Pine Nuts: Monarchy is out of date, always has been (Opinion)

McAvoy Layne
McAvoy Layne

Benevolent as Queen Elizabeth was as a monarch, she could have been even more useful, and eminently more noble if she had been a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, for every Queen Elizabeth there is a Henry VIII in the closet. Who among us is too young to remember the jingle of Henry’s six wives? Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” This is not to forget the expression Henry had fixed permanently on his face, an expression that suggested you had just knocked over his pint.

Nor can we forget the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence. “The history of King George of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Check the list of grievances, and unless I’m wrong, you will be impressed.

When Mark Twain was on the Quaker City Excursion to Europe in 1867, they stopped in Odessa on the Black Sea to pay a visit to Czar Alexander II at his Yalta summer palace. The American Consul advised our gang on how the Czar should be greeted with a smile signifying love, gratification and admiration. Then they all tried practicing such a smile on each other.

A young Sam Clemens was asked to draft the formal address to the Czar. This must have been a difficult task for Samuel, he, who would later attest, “Any kind of royalty, no matter how modified, any kind of aristocracy, however pruned, is rightly an insult. I wish I might live fifty years longer. I believe I should really see the end of what is surely the grotesquest of all the swindles ever invented by man– monarchy.”

To Nicholas Tchaykoffsky in 1906 Sam wrote: “Some of us, even the white-headed, may live to see the blessed day when czars and grand dukes are as scarce in Russia as I trust they are in heaven.”

Sam witnessed Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, and huffed, “It was more of a spectacle for the Kodak than the pen.”

The king and the duke were not capitalized in Sam’s handwritten copy of Huckleberry Finn, but were later capitalized by editors who must have felt they were still subjects. As Huck himself tells us, “All I say is, kings is kings. Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot.  It’s the way they’re raised.”           

Our American monarchy of today is money, and again I yield to our mutual friend, Samuel Clemens…

“We like to read about rich people in the papers; the papers know it, and they do their best to keep this appetite liberally fed.  They even leave out a football score now and then to get room for all the particulars of how, ‘Rich Woman Fell Down Cellar.’  The falling down the cellar is of no interest to us when the woman is not rich, but no rich woman can fall down the cellar and we not yearn to know all about it and wish it was us.”

Come to think of it, in the most flattering photo I’ve ever seen of Donald Trump, he is flashing a genuine smile at Queen Elizabeth, as if saying to himself, “Boy, would I like to have your job.” Here again, Mark Twain warns us, “This atrocious doctrine of allegiance to party plays directly into the hands of politicians of the baser sort, and doubtless it was borrowed, or stolen, from the monarchial system.”

In closing, King Edward VIII was my kind of king. He abdicated his crown to marry an American woman. My mother told me he was walking toward her on a narrow passageway in Washington D.C. one afternoon, when she asked herself if she should step aside for the Duke of Windsor. She did not have time to make that decision, as he stepped gently aside, and let her pass.


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