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On presidents and monarchs

By Tom Chatfield  

Visiting some friends in Washington DC last November, for thanksgiving, I was struck once again by the democratic monuments at the heart of America’s capital: the White House and the Capitol, of course, but also the Lincoln Memorial and its twinned inscriptions of the Gettysburg address and Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

These, I thought, are surely more dignified things to have at the symbolic heart of a nation than the unbeautiful heap of Buckingham Palace. One the one hand, we have—in the case of Lincoln’s memorial—a place open for free and to all, for 24 hours a day, that is…

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