Friday, May 5, 2023 - 9:54am

A right royal debate has broken out appropriately enough. Let's abolish the monarchy and go Republican? As we celebrate the first Coronation held since 1953 it is right we should be reflecting on our monarchy, our Constitution and what, if any changes, need to be made in the 21st Century.

But so far the debate has lacked real depth on all sides. The usual tropes that have been around for centuries have all resurfaced. On the one side we have the spectacle, pageantry and Britain doing its public theatrical thing to a standard that you won't find bettered in the world. We are, and have for centuries been the nation that loves pomp, parades and public spectacle - it is a totally British thing and the majority in the UK will be enjoying the occasion. The world will also be watching and the boost to tourism this year is already enormous.

On the other hand should we be spending millions when many cannot afford their energy and food bills? Isn't having a king simply anachronistic - a Medieval idea we should ditch in favour of modern grown up republican government? It is certainly true we don't have a say in who is our King and he isn't someone we voted for - it is an accident of birth that determines who wears the crown. 

However, I am uneasy with all these arguments. Knee jerk patriotism is unhealthy. Flag waving can easily turn into imperialism, colonialism and celebrating the worst of our past. The world needs co-operation, respect for others not competition to see who is 'top nation'. On the other hand take a good look at Republics past and present and the we see this does not necessarily create the freedom and more equal society we might imagine. There are a number of republics with rich autocrats in charge who dwell in palaces and grand houses and whose iron power is felt by many ordinary defenceless people who are oppressed and even being killed by military weapons unleashed against them. All forms of Government need real checks and balances. Separating out the different forms of power and securing peaceful transfer of those powers is key to peace and prosperity for all citizens.

I didn't vote for the King but then again I haven't voted for our current Prime Minister - indeed for our current Government. Our new King has personally done more to address inequality in our society than many in the Cabinet. He has also promoted those concerns that are paramount in our day and age - the urgency of the Environmental Crisis, the importance of human friendly built environments, the need to help those who lack opportunity, the importance of the Arts to maintain balance in a world dominated by technology. He is also a democratically elected leader - voted to be Head of the Commonwealth by the members themselves. As usual the realities of the world we live in refuse to fit the neat categories of both Royalists and Republicans.

All this goes to show that no human government is perfect. Our British Constitution is an aberration in the modern world - you wouldn't invent it but we have just lived through a year in which we have had 3 Prime Ministers and the accession of a new monarch without the need for bullets and riots. Our energies perhaps need to go into reforms rather than root and branch efforts to overturn what we have - a period in which we appreciate what we have and work together towards improving things for the future - not just of those already with privilege but for everyone - and not just for ourselves in the UK but globally too. 

Where does that aspiration come from? The Christian vision of a world which is God's - when all is said and done the sovereignty belongs to a God of Creation, Salvation and Sanctification - a God who will be at the centre of everything going on in Westminster Abbey on 6th May - for where we truly belong is in God's Commonwealth of Love and once we realise this we move beyond our political name calling and posturing into action to ensure everyone can live in dignity and security. Christ is the King, O friends rejoice, Alleluia!