Why British and Commonwealth Catholics Venerate Their Protestant Monarch
The spectacle is undeniably impressive, though predictable and in part long-planned. Even those whose own values do not align with the underlying message can but stand in awe, in fact, at the scale of the thing, and the depth of feeling it so clearly evokes.
I am referring, if course, to the reaction of the American Left-wing media to the death of Queen Elizabeth. While the press of other countries, like their political leaderships, has reacted in a dignified and respectful way to this seismic and melancholy national event, the American Left-wing media, led by the New York Times, has given us a display of rage and hatred that is a bit unhinged. There are many reasons for this that I do not intend to explore; more troubling for non-Americans than the woke ravings of the Left is the fact that, as I have discovered over the years, a degree of incomprehension and even hostility to the institution of monarchy is not limited, in America, to one side of the political divide. It even extends to some Traditional Catholics.
I want therefore in this piece to take the opportunity to try to give an explanation and defense of the British monarchy, at least to traditionally-minded Catholics, who should be more open-minded about it than “the gray lady” of New York. I will do so in three stages. First, I will say something about the role and importance of human traditions; then about the monarchy as an institution; and finally, specifically about the British monarchy, and Queen Elizabeth.
I start with human—that is, non-divine—traditions because the anti-traditional attitude is so powerful in secular culture, that even some Catholics who accept the importance of divine Tradition with a capital “T”, as a source of Revelation in Catholic theology, can be dismissive of any other kind of tradition. It’s one thing (they might say) to acknowledge that Jesus Christ revealed things to the Apostles which were not written down in Scripture, which therefore come to us by Tradition; it is quite another to feel obliged to do (or believe) things simply because some fallible humans in the past happened to choose to do (or believe) them. And that’s what human traditions are, aren’t they?
Well, not quite. I would define traditions as those practices which have been performed by our predecessors (ancestors, predecessors in the Faith, previous incumbents in the roles we fill, etc.), which (a) have been continued over time by successive generations (not necessarily without breaks), and (b) have been regarded as significant, and are therefore (c) regarded as binding to some degree on the present generation.
Thus it is likely that we feel that we ought, in some sense
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