When I was in elementary school, we were marched into the school auditorium one fine June day where we watched the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on a 12-inch, black-and-white TV mounted on the stage.
It held our rapt attention for about 10 minutes before we began to wish that we were outside playing baseball. But no such luck. Final score: Queen 1, Baseball 0.
It should have cured me of all things royal for the rest of my life.
But lately I've been thinking that maybe we Americans should have a King or Queen of or own.
I'm not talking Burger King or Dairy Queen. We're talking about a bejeweled, ermine-robed personage who would sit on a magnificent throne and gaze benevolently down on all of us from a fine palace in Washington, D.C.
Or better yet, in Lebanon, Kansas, which is the geographic center of the contiguous United States. The property is a lot cheaper there and, besides, there is an abundance of self-anointed nobility running around Washington these days.
Smiling warmly or speaking in ceremonial sound bites would be the extent of the duties for his or her majesty. After all, we don't really want a full-blown monarchy here. Our founding fathers fled the excesses of royal rule and with good reason.
No, we're talking about figureheads, sort of like Great Britain but without all the crazy relatives and make-believe authority. We're talking about ribbon cutters, official greeters, visitors to the territories, subjects of a thousand souvenirs.
We could certainly afford it. After all, this is a federal government that recently appropriated $465 million for continued development of an obsolete fighter jet engine. Building a castle would be a drop in the bucket.
I don't have any candidates off the top of my head. I would volunteer my services but I think we would have to come up with something more elegant than King Bob I.
This all came to mind as the good residents of the British Isles wait breathlessly for the arrival of a royal bundle of joy, courtesy of Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to you.
The child will be third in line to the Crown and will be formally known as His or Her Highness, the Prince or Princess of Cambridge. Just in case you want to send a card.
The Brits are in a frenzy anticipating the blessed event. As the royal contractions increase in frequency, any and all news that is not baby related will be relegated to the back pages of the nation's press. Civil war in Egypt? Jumbo jet crashes? Give me three graphs and run it on page 20.
Jewel-encrusted baby gifts, betting on names, royal baby-themed crackers are much in evidence these days. The media has been camped out in front of St. Mary's Hospital in London for a month now, presumably interviewing each other since there is no actual news.
Perhaps an award for the height of madness goes to Sudocrem, which makes skin care creams. The company has commissioned British jewelry designer Theo Fennell to design a jewel-studded charm bracelet that also serves as a diaper-rash-cream holder for Kate, reports Headlines and Global News. The bracelet costs a reported $15,000.
In the meantime, the then-prime minister of Australia was photographed knitting a toy kangaroo for the baby. Finland sent the royal couple a traditional Finnish "baby box" of gifts such as diapers, bibs and even condoms.
I supposed if you lived in England you might be getting sick of all this
But what a wonderful distraction it is, unlike anything we have. What an outpouring of national pride. What great role models they have in William and Kate. What a great reason for a party.
Contrast that with the cynicism and contempt we too often display. On national holidays and other important occasions we have the President. If you don't like him -- and historically at least a half of us don't no matter who he might be -- such appearances frequently become an opportunity for derisive comments and displays of disrespect. We have traded patriotism for potshots.
By all means, let's build that castle and fill it with folks who can help unite us, celebrate a love of country and its institutions, even if they're just pretenders to the throne.