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Politics

I Don’t Have A King

Prince Charles, or I guess he is the king now
Pictured: The king OF THE U.K., where I don't live.
Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, officially died on Thursday, though also possibly she died months ago and the royal apparatus of the U.K. has been sitting on the news; it is fun to speculate about that. At any rate she is deceased. A schoolchild passed Balmoral Castle in Scotland on foot carrying a Cool Ranch Dorito, and the spice fumes in the air caused the 96-year-old to explode.

The death of a celebrity is a lot of things, one of which is an occasion for people to get off their takes: Paul Sorvino Taught Me It Was OK To Be Weird, or Olivia Newton-John Deserved To Die And I Hope She Burns In Hell or whatever. Elizabeth II was either the parasitic hereditary figurehead (most generously) or the authentic hereditary ruler (less generously) of the husk of a spectacularly rotten and blood-drenched empire from which the societies of like a third of the earth’s population have had to spend the last few centuries fighting to liberate themselves; some of them are still working on it. You can imagine people have opinions. My opinion is that this type of shit makes me fucking sick:

Yesterday some British dickweed posted a thing about how British people are extra sad right now because Elizabeth II was their “spiritual grandmother” and I lost like a half-hour only semi-voluntarily noodling out the possible accidental theological implications of that description, namely whether it means that Elizabeth II is God’s mom. Don’t worry, I hate me too for this trait! My slush brain just kind of can’t let that sort of thing go, even as I myself am hardly surgical with this shit. But the point is that word choice matters.

What I’m getting at here is that it makes me absolutely fucking insane when people who are not citizens (subjects?) of the United Kingdom or even the Commonwealth idly refer to members of the British royal family as though they are the monarchs of the entire world. Jake Tapper is a freaking American: Born in New York, grew up in Philadelphia. Charles is not “His Majesty The King” to Jake Tapper! For brevity’s sake I will grant you “King Charles III” if the sentence or paragraph elsewhere clarifies that we are talking about the U.K. But under no circumstances is he “His Majesty The King” to an American!!!

I’ll confess that this isn’t only about a deranged fixation on word choice, like, as a habit or a concept. There is nothing lower or more pathetic on Earth than British royal family reverence among populations once subjugated by the British; the only thing close is British royal family reverence among the British. American culture is shamefully rank with that shit, to the extent that mainstream American media coverage of those degenerate freaks as a matter of course assumes some amount of anglophilia on the part of its audience. Imagine if Harald V of Norway dropped dead tomorrow and some American press organ headlined its news capsule “The king has died at 85,” or headlined a story, without clarifying the kingdom, “The new king will officially be known as Haakon VIII.” That would be obviously ludicrous: The American news audience does not have a “the king” and will not have a “the new king,” and nothing that happens in Norway will change anything about that arrangement. Meanwhile, right here in reality I am looking at multiple news notifications from the New York freaking Times on my phone that refer to “the queen” and “the king.” Not the king or queen of anyplace. Just “the king” and “the queen.” Disgusting!

The monarch of the United Kingdom is extra double turbo not “the king” or “the queen” to Americans! Almost no articles of American heritage justify anything resembling pride or patriotism, but one of the exceptions is that this country was founded in bloody anti-colonialist revolution against the British crown, and that revolution served as inspiration for others, some of them also against that same British crown. However abruptly that revolution’s putative ideals may have revealed themselves to be a bunch of baloney, common people really did join up into ragtag militias and kick England’s redcoated buttcheeks off for the privilege of not having its rulers be our rulers, and for whatever freedoms they hoped they could win by doing that. The absolute very least you can do to enjoy one of the only actually cool things about our motherfucked landfill of a nation is bring the appropriate anti-royalist contempt to how you talk about Britain’s kings and queens, who are not yours or mine.