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The Queen – The American Conservative

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One’s heart goes out to the British people on the death of their monarch. It’s hard to imagine that Elizabeth Regina is gone. She has been a constant presence in American life via our media, which is fascinated with the British royal family, though of course those who are not her subjects can only hope to imagine what this loss feels like to them. May God comfort all who loved her.

She was a representative of a more honorable and admirable world. I just heard one of her biographers say on CNN that the Queen would pray on her knees at night before crawling into bed. That’s such a poignant image. Unlike, alas, some of her progeny and their wives, she carried herself with great dignity, of the sort that one never sees anymore, and that we may never see again.

Elizabeth was at the other end of the universe from this trashy Carnegie Mellon professor, a self-described “antiracist feminist,” who made a fool of herself with this tweet since removed:

Unfathomable hatred. This one from a prominent black American journalist is better, but still inhumane:

I am so sick of these racialist ideologues who believe that their convictions about race give them the right to behave inhumanly. Of course it’s fine to talk about colonialism and the British monarchy. The queen’s death had only just been announced, though! These two vulgar women have not harmed the memory of Queen Elizabeth with their remarks, only themselves. “Critical Race Theory,” in the end, is nothing more than hating whitey.

On to better things. Alexander Larman’s appreciation in The Spectator was moving and insightful. Excerpt:

Elizabeth II will be much missed. Few could claim that they knew her personally, but in her role as firstly mother and subsequently grandmother – and belatedly great-grandmother – to the nation, she has been imbued with an affection and trust by strangers over the course of her extraordinarily long and eventful life that few others could expect to receive. She redefined an institution, performed good deeds, quietly inspired millions, if not billions, and did all this without attracting any personal scandal or significant opprobrium: a staggering, even unprecedented achievement. We can only be reminded of Hamlet’s words on his father, suitably gender-flipped. She was a woman, take her for all in all. We shall not look upon her like again. And we, as a nation, will be the poorer for it.

This summer I was talking with a conservative British friend about what he expected to happen when Elizabeth dies. He said that he did not expect the monarchy to survive. He is not hopeful about King Charles. A decade or so ago, I wrote a long piece for TAC in which I expressed some admiration for Charles. He has a reputation in the US media as something of a dunderhead, but in fact he is rather interesting. Excerpt:

The heir to one of the world’s oldest monarchies, a traditionalist? You don’t say. But Charles’s traditionalism is far from the stuffy, bland, institutional conservatism typical of a man of his rank. Charles, in fact, is a philosophical traditionalist, which is a rather more radical position to hold.

He is an anti-modernist to the marrow, which doesn’t always put him onside with the Conservative Party. Charles’s support for organic agriculture and other green causes, his sympathetic view of Islam, and his disdain for liberal economic thinking have earned him skepticism from some on the British right. (“Is Prince Charles ill-advised, or merely idiotic?” the Tory libertarian writer James Delingpole once asked in print.) And some Tories fear that the prince’s unusually forceful advocacy endangers the most traditional British institution of all: the monarchy itself.

Others, though, see in Charles a visionary of the cultural right, one whose worldview is far broader, historically and otherwise, than those of his contemporaries on either side of the political spectrum. In this reading, Charles’s thinking is not determined by post-Enlightenment categories but rather draws on older ways of seeing and understanding that conservatives ought to recover. “All in all, the criticisms of Prince Charles from self-styled ‘Tories’ show just how little they understand about the philosophy they claim to represent,” says the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

Scruton’s observation highlights a fault line bisecting latter-day Anglo-American conservatism: the philosophical split between traditionalists and libertarians. In this way, what you think of the Prince of Wales reveals whether you think conservatism, to paraphrase the historian George H. Nash, is essentially about the rights of individuals to be what they want to be or the duties of individuals to be what they ought to be.

You might want to read it to see what kind of monarch he may turn out to be.



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