Rolling Hills of Mid Devon, England, by Simon Ward.
Showing posts with label British Monarchy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label British Monarchy. Show all posts

Friday, February 20, 2009

Royals and Catholics... Again

Joanna Bogle

So here we are again, with another discussion about Catholics and the royal family. We have been here before, each time some royal falls in love with a Catholic, or even when royal marriages in general are discussed.

This time it's a bit different: There is no specific royal eyeing the aisle with a Catholic in mind. But a Member of Parliament, Dr. Evan Harris, has announced his intention to introduce legislation to amend the law that currently states that no Catholic can ever marry the heir to the throne; that Catholics can only marry other members of the royal family with the monarch's consent; and that said royal spouse loses his/her place in the line of succession as soon as the marriage takes place.

Of course the law is unjust, and we all know that. But the Private Member's Bill being put forward by Harris, as presented, does more than change the law about Catholics: It abolishes male primogeniture in the royal line -- which may or may not be a good thing, but has some repercussions worth discussing first. Why should the line of succession be changed in the royal family but not elsewhere? What exactly is wrong with a line of succession going through males? Why, for that matter, do children take their father's name? Should it be made illegal to do so? Why is Harris trying to change things? Is he really so anxious that Princess Anne should draw nearer to the throne? Why, particularly? In what way can this really be seen as urgent?

Harris is the leading promoter of abortion and euthanasia in parliament, nicknamed "Dr. Death" even by his supporters because he is so dedicated to the cause. Why is he suddenly appearing to campaign for something that Catholics do not particularly want or need? None of us lies awake at night worrying that our nieces can't marry Prince William, but we do worry -- a great deal -- about people being deliberately killed in our hospices and hospitals, and about babies being aborted on a massive scale, and scary unethical experiments being carried out on human embryos in laboratories.

I have taken part in radio debates with Harris, and his fanatical opposition to the whole Christian view of human beings and their place in the natural world is, to put it mildly, worrying. Just why he wants to get the law changed relating to the royal family is anyone's guess, but mine would be that he's keen on using up parliamentary time and a private member's privilege that might otherwise have been used to achieve legislation blocking euthanasia or giving a tiny bit of protection to unborn children, or to teenagers currently bombarded with pressure to have abortions and to engage in sordid sexual antics -- and he's simply gleeful at the notion of posing as the hero-spokesman for the Catholic community.

If the situation warranted it -- if, say, HRH Prince William did meet a suitable Catholic girl -- a law could be whisked through Parliament to achieve a marriage without any of Harris's baggage attached. The mood in the country now would emphatically be on William's side: Several Catholics have married into the royal family in recent years, and the absurdity of the law is made more apparent each time. The latest ridiculous nonsense was over Autumn Kelly, who renounced her faith in order that her husband, Peter Philips, could become king -- once eleven of his nearest and dearest had died. (Pure Macbeth! One wonders what plans they have made . . .) Everyone knows the anti-Catholic law is a nonsense.
Poor Harris is a sad case. He really does have a fervent enthusiasm for things that most people recognize to be deeply wrong: aborting babies, healthy or otherwise; ensuring the speedy demise of the gravely and permanently ill or injured; carrying out experiments on human embryos aimed not at the embryos' survival or health but their destruction after use.

There are many injustices against Catholics -- and against other Christians and Jews -- that ought to be amended. Chief among these is the pressure on our schools: The present government is trying to insist that Catholic, Church of England, and Jewish schools be blocked from interviewing parents and choosing pupils who belong to a particular faith and show evidence of seeking schooling within that specific believing community. Instead, the schools must take a certain proportion of children from other beliefs or none -- only the intervention of the Catholic bishops stopped the enforcement of a rigid quota backed by the full penalty of the law -- thus making it difficult for the school to maintain its religious practices and ethos. Where non-believing parents chose to announce that their child was offended, or suffered discrimination, because of the nature of the beliefs being taught or celebrated in the school, there could be penalties for the school concerned.

We'd like something done about this, please, Dr. Harris. We'd like an assurance that when discussing baptism, Mass attendance, and family commitment to Church beliefs and practices, the government gets its sticky hands out of our business. We seek the freedom to live as Catholics and run schools without government interference on the religious side. We don't mind -- indeed, we have helped to frame -- a certain cooperation with public authorities on all sorts of aspects of school life, ranging from ensuring decent lavatories to use of public funds for providing essential structures and staff. But what we really need is simply the right, as British people, to live and pray and teach as Catholics.

And while we're at it, we'd also like a legal assurance that children will not be forced into attending sessions of sexually explicit propaganda masquerading as "sex education," that Catholic agencies working in adoption and foster care won't be forced to send children to homosexual couples, and that there will be freedom to discuss these matters and to preach and teach the fullness of Catholic sexual ethics without falling foul of the law.

The loyalty of Catholics to the crown is deep: It includes not only the genuine affection for the queen that is shared by the nation at large, but also a recognition of the ancient Catholic roots of our royal traditions, which meshes with our understanding of the central importance of family, and with our grasp of the importance of human beings living in a community with neighborly duties and a sense of common purpose. We pray for the queen on important royal occasions; we have her picture hanging in many of our schools; we loved it when she came to Westminster Cathedral. Of course we'd like if it Prince William married some delightful Catholic girl -- prayerful, knowledgeable about her faith, committed to a life of joyful Christian service to the country. And we can see, along with everyone else, the absurdity of a legal ban on such a possibility.

But in the absence of this happening, we aren't too bothered and will live happily with some other suitable bride. Please, Dr. Harris, leave us alone. We'll cope. In the meantime, stop pushing the killing of unborn babies and supporting unjust schemes to meddle in Catholic schools and institutions.

Joanna Bogle is an author and broadcaster living in London.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"An American Coronation"

America has simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy.

An American Coronation, writes the Los Angeles Times, and who can disagree with them given the lavish preparations now underway in Washington. Words can be deceiving, but appearances generally are not.

It was a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt explained that an American President is "an elective King", making the implausible point that the United States was essentially a monarchical country within a republican framework. Contrast the power of His Mightiness with the limitations of our own Monarch, and you see increasingly the reverse in Commonwealth countries; that is, republican governments camouflaged within a monarchical framework, to the point where they effectively become "crowned republics" completely sapped of their royalist spirit.

As David Flint points out in President Obama: the elective King inaugurated, "The considerable British jurist, Lord Hailsham explained that the American system centres on ‘an elective monarchy with a king who rules with a splendid court and even...a royal family, but does not reign.’ He contrasted this with the Westminster system which he said involves ‘a republic with an hereditary life president, who being a queen, reigns but does not rule’."

But the important fact here is that both trends run contrary to the conservative impulse, as both are marked by a distinct lack of constitutional deference. American republicans are weary of their countrymen swooning over Princess Obama and becoming a monarchy in all but name, and Commonwealth monarchists are concerned about the increasing emasculation of their own constitutions, with the creeping regicide of Her Majesty.

The BBC's Katty Kay, for her part, is somewhat appalled at "the coronation of King Obama":

So this is why you booted us out a couple of centuries ago. You simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy and with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy. OK, you didn't opt for the dynastic duo of Bush and Clinton, which really had us scratching our crowned European heads, but the fanfare with which Caroline Kennedy has entered the political picture suggests your infatuation with royal families is still not over.

This week Washington feels like London in the run up to one of our own grand royal events. Hostesses twitter on the phone, or just Twitter, to woo A-list guests to pre- and post-inauguration parties. A-list guests measure their piles of invites in feet, not inches...

Still, there is a more serious problem with treating Barack Obama as an elected monarch; one that affects us journalists, in particular. Put a man on a pedestal and suddenly it's hard for the press to drag him through the political wringer. It happened in 2003 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and risks happening again.

In Britain, we invest the Queen with our ceremonial hopes which leaves us free to treat our prime minister as exactly what he is—an elected official, paid for by the taxpayers, and serving at the people's will. While George W. Bush was being asked patsy questions by a subdued White House press corps, Tony Blair was being drubbed by un-cowed political hacks. It is far easier to do when you don't stand the moment the man walks into the room.
Certainly it is no secret that the political ambition of the British Left is to abolish the British Monarchy, but how does one square that with the Kennedyesque tendency of the American Left to institute its own national dynasty? Probably because the Left wants untrammeled democracy, equality and "progress", and the Right wants limited democracy, liberty and constitutionalism.

That is why an elective monarchy is intuitively fine for an American Democrat, whereas hereditary monarchy is an insufferable anachronism for the British, Canadian and Anzac lib-laboury. What right does a hereditary monarch have to say no to an elected government they chime - that the individual person might legitimately seek the protection of the Crown against the wishes of the elected, is evidently and ironically lost on the human rights activist, or just not an important enough imperative when weighed against the collectivist agenda of the "Human Rights, Democracy and Global Justice" crowd.

And there is reason to believe that this contradiction at the heart of the American soul, which has in recent years led several congressman, including Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Harry Reid, to introduce legislation to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, may continue to evolve towards monarchy USA. In each of 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, Rep. Jose Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. Each resolution, with the exception of the current one, died without ever getting past the committee.

But with Congress going formidably Democrat, and President Obama assuming Office, one has to believe they now have a fighting chance.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh Celebrate Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, November 20, 2007. Queen Elizabeth becomes the first monarch to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary milestone. May they enjoy many more years of health, happiness and God's richest blessings.

Readers wishing to send greetings to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness may do so here.