Browse Topics



Music Cues: Various Forms of Government
Susan Stamberg
November 11, 2000

Susan Stamberg Comments On Various Forms of Government

And a final note on the weeks news....more than a note. A solution to the election dilemma in which we find ourselves. Or a suggestion, anyway. The week saw several suggestions. In the New York Times, columnist Maureen Dowd (whom I hope to be, when I grown down), wrote, "Oh, heck, let's just keep Clinton." Others (less literary types) proposed that we chuck the whole first-pass and let all the country vote again. My suggestion is less cumbersome, and certainly respectful of our national roots. I say, let's go back to a monarchy. Think of the simplicity of it ... the predictability ... the absence of tv attack ads!! A King for America! Or Queen. Or co-Royals.

What put this in mind, this week, was the fact that on the very day America went out to vote -- a day that began with such a bright sense of promise, an excitement, and long, invigorated lines at the polling places -- on that day in the life of America, the Queen Mother of Denmark died. Ingrid Victoria Sofia Louise Margareta of Denmark was 90 years old ... and "the keeper of the royal flame". No flashy, scandal-riddled royal ... Queen Ingrid got credit for keeping the monarchy up-to-date. Aware that royalty is vulnerable, she set out to humanize it -- mixing with her people, putting them at ease.

She looks a bit like Clare Booth Luce in an old photo -- pointed chin, heavy brows, permed hair (as if she'd borrowed Queen Elizabeth's curlers). And dripping jewels -- tiara, necklace, dangly earrings. Dress-up stuff.

But from most accounts, Queen Ingrid was more than a mannequin for gems. She was a woman to be reckoned with. Sharp-eyed .. cool.. dignified .. with a firm grip on the throne.

She married into Danish royalty in 1935, as a 25-year-old swedish princess. A foreigner. Some Danes held that against her. Until the morning of April 9th, 1940, when the nazis occupied Denmark. It was then, Ingrid said, that she realized she was Danish. As a young mother, she pushed a pram through the streets of occupied Copenhagen ... and rode her bicycle to the shops. After the war, her husband became King Frederick the 9th. When he died in 1972, their daughter, Mar-gray-ta became the first woman to rule Denmark in five centuries.

Okay, Im not seriously proposing we return to royal ways. But there are lessons there in spirit and grace.

Ingrid's story seems noble in many ways, in contrast to our political squabbling. She stayed the course, put her privilege in the service of her people. And stood with her people, in tough times. Her strengths, as a monarch, can remind us of the strengths of our political system.

For all the messy frustration and stalemate of this week, our democracy has a great and miraculous dignity to it. The chance to cast a vote in the new world remains the most noble opportunity of all.