Friday 16 September 2022

Monarchy in the 21st Century

 I sympathise with all those who are upset over the death of Queen Elizabeth II but, at the same time, look forward with optimism to the reign of the new King. The modern world has chased all magic and mystery away from life and we must take them where we can find them for the human soul is such that we need these things. They call to the essence of our being and when they are denied, as now, we feel their loss acutely even if we can't articulate just what it is that has been lost. What has really been lost is, of course, the sense of the reality of the spiritual. 

The British monarchy stretches back a thousand years into the distant past and provides a link to history and tradition in a world where nothing has deep roots or lasts long. The pageantry that defines the monarchy, its hierarchical dignity, the ceremony and ritual that surround it, all these can satisfy the soul in a world in which everything else is materialistic. Religion is meaningless for most people now and monarchy can fill the hole in the psyche that the absence of religion leaves behind. At least, it is one of the few things that might seem to do that. In truth it can only fill a tiny fraction of that hole.

So I do sympathise with the many people who express their support for the monarchy in the wake of the Queen's death. But I can't share their emotions and for two reasons. The first is that monarchy is fairly meaningless without God above it to back it up and give it its fundamental raison d'ĂȘtre. All the ritual is centred in the reality of God. Take him away and it is just theatricals. But he is not taken away, you might protest. He is right there with the altar and the archbishop and the services and the cathedrals. No, he is not there. The words are there, the outer form is there but the spirit is not there. Some of the participants in these ceremonies may be believers according to their own lights, as the Queen is said to have been, but in what do they actually believe? A tradition, an historical idea, a set of ethics, the doctrines of an official religion? Or do they believe in the living God who animates their own soul and do they demonstrate that belief in everything they say and do? Believing in God is not enough. You must love God which means love truth. I know no one can judge the state of another's soul and I do not pretend to do such but the evidence indicates that most religious people accept the world on its own terms and that to me makes them unbelievers. You cannot believe in God and accept the world. You cannot serve two masters.

The second cause for my reservations concerns the personalities of the deceased Queen and her son Charles. The Queen cannot be faulted. She served her country faithfully for 70 years. She never put a foot wrong. Her moral character cannot be questioned. This is what people say and I don't dispute it. But I would say that despite her obvious qualities she appeared to be entirely passive in the face of massive spiritual degradation. Maybe she said and did things behind the scenes but if so she was remarkably ineffective, given the spiritual situation in the UK today. Under her watch the Royal Family became all show and no substance. She went along with every change in the country including what amounts to a loss of sovereignty, the conversion of the Church of England into a branch of secular liberalism and the radical restructuring of the population. The fact that her nation and her Church are in a much worse state spiritually at her death than when she ascended the throne cannot be blamed on her personally but as far as the public is concerned she did nothing to arrest the slide downwards apart from carrying on behaving as she had been brought up to behave. On the credit side, her personal behaviour was impeccable. She did her duty to the end, acting with dignity at all times. She clearly impressed everyone who met her and not just because of her position. But how did the Queen use her role? To be brutal, as an opener of fetes. The purpose of the British Royal Family under the late Queen became simply to stay in business. It survives because most people agree that it is better than the alternative which is true enough as it does provide a link to a past rooted in God but when, in itself and as it is now, it really just seeks to be all things to all men what use is that? In reality, it has become just another arm, a traditionalist, anti-modern but really completely modernised arm, of the global elite basically used to absorb resistance to the more overt forms of globalism. King Charles claims to be a traditionalist (or even a Traditionalist) but he seems likely to go along with all the ongoing corruptions of the country and the West as a whole apart from some token opposition. Perhaps not. We shall see.

It's easy to criticise and I don't mean this as a personal attack. I recognise that the Queen had an impossible task and she was certainly a fair better monarch than her abdicating uncle would have been. But there is the sense that her main objective became to keep the family business running and if the soul of the country suffered in the meantime that was secondary. I am sure that personally she regretted many of the changes that came about during her reign but, even though she was only a constitutional monarch, she might have done a little more on the positive side to defend her nation from the depredations of the spiritual attack on it.

In 1965 on a gloomy day in January my father took my brother and me to line the streets in London for the funeral procession of Winston Churchill. I remember very little about it other than the grey clouds and the rain, both somehow fitting. My father felt this funeral marked something more than just the death of a man. It also signified the end of the British Empire and the ideals and beliefs that had governed that. This turned out to be the case. The death of Queen Elizabeth II can be taken as a similar marker of something. Despite what I say above, the Queen did at least hold the line, symbolically if in no other way. Now that she is gone we can expect, once the initial period of mourning is over, the last vestiges of the old ways to be swept away. If these were replaced by something better that would not be a problem for undoubtedly there is something better, but what these ways did at least have was a sense of the reality of something beyond this world, something to which this world should coordinate its being. The new ways are actively based on the rejection of that sense. The triumph of matter over spirit will continue and become even more entrenched in the human psyche. Whether there will eventually be a reaction to that remains to be seen but King Charles will have to go a lot further than he has if he is to be the figurehead of that reaction and not absorbed by the zeitgeist.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I broadly agree with your evaluation; but with a greater degree of harshness in the criticisms. It is false to state that the Queen has 'no power' - for example, in the 1970s, the Queen's representative in Australia dismissed the elected Australian Prime Minister.

She could have vetoed many things, spoken out against bad things, retained aspects of her patronage rather than giving it to the UK Prime Minister (especially in relation to the Church of England)- and she was one of the wealthiest people in the world, especially in land: which inevitably means one of the most powerful people in the world.

I think we must assume that she Did exercise her power - with results we can see.

Also, if we are honest, the Queen is Not (and Never Has Been) a suitable focus for English/ British or UK patriotism - that is a deliberately cultivated fraud.

She was the Queen of many other places too, and explicitly regarded herself as such. This translates into meaning that she did Not regard herself as responsible for the UK or representing the UK specifically - but for the commonwealth as a whole.

In other words, she was always a globalist (an Empress), not a national Queen - and this explains many of her actions (or apparent inaction).

William Wildblood said...

I would go along with what you say, Bruce. I tried to be even-handed in the post and err on the side caution in what I said given I obviously was not privy to the many pressures she may have been under. But I wanted to make the point that she was not anywhere near as good a queen as the image makers would have us believe and that she probably did net harm to the country. Someone else may have been worse but that doesn't make her good.

ben said...

The fake monarchy is a small part of the system, that's kept around to be attacked by the system media as a proxy for the native inhabitants. All the while, the "royals" are themselves hostile to those native inhabitants. The police have a similar shameful role. In fact I suppose the native inhabitants themselves do!

I'm sure there's more to the situation than this, but this is part of it at least.

Unknown said...

Thanks for saying this.

From the spiritual point of view, a nation organized for the pursuit of power on behalf of some particular ethnic group or race or culture (properly speaking, their elites), can have no value or interest.

It is a strange thing, and very unfortunate, but many people today returning to Christianity strangely become nationalists - which suggests they aren't so much interested in spirituality as personal and national power and see Christianity as associated with last periods of national power.

But from the spiritual point of view the only human community that has value is one oriented towards the Divine - not earthly power - and all it's customs, practices, and habits are oriented towards transcendence.

I'm such a community, there is no Greek, Pagan, or Jew in Christ - anyone who shares in the common vision and willing to live by it is lovingly embraced from wherever they come - and such a way of life would little to do with accumulating earthly power or wealth.

Rather the opposite.

JMSmith said...

I don't really understand the role of the monarch in the British constitution, but Elizabeth II struck me as that quintessentially postmodern creature, the person pretending to be something he is not. She wore the costume of a queen very well, and superbly acted the part, but all of this was, in the end, just keeping up appearances or (less charitably) living a lie. As you say, this is similar to the empty show of the churchmen at the coronation. The forms remain but the substance is gone. The churchmen may be Christians, but do they truly believe in what they are ostensibly doing when they place the crown on a monarch's head?

I think we all feel the urge to rally round things like the monarchy, the Church, the flag, etc., when we see the truly repulsive characters who are howling to tear them down. But some us also know we are really defending life-like imitations, simulacra, of what we say we are defending. Traditionalists, Christian and otherwise, spend too much time defending the props of their own illusions.

William Wildblood said...

As you say, it did all seem to be just a show with nothing substantial behind it, something that carried on a tradition when the the fire had burnt out. As I say in the post I think it survives for want of anything better but really it's a pretty feeble defence of something to say that it's better than the alternative. This, I would say , is another end times indicator.

Lady Mermaid said...

I had posted my thoughts about this situation on Francis Berger's post about the nature of authority.

It is undeniably true that Queen Elizabeth II presided over an unprecedented political, moral, and spiritual decline. I do wish she had used her platform to speak out against the wicked trends that have engulfed the UK.

Nevertheless, I'm not convinced it would have done much good. Look at the examples of King Bourdoin of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. They vetoed bills legalizing abortion and euthanasia in those nations. The democratically elected parliaments overruled the monarchs.

Again, I'm not excusing Her Majesty for her silence. However, the point I'm trying to make is that leadership alone is not sufficient if the people are not willing to follow. The Romantic Christian idea of taking personal responsibility applies here. The sad fact is the majority of the British public actively support or at least tolerate the current situation. Even Jesus, the King of kings, could not force people to want to follow Him.

Yes, modern authority is corrupt. However, it is we the people who are ultimately to blame. The throne and altar are a reflection of society. I'm honestly convinced that much of the public would demand the beheading of Alfred the Great if he were to come back from the dead.

Now as to what type of king Charles III will be is an open question. He is certainly not cut from the same cloth as his namesake Charles I who was martyred for the Anglican faith. He is a product of our current times. However, we can start by making changes ourselves rather than waiting for a king or church leader to do the work for us. We the people must examine ourselves. We are not worthy of good leaders. Outer authority cannot be fixed unless the inner is transformed.

William Wildblood said...

Excellent comment, Lady Mermaid. I believe you are quite right that any intervention the Queen might have made would have been useless given the political and cultural climate. It would not have hurt to have made a statement though. The problem with the monarchy is nobody knows what it is for now. In modern democracies the king is really just a highly remunerated servant of a potentially fickle public.

Christopher said...

What powers does a king have to remain in solitude, ruling by the letter away from the pressing eyes? Charles and his family can use that, and perhaps in and around the Isles, how lovely.