Monarchy and Liberalism is an Unhappy Marriage

The shockwaves are still reverberating around Britain after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s announcement that they intend to step away from their current role within the Royal Family. Though there’s understandably a measure of scepticism about the importance of the movements of, in truth, minor royalty, ‘Megxit’, as it has not-so-creatively been dubbed by the press, is in fact as culturally significant as Brexit, if not more so.

Despite all the extraordinary trappings and privilege a Royal life has always been one that has existed inside the stillness of a gilded cage. It’s a life of public service, handsomely rewarded. But in the modern world few want to be imprisoned in anything but the limits of their own nature; they want no guides other than the sometimes-wayward choice of their own passions. In such a world, if the Duke and Duchess consider freedom more important than service, frankly, who are we to argue, if they grow the wings to fly beyond the days and weeks and months of stuffy protocol. And to sing their own tune of brave self-reliance. Meghan – the feminist diva; and Harry – the artist formerly known as Prince.

The problem, however, is that this flight of freedom is dependent upon the buoyancy of that which they seek to renounce. In what is an astonishing act of sheer chutzpah and ignorance, they are unilaterally plotting to effectively commercialise the Family’s legacy, and by implication, the country’s heritage, in order to feather their own nest. It appears to be an act of treachery which has been brewing for some time.

It has emerged that back in June 2019 the Sussexes applied to trademark ‘Sussex Royal’. Under intellectual property law they will have the option to attach this brand to an eclectic mix of goods and services, ranging from magazines to sports goods. It also didn’t escape notice that back in July, Meghan Markle was guest editor of the September edition of Vogue magazine, where she was described as a “changemaker” who “is breaking barriers and setting the agenda across the globe”. “Changemaker” is the United Nation’s speak for globalism, which is essentially the gradual dissolution of national boundaries, power centralised under a network of regional bureaucratic proxies, with huge combinations of transnational capital operating behind the curtain.

On their plush new website, which, judging by its polish, has clearly been in the offing for several months, the Sussexes have spoken of wanting to “balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to the Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter”. In other words, keep the privilege and relinquish the duty.

That they “intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent”. But, of course, by this they mean only independent of the Sovereign Grant, which accounts for about 5% of their income, and not independent of the allowance from the Duke’s father, the Prince of Wales, who gets most of his income from the Duchy of Cornwall. This is estimated to be several million pounds a year, not a dime of which originates anywhere other than the public purse because it is money made from commercial activities off land that the Royals hold on trust. They also don’t want to give up their round-the-clock security which the British taxpayer pays to the cost of £7.6 million a year, and it will surely only increase if their activities bestride continents.

Perhaps the most symbolic statement of all is that they want to “carve out a new progressive role within this institution”. A progressive monarchy, however, is an oxymoron. Responsibility, duty, and tradition are anathema to modernism. By definition.

Let me explain. It can be summarised as the contrast between the classical world – the world of antiquity from which Monarchy is derived – and the modern world of industrial globalism – from which Liberalism is derived. In the classical world the fundamental question of self was how to conform one’s soul to the divine meaning and purpose embedded in the world, and thus be drawn up into eternal life. The answer was through prayer, virtue and wisdom. That was the central concern of pre-modern, or what we may call, classical man. They believed that the world was full of divine meaning and purpose, and thus every person was born into a world of divine obligation. We were all obliged to conform our lives into a harmonious relationship with that divine meaning and purpose. 

For the modern person, however, the question is completely inverted, because they have redefined the world through the lens solely of science, which reduces the great human drama to nothing more than biological, chemical and physical properties. The modern person asks how one conforms the world to one’s own desires and ambitions. And the answer involves tapping into those institutions that operate by the mechanisms of power and manipulation, namely science, technology and the secular state. 

That’s the key difference between the traditional world and the modern world, the religious world and the secular world, and the nationalist world and the globalist world.

What’s happened as a result of this paradigm shift is that we’ve gone from a communal life, centred on the moral obligations inherent in family and church and community; and instead moved more into a contract based life, where we have no moral obligations apart from those we enter into through self-interested, rational contracts.

The notion of the modern autonomous self is that it has no more obligation than what the sovereign individual imposes on his or herself. This stance clashes with the classical world of duty and self-sacrifice – to subsume oneself within tradition and culture and divine obligations, of which the Monarchy is an embodiment. It was this sense of the divine that was the axis on which revolved all other elements – the relations of child and parent, of husband and wife, of brother and friend; life was, in its essential relations, throughout of a divine purpose. But in the world of industrial globalism the social framework is moulded by the character of the sovereign individual. It breaks prior boundaries.

It’s no secret that Meghan Markle is an ultra-liberal: she’s a self-avowed feminist, she’s pro-abortion, she hates Trump. And she’s on board with all the typical liberal talking points. Woke, in a word. It seems evident that it’s this self-identified left-wing liberalism that is clashing with the traditionalism of the Royal family. The clash is of our times. It is fundamentally irreconcilable.

Frogmore Cottage

Within the framework of the institution every possible concession had been made to make the couple happy. The Royal Family facilitated glamorous tours to Australia and Africa. The Queen allowed them unprecedented privacy for the birth of their child, Archie, far more so than any other royal birth in the past. And her Majesty accommodated their request to move from Kensington Palace to Windsor. Frogmore Cottage – more of a mansion than a cottage – which is owned by the Queen, cost the British taxpayer £2.4 million to renovate to the couple’s specifications. At the property, which they fully intend on keeping, “so that their family will always have a place to call home in the United Kingdom”, they had a housekeeper, two personal assistants and two palace orderlies, before public pressure led to them dropping the staff and, in a recent development, repay the public purse for the refurbishment. But one must ask, will they be paying any rent on this multi-million-pound crown property other people had to vacate for their accommodation?

“What Meghan wants, Meghan gets” is the Duke’s now infamous refrain to orderlies, many of whom were reportedly dispatched by the Duchess’ high-handedness as quickly as they were summoned. For a minor Hollywood actress she has certainly taken to the role of difficult and spoilt princess with considerable aplomb. And I’m sure that had this sorry affair been dramatized she would have been in line for several prestigious nominations. The one position in the household that did appear safe from the axe was that of chef, as it was reported that the Duchess preferred to prepare her own meals. Now, there’s a surprise. Often is the case that in the curious compound of character the flavour is sometimes disagreeable in spite of excellent ingredients.

Prince Harry was one of the most popular members of the Royal Family. Blessed with the common touch, like his mother, he has the ability to bring people together. He is human. Approachable. And it’s been evident that behind the bravado and charm is a damaged and sensitive young man for which the public has every sympathy. But since Harry fell for an American actress, he’s undergone a radical transformation. From a boyish, emotional, wayward, fun-loving Prince; to a boyish, emotional, wayward, subjugated Duke.

Harry is the moon-struck slave of Meghan. Not merely deeply in love with her, but completely steeped in her, as if she were his place of refuge in a lifetime of distress. Because his love seems to be attended by a despondency hitherto, we have not associated with him. It’s almost as if some dim unrest has been brought into vivid consciousness by her influence.

To understand the man, we must follow his growth. A love paradoxically mingling with his peculiarly tense and gloomy character seems to derive from the fact that Harry is reliving his life with his mother through his relationship with his wife. An Oedipal transference of a son’s love to a man’s love. Meghan, who is an independent and successful woman three years his senior, appearing to provide him with the Jocastian fusion of conjugal love and maternal belonging. And perhaps after winning the ring, Meghan was pregnant with not only Archie, but Oedipus and Jocasta’s offspring, Antigone. Because the struggle between the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and the Royal family mirrors the struggle between Antigone and Creon. It represents the struggle between elemental tendencies and established customs by which the outer shell of self is painfully being brought into harmony with its inward needs. Indeed, this is rather unravelling like a Greek tragedy – immutable causality and inexorable development are fundamental aspects of this tale.

Meghan is calling the shots. Not only has Harry learnt the lexicon of Woke, her introduction into his life has led to the breaking of boyhood friendships, many of whom weren’t invited to the wedding or evening reception, apparently their much-valued place being taken by more photogenic international celebrities. These are the aristocrats of the modern day. A-listers mingling with one another as the blue-blooded Royal households of the past forged alliances by intermarrying. It’s a hierarchical network of publicised friendships, each feeding off the other; with lesser lights, in a pitiful pecking order, scavenging after resource rich targets like seagulls circling as they search for food.

International super stardom is essentially all the obnoxious elements of monarchy shorn of its redeemable features. And it seems that the Sussex’s plan for modernising the monarchy is for it to essentially be all the obnoxious elements of celebrity shorn of its redeemable features. Exactly what talent are they selling?

The more they flog their Royal titles for personal gain, the more they devalue it. Even if they have now lost the HRH, they still plan to crassly trade off the back of the Dukedom of Sussex, which is part of the country’s history and legacy. This destroys the whole raison d’être of Royalty. It breaks the divine bond with the public which will therefore owe them no favours and no obligations. And, of course, the liberal world owes the Sussex’s no favours and no obligations – with incessant exposure the appeal of a picture-perfect lifestyle will fade with time, like a photo left out in the sun. By flying the nest in this manner, they are cutting off the branch on which the nest was built.

The Duchess was speaking to ITV’s Tom Bradby

The reason for their departure is that this lavish lifestyle they’ve enjoyed to date has made them rather unhappy. On the couple’s tour of Africa, the Duchess confided to a Royal reporter that “it’s not enough to just survive”, that you have got to “thrive”; that she has “really tried” to adopt the British stiff upper lip before concluding it is “internally really damaging”. Apparently, nobody asks her how she feels. The Duchess was speaking just after attending a centre which caters for children who have had their limbs blown off by landmines.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, and who you’re with, in our society if you say that you’re not ok suddenly you become the centre of attention. You’re irreproachable if you play the mental health card. It’s classic narcissism, born of an inherently narcissistic ideology. And it speaks to the extraordinary levels of an entitled and self-absorbed victimhood culture that these comments can be uttered without shame and, more to the point, taken seriously. But liberalism is essentially a parasitic ideology, seemingly immunizing many people to their own self-awareness.

It is certainly the crowning glory of liberal civilisation – the sight of somebody who has everything in grief. Naturally, the Duchess received some criticism for these comments. But since the Sussexes have announced that they intend to step away from Royal life left-wing liberals are claiming that the press have hounded the Duchess out of the country. Because the country is racist. Apparently. On the contrary, apart from a few examples in this regard – which doesn’t make the country racist – the public have been very welcoming to Meghan Markle. Had she been white and British the coverage would have been brutal. She’s escaped much of that on account of being a “woman of colour”, which increasingly people wear as some sort of Woke shield, protecting them from legitimate criticism. People are just so frightfully worried of being called “racist”, they’re hesitant to ‘go there’, even when criticism is deserved. Because as soon as that word is uttered you become a kind of social leper.

So, you can trash a country’s culture, its heritage, disrespect and threaten the Queen, by suggesting that you will do a candid interview if you don’t get your way, and help to turn one of its most precious, historic institutions into a crass circus, but left-wing liberals will still present you as the victim. To which the public get no right of reply.

Presently, moral obligations don’t exist prior to the sovereign individual having chosen them. Unless of course you happen to be a white man. In which case you’re obliged to walk on eggshells; where a special set of moral obligations exist in the present as a result of choices made by people hundreds of years ago in the past based upon shared skin pigmentation and sex. Other groups inherit concomitant grievances in proportion to these moral obligations. So, liberals will reject the idea of inheriting responsibility or duty or loyalty, but they’re eager to inherit some abstract grievance. This aspect of Woke culture, the ranking of groups in ascendant victimhood, is not liberal; it’s neo Marxist. The moniker Liberalism is merely a smokescreen which hides the guilty.

The entire ideology is rife with contradictions and phoniness, which is primarily why many high profile, self-identifying liberals are insufferable hypocrites. Preaching, say, to everybody about the importance of making lifestyle changes to counter the purported perils of anthropogenic climate change, while regularly going off on jaunts in private, carbon guzzling planes. And nothing says environmentalism quite like intending to set up a lifestyle that has you flying across an ocean on a private plane multiple times per year! But irrespective of the claims of hypocrisy, to hold court and flaunt your moral virtues as the Sussexes have done, is simply vulgar; like flaunting the fact that you are wearing the latest designs from New York. Something the Royals have always commendably avoided.

The Sussexes are essentially part of an elite class of individuals who proselytize to each other in what is little more than a fanciful game. In truth, they are the enablers of all that they oppose. They take as a mistress the very lavish lifestyle they advocate against, and yet they act as though they have moral superiority. It’s shallow; transparent. Mostly because in the liberal world of industrial globalism words carry little burden outside of contractual obligations. Thus, words and actions and combined endeavours are often debased to such a point where only their outer shell is left, which remains intact for the sake of appearances.

Of the two, Harry’s conduct has been far more abominable. It is, after all, his family, and his country. He is still, though, in spite of everything, very much a product of his environment. It seems the duty he had to family and country has merely transferred to the woman he loves. This chivalry towards his wife has strong and deep roots, derived from a background of duty and piety, and no doubt wanting his marriage to succeed where his parents’ marriage failed; but the double-irony is that this chivalry, in his own search for love and happiness in a wider world, has effectively severed him from his roots, and it will most likely lead to the breakdown of his marriage.

Chivalry relies upon the purity and chastity of its recipient – a state of utter subjection to the will of a disdainful lady is clearly not a wise approach. And especially not if the object of the devotion is a left-wing feminist with history. As soon as this lady had the child, she had the leverage to change a situation she chose to participate in, and to take Harry along for the ride. It seems feminists are so miserable that not even a Prince is good enough. In fact, nothing will be. Ever.

Harry will find that his wife will keep turning the screw. The more he yields, the more he’ll weaken their relationship and reduce their sexual polarity. They’ll grow to resent one another. If he doesn’t yield, she’ll think he’s being unreasonable because she’s become accustomed to getting her own way. It’s a catch-22. In the meantime, Harry will grow resentful of being removed from his station in life. That would be a kind analysis. If we’re being unkind, we would say much worse.

Either way, the marriage has no future. Which is fine. Because marriage has essentially been degraded into being little more than a social contract. Certainly, it’s this sense of having a retreat which sterilizes much of the meaning of the vow and its significance. Everywhere in the liberal world there is this dogged effort to obtain gratification without paying for it.

The great flaw of Liberalism is that it unanchors people from a sense of allegiance; a unifying principle. The ideological by-product of industrial globalism, which has broken down barriers to trade and growth, it has taken the very basic idea that we are born into some fundamental unit of existential solidarity, from which we derived meaning, and replaced it with an inordinate patchwork of contractual reciprocity.

It is devoid of the sense of the sacred. Tremendous economic growth has not been matched by individual, social and spiritual growth. Everywhere people running about with nothing firm beneath their feet. With no law but the inclination of the moment. No warrants for treachery and cruelty. No sense of social shame. Not a great deal binding people to the past or to each other. Liberalism is an ideology where selfishness takes possession of a culture.

On the other hand, lives simply woven together by divine trust and love isn’t enough to keep a civilization alive. Because it mostly depends on a small, static society that never looks outside or beyond. Such as ancient Sparta, which in anxiously trying to hold on to its own social order, was already imploding before it fell to the Macedonians. Successful societies have never drawn a curtain; instead, have invariably looked outward, never ceasing to develop.

Megxit does in fact reveal this clash between core values – one which we can trace as far back as the 13th century when the church became part of the international banking system. It’s the clash between monarchy and liberalism, traditionalism and secularism and of course nationalism and globalism. And it’s precisely these kind of tensions that we can expect to see more of as that clash only promises to intensify.

One Thousand and One Nights of Modernity

The One Thousand and One Nights is framed by the story of Scheherazade, the beautiful daughter of the vizier to the Sasanian King. The King’s heart has been darkened by his wife’s infidelities. He’s concluded that if she was so pure and still betrayed him all women must be incorrigibly wicked. After sentencing his beloved to death, the King, Shahryār instructs his vizier to provide him with a virgin to marry, only to have her executed the morning after their wedding night. What follows is a succession of marriages and executions in the same vein, bleeding the kingdom dry of young women. In a bid to save the remaining maidens, Scheherazade decides to marry the King, to which her father reluctantly agrees. She has a plan. On their wedding night she begins to tell a rich and imaginative fable but does not end it. This forces Shahryār to postpone her execution if he wants to hear the end of her story. The following night she ends the first story, then starts a second one, again stopping halfway through to trigger Shahryār’s curiosity. This goes on for one thousand and one nights, hence the name. All the stories of the Arabian Nights are housed within this tale with Scheherazade as the narrator.

Like all good stories the Arabian Nights embodies more than just its internal structure. For instance, Scheherazade’s plight is a metaphor for life: without change life’s not possible. And it’s noteworthy that all the stories, which characterise the vast ambit of human experience, are contained within this truism that life must be in a state of constant renewal and rejuvenation to stave off stagnation and death.

To stay enthralled we must seek new experiences, for what is new is already gathering up dust, and what is gathering up dust will soon be replaced by the new. Life is motion and change inevitable. To live a happy and rewarding life is rather like a riding a bicycle. It’s much easier to remain seated on a moving bicycle than it is a sedentary one.

In order to truly be alive there must always be enthusiasm for the new, the modern; there must be incessant excitement about what’s around the corner; about new shoes, new dresses and shirts; new trinkets, new styles, and new ideas. Enthusiasm is the winepress of the soul, without which we can sink into despair. Like Scheherazade, if we don’t tell a new story every day we’ll perish; we’ll lose our vitality and freshness because a fast-flowing river has fresher water than a bird bath.

Fashion is the fetishization of change. For the aforementioned reasons, there’s an instinctive pull to drink from the fountain of youth; but most of all, it’s because fashion carries social distinction. To be fashionable implies a certain amount of wealth and privilege, as it is an abiding feature of the downtrodden that they are too often submerged under a flood of toil to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily struggle for air. People who have been chopping wood all day, or cleaning floors, don’t have the energy to explore new fashionable ideas on gender identity, nor the wealth to buy the latest threads from Milan. But those who can proudly pour forth torrents of song, showing off their virtuosity with rhapsodies of new-fangledness.

The one essential of fashion is to be ahead of its age. That is, there must be something new known only to a few. It must be modern. To be admitted into its great hall of distinction there must be a password that can’t be easily obtained or deduced. And the password must be in a state of flux, lest the uninitiated rapidly become the initiated. Because when the age fully catches up what was once fashionable ceases to mark initiates out for distinction.

Fashion’s race is over when the greyhound catches the hare. In order to avoid slipping back into the great body of humanity, the propelled mechanical hare must always be in advance of the greyhound. Which is to say that a key component of what is fashionable is its artificiality, for naturality might rapidly be caught; it must be somewhat irrational, for if it were rational it would be too easily calculated; and it must also be impractical, for if it were practical it would be altogether common. There are ironical fashions but the sole qualifier of these is the irony. Because the whole point of fashion is to not be of low status; it is to not be poor, economically or socially. There’s a similar dynamic going on in the quite arbitrary and mystifying rituals of the upper-class, which are intended to confer selective prestige and social importance.

Societal problems start to occur when the balance between structure and change is disrupted. Too little change is suggestive of an oppressive society; it is stifling, crippling. Too much change is suggestive of a decadent one; it is muddled, chaotic. Presently, our secular liberal society fits snugly into this latter category.

In the past a small caste of eccentric Bohemian types, whose long leisurely hours combined with substantial wealth and privilege, were a driving force behind many new fads and philosophies. Today’s consumer society has provided the conditions which has engineered a much larger class of would be Bohemians.

Essentially, in our industrial age the increased capacity for production has demanded increased consumption. Because economic expansion entails the increased freedom of how to make your money and, crucially, the increased freedom of what to spend your money on. Moreover, technological advances, and civilisation’s dominion over the world’s resources, means that, in most cases, people are consuming far more than they are producing.

A very rudimentary understanding of economics will inform you that unhappy spendthrifts create employment and growth, and contented misers, unemployment and decline. Thus, in order to remain economically competitive, liberal society has had to largely obliterate timeless wisdoms, such as prudence, temperance and responsibility, replacing them with desire of the flesh, idolatry and a whole litany of confused causes. Which is why the Gods worshipped by societal planners of this age lack the metaphorical vison of their predecessors. They are as bland as the market efficiency principle and as sterile as cost-benefit analysis.

This unbridled consumerism has created in a large enough pool of society a corrosive mixture of indolence, extravagance and entitlement to precipitate a tumult of social reform. People have more time and energy and means to consume more and, thus, change more. And so, out of waste and luxury and lethargy, the sickness they call Progress came into the world.

Excessive consumption, in all things, is the hallmark of liberal society in the industrial age. Hence, people will take good ideas and will stretch them to their implausible extremes. Such ideas, on account of feeling modern and progressive, will quickly take on the tint of fashion. They’ll carry social credits.

But to invoke the God of Progress as a reason for reform, without fully anticipating the consequences, is to brag about the mere fact that today is not yesterday. To declare that today is better than yesterday is like sneering at a lady because of her age. An ideal which is simply modern is already becoming ancient. Death is staring at it in the face. Because new philosophies come and go like the clouds in the sky. Iridescent ethical systems come and go as often as the fashionable change their shoes. Simply because iridescence happens to be the defining characteristic.

Unless society is built on truisms it is not built at all. Clearly, there would be little safety in a society in which the remark that murder was wrong was open to debate. Similarly, there would be little certainty in a society in which every truth is enveloped in a subjective mist; in a society where there’s an insistence that no objective or absolute truth can be affirmed; in a society that isn’t even too sure what a man or woman is, so leaves it to individual men and women to define. But there can’t be a multiplication of personal truths for the same reason there can’t be a multiplication of the earth and sun and moon. Truth is eternal otherwise it’s not Truth.

Certainly, an idea is no truer for being modern than it is false for being modern. To wed truth with change is dangerous because every age has its follies, spurred on by forces inimical to reason and sound judgement. To wed truth with change is to not fully grasp the blinded fate of Progress to which every age unwinds.

Liberal consumerism undervalues moderation. Indeed, it can even be paradoxically immoderate when claiming to be moderate. But moderation and stability are not necessarily a limitation but a liberty, for they provide the structure and discipline to be able to hit out in all directions. Moderation acts as a reliable barometer which can measure extravagance. It will reveal a light if only in the long fantastic shadows that it throws from common things. Immoderation, however, leaves us only in a gloomy vagueness of shifting shadows. It will nurture a cultural stampede akin to wild buffalos on the western prairie.

Society will always grow riotous in a long period of decadence; a hurricane of change will sweep all before it, laying havoc on the very foundations upon which it was built. But at some point, the liberal economic clock, which has hitherto had such a mechanical influence on the minds of its members, will be wound back. Because tempests don’t go on forever; they blow themselves out, and usher in a period of calm. Like the perfect stillness of a morning after a ferocious night-time bombardment.

On this front, the conclusion to Scheherazade’s tale on the one thousand and first night of the Arabian Nights is, I think, most instructive. Having exhausted her reservoirs of imagination she enters the bed chamber with trepidation, fearing for her life. But Shahryār has long since fallen in love with her and spares her.

The meaning? With age we grow accustomed to the world, while some are young enough not to have grown accustomed to anything. We slow down, while younger generations are forever in a spin moving from one thing to the next in eager anticipation. The old are closer to death and are resistant to change because it starts to remind them of their own mortality. Whereas the young think themselves immortal and are resistant to structure because they are restless.

What is true of people is certainly true of epochs. Long periods of change incubate structure; long periods of structure incubate change. As sure as trees shedding their leaves in autumn and the flowers blossoming in spring.

We are approaching the one thousand and first night.