(one would not agree with every detail of this article, but it makes interesting reading)
The Windsors' Crown Of Thorns 1/19/02
Could it be that now, more than ever, we need a monarchy which is primarily spiritual in its role and dimension?
Next month is the 50th anniversary of the Queen's accession, but, progressively shorn of much of its political and constitutional significance, the institution has been left with four broad directions in which to develop.
These are encouragement of, and active involvement in, "good works" and philanthropy; ceremonial splendour and public show, with the monarchy as tourist attraction; subject matter for tabloid journalists and paparazzi as the nation's longest-running soap opera; and that strange mixture of metaphysical, magical and moral elements which makes up its religious or spiritual dimension.
This last aspect of monarchy is the one the Queen has arguably done most to foster, as she has adopted a more overtly religious role in an increasingly secular society. Christmas broadcasts have been markedly more spiritual and personal in tone than the 1990s travelogue approach; she has underlined the religious significance of anniversaries, focusing celebrations for the third millennium at Christmas 2000; and ensuring that the 50th anniversary of her ascent to the throne should be marked primarily by church services and seen as an occasion for religious observance.
A complementary role has increasingly been carved out by Prince Charles. The first heir to the throne since the Stuarts to take an intellectual interest in religion, he has manifested a passionate concern for the spiritual through his attachment to the language of the Book Of Common Prayer and the authorised version of the Bible, his interest in both Orthodox Christianity and Islam, his insistence that the millennium should be a catalyst for reflection rather than for partying - exemplified by his decision to mark it with a retreat on Mount Athos rather than a visit to the Dome - and, above all, through his crusade against the rising tide of secular materialism and scientific reductionism.
At a deeper level, Prince Charles harks back to a primal understanding of the monarch, as representing order and taking on the forces of chaos, and to the sacrificial dimension of royalty found in primal religion and the Bible.
A major theme of speeches and conversation by this "heir of sorrows" is the disintegration of the modern world and the need for it to be re-balanced and reordered.
That the concept of sacred monarchy still speaks to human instincts and needs is clear from such diverse phenomena as the contemporary search for male identity on the basis of affirming "the king within", the huge popularity of the Disney musical The Lion King and the church-led movement to restore monarchy in several former communist lands in eastern Europe and the Balkans.
Public debate since September 11 has made us increasingly conscious of the multi-faith nature of modern Britain and the need for more understanding between faiths, especially between Christianity and Islam.
Prince Charles has taken a significant lead in this area, and the Queen's last Christmas broadcast, emphasising the values of faith, community and tolerance, suggests that she shares this vision of the monarchy's role.
Loyalty to the crown, understood primarily in metaphysical and spiritual, rather than political or ethnic, terms, may be one of the most important ways of binding together the "community of communities" which the United Kingdom has now become.
Building on already strong feelings of respect and reverence for the person of the monarch could help in integrating ethnic and religious minorities and encouraging feelings of belonging among more recent immigrant communities.
Significant reforms are needed in the monarchy if its spiritual dimension is to be reaffirmed, and its potential for healing and community building released.