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In 1953, “Queen-crazy” American women looked to Elizabeth II as a way to obtain inspiration

In the spring of 1953, women from over the USA traveled to Britain for most, it had been their first-time abroad.

The impetus for the trip was Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, held in Westminster Abbey on a rainy June 2 of this year. The type of making the journey were Peggy Webber, who traveled completely from Iowa, and Geneva Valentine from Washington, D.C. For both women, whom I learned of while researching the monarchy and gender, the coronation provided an unprecedented possibility to participate a momentous occasion when a woman was at the biggest market of the story.

For nearly 70 years, there’s been a long-standing affection for Elizabeth from over the Atlantic, especially among women. It might be of a less showy variety compared to the attention lavished on other, potentially more glamorous female members of the royal family, such as for example Princess Diana or the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex. Nonetheless it endured. A Febuary 2022 poll discovered that a lot more than 60% of American women held a good opinion of Elizabeth. The survey found her to function as most popular of most living royals, with women generally holding the royals in greater esteem than men do.

In her very own way, the queen quietly captured the imaginations of American women from the beginning of her reign. As a historian of the British monarchy, I understand section of the interest stemmed from Americans’ abiding affection for the royal family a thing that transcended Elizabeth’s reign.

But also for many American women, Elizabeth also represented another thing. At the same time when women were, oftentimes, expected to comply with traditional roles of a housewife and homemaker, Elizabeth was ascending the throne of a robust country. In what of 1 psychologist interviewed for a 1953 LA Times article, for the very first time “the ladies of America have discovered a heroine who makes them feel more advanced than men.”

Long-standing affection

In the same way American ladies in the 20th century followed Elizabeth’s evolution, from dutiful daughter to young bride and mother to conscientious sovereign, so did earlier generations take fascination with Queen Victoria’s coronation, marriage and jubilee celebrations in the 19th century.

For despite the fact that Americans opt for different path with independence in 1776, the British royal family has always exerted a solid pull on the American psyche. Actually, that pull could very well be even greater since it is uncomplicated by politics. It really is not U.S. tax dollars at the job, so Americans may take pleasure in the ceremonial and the romantic without having to be burdened by questions of what it costs and methods to have a monarchy.

There exists a specifically gendered aspect to America’s romance with the royals, too. When women traveled to London in 1953 or, as second best, fired up their newly purchased tv’s to tune in to the coronation coverage these were not just thinking about what the queen was wearing or the dashing figure cut by Prince Philip.

These were also fixated on the truth that so much fuss had been made over a female at all, and a robust one at that. As U.S. ambassador to Italy Clare Boothe Luce explained at that time, this is “an assignment designed to order for a female.” Luce used this logic to convince President Dwight Eisenhower to send the journalist Fleur Cowles to the coronation as you of his official representatives.

Indeed, as Luce alluded to, there is something deliciously disruptive about Elizabeth’s reign. Against a postwar backdrop, when many American women were being urged to come back to the house and take pride in the efficiency of these kitchens, here was a 25-year-old princess being elevated to a posture of head of state, her every step reported and discussed. This is anomalous, and with techniques that appeared to augur well for others of her sex.

Reporter John Kord Lagemann, writing in the LA Times in 1953, captured this sentiment in a bit on “America’s Queen-Crazy Women.” Elizabeth, Lagemann noted, posed challenging to patriarchy. Just to illustrate was her marriage. Here, he wrote, the “situation is reversed” and the girl “commands.”

Elizabeth didn’t have to “play in accordance with a man’s rules by acting demure and helpless.” Rather, she could “be as imperious as she pleases.”

Lagemann’s observations provide some clues to Elizabeth’s hang on American women. Even while the women’s liberation movement helped shift certain conversations, the queen continued to model an alternative solution path forward one where women could travel without their children, demonstrate their command of policy, be at the biggest market of the photograph, take responsibility and also get old in the general public eye.

Elizabeth II will undoubtedly be mourned by many all over the world, like the daughters and granddaughters of these “Queen-Crazy” Americans who traveled to London in 1953 on her behalf coronation but have yet to visit a female head of state installed within their own country.

Arianne Chernock, Professor of History, Boston University

This short article is republished from The Conversation under an innovative Commons license.

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