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 necessary 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 proper gear to go horseback driving 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 means? 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 subsequently see them in right historic scale.
Her capacity to allure and even strike up friendships with U.S. presidents was a not-so-secret weapon that helped make — and maintain — 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 lady who was carefully 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 Warfare was a formative expertise by which America’s contribution was decisive and unforgettable. On a extra private be aware, she solely took a handful of international holidays throughout her reign, however 5 of them had been to America, usually — 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 concept of Elizabeth II attending celebrations three years later to mark America’s bicentennial. One of many prime minister’s advisors wrote a snooty be aware to Buckingham Palace: “One would want to contemplate whether or not it was proper for the Queen to be related to the celebration of a revolt 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 to this point.”
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 stated 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 invaluable lesson… We learnt to respect the fitting 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 to fill that hole?
For British officers looking forward to him to step into his mom’s diplomatic position, Charles poses a variety of issues. The primary is that, by means of no fault of his personal, he merely can not present the semi-mystical hyperlink to the previous that his mom got here to symbolize to the entire world. One other, which threatens to make issues significantly 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 mandatory — he has been much more energetic in society throughout his lengthy look ahead to the throne. The prince’s political exercise has centered on local weather change and the surroundings, hardly uncontroversial points on this facet 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 interact within the political sphere far much less usually as soon as he grew to become king. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless simple to see how he may change into a extra politicized determine than his mom right here in America.
In case you suppose a rustic’s standing and sway on the earth is decided by greater than its wealth or army may, then it’s laborious 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 residing embodiment of a form of British greatness that’s simply understood on the world stage — and in America — will solely add to nervousness about Britain’s place on the earth 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 by which the Queen helped make the particular relationship what it’s, her hyperlink with America can be a reminder that the UK-U.S. ties can’t be lowered to at least one or two people. They symbolize 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 normally noticed sense as soon as they’d had tea with the Queen.