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

Tuesday, 7 June 2005

The Joy of Order

Thomas Paine said in his 1790 pamphlet The Rights of Man: "I have a dislike to Monarchy. It is against human dignity". The argument that a supposed "unequal" social order, and specifically that monarchy, is against the dignity of man has not gone away. It has been repeated in just the last week, by SubversNZ and Lewis Holden, of the NZ Republican Movement. I, unsuprisingly, reject it, on both theological and secular grounds, one for each opponent.

Human dignity comes from the imago dei, the fact that we are created in the image of God. And God, in both His divine and human nature, is ordered, even hierarchical. The Son proceeds from the Father. The Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. Even the Son of God, when he came to earth, obeyed His Father to the death. And He also respected the natural human hierarchies, between parents and children. Between rulers and their subjects. Romans 13 explicitly affirms this: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities, for they are God's ministers, to execute wrath on the evildoer. Give honour to whom honour, respect to whom respect". God recognises order, and He is a God of order. Yet, in order, and even in hierarchy, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost do not lose their individuality, their equality, or their divinity. They are co-equal, and co-substantial. Yet they are ordered. The Son, when He obeys His Father, does not lose His dignity, but He adds to it. So also we, when we obey God, are not slaves, but sons.

Likewise, the universe, the community, and the individual, are in harmony when we are in divine order, in our place. As Williams puts it in the April 2005 Touchstone , Matter obeys soul, soul obeys Reason, which reflects the mind of God.

I believe in natural hierarchies. Not tyrannies. C. S. Lewis, in the Abolition of Man, writes that respect, for instance, to a parent, or to the aged, is a natural response. Patriotism is a natural repsonse. Reverence for God is a natural response. And while there are natural responses which are disordered, respect for the Crown is not one of them. When we reverence the Queen, as a Christian Prince, we show our reverence to the God who appointed her. Hannah More, in her response to Thomas Paine, put it this way: "He [Paine] does not wish to destroy Kings, but He by whom Kings reign". Having become disconnected from God, our ultimate authority, it follows that we also rebel against the Queen He has appointed for us, and the church He has given us. Republicanism is a sign of rebellion. It is un-natural, and dis-ordered. Perhaps, if we could return to the Old Testament, and have God ruling over us directly, it would be better. But God comes to us, and will come, as a King. Oops. No majority vote there. He has given us the Queen, as, in a sense, a placeholder for Himself. When He comes, He will receive the government. Until then, He has entrusted it to Elizabeth, his servant and viceregent against evil.

Reverencing hierarchy does not mean the Queen should be an absolute tyrant. Modern thinking assumes that "leadership" means superiority. But the monarchy reminds us of the older idea of Headship. The Queen is a woman, and in that sense is equal with her subjects. But by her covenant with them and with God, she becomes more than that. At her coronation, the Lords Temporal and Spiritual take her hands, and lift her up onto the Throne, to become the servant of her people. Married to England, in Elizabeth I's phrase. And the people cry out "Vivat Regina!"-The acclamation, the recognition, the acceptance. The Queen is the epitome of servant leadership, and carries that burden, promising in fact to respect and uphold the dignity of all her subjects. "Maintain the laws and liberties of all your respective peoples...stop the growth of iniquity....Cause Justice with mercy to be done in all your lands....Protect the Holy Church of God and the true profession of the gospel...." The coronation is an affirmation of human dignity, for it is a part of dignity to recognise government. The coronation thus includes three parts. The anointing, where God recognises the Queen, and the Queen recognises and covenants with God. The acclamation, where the people recognise the Queen, and she them, promising to defend their liberties. And the enthroning, where the nobility, Spiritual and Temporal, raise her up above them, to become Queen regnant. That is why American republicanism, with all its many strengths, is flawed. It has a strong conception of human dignity, but no transcendent framework with which to protect it. So, "human dignity" in the United States, is often translated to "rights" or "freedoms". Yes, liberty is important. But it protects human dignity, it is not the same. When republicans demand the abolition of monarchy because of human dignity, they are really demanding the abolition of monarchy because of freedom, or "the Rights of Man". The Queen, and social order generally, puts curb on freedom, and stops liberty becoming license. A conception of an over-arching moral and social order sets one free to do what is right, not what one wants. That is why order is a conservative virtue.

Reverence for, and submission to, order is a natural response. Burke puts it this way:

"We have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in our bosoms. We fear God; we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility. Why? Because when such ideas are brought before our minds, it is natural to be so."

To be a loyal subject is not a loss of personhood, but a glory. To affirm the monarchy is not a loss of dignity, but an affirmation of it.

Pitt the Younger (originally posted here)