25Nov 25 November. Christ the King of the Universe

1st Reading: Daniel (7:13-14)

A vision of the glorious Son of Man

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 93)

R.: The Lord is our king, robed in majesty

The Lord is king, he is robed in splendour;
He us robed and girded with strength. (R./)

The Lord has made the world firm,
not to be moved.
Your throne stands firm from of old;
from everlasting you are, O Lord. (R./)

Your decrees are worthy of trust indeed;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore. R./

2nd Reading: Revelation (1:5-8)

The firstborn of the dead will rule over the kings of the earth

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, is the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds; every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel: John (18:33-37)

Pilate questions Jesus about kingship and kingdom

Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”


Our Saviour-King

Is the notion of kingship of any value to us, as democrats and republicans? Democracy, with all its complexities, is our preferred form of regulating society, business, law and order. Except in figurative phrases like “king of the road,” words like royalty and kingship, implying an absolute demand for respect and subservience, evoke a bygone structure of  inherited privilege and power. The so-called “divine right of kings” sustained this structure and favoured the suppression of individual rights. So if kingship is an unsuitable image for our times, how do we explain today’s feast, celebrating Christ as our king?

Does he demand our service and submission? Would he suppress our right to self-expression and all other rights? When faced by Pontius Pilate, Jesus says clearly what kind of king he is. He tells the Roman Governor, “My kingdom is not of this world.” His rule is far removed from a dictatorship. This noble prisoner, robed in purple and crowned with thorns as a mock king before this ruthless Roman judge, claims a spiritual authority that has nothing to do with the power to compel by force. His authority is the authority of truth. He is our king, with authentic authority, because he lives the truth and has the power to lead others to the truth — the truth that can save them to eternal life: “for this I was born and came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. All who are on the side of truth listen to my voice” (John 18:37.)

Christ lived by the truth and he died for it. His true followers continue to commit their lives and even risk their all for loyalty to him. In him the Son of the Eternal God, who reveals the Father of life and truth, millions find the inspiration for their lives, the truth which makes them free. His life and teaching give us the clearest kind of truth.

The truth of Christ blends word and action, in perfect harmony. Truth was vitally important to him, who hated all sham and pretense. To get deeper in touch with the truth demands our attention and maybe some change in our lifestyle. It needs periods of quiet, even spending some time with him in personal prayer. Truth cannot really mark our lives without the inspiration which comes from Christ its source. It has to flow from prayer to life, and back into prayer again. A new commitment to the truth can give us a new vision of life. And far from oppressing us, Christ the King of truth will be the one to set us free.


  • “King” has an odd sound for people of republican belief, who have no desire to return to old-fashioned ideas of absolute monarchy or dictatorship.
  • The utterly unique and non-political kingship of Jesus still has validity as a spiritual ideal: our Shepherd-King, utterly devoted to the good of his people, his “flock” for whom he gives his life.
  • He is the one sent by the Eternal Father (the “Ancient One,” Dan 7:13) to establish an everlasting kingship in the minds and hearts of his followers.
  • He declares to Pilate that his power — in contrast with all punitive, worldly authority — depends on his utter truthfulness. Whoever loves and seeks the real truth belongs to his kingdom (Jn 18:37.)
  • Seeking for truth in our own lives? We must go deeper than the broadcast news, to find the truth that will set us free.

Two standards of judgement

A random act of kindness, a glass of water given out of goodness, seems like a very low threshold for a personal friendship with Christ. Christians have always had a strong trust in Christ’s humanity; he was like us in every way except that he did not sin. Although this Sunday portrays him returning in regal splendour, the judgments of Jesus are not like ours either. He seeks good among the ordinary and the bad alike; too often we seek bad among the ordinary and the good alike. For Jesus, the sinner who does a single act in kindness can be saved. For the rest of us, the saint that does something wrong is tarnished forever.

His hands stretched out in forgiveness to those who had nailed them down. Ours stretch out to point in criticism at the wrongdoer. But we have a dominant image of what a judge is like and how a judge should act. It is not surprising that the image of Jesus as a fair but stern judge is deeply set with many Christians. There are even some who delight in the idea of bad people getting their just deserts.

Just as Jesus told the soldiers arresting him that his kingdom was not of this world; his standard of judgment is not of this world either. That should be good news, although not everybody sees it that way.

“Vengeance is mine,” said the Lord. Traditionally Christ has been represented as coming in majesty and power. From Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel to the mosaics in many a church apse, that image is prominent in western art.  It is familiar because it is like what we do in every way, except that we don’t forgive. The classic picture includes tormented souls being dragged off to eternal flames.. It is likely that almost all of us have an idea of some of the people who should be in that category.

In the 1970s musical Godspell, Stephen Schwartz recreated that judgment scene. Only, this time, Jesus has second thoughts and brings the damned along too. They had sung a song asking for mercy and they received it. That is an image which is very much in keeping with the words of Christ the King: “Judge not and you will not be judged. Condemn not and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

He brings a different kind of rule, a rule where boundless mercy trumps self-righteous justice.

(with thanks to Fergal Mac Eoinin)

King of Justice, Love and Peace

Paul speaks of Jesus Christ at the end of time handing over the kingdom to God the Father. Today’s Preface repeats this, describing Christ’s kingdom as one of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice. love and peace. This ideal is not to be merely a future hope but is to be worked for in the present. The kingdom is our hope, but somehow it is also in our midst, in the process of becoming. The gospel tells us how we are to promote the fuller coming of God’s kingdom among us. It comes whenever justice is done for the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, and the oppressed. To behave in this way is to imitate the Shepherd-King himself who is presented in our Gospels as one who rescues from situations of alienation, who feeds, gives rest, heals and makes strong. Among his final words was a promise to the thief being crucified at his side, that he would be enfolded by the eternal love of God, in paradise.

The best way to honour Christ our King is to work to make his kingdom a reality among us. Anything we do for the relief of the deprived and underprivileged is alse a service to Christ, because he identifies himself personally with people in need. The disciple of Christ the King cannot afford the luxury of comfortably keeping myself to myself or “Well I do harm to anyone.” To be deaf to the cries of the neighbour in need is to close our ears to Christ. To be blind to the anguish of the dying is to shut our eyes to him. If we follow Jesus Christ as our Shepherd-king we must in some way be shepherds ourselves, for his sake.

Machtnamh: Rí na Córa, an Ghrá agus na Síochána

Is é an tslí is fearr chun urraim a theaspáint do Chríost ár Rí ná a bheith gníomhach chun go mbeidh a ríocht á dheimhniú inár measc. Pé cúnamh a thugaimid do lucht an ghátair agus iad siúd atá i ngéar chéim tugaimid onóir do Chríost toisc go bhfuil sé i ár dteannta de shíor. Iadsan atá fíor-dílis do hÍosa ní mór dúinn sinn féin a cheangailt go dlúth leis an Tiarna, seachas a bheith leithlliseach agus dírithe orainn féin amháin. Ní féidir le deisceabail Chríost ár Rí bheith ag brath ar an leithscéal “Bhuel ní dhéanaim mícheart ar dhuine ar bith.” An duine a thugann cluas bhodhar do gháir an bhochtain níl á dhéanamh aige ach súil druidte a chasadh leis an Tiarna. Más mian linn taisteal ar lorg agus ar cosáin an Tiarna, ár nAoire is ár Rí, ní mór — ar chuma éigin — bheith in ár naoirí aige.


(Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr)

Catherine, born in Alexandria, Egypt, was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of emperor Maxentius. She is said to have visited Maxentius to argue against the imposing of idol-worship; but the emperor had her scourged and imprisoned, then tortured on a spiked wheel and finally beheaded. Her most famous shrine is Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai.

(Saint Clement of Rome, pope and martyr)

Clement I (c. 40-99), also known as Clement of Rome (Latin: Clemens Romanus), was pope in the last decade of the first Christian century. He wrote a pastoral letter to the church at Corinth (1 Clement) in response to a dispute in which some leaders of the Corinthian church had been deposed; he is the first writer to affirm the apostolic authority of the clergy. Imprisoned under the Emperor Trajan, Clement was executed by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. He is considered a patron saint of mariners.

(Saint Colman, bishop)

Colmán or Colmán mac Léníne (530 – 606), was a monk, and founder of the monastery in Cluain Uama, now Cloyne, County Cork. He was one of the earliest known Irish poets to write in the vernacular, and is patron saint of the diocese of Cloyne in East Cork.

13 Responses

  1. Sean O’Conaill

    The paragraph above in Irish – could it be accompanied by a literal translation into English, for people like myself whose Irish is unpractised and halting, but ready to improve, with assistance of that kind. I recall some of the meanings – Ri for King etc – but balk at most, and wish I could balk less!

    Gura maith agut ???

  2. Joe O'Leary

    Sean, here’s my effort, with some help from google:

    The best way to express respect for Christ our King is to be active in realizing his kingdom among us. When we give help to those in need or to those in straitened circumstances we give honor to Christ because he is constantly with us. To be those who are truly loyal to Jesus, we need to tie ourselves closely to the Lord, rather than being isolated and focused on ourselves alone. The disciples of Christ our King cannot rely on the excuse “Well, I do not wrong anyone.” The person who turns a deaf ear to the cry of the poor is doing no more than turning a blind eye to the Lord. If we want to travel in the footsteps of the Lord, our Shepherd and our King, we must – in some way – make ourselves his audience.

  3. Pat Rogers

    Hi Sean,
    Always a pleasure to read your Responses on this site. Keep ’em coming.

    The text in Irish is excerpted from the longer text above it (sometimes the final paragraph, as for 25 Nov.) Until now I didn’t see any need to render it back into English. (Try Google Trenslate?)

    Anyway, for the liturgical year 2019, I’ll try where feasible to link our Irish segment to the final paragraph of what’s offered in English. This may help people revise some foclóir Gaeilge from this column!

  4. Joe O'Leary

    The feast of Christ the King has a strange status. It was instituted as recently as 1925 by Pius XI and in 1970 it was moved by Paul VI from the last Sunday of October to its present place as the last Sunday of the Liturgical Year. That underlines its eschatological dimension, Christ bringing all things to fulfilment as he hands the Kingdom back to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24). Marcellus of Ancyra, in the fourth century, thought that Christ himself thereby ceases to be King (with a modalistic undertone of him being reabsorbed back into the Father’s being), and it was in response to this that the clause “And his Kingdom will have nn end” (from Luke 1:33) was inserted in the Niceo-Constantinopolitan Creed.

    Why did Pius XI promote the image of Christ as King at the very time when royalty was sinking to irrelevance in European society? Why not just celebrate the Lordship of Christ, without attaching to it all the associations of sacral monarchy, the divine right of kings, an so on? Pius XI was himself an absolute monarch, of the tiny Vatican City State, and was still grieving over the abolition of the Papal States 55 years earlier. To emphasize the kingship of Christ in order to counter secularism could carry the implication that royalty itself is a good and sacred thing that modern society abolishes at its peril. The pope himself, even today, is a king.
    Countries with royalty can perhaps have a more direct relationship to the royal prayers in the Psalms, and some of the affection felt for the monarch in Britain, Spain, Scandinavia, Benelux may be tapped in the language of monarchy applied to Christ. A feast of “Christ the President” would not inspire the same sentiments, jsut as the Presidents of the US, China, France don’t inspire the same passionate idealization as monarchs do. Figures who are subject to the ballot cannot be idealized.

    When a cold eye is cast on the handful of families who assumed royal status in Europe, the institution comes to appear as a preposterous imposition. But republicanism is “right but repulsive” whereas royalism is “wrong but romantic” (Chesterton). In the near future the two most ancient and sacral enthronements ceremonies will be enacted in Japan and in Britain. We’ll have another chance to swoon over the magic of crown, sceptre, and orb, the robes and ceremonial sword, the anointing, St Edward’s Chair and the Stone of Scone, or over the Japanese mirror, sword, and jewel, ceremonial thrones, and the emperor’s solitary communion with the sun goddess Amaterasu in the secret Daijosai rite (see William Gater in The Japan Mission Journal, December 2018).

    The three offices of Christ, as Prophet, Priest, and King, and the many references to Christ as king in Scripture, suggest that the topic of kingship will not be easy to shake off as an archaic encumbrance. But the topic is problematized in the Gospels, which hardly supports the iconography showing him with a fancy crown and wielding a sceptre. Jesus has only a crown of thorns and is mocked as King of the Jews. His entry into Jerusalem on a donkey is a parody of royal entries. His kingdom, Pilate is told, is “not of this world.” True, on the last day he appears as King sitting on a glorious throne (Mt 25:31, 34). That reminds us that the central theme of Jesus’ preaching was the Kingdom of God, or the Rule of God; and it has more to do with serving the needy and building up inclusive community than with the trappings of power and glory that surround it.

  5. Pádraig McCarthy

    Daniel: “I gazed into the visions of the night.” In the days before electric light, the starry sky at night was familiar. People gazing into the night sky saw patterns of stars and gave them names we still use today. For the people of Israel gazing towards the dwelling of the most high, to see a divine messenger in the form of a son of man(kind) coming to them was a sign of hope.

    The verses before this reading speak of four terrifying beasts representing the four empires which had devastated the kingdom of Israel: Babylon (the Baghdad area), Medes (from the Iranian plateau), Persians (from the same area), and the Greeks with their Seleucid kings including Antiochus IV who tried to impose the Greek culture on the Hebrew people and to destroy their own culture and religion. The Book of Daniel dates from around this time. They looked to one from the heavens who would establish an eternal sovereignty from God.

    So they had plenty of experience of kingdoms. There was their own kingdom of Israel from the glory days of David and Solomon, on to the disasters which followed. For around 600 years before the time of Jesus they had been oppressed by the above four empires. After the Greeks came the Romans, around 63BC when Pompeii took Jerusalem.

    The Book of Revelation, drawing on the apocalypse of Daniel, sees the fulfilment in Jesus. It’s a pity they leave out the preceding verse 4 which would provide a neat rounding inclusion for the reading: “John, to the seven churches of Asia: grace and peace to you from the one who is, who was, and who is to come … and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness …”

    “The one who is, who was, and who is to come” seems like a elaboration of the name given to Moses, “I am who am”, the Sacred Name. “I am the Alpha and the Omega” is said not by Jesus but by the Father, the “pantocrator” (almighty one), who has the whole world in his hands. Today “apocalypse” seems commonly used of awful and unimaginable terrors and suffering and destruction. The vision of Daniel and of the Book of Revelation (“Apocalypse”) is overflowing with hope even in the face of the worst.

    Jesus before Pilate brings us rudely to reality. Pilate had a tough job, like others with political responsibilities. He found no guilt in Jesus (just following this reading), but if he denied his accusers their demands, he risked civil unrest. He was a guardian of the Pax Romana, and the only way he could see was to accede to the demands, or else face repercussions from Rome. He knows nothing of the new kind of kingship Jesus has in mind, where we bear witness to the truth. All who are on the side of truth are drawn to him as he is lifted up on the cross and at resurrection. Jesus is the one on trial, but Pilate is the one on the defensive.

    At that time of Pax Romana, it meant that there was peace as long as the peoples of empire accepted the Roman military control and paid their Roman taxes. It was not “peaceful” – around 13 years after the death of Jesus, the Romans invaded Britain (for the second time); shortly afterwards they built their largest British military camp at what we now call Chester (from “castra”, military camp), perhaps with a view to crossing that sea to the neighbouring island. Less than 30 years later they utterly destroyed Jerusalem. To use war to impose peace is a contradiction: it implies that war is sometimes an acceptable means.

    Have politics changed much today? How do those with responsibility (I do not say “in power”) deal with the pressures to make the decisions? It can be extremely difficult to be on the side of truth; to be true to the truth.

    Keeping in mind the radically different kind of kingship, how do we begin to convey the vision of the Preface: “a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace”?

    What kingship do we acknowledge? What is truth?

  6. Joe O'Leary

    Interesting to read Quas Primas, which connects the new feast with the 16th centenary of Nicaea (attributing the credal clause “his kingdom will have no end” to Nicaea rather than to Constantinople 381).


    The new feast is not looking back to monarchy but forward to Vatican II in its desire to see a gospel transformation of the secular world, albeit in the mode of wanting nations ot explicitly confess Christ. The review “Christus Rex” symbolized that attitude in Ireland. These two paragraphs perhaps best support this interpretation:

    19. When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony. Our Lord’s regal office invests the human authority of princes and rulers with a religious significance; it ennobles the citizen’s duty of obedience. It is for this reason that St. Paul, while bidding wives revere Christ in their husbands, and slaves respect Christ in their masters, warns them to give obedience to them not as men, but as the vicegerents of Christ; for it is not meet that men redeemed by Christ should serve their fellow-men. “You are bought with a price; be not made the bond-slaves of men.” If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent. Men will see in their king or in their rulers men like themselves, perhaps unworthy or open to criticism, but they will not on that account refuse obedience if they see reflected in them the authority of Christ God and Man. Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished.

    20. If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth – he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: “My yoke is sweet and my burden light.” Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! “Then at length,” to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, “then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God.

  7. Sean O’Conaill

    #6. Did not Christendom claim to be ruled by Christ, and did we not commemorate on Nov 11th last the end of a five year war fought by five ‘Christian’ empires – against one another?

    From Constantine on the alignment of state power with Christianity was POLITICAl, i.e. designed to cement the rule of particular political interests, and to claim divine sanction for state policy.

    The result was the long litany of Christian disasters recited by John Paul II in 2000 – Memory and Reconciliation.


    Not to mention the Enlightenment and the secularist assault on all talk of church-state alignment.

    And the role of that alignment in blocking Church reform and the safeguarding of Catholic children from clerical abuse, e.g. in IRELAND.

    What is distinctive about the kingdom of God is that it clearly CANNOT involve any form of COERCION.

    Where is the nation state today that rejects the use of COERCIVE power, or that is not ruled by economic elites?

    And why does total naivety and historical amnesia reappear here nevertheless in the same month as the centenary of the end of World War I?

  8. Joe O'Leary

    Well all that you say, Sean, might explain why Samuel had such misgivings about Saul becoming a king.

    Pius XI strongly stresses the supernatural nature of Xt’s kingship and commends it to the world’s rulers — he doesn’t use the occasion to defend or shore up tottering earthly thrones. Since he also stresses that it’s a kingdom of peace he might be seeing it as a remedy to what happened in WWI.

    Royalty is mentioned throughout the Psalms, and it’s sometimes a strain to remember to refer that allegorically to the spiritual rule of Christ (but which also has political dimensions as the Liberation Theologians stressed).

    Britain’s Coronation ceremony takes over the Hebrew conception of kingship rather literally. I would hesitate to rip it apart, and would rather hope that it survives the challenges of modern culture, since it provides a cushion of tradition, religious dedication, and moral duty that softens the brutality of political power. Something similar can be said of the Japanese ceremony,

    I believe that the British PM is obliged to report to the monarch once a week — it’s a kind of moral check that could have value, and that limits the hubris of those with political power.

    But kings are already so weak and archaic, little more than theme park folklore, that it’s hard to know how to use the kingship language of Scripture (which is very extensive).

  9. Sean O’Conaill

    #8. Try:


    Note the date also, sixteen years ago!

    In that time, by how much has the estate of the Windsors grown or shrunk, and how many honours have been dispensed annually to the political class that allowed the Grenfell Tower disaster to happen?

    There are undoubtedly great priests and teachers in Anglicanism, but does it not remain essentially the kept clergy of the Tory party?

    And what of Mr Collins, Jane Austen’s classic Anglican ecclesiastical snob in Pride and Prejudice? Most unfortunately he had a classic Irish Catholic equivalent in Cardinal Paul Cullen – for whom universal basic education would mistakenly give ideas above their station to Ireland’s nineteenth century Catholic underclasses.

    We need look no further for the roots of the clerical snobbery that underwrote Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes in the last century – or the Catholic snobbery that still prevents some Derry second level schools from abandoning academic selection at eleven – in 2018!

    Francis tells us how to bring the Kingdom of God to the underclasses: look, and go, down, not up. The poor will always be with us because the broader way, the way most go, is the path of social ascent. Chiristendom – and the scandals that flowed from it – and the alienation of Ireland’s current underclasses from the church – are what happens when the church misunderstands the kingdom of God as merely the conversion of the social elite. That too is snobbery – the making of distinctions between people who in God’s eyes are always exactly equal in dignity.

    We need to ask for the grace to see the world as Jesus did.

  10. Joe O'Leary

    Interesting essay, hitting all the problematic points. There is a book by Martin Buber called “Kingdom of God” (Königtum Gottes) which, if I remember correctly, deals mostly with the Book of Judges.

    It’s amazing that royalty lives on so vigorously in 2018 — monarchs are figureheads but they are passionately loved by their people — as a symbol of the nation, to begin with.

    There are 12 monarchies in Europe, of which 7 are in the EU. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarchies_in_Europe

    Of course monarchies today can be abolished by referenda, which greatly undercut the aura. Greece has a monarchy from 1832 to 1974 (abolished and then restored at one point) and Italy has one from 1861 to 1946. Referenda put an end to them.

    The British monarchy exists on sufferance, and republican movements as well as mere unpopularity can threaten it at any time. The Queen works very hard to keep the Commonwealth loyal, as well as handling her unruly citizens (no longer called subjects) at home.

    Is it a valuable cultural institution like opera — hugely expensive but hugely popular?

    Asia has 13 monarchies. Africa has 3: Morocco, Lesotho, Swaziland (there may be tribal monarchies, but not on State level).

    Lacan joked: “A madman is a not only a beggar who thinks he is a king, a madman is also a king who thinks he is a king.”

  11. Sean O’Conaill

    #10. My own sympathies for the current Elizabeth R have to do with the perception that she is essentially the prisoner of the institution, denied a private life and constantly subject to public commentary. Of course she could resign / abdicate, but the same prison walls would then close around her successor.

    There is a theory that originally kings were scapegoats-in-waiting, privileged fall-guys to be sacrificed come the next national disaster. What happened to Charles I and Louis XVI serves to support that hypothesis – as does the archaeological study of sacrificial young Inca victims found mummified on mountain tops. They had apparently been entertained royally before the sacrificial ceremony..

    Mrs Hyacinth Bucket would no doubt be appalled at that suggestion, but as you say public loathing never seems absent from British attitudes towards the monarchy either.

    Yet media fascination continues, and celebrity actresses are pulled like moths to the flame. Our human inability to be content with privacy, content to be unrecognised, speaks of something profoundly significant.

  12. Joe O'Leary

    Yes, Sean, people have an urge to be famous even when it’s suicidal — look at Oscar Wilde or Milo Yiannopoulos. It’s not only the Queen, but any Archbishop who has to surrender privacy and parade as a public mascot.

  13. Joe O'Leary

    I’ve just being noticing that in the 19th century some famous people liked to travel incognito under an assumed name. Today that’s impossible.

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