Can we ‘Spare’ a thought for Royal Reconciliation?

There can be little doubt that with 400,000 copies being sold on its first day of publication, Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare has caught the public imagination, with many people proclaiming how excited they are to read it. The sales of the publication were no doubt primed by the recent Netflix television series and fuelled by a number of sensational interviews to promote it, all reported upon in the newspapers, which is slightly ironic considering Prince Harry’s well-known loathing for the British press.

But whatever your opinion about Prince Harry and the Royal Family, there can be little doubt that the steady stream of salacious material and juicy titbits are all very sad for the individuals concerned and bad for the Monarchy in general. In fact, the sheer volume of information and level of detail has taken everyone by surprise, with the previously understood policy of the Royal family to ‘never complain, never explain’ being well and truly blasted out of the water. At first glance some of the information about sibling rivalry between Princes William and Harry (and their spouses) seems quite petty, but it’s easy to see how a number of these small petty grievances and cultural misunderstandings can easily ‘blow up’ into larger issues breeding anger and resentment – with accusations of one side leaking information to the press for gain over the other, and charges of overt racism being very serious indeed. There is no doubt that Prince Harry feels compelled to protect and defend his wife from the unconscious bias/racism of his prestigious family (and press), but this, combined with his own sense of past hurt has culminated in his fierce resentment of his perceived treatment as the second son as starkly depicted in his book’s title Spare. But the problem is that no one is perfect and no one comes out of this situation very well – so can the family be reconciled?

Of course, the folly of ‘airing one’s dirty linen in public’ is the difficulty of climbing down and ‘losing face’, especially when you are a member of a Royal family in the full glare of the British press and the world’s media, but despite their grievances, Prince Harry has described his love for his father and brother – and his wish that for his children’s sake, they might be reconciled. Equally King Charles has spoken of his love for his sons, including Prince Harry, which may pave the ground at some point for civilised conversation; an honest, mutual meeting of minds resulting not only in the letting go of past hurts, but also an apology for those caused today. This needs to stem from real repentance, love and forgiveness. But if there is to be any chance of a private reconciliation, then the public argument and media circus has to stop.

The Christian will be aware that the Bible often speaks about ‘not letting the sun go down on your anger’ (Romans 4.26-27) which might give the devil a foothold and ‘the renewing of one’s mind’ (Romans 12.2) which means a change of heart, mind and attitude after the fashion of Christ. Now, no one is saying that this is easy, but genuine love can overcome most obstacles. So together, let’s spare a thought for Prince Harry and pray that he and all the members of the Royal family will overcome their differences and be reconciled.

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 4.31–32

Finding Common Ground After The Election!

It’s 12th December and I’m writing this letter on the day of the General Election! Although it may have been interesting to write after the Election and once the result is known, I thought that perhaps it might be fairer and more helpful to write a comment before we do so! Because it seems to me that one of the things that the election has drawn out and made clear is just how divided we are as a nation! It’s not just simply a case as to whether one voted Labour or Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Brexit or Green – the divisions in our society are much broader and deeper than that; whether one voted for ‘Leave’ or ‘Remain’; whether you be rich or poor; privileged or disadvantaged; old or young; male or female; employed or unemployed; from the north or the south; socially conservative or liberal; married or not – and all these things challenge and shape our perspective. Not only this but despite the fact that our parliamentary system isn’t supposed to be presidential, the focus was very much on personalities rather than policy – with some of the language used being vile and abusive. So where can we find unity and how can we develop trust?

It’s interesting to note that the BBC wrote an article entitled Crossing Divides – What unites us: 10 reasons why we’re not a divided nation, in an attempt to find and construct a new sense of unity, being:

1. Being faithful to our partners
2. The principle of equal pay
3. Viewing a woman’s role as no longer in the home
4. Seeing gay relationships as “not wrong at all”
5. Supporting a woman’s right to have an abortion
6. Trusting science and scientists
7. Believing in the NHS
8. Believing the Royal Family is important
9. Thinking climate change is at least partly caused by humans
10. Loving David Attenborough, health charities, Heinz, Lego, Google Maps and Malteasers

Whilst the majority of Britain’s may agree with some of these attitudes, it only takes a moment to appreciate that not everyone will agree with all of them, particularly those of a more traditional, socially conservative or religious persuasion. Perhaps in truth this list reflects more of a ‘wish list’ held by those who run the BBC.

For as John Stevens an online commentator observes ‘unity cannot be established or maintained on the basis of values and attitudes that do not in fact capture the hearts and minds of the vast majority of the people’ and I would like to add that it cannot be imposed upon us either.

The Christian will immediately recognise that what we need is a higher narrative, something that looks beyond our immediate, narrow and somewhat self-absorbed (and perhaps selfish) perspective and gives us a new standard and guide to live by, something that transforms our hearts and minds for the better. No one is saying that the Church is perfect or that it can’t ever make mistakes or disagree, but it does have a larger vision than that presented by party politics and a common framework by which it can promote reconciliation and encourage unity and trust within itself and the wider community. A kinder, gentler politics always has to begin with us as we try to serve one another in the loving manner that Christ served us, and I’d like to encourage you all to give it a try.

May I wish you all a very happy and peaceful new year.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3.5-6