Monday, March 28, 2022

Prince William and the Commonwealth

Upon the conclusion of his and the Duchess's tour of Belize, Jamaica, and Bahamas, HRH the Duke of Cambridge issued an unprecedented statement obliquely acknowledging that he may never be Head of the Commonwealth, or King of any of those countries:

Foreign tours are an opportunity to reflect. You learn so much. What is on the minds of Prime Ministers. The hopes and ambitions of school children. The day-to-day challenges faced by families and communities.

I know that this tour has brought into even sharper focus questions about the past and the future. In Belize, Jamaica and The Bahamas, that future is for the people to decide upon. But we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with communities in all three countries, understanding more about the issues that matter most to them.

Catherine and I are committed to service. For us that's not telling people what to do. It is about serving and supporting them in whatever way they think best, by using the platform we are lucky to have.

It is why tours such as this reaffirm our desire to serve the people of the Commonwealth and to listen to communities around the world. Who the Commonwealth chooses to lead its family in the future isn't what is on my mind. What matters to us is the potential the Commonwealth family has to create a better future for the people who form it, and our commitment to serve and support as best we can.

Under the circumstances it's hard to see how HRH could have said anything very different; indeed, there was never any hard evidence for the ubiquitous media assertion that the main purpose of the tour was to discourage those three countries from imitating Barbados and breaking with the Crown. But let's remember that the point of the Crown is not the glory of the Royal Family but the well-being of the people it serves, and so while it may be true that Prince William himself would not be particularly distressed by a reduction in the number of his future Realms, those who live there who do believe in the Monarchy and have looked forward to having him as their King one day would be. So would all monarchists and believers in the essential Royal dimension of the Commonwealth throughout the world, including me. I know that I for one would cease to have any interest in the Commonwealth were this aspect of it to be sacrificed in favour of yet another bland platitudinous international organisation stripped of any central role for the Crown.

I do specifically regret the use of the word "foreign," which seems to me to concede to republicans their mistaken premise that the Monarchy is "foreign" to countries like Belize, Jamaica, or Barbados. In fact since independence the Crown is theirs as well; the Queen transcends such narrow concepts as single nationality and legally belongs equally to all 15 of her remaining Realms. It would have been better to describe the recent tour as "international." As the grandson and heir of the Queen of Jamaica, Prince William cannot truly be considered a "foreigner" in Jamaica. (He and Catherine certainly did not look like "foreigners" when participating in local dances!)

While Peter Hitchens tends to be more negative than I am about the contemporary royals' concessions to modernity (and incidentally I also have a bit of a soft spot for Rishi Sunak since I met him in 2015), I basically agree with him here:

The British Monarchy will not save itself by sucking up to its enemies, or by making penitent speeches about slavery.

Barbados has dumped the Crown and Jamaica is going the same way.

Left-wing radicals aren't that bothered by slavery in general, though it is a useful whip with which to scourge what is left of the old British establishment.

Always remember that the biggest slave empire of all time was created by Soviet Communism in its Gulag camps.

And there is a good argument for saying that modern China does the same thing, especially to the persecuted Uighur people, in its vast network of cruel prisons.

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