i mean, yes, the pomp and ceremony has been used as long as the incense and swinging thurible has been used in orthodox/catholic churches. everything down to the ceremonial architecture and design of these places has been set-up to impart a maximal sense of awe. the choristers singing and their voices echoing up through the clerestory, the light coming through the stained-glass windows at just the right angle, the organ pipes pumping great body-vibrating sounds through the large cavernous space, etc. it's all there to inspire what the Romantics used to refer to as 'the sublime' in the subrational, dark corners of our animal minds.
and it works very well, too.
the sense i get, also, is that if britain is a dwindling post-imperial power, the one thing we can still be relied on to do very well are to put on a show of pomp and ceremony. how many tin-pot and fabricated monarchies in the developing world have taken our royal traditions and iconographies as a blueprint? from the shah of iran to the royal family of thailand, they're all a bunch of little brits putting on brit affectations. (not to say that there's anything particularly desirable about this state-of-affairs; i'd just as happily see both britain and thailand be republics, more so in the latter case where they still enjoy authoritarian rule over public life; but it's been part of our national projection of soft power for centuries).
for better or for worse, it really is just part of who we are as a nation now, and the travails of the royal family – and, i suspect, their dwindling approval in the decades to come – will aptly mirror another chapter of gradual decline and break-up. unless we can reform, variously, the voting system, the devolved relationship with the separate kingdoms, the entire relationship with the EU and world trade agreements, etc, then i think we're in big trouble. hopefully charles III will do as good a job as elizabeth II in being a voice of reason and careful stewardship through these immensely challenging times.
And for generations after his or her progeny will be secured immense privilege and wealth simply by being born, deriving from that notion that they're totally apart and different from - even above - the rest of society.
this should trouble any right-thinking person, too, but the fact that western societies such as the UK's and US's are some of the most unequal societies in modern democratic society troubles me much more. because, take away the celebrity and the royal seals and coats of arms, and that description fits exactly for just about any rich or upper-middle class family today. modern societies completely without aristocracies or nobilities are capable of creating vastly unequal systems perpetuated through inheritance and birth rights. is it any more more fair that someone has a trust fund for life because their great-uncle, fourth removed, or great-great-grandfather did very well on wall street in the 1920s? that someone goes to harvard/yale because it's 'been that way' in the family since the 1840s? because your family name is an 'old' name in boston circles?
the privileges that this entire semi-anonymous class enjoys as a whole, because of the way democratic systems are set up, trouble me more than the absurdly gilded lifestyle of one small family. the royal family are the nation incarnate, and with their wealth and privilege comes the responsibility to always be in the public eye, etc. there's a sense of sacrifice and service there, even if it does seem faintly ridiculous to mention it. it's not like jeff bezos's grandkids or the zuckerberg clan in 2200 will have to spend their entire lives in public service to justify their inherited wealth.
Last edited by uziq (2022-09-21 12:56:00)