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Mark Steyn

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece appears in the March 28, 2005, issue of National Review.

I yield to no one in my admiration for this great republic, but I’m a subject of Her Britannic Majesty and there are moments when the whole monarchy deal just falls into place for me. One of them occurred the other day, when the Queen hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace for the “British music industry.” This wasn’t “British music” as in Sir William Walton and Sir Edward Elgar, but the usual leathery old caterwaulers–though most of them now have knighthoods, too: Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Paul McCartney, etc.

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So Her Majesty found herself in a room of legendary rock guitarists, and apparently hadn’t a clue who they were. Introduced to Eric Clapton, she politely enquired, “Have you been playing a long time?” Passing on to Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, the Queen asked, “And are you a guitarist, too?”

Full disclosure: I confess to a certain antipathy to Mr. Clapton. Years ago, I was nominated for a radio award and wound up losing to a BBC production, The Eric Clapton Story. Okay, even fuller disclosure: I didn’t lose to The Eric Clapton Story, I lost to The Eric Clapton Story Part 4, which is even more humiliating. If memory serves, Part 4 was the episode with “Layla” in it.

So I envy the Queen her blissful ignorance of the rock colossus. That’s what I call real cool. By contrast, consider Vice President Al Gore meeting Courtney Love at a Hollywood fundraiser: “I’m a really big fan,” gushed the vice-panderer. Ms. Love, to her credit, scoffed, “Yeah, right. Name a song.”…

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