‘YEAH, I think the monarchy’s great as long as we’re all on board with it.’
This sentiment – monarchy by popularity – has always made me feel slightly queasy.
Phrased another way, it might be: ‘Yeah, I suppose I’d be willing to get the guillotine out, as long as it represented the national consensus.’
As well as being treasonous, such a system fundamentally undermines the entire point of having a monarch. We don’t elect our king or queen, and in this inheritance of rule there is supposed to be a transcendence with its origins in the divine election upon which the monarchy is predicated.
The rationalists with their vision of a ‘United Republic’ make what from their own ideological worldviews are good points. The monarchy is outdated, irrelevant, of another era. Aye, for we have made it so. Christian faith, marriage, family, traditional morality, truth, beauty are all deemed irrelevant to the modern world. The kind of grubby vulgarianism which would have us abandon them are antithetical to a worldview in which monarchy makes sense, and in which the coronation’s sacramental nature becomes a sacrificial offering of monarch and people to God. I suspect this country will eventually adopt republicanism, bland and lifeless a system though it be, because the Weltanschauung conformed to the Triune God is no longer recognised by the average Briton.
Summarised, this is a question of where humanity is headed. Hereditary rule may seem totally ridiculous in an age where meritocracy is the ostensible idyll. For Christians, Jesus’s ancestral descent from Adam via Abraham’s line is highly significant and gives a theological underpinning to the entire salvation narrative. Besides, we must all come from someone, be they Habsburgs and Borgias or Smiths and Joneses; our blood must have a history, and post-modernity cannot understand the Christian teaching that bloodlines can be used for celestial purposes, elevating the natural sanctity they possess as the emblem of our common humanity to a divine purpose and ordination. For the Christian, elevation of human sanguinity has its most perfect expression in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Jesus.
Flaccid post-enlightenment mindsets reflect the reality of the world we live in, a world in which the metaphysical reality underpinning the monarchy has gone: namely, (small ‘c’) catholic Christianity, including traditional Protestant and eastern Orthodox models. The theology of the divine right of Kings seems as alien to modern man as holy pilgrimages or blessing of the crops at rogation-tide . . . but surely that is the point!
Maybe the world needs to be confronted by transcendent realities it does not understand in order to accept a system rooted in what is paradoxically beyond yet incalculably inward to it. I would suggest that this is transcendentalising is something we do naturally, even if our conscious worldview is largely secular. We are meaning-seeking beings, and I’ve never known even the most atheistic person for whom sporting iconography, their nation’s flag, their children’s names or a powerful piece of music mean absolutely, nihilistically nothing . . . quite the opposite. Despite our best efforts to sterilise and de-sacralise the world, to reduce its essence to the weighable and measurable, the spiritual worldview which is all but vanished in the west still permeates the life we lead. It is the muscle memory of an action which we may have abandoned but which remains genetically grafted into our flesh.
Truth remains true, irrespective of its popular acceptation. The earth revolves upon the eternal axis of the Cross, perpetually imaged upon the matter of the universe, even when man’s vanity eschews it. May we again look beyond the immanent, and see the truest, veined stuff of things; sedent within the heart, the God-wov’n soul, whence we derive celestial-flamed wings.
This is a moment to reconfigure our collective life and reach out into the mist of the supernatural . . . but I suspect we’ll take the well-worn way and recline upon familiar, necrotic systems of being that lead nowhere but the choked idol of cremated self.
May God grant our reposed Queen, as the prayerbook bids, everlasting joy and felicity, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen.