American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

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Quey
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American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Quey » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:08 pm UTC

There's been a lot of news here in the US on Queen Liz for holding down the job longer than her predecessors and whatnot.

Why is this important? Why is this international news? Apparently it's good enough to be reported as interesting in itself, not in the context of "this is a new record in the subversion of a supposedly democratic society" or somesuch. But why would Americans, who are known in particular for the rejection of this particular crown, need to hear about this?

Any snark aside, I am actually interested in why the British royals, particularly this event, get a lot of play in American media, including the otherwise solid PBS's and NPR's. Am I so weird to find this strange?

Tyndmyr
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:21 pm UTC

We don't have royalty of our own to report on, so we borrow yours. And also maybe pay more attention to celebrities than is reasonable or healthy.

Mutex
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Mutex » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:45 pm UTC

Yeah it seems to pretty much just be standard celebrity fascination. Although most celebrities aren't funded by the taxpayer to the same extent.

There was a debate in the UK papers about whether or not the royal family are worth the funding they get. One reader wrote in in support of them and proclaimed the Queen is "worth her weight in gold".

Well, the current price of gold is around £23k per kg, and I'm guessing the Queen weighs at the most 70kg (probably a lot less), so that prices her at around £1.6m. Way less than the £37m she gets a year.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Derek » Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:54 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:Yeah it seems to pretty much just be standard celebrity fascination. Although most celebrities aren't funded by the taxpayer to the same extent.

There was a debate in the UK papers about whether or not the royal family are worth the funding they get. One reader wrote in in support of them and proclaimed the Queen is "worth her weight in gold".

Well, the current price of gold is around £23k per kg, and I'm guessing the Queen weighs at the most 70kg (probably a lot less), so that prices her at around £1.6m. Way less than the £37m she gets a year.

The usual explanation is the tourism dollars that Americans spend to see all her stuff. Which to be honest, is probably worth a lot more than 37 million pounds.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Mutex » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:18 pm UTC

But we don't need a royal family for tourists to see the buildings etc, in fact we could properly open up Buckingham palace / Windsor castle since they wouldn't be used for anything else.

Also the royal landmarks actually get a tiny fraction of the number of tourists that come to the UK.

Plus it's not really relevant but very few tourists in the UK are American. If you meet someone in London with an "American" accent they're probably Canadian. (EDIT: Actually seems Americans make up more visitors than I thought, with Canadians not even making the top 10 - https://www.visitbritain.org/2014-snapshot)

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby morriswalters » Fri Sep 11, 2015 9:36 pm UTC

She looks like a better role model than the Donald. At least she knows when to not speak. We as a country are barely 300 years old. I envy your history. I would be sorry to see the Royals go.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Derek » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:04 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:But we don't need a royal family for tourists to see the buildings etc, in fact we could properly open up Buckingham palace / Windsor castle since they wouldn't be used for anything else.

Also the royal landmarks actually get a tiny fraction of the number of tourists that come to the UK.

It likely loses a lot of appeal when there is no longer a sitting monarch. I think you significantly underestimate the romanticism that Americans (and other nationalities, but especially Americans) attach to royalty.

It's probably best to think of her role in the UK as similar to Mickey Mouse's role in Disney World: Ultimately meaningless, but a useful icon for attracting tourists. Really, what you need to do is get her out in the streets of London greeting children.

I also have to point out that 37 million pounds is not a lot of money. If you can get 370,000 tourists to spend 100 pounds more, you've broken even. Note that Americans are already spending 2.9 billion pounds, so she only needs to generate a bit more than 1% of that revenue to be worthwhile.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:11 pm UTC

I been to London. I gave precisely zero craps about the queen.

And I doubt the guy dressed up as Mickey makes that much.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby charliepanayi » Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:38 pm UTC

The idea that the monarchy help encourage tourism to the UK is laughable. What they mainly encourage is the idea that what really matters in life is who your parents are.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Mutex » Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:14 pm UTC

charliepanayi wrote:The idea that the monarchy help encourage tourism to the UK is laughable. What they mainly encourage is the idea that what really matters in life is who your parents are.


Although watching the US presidential primaries it doesn't seem all that different.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Quey » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:22 am UTC

I've heard the economic argument for the crown; I don't buy it. There's an oft-quoted gov't statistic that the royal family only costs each subject .67 pounds. But that is every adult and child, taxpayer and otherwise all counted in that. And it doesn't even take into account the secret security budget they have. And don't even start with that stupid Crown-land debt-forgiveness eternal-pension deal...

Yeah, Liz herself usually keeps her gob shut before she says anything offensive. Privately she has some off-putting attitudes, and her family is quite willing to snort vodka and make fun of "slitty-eyed" folk.

I've got some pretty anti-monarchist views. I don't want to hear about them until they permanently abdicate and get rid of their reduced, but still extremely ununchecked and arbitrary powers completely. And yes, that includes emperors, governor-generals, what have you. Powers to dissolve, prorogue, and Privy about are not cool. But so many other Americans are still obsessed with this one family we rebelled against. It seems to go against so many American ideals, from representation to 'MERCA SPERDIN' DERMERCRACY!

I admit I have absolutely no interest in celebrity in general. But I see a sizable gap between reading gossip about rich people and being interested in some old lady who could have seriously wrecked a coalition gov't if she wanted to but just waves at boats instead.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:51 am UTC

I'm concerned about her son. Charles, the one that talks to plants. Though to be fair, those aren't HUMAN ears.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Vahir » Sat Sep 12, 2015 2:47 pm UTC

I wonder how long the UK would stay together after getting rid of the queen.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Mutex » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:17 pm UTC

Vahir wrote:I wonder how long the UK would stay together after getting rid of the queen.


Pretty sure it would help keep it together if anything, the royal family aren't massively popular in Scotland.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby morriswalters » Sat Sep 12, 2015 3:42 pm UTC

Sell them to someone in the US. She'll take all the castles, charge admission, make a net. Or throw the bums out. But like most things, the picture looks better at a distance. I don't have to live with the Royals, or pay for them, so it makes it easy to like what I see.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Lazar » Sat Sep 12, 2015 4:26 pm UTC

Well, one of the cited advantages of a constitutional monarchy is that it gives people a majestic and politically neutral figurehead toward whom they can direct their patriotic affection – as opposed to a presidential republic, where a large chunk of the population is always going to hate the head of state's guts, or a parliamentary republic, where the head of state is a forgettable afterthought. On the other hand, the supposed neutrality of the monarch is predicated on the acceptance of monarchism, which itself is a fundamentally conservative and anti-egalitarian concept. Perhaps you could have an elective monarchy, in which either the people or parliament elect someone to be king or queen for an indefinite term and invest them with all the traditional pomp and circumstance – sort of like the pope. This might alleviate many of the ideological and ethical concerns around the institution (theoretically anyone could become monarch, and no one would have it foisted on them from birth), but I can see how it might be hard to implement. Where would you find candidates with sufficient stature and inoffensiveness to be monarch, and who would even want such a boring office?
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:21 am UTC

Lazar wrote:Well, one of the cited advantages of a constitutional monarchy is that it gives people a majestic and politically neutral figurehead toward whom they can direct their patriotic affection – as opposed to ... a parliamentary republic, where the head of state is a forgettable afterthought.


Not really seeing the disadvantage of a parliamentary republic here.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby leady » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:24 am UTC

There is a fair advantage of having a permanent head of state if only for consistency, quasi-political neutrality etc. I know people get hung up on the "privilege" stuff, but its just like winning lottery in terms of fairness and cost effects on the public are trivial. I certainly prefer it to an elected head of state as one with executive power is a dangerous system and one without it is pointless without stability.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby bigglesworth » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:57 pm UTC

Lazar wrote: Perhaps you could have an elective monarchy, in which either the people or parliament elect someone to be king or queen for an indefinite term and invest them with all the traditional pomp and circumstance – sort of like the pope.
The mayors of France vote for Marianne. How's that for precedence?
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:00 pm UTC

leady wrote:There is a fair advantage of having a permanent head of state if only for consistency, quasi-political neutrality etc. I know people get hung up on the "privilege" stuff, but its just like winning lottery in terms of fairness and cost effects on the public are trivial. I certainly prefer it to an elected head of state as one with executive power is a dangerous system and one without it is pointless without stability.


It's not really like a lottery in terms of fairness. Heredity is not really the same as randomness. With randomness, you would expect over time to get a decent sampling of the population, whereas heredity by definition doesn't do that.

It is also mind boggling that people think that "what family you were born into" is a good means for distributing power.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby leady » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:09 pm UTC

Well there is some, but not a lot of power invested in the Royal family, it is a ceremonial role 99% of the time with some hold overs.

I think if you look at all political systems though for distributing power you quickly make them all seem absurd. "what you mean that everyone in your population gets the same say on who gets to run things, what even the uneducated and dull witted?". As regularly pointed out, its not chance that Plato had a benign dictator for Utopia :)

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:14 pm UTC

leady wrote:Well there is some, but not a lot of power invested in the Royal family, it is a ceremonial role 99% of the time with some hold overs.

I think if you look at all political systems though for distributing power you quickly make them all seem absurd. "what you mean that everyone in your population gets the same say on who gets to run things, what even the uneducated and dull witted?". As regularly pointed out, its not chance that Plato had a benign dictator for Utopia :)


Right. Sociologists think sociologists should run things, Philosophers think philosophers should run things, and so on. Plato's ideal wasn't really much of a system. It's pretty useless to say "benign" unless your system ensures that this is so.

The reason democracy is good is because it doesn't rely on a "just folks like us" running things. Sure, even so, it's not perfect, but it's a less bad solution than exclusionary systems.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby leady » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

At one time I would certainly have agreed - these days I'm not totally sold that our system is measurably better generally over say the pseudo democracy of say Japan, the complete control of China etc. I will agree that its the best one for the US and the UK, or at least representative democracy is. No one really wants the people to set policy ala direct democracy :)

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby BattleMoose » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:00 pm UTC

With Australia electing Tony Abbot (although he was deposed about 6 hours ago) and Trump running for office in the USA, I would suggest that the political systems are literally putting the worst candidates into power. Literally the worst. We had a bit of luck earlier, where we accidentally elected a random guy into the Victorian senate, and he turned out to be a human! (Ricky Muir)

We should just get our leaders by lottery. We cannot do any worse.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:02 pm UTC

leady wrote:At one time I would certainly have agreed - these days I'm not totally sold that our system is measurably better generally over say the pseudo democracy of say Japan, the complete control of China etc. I will agree that its the best one for the US and the UK, or at least representative democracy is. No one really wants the people to set policy ala direct democracy :)


Direct democracy could maybe be made to work.

I'm not entirely sure that our current system is wholly representative. It's possible, perhaps, to make a system that is more genuinely representative, if, say, you axed FPTP.

As for if we're better off than China, that seems like a pretty straightforward "yes". How would you measure?

In any case, measuring between "UK with royals" and "UK without royals" seems rather more straightforward.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby cphite » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:27 pm UTC

Quey wrote:There's been a lot of news here in the US on Queen Liz for holding down the job longer than her predecessors and whatnot.

Why is this important? Why is this international news? Apparently it's good enough to be reported as interesting in itself, not in the context of "this is a new record in the subversion of a supposedly democratic society" or somesuch. But why would Americans, who are known in particular for the rejection of this particular crown, need to hear about this?


Because it combines a number of things that we 'Mericans really like... we like records, as in who did something for the longest or the fastest or the most number of times; we like celebrities, and the queen is one of the most recognizable figures on your island; and we like power, which a queen represents even if it's only make believe.

And look, on behalf of my fellow countrymen... that whole revolution thing was nothing personal.

Any snark aside, I am actually interested in why the British royals, particularly this event, get a lot of play in American media, including the otherwise solid PBS's and NPR's. Am I so weird to find this strange?


The last time we took our eyes off the British crown they burned down the White House. Never again!

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby morriswalters » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:30 pm UTC

BattleMoose wrote:We should just get our leaders by lottery. We cannot do any worse.
I like this idea.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby cphite » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:47 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:We should just get our leaders by lottery. We cannot do any worse.
I like this idea.


Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords not good enough for you?

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Mutex » Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:51 pm UTC

cphite wrote:
morriswalters wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:We should just get our leaders by lottery. We cannot do any worse.
I like this idea.


Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords not good enough for you?


If they distribute them randomly, that sounds like the best of both worlds.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby EdgarJPublius » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:42 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Lazar wrote: Perhaps you could have an elective monarchy, in which either the people or parliament elect someone to be king or queen for an indefinite term and invest them with all the traditional pomp and circumstance – sort of like the pope.
The mayors of France vote for Marianne. How's that for precedence?


That's really cool, I didn't know that.

Now we could go even further and model up a digital figurehead based on the average citizen or something and have it do all public appearances via hologram ala Tupac.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 15, 2015 1:38 am UTC

cphite wrote:The last time we took our eyes off the British crown they burned down the White House. Never again!
Why not, only tell them to get the capital at the same time.
cphite wrote:Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords not good enough for you?
That could work, better yet make the President pull a sword from a stone, and then cheat and make it unpullable. Beat those egos down.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Derek » Tue Sep 15, 2015 2:58 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:That could work, better yet make the President pull a sword from a stone, and then cheat and make it unpullable. Beat those egos down.

Finally, Arnold gets his chance.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:33 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:Yeah it seems to pretty much just be standard celebrity fascination. Although most celebrities aren't funded by the taxpayer to the same extent.

There was a debate in the UK papers about whether or not the royal family are worth the funding they get. One reader wrote in in support of them and proclaimed the Queen is "worth her weight in gold".

Well, the current price of gold is around £23k per kg, and I'm guessing the Queen weighs at the most 70kg (probably a lot less), so that prices her at around £1.6m. Way less than the £37m she gets a year.


Actually, the U.K. government would lose money if they stopped supporting their royalty. Back a couple of hundred years ago, England was in a bad economic situation. The king (I forget who) had a lot of land, but it was not making a lot of money at the time. He made a deal with Parliament; any money made from his land would go directly to the government's treasury, but the government must provide for the royal family. The government gives the royal family ~30 million pounds per year, but the queen's lands is generates `300 million pounds in revenue every year.

As to why we (Americans) care so much about someone else's royal family, I have no idea. At least this obsession is healthier than most other things Americans mindlessly drool over. Although, part of me wonders if Americans or American media is to blame; is the queen on T.V. a lot because people want to see her or because it is a cheap way to make money. I would bet $20 it is the latter.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby Dauric » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:58 pm UTC

It's a fantasy thing, in a real-world circumstance we wouldn't want a return to a true monarchy, but the romantic imagination can be fueled by the idea of being nobility. To have a real world example of the trappings of a noble house gives people the framework to imagine themselves in that place. The Walt Disney Corporation has made a fortune marketing Americanized versions of European fairy tales that often involve a handsome/beautiful noble falling in love with a commoner and elevating the commoner to noble status. It's kind of like imagining what you'd do if you won the Powerball Lottery, only even less likely.

England's royal house happens to be culturally closest to Americans (as opposed to say Saudi princes), so we fixate more on England's nobles than any other nation's.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby leady » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:12 pm UTC

The crown estates are now legally and defacto the state of the united kingdoms land so the argument that the queens lands generate money is weak.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:35 am UTC

leady wrote:The crown estates are now legally and defacto the state of the united kingdoms land so the argument that the queens lands generate money is weak.


Ummm, that only happened as a result of agreements between the royal family and the state, for a portion of the income from the crown estate.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Sep 18, 2015 8:40 am UTC

That's correct, but the international community is pretty comfortable with the idea of confiscating the land owned by monarchs. It's not like the reaction that confiscating, say, a Coca-Cola bottling plant would get.
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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby BattleMoose » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:35 am UTC

The confiscating thing tends to happen with a revolution or some other form of "throwing off" of the Monarchy.

What we have here are laws, explicitly signed by the state, that guarantee income for these individuals. There isn't any way that the state can reasonably back out of this. No court would uphold it. And last time I checked, the UK was pretty keen on the rule of law, thing.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby speising » Fri Sep 18, 2015 9:45 am UTC

When Lizzy's head ends on the block, they'll have no problem confiscating her stuff.

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Re: American Media Obsessed With British Queen's Record

Postby bigglesworth » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:09 am UTC

Very few monarchs actually get executed, even in revolutions or other removals of monarchies.
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