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Should Americans care about Queen Elizabeth II’s death?

The answer differs, depending on who you ask.

When the queen passed away at the age of 96 last week, it immediately became the biggest story in the world. But how much should it matter to people here in the U.S.? Do Americans actually care? How should they remember her? Why?

Those questions sparked a debate between AllSides’s co-founders on Slack, our company communication platform. Below is that conversation, edited lightly for brevity.
 

Scott McDonald, AllSides co-founder, Center bias:

Not sure why Americans should care.  We don't believe in “royalty” - a family who prances around in pajamas in public and live off money stolen from the people pretending to be better then everyone when really they're just a bunch of consanguineous cos players.

I get that it's news but not big news to me.


 

John Gable, AllSides co-founder and CEO, Lean Right bias:

Americans do care - for better or for worse - but overwhelmingly do, and it is covered by all media with takes on the political impact. I suspect we will in the near future see articles describing exactly Scott’s sentiment, which we should post.

 

Scott:

I think the Right loves royalty.

 

Joseph Ratliff, AllSides News Editor, Lean Left bias:

She once ruled over the largest empire in the world, before decolonization. 


 

Scott:

So the world’s largest criminal? This is Disney fantasy BS. Not serious news to do anything more than a mention - UNLESS the media coverage differs or offers something for AllSides. Ok, I've said my peace. 

My next blog post idea: Royalty- the fake pajama party from medieval times that continues to vex the real world in 2022
 

John:

We should cover that perspective. Don't you love how AllSides co-founders differ?

I admire and respect the Queen looking at what she as an individual did to help her country and society during great political and social changes, working to unify Great Britain and the former colonies during her reign.

I also see the past rule of monarchy as just a part of our human history that was all that was realistically possible as a natural path from early days of human society as we evolved from caves and didn't know how else to effectively organize ourselves as a growing society.

I also see that a non-ruling monarchy (however imperfect) in England mainly serves as a social bond, something like a shared belief that helps keep Great Britain together and unified despite differences of opinions and culture. In America, we have historically used the story (sometimes elevated to myth or a common “religion”, which is not necessarily a bad thing) behind the creation of our country and the Constitution, along with the ideals (even when we horribly fall short) and radical support of the concept of rule by the people, of the people, for the people.

I also think that monarchies that rule with political and military power are another form of authoritarianism (religious, communist/socialist, or monarchy) that still exist in this world, and that they are dangerous for the people that live there and beyond.

Since the role of the Great Britain royalty is mainly as social ambassador and supports a more unified society within Britain, I think that is potentially a good thing and maybe worth the financial costs (which others see as a waste of resources devoted to a wealthy elite, a reasonable point). Though I am not a fan of evaluating anyone pro or con based on their heritage (who they are related to, or genetic differences from height to color of skin or hair or eyes) but prefer to focus on “the content of their character”, I do appreciate the value of pride in one’s own family’s past and see that as valuable for a people of a nation to jointly take pride in their past, with warts and all.

I also have seen for years some advantages of a monarch as a social bond while an elected prime minister plays the political role compared to the US President that has to play both political and social bond roles even as the holder of that office changes frequently, potentially putting our social unity at greater risk.
 

Scott:

Just the presence of ‘royalty’ in society is an admission that pedigree matters.  It doesn’t.  It’s a racist & antiquated worldview not fit for modern times.

The concepts of equality and democracy ring hollow in a country that perpetuates these myths of monarchy.

I want to point out that I'm an equal opportunity hater.  I have the same disdain for the “king” of Saudi Arabia - a country essentially invented by US oil companies.  As well as the “king” of Jordan - a country invented by the Brits.  The queen of England is just as fake. As are all the others.

Special status through birth is the scourge of the modern world and shouldn’t be fantasized about or glorified.  You can still have a figurehead but elect one - and they can play all the same roles you mention above.

Queen Elizabeth II did no great thing to achieve her position.  The concept of ‘royalty’ is hogwash!

And the sooner we’re rid of it the sooner we’ll realize a better world.

I believe it can be argued that America - and the success of the American project - is a rejection of royalty and the ‘ways of old’ - and replaced with more enlightened thinking.  Our way is better and the history of our success are facts in support of this.  

You give tremendous credit to a false idol whose great accomplishments were hand fed to her.  

Her role could have been played better by a member of the populace who had actually ever achieved anything - ever - on their own.  I have no real respect for her fake accomplishments - accomplishments that are handed to you on a silver platter are not actually accomplishments.  Even her speeches are written by others.  And all the stagecraft that goes into them - prepared by others.

We didn’t need a queen after WWII - we had elected Presidents and everything worked out fine.

The glorification of a ‘sovereign’ is puerile and dangerous in my opinion.

There’s no such thing as ‘royal blood.’

Any peasant anywhere can achieve just as much - and potentially more - if given the same opportunities.

Royalty is so last century!  Let’s do all we can to stomp it out of existence.

Or at least add term limits and let the people vote on who they want representing them in this capacity.
 

John:

OK, gotcha. Here are some clarifications on where I think we agree and where we disagree, with my final thoughts as well.

Where we agree:

  • Monarchy is no way to run a society or government. Let it die in the dustbin of history.
  • We should be much more aware of the dangers and nonsense of judging people by their heritage (or race, gender, appearance …).

Where we disagree:

  • Just because Queen Elizabeth was given the throne doesn’t mean she should be downgraded or despised. That is just as “racist & antiquated” as praising her purely because of her royal birth. She could do a good job (as I think she did) or a bad job (as others have done).
  • Queen Elizabeth should not be equated with other kings and royalty who have political and military power. Social influence is not the same thing as the power to take your money, throw you in prison or kill people on the battlefield.

Scott, I think you go farther in the direction of your distaste (and perhaps even anger based on your tone) of monarchy and all the inequality and problems it presents. I do agree that there is a great deal there that warrants anger and rejection. 

I also loathe monarchy rule, but I fall way short of degrading the individuals that happened to receive advantages at birth. That’s just hate and disrespect in a different direction. It blindly treats people unequally based on circumstance rather than individual character and actions.

Should people from the 3rd world hate all Americans since we have received advantages as far above them as the Queen was above us? I don’t think so. The core problem is hate, especially self-righteous hate, directed toward anyone based on anything other than the content of their own individual character and actions.

Being born with or without privilege does not determine your character one way or the other, nor should it invite praise or scorn, especially when directed to an individual. 

Bottom line, let political monarchies die. It might be good to keep some monarchies that don’t have political or military power, they might even help keep a nation united. And all praise to Queen Elizabeth 2, an imperfect woman of character from a previous era who demonstrated unwavering commitment to her nation.


John Gable is the CEO and co-founder of AllSides. He has a Lean Right bias.

Scott McDonald is the co-founder and chief technology officer of AllSides. He has a Center bias.

Joseph Ratliff is AllSides’s Daily News Editor. He has a Lean Left bias.

This conversation was lightly edited for brevity by Managing Editor Henry A. Brechter (Center bias).