The Crowning Of The Chief Of State

The Norwegian and Danish and Dutch and Japanese, and other powerless hereditary monarchies, attract scant attention from major U.S. media. They are rarely “front page” news even upon a succession. However, as we all know U.S. media cannot get enough of the British one…

[Photo by Niklas Jeromin on]

Obviously, that latter is because U.S. viewers/readers are far more interested – for whatever reasons – in the British one compared to others. Moreover the New York Times and lots of other major media have been telling us for weeks now that the British people are indifferent or even hostile about Saturday’s coronation happening at all; or that they have too much else on their minds right now. Britain’s actual head of government is the (political) prime minister, of course, and such media’s general take is no one really cares about chief of state King Charles III’s coronation.

As has marked their royal coverage for decades whenever a major event is unfolding, such reporting predictably always also finds British who don’t like the symbolic monarch as chief of state, and often points to (what the media considers) those who are “representative” of the (latest) “new” generation (such as a vegan cafe employee and others in Bristol; Bristol is perhaps best-described as England’s equivalent of San Francisco) who will undoubtedly as they age launch an overdue revolution and abolish that monarchy someday.

I am just some little author. I merely live here in Britain as an American (and have for over 20 years now). I am not some high-powered media outlet with lots of resources or some veteran foreign reporter able to state he has his finger on the real pulse of the British people…

[Dartmouth, Devon. Photo by me, May 2, 2023.]

I can only also say, my friends, that our rear neighbo(u)rs have NEVER displayed a flag in the entire time we have been living here in Dartmouth (since August 2022)… until Tuesday.

My gut feeling is whatever the weather, this is history unseen since Elizabeth II’s 1953 coronation. London’s streets will be packed on Saturday. Much of the rest of the country – even in Bristol – will probably be watching coverage of the coronation on the BBC.

Rather than criticizing, as Americans we should look to get our own house in order in this case first. Our U.S. presidency had not been planned to be “political” in 1787 because it had been thought (much like an elected king) George Washington (and successors) would remain “above politics” (and politics would be largely in the House of Representatives). However, our elected head of government and combined chief of state President Washington after taking office in 1789 found himself caught between having to decide as president which he preferred of his two closest advisers’ differing views of the future: Alexander Hamilton’s desire for a powerful federal government, international trade, and planning for an eventually “urban” America, or Thomas Jefferson’s preference for stronger state governments, small farmers/”domestic manufactures,” and a “rural” vision for the country. That conflict between the two led to the creation of U.S. political parties. (Washington himself was never in a political party, but eventually came down much more on Hamilton’s side.)

[The White House, Washington, D.C. Photo by me, 2018.]

The President has since then become a clearly political official yet is also chief of state. The two make for an uneasy combination given every president is often utterly despised by some half the population at any given time. I am unsure as Americans we should be hyper-critical of the democratic (which it is because every major political party supports its continued existence), symbolic, powerless, apolitical, British hereditary chief of state, as a “lesser” approach somehow.

Given what has been happening especially in recent years in the U.S. (including a president, defeated in his re-election bid, for the first time trying his best to stay in the office regardless by encouraging misled supporters to invade the Capitol in order to somehow disrupt the transfer of the office days later to his successor), it might well be said that, like Britain’s divided executive approach, maybe a divided executive branch – a head of government (the politician) and a separate chief of state (a non-politician who seeks to unite, not divide) – might not be a bad thing to consider creating in our U.S.: two presidents.

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂


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