On Monday I watched the live-coverage of the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. So did an estimated 4 billion other humans. This is remarkable for a number of reasons and flies in the face of all the standard dictates of our culture as to what it is that appeals to ‘modern society’. If popular culture is any gauge, then we are supposed to be drawn to the brash, glitzy, trashy, vulgar and secular: think Big Brother, Masked Singer, Love Island and all the other mindless garbage that floods our screens. Yet this funeral which held the attention of the whole world was the antithesis of popular culture: it was ordered, dignified, stately, cultured, deeply respectful of tradition, and profoundly and unashamedly Christian. In other words, it was all the things the funeral of a Christian Monarch ought to be.
Far from being denounced as boring or anachronistic everyone was glued to their screens, utterly enchanted and moved by the occasion, the beauty of its pageantry, the grace of its choreography, the dignity of the music, and the ordered serenity of the mourners all united in a common purpose. It was not only a moment of evident national pride for the UK, it also served as a reminder of what true leadership looks like – namely, the capacity to unite disparate people to a common vision and purpose. That the people of England loved their Queen is beyond all doubt.
In a culture like the West where humans seem to be incentivised to act more like debased, wild animals than humans endowed with reason, the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was a refreshing reprieve from the cultural sludge of the Yahoos, reminding us of the long-forgotten values from another seemingly distant age: values such as compassion, gratitude, the beauty of order, respect for tradition and the honour of duty. If there was a common theme to all the commentary of the past two weeks it has been an acknowledgement of Queen Elizabeth’s tireless service to her country.
Given that the cultural Marxists who dominate all our institutions are forever fomenting intersectional resentment between one class of people and another, one might have expected a digital up-rising against the Queen. One can imagine the rhetoric: “down with the monarchy and the rest of the ancient regime who are perpetuating the systemic injustice of our society, and delaying the creation of our utopian state of social egalitarianism!”. When one looks at the life of Queen Elizabeth II it would be hard to imagine a more privileged and entitled life than that of a monarch who inherits an entire Kingdom simply on the basis of birth. Elizabeth is the antithesis of the Trotskyite socialist comrade. Yet far from being the object of hatred and resentment, Queen Elizabeth was loved, esteemed and respected by people of every social strata in a manner that virtually no democratically elected head of state is, in the UK or anywhere. It’s a curious paradox of modernity that never has there been so little trust or respect for the elected political caste and so much love for the Monarchy, on a global scale.
It's worth posing the question: why is this? What is the secret to Elizabeth’s popularity?
That answer lies in the Queen’s understanding of the principle of noblesse oblige. Put simply: Elizabeth understood that with great privilege comes great responsibility. For the entire duration of her seventy-year reign, Queen Elizabeth understood and fulfilled unstintingly the duties of her office, with grace and dignity. She understood that the Crown was much greater than herself, and therefore to be lived out as a life of service. Impressive as they are, the crown jewels and the ceremonial robes of state are not worn for pleasure, but to remind those who wear them of the weight of the office they carry. As Christ taught his disciples, true leadership is service.
The corrupted institutions of the West, especially in education and academia, reject this premise. They cling to the Marxist doctrine that leadership exists for power: ‘Dominate or be dominated’ they argue. They have fomented a toxic culture of entitlement, one that is completely severed from duty. The civil rights activist types will scream about their rights, yet they have no sense of their responsibilities. We are taught to think “what am I owed?” rather than “what are my duties?” forming a mindset that is all ‘take’ and no ‘give’. The result is the necrotic decay of society we see all around us: the collapse of morals, the decline in faith practice and vocations, the breakdown of marriages and family life, the shrinking of volunteer-based services, the escalation in civic violence, a decaying work-ethic, widespread financial malfeasance, political corruption, and the rest. The cause of the civilisational collapse can be summed up in one word: selfishness.
Against this, is the example of a Sovereign Queen who by respecting the great dignity of her Office, became an exceptional model of statesmanship, integrity and service. She knew how to reign as Queen because she learnt from the King of Kings:
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:25-28)
Queen Elizabeth II – Requiescat in pace.