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

Saturday, 22 September 2007

A River Runs Through It

It may be a strange thing for a freedom-loving subject to admit this, but to my mind the most appealing - indeed beautiful - aspect of the Crown is its residual totalitarianism. This is evidenced by such wonderful anachronisms as "my government", "at Her Majesty's pleasure", "your humble and obedient servant", not to mention the exasperation in Shakespeare's voice: "every subject's duty is the king's; but every subject's soul is his own." Try as you might, you cannot escape its legal or symbolic grip, for it runs through everything: state and government, justice and liberty, regiment and ceremony, patronage and honours, etc., our money, our passports, our constitution; "it presides, ancient, calm and supreme within its function, over all the treasures that have been saved from the past and all the glories we write in the annals of our country", to quote a great line by Churchill. The monarchy is by devine inspiration and design, authoritatively all-encompassing, to the point that even freedom wears a Crown. There is no contradiction or riddle in this, for as G.K Chesterton once wrote, "Without authority there is no liberty. Freedom is doomed to destruction at every turn, unless there is a recognized right to freedom. And if there are rights, there is an authority to which we appeal for them." The ingenius quality of this magnificent authority, of course, is that it has been completely eviscerated of the power to lord it over us, yet pervasive enough of a presence to prevent others from doing same. Be it monarch or prime minister, a tinpot or ruthless dictator has been rendered historically impossible under our system.

Yet, for all of its well-ordered and all-embracing beauty, the Crown is looked upon by the unconscious multitudes as an increasingly irrelevant fixture, to the extent that it is looked upon at all. This perception is in part due to our ruling elites' ability to ignore or further eviscerate our country's legal, constitutional, and symbolic traditions, but at the end of the day it is just a perception. Figureheads and symbols and "mere legal cogs" do in fact matter. Their importance is highlighted by the extremely tough issues that are suddenly raised as soon as thought is given as to how to replace them. Why even the bother if such things are considered so useless and irrelevant in this day and age?

7 comments:

Brian said...

Amen

Beaverbrook said...

As I say in the sidebar, you can never stop linking to the Crown - a river runs through it. I know this because I've been adding links galore over the past week, yet the more I add, the more I realize I'm missing. I doubt whether I'm even half way there.

Shaftesbury said...

BB:

It would be better and more accurate to say "residual absolutism" than "residual totalitarianism." Our Monarchy has never been totatlitarian all that much - not even during the days of Henry VIII.

Beaverbrook said...

Perhaps an all embracing authoritarianism would indeed be better, but it doesn't speak to the breadth and totality of reach I was trying to get at. My only problem with the word, totalitarian, is that it is a comparably modern invention. But if you go back far to "God and my right", I think we have had our fair share of despot kings.

David Byers said...

Beaverbrook,

I believe much of today’s lack of respect to the Crown and to duty comes from the attitude that everyone has rights but no responsibility.

Beaverbrook said...

Indeed, Griffith. Liberty without authority is like rights without responsibility is like taking without giving.

Lyon Fawkes said...

I believe that "totalitarian" was coined by Mussolini with reference to his own political innovations, and in any case in normal usage it refers to regimes on the Stalinist model, so I would concur that it is rather inappropriate to use in connection with the British political order.