While washing up dishes on Christmas morning I happened to hear the King’s Christmas Message on British radio. It was Charles the Third’s first go at what his mother had done 69 times before him, a ritual address to the nation he “serves” by a hereditary, wealthy, “working” monarch. Stuck into my soapy chore, I let Windsor’s hallmark, posh drawl rinse my mind. As he spoke I echoed various phrases in booming, plummy voice, trying to ape his received pronunciation.
When the address ended, a choir boomed “God Save the King,” and I reflexively launched into “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” which is what we sing to the tune filched, I presume, from our colonial lordships. I had just heard a man cosseted in privilege express himself warmly, with tenderness and acknowledgment, even a certain humility, in celebration of his country and its citizens. Call it what you will, it was unifying, dignified, articulate, and convincing enough for its moment and purpose.
I realized I’d never ONCE heard anything approaching such an affirmation, convincing or otherwise, from a certain former elected U.S. head of state whose baneful legacy persistently distorts our past and encumbers our future. I saw at my kitchen sink, more clearly than I had before, why I hold in such low regard a man so failed at all but grift.
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