The Queen's Passing and the US Media: Reflections From a Lowercase 'R' Republican
Hispanic Heritage Month has just begun; it's a busy time for me. This time of year, I receive numerous invitations for media interviews, public speaking and other projects.
But earlier this week, I got an unexpected media request. A reporter from my local (Orlando, Florida) CBS affiliate wanted to know my thoughts on online criticism of the British Crown following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
My first reaction was to say no: "I will have to pass (as in declining)," I responded, "for the following reason: I am anti-monarchical to the bone and would not have anything nice to say either about the monarchy or its relations with former colonies. It is not a good time to rain on the Queen's funeral procession."
The reporter must have found my answer odd, but being good at his job, he tried again, insisting that the channel was interested in representing all perspectives. I agreed to a Zoom interview later that day.
I watch a lot of news on TV, mostly CNN and MSNBC, occasionally clicking on Fox. It is interesting that Queen Elizabeth's death has united those disparate media in an apparent burst of Anglophilic monarchism.
Coverage has been incessant and almost completely laudatory, bordering on servility, as if we were still British subjects. I am not trying to be disrespectful of Her Majesty the Queen, her grieving family and her mourning subjects. I actually admire the United Kingdom and its highly civilized people -- pork pie and soccer hooliganism aside. But I found it troubling that reporters, correspondents and commentators (Americans in particular) have showered, nonstop, exaggerated praise on the Queen on American TV. The coverage's main mantra: "Oh, her sense of duty"; "She has dedicated her entire life to service," yada, yada, yada.
What about this for duty and service? A "plebian" American or English woman, who works hard (and long hours) as a teacher or factory worker; she takes public transportation -- is not chauffeured back home in a Bentley or Rolls-Royce.
Her second shift begins immediately: she must prepare the family dinner, something quick and unsophisticated (macaroni and cheese or a meatloaf) -- no special French-trained chefs nor delicacies from Fortnum & Mason (est. 1707).
Then she must help her children with schoolwork -- no affected tutors or exclusive boarding schools. Finally, when everybody else is sleeping, our commoner takes a quick shower -- no servant attendants nor cloud-soft towels from Mitre Linen (est. 1946) -- and goes to sleep in a bed whose replacement is long overdue -- definitely not a Canadian handmade Hypnos bed.
There is no real vacation at the end of the school year. Our generic teacher takes a summer job just to make ends meet and perhaps buy a new mattress -- no trip to Balmoral Palace to rest and play with dogs and horses.