I honestly didn’t not see this one coming. Stratford Caldicott writes about the well-nigh Distributist sensibilities of Prince Charles, a man I always filed under, “Daffy Monarchy: see also, Environmental Extremist, Sordid Love Affairs.”
Shows you what I know.
Let’s start with a good pull quote from Bonnie Prince Charlie, who says he is motivated by the
“desire to heal–to heal the dismembered landscape and the poisoned soil; the cruelly shattered townscape, where harmony has been replaced by cacophony; to heal the divisions between intuitive and rational thought, between mind, body and soul, so that the temple of our humanity can once again be lit by a sacred flame; to level the monstrous artificial barrier erected between Tradition and Modernity and, above all, to heal the mortally wounded soul that, alone, can give us warning of the folly of playing God and of believing that knowledge on its own is a substitute for wisdom.”
Okay, I’m paying attention now.
David Lorimer’s Radical Prince: The Practical Vision of the Prince of Wales was the first book to examine the many threads that go to make up the Prince Charles’ vision for modern Britain, and his initiatives in “ecology, agriculture, religion, architecture, medicine, business and education.” Lorimer defines the Prince as a “radical traditionalist” who believes we need to “rediscover our roots in a living tradition.” A more recent book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World by Prince Charles with Tony Juniper and Ian Skelly (accompanied by a movie), brings the story up to date. The book is the coffee-table manifesto for a traditionalist revolution.
For more than thirty years the Prince has been promoting sustainable agriculture, organic farming, alternative medicine, and the new urbanism. He has even constructed an experimental village (Poundbury) to see if his Distributist social philosophy and architectural principles can be made to work in the modern world. He seems most at home in a Romantic tradition that goes back to William Blake, blended with more exotic influences from Jung, the Sufis, and Vedic India. It is an eclectic vision associated with the late Kathleeen Raine, whose Temenos Academy now flourishes under the Prince’s patronage.
The Prince’s populist assaults on architects and town planners often make headline news (he once described the National Theatre as “a clever way of building a nuclear power station in the middle of London without anyone objecting,” and a distinguished proposal for Trafalgar Square as resembling “a monstrous carbuncle on the face of a much-loved and elegant friend”), but his painstaking efforts to develop an alternative vision for Britain are relatively little known, and when known often unappreciated.