The response to the abdication of Juan Carlos and the comic-opera events which took place yesterday (4 June) in the palace of Westminster illustrate both the absurdity and the emotional pull of monarchy.
Media coverage of George Windsor's baptism gave the impression that baptism is about conformity. Baptism began in a far more radical way, before its domestication by the powerful. Since then, many people have rediscovered baptism's original subversive force, as a sign of dedication to the kingdom of God – and a rejection of the kingdoms of this world.
At a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan yesterday (13 March), a visitor expressed his shock at what he saw. It was, he said, an “unbelievable and heartbreaking situation”. The visitor was Charles Windsor, commonly called the Prince of Wales. His wife, Camilla Parker-Bowles, praised the “strength of spirit” of the women refugees at the camp.
While reading the Church Times in bed last week, I flicked over to the adverts and saw an announcement that disgusted me. It was advertising the “Commemoration of the martyrdom of King Charles I”. It listed two eucharistic services, in London and Edinburgh, each led by a bishop, to mark this “martyrdom”.
We can only guess what was going through the minds of Martin McGuiness and Elizabeth Windsor as they shook hands in Belfast last week. Several commentators recognised the symbolism of a painful process of reconciliation. Lessons from Northern Ireland about the futility of violence need to be applied in other parts of the world, and in other areas of life.