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

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Argument 4: Pomp and Ceremony

When it comes to elevated spectacle, the republicans are hopelessly out of their depth.

The Aesthetic Sphere: The lares, penates, processions, titles, ranks and relics of our symbolic Crown hollow the ordinary and lift us from the drudgery of the humdrum.
Relevant Quote: "If your job is to leaven ordinary lives with elevating spectacle, be elevating or be gone." - George F. Will
Related Concepts: Pomp, Pageantry, Patriotism, Circumstance, Heraldry, Ritual, Grandeur, Splendour, Trappings, Symbols.
Previous Posts: In Defence of Pomp; The Decent Draperies of Life; From Honours to Merit Badges

t4_679087nWHEN IT COMES TO ELEVATED SPECTACLE, the only ritual the republicans are any good at is Beating the Retreat. What is their response to this argument, I wonder; that ceremony doesn't matter; that they don't like pomp and pageantry and parades; that knighthoods are uninteresting hangovers; that they don't much care for grandeur in the monarchist mold, because in their opinion the presidential kind is - ahem - superior? Or is it rather that they enjoy the spectacle as much as anyone else, and would seek to preserve as much of it as possible?

Because when it comes to comparing the binding, defining and inspiring power of the institutions of Great Britain, power that is indissolubly linked with the pomp and ceremony of the British Crown, and its associated grandeur, history, honours, titles and ranks; with the embryonic institutions of a shiny new republic, which is without history and devoid of any intrinsic meaning or merit, and which explicitly reject the ties that bind them to their predecessors and counterparts; republicans are dead in the water, and they know it.

Perhaps that is why some have whispered in favour of restoring knighthoods! I have never understood this inclination by some who desire to see the backside of monarchy but want to keep its colours, who don't mind holding onto the titles, heraldry and processions of our inheritance that have been operative throughout our history, yet would gladly see the Royal connection disappear.

This is a critical point, for 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 fundamental meaning and force, and sense of honour, symbolism and gravitas. Removal of the Royal would have the most undesirable consequences, in terms of a dilution of the impact and intrinsic power, merit and meaning imputed to their continued existence.

The bottom line is that monarchy offers a more attractive presentation of state. Receiving a knighthood is a real honour. Trooping the Colour and Changing the Guard are fascinating spectacles. The swearing-in of a new governor-general is a simple, moving and dignified ceremony, there is no preaching from the pulpit, just the steady grace of an impartial Crown. And the investiture of a new monarch can be a once-in-a-lifetime overtly religious experience, though mass secularisation and democratisation will no doubt make future coronations a less powerful visual expression than in the past, if they are not eventually discarded altogether. One wonders if we are headed for banality whether we choose to or not.


Lachlan said...

though mass secularisation and democratisation will no doubt make future coronations a less powerful visual expression than in the past, if they are not eventually discarded altogether.

the day that this happens would surely be a sad day. Our crown is as much a religious instituition as it is one for government and running the country.

maybe a revolution will occur soon that will give monarchs ( the people who are trained their whole lives for their job) a role of input into the country and have some influence on the government. for monarchs should be both heard and seen, yes they stop politicians from having power but also why dont we use the the training that the monarchs have and let them run or have some influence on the running of the country. and i dont care how undemocratic it sounds to some republicans who will run around saying that monarchs should not run the country because they are not elected.

Kris said...

Because it's undemocratic, and they haven't been elected, and we don't care what you think Lachlan.

I sometimes wonder if monarchists of that particular ilk would still be desperate to hand over power to the unaccountable even after the first beheading.

Anyway, this is another watery article.

1) This is another personal preference argument all over again. 'Let's keep the monarchy because it's ceremonious and personally *I* like that.' Well, personally *I* find it baroque, and rather silly, if not a little embarrassing.

I am *not* going to argue with anyone on this point. It's a matter of personal taste. You like it, that's fine. I don't. Please try to keep yourself from the usually decries of 'soulless vermin!'.

If someone doesn't care about the ceremony, which most republicans, if not most people probably don't (not that I can be sure, statistics made up on the spot and all that) then this is going to convince no-one, same as your religion argument. And if they do care:

2) One could make a republic every bit as ceremonious as a monarchy if one wished. It's hardly as thought there wasn't a great deal of pomp and ceremony in Roman Triumphs. I imagine that most contemporary republics aren't quite so is if anything a sign that their people's aren't so interested in it.

But the bottom line here really is that once again you are preaching only to the converted. Monarchists will agree with you I'm sure. Anyone who is not already a monarchist will assume you're not talking to them. So as an 'argument' for the monarchy, it is weak, if it can be called an argument at all.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

I sometimes wonder if monarchists of that particular ilk would still be desperate to hand over power to the unaccountable even after the first beheading.

But is not the popular majority unaccountable? If not, to whom is it accountable?

Lord Best said...

"It's undemocratic, and they haven't been elected, and we don't care what you think"

An excellent summary of the republican movement.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

"Lord Beaverbrook":

I do appreciate the wonderful visual stuff. However, it is more than just a show, which quite a few have problems understanding.

HIRH the Archduke Otto once said that crowns are no more to Kings than top hats to Presidents.

The "show" is not at the core, but the "show" is an important representation of the core.

If we do not get our message across about the core and the connection between the core and the "show," we have perhaps not done our job well enough, and perhaps "Kris" is right in that it is maybe not an argument.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Because it's undemocratic, and they haven't been elected, and we don't care what you think Lachlan.

Or perhaps because you don't understand the difference between giving up on humanity and giving up on the masses or popular majorities?

Beaverbrook said...

We get Kris' lame point that monarchy in all its aspects is silly and that the whole thing comes down to personal taste. But the "show" and trappings is an important part of what we are arguing gents, even if the uncoverted don't care for it. How can any of you possibly think this is not a fair point?

I reject the completely irrational and baseless attack that somehow ceremony is not worthy of mention here. What exactly is it that you think non-executive ceremonial heads of state do? Be they republican or monarchist?

Kris said...

Best: That was a satirical play on Lachlan's own words. How did you not get that.

Kris said...

Ah yes, accountability. One could argue the people are accountable as a body in that they get a poor leader if they make the wrong choice. But whatever, that's rather missing the point.

The leader is who is accountable. A monarch would be free to do as they choose. An elected leader is accountable to the public. It's really pretty straight forward.

J.K. Baltzersen said...

But whatever, that's rather missing the point.

Methinks it's "Kris" who's missing the point.

Some of us argue with the vices of mob/majority rule.

How convenient it is just to avoid that issue by claiming that accountability of the masses is beside the point!

And then he decorates it with the comic-book version of history that monarchs could do as they pleased with no consequences for themselves. Or is it just present-day monarchs who are unaccountable?

J.K. Baltzersen said...

"Lord Beaverbrook":

I reject the completely irrational and baseless attack that somehow ceremony is not worthy of mention here.

I am sorry you see it as an attack, sir.

I have never said -- nor thought -- that ceremony is not worthy of mention in these pages.

What I have said is that the "show" is not at the core. I do value the "show." What I am saying is that to the unconverted we must communicate the connection between the core and ceremony.

On the other hand, "Kris" and his likes will probably reject that too, no matter how well we do it.

Bolingbroke said...

Beaverbrook is right. We are defending the ceremonial aspect of monarchy, so it is right that he has included this as one of the arguments. If ceremony and recognizing citizens/subjects for their achievements was not important, then I think half of the reason for having heads of state in the first place just got flushed down the toilet.

Neil Welton said...

"The 'show' is not at the core, but the 'show' is an important representation of the core."

Excellent point my dear Baltzers.

It is also worth noting here that pomp, pageantry and ceremony is not just for the tourists and onlookers. It is also for those who participate, like the soldiers, and serves as this means of expressing and strengthening their instinctive sense of loyalty. The ancient ritual also serves to unite those who live and serve today, not only with their forebears who lived and served yesterday, but also with their children who will serve tomorrow.

It is a TRADITION and a CONTINUITY which has its basis in GOD but focused on a Queen who is REPRESENTATIVE not only of today, but also yesterday and tomorrow too.

All four arguments for Monarchy posted so far on this blog are thus rightly linked. They have "a Royal thread" running right through them. Well done, dear Beavers!

David Byers said...

Pomp and Ceremony is all about balance, too much makes this institution look like a circus and too little provides nothing for the general public to connect with the institution.
From Australia, what I see on TV of pomp and ceremony in the UK seems a little over done (a circus) but if that is what the people of the UK like than it is up to them.
When it comes to future Coronations, I’m not happy with the fact that they are linked with religion. Outside of the UK all the other Realms of the Queen are secular and therefore a religious service is inappropriate. A grand public ceremony in which an oath is made (which a Monarch could make with the faith they believe in or pledge if they are not religious) would be enough.
However at the end of the day the Crown gives Leadership Above Politics and that is the most important thing for me.

Lord Best said...

I would hate to see the coronation secularised, it is the only surviving medieval coronation in the world, worth preserving on those grounds alone!

David Byers said...

Look here is one of the problem with the UK have "Church and State" ; Because the Anglican Church has a special place in the UK, it enables others to argue they should have aspects of their religion given special official status as well. See this link:
Australia, Canada and the USA have the advantage of being secular and thus can argue “no one should be given special treatment because of their religion” or “we are all subject to the same laws”.

Henley said...

As another Australian, let me just say that the ceremonial splendour of the monarchy is one of its most charming and cheering qualities. Any other culture is encouraged to cherish its traditions.I don't see why we alone have to be ashamed of ours. And as for the religious connotation, well many of us quite happily believe in God and think it entirely appropriate to invoke His blessing on the Queen. To say that outside the UK all the Queen's other realms are secular is patently untrue. Sadly the UK is probably the Queen's most secular realm. To all of us who love colour, life, beauty and art, the monarchy is a precious enrichment of an increasingly bland world.

David Byers said...

Hi henley, thanks for joining us. Australia is a Secular state, this is a fact. Secular is NOT anti-religion, it just means that there is no official religion of the State.

James said...

""It's undemocratic, and they haven't been elected, and we don't care what you think"

An excellent summary of the republican movement."

AHAHAHA! Oh!... sorry for the outburst. I just thought that was absolutely perfect. Well done, Best!

Neil Welton said...

Hee! Hee! It was rather good.

Lord Best said...

Thank you, I aim to please.

Kris, I did 'get' that it was a play on Lachlan's words, but it is also true.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the C of E, religion, coronations:

I have taken Adrian's advice and am reading Bogdanor. I don't have the quote in front of me, but VB quotes someone as having said that the established C of E defends us from Christianity!

Amusing, of course, but perhaps there is some truth there, as does it not also, in some way, defend us from seating Imams, Rabbis, Lamas, etc etc ad nauseam in the Lords? Now if we could only remove those Lords Spiritual, ahhh, glorious day...

Having a coronation that has no religious element would not lessen its importance to me one whit.