May 8, 2023

King Charles III

King Charles III was crowned Saturday at Westminster Abbey… At a coronation with displays of royal power straight out of the Middle Ages, Charles was given an orb, a sword and scepter and had the solid gold, bejeweled St. Edward’s Crown placed atop his head as he sat upon a 700-year-old oak chair… Charles was the 40th sovereign to be enthroned in the abbey — and, at 74, the oldest.” AP News

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From the Left

The left generally opposes the monarchy, and calls for it to be abolished.

“It’s ironic that the country claiming to be the world’s oldest democracy has clung so fervently to the tradition. Nearby Norway repealed coronations in 1908 because it was seen as an undemocratic event. Denmark ended coronations after 1840 following its shift toward parliamentarism. Spain’s last formal coronation was all the way back in 1555, while Belgium’s monarchy doesn’t even have a crown with which to conduct a coronation. The British monarchy, on the other hand, has a plethora of (often violently looted) royal jewels…

“It is often argued that the British economy benefits more than it loses from the royals. However, these tourist dollars might well continue whether or not the royal family does. The most-visited royal palaces in Europe are the Louvre and Versailles, both in a country, France, that abolished its monarchy in 1792. It is entirely plausible that Buckingham Palace would welcome more paying visitors if the royals no longer lived there. Either way, to force British taxpayers like me to pay for Charles’ vanity party is disrespectful to the will of the people, especially when the new sovereign’s enormous wealth could sponsor the event multiple times over.”

Ahmed Twaij, CNN

“At a time when the country’s public sector has been hollowed out by right-wing austerity policies—sparking high-profile strikes by doctors, nurses, and teachers—the coronation of King Charles III and Camilla the queen consort will cost British taxpayers a fortune: £100 million, according to estimates, or roughly $125 million in US dollars…

“[Thomas Paine] recognized the royals for what they were: ‘plunderers’ who lived lives of luxury at the expense of the great mass of their ‘subjects.’ The pamphleteer portrayed monarchy as antithetical to the democratizing principles that he hoped would guide the new United States. It wasn’t just that Paine despised the monarchy—although that he certainly did. He understood that the celebration of inherited authority, under the false premise that the few were divinely empowered to rule over the many, was fundamentally at odds with the representational republic he envisioned.”

John Nichols, The Nation

“The greatest impediment to abolishing the British monarchy has always been figuring out what would replace it. Swapping in a presidency was the easiest choice for many former colonies; Barbados turned its last governor-general into its first president when it became a republic two years ago. But Australia’s 1999 referendum on the matter narrowly failed over dissatisfaction with its proposed solution: a president chosen by the Australian parliament instead of a direct election by the people…

“For Britain itself, installing a president would either mean transferring most of the monarchy’s powers to that office, revising countless laws to create some sort of new system that preserves parliamentary supremacy, or writing an actual constitution. It is unsurprising that the establishment favors keeping the [current] Arrangement over all that work.”

Matt Ford, New Republic

From the Right

The right generally supports the monarchy, and praises Prince Harry’s behavior.

The right generally supports the monarchy, and praises Prince Harry’s behavior.

“To a republican, all this must seem like superstitious flummery. Why choose a man by genetic lottery and make him the repository of the national narrative? One answer is that constitutional monarchies are remarkably stable places. The key task of the head of state is to ensure legitimacy. The king is a focus for national loyalty who is not a politician, a commander in chief who is not a general. Instead of directing people’s longing for spectacle and pageantry at a strongman, we direct it at someone who has no meaningful powers…

“C.S. Lewis expressed it beautifully: ‘Where men are forbidden to honor a king, they honor millionaires, athletes, or film stars instead; even famous prostitutes or gangsters. For spiritual nature, like bodily nature, will be served; deny it food and it will gobble poison.’ Even secular societies need occasional moments of magic. The coronation is an ancient Judeo-Christian ceremony in a largely post-Christian country. But the decline of formal religion doesn’t mean that people lose their sense of the transcendent.”

Dan Hannan, Washington Examiner

The modern monarchy lacks political or religious power. And yet its cultural prominence has only been enhanced by this fact. Queen Elizabeth II left behind a legacy of service. Charles III, nicknamed ‘climate king,’ adopted environmentalism as his cause as early as the 1970s. Though sincere, this was also strategically inoffensive. In ages past, the monarch waged wars and colonized countries. Today, he plants trees…

“If the monarch is tame, so is support for and even opposition against him. A thousand or so people in yellow vests and signs expressed their distaste for the new monarch. Meanwhile, thousands of others gathered with friends, family, and neighbors to share in a ‘coronation quiche’ featuring spinach, tarragon, and cheddar cheese. For all its variety, gentleness, and eccentricity — there can’t be a better articulation of Britishness than that.”

Madeleine Kearns, National Review

“For all the wild rumors that the publication of Prince Harry’s Spare had led to him forfeiting his invitation to his father’s coronation — and stories that his referring to the now-Queen Camilla as his ‘wicked stepmother’ in the book had mortally offended the royal couple — and the ambiguity as to whether he would, in fact, be appearing on the day, his actual presence at the service at Westminster Abbey was every bit as low-key and self-effacing as his appearance at the Queen’s funeral last September was…

“There would have been many options available to him. Not to attend the coronation and (as his great-great uncle did) sell his opinions on the day to the highest bidder; attend, and make sure that he was the center of attention by various stories carefully fed to sympathetic media; or generally cause a nuisance and attempt to upstage his family before and after the ceremony, possibly even during it. He did none of these things, but instead behaved with grace, dignity and integrity.”

Alexander Larman, Spectator World

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