Queen Elizabeth II, U.S. Presidents and special relationships
The mood is merry in Great Britain this year as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 60 years on the throne. She is only the second English monarch to achieve that distinction (Queen Victoria was the first) and her popularity remains high at home and in the U.S.
Lord Watson of Richmond, CBE, and H. Edward Mann pay tribute to Her Majesty and the “special relationship” shared by both countries in the new book “The Queen and the U.S.A.” from Dementi Milestone Publishing. Loaded with historical photos and essays, it explores the Queen’s unique relationship with America, which includes working with twelve U.S. Presidents.
Co-author H. Edward Mann was Executive Director of the Jamestown 400th Commemoration Commission in 2007. He has held a number of governmental and political positions and is currently an advisor to the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.
Karen Jones: What do you think is the secret to Queen Elizabeth II’s continued popularity and why is the monarchy still important in Britain?
H. Edward Mann: Relative to the Royal family’s popularity with the British people, it is no secret there have been ups and downs. The low point was immediately after the death of Princess Diana. However, the Queen’s ratings bounced back. The current spike in her popularity is due, in part, to the sheer length of her tenure. Her coronation 60 years ago provides a context for Britain to see how far it has progressed since the dark days when their country was just shaking off the ravages of World War II.
A second component of her hold on the British people is due to the fact that she is the head of state for the United Kingdom. She represents a national pride that occupies a place beyond politics. The head of the British government is not the Queen – it is the Prime Minister. Whoever that individual may be, they are fair game for all manner and sorts of criticism – but British voters consider Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to hold a position above that.
KJ: “The Queen and the USA” explores the special relationship between the two. Can you explain the key points of that relationship and the importance of them?
HEM: The key overlap between the United States and Great Britain is their shared democratic values. Even though the countries have different democratic institutions, both systems support four key values: Rule of Law; Representative Government; Entrepreneurism and Free Markets; and Tolerance and Freedom. More than short-sighted geopolitical concerns, these are the reasons why these two great nations joined forces and sent young men into battle several times over the past century.
KJ: What would you like readers to learn from this book?
HEM:The key lesson for readers of “The Queen and the USA” is that the values that have evolved in the United States over the past 405 years have English origins that began 400 years before. The Magna Carta, Parliament, the tools for enhancing private enterprise and entrepreneurialism, and freedom of conscious were all codified to some degree in English law and tradition when the Jamestown settlers arrived in Virginia in 1607. Our success as a democracy has, in large part, been due to our ability to nurture English political roots, which are symbolically represented by the Queen.
KJ: If you could pick one quality essential for a strong leader what would that be and why?
HEM: Strategic vision. It is not enough to make promises or to say, “Here is my vision for the future.” It is incumbent upon leaders to talk about how people will achieve the vision and the ramifications – both good and bad – of the actions necessary to get there. The Queen as a leader has used her role to symbolize a vision of hope for the people of Great Britain – and she has given her governments to work on the specifics of how to achieve that hope.
KJ: The Queen has worked with 12 American presidents. Any ideas as to which she had a particular affinity for?
HEM: I have no inside information and would be reluctant to betray it if I did. However, I think it is important to know that the Queen as an individual has changed, and the office of the president has changed as well. My conjecture is that she would have been comfortable with President Eisenhower as they were both in London during much of World War II. As a young woman she would have enjoyed sharing the glamour and style of the Kennedys. President Reagan’s capabilities on horseback would have appealed to their mutual love of all things equestrian. And I am sure she would have found G.H.W. Bush engaging and easily approachable.
KJ: Any advice for aspiring writers?
HEM: Write about what you know and what you enjoy. I majored in political philosophy at William and Mary and am still fascinated by how the thinkers across the centuries – Plato, Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson and Madison – have tried to tackle the great challenge of devising a process for people to govern themselves. Over the past 35 years I have been involved in political issues on a day-to-day basis and I have been surprised by the degree of depth needed to truly grasp these principles. These topics are for me inexhaustible, and thus a source of infinite delight.
H. Edward Mann, a native of Petersburg, Virginia, has held a variety of governmental and political positions, starting when he served as Assistant to Virginia’s Secretary of the Commonwealth during the administration of Governor John Dalton. (Click to read more)