Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Elizabeth and EMG, by the Grace of God

A very small step backward from the republican abyss Canadians have been shrugging themselves towards for the last however many decades--but I couldn't help feeling a little tremor of emotion when I read this.

It remains to be a great mystery to me (someone who believes in progress, as quite distinct from this other thing called progressiveness) why a society should think it inevitable and right that it dispose, not of the tyranny of the divine right of kings (our ancestors, far better and brighter men than us apparently, already accomplished that), but of the reformed last refuge of free men and women: our constitutional monarchy.

Peter Hitchens, speaking of the anti-monarchist element in Great Britain, puts it this way:
I am always baffled by British republicans who seem to assume that getting rid of the Crown will automatically make us more free. They should pay more attention ... In Britain, I can be loyal to crown and country and still despise my government. In fact, it's often my duty. More important, so can soldiers, police officers and civil servants.

Get rid of the Monarchy and you will get rid of a guardian of liberty.

So it is, as I say, a mystery that people should stand idly by while this deplorable eventuality stares them all in the face. But, it is a mystery that might in some part be explained by the fact that, I think, it is just as much of a mystery to them too--if that makes any sense.

I wonder what it is that these people fancy they see when they look at our head of state. A tyrant, is it? (Now largely eviscerated, thank Go--er, Dog.) The last obstacle standing between them and true liberty? The relic of an unenlightened and unjust age, to be buried deep--by you and me, who know better (and, of course, are better)--in the sands of history?

They would do well to look again and closer.

I defer to the redoubtable Samuel Marchbanks to explain what it is exactly that we are so keen on dropping from the national conscience:
Royalty ... is the single check left in a democratic state against factions and gangs and the puppets they call their leaders. When, in my anguish as an overburdened citizen, I fling myself at the foot of the Throne, I am appealing to the one person in the realm whose destiny, like my own, is determined by a power no government can reach. I am Marchbanks, by the Grace of God.
It is, perhaps, too subtle a concept to register in the 21st century mind as it vacillates schizophrenically between modernist and postmodernist utopian schemes. Too much to ask that people recognize that their Queen does not rule so much as she represents. Represents the aspirations of all free men and women--not to the degree of her material wealth (because that is impossible, not to mention objectively undesirable)--but to the full outward and visible expression of their dignity as free citizens.

We assume, I think, that by gradually doing away with the Crown, we are doing away with entitlements. (The opposite, of course, is really the case, as we do not so much wish to get rid of entitlements as acquire them for ourselves. But I digress ...) However this, as I have already mentioned, was accomplished in 1688. Since then, the Crown has not been an entitlement so much as a trust. The Monarch (not to speak of the outstanding woman who currently fills that role) is ours. Not the other way around.

So if we are really that keen on doing away with the last check available to us as free citizens in an (always tenuously) democratic state, let us at least have the intelligence, and--if you can manage it--the courtesy to recognize that it is not we who would be thus liberated, but the Queen herself.

But I would wish this on no one. Not even for her sake.

h/t Dust My Broom