad news to the neo-royalists here: the hereditary principle only functions well when the monarchy itself is tamed . . . by which time it's mostly irrelevant to actual politics. Thrones that are actually powerful tend to be contested--history has often been told as a trail of bloody successions.

Narr
21st Earl of Gribben (originally "Gristlebone," you know the English)

ken in tx said...

Many people long to be ruled by a benevolent monarch. I think is because we all grow up in families with mostly benevolent parents. This longing is actually a desire not to grow up.

C.S. Lewis wrote that many people are natural born slaves, himself included. But there are no natural born masters.

gerry said...

if only we'd only able to execute George iii ajd the royal family in 1776.