God Save The Queen. What, you thought He was a republican?
The Religious Sphere: The Crown as "Defender of the Faith"
Relevant Quote: "The character of Kings is sacred; their persons are inviolable; they are the anointed of the Lord, if not with sacred oil, at least by virtue of their office. Their power is broad - based upon the Will of God, and not on the shifting sands of the people's will. They will be spoken of with becoming reverence, instead of being in public estimation fitting butts for all foul tongues. It becomes a sacrilege to violate their persons, and every indignity offered to them in word or act, becomes an indignity offered to God Himself." - Archbishop John Healy
Related Concepts: Transcendence, Reverence, Divinity, Church, Mysticism, Mythology, Legend, Sacredness, Sanctity, Hierarchy, Glory, Splendour, Wonder, Awe.
Previous Posts: The Decline of Reverence; The Joy of Order; O Magnum Mysterium
WE HAVE BEEN COMMANDED BY DEAR BOLINGBROKE to come up with a "modern" (gasp! horror!) set of arguments in support of our Crown and collective Queen, so that fence sitters, banal ignoramuses, preening malcontents, confused loyalists, and republicans of goodwill will know where we stand on the issue of preserving our ancient, glorious and noble monarchy. (The haters, wreckers, levellers and other disturbers of natural hierarchy we will write off, for no amount of rational argument will convince them).
Bolingbroke has ably dispensed with seven of the non-arguments, which at any rate shine light on the shallowness of modern reasoning and the depth of today's materialism when so-called royalists feel the need to defend the Crown on the grounds of the revenue it brings in from tourism! If that is the primary importance, then I suggest we dump it as soon as humanly possible, for we have completely lost sight of its transcendent value.
There is emphatic worth in keeping alive in this obtuse age something higher than ourselves. When we invoke the highest of high temple arguments, that God is a monarchist, we are really arguing in favour of the transcendent, impersonal and mythological nature of monarchy. Monarchy, after all, was not designed by man, it has no founding fathers, no articles of union, no declaration of rights. Monarchy is a natural and organic form of government, it is not an innovative or artificial construct, it is not a "system" of government. Kingdoms are not fed to us in predigested chunks of reason, for all of their obscure and inaccessible mysticism they are quite readily and intuitively understood - "super-rational", if you like, higher than reason - because they are part of our genetic make-up, part of our DNA. Conceived by the natural order, ancient monarchy derives its beginnings from the patriarchical family, that other stubborn fact and force of Mother Nature. Indeed, it is no accident that the components of the nuclear family - father, mother and obedient children - precisely mirror antiquity's yearning for king, queen and loyal subjects. Familial (i.e., monarchical) government has been with us since the dawn of time.
Republics, on the other hand, are man-made edifices. Although the best republics proudly submit to a supreme authority (i.e., "In God We Trust") and were conceived by seismic events that gave rise to their own myths and a degree of reality above the physical level, republics themselves are not divinely inspired concepts. Because legitimacy is conferred from below (the people) rather than from above (the Divine), there is less in the sacred about them, instead they tend to raise as sacrosanct an appeal to certain secular notions.
Indeed, republics go out of their way to avoid the sacred, to be banal, to take religion out of politics, to separate state from church, a phrase whose endless repetition has dulled our sense to the truth of the matter (for the state has become a church unto itself in all manner of moral teaching). Monarchies have not aped this general development to the same degree, at least not symbollically, even though many have since fathered their own constitutions in the explicitly written republican tradition. The best monarchies still have their semi-mythical unwritten constitutions, continue to recognise their state churches, maintain as part of their DNA that Christ-like function at coronation time when the monarch is lifted up above us "by the power, authority and ordinance of Almighty God".
Of course the hold of monarchy on the human imagination is substantially weaker now than at any time in history. The world has been rationalised, secularised and banalised to such an extent that it is more and more difficult for mythological expression to find the space to live and breathe. Human nature has an invidious way of destroying the good stuff. The British Crown Commonwealth may still have a shared monarchy, but people view it increasingly in utilitarian and practical terms only and have lost sight of its spiritual significance. We are, as Oliver Goldsmith would agree, in an accelerated state of decay, and have been for more than two hundred years:
As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe.
The old Tory argument that God is a monarchist may be true but it no longer sways. Samuel Johnson was right, the first Whig was the devil. If I can paraphrase from John Fitzgerald's The Sleeping King, the grim forces at work since 1688 seek to reduce us to helpless cogs in a vast collective economic machine. Human beings are more than mindless consumers, and life is infinitely more than a nonsensical scramble for comfort and security. Life should be an adventure; an exercise in nobility, and it is the traditional function of monarchy to serve as role-model and exemplar in this respect. Amen and Hallelujah to that.