A royal pain and a farce

Prince William seems hellbent on following in the footsteps of his mother, who was woke long before the word even entered the Oxford Dictionary.

The other day HRH delivered himself of a view on the Gaza war, leaving one thankful that he stopped short of wrapping himself in the Palestinian flag and shouting “From the river to the sea!”

On the plus side, William clearly knows that Gaza isn’t the nickname of a former England footballer. On the minus side, he spoke of the “terrible human cost of the conflict in the Middle East since the Hamas terrorist attack”. [My emphasis.]

It’s that little word ‘since’ that shows where the prince’s heart is. Contextually, he was talking about the Israelis’ desperate attempts to wipe out sadistic Hamas murderers baying for their blood.

The pattern is all too familiar: first the Muslims, either terrorist gangs or actual states, attack Israel under variously worded slogans calling for another Holocaust. The woke majority in the Western media registers perfunctory disapproval, only then to unleash its full wrath when Israel begins to fight back.

Speaking of dictionaries, our lexicographers should add another meaning to ‘disproportionate’: “adj. the nature of any response by Israel to Muslim attacks”. HRH hinted at that meaning when he added that “too many have been killed”.

He must have a quota of permissible casualties in his mind, and Israel is guilty of exceeding it. Actually, Your Royal Highness, there is only one valid reply to anyone wondering how many should be killed in a war: as many as it takes to achieve the stated objective.

Israel’s objective is to defang Hamas and prevent repeat performances. Even though I haven’t been authorised to speak on behalf of the Israeli government, I can assure HRH that the killing will stop the moment that objective has been achieved. Until then, the phrase “too many” will remain meaningless.

As will the prince’s desire for “an end to the fighting as soon as possible”. PM Sunak rushed to William’s defence, saying that this was consistent with the government’s position.

I’ll let both gentlemen in on a secret: everyone in the world hopes the fighting will soon end. It’s just that different people hope it will end in different ways.

The only moral position is hoping that as a result of this war Israel will be left in peace, with its citizens allowed to go about their daily business without fearing that their babies could be disembowelled by diabolical ghouls.

Stopping before that wish becomes reality would mean admitting defeat. That’s why the superficially humane calls for a ceasefire in Gaza (or for that matter in the Ukraine) promote the triumph of evil over good – and I’m sorry to be using such outdated absolute categories.  

William’s sainted mother used to carry on ad nauseam about saving the homeless leprous whales in the rain forest from the landmines, which she saw as an unqualified evil. That enraged several generations of our veterans who tried to explain to her that minefields are an essential way of protecting one’s own soldiers. Like most other battlefield weapons, mines are morally neutral. It all depends on who lays them and to what end.

Yet Diana kept uttering abstract bien pensant phrases she thought were “humanitarian”, but were in fact silly and woke. And her son proves that some apples don’t fall from the tree at all, making one reassess one’s views on nature versus nurture.

The prince’s remarks have angered quite a few conservatives, who insist that our royals are constitutionally obligated not to make political pronouncements. One irate Tory even reminded William of what happened to his ancestor Charles I who also decided to dabble in politics.

It’s always nice to be kept abreast of the fine constitutional points, but we no longer live in 1649, nor even in 1688. In those days it was easy to categorise statements as political or apolitical. Alas, our world has been politicised to such an extent that everything we now say has political connotations.

Prince William, for example, has often voiced his heartfelt desire to save ‘our planet’ from, well, anything ‘our planet’ needs to be saved from. Whatever its astrophysical or climatological justifications, if any, that quest is a statement of political allegiance above all else. The prince might as well wear an ‘I’m woke’ pin in his Savile Row lapel.

This is to say that forbidding our royals to utter political statements is these days tantamount to hushing them up altogether, on any subject. Unless Buckingham Palace is ever inhabited by deaf-mutes, this strikes me as unrealistic – and also undesirable.

I wouldn’t even have a problem with the royals making overtly political pronouncements, provided such statements reflect the dignity and significance of the office they have inherited. In that regard, it’s important to remember that republican sentiments may be latent in Britain, but only as much as the pressure building up in the cooker.

If the slightest weakness develops, the pressure may blow the lid off and burst out. The greatest constitutional harm our royals could possibly cause would be for them to cater to the dormant antimonarchism by waking it up with woke statements.

A monarchy is a conservative institution by definition, out of keeping with the Enlightenment zeitgeist sucking oxygen out of our civilisation. Even though our royals are now devoid of executive power, they should keep reminding their subjects of everything constant and eternal, everything that links the generations past, present and future to make Britain British.

Since the monarchy has to survive in our party-political world, it must cast its lot with Tory principles, if not necessarily the politics of the present Conservative Party. The Tories, aka Conservatives, used to believe in a social order based on authority and traditional hierarchy, although not without flexibility.

Above all, they believed in the sacral meaning of the state in general and monarchy in particular. As an epigrammatic encapsulation of that mission, Edmund Burke, the founder of modern conservatism, observed that “he who gave our nature to be perfected by our virtue, willed also the necessary means of its perfection. He willed therefore the state.”

(Burke was one of the leaders of the Whigs, but in fact just about every leitmotif of modern conservative thought, including constitutional monarchism, can be found in his Reflections. In a way, the French Revolution helped Burke to open his political eyes, which the contemporaneous liberals castigated as apostasy. Thomas Jefferson, for example, spoke of the “rottenness of [Burke’s] mind,” which could only be ascribed to his “wicked motives”.)

That’s why the coronation ritual in Britain is not a political inauguration but a religious rite, and what can be more conservative than that?

William’s father, who had made all sorts of unconservative noises before his accession, wisely kept up that tradition at his own coronation. He must have realised, or was reminded, that our monarchy is conservative – or it is nothing. That overarching umbrella covers a whole slew of specific political beliefs, leaving no room for woke platitudes.

I hope his son will reach the same understanding when his turn comes. For the time being, his farcical statements make me fear that this hope may well end up forlorn.

2 thoughts on “A royal pain and a farce”

  1. Prince William will ascend to the throne when his father passes, so there is no need of his trying to boost his approval rating. Does that mean he actually believes the dreck he spouts? I don’t know. Maybe he wants to be popular.

    Progressive politicians often tone down their rhetoric in order to appeal to a wider audience and ensure their election. I have often wondered why conservatives do not try the same thing? Pretend to be a bit progressive until you get into office, then stick to one’s basic principles. Too dishonest, I suppose. But without more conservatives in government and the College of Cardinals, I don’t know where we’re headed (but I’m thinking it will be warm – and not from climate change.)

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