Let’s face it: given that dragons have, so far as we know, all been slain, there isn’t a whole lot left for knights to do. And given that there aren’t a whole lot of functional tasks left for royalty, there are basically symbolic actions for them to perform, such as participating in parades and making unusual hand gestures that are interpreted as waving.
So knights: not a whole lot of call for defense of the realm.
Queens: not much more to do than being royalty.
One thing that has been occurring in Great Britain for nearly 100 years is that the person wearing the crown celebrates the new year with honors—or honours—during which time people who are otherwise known as “commoners” get elevated in rank.
Some people become knights.
Nowadays, it seems, defending the realm of Great Britain is all about financial defense. Sir Paul McCartney is probably not going to be called upon to draw his sword. Chances are, it is more about how he’s helped out the Chancellor of the Exchequer over the past many years.
Let’s face it: when it comes to popular music, the Brits have clearly been doing a better job of coming up with new acts, and sustaining old ones, than any other country on earth, at least from the standpoint of their having achieved popularity and/or visibility. That is, based on statistics alone there are probably Chinese analogues of the Beatles and the Stones, though those of us in the west don’t know about them.
Recently, Queen Elizabeth II, 90 years old, suffering from a cold, honored Ray Davies. Is it likely that the Queen listened to the Kinks? I am doubtful that Charles, at his most reckless, did, either.
To be sure, Davies was probably more influenced by the British music hall tradition than any other performer (that we’re generally aware of; there may be some analogue in Bristol or Brighton or Blackpool that are all about the footlights and the greasepaint in a way that Davies never will), so one might make the case that his being acknowledged by the Queen is a testament to that aspect of his musical career. Compared to the other British Invasion bands (and let’s remember that the Kinks didn’t get a chance to invade the way, say, The Who did, given that they were kept out of the U.S. from 1965 to 1969 thanks to the American Federation of Musicians) their financial contribution to the realm is a comparative tuppence.
It’s on odd thing. Rock and roll has always been against, in some small way, perhaps, but resistant nonetheless, to the status quo. Yet for years, the Queen of England, the woman who puts the “status” in quo, has been publicly validating rock musicians, and the vast majority of them have acceded to this acknowledgment.
Congratulations, Ray. It sure beats the hell out of a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Video: The Kinks – “All Day and All of the Night” (live on Shindig, 1965)