Thoughts on the morning of Coronation Day, 6 May 2023

Today we will enjoy allusions to the magnificent benefits of our constitutional settlement. While much of the pageantry and ceremonial appears arcane, every medieval hereditary post, every exuberant plumage, and every archaic protocol will be there as a reminder of the power that could be abused to vain excess. Such is the progressive path of our constitution and rule of law, that we have never wished to wipe the slate clean and codify it, in the Napoleonic or Chinese style. Instead, we cherish the conceit of celebrating the illogical, unaccountable and even ridiculous traits of a system that has evolved into what is perhaps the most rational form of rule that the world has seen.  

To arrive at this point in our history when, from our damp and cramped islands, we still lead the world in fighting unfairness and leading by example, with complete independence – from standing up to kleptocratic tyrants to carbon emissions – has required over a thousand years of struggle. Death and destruction has justified itself in the name of the Crown.  

One thinks back to the centuries of invasion and displacement that followed the departure of the Romans; the brutality of the Norman Conquest; savage battles against the Scots; the Wars of the Roses, with the largely forgotten Battle of Towton in 1461, where 40,000 died – our greatest loss in any war, that touched nearly every landed household. One considers the desecration of the break up of monastic lands and orders, the vast casualties and set piece battles of the Civil War. And then the unimaginable conditions and exploitation that created the wealth upon which our primacy in the world order depended; now much relegated of course but not our language, legal and democratic constructs. Connected still to live memories are the total wars of the last century, followed by the rapid progression towards a multicultural society with free healthcare and opportunities for all.

Millions of those who can escape tyranny move to our jurisdiction and other English speaking democracies that share our language, system of common law; and that are, by and large, tolerant, progressive and fair; and, perhaps above all, inventive and enterprising. Nowhere more is this expressed than at schools and universities of the English speaking world. 

All of these qualities depend on the Crown representing service and loyalty, prioritising others above personal enrichment. Certainly, our Royal family has become enriched – perhaps too overtly so. Like any family, there is inconsistency of behaviour. Nevertheless, the level of stamina and constancy, required by the Crown of the sovereign who wears it, is staggering. It is lifelong and intrusive. In much of the world, ruling invokes personal enrichment via capital outflows and corruption at worst; short term political expediency at best. Our constitutional ruler has one objective: a sacred culture of  service, that encourages unity, diversity and charity.

Vivat Rex