Cockburn has always been an ardent republican — or at least he prefers Sam Adams beer — yet even his flags are at half mast this morning over the death of Elizabeth II. The Queen’s passing yesterday also served to remind this old Washington hand of a transatlantic moment: when Her Majesty addressed a joint session of Congress back in 1991.
It was the first time a British monarch had ever spoken in the Capitol building. And while you’d there might have been some tension over that whole War for Independence thing, the queen expertly diffused it right off the bat with a joke about her height. “I do hope you can see me today from where you are,” she said, drawing roars of laughter and a standing ovation from the congressman and senators.
Tired of our monarchical State of the Union addresses? At least this time there was a real monarch at the podium. The Queen went on to laud the virtues of self-government, the performance of British and American armed forces in the Persian Gulf War, and the special relationship between the US and UK. Cockburn’s favorite quote? “All our history in this and earlier centuries underlines the basic point that the best progress is made when Europeans and Americans act in concert,” she said. “We must not allow ourselves to be enticed into a form of continental insularity.”