As a Brit I cannot begin to understand the nature of the dispute over the Confederate Flag in South Carolina. It represents a part of history that my countrymen were not invited in to be part of, and today I continue to respect the break from Britain (grudgingly).
What I find odd is that the Royal Mace, the symbol of British authority in the colonies, continues to be kept as the centerpiece of the South Carolina's state legislature. It is paraded in every day that the State House sits, and takes pride of place in front of the speaker.
Surely if the good people of South Carolina are so keen to forget their history they should be even handed enough to give the British state back its mace.
To give a little bit of background the mace was commissioned by the Common House of Assembly of the Province of South Carolina in 1756. It has a twin sister mace, which is still in use by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, in the UK county of Norfolk.
The two of them are silver, with gold plate. They both feature the crown of St Edward on top; anyone wondering what this crown looks like should examine the coat of arms of every British colony. They all display it, because both the crown and the mace are unmistakable symbols of British Royal authority.
The mace itself is a medieval hammer used to fight off ordinary people who challenged Royal officials, and they patronage they hold from the King. The Sergeant-At-Arms in South Carolina carries it with the speaker everyday in glorious memory of the days when striking a Royal official would result in a bloody end.
The State legislature website of South Carolina says it is “the emblem of authority for the House of Representatives.” Which makes it sound like retention of the mace is entirely in keeping with the principles of the American Republic.
But the website of Norwich City Council describes it's collection of maces and swords (and South Carolina also has a sword) rather differently.
It says: “These emblems of monarchy showed that the city was acting with authority delegated by the King. Norwich was, and is, extremely proud of its rights and this is reflected by the preservation of the magnificent sword and maces.”
Perhaps the British should tell South Carolina their treasured mace is part of its history it ought to forget. Or maybe we should suggest it is offensive to the modern American republic to display signs from the day when democracy and freedom in the colonies was a dream. But I will do neither, because us Brits understand that history is who we are.
There is no point in pretending history did not happen; quite the opposite, we ought to learn from it. British rule happened, and you hated it. The Confederates happened, and they were defeated. If London took down historical monuments every time they fell out of fashion we would have nothing left.
I know almost nothing about the Confederate flag, it is not my history, it is yours. Be careful how much of your history you throw in the bin.
For the record the South Carolina mace is incredible, we are happy to take it back if you choose to forget your past. But my advice is go and look at it, it shows you were you came from and the people that came before you.