Friday, May 29, 2009
A Royal Snub
When President Obama hits Europe next week for the 65th anniversary of D-day, he will land smack in the middle of a tempest in a very appropriate, diplomatic teapot.
The American president is among the dignitaries set to commemorate the June 6 invasion of France by the Allies as they began the final act in the liberation of Fortress Europa from Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.
Somehow, the French didn’t invite Queen Elizabeth II to this year’s ceremony, though the popular British monarch was a participant in the 50th and 60th anniversaries. In a special twist of Gallic logic, the French invited British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose popularity is at a low point amid scandals and a poor economy, rather than the comforting figure of the British monarch.
Elizabeth, then a princess, was a plucky volunteer on the beleaguered British home front during the worst of World War II. After the war, she married Prince Philip, who served with distinction in the Royal Navy during the fighting but had family connections to Nazis and had earlier expressed sympathy for Germany under Hitler.
In their typical backhanded way, the French have sort of apologized for snubbing the queen and have said that she is welcome to attend.
But when it comes to huffiness, the aristocracy knows no peer. Buckingham Palace has huffily responded that the queen is not amused and that no royal is available to attend the ceremony.
Explaining why the queen was skipped over, the French said the celebration was a “Franco-American affair,” which has strange echoes of a favorite pasta dish rather than political nuance.
The White House has been mum.
Maybe the next time the French President is in London the Queen will send her regrets with the explanation that she is dining with the Duke of Anjou. Of course the British really only need one word to put the impertinent French in their place.