While we all respect Queen Elizabeth for her steady endurance over the course of 70 years, I laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks a year ago, insisting that I wanted a square hat like the Anglican clergymen who officiated at Prince Philip’s funeral (April, 2021). I also told my son that a cape like another official wore would make a dandy birthday present.
I am not trying to be disrespectful of the royals or minimize the grief they are experiencing, so please hear me out.
The Queen of England and the royal family were the canary in the cage. A canary is a beautiful, small, yellow bird (remember the yellow roses at Prince Philip’s funeral?). Of all the birds, the canary is among the most attractive. So is the royal family.
Admirable Prince Philip was an admirable man.
- He was described as having a successful navy career before he married and put aside his own career and his enjoyment of the navy for a public life. His willingness to be in a secondary role speaks volumes about his character.
- Preceding the current era of political correctness, the man spoke his mind. Being from another generation, he got away with it. He could not be canceled. Today, talking about the values (duty, honor, country) that won World War II is out of style. It wasn’t in his day. He brought a soldiering-on ambiance to his duties.
- His wish was for a simple funeral. There was no eulogy, something that was quite modest by royal standards. There was, however, a reading of his titles. (one was “Royal Order of the Garter?” — that one has always seemed odd to me.)
- He was married for 73 years to Elizabeth, no small feat from within the cage.
- The Lord Jesus Christ was referenced many times during the service. Since Philip planned the service, we are all hopeful that he knew the Lord Jesus Christ in a life-transforming, genuine way.
In the Cage All of our hearts and minds go out to the royal family because of the loss of Prince Philip and because they have been under enormous scrutiny for decades. Tabloids write the most wicked things about them. And the royal family has helped the gossip industry with the divorce of Charles and Diana, the Charles-Di-Camilla triangle, the romance of Fad and Di and the recent public airing of Harry’s charge of racism in the family.
All of this dirty laundry — exposed to the public for years — made for scintillating books, magazine articles and inside stories, all claiming to know “what really happened.” Hounded, followed, cameras stuck in their faces, very little privacy makes have a “normal, quiet life” impossible. Their every word has been scooped up and barrels of ink used to explain what was meant. Every sentence, every motion, every everything.
Philip & Elizabeth have had little recourse, except to eat the humiliations, be careful in public and not respond in kind. They have retained their dignity through it all. By such integrity they have won the hearts of the English. Three cheers for the queen.
But who pays for it? The British government, which means the tax payers. The cost was supposedly “much less than the Queen Mother’s expenses of £5.4 million in 2002.” If Philip’s funeral cost a paltry 2 million pounds, that would be US$2,768,000.
Glitter and Pomp is overdone in the Anglican church. While Jesus Christ died owning only one material thing (a seamless robe—John 9:24), the clergymen were arrayed in elaborate gowns and hats. How different from the Lord Jesus, the One they supposedly represented.
- Why the Pomp, Glamour and the Ceremony? Because the public wants to know what a happy, provided for, wish-my-life-was-a-little-bit-more-like-theirs looks like. Because the public wants to believe that some really are righteous. We live with so many humiliations; so much injustice and hardship, we hope that at least some people (the royals) don’t. We want to see what wealth looks like. The average man or woman wants to imagine themselves living in a world where they are respected, wanted, valued (as the royals seem to be). We wish the royals well. We want to believe that some really do live in Camelot.
- My second answer to Why the glitter and pomp? Is opposite from the first, but please consider it. So we can own them, criticize them, scrutinize them, insult them and dissect them. Society has picked clean the bones of Lady Di with documentary after documentary and book after book. We need the royals because we have someone to humiliate, to criticize and abuse. We own them.
For the benefit of them having fabulous clothes and royal treatment with people bowing and curtsying – treating them like gods – we want to be free to slander them, rip them apart, study everything about them — their complexions, their schedules, their most unguarded moments. We want to know everything about them – especially their warts (to bring them down to our level).
Playing God Imagine please what it is like for the Queen, Lady Di, Kate Middleton, Charles or any of them to get dressed up – everything perfectly camera-ready – and go to some veteran’s facility. Are they expected to wave their hands over some amputee and heal them? To heal the blind? Spread their royal sauce over a situation and make it all better? Yes, they are.
How impossible for them to live up to such expectations. Maybe they feel like frauds, knowing they have only the appearance of power. Unable to do what they would like to do.
We want someone to play god for us because the living God tends to be silent much of the time, and does not do what we want done. Certainly not fast enough.
God Is Instead of expecting people—the royals or clergymen–to be god for us, let’s invite the Living God to be God in our lives. Let us seek and enjoy Him. Let us be nourished and sustained by Him, even as we hope He is sustaining the royals.
While getting direction and provision will normally take longer, those who pursue the Living God know the certainty of their lives being God-approved. Are confident they are experiencing life as God intends. At rest in who and what the Creator of the universe is—the world’s only legitimate celebrity.