Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

The Queen is Coming!

Those of you outside of Louisville, Kentucky USA may not realize the significance of the first Saturday in May.  It’s a little 2 minute horse race the world knows as The Kentucky Derby.  Our town goes slightly nuts this week.  Hotels are booked not only throughout the city, but for 2-3 neighboring states.  All this week there will be events and celebrations leading up to the Derby itself, including the Oaks on Friday (in which 3 year old fillies race).  Mint Juleps will be sold out the ear. People in “millionaire’s row” will wear bizarre hats.  Meanwhile, in the “infield,” will be one long keg party. Much gambling will ensue. More revenue will flow into local coffers in this one weekend than the rest of the year combined.  People rent out parking in their yards! 

It’s all a little overwhelming to me. All these years that Louisville has been my adopted home, and I still haven’t gotten used to it. I don’t gamble and don’t like crowds and “the sport of kings” has never thrilled me.  But the pageantry is fun, I guess.

And this year, we will be visited not just by horse-raising royalty, or Hollywood royalty, but by actual royalty. Yes, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, of the U.K. and the Commonwealth, is coming to the Derby! Louisville is “all-aflitter.”  People have been writing letters to the editor of the local paper on proper forms of address (Yeah, like her security will let us within hailing distance!) and I understand that she has been persuaded not to refer to these United States as “the colonies,” which we will properly appreciate.  And I thought folks were freaked out last year when Bono came to Derby.

God save the Queen. 🙂


May 1, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Having lived in a British Commonwealth country for the past seven years, I can’t say that the prospect of a visit from the Queen excites me much, let alone the pagaentry and titles, and formalities that come with the institution of royalty. For all the flaws we have in U.S. politics and government, my time here has only convinced me that the ONE smart thing Americans have done in their history is dispense with royalty completely.

    Comment by haitianministries | May 1, 2007

  2. Boy, do I miss Derby Week! I don’t go in for the gambling or the crowds, either, but it is really something to see the entire city take a vacation. Connie and I thought about throwing a Derby Party this weekend and invite the few other transplanted Kentuckians, but we have to go to a wedding the night before and a big church picnic the day after, so we didn’t quite see the point.

    Have some burgoo or a piece of derby pie for me!

    Comment by D. P. | May 1, 2007

  3. Well, I am an unreconstructed democrat (not just a Democrat) and I am also glad we are a republic, Daniel. But there are advantages and disadvantages to having a limited constitutional monarchy as titular head of state instead of combining the head of government and head of state into one role, as we do. I do always think that the British get a raw deal on how much taxes they pay for castle upkeep, etc. However, if I lived in Norway or Denmark or Sweden, where the monarchs live in (large) houses, not castles, drive their own (small) cars to work (unlike our presidential limosines), and have much lower annual salaries than with the British royalty, I don’t think it would be a bad thing. And the visit of the Queen to Derby City will bring in money and be fun.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 1, 2007

  4. Sounds like the Scandanavians have an interesting approach to monarchy. Some of the former British Commonwealth countries, such as the Republic of Belize, have dealt with this by replacing the British monarch with (I think) an elected president who serves as the head of state whereas the prime minister (who is always head of the majority party or coalition) is the head of government. Here in the Bahamas there is some debate as to whether or not the country ought to throw off the “last vestiges of colonialism” and become a Republic as well. Not a bad idea, in my opinion, as it doesn’t seem to make much sense to pay homage to a foreign white queen in a country that prides itself in having peacefully obtained black majority rule. That being said, are there really any advantages to separating the two positions other than not burdening the head of government with the ceremonial matters of state?

    Comment by haitianministries | May 1, 2007

  5. For what it’s worth, I’ve posted further reflections on Bahamian politics and parliamentary government here:


    Comment by haitianministries | May 2, 2007

  6. Daniel, I try very hard not to weigh in on matters that need to be decided by others. People ask me whether or not I support Puerto Rican independence, and I say that what I support is a plebuscite wher THEY get to decide whether to become independent or our 51st state–either way, an end to their colony status. If I were an expatriate U.S.American living in the Bahamas, I would never express an opinion about whether or not Bahamians should become a Republic or keep the monarchy.

    The monarch can be a symbol of unity, allowing a prime minister to to be more partisan. In the case of the former British empire (and empires are always a bad thing), the monarchy is a major symbol of the unity of the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth of Nations is a major peacemaking force in the world.

    I had to think through these trade-offs a few years back when Kate & I were seriously considering moving to Canada.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 2, 2007

  7. Oops! That was clearly a foot-in-mouth comment. Normally, I too try hard (and occasionally fail) to avoid publicly weighing in on such matters. To put things in perspective, I should point out that this is a fairly MINOR issue on the fringes of local political discourse and doesn’t get anywhere near the attention the status question in P.R. generates. That, of course, still doesn’t excuse my remarks.

    Thanks for your additional insights on the monarchy and the Commonwealth.

    Comment by haitianministries | May 2, 2007

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: