Monday, March 12, 2012

Philosopher Prince

As promised a month ago, Rod Dreher delivers perhaps the most thoughtful article on the Prince of Wales ever published in an American magazine. For years Prince Charles has been maligned and misunderstood by both sides of the political spectrum; it's refreshing to see a serious political magazine, and an American one at that, take him seriously and appreciate what he has to offer. "Conservatives" who dismiss the heir to the throne as "left-wing" are likely to be the sort who equate conservatism with unfettered free-market capitalism. They're not, in fact, the same thing, and it's the Prince's "revolutionary anti-modernist" vision (as exemplified by Poundbury of which some lovely pictures are posted on the thread at my forum discussing Dreher's article) that is more in touch with the transcendent truths conservatism used to defend than that of his glib libertarian critics.

Strictly constitutional monarchists like Charles Moore might be forgiven for wondering how the future King Charles III will reconcile his propensity for sharing his often controversial opinions with the role of an impartial constitutional monarch, but the point is that Charles is not yet the monarch. As the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history, he has had to invent a role for himself, choosing to speak up for causes that might not be championed by politicians but nevertheless resonate with many ordinary people when he might have chosen a "safe" life of innocuous royal duties and relative leisure (in which case he would have been criticized for "not doing anything"). While part of me is frankly sympathetic to the idea of a more politically active monarch unafraid to stand up for the interests of the countryside against soulless urban modernists, I am sure that when the time comes--probably not until he is a rather elderly man himself expecting a relatively short reign--he will take on the very different duties of Sovereign gracefully, having spent the bulk of his life as a uniquely conscientious Prince of Wales whose endeavors have made a positive difference in the lives of many of his future subjects and whose ideas are well worth considering.

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