Just in time, a comforting message from Her Majesty

Since Friday night, my wife and I have been semi-bingeing (I think we’ve seen five episodes so far) on “The Crown,” the new series from Netflix.

So it seems a delightful coincidence that Samuel Tenenbaum shares the following important message with me via email.royal_coat_of_arms_of_the_united_kingdom-svg

I find it comforting, a warm embrace from our Mother Country, just when we were thoroughly traumatized and needed one.

(Digression: As you know, I’ve been listening to the music from “Hamilton” lately, and have enjoyed the songs sung by “King George” in the play… although I think there’s a good bit of Rebel propaganda in that version. I prefer the clip above from HBO’s “John Adams,” which is pretty much word-for-word accurate, according to David McCullough’s biography. You can easily see that while His Majesty didn’t want us to go, he was quite willing to be a sport about it, after the fact.)

Anyway, here’s the message. It has apparently been passed around on the Web so much that no one knows who originated it. So, you know, it could actually be from Elizabeth Windsor:


To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).
Your new Prime Minister, Theresa May, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.
Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.
A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.
To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:
1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’
Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up ‘vocabulary’).
2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’
3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.
5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup, but with vinegar.
9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.
11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.
God Save the Queen!
PS: Only share this with friends who have a good sense of humour (NOT humor)!

Personally, I can go along with all of the conditions except 3, 6 and 12. If Her Majesty insists on those points, I’m afraid we’ll have to keep muddling on without her….

41 thoughts on “Just in time, a comforting message from Her Majesty

  1. Claus

    I read a forum thread the other day where someone posted the Pope’s opinion on not building “the wall”. It didn’t take long for someone to post a picture of the 50 foot tall wall around Vatican City. That was one of the more politically correct responses.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, well… not to shock you or anything, but Pope Frances didn’t build that wall.

      Which reminds me of something interesting that I learned visiting Oxford years ago.

      The walls around the various colleges actually had a practical, defensive purpose. Back in the colleges’ early centuries, the relations between Town and Gown got so bad as to extend to real violence being visited upon the academics. Before that, I’d had no idea…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Yeah, I kinda think he’s pretty welcoming already. Have you ever seen a picture of the papal audiences in St. Peter’s Square? I’m pretty sure most of those people are from outside the Vatican…


  2. Bryan Caskey

    Some of those are mildly amusing. The funniest one is the back taxes owed, although she shouldn’t get to stuck on that one. The last time Britain got real stubborn on taxes with us it didn’t work out so well for them…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, if anything were likely to cause Americans to get their republican backs up, it would be that. Which doesn’t really speak that well of us. We go on and on about the rights of man and other high-minded considerations, but the split originally started because some of us didn’t want to pay our taxes.

      I expect someone in the permanent government would advise Her Majesty to ease off on that one, in light of the troubles her great-great-great-great grandfather had with us on that score…

  3. Doug Ross

    This would have been funnier if the U.K. was still relevant. They are more of a quaint reminder of what a monarchy looks like. Imagine how less relevant the monarchy will be when Charles ascends to the throne.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think Her Majesty is trying to outlive him. She’s doing pretty well so far. Although I’ll say this for him — he looks more like a king than he did when he was young

      I don’t know what you mean by “funnier if the U.K. was still relevant.” I mean, it’s the greatest country in the world that isn’t the U.S. and is actually on our side. Sure, the Germans have a bigger economy, but there’s something in the American psyche that will always go, “Yeah, but they’re the Germans.”

      In any case, the gag doesn’t work with any other country in the world. It’s the country we came from, the only one that could “take us back.”

      And of course, as y’all know, it’s my fave country outside of this one. Although I have fond memories of Ecuador from childhood, and Thailand was very, very nice as well — wonderful, warm people.

      Actually, come to think of it, I pretty much like every country I’ve spent more than a few hours in. Perhaps I’m easily pleased…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Except maybe Peru. Nothing against Peru exactly, but I spent a week there once and I don’t remember being particularly impressed one way or the other.

        I was kind of impressed, as a 10-year-old boy will be, by one thing — Pizarro’s mummified remains, on display in the cathedral in Lima. But I couldn’t see them well from behind the wrought-iron gate we had to stand behind, and it turns out it wasn’t really him anyway

    2. Brad Warthen

      Also… don’t you think “a quaint reminder of what a monarchy looks like” the very BEST kind monarchy? I think so.

      I’m very worried about Thailand right now. They have a real cult built around their monarchy. For instance, you can’t mention (especially if you’re a foreigner) “The King and I” because the king in that was a slightly comical character, in a benign way, but the Thais can’t handle that; it’s too disrespectful.

      For so many years (including when we were there), the king was in failing health, but you couldn’t talk about it. Especially, you couldn’t bring up the subject of what would happen when he died. Which was a big problem, because the Crown Prince didn’t command the kind of love and respect that Thais expect to have for their monarch. So people just refused to think about it.

      Now he’s dead, after years of denial about the inevitable, and no one knows what will happen….

      1. Doug Ross

        “I mean, it’s the greatest country in the world that isn’t the U.S. and is actually on our side.”

        I don’t see it. But then I’m not sure what you are using to define “greatness”. Economic power? International influence? Cultural advancement? Golf courses? Certainly not epicurean excellence…

        They’re sort of like the old uncle who shows up at Thanksgiving and everyone politely listens to as he tells his old war stories but secretly wishes they could go get another slice of pie.

        What exactly are Britain’s strengths these days?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Just a few:

          • Speaking English.
          • Beer with some taste to it.
          • Cumberland sausages.
          • The Tube, finest subway I’ve ever ridden on.
          • The Royal Navy (unfortunately, they no longer serve grog, though).
          • Almost every actor who can act.
          • Wonderful museums that are FREE.
          • The VAT, which is levied as part of the price rather than added on, so you know what you’re going to pay.
          • Those awesome two-pound coins, which look like something fashioned by the elves in Middle Earth.
          • Those nearly-as-awesome one-pound coins, which have a heft that feels like you’re holding money with value.
          • The pubs. I know I already mentioned the beer, but the places where you drink it are very nice as well.
          • Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, and Rachel Weisz. Emma Thompson, too.

          I’m really just getting warmed up. I could go on and on…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            And yes, there’s the fact that they’ll stand with us in a scrap, and actually have a tidy little military with which to do so, unlike some other allies we could name.

            But my pacifist friends don’t like that part…

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Well, yeah — moderately so, anyway.

              Thailand wins on that score. Great place, and much less expensive….

              What I found was that in terms of the numbers, things cost about the same. Like if lunch cost you 12.50 here, it cost you 12.20 there. Except it was pounds instead of dollars, so… about 50 percent more…

        2. Doug Ross

          Now can you offer some serious factors that demonstrate Britain’s greatness that we should think of them as more relevant than Japan, India, China, Germany? U.K. GDP is 5th globally but has dropped the past three years. India will pass them soon. They are only a little bit ahead of France.

          They are the aging pitcher who has lost his fastball and tries to get by on reputation and showmanship.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Those are serious factors.

            I don’t think I could come up with a list of great things like that about any other country as quickly as I did that one.

            Our connection, of course, is utterly unique. No other relationship comes close.

            Before I went there, it was my No. 1 country that I wanted to visit by a long, long shot. I had so many places I wanted to go — some obvious, some excruciatingly esoteric and even weird — and if I went back and stayed five years, I’m sure I still wouldn’t get to all of them. These are places I knew well, but from books and movies and such — I wanted to EXPERIENCE them, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so. It felt pretty homey.

            When I went to Thailand last year, it was different. I could only think of one place I wanted to go, without researching it — to the Bridge on the River Kwai. And I didn’t think of THAT until my wife, who HAD done research, mentioned it. I wanted to see temples, for sure. I wanted to see elephants. I most assuredly did NOT want to see tigers or cobras. And I accomplished all that, in addition to all sorts of delightful experiences that my wife and daughter led me to.

            I totally enjoyed it, but everything was new and novel to me. None of it was like, “I KNEW it would be like this!”

            Why? Because England was a part of me. Always had been, and I had been steeped in British culture my whole life….

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              On the way back, we stopped for five hours in Japan. Theoretically, we could have made a quick trip into Tokyo, but it would have been dicey, given how far out the airport is. And neither of us could think of anything we knew we wanted to see in Tokyo. So we spent the time chilling in the VIP lounge, to which our travel agent had gotten us free access for the day.

              I DID get to see some sumo wrestling on the TV in the lounge…

              Now, two of my kids stopped in Tokyo for several days on their way back from visiting their sister, and they — particularly my son — had ideas for stuff they wanted to do there. But I did not…

  4. Bryan Caskey

    Let’s see, a few additional demands I would think the British might add:

    1. We’re going to do away with the American (16 oz) pint and replace it with the Imperial (20 oz) pint. More beer for everyone, so it’s win-win, ol’ boy.

    2. We’d like to have everyone start saying “aluminum” the British way.

    3. We’d like for everyone to start apologizing unnecessarily. Sorry!

    1. Mark Stewart

      When was the last time you actually hefted a real 16 oz “pint” – outside a Solo cup that is?

      Barware is all 14 oz – if one is lucky. Try pouring a bottled beer in a glass sometime; most likely it will come close to overflowing.

  5. Brad Warthen

    By way of full disclosure, I should probably mention that Elizabeth Windsor is my 18th cousin, and George III is my — hang on — my 12th cousin, six times removed.
    Yes, I hear y’all laughing.
    Why do I know such ridiculous things? Well, I read somewhere that my 17th-great-grandfather, Richard Wydeville, was also the ancestor of every English monarch from Henry VIII down (actually, I read that his great-granddaughter, Elizabeth of York, was, which meant he was, too), and one Saturday when I was having one of my genealogy fits, I went down the succession and calculated the relationships of all of them.
    Yeah, I know… This is the very sort of thing people make fun of genealogy nuts for doing. And yes, I realize that I’m probably closer than 18th cousin to much of the population of the planet, and that most of y’all are probably more closely related to the Queen than I am.
    But I succeeded in WORKING IT OUT. And loving history as I do, I get a kick out of doing that. And I learned a lot I didn’t know about the British monarchy the day I did that.

    Some people like to spend their time watching football on the weekend. I like doing this…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *