Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Americans got the royal treatment for 144 hours, give or take a few minutes. But it’s all over. Queen Elizabeth II is gone, along with her beribboned hats, sensible pumps and kindly civility that commanded the attention of 700 dithering journalists, the White House and the citizenry itself.

Our nation will never have a queen. But we liked this one just fine. A CNN/Opinion Research poll released yesterday found that eight of 10 of us favor the British monarch — more than British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who garnered 70 percent, and Prince Charles at 62 percent. The survey of 1,028 adults also revealed that 41 percent of us thought we’d be better off with a royal family.

Still, there was an awful lot of telltale hubbub over curtsying and protocol during the six-day visit, which ended as the queen thundered out of Andrews Air Force Base last night aboard a custom jet, accompanied by three tons of luggage and 35 attendants.

“This is no simple flash-in-the-pan celebrity watch. Americans are drawn to the queen’s calm demeanor and her basic etiquette — respect, consideration, honesty,” said manners maven Peggy Post, spokeswoman of the Vermont-based Emily Post Institute.

“There’s also the rare, royal mystique, so fascinating to curious Americans who wonder about this family line which has persisted for centuries,” Mrs. Post said. “Plus it is a positive tale. This is an upbeat story in the middle of much bad news.”

Not everyone is impressed, however.

“People have seen too many Disney movies about royalty, I fear,” said writer Paul Jacob, a consultant for the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance. “Americans should not be celebrating royalty. … How can we celebrate someone who thinks they’re better than anyone else because of their bloodlines?”

Elizabeth, he said, is the “antithesis” of what America stands for. Mr. Jacob also questioned Buckingham Palace’s decision to send 15 protocol consultants to these shores before a whiff of royalty was even in the air.

“For someone to hold this lofty position and enjoy the monetary rewards of it in the 21st century is amazing. It is time we all said ‘enough.’ This,” Mr. Jacob added, “is Britain’s biggest insanity.”

Virginia’s, too, perhaps. Some locals were not pleased to discover that Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s decision to give state workers the day off to celebrate the queen’s visit cost the commonwealth $11 million.

But, tut-tut. Elizabeth is back at her palace, and all’s well that ends well.

“Paul McCartney summed up the queen’s appeal pretty well in the song ‘Her Majesty.’ The lyrics said, ‘Her majesty’s a pretty nice girl but she doesn’t have a lot to say,’ ” said Susan Maxwell Skinner, a former British journalist who covered Buckingham Palace for eight years.

“The queen endures because she is solidly consistent in times of stress and difficulty. She is no pop celebrity, no Oprah Winfrey or Angelina Jolie. She does not seek fashionable approval, she simply wants to serve the people,” Mrs. Skinner said, adding that shared history has influenced affection between Yankees and queen.

“Americans do not forget their strong alliance with the British in World War II, and certainly in these times,” Mrs. Skinner said. “The queen was there in those early days. She’s outlived prime ministers and other leaders. She’s seen it all. Charles and Camilla don’t have that kind of appeal. But Queen Elizabeth II will always have it.”

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