Modern America is generally regarded as a relatively young nation in comparison to some of the more established civilisations around the world. Yet, the American lands can still boast centuries of rich history and a wealth of fascinating social structures.
While the contemporary United States of America is a republic – in that it is governed by the people rather than a crowned monarch – over the centuries, some of America’s social hierarchies have resembled very closely the more established systems of royalty and nobility that can be found around the world.
From the earliest colonies that began to emerge on the East Coast of America in the 15th and 16th centuries with the infamous arrival of Christopher Columbus, to the modern-day celebrities and Hollywood royalty who have enjoyed lives comparable to the world’s kings and queens – America has seen an exciting, rapid and uniquely modern evolution of its culture, geography, economy and society.
Given the extraordinary history of a country that would become one of the world’s greatest nations, many people are surprised that America has no formal Royal Family or the kind of aristocratic hierarchy that can be found in so many cultures and countries around the world.
Was There A Queen Of America?
This great nation has seen its share of rulers and leaders, yet The United States of America has never had a formal royal class, in that it has never been ruled by crowned monarchs such as kings, queens, emperors or empresses.
There has never been a King of America, and there has never been a Queen of America – at least, not in the literal sense. Throughout its relatively short history, America has not been subject to its own royal family, one that governs with absolute true power over its people, or even a constitutional monarchy that plays more of an ambassadorial role.
Yet this historic land was founded on strong connections with the ruling royals of other nations, and the earliest colonies were established in the name of some of the world’s iconic kings and queens.
America & The English Queen
While America has never had an official queen of its own, a substantial piece of its history echoes its connections with Elizabeth I, the Queen of England during the 16th century.
Many of the early settlements along the East Coast of America were established by envoys of the English Queen, and these fledgling societies were, for a period, regarded as outposts of the European nations, such as England, Spain and The Netherlands.
The people of the early colonies were considered to be subjects of the kings and queens who had established the societies or claimed the new lands.
The American connections to the English Queen can still be seen today in many of the place names that were chosen in honour of Queen Elizabeth I. Perhaps the most obvious is the state of Virginia, a reference to the nickname for Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen.
The legacies of other English monarchs can also be found in the evolution of America’s geography, such as Carolina and Georgia – names chosen to honour the English kings, Charles II and George II, whereas the state of Louisiana takes its name from the French king, Louis XIV.
American Empress – Marjorie Merriweather Post
After the War of Independence, America evolved along more egalitarian lines, rejecting the structure of a governing monarchy, and embracing the ideologies of equality, democracy and social mobility.
The nation began to reinvent itself as a strong republic, without the need for a foreign power or even a royal family of its own.
The official social structure of the new America held no place for the traditional system of royalty and nobility that was so characteristic of its founding nations and many of the European countries, as well as ancient cultures such as the Indian, African and Asian nations.
Yet there’s little doubt that an informal social structure began to evolve, albeit related to more modern criteria that the traditional principles of blue blood, hereditary titles and noble lineage.
Many of America’s celebrities have enjoyed lifestyles, wealth, influence and power akin to the kings and queens of more established nations. Perhaps this is why terms such as ‘Queen of America’ or ‘King of The USA’ are so familiar in modern parlance.
One such celebrity even became known as The American Empress. This was the cereal heiress and philanthropist Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Born in Illinois in 1887, Marjorie Merriweather Post started life in relatively humble conditions, yet her father would go on to embrace the American Dream in heroic fashion, as he established the empire that would become the great General Foods company.
Commercial success followed, catapulting Marjorie Merriweather Post into the elite social circles of 20th-century America. As the only child of her industrious father, she inherited his businesses and his fortunes, which she then went on to build up into legendary titans within the food industry.
As a result of her connections, her fortunes, her business success, not to mention her indomitable personality, Marjorie Merriweather Post was to enjoy lavish lifestyles that the world’s royals and nobles would recognise, including priceless jewels, art collections, luxury yachts and world travel.
Perhaps the jewels that contributed to her moniker as American Empress were the famous Romanov treasures that she acquired during her time in the Soviet Union as the wife of the US Ambassador. Her eye for beauty and love of refinement resulted in a jewellery collection that was not only fit for even the most esteemed empress but originated from Russian royalty including the Tsar and Tsarinas themselves.
She also became renowned for her commission of palatial residences – homes fit for the great and good of the land, befitting her role as hostess to some of the political greats of her generation. One home in particular – Mar-A-Lago – would even become the summer residence of a future American President.
While there is no official Queen of America, the royal connections, the modern culture of celebrity and the accumulation of vast fortunes have bestowed a regal air on many of America’s people and places, both during its evolution as a modern nation and to the present day.