Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Monarchism and Identities

One reason why I may occasionally come across as Difficult online is perhaps that I have (at least) three very different sensibilities, none of which I can belong to completely, competing in one head. I'm (whether I like it or not) an American, who wants to be British, but who tries to apply to the British Monarchy a kind of ideological "Divine Right" monarchism (defeated in Britain in 1649) that is more Continental than British, though now virtually extinct on the Continent too. While I don't think I'm a humorless person, I admittedly probably do lack something of the distinctly British sense of humour (sometimes people assume that as an Anglophile I must love British comedy; actually, with the exception of Fawlty Towers, I often do not), and don't know how to debate as well-educated British people debate. I am perhaps prone to take too seriously things that even a very conservative actual British person might laugh off or not want to make a fuss about. Just some reflections that occurred to me (and a good excuse to post van Dyck's famous triple portrait of King Charles I).

1 comment:

Thomas Henderson said...

Impressed that you have shown the triple portrait of Charles, King and Martyr, a saint who defended the right of throne and altar to the sharp edge of an axe. Divine Right of Kings may have been the dream child of Bishop Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet in continental France but much of it was articulated in the earlier writings of Charles's father, James 1, in his "True Laws of Free Monarchies" and his royal gift to his son, "Basilikon Doron". Divine right is inherent in Henry VIII's royal supremacy and much of the impetus of the English Reformation was to reassert a Constantinian settlement against papal encroachments and aggrandizement of the Hildebrand reforms of the 11th through 13th centuries. Louis XIV's Gallican sympathies touched a similar vein and thus Bossuet's work. Sacred kingship had been the standard form of government in Britain from neolithic times through to the Norman Conquest and much of the Plantagenet political struggle was to reassert the crown's prerogative ("Dieu et mon droit"). Tudor and Stuart England was a return to that older sacred order.

The Civil War, Commonwealth, and later the Glorious Revolution transferred power from the King to Parliament thus defusing rule from the one to the many. Divided and competing interests became the hallmark of an alternative liberal (fragmented) regime. The gathered mind of an ordered and hierarchial state became scatteredbrain.

I reside in a Commonwealth country and so Elizabeth II is still my head of state. Yet I, like you, hold monarchist's yearnings. Prince Charles is the very antithesis of his earlier namesake, fully throwing himself behind the post modern global technocracy. He is not the one to launch a restoration, but I pray that someday the English speaking world may someday reawaken to its ancient legacy.

Rest assured you are not the only one with competing sensibilities in one head standing athwart the nihilism of our age. Btw, whatever good natured bonhomie the Brits may have once had, it has dissipated along with any sense of noble adventure. Then again, what else do you expect from a people known to have cut off the head of one king and a generation later to invite a foreigner to replace another. It's been downhill ever since.