Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Just Between Us Commoners

Dear Fellow Subjects,

(and dear spectators, too, for all of you in republics and Hapsburg lands, &c.)

A modest much has been made recently of the announced engagement between His Royal Highness the Prince and Ms. Katherine. If you want, here's my two cents' worth on the hou-plaugh.

To get right into it, the office of the Royal Family has always been (this may be controversial) that of the First Family, within the realm; the Crown Monarch has always been the saecular head of the family called Britain. Other expressions have been used. For instance, Henry VIII likened (himself) the King of England to a tiger keeping the "wolves and jackals" (his vassal lords) in line. But as much as we may say that a father is as a king in his house, it's more truely the opposite: that a King is as a father to his people. The authority to rule, whether by direct decree or by assenting to the advice of the assembled lords and representatives... whatever the style of government, if there be a Monarch, his authority is of the same shape as a father's over his family.

But as the saecular head of his or her realm the crown carries (well or ill) the duty of also modelling headship in an ordinary family. And so the significance of a Royal wedding engagement inludes that it particularly reminds us of the nominal arrangement for the family's continuation; it reminds that the nominally-arranged family is the innermost and primary of social circles, the principal of community, the Earthly pattern of living in mutually charitable servitude.

Honesty compells us to acknowledge that the Britannic Royal Family has not always been nor always appeared as a successful model family: they are, after all, merely human. The same Henry VIII thought to make himself both saecular and spiritual head of his country, which really should have been too much for credibility, not to mention confusing greatly just who the Royal Family were; as late as the reign of George III the rivalries recurrent through generations between King and Heir Apparent were notorious abroad. Even in living memory, attempts to place some supposed common good above the good of the actual living Royal Family as a family have had disastrous consequences for the commonwealth's willingness to accede to their Royals; and the Royal Family's renewed endearment to its subjects has followed their living visibly as a family.

But enough of dodgy facts and history half-learned, let's get on with some speculation! There is at this time a great legal tension, a juridical dissonance, amongst British laws for the commonalty, the laws governing the Crown, and the shifting laws of the church which the Crown has arrogated under itself. While the English are legendary for "muddling through", and are masters of diplomatic compromise, it would be wrong to think or name them a willfully stupid or ignorant people (Never mind the chavs. There is naught that is peculiarly English about chavery, anyways). And as long as they have sufficient wisdom to both keep an icon of family life at the head of their Law, and insist that the embodied form of that icon be recognisably a family in the only living and enduring sense, it can only be a matter of time before they realize in what peril they have left the ordinary family whose purpose it is to produce new servants of God, new subjects and electors. I perceive that thence lead only two roads: the canker must be cut out of the law, or the law's head cut off. You all know which outcome I prefer.

God save the Queen!
Her Majesty's good subject, but ...


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