Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

In Defence of Pomp

Readers, please find below the text of a letter that I wrote to a Peer of my acquaintance last fall.

My Lord X,

I read today of the findings of a British Parliamentary Committee, which is apparently recommending, to the British Government and Crown, the abolition of (at least Parliament-recommended) knighthoods, and the renaming of the Order of the British Empire, to the Order of British Excellence. I thought it might be of some use or interest to Your Lordship, to hear the opinion of one subject of the British Commonwealth, regarding these recommendations. When we met, we discussed the general subject of peerages and knighthoods, in relation to subjects of former British Empire, and current British Commonwealth, nations. At that time, Your Lordship suggested that, for example, the honour of the Order of Canada, was a satisfactory and equivalent substitution for both peerages and for formerly applied Imperial honours such as the OBE. I did and do not agree with that view, but I did not argue the point at the time. Given these recent developments, however, I feel obliged to speak my mind on the matter. As you are, My Lord, the only British Parliamentarian with whom I have the honour to be personally – if only slightly - acquainted, I hope Your Lordship will forgive my indulgence in advancing my views on this subject. In my defence, let me say that I believe very deeply that this is a matter of the utmost importance - of greater importance, indeed, than is apparently believed by the Parliamentary Committee in question.

I believe sincerely that the ties that bind the nations of the British Commonwealth, have always been and remain of great importance today – if in no other sense than that we share certain, common threats to our security, beliefs and way of life, which compel a unified response – a response that must be animated by a clear knowledge, sense and reflection of our own, shared nature and beliefs. Every nation and every people must subscribe to a history, and a set of principles, which collectively define its substance and which guide its policies and actions. For Canadians, in particular - who by common consent rejected the rather more radical and fundamentally more geographically-rooted tenets of the American Revolution - it has traditionally and always been the institutions of Great Britain and her Crown, which have fulfilled this role; and which have dulled the relative allure of the equally meritorious and more geographically-proximate and -rooted spirit and institutions which have replaced them in the United States. I know from my own family experience that the binding, defining and inspiring power of British institutions has been operative throughout Canadian history, for and with respect to peoples of all geographical and ethnic origins. That power is, in my opinion, indissolubly linked with the pomp & ceremony of the institutions of Great Britain, the British Crown, and their associated grandeur, histories, honours, titles and ranks. This is a critical point, in that it suggests that, if the fact and ceremony of the historical and, particularly, the Royal associations are removed and alienated from these institutions, honours and privileges; they shall cease to have the same meaning and force. I am quite certain that noone in Canada – of any political or other opinion or persuasion – would honestly assign to the Order of Canada, the same fundamental meaning, and sense of honour and gravitas, as to the Imperial honours which it replaced. It therefore follows that the effective abolition of these honours even in Great Britain would have the most undesirable consequences, in terms of a dilution of the impact and intrinsic power, merit and meaning imputed to their replacements.

In a world in which the mutual allegiance of the nations of the British Commonwealth – an allegiance underwritten fundamentally by adherence to a shared set of principles – and the allegiance of Great Britain herself to her own roots, and evolved core beliefs and principles; mattered not at all, these consequences might be considered of little but sentimental weight. However, such is not the world in which we live today. If nothing else, the men and women of our British Commonwealth military forces, who are now engaged throughout the world in difficult and dangerous tasks in our defence, deserve more on which to “hang their hats,” than the potential reward of honours and institutions which are without history and devoid of intrinsic meaning or merit, and which explicitly reject the ties that bind them to their predecessors and counterparts at other difficult and pivotal moments of our common history. I therefore humbly and respectfully urge Your Lordship, should Your Lordship be so inclined, to reject the findings and recommendations of this particular Parliamentary Committee, with all the passion and conviction that Your Lordship can muster.

I remain your sincere and humble servant,