I have just been to see the film, The King’s Speech. Leaving aside the historical inaccuracies which have been pointed out by others, it was a moving spectacle. Two things stood out: the warm relationship between the Duke of York, later King George VI, and Lionel Logue, his Australian speech therapist; and the King’s unflinching acceptance of his destiny.
“Bertie”, as he was known to his family (but not, incidentally, to Logue), was shy, unconfident, ill-educated, in delicate health and with a severe speech impediment. But he was also honourable, dutiful and courageous – qualities that more than compensated for his defects. With his very stable and happy family life, and his insistence on sharing in the country’s hardships (he had a line drawn around the inside of the baths at Buckingham Palace as an indication of the small amount of hot water to be used) he set exactly the example of kingship needed during the war.
He was also, like his daughter, our present Queen, whose sense of duty is so like her father’s, a Christian monarch. As “Defender of the faith”, in his speech of September 3 1939 at the outbreak of war, he was able to tell his people quite sincerely that we “reverently commit our cause to God” and that “with God’s help we shall prevail”, concluding “May He bless and keep us all.” In an equally memorable speech of December 25 1939, quoting the poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, he concluded with the words: “May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.”
I mention this because I have been reading a book entitled Harmony, written by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. All about the laws of Nature, ancient wisdom, the correspondences found “between the patterns made by the orbiting planets and the forms found in Nature”, Pythagoras, geometry, the Egyptian civilisation, the grammar of harmony, the music of the spheres and much else besides, the book is highly significant for one thing: there is nothing in it suggesting that the Christian faith is special, unique or any different from the spiritual wisdom of other faiths such as Buddhism or Islam.
Chartres cathedral, a magnificent statement of Catholic Christianity and dedicated to Our Lady, is discussed by HRH only in relation to the ancient architectural designs and patterns it has followed and because “like all great cathedrals, temples, mosques and holy places, it acts as a bridge between the world of Nature, human society and the domain of the spirit”.
Prince Charles is on record as saying that when he is king he would like to be known as “defender of faiths”. To be sensitive to the different faiths practised by your subjects is one thing; not to wish to uphold the Christian faith that has been the bedrock of your country for over 1,000 years is another.
HRH writes: “The Golden Thread of wisdom and the inner need to maintain harmony in the world… is not some wishy-washy, New Age invention of the late 20th century.”