The search for content and the dissent in the royal house
One can’t but be greatly fascinated by the search for content out of life embarked upon by Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and the resultant dissent in the House of Windsor. What the world has focused attention on is the dissent and not the cause—the cause of the young couple in their prime climbing down from their Olympian heights. To the consternation of a great many they walked away from their royal duties with absolute disregard to personal costs in terms of status, rank privileges and material wealth. They were stripped of their titles of Royal Highness, and have had to refund $3.1million (US Dollars) of British taxpayers’ money they spent renovating their home close to Windsor Castle. They discarded the option of embracing the least line of resistance to plunge into an uncharted world that might lie ahead.
As I did ask last week: What is it in their souls that they consider to be of no value, to be void, or perhaps to be seen as emptiness? What is it that is impelling them to get out of klieg-lights, move away from life of ease, public acknowledgement and the lure of self- worship that go with blue blood running in their veins? Theirs is a marriage, a longed-for union for which many a girl and many a young man would be green with envy. For Meghan in particular, it is a dream come true, a dreamt-of privileged marriage.
When Prince Harry arrived in Vancouver Island in Canada, he carried his own bag slung over his shoulder. Not for him any longer courtiers rushing to carry his luggage and clear it with the customs. Apart from being seen driving herself since she arrived in Canada, Meghan was also photographed taking her two dogs for a walk with her son, Archie in a baby carrier. George Orwell may be right after all when he said in his epic novel, 1984: “An average millionaire is an average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.” It may be asked: What is the cause of the young couple choosing to be ordinary human beings? The cause is no other than a stirring within their souls which got them restless, impelling them to exit from the cocoon of the royal allure and make a blind plunge.
As I once recalled, Dr. Tai Solarin, the late educationist and social critic, said as his New Year wishes to his readers in his column of 01 January, 1964: “May your road be rough.” He elaborated: “May your road be rough! I am not cursing you; I am wishing you what I wish myself every year. I therefore, repeat, ‘May you have a hard time this time this year: may there be plenty of troubles for you this year’ If you are not so sure of what you should say back why not just say , same to you’?” And one begins to wonder if the young couple have heard of Tai Solarin’s New Year wishes and said, Amen! I doubt it.
Such a stirring that occurs in a man’s soul, and concomitant pull put a person in the direct path of coarse currents which constitute life’s struggles, intended to assail him and open up his spirit to recognitions. The stirring is of the spirit, and recognition is a characteristic of the spirit. Cognition is a mental striving for understanding which belongs to the intellect which by nature being a product of the frontal brain, the cerebrum, is material and therefore limited in its reach. The spirit in contrast transcends all that is material, provided it is choked by dross, our wrong-doings. Since true recognition comes through only the spirit, it follows that it is through it we can perceive things as they have been eternally ordained by the Almighty Creator –from the very beginning, unchangeable and incorruptible.
There comes a time in the life of every person who is alive within him when he begins to ask himself: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? The spirit tears away from its encasement to bathe in the sunshine of freedom even if it is done unconsciously and watchers describe the action as a height of folly. In ancient Greece, the Temple of Apollo at Delphi carried the inscription: “Know thyself.” The Greeks in ancient days regarded Apollo as “god of sincerity”, the “god” that embodied the virtue of sincerity. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan may have arrived at this juncture they want to find meaning out of life: Man, know thyself. Little wonder Prince Harry is resolved to roll up his sleeves to face life’s struggles. The search for meaning of life brings in its trail, out of knowledge, the recognition that every human being is an individual and an independent personality. He is different from parents and relations.
The parents have only served as bridges for incarnation and birth on earth. The child is no more than a strange guest in the family! Each person is here at his own request or as a result of his fault an act of Grace which affords him an opportunity for atonement by reaping what he had sown in his previous earth-lives. We now know through revelation of higher knowledge spreading on earth today that, indeed, all a parent owes a child is the care of the body which houses his spirit and reasonable education until that body reaches a certain level of physical maturity. Once the degree of maturity is reached the child now a young man is free to go his own way—in life.
As I did hint last week, the bold resolve of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan rekindles similar memories of stirring within Prince Charles nearly three decades ago. Between 1993 and 1994, Prince Charles threw bombshells here and there. He said human beings were moving away from Nature. He criticized the new fangled preference for plastic houses to good old architecture which brought people closer to Nature. He raised alarm that organic farming was being replaced with the use of fertilizer, and he disturbed modern medicine apostles with the clamour for alternative health care and remedies.
The ventilation of his controversial positions in July 1994 was on the occasion of the 25th anniversary celebration of his investiture as the Prince of Wales. It was an occasion none the least his mother, Queen Elizabeth 11, would expect some indications that the Prince was mature enough, by the Establishment’s conservative standard though, to become a sure-footed King. But charming Prince Charles disappointed them. Rather than affirming his unshakable faith in the 450-year traditions, he waved signs that he was set to dismantle them, the most controversial, that which most matters and which promises would most hurt. The bombshell was his announcement that he would not be head of the Church of England and “the defender of the faith.” He would simply be “defender of faith.” It should be noted that the definite article ‘the’ is missing. He argued that everyone no matter what spiritual values he might profess should be equal before their King.
The Church of England itself was a product of rebellion following King Henry V111’s decision to seek a divorce from his wife in 1531, ten years after the Pope appointed him the first “defender of the faith” in 1521. The King chose to risk expulsion from the Roman Catholic Church and followed this by declaring himself “sole protector and the supreme head of the English Church and clergy.” The Act of Parliament of 1701 was to ratify this rebellion as it were and to compel whoever would wear the English crown to be a communicant of the Church of England. All monarchs since Henry V111, including Prince Charles’ mother, the Queen, have gone by the title “defender of the faith.”
As this column did report in July 1994, hear Prince Charles speak on television: “I happen to believe that the Catholic subjects of the sovereign are as important as (Protestants), not to mention the Islamic, Hindu, and Zoroastrian.” He was reported by London Sunday Times to have even gone on to say he believed the Church of England should be de-established because Britain had become a multi-racial, and multi –faith society, and the Church of England a minority voice. He said it was divisive for the monarch to be regarded as head of that institution when a large proportion of British population professes other faiths and practices other religions.
From the troubled nest, bees were swarming around Prince Charles ready to sting. In some quarters it had been suggested that he was merely preparing the public for his divorce from his estranged wife, Princess Diana, and the possibility that he might remarry to, of all persons, a Roman catholic. The debate was rife as to whether he could divorce and still become king. But it appeared settled he could. It also appeared that even if he chose to re-marry after becoming King, he could get away with it. Meanwhile, Archbishop Coggan, the then Archbishop of Canterbury retorted: “This is a hornet’s nest of problems. If he is saying Christianity is equal with other religions, we should differ profoundly from him. As men, we are all equal before God, but are you talking about religion and saying one is as good as the other? I hope he’s not saying that.”
Roman Catholic Bishop Vincent Nicholas, the then auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal Hume, the Archbishop of Westminster, in his own remarks, said: “It’s the teaching of the Catholic Church to have a profound respect for all faiths and to see in them ways to raise the human spirit.”
As I did state at the time, these and many other criticisms appeared to overshadow the substance or the heart of the unfolding drama, and I shall return to it soon. In the first place, Prince Charles has remarried. The message in his bombshell appeared to me, as it still does, to be larger than all the different moulds into which attempts were made to press it. It might not be clear to Prince Charles himself. Who knows! Through recognition, the spirit charts its path to what is high and sublime, and heeding the Will as expressed in the Laws of Creation known also as the Divine Laws, eventually to the goal— Paradise. The spirit which is in the process of development, therefore, discards ephemeralities, and goes for what will open him up to knowledge which lies only in experiencing, and creates what is of lasting value.
My point of interest is to draw a convergence between the bombshell of Prince Charles and the shocker by Prince Harry and to show that in their pronouncements lie some food for thought. In their questioning of the status quo lies a ray of light for the dark spiritual tunnel in which humanity is trapped today—personal, governmental, economic, communal, national and international—due to lack of understanding by man of who he is, who made him and for what purpose?
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