America did away with titles of nobility from its very start. Calls to crown George Washington king didn’t meet with much support – especially from Mr. Washington himself. In like manner, titles like duke, earl and such were not imported from our continental kin.
Having said that, Americans have had a particular fascination for all things royal. The marriage of Charles and Diana created a sensation in America followed by a similar fascination with their divorce. Diana’s death titillated conspiracy theorists who had been denied anything interesting since President Kennedy’s assassination. And the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton had royal watchers in a swoon.
Most great tales include kings (both the wonderful and the evil type), beautiful princesses and brave knights renowned for their great deeds. It’s easy to envision the brave squire perhaps still in his battle damaged armor kneeling before the monarch who lays the flat of the sword blade on each shoulder;
“In the name of God and St. Michael and St. George, I dub thee knight; be brave and loyal.”
It’s a stirring image. You had King Henry VIII, Admiral Lord Nelson, Sir Henry Morgan – knighted pirate of the Caribbean and even Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first to conquer Mount Everest.
But, alas, today the criteria for knighthood have slipped a little. I mean, I love Paul McCartney’s music – excuse me, I mean Sir Paul. Then, of course you have Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Ian McKellen – the fine actor who played Gandalf the Grey in the Lord of the Rings.
I noticed that added to the rolls is Jonathan Ive, who was made a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire (KBE). No dragon slayer, he, nor one to rescue a damsel in distress. His great deeds include the external design of many of Apple’s products including the iPod and iPhone.
I can hear it now,
“This is like so AWESOME! I dub thee knight, dude!”
Perhaps it’s just as well that America decided not to include such titles and stations in our culture.