Entry from October 31, 2011

Not that anyone cares very much about it, even in Britain, let alone in the United States, but before we are quite through with the subject of the British royal succession — at least until the next egalitarian change is mooted — I would like to say a word against the last one, which has abolished the ancient rule of primogeniture to enable the eldest child of the sovereign, whether male or female, to succeed to the throne. In nothing is the maxim of Lord Falkland, that “when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change,” more relevant than in this matter of royal succession. If adhering to tradition is keeping faith with our ancestors who developed and added to the tradition over centuries, then abandoning tradition must surely be a breach of that faith. But then it’s hard to remember the last time that tradition, as such, was taken seriously as an argument for anything. Most people now assume that, if something has been done for centuries, that is a reason for not doing it rather than for doing it.

The traditionally conservative Daily Telegraph seems to have welcomed the opportunity to align itself with “progressive” opinion and to suck up to royalty at the same time by editorializing that “the Queen’s own career makes the case for a female ruler better than any politician could.” But of course the Queen’s admirable service over nearly 60 years as monarch is not in question, nor is barring females from the succession. The main reason why this is important is that it undermines the legitimacy of a monarchy which has been built upon the old rule. The Queen herself would never have been the monarch if the new rule had been in effect in Queen Victoria’s day, since the latter’s eldest child, Princess Victoria, would have succeeded her, reigned for less than seven months, and then have been succeeded in her turn by none other than Kaiser Wilhelm II — who would thus have added Britain and her Empire to the German Empire without the tiresome necessity of going to war as he was to do — unsuccessfully, most people are still glad to think — thirteen years later.

I think there are at least three further reasons for deprecating the change, although like most changes these days it was quickly made to seem inevitable by media progressives. One is that the king is by origin a war leader, and a war leader ought to be male, as are and always will be, in spite of yet another seemingly inevitable series of changes, the vast majority of war fighters. Even the well-known phenomenon of the troops’ rallying around a titular female leader, whether it be Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria or Margaret Thatcher, is something that depends to some extent on its being out of the ordinary.

Also, just as God is traditionally conceived of as male, so God’s anointed ought to be male, barring extenuating circumstances — and when the want of male heirs produces a female monarch, she may rise to the occasion by claiming, as Elizabeth I did, “the heart and stomach of a king.” Like the woman warriors of Dahomey, she becomes a kind of honorary man. The Roman Catholic priesthood is also limited to males and for a similar reason: because Jesus was male and chose all male disciples. Tradition, for the time being, hangs on there at least; why not also in the monarchy which owes its very existence to tradition?

Finally, that the change is being represented as yet another victory in the onward march of sexual “progressivism” towards a unisex utopia is itself enough of a reason to resist it. Or so it should appear to anyone not himself one of the progressives who believes the progressive ideal to be a good thing in itself. All attempts to abolish the most basic human distinction between male and female must be resisted every step of the progressive and egalitarian way if we are not to have institutionalized sexlessness without wanting it or believing in it, simply because the passion of the revolutionary minority outweighs the indifference of the majority.

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