1. So, a seventy-year reign has ended, and the vast majority of people now alive in the Anglosphere get to experience what it’s like to have a monarch who isn’t Queen Elizabeth II. At least those lucky enough to still have a monarch.
2. Learned more about now-King Charles III (IV) in the past twenty-four hours than in the whole of my past life. Which isn’t saying a whole lot. My assessment thus far (for what it’s worth) is mixed: he’s definitely got the wishy-washy modernist approach to spiritual matters and standard environmentalist global-warming nonsense going on. On the other hand, he seems to have a good grasp on problems with modern architecture, beauty, and communal breakdown, as well as support for farmers.
If anyone’s interested in learning about the new King’s perspective, I’d recommend reading the ‘Spider Memos‘: letters written by then-Prince Charles to various government officials that the Guardian insisted on publishing back in the mid-2000s (called such because of his spidery handwriting). Again, I always like primary sources.
None of this is meant to be ‘rah-rah King Charles!’ by the way. Since he isn’t running for office, there’s no benefit to either condemning him wholesale or praising him wholesale. We can simply say “this side seems good; this side seems bad” and then just sit back and see what he does.
(Of course, part of the problem is that a liberal culture does not equip a man to be a good Monarch)
3. Listening to the crowds singing ‘God Save the King’ actually made me feel kind of jealous. Not for Charles specifically, but just for that particular national relationship. I’ve heard at least one king – I think of Rwanda – quoted as saying that Americans are orphans; a people without a father. Instead we have a series of step fathers and foster parents, some of whom do the job as well as or better than the real thing, but who still can’t quite fill that deep-set void in our heart.
4. Every time the royals are in the news, some American commentators always come out to lament the perennial American interest in the British aristocracy and Royal family. That really is a curious phenomenon when you think about it; that Americans as a culture take such a keen interest in the subject, indeed often a lot more than the British themselves. Me, this sort of thing makes me think of Mr. Gradgrind, grumpily explaining that a flower on a wallpaper is mere waste and makes a student not a wit more efficient.
Like with that, I think that an interest in aristocracy simply because it is aristocracy is a healthy thing; a mark that a man is not quite lost to the common inheritance of mankind and still can perceive value beyond mere practicality.
5. That’s part the point: it isn’t that a king or an aristocrat is necessarily an exceptional man. Most of them are as mediocre as anyone else. It’s the relationship they stand in to the society or nation as a whole that makes the point. Just like a father’s authority over his children doesn’t stem from his worth as a man, but simply from the fact that he is their father, or a priest’s authority over his flock doesn’t stem from his genius, but because he is a priest in line from the Apostles. It is the society as a whole, the ideal of the nation, that is being perceived in paying respect to the monarchy and aristocracy.
That’s all probably sounding pretty abstract. The point is that I see aristocracy and royalty as things more like family relations (or the Church); not things that were established for the sake of practicality and thus have to continually justify themselves, but things that are more or less simply ‘givens’. Which in itself is an idea we have trouble with in the modern liberal and post-liberal world: the notion that certain things are simply not open for question or removal because they are what they are.
6. That, and I honestly find anti-authoritarianism in all its forms to be rather absurd for the most part; I think authority can only ever be successfully answered by a different authority. But that’s a topic for another time.
7. You know, I’m rather tired today after an exciting week. I had thought to keep it simple today. This always seems to happen when I try that.