The Sleeping King

By John Fitzgerald

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"Beauty is not only a terrible, but also a mysterious thing. There God and the devil are fighting for mastery, and the battlefield is the heart of man." DOSTOYEVSKY - "THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV"

The Kingdom of Heaven lies within." Endless repetition has dulled our senses somewhat to the truth of this phrase, so it is worth re-iterating that everything of value lies within ourselves and a prime example of this is our sense of Royalty - our awareness of the Royal principle. The Monarch is a deep-seated human archetype; a symbol of the Solar principle. Bearing this in mind, perhaps it is no great surprise that the forces behind the modern world are so keen to undermine Monarchy whenever and wherever they can.

Monarchy is also a natural and organic form of government, understood intuitively by individuals of widely varying backgrounds and intelligence. Legitimacy is conferred from above (the Divine) rather than from below (the people), but Monarchy is part of the natural order and is worlds away from an unnatural "system" of government imposed on a submissive population. The Monarch is the very symbol and guarantee of his people's liberty and is there to serve rather than rule. This Christ-like function finds mythological expression in the tales of King Arthur and his Knights, where we also find a legend common to many nations and cultures: that of the sleeping King, destined to awaken at his country's hour of need.

The hold of Monarchy on the human imagination is markedly weaker now than at any time in the past. The days of Charlemagne and Athelstan are long gone. Since the end of the Middle-Ages human concerns have revolved around the external world,to the detriment of the inner world; the realm of archetypes. The world has been de-sacralised and rationalised to such a degree that it is more and more difficult for "mythological", "super-rational" concepts like Monarchy and Religion to find the space to live and breathe.

The link between Divinity and Royalty is an important one. In a well ordered polity the sovereign acts as God's regent; so when, for example, the Medieval French Kings abrogated power from the Church they undermined their own legitimacy and "raison d'etre". Through their lust for hegemony they only succeeded in disturbing the balance of the natural order and sowing the seeds of their own destruction.

Once natural harmony is thrown out of equilibrium it becomes very difficult to restore the right balance. The French Revolution and the bloodbath which followed are fine illustrations of the formless chaos which is the inevitable result of a disturbed hierarchy. In the 1790's however, things had not yet descended to such a pass that the situation was totally irretrievable and Napoleon's relatively principled autocracy was able to restore some of the lost balance and save France from unprincipled tyranny.

But by 1917 the world had been de-spiritualised to such an extent that the drop from revolution to tyranny was able to take place unimpeded. A Royal figure like Bonaparte would have been unable to make any impression on post-1917 Russia, simply because he belonged to a different era where the Royal principle still commanded a central (if somewhat diminished) position in hearts and minds.

Britain, of course, still has a Monarchy; but people view it increasingly in practical terms only and have lost sight of its dual spiritual significance - as sacred link between past and present and as symbol of the eternal, "Platonic" Britain. The questions of our day are "should the Queen pay Income Tax?" and "Ought junior members of the Royal Family work for a living?" An excellent gauge of the depth of our materialism can be seen in those "royalists" who defend the Monarchy on the grounds of the revenue it brings in from tourism!

These considerations have their own importance of course, but they are strictly of the second order. We have become overly concerned with the individual personalities involved and have forgotten the transcendent, impersonal nature of Royalty. This belongs to the archetypal and mythic level and it is here that we need to focus our attention.

Myth creates its own reality. The French Revolution, for instance, was such a seismic event that it possessed the force to create its own myths ("liberte, egalite, fraternite") which give modern France a degree of reality above the physical level. The Revolution however, is barely two hundred years old. Do its myths really have the depth and resonance of those of the ancient Monarchy; the folk-memory of the"fleur des lys"? True myth can never die and even if History moves away from it for a while it continues its life "underground" and in "exile". The King is sleeping but not dead. The myths of the revolution are mere "powers" ("les puissances") while those of the Monarchy have archetypal significance and it is the archetypal level which carries the greater weight.

C.S Lewis remarked that "one can tell the extent to which a man's tap root to Eden remains intact by his attitude to Monarchy." Inner and outer harmony begin to disintegrate when this tap root, this mysterious and intangible quality, is weakened and severed. If man - the microcosm - follows his natural hierarchy, then the outer world - the macrocosm - flows in a harmonious fashion too. The human heart is the point where microcosm and microcosm meet and it is here where the future of Monarchy will be decided. The heart is the throne of the "sleeping King" and we will be unable to restore "kudos" to Royalty in the outer world unless we come to acknowledge the Royal aspect inside us.

The task will be a difficult one. We live in an obtuse age and talk of "archetypes" and "hidden Kings" will inevitably appear obscure and inaccessible. However, there are one or two signs that the tide may be turning and that we might be coming to a less claustrophobic, more spacious mindset. The astonishing renaissance of Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" over the past decade illustrates that though the archetypes may be hidden at the moment, they are still very much alive. Similarly, the success of J.K Rowling's "Harry Potter" books is welcome to us because the Royal principle can only flourish in a milieu where there is a real sense of wonder, magic, mystery and awe. Despite appalling exposure to the dismal mono-culture of today, it is clear that children are still very much capable of these responses.

It is up to us to start setting the agenda against the grim forces which seek to rob us of this wider vision and reduce us either to helpless cogs in a vast collective machine or to mindless, zombie-esque consumers. Human beings are more than economic units and life is infinitely more than a nonsensical scramble for comfort and security. Life should be an adventure; an exercise in nobility, and it is the traditional function of Monarchy to serve as role-model and exemplar in this respect. As for us: well; revolution starts from within, with a heightening in our level of consciousness and a deepening of our perception. Our task, our mythological function, is a 21st Century Quest for the Golden Fleece - to discover the Monarch Within and awaken the Sleeping King.