Long live Charleston’s royal legacy
On Wednesday, his Royal Highness Prince George was given the name of six previous kings.
In 1670, our city was named for King Charles II, aka “The Merry Monarch.”
Maybe that’s why the fascination many Americans felt from Monday’s arrival of the latest royal George (full name George Alexander Louis) seemed especially intense in our community. After all, despite that unpleasant misunderstanding with the mother country 230-odd years ago, the historic city previously known as Charles Towne retains a regal feel — and a sense of noblesse oblige.
We’ve got King Street and Queen Street. We used to have a minor-league baseball team called the Royals.
And Charleston has long been ruled by a benevolent (most of the time) monarch of sorts — a powerhouse mayor who’s used to getting his way.
Indeed, our entire state has a habit of keeping the people in charge in charge. Charleston’s Fritz Hollings didn’t achieve “senior senator” status until serving more than 36 of his more than 38 years in Washington. Strom Thurmond was a senator for 48 years until retiring at age 100. Mendel Rivers was our 1st District representative in the U.S. House for nearly three decades — and would have been there much longer if he hadn’t died at age 65 in late 1970.
Back to now: Joe Riley, aptly dubbed “mayor for life” by Bill Murray, has held that job for more than 37 years. Keith Summey has been mayor of North Charleston for nearly 19 years — and his son, Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey, looks primed to be his political heir.
What might have been
No, “divine right” doesn’t apply to our repeatedly re-elected political leaders.
Yes, George III, aka “The Mad King,” soured a sweet deal by not giving the colonists enough say in running things — and a big enough piece of the financial action.
Yes, the ensuing rebellion began with the glorious rhetorical bang of a high-minded declaration worthy of enduring admiration. Yet while many South Carolinians, including this one, again got caught up in that inspiring Spirit of ’76 earlier this month, remember, the Patriots around here weren’t just fighting the British Redcoats. They were fighting fellow colonists. And a few of us retrograde Tories remain a little wistfully disappointed that George III and the original tea partiers didn’t avoid their messy divorce.
Review what Britain did without us, then imagine what she could have done with us. She built the 19th century’s most lucrative empire. She helped us win World Wars I and II. And on this 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, keep in mind that 100,000 British troops served on our side — and more than 1,000 were killed. The Brits even helped us liberate Kuwait in 1991, and joined in on our 21st century military missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
America’s race to ruin
Sure, the royal family hasn’t wielded much real power in modern times. That’s just as well, considering that Prince Charles the Goofy is now first in line to the throne — and his mother, beloved Queen Elizabeth II, is 87 years old.
Then again, America’s self-governing experiment is in a bit of a sticky wicket. Already nearly $17 trillion in the red, we’re accelerating toward financial oblivion as the grabby rabble demands ever-higher government benefits and never-higher taxes.
It’s enough to make me regret chastising, in a heated radio match a decade or so ago, pro wrestler Sir William Regal over his haughty decree that we “colonists” would ultimately rue our revolting ways.
Back to 2013: Five-day-old Prince George is third in line to the crown behind Princes Charles and William. If the little chap becomes King George VII, he’s bound to do better than his great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddad King George III.
Meanwhile, King Joe I, with his promised abdication looming in early 2016, must rush to leave his final marks on the city named for King Charles II.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.