A week in America | 16 September 2022

Despite being a federal republic, the US can’t shake off its fascination with all things royal. Lots of US Royal watchers will be waiting to see what the new King does next.

Martin Liptrot

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The Queen is Dead, God Save The King

Despite being a federal republic, the US can’t shake off its fascination with all things royal.

Surprising, because it was only through starting a minor skirmish and illegally disposing of tons of high-quality tea that the Americans got to throw off the yoke of the Crown all those years ago.

It’s also worth recalling too that the nation’s experience of getting re-engaged or involved in UK royal affairs isn’t good either.

Wallis Simpson, born Bessie Warfield in Maryland, a Nazi-symapthizing divorcee, played her part in the abdication of Edward VII, and more recently Meghan Markle’s attempts to infiltrate ‘The Firm’ came unstuck following her odious out-pourings on Oprah’s sofa.

Americans, for the main, perhaps wisely, prefer their royals to be truly regal and to observe their soap opera from afar.

Watching the US coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s passing, it is clear Americans largely held a positive view of Her Majesty and the way she conducted herself and performed her duties.

This weekend, having been the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terror atrocities, we were reminded of the Queen’s statements and actions in expressing sadness and support for America on behalf of the whole British population.

The Coldstream Guards’ rendition – at The Queen’s instruction – of The Star-Spangled Banner at the Changing of the Guard following the attack was frequently played on TV this week.

Plus, her recent, light-hearted cameos with a skydiving James Bond and a Marmalade smeared Paddington Bear also did wonders to show the warmth of the woman who was Queen of country, commonwealth, and empire for more than 70 years.

While Americans understandably might not admit to wanting a hereditary Monarch back as head of state, they certainly warmed to Betty Windsor more than many of the recent heads of state they have, perhaps mistakenly, elected.

The new incumbent of Buck House has a tough act to follow.

So far, on our US TV news, we have seen a couple of official messages from the grieving Charles, one celebrating his mother and the other talking about the rather tedious sounding transfer and adoption of titles – Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Queen Consort and such.

But there has also been sight of a ‘tetchier’ Monarch.

We were informed he issued redundancy notices to all his staff while his mother was being transported to Lie-In-State, and video of him shooing an aide for not removing the lid off a pen quickly enough or leaving a pen holder in the wrong place made Americans gasp at his apparent thin skin. It certainly jolted American viewers who are used to the Queen and her entourage floating serenely through whatever situation, casting orbs of golden delight upon everyone gathered there.

Charles hasn’t elicited the same warm glow with US commentators, the hoi-poloi or the rank and file in the way his mother managed.

My favourite paper, The New York Times, was first to start the process of exposing how Charles’s reign will differ from that of his mum.

They pointed out that the Duchy of Cornwall – which was in poor financial condition when the 21-year-old Charles inherited it way back when as part of the portfolio of the heir to the throne – is now worth billions. Clearly the new King has a flair for making money.

Rather than it being ‘a landed gentry pile of land’, the Duchy now owns The Oval Cricket Ground, acres of rolling green countryside, seaside cottage rental businesses, central London commercial real estate, supermarkets and 130,000 acres of real estate property.

In this respect, Charles is more like the CEO of Monarchy PLC rather than the genial head of a family, all-be-it a rather privileged one.

Americans may also struggle to take Charles to their hearts as they learn more about how he has struggled to keep his public role and his personal ambitions and ideas apart.

When Tony Blair was Prime Minister, Charles would inundate him with letters about reversing the Government’s ban on fox hunting, the fate of badgers and even the power of herbal medicines.

While these were perhaps ill-judged and meddlesome, there are more worrying examples which have spurred the former Liberal Democrat Government Minister Norman Baker to file a police complaint.

Charles is accused of swapping knighthoods and citizenships for wealthy Saudi Arabian and Arab businessmen in return for large donations to his charities and foundations– one such gift was rumoured to be made in cash and stuffed into dozens of plastic shopping bags.

Not, perhaps, how one wishes to see their monarch acting.

The money Charles makes from these various business dealings have in part paid for the lifestyle of his children, his heir William and US-based Harry who is no longer supported directly by the public purse.

And while that sounds admirable, because he is a Royal, he is exempt from such inconveniences as income tax, capital gains or inheritance tax, so the fortune he has generated with the taxpayers’ money has passed entirely to his son William who has now inherited the title Duke of Cornwall.

Americans looking at the track record of the incoming King may draw frightening similarities with the antics of their former President Trump, who seemed to share the opinion that being head of state was a legitimate business opportunity to enrich yourself and those around you.

Charles needs to get a grip on his business advisors and the communications teams because it doesn’t take much to recognize the optics aren’t good.

Lots of US Royal watchers will be waiting to see what the new King does next.

“It will no longer be possible for me to give so much of my time and energies to the charities and issues for which I care so deeply,” the new Monarch told us during one of his video addresses.

But will the 73-year-old King be able to learn new tricks and walk away from all those money-making opportunities?

Time will tell. Time will tell.

Martin Liptrot

Martin Liptrot is a Public Affairs, PR and Marketing consultant working with UK, US and Global clients to try and ‘make good ideas happen’.

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