Excitement about the new heir to the British throne reminds Americans of the strength of monarchy. Britons swear allegiance to a human, Americans to a piece of paper. The human being, the Queen, is, some British republicans whine, just a woman, but those some people probably think the flag is just a piece of cloth. One need not even go as far as to say that Elizabeth receives her rule from God, if humans give rule to her then it is real.
The British monarchy carries the hopes, dreams, fears, and doubts of generations of human beings and when this idea is invoked only a mere animal misses it. To the Queen’s corgi’s, she is a master, but to any historically informed human she is the heir of a long train of associations. She gives personhood to the idea of Britain: she does not represent the British people, no one person could do that, but she incarnates the idea of Britain.
Americans have never been able to love their piece of paper with the same devotion and so we have long sneaked the same sort of reverence to our President. The British are open and consistent in their bowing the knee, we are not, but as my head of state, President Obama is America to the world.
God save him.
But soon President Obama will be gone and our votes will elect a new symbol for our state and there is something artificial about this process. It is good to elect the head of government, but isn’t it more natural that the head of state be born in the human manner? Kings and Queens can be fools and so can elected Presidents, but at least the King or Queen has no confusion about how he or she got the job. The Queen cannot believe she deserves the job, she is there by the grace of God through the providence of her birth.
Even if Americans, as our ancestors did, believe that the republican solution is the better one, and there are good arguments for it, nobody should begrudge the happy focus of a good part of the human race on new birth. It is more wholesome than most of our pop culture and as real as life and death.
Any birth is a cause for celebration: the renewal of the covenant between God and people.
This much we know about the Royal baby: the heir will be human, the gift of life divine.
As a child of the Royal Family, the baby has an immense human heritage, more important (though not greater) than any my own children or grandchildren could receive. As a person, however, the baby is created in God’s image and so shares the same divine possibilities as any other human. God became man so this little baby could become God, not in essence, but in attributes.
In this sense the Founders of America were right. The royal baby will be endowed by his Creator with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the same gift all of us have received and it gives dignity to every man and woman greater than any human institution can bestow.
God save the human race!