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The King Shall Rejoice
It’s about 3 a.m. on May 6, 2023. The coronation of King Charles III will officially begin in two hours, so I decide to get morning prayer out of the way. Part of today’s kathisma is Psalm 20:
The king shall rejoice in your power, O Lord, he shall exult exceedingly in your salvation.
You gave him his heart’s desire; you did not deny him the request of his lips.
For you came to meet him with blessings of goodness; you placed a crown of prescious stones upon his head.
He asked you for life, and you gave him length of days for age on age.
Great is his glory in your salvation; you will place on him glory and majesty.
Once I wrote an article that began: “Naming Prince Charles as one’s favorite Royal is rather like choosing Ringo as one’s favorite Beatle: there are no wrong answers … except that one.”
It’s true, though. I’m embarassed to admit it, but I’ve been waiting for this day my whole life. Growing up, Charles was always my hero.
For seventy years, Charles was heir to the British throne. And how did he spend that time? By starting the School of Traditional Arts, which is devoted to promoting sacred disciplines like iconography and illumination. By founding Poundbury, a new model city where the needs of human beings—community, peace, and beauty—are delivered from the meat grinder of postindustrial capitalism. By writing Harmony, a treatise on how mankind can reclaim its vocation as stewards of God’s creation.
J. R. R. Tolkien said, “The mediaevals were only too right in taking nolo episcopari as the best reason a man could give to others for making him a bishop. Grant me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses; and who has the power to sack his Vizier (or whatever you dare call him) if he does not like the cut of his trousers.”
As Prince of Wales, Charles used his clout to score retreats on Mount Athos. It’s an open secret that, in his heart of hearts, Britain’s new sovereign is Orthodox. He’s a king whose chief interests in life are prayer-ropes, fasting, and akathist hymns to the Theotokos.
As a younger man, he asked Seyyed Hossein Nasr to serve as his tutor. Nasr is a Sufi philosopher, the greatest intellectual of late Iranian Empire. He also served as a mentor to the last shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. After the Shah was deposed in 1979, Nasr was sent into exile.
In 2012, I began studying with Nasr at the George Washington University—the only one of his fanboys who hadn’t converted to Islam. He assumed for a while that I was Catholic, until I told him (with a little embarrassment) that I was Anglican.
That seemed to please him. “It would be easier for you to become Catholic,” he said. “Or even Orthodox.”
“That’s true,” I admitted. “But I think my home is in the Anglican Church.”
“Then be an Anglican like Prince Charles,” he said. “And I will tell you what I told him: Seek God above all other things, and He will find you.”
Did you ever watch The Young Pope? The second-to-last episode reminds me a bit of the King.
For those who don’t remember, the eponymous pope—Pius XIII/Lenny Belardo, played by Jude Law—is a strange, secretive radtrad. One of his enemies in the Vatican (and there are many) conspire with a left-wing journalist to publish some of the pontiff’s old love letters. They’ve got Pius right where they want him.
Sure enough, they expose Lenny for what he really is. But what he is is a human being. As it turns out, he broke off his fling with this mystery girl to become a priest. He loved her, but he loved God more. Finally, the people see the real Pius. And they love him.
In 2010—acting on rumors that Prince Charles had been exerting undue influence on the British government—The Guardian filed a petition to publicize the heir apparent’s correspondence with politicians. It was supposed to be a hit-job, but that’s not how it panned out.
The letters saw Charles “pleading with Tony Blair not to cut subsidies to beef farmers, and instead to help them develop better treatments for bovine tuberculosis. He urged the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to develop better public housing for low-income families. He shared with the Minister for the Environment his concerns about the destruction of rainforests and the overfishing of sea bass.”
The old prince never enjoyed a P. R. coup like the young pope’s. But the evidence is there, for whoever wants to have a look.
Charles projects a kind of old-school noblesse oblige. If you follow the Royal Family on social media, you’d see him jetting around the world, rubbing elbows with Very Important People, using his privilege to save the rainforest or whatever. And so The Guardian tried to expose him as a pampered blue-blood using NGOs to hide his privilege and elitisim.
What they found was even more shocking. Yes, Charles wants to help the Amazon. But come to find that his secret agenda—his dirty pleasure—his private obsession—is to help Britain. And not “Britain” the economic superower, the empire upon whom the sun never sets. He wanted to help Britons. His people.
Last year, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, I posted a tribute in this space. It was quoted by a conservative pundit who described me as a “British commentator.”
Actually, my family is all-American. On my mother’s side, we can trace two different lines back to the 17th century. One settled in York, Maine, where my family has summered for as long as I can remember. The other came to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where I was born four centuries later.
The thing is, both lines were Tories. One of my ancestors, Jebediah Moore, was fifteen when he joined a Loyalist militia as a drummer boy. We’ve been monarchists since… well, forever.
My grandfather, Warren—my namesake and my other hero—fought in the United States Navy during World War II and Korea. He grew up with a picture of King George VI on his kitchen wall. At every family supper, he would toast “The Queen.”
Fast-forward a bit. When I was a senior in high school, I was asked to head up the U. S. chapter of the British Monarchist Society, which then was led by (the somewhat infamous) Thomas Mace-Archer DeLacroix Mills, of blessed memory. During my time at the George Washington University, I helped to start a new club, the College Monarchists. When I moved to Sydney, I joined the Australian Monarchist League; they made me an officer and spokesman when I was twenty.
I’ve been a monarchist for as long as I can remember. My family have been monarchists for as long as anyone can remember. And my grandfather died in 2018, after making three wishes. He didn’t want to live so long that he stopped enjoying nine holes of golf, lost his taste for good whiskey, or saw the death of his Queen. Thank God, he got his wish.
We stayed at my parents’ house on Friday night so I could get up early and watch the Coronation with my mother. At the end of the ceremony, when the trumpets flared for “God Save the King”, Mum and I stood and sang through joyful tears.
“We have a king,” she whispered.
“We have a king.”
My wife and children stood, too, as Charles—in his cape and his crown, holding his orb and his sceptre—processed down the aisle of Westminster Abbey.
Our two-year-old daughter got up early and watched the last half of the service, totally enraptured. I wasn’t sure what it meant to her until we got home that night and said our prayers.
“May God bless Mimi and Pops…” I said, “and Grandma and Grandma…” We went through the usual litany. “Anyone else?”
Suddenly, my daughter perked up. “The King,” she announced.
“Yes,” said a proud and bewildered Papa. “God bless the King.”