Sunday, 18 September 2022
The Red King
The Queue rightly enjoys provisions such as are wrongly but routinely denied to the rough sleepers on the same streets. Remember the successful action against rough sleeping during the recent pandemic. All that had ever been lacking had been the political will. Including during 13 years of a Labour Government.
That Labour had promised to end rough sleeping was one of the many grounds on which Jeremy Corbyn was laughed out at the last General Election by the people who are now running both parties. But hope is at hand. We now have a King of the House of Oldenburg, linking us to what Clement Attlee recognised as the exemplary social democratic monarchies of Scandinavia.
The House of Oldenburg has reigned in Sweden in its time, and it reigns in Denmark and Norway to this day. It has also provided Kings of Iceland, Kings of the Hellenes, and Emperors of Russia, but until the eighth of this month it had been pared back to its Danish and Norwegian roots. Then it acquired 15 new Realms, from Saint Lucia to the Solomon Islands, plus an array of Crown Dependencies, Overseas Territories, associated states, and so on.
It has only taken that House 308 years. None of the children of Queen Anne and of Prince George of Denmark survived, so the Throne passed to the House of Hanover. That was largely due to arrangements made by the Spencers, entwining the two dynasties for centuries until they went too far and intermarried. If you thought that the presence of Sarah, Duchess of York in Westminster Abbey tomorrow was going to be awkward, then consider that as the late Queen's godson, Earl Spencer is also expected to attend.
Until recent days, Spencerism was a kind of Whig Jacobitism, demanding that the Succession skip a generation and alight on the sometime Princess Diana's elder son precisely as such. But the Succession has happened seamlessly, because that is what it does. By the way, like Sarah Ferguson, both of Charles III's wives have been descended from the numerous illegitimate children of Charles II. In fact, although there are others in the mix, they have all been descended from the same one, Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond. William V will be the first monarch descended from Charles II, who left no legitimate heir when he died in 1685.
Others, however, have no shortage of legitimate heirs. Although one of them is too young to know, and the other no doubt considers it an honour to two beloved grandparents, there are two patrilineal descendants of Elimar I, Princes of the ancient and illustrious House of Oldenburg, who bear instead the double whammy of "Mountbatten-Windsor", as will their respective sisters until marriage.
Bringing us to John Wheatley's axiom that he there would be "no point in substituting a bourgeois President for a bourgeois King". Attlee echoed George Lansbury that our people were impoverished by capitalism, not by the King, and most members of the House of Windsor, rather than of the House of Oldenburg, do seem to be functioning members of the British capitalist class. But that class has millions of members, and it would provide any President of Britain if such an office were confected this side of radical economic change.
That was why Corbyn described republicanism as "not on my agenda". He had far more pressing things to do, as he still does. 9th September was a Day of National Mourning in Cuba. Yes, Cuba. But the substitution of a bourgeois President for a bourgeois Queen was exactly what Liz Truss and Keir Starmer did want into the recent past, and it is logically what they must still want. Friday's fiscal event will be a very long way from Denmark or Norway, and any Official Opposition to it will be notional at best.
Still, any republican moment that they might ever have had has gone. The late Queen was not Elizabeth the Last, meaning that professional anti-monarchists need to find other things to do. As do professional anti-republicans, since there has turned out to have been no threat to the monarchy after all. They might turn their attention to everything that they bemoaned had gone to decay, when they were not extolling the monarchy as the institution that safeguarded it.
Instead, though, they are likely to cheer on the economic programme that had always been fundamental to that decay. Tax cuts that were of no benefit whatever to the two in five adults whose gross incomes from all sources did not reach one thousand pounds per month. Vicious capping of workers' wages while the cap on bankers' bonuses was lifted. You know the sort of thing. The New York Times may be wrong about porridge and boiled mutton, and it may dislike Britain for the wrong reason of having betrayed liberal globalism (if only), but it has this country's number, and if Fleet Street grandees cannot see it, then that tells you the narrow circles in which they move.
Who is calling for further deregulation of the City? The City itself does compliance. It has it all factored in. It may well cost more to change things than to leave them alone. It often does, doesn't it? But if the pressure really is coming from Shell, where Truss failed, or from JPMorgan Chase, where Kwasi Kwarteng must have been decidedly part-time in between the journalism, the academia and the politics, then it is no doubt in terms of attracting and retaining globally mobile talent. In that case, then New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Los Angeles, Singapore, San Francisco, Beijing, Tokyo, Shenzhen and Paris must be awash with English public schoolboys. Are they? I only ask.
Among those in London are no doubt a smattering of the descendants of fairly recent monarchs. But from that same social stratum would be drawn any President of Britain in anything like this country's present economic form. Instead, tomorrow will be a proper, 1952-style Bank Holiday, with everything closed. Play our cards right, and we could be back to half-days on Wednesdays before the other side even realised that we were playing. The resources for the radical restoration are readily at hand. My church will be having a Low Mass of Requiem at 9:30 tomorrow morning, and Lanchester Methodist Church will be livestreaming the funeral itself. This village is entirely typical.
From the heirs of Saint John Fisher and of Saint Thomas More, to the heirs of Martin Luther's and William Tyndale's support for Catherine of Aragon against Henry VIII, of the staunch Protestants who wished to write Elizabeth as well as Mary out of the Succession in favour of Lady Jane Grey, and of those who lost a Civil War for the sake of a thoroughgoing Protestantism but who have accounted for at least half of England's Protestant churchgoers ever since, we know that if we were going to end rough sleeping, then there would be "no point in substituting a bourgeois President for a bourgeois King".
Rather, we now have a monarch who, with all of his successors, binds us dynastically to the countries where Attlee observed "the greatest progress towards democratic socialism". Therefore, God Save The King.