Thinking About – Sovereignty and Monarchy

the-crownA couple of weeks ago me and Cerri watched the new Netflix series The Crown. It tells the story of the early years of Queen Elizabeth II, with wonderful performances from the cast, and some of the back stories were real eye openers to me. I had never properly realised that, with the abdication of Edward VIII, the line of monarchs suddenly shifted to a different line of Queens and Kings. That our Queen was not high on the lineage to the throne and possibly looked forward to a life of minor royal status. The program also allowed an insight into Winston Churchill’s latter years, including his blind eye to pollution that led to The Big Smoke during which London was engulfed in Sulphurous smoke for some weeks. When I asked if my Mum and Dad remembered it I discovered that The Big Smoke led to my paternal Grandmother’s death through emphysema. If you haven’t see The Crown, do watch it.

Another recent series was Victoria. I watched that too, and loved it for similar reasons.

These dramas started me thinking about Sovereignty. I’m in love with magic and myth, if you’ve heard any of my songs you’ll know that. The stories of King Arthur to me are the Matter of Britain because, well, they matter. The stories of The Grail Quest and the unassailable link between the Monarch and the Land fill my heart fit to burst. The trouble is, when you look at how some of the British monarchy have behaved over the many centuries, it’s often hard to match the myth with the reality. Bloodshed, violence, domination, executions, wars, scandals, seem to be par for the course when it comes to human power. Where is the divine link in those actions? Did the very idea of Divine Monarchy feed the outlandish actions of so many Kings and Queens throughout the years?

I blame the Normans.

It’s doubtlessly a romantic idea to suggest that earlier monarchs were somehow more in touch with that responsibility to the land and Her people, but there is a large part of me that wishes for it to be true. That the historical Arthur held that power within his heart, and those who came before him. That King Afred felt it within his pious Christian soul. When I look at the current Royal Family it’s hard to make that connection sometimes. There are still scandals, the strict rules on divorce that led to Princess Margaret having such a miserable love life seem to have been discarded. The distance so many people felt between the Monarchy and the people came to a head just after the death of Princess Diana, and had to be addressed. I know that many people have never forgiven the Royals for the way they responded to her death. Prince Charles, who is next in line for the throne, I find uninspiring. Maybe he will come into his own when, and if, he finally takes the crown. And when he does will it be a huge national experience, like it was back in the 50s when Elizabeth II was crowned Queen? I remember her Silver Jubilee back in the 70s. It was a huge national event with street parties and mass celebrations. I hardly noticed the Golden Jubilee.

The Monarchy is slipping away more and more I feel.

And where does that leave the mythic connection between the Monarch and Albion?

If you follow the stories of King Arthur you will find that the threads lead to a number of potential real, living candidates. One of these is an ancestor of the Spencer family, and thus to the second in line for the throne Prince William, whose middle name is, Arthur. When he becomes King will he be King William V, or might he take Arthur as his name? If so, would he be King Arthur II? Who knows. What I do know is I like those boys. There’s something about them that inspires strength, particularly William.

I wouldn’t call myself a royalist, but I’m not a Republican either. I find it hard to imagine Britain without a Monarch of some kind. There is a part of me that acknowledges the magic that should lay at the heart of the relationship between the Monarch and the Land. Is that connection still there? Was it truly ever there? Am I willing to risk finding out? The national grief expressed after the death of Princess Diana suggests to me that the people of this island, deep down, really deep down, understood that she held within her that source and connection, and that, no matter that she was no longer married to Charles, nor would one day be Queen, but she had given birth to the future King. The scenes around Buckingham Palace and during her funeral reflected that loss, even if most of us didn’t really know why we were crying. Certainly for the loss of a mother, for her children, but people die all the time. The grief shown for Diana was something else.

I know this topic is often quite binary – people are either for, or against. If that’s the case, please be gentle with each other, and me, in any comments. These thinking about blogs are just a way for me to, well, think about stuff.

By | 2016-12-08T12:00:02+00:00 December 6th, 2016|Categories: History, Thinking About|Tags: , , , , , , |19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Conny December 6, 2016 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this brave post. I’m republican, born and raised in Germany, a country which after some difficulties has been coping well without monarchy.
    However, I do see the connection now between people, land and monarchy. It makes me think, and therefore thank you again.

  2. Tina LArkin December 6, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    Well, here in America, we don’t have much respect for any monarchy, but I always appreciate all your blogs, as well as your wonderful music. I sense that you are talking here about how early monarchs were truly attached to the land, and to all the people in a sort of Gaia way? Anyway, you always make me think, Damh, and you inspire my music, so thank you.

  3. Sheila December 6, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    Loved the post! And, I love your monarchy . . .the land, the people and the wonderful stories it holds. And as for the children . . . I hope to live to see King Arthur reign again! Blessed be, my friend.

  4. Stephanie December 6, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Beautifully said…

  5. Natalie December 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Some of us in America do appreciate the idea of monarchy. Princess Diana’s death was particularly hard on me, and I remember ditching work one day to visit a church where a book was being signed in her memory. The line was long, she had touched so many. While I think Charles made some mistakes with regard to his love life, if he had not married Diana, we would not have the Summer Solstice born William. I think that Charles’s positions on the environment are admirable, and he seems to have come into his own in his later years. Of course that doesn’t mean that every monarchy is good, or that even good ones are perfect, and I certainly believe in democracy, but I think that a good monarchy can be an inspiration.

  6. Ritchie Gale December 6, 2016 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    I’m a staunch republican, but can admit that the romantic vision of monarchy is appealing: “If you succeed the land will flourish – fall, and the land will fail.” (or something… Merlin in the film Excalibur)

    Over the years I have had to reconcile my deep connection to the Arthur myths and also, in some ways, Lord of The Rings, with a strong belief that bloodline monarchy is a horrible symbol and reality of inherited wealth and privilege. “Oh, I popped out of vagina X and therefore can rule over you.” – against the romantic in me, meritocracy must win. I feel uncomfortable that key roles in our society are out of reach to all but the anointed one. I think that the appeal of it can exist in story and myth without having to actually be the case in ordinary reality.

  7. Yvonne December 6, 2016 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Thought provoking. Yes Diana’s boys are great – and her name comes with powerful magic too: http://www.crystalinks.com/diana.html! And her festival is close to the summer solstice. I haven’t been impressed by the monarchy in recent decades but you got me thinking. Thanks for sharing your wisdom Damh.

  8. Godfrey December 6, 2016 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Our temporal monarchy fails to my mind to represent the sovereignty of the land, as it feels to be nothing more than the latest manifestation of a series of politically expedient moves to ensure security and power for a ruling elite, who may or may not deserve it. True sovereignty of the land for me is expressed through our relationship with the land through the divine. There’s a sleeping Arthur in the hearts of each of us, the nobility of Bran informs our actions, Pwyll can show us how to find a sense of balance between our outer, and deeper realms. This is sovereignty to my mind, and it’s very much alive and present, for those who know where to find it. For the majority though I’m afraid it’s HRH and family!

  9. steve December 6, 2016 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    King Arthur II. Bring it on. Might help us to reconnect with the monarchy. I agree the boys have great presence and purpose

  10. Char Lewis December 6, 2016 at 6:08 pm - Reply

    I am a royalist, living in Canada, Queen Elizabeth II is also our queen, and I hold her, and the royal family in the highest regard.
    I have started watching The Crown, and I find it very interesting.
    I’ve always been fascinated with the Royal family, and the history of the British monarchy since I was in school.
    I do believe that her majesty has a special place in her heart for the land. After all, if she didn’t become queen, she wanted to live in the countryside.
    I enjoyed this blog. Thank you Damh, blessed be. X

    • Liz Anson December 7, 2016 at 10:51 am - Reply

      She may have a special place in her heart for the countryside Char but her and her family’s love of shooting and hunting, makes me think its all for the wrong reasons!

  11. Denise December 6, 2016 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    It’s often said that myths are stories that never happened but are always true. Sometimes I think that should really say – that we wish were true. Humans being what we are, the reality is rarely as pretty as the story. Still, there are those who try. Even if imperfect their efforts deserve respect.

  12. Amethyst December 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Thought provoking to be sure. It has me wondering… If Prince William takes the name King Arthur II, with his birthday being the Summer Solstice and therefore containing within it the power of its opposite and the supposed birth time of the first King Arthur…. What could the possible implications, and actions, be from a pagan perspective?

  13. Matty December 6, 2016 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    Hey this is a really interesting post. Like you I’m not a staunch monarchist or a republican. Recently I’ve done some research though which is making me lean more to being a monarchist – in particular the argument that constitutional monarchies on the whole tend to be better governed than republics, and less likely to fall to extremist like fascists/ communists, because the monarch absorbs the people’s nationalism and emotions so its not easily whipped up by politicians. I find this argument compelling.

  14. Carol Gibson December 6, 2016 at 11:04 pm - Reply

    I am an American and I greatly admired Princess Diana and other members of the royal family. Reading how the King and Queen stayed in London during the blitz to represent all those who could not get out is inspiring. I think the monarchy is the heart of the land. They are there eternal and I think that is something special.

  15. Cathie Rayes December 7, 2016 at 12:10 am - Reply

    The entire world mourned when Diana died. The outpouring of shock and grief here in the States was like a tidal wave. Did she have that same sacred, powerful, priestly connection to the soul of Britain the old Pagan monarchs had? I don’t know, but she certainly lived inside the heart of the world’s people.

    Oddly enough, when I remember that grief, I think of Julie Andrews. I think her crossing might very well touch the same space in the human heart of the world, and that makes me think it’s not a connection to the land at all, but is a direct connection to the people.

    • Yewtree December 7, 2016 at 10:46 am - Reply

      I think she was an embodiment of a goddess archetype.

  16. Yewtree December 7, 2016 at 10:45 am - Reply

    I think that when we reify myth and symbol in a person with actual political power, it is dangerous. (As evidenced by the centuries of internecine warfare over who got to be King – the civil war between Stephen and Maud, and the Wars of the Roses too.)

    Ancient pagans may have had sacral kings, but they had the good sense to let them rule for a year and then sacrifice them. As we do not want to bring back human sacrifice, I think both aspects of sacred kingship are best left in the realm of the mythical and symbolic.

    It’s no accident that Princess Diana was the most convincing embodiment of the Arthurian archetype – both her life and her death fulfil the pattern of the sacral king. More’s the pity, because she was a lovely lady.

    I feel compassion for the royal family stuck in their gilded cage. That. and the fact that I am opposed to the principle of heredity, is why I am a republican.

    But I get where you are coming from with the romantic yearning for the connection to the land.

  17. Sonia Smith December 8, 2016 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    Well, Prince Charles has been the only one of the recent monarchy to show his connection with the land. His championing of organics, and holistic medicines show him to be a man of heart and intellect. I like him. And if you go to Highgrove House you will see his brilliance at work in the wonderful organic natural gardens, and the little ‘sanctuary’ he has in the oak grove. Not a bad man to have as King methinks.

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