Canada’s Queen brings greetings from Britain

Since 1957, it has been customary for Her Majesty the Queen to give an annual, televised Christmas greeting. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the tradition, and, more importantly, it was also the first time her message was posted on YouTube.

And it was nice. I’m not contrarian to the point where I would deny that. One thing I always admire is how the Queen is probably among the last heads of state on Earth who can still get away with offering an explicit Christmas greeting from an unabashedly Christian perspective. It’s always refreshing in these politically correct “Happy Holidays” times of ours.

But, as usual, the Queen’s message was also very British centric, despite being ostensibly directed to “the Commonwealth.” We got to watch some British soldiers in Afghanistan under the Union Jack, and saw footage of the dedication of Britain’s new National Memorial Arboretum—both sights which are not terribly relevant or moving unless you happen to be a resident of the British isles.

A better speech would have thrown in some footage of the various things Her Maj did around the Commonwealth this year, such as when she dedicated the restored Canadian Vimy Ridge monument in April, or visited Uganda in November. But this is the one speech a year that the Queen writes entirely herself, and she seems to know that her audience consists of mostly elderly British BBC viewers.

Take a look at that header on the YouTube channel too, by the way. Official channel of the British Monarchy, not the Commonwealth monarchy or Canadian monarchy or Jamaican monarchy or anything else.

I remember this great quote by Richard Nixon where he said that it didn’t matter if the domino theory was wrong, because the dominoes themselves believed it. The supposed Commonwealth monarchy embodied by Queen Elizabeth may no longer be a solely British institution, but the institution itself seems to believe otherwise.

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17 responses to “Canada’s Queen brings greetings from Britain

  1. You are quite right, but only up to a point. It would always be wise, particularly in this central annual address, to explicitly mention and include the major Anglosphere kingdoms (even if just implicitly, but more noticeably, than this year). She didn’t forget her Canadian people in 1957, after all, gratefully mentioning their particular and admirable and traditional loyalty.

    Things aren’t as bad as you would like, however. The Crown is diligent and loving in its visits to every corner of the Commonwealth, and in welcoming them to Britain, too, every day. Never forget, too, that our relationship is bigger than quick mentions or video montages in a 7 minute video: preferential visa treatment, for instance, is a more valuable embodiment, long may it continue.

    Personally, I’d extend the address to 15 minutes, and ensure there is both footage and reference of and to Great Britain, Australia, Canada and NZ, at absolute minimum.

    Yet, even if that never happens, and Britain is always an obvious focus, if I lived in the Commonwealth I would enjoy it just as much, maybe more: for Britain will always be your home, your anchor, your identity, your roots, heritage and safety. It is where you come from, and where Canada comes from; you should take strength from it, as an Africa-American no doubt takes strength from the thought of the bush, or an Asian-American from the thought of a Bhuddist temple back home. For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return – and the dust in this case happens to come from an English field, or cottage, or church.

  2. Laughable, if you ask me — why should a hypothetical Asian-American who may not be religious at all (or more likely, in the current US religious/political climate, will be Christian), take strength from the thought of Buddhist temples at home which he has never seen in his life and which don’t mean anything at all to him?

    Likewise, why should Australians, Canadians, … take strength from thoughts of the United Kingdom — I really don’t see how this applies to all of the former colonies who do NOT share the crown with the UK any longer, so I don’t see any special reason why this should apply to the remaining fifteen, then.

  3. Because Great Britain is home – their ancestors left there and, as Britons, made their new countries.

    Why don’t you just calm down a bit? Many people – most people – particularly in this globalised century, take particular comfort and strength from considering and cherishing their roots. The very idea of the hyphenated American proves it. We are all romantics and nostalgics; the Jewish-American has a strong heart for Jerusalem, as the Italian-American does for Rome. It’s just a simple and understandable fact. And most Australians, Canadians, and NZers are in actual fact British-Australians, British-Canadians, etc.

  4. “Home” is New Zealand. Britain, Ireland and Germany are where my ancestors came from. Britain is as much an anchor for us as Hawaki is for Maori – it’s a semi-mythical place.

  5. Indeed. I don’t dispute that. So it is for me. I feel very little love for much of modern Britain, but oodles for the Britain of old.

  6. Scott – “Because Great Britain is home – their ancestors left there and, as Britons, made their new countries.”

    No, no it’s not – at the very least, not for me. The fact that my mother was born in the UK doesn’t make it any less of a foreign country to me. I acknowledge its historical ties, but I don’t have any attachment to it beyond that. Nor am I particularly in love with my head of state being a foreigner – because, really, if push came to shove, do you really think the British monarchy would value Canada over the United Kingdom?

  7. Scott says, “for Britain will always be your home, your anchor, your identity, your roots, heritage and safety.” That sounds frighteningly imposing rather than inclusive.

    I feel no cultural connection to England despite my largely English ancestry (nor to the Netherlands for my Dutch side). I feel cultural connections to my more immediate cultures, which I was born into and daily reaffirm: Mormonism and the United States.

    Why should citizens of Commonwealth nations feel any cultural connection to England when there are more immediate, intimate national cultures surrounding them?

    My most personal connections to England are stories my father’s stories of his religious mission there, advocating for Mormonism among the Anglicans. He was a stranger in a land as foreign to his rural Rocky Mountain upbringing as New Zealand or South Africa would have been. I have less connection even than that.

    Is it the England/US schism of revolution that separates me? I doubt it. Lewis, Tachyphosist, and JJ sound as though they feel the same way, despite being citizens of Commonwealth nations.

    In our time of multiracial nations, hasn’t the claim of ethnic ties lost it’s power and appeal?

    I see England as I see see ancient Rome or Greece: a powerful nation of ancient Western culture, but with nothing resembling a personal heritage. Your claim, Scott, makes no sense to me at all.

  8. Q. “Why should citizens of Commonwealth nations feel any cultural connection to England when there are more immediate, intimate national cultures surrounding them?”

    A. Cannot they feel both?

    Q. “I see England as I see see ancient Rome or Greece: a powerful nation of ancient Western culture, but with nothing resembling a personal heritage.”

    A. Very odd – for it seems to me that any educated person in Western civilisation must feel himself most particularly a son of all three, Greece, Rome and England, and Jerusalem too; at least if he has any sense of the waters in which he is swimming. As England is the last of all these, it must be felt that much the stronger. I do not wish to suggest you are not very well educated: I assume you disown the chords between the world around you and this heavy Island, between everything you do parliamentarily, culturally and z, and everything centuries of your forbears fought and won and loved in cities and country near me, consciously, and for personal reasons.

    Personal reasons which I should lay squarely at the feet of Mormonism, in your case. It is unsurprising that a Mormon should feel closer to the United States than anywhere else. From what I know of your new religion, the USA is to Mormons as Eretz-Israel is to Jews. (In general terms).

    In others it is surely ignorance: not personal ignorance, which is inexcusable, but national ignorance, for so much of your heritage and mine has been bred out of us, or stolen by those who thought they knew better. Yet it remains, a stubborn fact, written and sewn forever in parchments, books, constitutions and souls, and can very easily be revived with half a mind.

  9. I don’t know why it says ‘z’. It should say economically and socially.

  10. You ask, “Cannot they feel both?” Not likely to the same degree, and certainly not if they are at odds. According to the Sermon on the Mount, no man can serve two master equally. In my own experience, that which is intimate and clear has a stronger hold than that which is broad and vague. This is both why I believe in a Deity who is personally interested in His individual creations, and why national ties seem obviously more valuable to a citizen than a loose international coalition.

    Besides, my question was not one of “can” or ability, but one of “should” or necessity. Regardless of whether we can, what compels us to?

    You claim, “any educated person in Western civilisation must feel himself most particularly a son of all three, Greece, Rome and England, and Jerusalem too” but your advocacy of political ties ends with England. You do not expect England to concede the office of Head of State (or any political office) to Rome or Athens or Jerusalem. You do not expect the commonwealth nations to hold formal ties to the ancient empires of Europe. So why should the nations of the commonwealth concede these things to England? What makes England special amid Rome, Greece, and Jerusalem? And if monarchical ties are rightly severed between England and Rome, why not between Canada and England? Or between New Zealand and England?

    Part of my respect for the United States comes from it’s early and quick end to any such confusion. In a generation, colonial Englishmen chose to become citizens of an utterly independent nation. It is beautiful political artisanship to so quickly make things so clear.

    It’s not very relevant, but your characterization of Mormon teachings is a bit skewed. The Western Hemisphere generally and the USA specifically are home to a lot of locations relevant to Mormons, mostly historically and a few theologically (including a specific “Land of Promise” of unknown location but not likely in the USA). But (in general terms) the Land of Promise in Mormon belief is any place where people live together righteously.

  11. If you can’t see why England is slightly more pressing and relevant to how we organise and conduct ourselves and our hearts today, there isn’t much I can say to persuade you.

    I don’t advocate political unity – even though we all share political systems established in England – for the Queen is apolitical. The Crown is about shared memory, shared ancestry, shared culture. These things can never be diminished, with or without the Crown, but without it over time the leftists and the losers will have half a chance to help people forget it.

  12. The Queens, as a head of state, is by definition a political figure, and in effect, the Commonwealth realms are in personal union as far as the head of state is concerned.

  13. BTW, by your definition everyone who’s republican is either a leftist or a loser?

  14. Yes. I think that’s not really up for debate.

  15. Scott, do you really see no relevant difference between remembering your cultural origins and giving high political office to an individual with no connection to your nation except mutual cultural origins?

    Regarding leftists and losers, are you really suggesting everyone in the US Republican Party is a loser? Because few if any of us are leftists, yet party ideology is republican in name and fact. Even if you mean only Commonwealth republicans are leftists or losers, you still make no exception for those who toe the right-wing line on every issue except the form of government, republic vs. monarchy. Is this one issue a litmus test requirement of inclusion in a closed ideology?

    Throughout our discussion, your beliefs have been vague and your arguments dependent on the accuracy of broad generalizations. If there isn’t much you can say to persuade me, I suggest it is due to a weakness either in your conclusion or your ability to persuade rather than any fault of mine.

  16. I agree with Psudo. The claim that all republicans are leftists or losers is rather ridiculous.

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