By Lee Cohen
Senior Fellow, London Center for Policy Research
Published in THE HILL
With American newspapers speculating about such curious issues as “Will Meghan Markle and Prince Harry raise their baby to be black?” (Los Angeles Times) or Markle’s estranged father’s reaction to the birth of his grandson (Page Six), perhaps we should be asking the more interesting and important question: Does the birth of the first Anglo-American royal affect the “special relationship” between the United States and the United Kingdom?
Churchill coined the phrase “special relationship” to connote the Anglo-American alliance in 1946 in his “Iron Curtain Speech” at Fulton, Mo. He laid out in the clearest of terms the importance to world stability of a relationship based on a compassionate worldview, underpinned by “the great principles of freedom and the rights of man, which are the joint inheritance of the English-speaking world,” and undergirded by the resources of our combined military might.
The Brits have fought beside us in most of the major conflicts of the past century. In the same year that Churchill delivered his famous speech, the two countries established the UKUSA Agreement, an arrangement that established an unprecedented level of intelligence sharing between the two nations. Such collaboration continues today and has deepened through cooperation on nuclear and special forces programs.
Trade between our countries is robust. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports the United States and United Kingdom are each other’s single-largest investors. More than 1.1 million Americans work for British companies across all 50 states. Over 42,000 American firms export to the United Kingdom; it is the fourth-largest export destination for American goods and services.
The left-wing media love to talk about tension in the bilateral relationship under President Trump, but largely this is fantasy. In fact, Trump could not have been a more supportive partner in Britain’s current political crisis surrounding Brexit. The president made it known early on that he gave his support for a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement as soon as Brexit is resolved.
Considering these facts, and the cultural ties that bind Britain and America, there is little doubt that, though it’s interesting to contemplate, the royal union of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle became known upon their wedding, and their newborn son will do little to change the “special relationship” one way or another.
It is undeniable that, with no royal family, many Americans are fascinated by the British royals. Our history is but a speck compared to all that has transpired in the United Kingdom since 1066. Many of us are awed by the dignity, pageantry, traditions and mystique of our closest ally’s monarchy. Britain has something meaningful in a monarchy that stands above politics and celebrity.
Meghan Markle is the first American to marry into the royal family since 1937. It is striking that a biracial American actress has given birth to a son who will be seventh in line to the British throne. But this is a testament to the adaptability of an institution that has survived since the Norman Conquest.
Other questions worth exploring are how, moving forward, the Sussexes will navigate the inevitable media intrusion that comes with their offices and a growing family. Only time will tell.
On the occasion of their marriage, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Woody Johnson said of the “special relationship”: “It’s about as close as you can get; it’s like a family. You can have squabbles here and there, but then at the end of the day you’re all family — you come back and you agree on the important things.”
Indeed, it is interesting to contemplate an ever-closer relationship because of the marriage of a prince to an American, but the U.S.-U.K. trade and defense cooperation guarantee this relationship more so than even an Anglo-American baby seventh in line to the throne.
Lee Cohen is a senior fellow of the Danube Institute in Budapest and the London Center for Policy Research, and the New York director of The Anglosphere Society. He was formerly the director of the Congressional United Kingdom Caucus.