British Monarchy Irrigates the Dustbowl of Modern Statecraft
The wedding of William and Catherine is an event that runs counter to many ‘modern’ norms. First of all it is a celebration of the hereditary principal. Here is a family that provides our head of state. This is a statement that says that there is a power in our land greater than the politicians. It is an old truism that, ‘the sovereign, our Queen, reigns but does not rule’.
Sovereign power rests with the monarch. No politician can take power without first receiving executive power from the Crown. The highest power in the United Kingdom is the Crown-in-Parliament. A sort of fiction, but a useful and powerful fiction.
At the time of a Royal Wedding we are reminded that the monarchy brings colour, pageantry and unity to Britain in a way that a political president (probably a superannuated party politician) could never do.
C.S. Lewis captures the essence of the issue with his usual insight:
“Would not conversation be much more rational than dancing?’ said Jane Austen’s Miss Bingley. ‘Much more rational,’ replied Mr Bingley, ‘but much less like a ball.’
In the same way, it would be much more rational to abolish the English monarchy. But how if, by doing so, you leave out the one element in our state which matters most? How if the Monarchy is the channel through which all the vital elements of citizenship – loyalty, the consecration of secular life, the hierarchical principal, splendour, ceremony, continuity – still trickle down to irrigate the dustbowl of modern economic Statecraft?”
Is it for these reasons that much of the world will look on spellbound on Friday?