I was surprised to read in Secret Places, Hidden Sanctuaries (a jolly good book in which I shall provide a later review) that General Douglas MacArthur was a lifelong monarchist, and apparently even a member of the Royal Stuart Society, after that monarchist society was established in 1926. Prominent Americans are not (never?) renown for this.
Photo of General Douglas MacArthur inscribed to Admiral Nimitz
Mind you, when you look at the man - his jaunty appearance, that invincible confidence of his, the trademark corncob pipe, the way he carried his riding crop like it was a royal sceptre, or - and especially - here, seated as if upon his throne, photographed in a French chateau at the Front in September 1918. Vanity and hubris was the stuff of the future "American Caesar", who as Supreme Commander seemed to run the war as if it were a one-man show. The old soldier of the ballad acted the part of an absolute monarch.
And indeed he did as Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers and military ruler over that of defeated Japan, which included the Emperor himself. When MacArthur confirmed that the emperor's abdication would not be necessary, he did so over the objections of many members of the imperial family as well as Japanese intellectuals who called for abdication and the implementation of a regency. While the decision to constitutionalize the monarchy in occupied Japan and to establish a Westminster parliamentary democracy would have ultimately required the approval of the American government (with input from the Allies), MacArthur no doubt wielded enormous influence in those discussions, and indeed operated with unilateral control over Japanese reforms until about 1948, when the U.S. State Department stepped in.
As we prepare to mark the 65th anniversary of the Japanese surrender this September 2nd, how about a toast to the old soldier who did his duty as God gave him the sight to see that duty; who now sleeps without the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, and the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.