We were delighted to learn, from the most official sources, that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge (“Kate” to the tabloids) is carrying an heir to the heir to the heir to our throne. Twins, according to some press speculation, bringing to mind the old vulgar but practical adage, “an heir & a spare,” while generating some foreboding. For we must consider the propensity of low-life, such as British prime ministers, to toy with the law of succession (which was plain enough to start, & fixed in the constitutions of many Commonwealth countries).
There was a time, unhappily now passed, when in these British realms the press would become quite excited by such news, while yet trying to reflect the dignity of a public occasion. We have, or rather had some old newspapers around the High Doganate, giving examples of how such “joyous news” was once presented, kept for the purpose of explaining it to our younger colleagues. With the decline of monarchy, seemingly everywhere, “royals” are now treated instead as glitterati, stalked & paparazzied just the same, then described with that gutter familiarity we once associated with the criminal class.
But then, “Hollywood royalty” has been, for its part, also brought down, from the days when even the biggest stars signed contracts with their studios, committing themselves to dress well & behave respectably in public, so not to bring scandal to their trade. Our art director at the Idler magazine held a stock of old magazine photos to illustrate this point. Look at the pictures of twenty-something starlets from the 1950s & before. They appear to be adults. Then look at even forty-something starlets today, who appear to be cheap tarts. Notice not only the (often ghoulish) attempts at pornographic display, but the childish immaturity in the faces: “role models” for people who will never grow up.
It was not the business of the common people, in days gone by, to gape lewdly into the private lives of the high-born. Conversely, it was not the business of the latter to slum. Yet all participated, according to station, in that pageantry by which noble aspirations were vindicated through public art. Deep, deep, in immutable human nature, is the need for that pageantry, that beauty in motion — that parade in which there are no pure spectators, because every soul has taken his place. The production of an heir was indeed of interest to every subject; the continuation of a dynasty being after all a guarantee of peace & good order & the freedom that allows. But it was also a reflection of Advent: an earthly mimesis of heaven to come.
Under present conceptions of “democracy” the opposite principles are now maintained, & increasingly enforced by the egalitarian gestapo. We become outsiders now, all spectators purely, including the starlets who spend their lives leering at themselves.
Human nature continues to require leadership, & therefore something to look up to, tier by tier towards God. We instinctively require not merely order, but a dignified order, sanctioned by time. We still crave the continuities, by which we & our ancestors had been able to converse; by which our descendants would converse with us; by which we could build without constantly losing what our forebears had built. Inwardly we long for a country where the cathedrals & palaces might still stand, together with our own little castles. At least, not all of us long for a government of the depraved, by the depraved, for the depraved.
We are accordingly disturbed, disoriented, demented, by an environment in which nothing is fixed, in which our landmarks are scoured daily to make way for the latest commercial latrines; where no tradition commands respect or, as it were, “nothing is holy.”
Yet we must live with this new “democratic” totalitarianism, in which the slightest assertion of nobility will be spontaneously confronted with crass gestures. Our new aristocracy is itself “democratic.” It consists of those starlets & runway models, nominally male or female or transvestite; of “people like us if we won the lottery.”
Contemporary royalty must negotiate with this; they have no choice. And given the collapse of social standards (including those which were assiduously maintained even in republics), the argument is made that we should now abandon monarchy entirely. Canadians, it could be argued even from the monarchical perspective, no longer deserve to have a Queen.
To us, this earthly Majesty is a symbol of more than legitimate nationhood, of public order & the continuity of Christian law. In one sense it is more than a symbol of the hierarchy that connects by degrees the smallest to the largest, the lowest to the highest, in one continuous organic progression — the lynchpin of unity in all of our variety. For in our contemporary circumstances, the Queen becomes, more, a symbol of Resistance: an inspiring reminder that everything is not yet lost. For on our throne still sits a very fine woman, an embodiment & exemplar of righteous duty, who has herself diligently resisted the collapse into squalor.
All trends are reversible, & while we cannot reasonably hope for the recovery of dignity in our public life, through the foreseeable future, or perhaps for centuries to come, there is joy to be had in every reminder that our world was not always a cesspool; that throughout Christendom, we were once lifted out; that every surviving particle of it still labours to lift us out of this mire.