I first came to understand the importance of the monarchy shortly after I moved to England to marry Esther, and Princess Diana was the victim of a fatal car accident. As I watched my wife and all her family grieve, I confess that inwardly I sometimes wondered what all the fuss was about. Sure, it was sad, but people die all the time. You see, I was still thinking like an American and had no idea how deep the love of the British people for their royal family ran.
I was reminded again of how important the monarchy is in 2011 when my family sat and watched the royal wedding as Prince William married Kate Middleton. It wasn’t just for sentimental reasons that we were transfixed by the remarkable ceremony. The wedding had profound spiritual significance that I later wrote about in my Changepoint article ‘Generous Love.’ Moreover, the symbolism and significance in which the royal wedding was couched reminded us that the monarchy is still an integral part of British life.
If at the time of watching the royal wedding I had been told that in less than two years legislators would be attempting to pass through laws to prevent Princess Kate from ever becoming queen, I would not have believed it. Yet that is exactly what has happened. What’s more, it is happening in the name of “gender equality.”
Is the Monarchy Sexist?
|MPs are trying to ensure that Princess Kate |
will never become queen, but will occupy
the sanitized and politically correct title
of “princess consort.”
Hemming’s logic is simple: if the ruling monarch happens to be a Queen, we don’t call her husband King, so why should we call the wife of the ruling monarch the Queen? For example, Prince Philip, though the husband of Her Majesty the Queen, is not called King Philip but the Duke of Edinburgh. By contrast, when Prince William is king, his wife, Princess Kate, will be Queen. The problem, he believes, can be resolved by passing laws ensuring that Princess Kate will never become queen, but will occupy the sanitized and politically correct title of “princess consort.”
The purpose of this post is not to defend the monarchy to an American audience. I am all too aware that ever since the American War for Independence, Americans have had a natural predisposition against aristocracy. Alexander Hamilton summed up the American spirit in Federalist #84 when he announced that “the prohibition of titles of nobility…may truly be denominated the corner-stone of republican government.” Similarly Thomas Jefferson declared in his autobiography that “a foundation laid for a government truly republican” involved “a system by which every fibre would be eradicated of ancient or future aristocracy.”
|Edmund Burke would NOT |
Certainly there are some areas where the sexes ought to be treated equivalently. Do both men and women deserve equal respect and protection under the law? Absolutely! But does this mean that men and women should be treated the same, and that all dissimilar treatment is a case of unjust discrimination?
Anthony Browne is one journalist who has concluded that the answer to this second question is no. In his book The Retreat of Reason: Political Correctness and the Corruption of Public Debate in Modern Britain, Browne showed that gender discrimination is not only accepted in many instances, but many times is necessary, laudable and defensible. He writes:
“Young men pay higher rates for car insurance than young women and older men, because young men are, on average, more dangerous drivers than young women and older men. A young man who is a safe driver is thus discriminated against because of the characteristics of other people in his age and sex group….Anti-discrimination campaigners may publicly declare that all discrimination on the grounds of sex should be outlawed, but they are unlikely to agree that all men should have the right to use women’s toilets, that men should be allowed to go to women’s gyms, or to demand overturning the right of women’s clothes shops to refuse to employ men….Men pay smaller pension contributions than women for a given level of private pension, for the simple reason that, on average, they have shorter lives and so on average claim less….The various forms of rational discrimination that are widely accepted are not often called discrimination – although that is clearly what they are – because accepting that some discrimination is actually essential to the working of a society would undermine the public acceptance of a ‘zero tolerance of all forms of discrimination’. The war on discrimination would become meaningless if there were general public awareness that actually some forms of discrimination are needed.”
The move to make everything fair has been the root of another debate over the monarchy, this one revolving around the rules of succession. According to nearly a thousand years of precedent, a first-born girl can only inherit the British throne if she has no younger brothers. The current British government decided that the monarchy needed to be refurbish to make it more 'modern' and gender neutral, by abolishing this allegedly ‘archaic’ and ‘sexist’ tradition.
I first became aware of this when Christian Voice hired me to write a booklet campaigning against any changes to the laws of succession. I confess that my initial reaction was “What a waste of time! So what if they want to make the monarchy a little more fair to women—don’t we have more important things to be concerned about?”
I quickly changed my mind when I began to look more closely at the actual arguments being used by those who were agitating for the changes. But it was when I spoke to representatives from anti-monarchy groups that I began to get seriously alarmed. This is because all the arguments that were being used to bring gender equality to the monarchy were arguments that, if carried to their logical implication, suggested that perhaps the monarchy itself might need to be abolished.
|The monarchy reminds us that life is not,|
and was never meant to be, fair.
The power of this logic has not been lost on the virulent anti-monarchy lobby that is at work to destroy the crown. Last year I wrote to the anti-monarchy group Republic and asked if they saw the debate about succession as an opportunity to make the case for abandoning the monarchy completely. A representative from the group wrote back and said, revealingly, that
“once we concede the principle that the throne should be open to women, the debate will raise a lot more questions: why not a second born daughter? Why not someone else’s daughter? So, we are looking forward to this debate to enable us to highlight the unfairness of the hereditary principle in and of itself.”
The idea of fairness is deeply inscribed upon the fallen mind of man and lies at the root of many modern pathologies. It does not seem particular fair that God should determine our gender, and so we have people who revolt against their own biology. It does not seem particularly fair that some people should be rich and others poor, and so we have people who attempt to level all economic distinctions. And, of course, it does not seem particularly fair that one person should inherit a throne that is inaccessible to the rest of us. But that is precisely why the monarchy is necessary. The monarchy reminds us that life is not, and was never meant to be, fair.
• 'MP Wants to Stop Princess Kate Becoming Queen', by Robin Phillips
• 'Gender Equality Takes Center Stage', by Robin Phillips
• 'Christian Voice Takes Stand For Male Primogeniture', by Robin Phillips
• 'Hark what discord follows when you meddle with the monarchy', by Charles Moore
• 'Edmund Burke Would Not Be Pleased' , by Robin Phillips
• 'The trouble with being 'modern’ is that you soon go out of fashion', by Charles Moore
• 'Unmaking a Difference Is Gender Neutrality the New Stereotype?' by Robin Phillips
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