Could the United States use a ceremonial figurehead like England’s?

People in England are celebrating the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, marking the 60th anniversary of her reign. A recent poll suggests that the United Kingdom’s constitutional monarchy enjoys record support among Britons. Today’s Question: Could the United States use a ceremonial figurehead like England’s?

  • kim

    You’re kidding, right? No, absolutely not. England has a long tradition of royalty, I guess I can see why they keep them around. We, on the other hand, have a tradition of being opposed to that kind of thing. Why would we want to create an expensive, “tradition” like that, especially at a time when we can’t even afford to make sure kids get up to date text books?

  • Hiram

    I think that question looks at the wrong end of the stick. The better way to approach it is whether the US would be better off with a parliamentary system of government where there is no separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. Polls show Congress to be dreadfully unpopular, yet no one seems to draw any conclusions from that or asks any obvious next question. Is the unpopularity of Congress simply a temporary and passing phenomenon. Or does it represent a real if perhaps dimly understood belief that Congress itself, and by extension this form of government is a failure? Should we at least think about the possibility that those hallowed founders back in 1787, might have just gotten the whole thing wrong?

  • reggie

    If we could swap our self-appointed ceremonial figureheads — the fundamentalist religious crusaders, the “self-made” nouveau riche, the politicians who serve too many terms, the pontificating policy wonks (neo-cons and neo-libs alike), and their ilk — for one charmingly dottering old woman who frets about her dogs, foxes, and horses, we should take that trade. Such a constitutional monarchy would be a big step up from the constitutional anarchy we’re fast approaching.

  • Steve the Cynic

    There’s a fundamental difference. For Britain, the royal family is a national symbol. For America, the absence of a royal family is a national symbol.

    Until Watergate, the president filled the role of a personal symbol of the country. People generally respected the presidency, even if they disliked the incumbent president. These days, that idea seems quaint.

  • Emery

    The Monarchy has influence through advice, and as has happened through her representatives in Canada, and Australia, can remind the elected members they are there to serve the country, by proroguing parliament or disbanding it to call an election – a rather useful power used wisely both times. The people agreed, even if the elected clowns whose noises were put out of joint, didn’t.

    Ironically, the Monarchy is quite often on the side of the common people more than the elected members are, not having any chips on their shoulders and thinking really long term.

  • Rollie

    The GOP has made the deadly (though politically effective) move of adopting the norms of Westminster-style parliamentary discipline within an America-style presidential system, where such norms bring the machinery of government to a grinding halt.

    Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party—’ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional’—doesn’t work in a ‘separation-of-powers’ system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.

  • Gary F

    Really? That’s the question of the day?

  • Jared

    What would we call this figurehead? Our constitution prohibits the government from granting any titles of nobility and I think that’s going to be a though section to amend. We don’t need a figurehead because we already have plenty of leaders (some of them great men and women) to rally around, who actually have a job within the government and (hopefully) do works for our nation worthy of our backing and support. Our President also carries out the functions of other nations’ figureheads, attending dinners and events around the world with other heads of state. It is part of our founding and an integral part of our history to exist as a representative democracy and have nothing to do with monarchy. Such a figurehead for a nation to rally around, without any kind of noble position, would just be no different than a government appointed celebrity. So, in that case we might as well just all decide to rally around a member of the Hollywood elite.

    This is not the first time in our nation’s short history that we have been divided in our support of the President and other elected leaders. But they are our leaders and the ones we chose. Who better to rally around than our self-elected representatives than some person the government tells us we should love unconditionally? If you can’t find a human leader (civilian or military) in our country to support, (1) look again because there are great people in our government and (2) read our nations founding documents and give our constitution the support you’d want to lend a figurehead.

  • Sue de Nim

    Support for the royal family in the UK represents the keeping of a very old promise. The British avoided a bloody disaster similar to the French Revolution by promising the king that he and his heirs could keep all their status and prestige if he gave up his power peacefully. Having no such history, if America brought in such a thing, it would be just weird. For ceremonial occasions such as the Queen is used for in the UK, we usually get the Vice President. That’s good enough for me.

  • Barbara

    Just wait until Elizabeth II breaks Victoria’s record of 63 years and 7 months. That ought to be a party.

  • Ann

    We already have events with ceremonial content such as inaugurations, party conventions, and state of the union speeches.Since we have three brances of government, the President is the one that performs some of the duties that a figurehead would handle.He even appears on late night talk shows.We have enough celebrities in this country. We don’t need royalty.

  • John

    We already have a figurehead, Israel. All of our representatives give allegiance to this country before sworn in as our representative.

    We give this country 3 billion in aid per year. They are not a poor country, they are not a strategic country, they just have the strongest political lobby in the US. They own US. Wars are fought for them, we give up our own peoples lives for them, for what?

  • Paul

    Could it be a 18 year-old spokes-model?

  • JasonB

    We might be able to “use” one, or rather utilize one, but it is not part of who we are.

    The monarchy serves the UK by generating income through tourism, and as an enduring symbol of British pride and identity. In America we have our own income generating symbols with our national landmarks and natural attractions. It is our rejection of a monarchy that defines much of our identity.

  • Philip

    I shall defer to the example of President Washington. He declined the title of King of America and left the presidency after two terms. Aren’t we fascinated enough by celebrity entertainment in this nation?

  • david

    Why do we need a ceremonial monarchical figurehead when we have a real and much more scary plutocratic elite that is raping and pillaging the country, the world, and the majority of its people in ways the most evil king could only dream of doing. This elite is worshipped in this country where the people dream of joining its ranks like how a young girl once dreamed of marrying a prince and living happily ever after in his castle.

  • David Poretti

    Ahh yes, the “Royal Family” – the world’s richest welfare family! Wish we had one, or two – ’cause we’re Amercia!

  • Hiram

    One irony is that despite our Republican constitution, we seem to have a craving for a de facto monarchy. We have our royal families, the Kennedys, the Bushes, perhaps now the Clintons. They fight with each other like in some modern day version of the War of the Roses, yet our politics seems to revolved around them regardless of the actual fortunes of their administrations or personal merits of any given leader of any of the clans at any given time.

  • Jim G

    Of course not. George Washington, who actually turned down the opportunity to be king, must be turning in his grave at the mere suggestion of this ridiculous scheme. Americans should believe that all men are created equal. That is the main tenet of this American experiment. Congratulate the queen, and be thankful she’s not our queen.

  • Regnar James

    Well…. At least it is not a GeeElbeeTea question of the day.

    None the less,,, try asking some meaningful questions.


  • Paul

    What would happen when the figurehead became old and weak?

  • Glenn

    This country is still attempting to stave off British influence- and to consider any form of Empirial showmanship is, in my mind, insanity.

    My family left those islands of pasty-face social order for good reasons- see the history.


  • Craig

    As for Britons’ love of royalty, it reflects the same basic instinct Americans direct toward the wealthy and famous; an in-built desire to know who will be allowed to mate with the very best bloodlines. Worldwide attention was paid to the latest fertile female allowed to enter the primate troop we call the British royal family. In America, there has been much recent discussion of the fertile female chosen by billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. There is always a darwinian demand among some to understand what characteristics the alpha families are looking for when selecting mates.

  • Carrie

    No. Why?

  • Bill

    We are Trillions in debt, why would we want to create more waste?

  • Jeff

    Sure. Why not? I would nominate Andy Rooney, but alas, it is too late, may he rest in peace.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Gosh. Isn’t that what St. Ronald and George the Lesser were?

  • georges

    Is little willies wife kate fertile?

    And Priscilla, the Zuckerbride?

    Are they both fertile?

    I haven’t seen any medical tests published.

    Perhaps they are overwhelmed by large doses of hope-ium.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Gosh. Isn’t that what St. Ronald and George the Lesser were?

  • Jim G

    It’s ” We the People…”

    Not. “Me the King…”

  • bsimn

    We can either prop up Reagan or have one of the Bush girls marry one of the Kennedy boys & start a proper dynasty.

  • georges

    Fact is, ol’ Lizzy pays her own way, and quite a bit more.

    England has an old, dead economy. Tourism keeps them alive. And the main tourist attraction is Lizzy, the rest of the Family, and all the trappings of Royal society. The castles, the changing of the guard…all that cheap fanfare nonsense.

    The only reason they keep her on is the enormous amount of money she brings into the country.

    It wouldn’t work here. Tourists come here to see us, and what we are. When they want to see the Royalty thing, they waddle on over to England.

    It’s all about the almighty dollar……ah, pound.

    Lizzy knighted the likes of McCartney and Jagger and Branson, not because they were blowing weed in the hall, but because they brought in huge wealth to the Kingdom.

    Why haven’t they changed it from the UK to the UQ? The United Queendom has such a pleasant ring to it.

  • Paul Jasmer

    The U.S. is already a monarchy. Its presidency as provided in the Constitution is modelled after the 18th century British monarchy. For example, the U.S. Chief of State, the President (whether Democrat or Republican), is both the country’s ceremonial leader and exercises political power like an 18th cent. British king. Ironically, while the U.S. “monarch” has become more powerful over time, that power has evolved away from the British monarch to the Prime Minister in the British and Canadian systems. At least the Queen can conduct her country’s ceremonial functions without being suspect of political motives. In the U.S., everything is political. I favour constitutional monarchy with a parliament like Canada.

  • Bea

    I get it that the Daily Question usually veers a little more toward the sensational, but really? Am I missing something here?

  • George DeMarse

    Yes, The U.S. would be better off with a figure head like a King or Queen–totally unelected who gives direction to the country. Something the voters seem unable to do lately.

    The U.S. has devolved into a partisan, bitter land with no uniform national direction and lacklustre leadership from a two party system that has no new ideas and has gone stale.

    Gridlock does not inspire the people of a nation. States rights don’t provide leadership or direction for a nation that needs global leadership–not state bickering and “government blaming” hot heads in the state houses and Washington.

    A King and Queen for all.

    The Sage of Wake Forest