As I close a week discussing Disroyalty starring the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, here are a few more views about their plans as well as a summary of what went on at Sandringham on Monday, January 13, 2020.

Before I get to those, however, it is important to remember that other Royals will have to pick up the Sussexes’ slack, leaving 200 engagements per year to divide among them.

Key points about the Sandringham summit

Here’s what to know about the Sandringham summit on Monday.

The Daily Mail says that Harry arrived at 11:20 a.m.

By then, Prince Philip had already left and was driven elsewhere on the estate. He was reportedly furious last week:

Philip was reportedly ‘spitting blood’ with anger when he found out last Wednesday and yelled at his aides: ‘What the hell are they playing at?’

If he left, he wasn’t feeling any calmer.

Prince Charles had arrived the day before. Prince William showed up 15 minutes before the meeting began at 2:00 p.m.

The meeting was held in the Long Library, which used to be a bowling alley. Princes William and Harry spent much time there as children.

It is located away from other rooms where the Royals might have been overheard.

Meanwhile, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, denied charges of racism (same link):

Ms Patel, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, said: ‘I’m not in that category at all where I believe there’s racism at all. 

‘I think we live in a great country, a great society, full of opportunity, where people of any background can get on in life.’

Asked if the media had been in any way racist, she replied: ‘I don’t think so, no… I certainly haven’t seen that through any debates or commentary or things of that nature.’

On January 14, the Mail reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson wisely refused to be drawn in on the controversy:

In his first major TV interview since the election, Mr Johnson said: ‘I am a massive fan of the Queen and of the Royal Family…

‘I am absolutely confident that they are going to sort this out.’

I was happy to read that Harry’s early arrival ensured that he could have a lengthy one-on-one conversation with his grandmother.

Bolter

In 2018, a few months before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married, Germaine Greer gave an interview to Australia’s 60 Minutes in which she said she thought the bride would end up leaving.

The Cut posted the story on April 16. Prescient (emphases mine):

During an interview with 60 Minutes Australia this weekend, outspoken and controversial feminist author Germaine Greer said she thinks Markle “will bolt” as soon as she gets a sense of what life in the British royal family (which Greer refers to as “the firm”) is really like.

“Let’s hope they’re in love. If they’re not it’s going to be totally unbearable,” Greer told journalist Tara Brown. “She will see vistas of boredom that are unbelievable. I think the pressure to escape from the firm is crushing.”

When Brown asked what she predicted for the couple’s future, Greer answered, “I think she’ll bolt.”

“She bolted before. She was out the door,” she said, referring to Markle’s 2013 divorce from Trevor Engelson. “I think she’ll bolt. I hope in a way that she’ll bolt but maybe she’ll take Harry with her.”

When asked why Markle, already a successful television star, would give up her career to marry into the royal family, Greer quipped: “Why would a girl born in poverty marry a man with 53 million quid? I can’t think of single reason.”

It seems Harry might be worth less than that — possibly £30m, but the point stands.

There is also the status involved.

Opportunism

The deputy political editor at the Daily Mail, John Stevens, had this to say about the Sussexes’ announcement last week:

In fact, that is quite possible.

Allegedly, Justin Trudeau knew of their plans before the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. So did Elton John.

On January 11, the Daily Mail reported:

There was speculation last night that Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have given a cryptic Twitter clue about the crisis that was about to engulf the Royal Family.

When news emerged that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had turned their back on Royal tradition and flown to Canada for Christmas, their powerful friend was one of the first to welcome them on social media.

He wrote: ‘You’re among friends, and always welcome here.’

Just weeks later, the Royal couple were looking to test that ‘always’ by announcing their move to Canada.

And the tweet has done little to dampen gossip in Embassy circles that Mr Trudeau was more aware of the Sussexes’ emigration plans than even their closest family.

Diplomatic sources claim Mr Trudeau and his wife Sophie were consulted about the decision late last year, before members of the Royal family and even the Queen.

The Trudeaus are friends with the Sussexes:

Last night, the Canadian government did not respond when confronted about the claims, but sources close to the Sussexes denied they had discussed the move with Prime Minister Trudeau.

The Canadian First Couple and the Sussexes have been close friends, with Meghan and Sophie even sharing a stylist – Meghan’s best friend and sometime babysitter for Archie, Jessica Mulroney.

Prince Harry, 35, and Mr Trudeau, 48, are two of the younger fixtures on the world stage, with both men appearing to enjoy each other’s company at events such as Commonwealth commemorations.

The two have also encountered each other on multiple occasions through Prince Harry’s Invictus Games for disabled servicemen.

I wonder if the Sussexes are aware that, many years ago, Trudeau once attended a fancy dress party in blackface. He thought nothing of it at the time. Terrible.

Returning to John Stevens’s tweet, here are a few responses:

Money

Although, technically, what Prince Charles does with his income from the Duchy of Cornwall is his business, the British would be annoyed if he continued to finance Prince Harry:

This YouGov poll shows similar results:

This Briton tweeted about the video of Harry touting Meghan to Disney’s Bob Iver for voiceover work:

Naturally, some of the money she would earn from such work would go to charity. Of course:

Trudeau said that his country will pay for the Sussexes’ security detail. Canadians won’t be too happy about that:

Another Daily Mail report said that Canada would pay half the Sussexes’ £1m annual security detail cost. We shall see. On January 14, the Mail published an article quoting Trudeau, who said:

I think most Canadians are very supportive of having royals be here, but how that looks and what kind of costs are involved, there are still lots of discussions to have.

Family

The young Anglican priest who tweeted the following has mistakenly said that the Sussexes are on the Civil List. They are not.

However, the larger point about their role in the Royal Family is what is important:

The Revd Giles Fraser, formerly Canon at St Paul’s Cathedral and now Rector of St Mary, Newington in South London, wrote a considered article on the topic that the Revd Philip Murray raised. The Bishop of Dorking (Surrey) complimented him on it:

Excerpts follow:

Do we still recognise moral obligations that exist prior to our having chosen them? That is, it seems to me, the question embedded within the whole Megxit scandal. It couldn’t have been better designed to drive a wedge between two very different ways of seeing the world

But this isn’t just about monarchy. For the same tension exists within the very idea of a family — the Windsors being, as well as royal, the most famous family in the world. How does liberalism — of which Meghan Markle feels like a supreme representative — deal with that age-old sense of moral obligation towards those who have brought you into life and have raised and nurtured you, without you having chosen them for the task. Of course, some families fail in this very basic duty. And most of us parents only get it half right, at best.

Without this very basic idea that we are born into some fundamental unit of existential solidarity, something towards which we owe an allegiance long before we are able to choose it, human life is released from its moorings and we are all deeply lost. This is where liberalism flounders. For when it comes to the most important basis of human flourishing, family life, liberalism has nothing useful to say, other than to remind us that some families are destructive and dysfunctional and best escaped from. Be your own person, it advises. Break free. But this is to cut off the branch on which nests are built.

Sense of duty

A Theology graduate from Cambridge University has the ultimate analysis of the Duchess and her outlook on a sense of duty.

This is a must-read:

So true — especially the closing thought about helping minority Britons!

When they got married, I thought she might look forward to such a role. I was wrong.

Poll on the monarchy

Between Thursday and Friday, January 9 and 10, Deltapoll conducted a survey on the monarchy. This was after the Sussexes’ announcement.

The favourable results were lower than I’d expected:

A Pole responded to that tweet, encouraging us to keep the Royal Family:

Good or bad? It’s important. I come originally from Poland. I read Polish papers and monarchy issues make front page headlines there. The monarchy is ‘s trademark, as it were, recognised worldwide. Try and lose it to see how good it actually is to have it.

I fully agree.

This is a breakdown of the question by age group:

I also agree with these replies:

I do not think that most of our Prime Ministers would have made great Presidents.

The Royal Family are good for Britain. Let’s not discard them because of the actions of a few bad apples.

Being a member of Britain’s Royal Family requires special personal characteristics which, when combined, are as rare as hen’s teeth:

– intestinal fortitude;
– a stiff upper lip;
– a perpetual sense of duty;
– the ability to keep one’s mouth shut;
– control over one’s personal life.

Many are called, but few are chosen — and even fewer succeed.

In recent memory, Sarah Ferguson didn’t make the mark. Nor did Princess Diana. Nor has the Duchess of Sussex. Nor has her husband, Prince Harry.

It is not easy, and it is a constant obligation.

The Royal Family is not called The Firm for nothing.

In fact, in reality, it carries with it more obligations than a corporation.

People see formal dress, tiaras and crowns in sumptuous palaces and castles. The flip side is that one’s life is never one’s own. One serves Queen and country under the unsparing eye of the media and the British public.

Being a British Royal is one of the world’s most difficult jobs imaginable.

For the most part, with the exception of those conferred at birth, one’s titles are on loan.

It is important not to assign oneself a title one does not possess. Case in point, with reference to the Duchess of Sussex:

To be clear, she is NOT a Princess (unless you consider a future Disney voiceover role as one). She is a Duchess, and that can just as easily be taken from her as it was given.

Another important point is not to show disloyalty. It’s bad enough offending the Queen, without casting shadows on the British public and expecting to get all the glory for no guts.

If you get a ‘sensitive content’ message about the second tweet, please ignore it and open it up. It’s a parody letter:

The publicity surrounding the Sussexes was positive for at least two years. Note the 2018 headlines from their engagement and wedding in the second tweet below. They reflected the national mood:

Many of the Sussexes’ pronouncements since then, including the secrecy surrounding their young son, made many members of the public feel as if they no longer wanted to be part of our nation.

It turns out we were not wrong.

An opinion piece on Spiked, a free-thinking, quasi-libertarian website, pulls no punches. This is from ‘A woke Wallis Simpson’ by Brendan O’Neill, a republican — not a monarchist. Yet, even he sees a problem with the Sussexes (emphases mine):

H&M, the most right-on royals in history, are breaking off so that they can foist even more woke bollocks on the plebs without having to worry about receiving a tutting phone-call from Her Maj’s press secretary reminding them that they’re royalty and not virtue-signalling Hollywood celebs.

Megxit, as this royal bombshell is wittily being called, is a striking sign of the times. What Harry and Meghan are doing is virtually unprecedented in the history of the royals. They are jacking in their jobs (I say jobs) as senior royals and pursuing a more ‘financially independent’ path that will allow them to earn, travel and – this is important – jabber on about their pet concerns and causes as much as they like.

This is also a major sticking point:

Even leaving aside the fact that they won’t actually be financially independent – they’ll still get wads of cash from the Duchy of Cornwall and will still stay in that Frogmore Cottage us British taxpayers just splashed 2.4million quid on – still their move is a startling and concerning one.

This is the difference between Meghan Markle and, say, Prince Charles:

What it fundamentally reveals is the incompatibility of the modern culture of narcissism with the values of duty, loyalty and self-negation traditionally associated with royal life. To someone like Meghan, who sprang from celebville, who sees herself as the embodiment of right-on goodness, and who loves nothing more than advertising her eco-virtue and performing her PC credentials, life in the British monarchy was never going to be a good fit.

Yes, the woke agenda Meghan expresses so well shares much in common with the old-world elitism of the monarchical system. Both obsess over inherited characteristics (the woke bang on about race and gender, the monarchy is all about bloodline). Both have a penchant for looking down their noses at the little people. And both have an instinctive loathing for modernity, from Charles’ longstanding conservationism to H&M’s humanity-bashing eco-hysteria.

But there’s one big, irreconcilable difference: where the woke value the self over everything else, senior royals are meant, ostensibly at least, to be selfless, to submerge the self into the crown. It looks like this is a deal-breaker for the younger, more celebrity-oriented royals, especially newcomer Meghan but also Harry, too. Their unprecedented ‘stepping back’, and the fury this has allegedly caused in the Palace, suggests the cult of the self that Meghan and other showily virtuous celebs embody and promote, does not work within an institution whose ideal is the Queen: opinion-free, emotions hidden, dutiful, unquestioning and in it for the long haul.

Correct!

But wait, there’s more. Their way of speaking about the Queen is also unprecedented:

Even more startling is the way they talk about the queen. They say they will ‘continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen’. Collaborate with? They sound more like Kendall Jenner talking about her adverts with Pepsi than individuals who are meant to devote themselves for life to royal duty and the preservation of the crown. I’m about as republican as it gets (abolish the monarchy is my view), but even I recognise that treating the queen as a kind of big business one temporarily ‘collaborates with’ is out of order. Meghan comes off like a woke Wallis Simpson, taking away a senior royal into a new life of PC globetrotting.

One of the readers’ comments (second one, no hyperlink available) describes the contrast between the Sussexes and the Queen’s parents during the Second World War:

The current situation should remind us all of the remarkable differences between generations. Winston Churchill was desperate to move the Royal family to Canada when hostilities commenced in WW2. The King refused and said that he wanted to stay with his people. In fact the Queen Mum said she was relieved when Buckingham Palace took a direct hit during the Blitz as she could then look the Eastenders in face thereafter. Princess Elizabeth herself served in the military as a mechanic and truck driver. The King, in fact, wanted to be part of the advanced landing parties on D-Day, fortunately he was talked out of it. The Royal family’s sense of duty inspired the British people to see the crisis through even though at the beginning of hostilities it was touch and go for Britain. Running away to safety was not an option for them.

Harry and Meghan find Royal duties tedious and boring. It’s not for them and they want to make lots of money instead. The Press have given them a hard time and some gutter types have written some nasty things about them. They would, it seems, prefer deference rather than criticism. The only option available to them is to escape to Canada.

Is it no small wonder that older people view the Millennials as mere snowflakes.

The first readers’ comment is about personal dynamics between the Sussexes. This is another danger, namely for the Duke:

I have the feeling it is Meghan manipulating Harry as I think she is quite narcissistic. And she knows Harry has a problem with British press re: his mother. She may be exploiting that. I also think their marriage will therefore be in shambles in the not too far future

There is a good article on narcissism relating to this, ‘A Very Royal Narcissist — Part 9’, excerpts from which follow.

Is it possible that this is what has been going on behind the scenes for the past several months? Emphasis in the original:

    • Smearing the family members (“They are trying to control you, I am just trying to help you see that.”)
    • Exaggeration of Threat (“They do not want you to be happy, I do, that is why they see me as a threat.”)
    • Projection (see the above comment).
    • Pity Play (“Your family do not like me.” “This country has it in for me and I have tried so hard, you know, tried the stiff upper lip, but they just do not like me.”)
    • Guilt (“If you loved me, you would move for me.”)
    • Triangulation (“If we stay, it will end up the same for me as it was for your mother and you do not want that to happen do you?”)
    • Use of The Victim´s Weaknesses Against Them …
    • Promised Gain (“If we live there, we can do our own thing and both be happy, you want that for us don’t you?”)

Remember, the narcissist will do this through unconscious manipulations. The narcissist genuinely believes that they are doing the right thing and cannot see, because of their narcissism, that they are actually being manipulative.

Such manipulations will have been used in isolating Prince Harry from his father, brother, grandparents, friends and extended family (save those who are viewed as supportive and therefore no threat to the control) and thus choosing water over blood.

The article on narcissism goes on to speculate as to what possibly happened at Sandringham on Monday, January 13, and the aftermath.

Whatever the outcome, the article concludes:

In the short term, Miss Markle will exert control in some form and in her “world” she will be winning. Of course, there is much more that is yet to happen with this ongoing saga of a Very Royal Narcissist.

I hope that means that this awful saga comes to an end, in favour of the Royal Family.

Tomorrow I will close a week of disroyalty with two more views about the Royal Family and the Sussexes.

Sooner than expected, I am writing about the Sandringham summit, held on Monday, January 13, 2020, to provide a way forward for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in their disroyalty.

Present at Sandringham were the Queen and Princes Charles, William and Harry. Contrary to earlier reports, the Duchess, in Canada, did not participate via telephone. The Daily Mail reported that aides issued a brief statement to that effect:

The Sussexes decided that it wasn’t necessary for the duchess to join.

Afterwards, the Queen issued a statement:

That would seem the most sensible solution.

No commercialisation of the Sussex titles, either. (I don’t care what arrangements are in place at present.) The Queen issues titles, and they are not the property of recipients.

The Queen’s statement reads as follows (emphases mine):

Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan’s desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.

ENDS

Political pundit Guido Fawkes wrote, using a Brexit term (emphasis in the original):

Looks like an orderly transition to a Canada Plus model…

His readers, however, are sorely disappointed.

So am I.

However, the monarch is much wiser than her subjects. Her statement is probably not all it seems on the surface. She might want to take the venom out of events from the past week and let the wound begin to heal. She probably also wants to avoid a Princess Diana situation: different circumstances, granted, but the same reaction from certain quarters, which turned Prince Harry’s mother into a martyr figure.

Whilst journalist and television presenter Piers Morgan was as disappointed as I, a few of his readers think the Queen could be playing the long game:

On Monday, January 13, British GQ posted an interview with Piers Morgan:

In 2017, Morgan supported Prince Harry’s choice of future wife. He wrote an article for the Daily Mail: ‘PIERS MORGAN: Hearty congratulations, Harry, you picked a real keeper’.

Excerpts follow from the British GQ article (emphases in purple mine).

Contrary to what he thought in 2017 and 2018, Morgan believes the Duchess is a threat to the monarchy:

GQ: You have engaged in some very personal and sometimes vicious arguments over Meghan and Harry over the past few days. Did you feel passionately about this before the news about them broke or did it just get out of hand?

Piers Morgan: I’ve felt strongly about this for about 18 months, ever since I could see the way the wind was blowing. The truth about Meghan Markle is that she’s a social climbing piece of work and all the people rushing to her defence have not, I’ve noticed, had any personal dealings with her. The number of people she has used and then cut loose is long and illustrious and involves almost her entire family, most of her oldest friends, most of Harry’s best male friends and now she’s trying to extricate Harry from the royal family. I think she represents a clear and present danger to the future of the monarchy and I don’t say that lightly. If you are going to have two renegade celebrity part-time royals bestriding the globe cashing in on their royal status, I think that could accelerate an atmosphere of republicanism that can be very dangerous to the existence of the monarchy. There are very important issues here and I think it’s something people should be emotive about if they, like me, value the monarchy and the royal family.

He objects to the Sussexes wanting all the benefits of being Royals without having to put in any of the day-to-day duties:

I noticed you have focused on the Queen in these discussions.

The Queen’s a 93-year-old woman who has been on the throne for over six decades – she’s probably the most respected world leader of modern times. She’s recently had to put up with a scandal involving her middle son, whom she’s had to effectively fire; her husband is 98 and suffering serious health issues. So she’s got enough on her plate without these two upstarts deciding they’re going to rewrite the way the royal family conducts itself with their new agenda. Nobody wants a progressive royal family, nobody wants a woke royal family. This is entirely driven by Meghan Markle, who has turned Harry, I’m afraid, into a simpering doormat and the result is fairly cataclysmic. They want to leave the royal family on their terms where they get to keep all the good bits – the taxpayer-funded security and travel, the free mansion which was refurbished at our expense – but they don’t want to do the Wednesday duty at a community centre in Stoke. That’s not going to wash.

He explains why he changed his mind about the Duchess:

Do you think the mainstream media have been fair in their scrutiny of Meghan and Harry?

PM: Yes, I wrote a lot of very positive things about Meghan Markle. Then a number of stories began appearing about the way she had ghosted people. Look, I was a very minor ghosting. I thought we were good friends. She tweeted we were good friends – tweets she has now deleted. She was the one who reached out to me for media advice so I did and I thought we got on very well, but the moment she met Prince Harry, bang! And she’s done that to many people. She is a social climbing cut-and-runner. I fear what will happen to Harry.

He says that what the Sussexes are doing is not what the Royal Family is about:

How do you think the future royal relationships will pan out and could it help the royals in the long run?

You can’t be half royal and half not. You can’t take public money and flog your status off to commercial entities. I don’t see how this works. They are entitled to lead any life they want to lead, but they are not entitled to be a drain on the British taxpayer. Also, why is Meghan Markle a global star? It’s because she married into the British royal family and I think the public will take a very dim view of somebody coming into our royal family for three years and then buggering off and fleecing everything off the back of her royal status. You can’t be a part-time royal and not do the dirty work that goes with it. If they want to give up all their free stuff and pay for everything themselves then good luck to them, but even then if she makes tens of millions of dollars it won’t be because of her acting work, it will be because she married Prince Harry.

In his Daily Mail column published the same day, Morgan listed the reasons why he went off the Duchess.

However, going back further, he cites his column on the Sussexes’ wedding and reminds us of how much the British public looked forward to it (emphases mine):

From the moment Meghan Markle came on the royal scene, and it was revealed she was from a mixed-race background, she was welcomed with warm open tolerant arms by a wonderfully multi-cultural and diverse modern Britain that was thrilled to finally see a non-white member of the Royal Family.

She was showered with almost universal praise, especially when the engagement was announced.

The media, in particular, was unanimous in its verdict that this was a great thing for the country. In fact, I haven’t seen a press so united in joy for anything royal since Diana first became Charles’s girlfriend.

This extraordinary tidal wave of goodwill continued through to the big wedding in May 2018, which by common consent was a triumph.

As I wrote myself in the Daily Mail the following day, ‘it mixed the best of traditional British pomp and majesty with large dollops of Markle Sparkle and the result was a biracial, Hollywood-fused union of very different cultures that worked magnificently well.’

True! People were thrilled. Royal fans lined the streets of Windsor that day, even if they had little hope of seeing the new Royal couple.

He is criticising the Duchess — and the Duke — for the following:

… her erratic conduct – and Harry’s – since the wedding, which has been spectacularly ill-advised;

hypocritical of Meghan to have a $500,000 celebrity-fuelled baby-shower party in New York, including a lift on George Clooney‘s jet, on the same day she and Harry tweeted a plea for people to think of the poor;

… they went to such ridiculous lengths to hide basic details of their baby Archie’s birth from the public that pays for much of their lavish lives;

… appalling when Meghan’s bodyguards stopped members of the same public taking her photo at Wimbledon;

… she refused to meet President Trump during his UK state visit, despite being the only American member of the Royal Family;

… dreadfully two-faced of her and Harry to preach about the need to watch every carbon-footprint, as they jumped on Sir Elton John’s private jet every ten minutes;

she ended a tour of poverty-strewn parts of South Africa by moaning about her own ‘struggle’;

their incessant war with the media, throwing hysterical abuse-laden warnings and lawsuits out like confetti, so pathetically thin-skinned and self-defeating given how much positive press they’ve also enjoyed;

the way they’re treated the Queen so deplorable and cruel, given her age (93), the fact her 98-year-old husband Philip has been so ill, and the recent enormous stress she has suffered over having to fire her own son Andrew over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal

He concludes, in part:

The reality is that Meghan and Harry have brought this ugly situation entirely on themselves

Here is one more self-inflicted injury by the Sussexes:

The youngsters complaining about the media were too young to remember the press drubbing that the Duchess of Cambridge — Kate — received when she got engaged to Prince William. Her mother was also ridiculed for having been a former airline attendant. A few years ago, the Duchess and her mother were criticised for having young Prince George stay at the Middleton home now and then so that he could spend time with his maternal grandparents.

She got her media flak, but she rose above it. Now she can do no wrong:

As Morgan says:

That is definitely true.

Before then, there were Charles’s girlfriends from the early 1970s, all roundly sniped at in the press.

Princess Anne was similarly criticised during the same time period.

So did Princess Anne’s first husband. The media called him ‘Foggy’, not just once or twice but often. So often, in fact, that to this day, I do not remember his real name.

Before that, there was Princess Margaret — the Queen’s sister — who suffered a barrage of negative press during her adult life, from the 1950s to her death in 2002.

Conclusion: Meghan Markle is NOT the only Royal who has ever been criticised in the media. Others suffered far worse for no compelling reasons at all.

More tomorrow on other commentators’ reactions to the Sussexes.

In the meantime, for anyone compiling pub quiz stumpers, here’s one for you:

Q. What was Prince Harry’s last public engagement as a senior Royal?

A. The official draw at Buckingham Palace on January 16, 2020, for the Rugby League World Cup, which will be hosted in the UK in 2021.

Of course, that could well be subject to change in the years to come, but it’s good for the time being.

On Monday, January 13, the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry held a family summit with their respective advisers on Harry and Meghan’s future:

I hope to have more on that at the end of the week.

For now, the British public’s reaction at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s disroyalty (not a real word) was largely one of disgust with the couple and supportive of the Queen. For proof, please read the readers’ comments in the tweets and articles below.

Many British journalists also oppose the Sussexes’ attempt to leave royal life and still get paid while showing great disrespect to the Queen.

Tim Stanley of The Telegraph is around Harry and Meghan’s age, but even he takes a dim view of their actions:

Stanley explained the situation (emphases mine):

It might seem counterintuitive, but the monarchy survives by appearing modest and the Windsors figured out long-ago that they reign not by the grace of God but the good will of the people – so going all “progressive”, cashing in and running off to Canada (“But I get to keep Frogmore Cottage, right?”) is not the behaviour of a 21st‑century royal.

“Who do you think you are, young man? A Kennedy?”

Like most Britons, he thinks the storm will pass:

The threat of a tell-all interview, termed ‘blackmail’ by many Britons, has not gone down well, either:

On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported that the couple could give the interview to the queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey. Meghan is allegedly busy working on it:

Her American PR team is already in touch with major US networks and chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.

The couple could use the TV threat to try to secure a better deal at the Sandringham talks with the Queen, Prince Charles and Wills over their plans to step down from frontline royal duties.

A royal source said: “Harry and Meghan’s people have been reaching out to all the big US networks to explore the possibilities of a sit-down warts-and-all interview.

“Perhaps Harry and Meghan will use this as a negotiating tactic as there is no way the royals want their dirty laundry out in the open.

Maybe they will get more money if they agree not to talk.”

It is believed Meghan’s team has been in contact with ABC, NBC and CBS and celebrity chat show hosts such as Oprah.

She was a surprise guest at Harry and Meghan’s wedding and is known to be in contact with them. Meg’s mum Doria has been pictured leaving Oprah’s home.

Harry has already worked with Oprah for an Apple TV series on mental health.

The source said the couple want to “tell their side of the story” — adding: “Meghan feels she’s been silenced and is no longer prepared to be muted.

“She and Harry feel the royals have been racist and sexist. Her people are actively exploring opportunities.”

I wonder if the Queen discussed this with her grandson at the Sandringham summit.

In 2019, Prince Harry succeeded his grandfather, Prince Philip, as Captain General of the Royal Marines.

On Monday, January 13, a retired officer in the Royal Marines told the Telegraph that, based on last week’s antics, he would not raise a toast to Harry if he attempts to cash in on his royal title:

The retired military chief urged the 35-year-old Duke to honour his pledge of allegiance to the Queen, while a decorated war hero described his decision to stand down from the Royal family as “disgusting”.

James Glancy, a former captain in the Special Boat Service, said he and many military colleagues would not raise a toast to the Duke if he tried to earn money from his royal position with commercial ventures.

His criticism came as a highly decorated Army figure told The Daily Telegraph: “Prince Harry has every right to want to balance his responsibilities between the Royal family and his wife and young family. But first and foremost Harry was a commissioned officer who pledged allegiance to the Queen and the Queen is his grandmother, so when push comes to shove, Queen and country come first.”

Speaking to Nigel Farage on LBC radio, Capt Glancy, who won the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross in 2012 for courage and leadership during three campaigns in Afghanistan, said: “Harry’s been a great public servant.

He’s done two tours of Afghanistan. I was there for one of his tours … He’s done brilliant work in charity since he’s left the Armed Forces, especially with the Invictus Games, but his behaviour in the last year is not becoming of somebody that holds these important positions, these patronages, including that of the Captain General.”

Captain Glancy also told the following to Nigel Farage:

Insisting others in the Royal Marines and military were “very upset, if not disgusted by the disrespect to the Queen by not discussing this”, Capt Glancy added: “Everybody agrees that if he wants to leave these positions … he’s absolutely entitled to have another life, and he’s entitled to live overseas. But you can’t do this half and half. You’re either in or out … “

The Telegraph article went on to quote the father of one of the men who served alongside the Prince in Afghanistan who:

accused the Duke of “abandoning his Army family”.

Derek Hunt, whose son Nathan was mentioned in dispatches for neutralising Taliban bombs in Helmand province in 2008, said: “Nathan kept Prince Harry alive in Afghanistan. He’d have been blown up had my son not found those IEDs. After everything they went through together, I think it is terrible to see him turning his back on everyone.

We all thought Harry really understood what life is like for veterans and their families, as if he was one of us and by our side – but he’s shattered that impression now. It’s like he’s lost his spark, like he’s not the same person.”

Tied in with Harry’s military service are the Invictus Games, a sports competition he helped to develop for disabled military veterans. I watched some of the first Invictus Games and they are very inspiring, indeed. They have given the participating veterans a new lease on life.

On Saturday, January 11, The Telegraph reported that the future of the Invictus Games could be in doubt following the Prince’s announcement to retire from public life:

Military backers of the games, which have brought together wounded servicemen and women since they first launched in London in 2014 are known to be concerned the event may fall into a “limbo”.

The Invictus Games have relied heavily on the Duke of Sussex as its public figurehead, and his close association with the event has guaranteed them a high profile to date.

It was at the Invictus Games in Toronto, in September 2017, that Harry and Meghan made their first official public appearance together.

But there are fears that if the Duke and Duchess withdraw from part of their public duties as part of their aim to “step back as senior royals”, then the Invictus Games could lose much of their purpose and drive.

One source familiar with the thinking of the Palace said: “There is a big question about the Invictus Games. Where does that stand? The military are pretty annoyed because he seemed totally disinterested at the last meeting

They were very worried and concerned. They are thinking ‘now what? It is in limbo. They don’t know where it sits.”

Another military snub has not gone unnoticed. On Friday, January 10, The Sun quoted one of their employees, veteran Royal photographer Arthur Edwards, who said:

I don’t think you can “pop in” for Trooping the Colour but not be there for Remembrance Sunday.

Arthur Edwards was speaking to Fox News about the Sussexes and had this to say about Meghan:

The veteran snapper said she had won over the British people and was “brilliant”.

He remembered how “the Prince of Wales walked her down the aisle, what a way to compliment.”

But added: “It seems that it’s not enough, it’s not enough for Meghan.”

As for Harry:

You couldn’t take your eyes off him because he was guaranteed to do the unexpected, like playing football with street kids, racing Usain Bolt or hugging a prime minister.

He was a joy to work with, a normal guy in the street who just happened to have a royal title. The whole world loved him.

But over the past two years his relationship with the media has not just turned sour — it has become toxic.

I haven’t seen him look really happy for a long time.

The Sussexes’ complaints about the Royal Family — if true — seem rather petty.

Before Christmas, the Queen posed for a photograph with three generations of her family, all in the top three places as heirs to the throne: Prince Charles, Prince William and young Prince George. The Sun reported:

It has been claimed that the succession photo was the last straw for Meghan and Harry.

Why on earth is that a problem? They are the immediate princes in line to succeed the Queen and each other. Harry is sixth in line.

Here’s another alleged complaint. Harry allegedly got upset with his older brother when he introduced him to Meghan. The Sun says that was the beginning of the rift between them:

Prince Harry fell out with Prince William when his older brother told him to “heed” Princess Diana’s warning not to “marry in haste”, it’s been claimed.

The Duke of Sussex, who has now quit the royal family, accused his once-close brother of trying to “wreck his relationship” with Meghan Markle.

William had told Harry to take his relationship with the former actress slowly after he was first introduced to her at Kensington Palace.

And he reiterated the warning after Harry and Meghan got engaged – this time using mum Diana’s advice to drive it home.

She had explained to William how she and Prince Charles “hardly knew each other” before marrying, the Daily Mail reports.

The comments sparked a rift between the two

Well, who could be angry about that? That’s just common sense advice to avoid a problem marriage.

One accusation that both Princes Harry and William say is false is the claim that the latter bullied the former. On Monday, January 13, The Sun reported that the brothers issued a joint statement denouncing the story:

Prince Harry and Prince William have united to say they are “deeply, deeply unhappy” about claims the latter’s ‘bullying’ caused the royal split.

The Duke of Sussex was originally said by a royal source to have felt pushed out of the royal family by his big brother.

But he has spoken out with William today slamming the “offensive” claims ahead of crisis talks being held by the Queen at Sandringham.

Their statement read: “Despite clear denials, a false story ran in a UK newspaper today speculating about the relationship between The Duke of Sussex and The Duke of Cambridge.

For brothers who care so deeply about the issues surrounding mental health, the use of inflammatory language in this way is offensive and potentially harmful.”

Meanwhile, the Sussexes have Elton John as a close confidant. Nothing wrong with that, except that they told him of their plans to withdraw from royal life before they told the Queen. On Sunday, January 12, The Sun reported on a story published in the Sunday People:

The Sunday People also revealed that Harry and Meghan have turned to Elton John after secretly telling him they were planning to quit royal life before they informed the Queen.

An insider said: “Sir Elton is constantly at the end of the phone for Harry and Meghan and speaks to them every day.

“He is an inspiration to them and has been an almost motherly figure to them throughout this process. They made their decision on their own but he has been a shoulder to lean on and listened to them as they spoke about their own plans.”

The public will stand by the Queen.

A few of her subjects, frustrated with the Sussexes, have suggested that Charles could demand that Harry take a DNA test. Yes, the paternity rumour mill has started again. However, it is said that red hair runs in the Spencer family, so he would have inherited it from his mother’s side.

I do hope everything works out well for all concerned. Whatever is decided upon will have far-reaching effects one way or another.

A few years ago, we all had high hopes for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Around the time of their wedding, it was thought that the Queen was going to make them Royal ‘ambassadors’ to the Commonwealth countries, which would have been splendid.

Now, their latest announcement on leaving the UK to live somewhere in North America — likely Canada — has divided admirers of the Royal Family, including the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

This looks like disloyalty — perhaps disroyalty. It is not a good look.

This move reminds many of us of Edward VIII’s abdication in 1936 in favour of the American divorcée, Wallis Simpson. Talk to any Briton who is over the age of 60 and, even if they were not alive at the time, they will tell you that abdication is a very big deal and destabilising for the Royal Family, even if only temporarily.

The former Ms Markle — real first name Rachel — is also a divorcée:

This is how the New York Post reported the story on Thursday, January 9:

Many of us hope that the Queen steps in and, along with Prince Charles, lays down the law to these two. They want to commercialise the Sussex titles. Yet, they are but temporary holders — renters — of them, not their perpetual owners. The Queen lent the Sussex titles to them. She can surely take them away.

Did the couple think this over carefully? One wonders. It will bring all sorts of issues:

Yes, things in future might not be all they seem at the moment.

The question of the public purse is also a valid one, mainly with regard to security, as they receive personal upkeep from Prince Charles (Duchy of Cornwall, 95%) and the Queen (Sovereign Grant, 5%):

The Queen had Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor estate refurbished for the Sussexes at the cost of £2.4m. She also threw a rightly lavish wedding for them, also costing millions. Now they want to split their time between the UK and Canada. This rankles:

This will be a hot topic in the months to come, even though the couple are not on the Civil List. The following is a reply to journalist and broadcaster Piers Morgan:

Then there are the family optics and dynamics involved. Views on these have been divided, especially with regard to the Queen and Prince Philip:

The Queen is our longest serving monarch and Britain’s Head of State. She is a national treasure. Does Harry owe her more allegiance than he does his own family? It is a sensitive subject with the public:

It has been reported that Prince Harry did not discuss his and the Duchess’s impending lifestyle change with the Queen, Prince Charles or Prince William. That has not gone down well with supporters of the Royal Family:

Some people say that Harry has an excuse for his behaviour because of the manner in which his mother died. However, as Piers Morgan points out, he is not the only person who lost a parent at an early age. Piers Morgan’s father died when he was a youngster, too:

People forget that Princess Diana was Prince William’s mother, too:

On now to the statement from the Sussexes, which they posted on their website and on Instagram:

January, 2020

“After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family, and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen. It is with your encouragement, particularly over the last few years, that we feel prepared to make this adjustment. We now plan to balance our time between the United Kingdom and North America, continuing to honour our duty to The Queen, the Commonwealth, and our patronages. This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity. We look forward to sharing the full details of this exciting next step in due course, as we continue to collaborate with Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, and all relevant parties. Until then, please accept our deepest thanks for your continued support.”

Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex

What about the carbon footprint??

Buckingham Palace issued this terse response:

Discussions with The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are at an early stage. We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through.

Morgan, writing for the Daily Mail, said on Thursday, January 9 (emphases mine):

Seriously?

I’ve seen some disgraceful royal antics in my time, but for pure arrogance, entitlement, greed, and wilful disrespect, nothing has ever quite matched the behaviour of the ‘Duke and Duchess of Sussex.’

I put inverted commas around those titles because I sincerely hope they won’t exist much longer.

Indeed, if I were Her Majesty the Queen, I would unceremoniously strip Harry and Meghan of all their titles with immediate effect and despatch them back into civilian life.

These two deluded clowns announced yesterday they were quitting life as senior royals.

In a series of staggeringly pompous statements on their gleaming new Hollywood-style website, they laid down the law to the Queen and to the rest of us about exactly how things are supposedly going to work from this moment on.

To summarise, they want to stop being ‘senior royals’ with all the tedious duty that entails.

And instead, they now want to be a ‘progressive’ force within ‘the institution’.

In other words, they want to be super-woke celebrities (with all the outrageous ‘Do as we say not as we do’ hectoring hypocrisy they’ve already brought to that status) who get to keep all the trappings of royal life without any of the hard, boring bits and the right to cash in on their status however they choose.

So, they want the glitz, the glamour, the splendour and the stupendous wealth….they just don’t want to have to actually earn it.

What a pathetic joke.

He was appalled that the Sussexes took this decision independently:

It was shocking enough that Harry and Meghan didn’t even have the courtesy to tell either Prince Charles, who they sponge off, or Prince William of their grandiose plans.

But it was absolutely appalling that they failed to notify the Queen.

This woman is not just Harry’s grandmother, she’s the Monarch for god’s sake.

She has spent the past six decades on the throne and by common consent has served her people with magnificent grace, commitment, respect and skill.

Elizabeth II will go down in history as one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, monarchs.

Yet now, at the age of 93, and with her 98-year-old husband Prince Philip suffering ill health, she’s had to suffer the repulsively rude indignity of being treated like a piece of insignificant dirt by her own spoiled brat grandson and his scheming, selfish D-list actress wife.

He discussed Edward VIII’s abdication:

Of course, and very ironically, she is only Queen because her own uncle, Edward VIII, also fell under the romantic clutches of another American woman, Wallis Simpson, and felt compelled to resign as King.

That led to his brother George VI taking over, and when he died, his eldest daughter Elizabeth was crowned Queen in her mid-20s.

Now, after surviving a number of royal crises including the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Her Majesty faces another that could cause potentially irreparable damage to the Monarchy.

Yes, coupled with Prince Andrew’s fall from grace last year, this development is very bad, indeed.

Timing is everything, it is said. This is excruciatingly poor timing.

When my generation were growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, our parents and teachers were appalled at our self-centredness. If I had a $1 for every time they said to us …

Me, me, me! That’s all you ever think about: self, self, self!

… I’d be writing this from Monaco.

Yet, this is what the Sussexes are doing: thinking about self, self, self!

Piers Morgan agrees:

Unfortunately — but quite rightly — the goodwill previously accorded to them is likely to vanish quickly.

This is what they are attempting to fob us off with:

This is closer to the stark reality of the situation:

January 9 happens to be the Duchess of Cambridge’s birthday:

It’s a shame this news overshadowed what should have been a happy day for her.

Self, self, self!

Bible read me 2The three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (here and here).

Hebrews 10:26-31

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

——————————————————————————————————

Last week’s post discussed the contrast the author of Hebrews made between the sacrifices of the Old Testament and Christ’s living sacrifice on the Cross.

It is important to remember that after Jesus died on the Cross, the veil covering the Holy of Holies in the temple of Jerusalem was rent in two. We do not think too much about that. Yet, we should. As regular readers of my columns on Hebrews know, that rending of the veil meant that there was no longer any barrier to God. Jesus’s blood sacrifice at the Crucifixion removed that barrier permanently. We now go to the Father through Him.

Matthew Henry’s commentary has an especially interesting detail about the veil. It is well worth remembering (emphases mine below):

The veil in the tabernacle and temple signified the body of Christ; when he died, the veil of the temple was rent in sunder, and this was at the time of the evening sacrifice, and gave the people a surprising view into the holy of holies, which they never had before. Our way to heaven is by a crucified Saviour; his death is to us the way of life. To those who believe this he will be precious.

On to today’s reading, which carries a stark warning about the Christian life. If we know the truth of Christ, yet do not turn away from serious sin, Christ’s blood sacrifice becomes null and void for us (verse 26). If that happens, we can expect fearsome judgement upon ourselves (verse 27).

Matthew Henry says that these verses refer to apostasy, not minor sins:

From the description he gives of the sin of apostasy. It is sinning wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, sinning wilfully against that truth of which we have had convincing evidence. This text has been the occasion of great distress to some gracious souls; they have been ready to conclude that every wilful sin, after conviction and against knowledge, is the unpardonable sin: but this has been their infirmity and error. The sin here mentioned is a total and final apostasy, when men with a full and fixed will and resolution despise and reject Christ, the only Saviour,–despise and resist the Spirit, the only sanctifier,–and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of salvation, and the words of eternal life; and all this after they have known, owned, and professed, the Christian religion, and continue to do so obstinately and maliciously. This is the great transgression: the apostle seems to refer to the law concerning presumptuous sinners, Numbers 15:30,31. They were to be cut off.

The anonymous author, inspired by the Holy Spirit, appealed to his Jewish audience — some of whom were recent converts, others resistant — by mentioning the law of Moses, the terms of which they all understood. If those under the Old Covenant disobeyed those laws and had two or three witnesses to corroborate such sin, they died ‘without mercy’ (verse 28). That was a temporal death by stoning.

The source text for that judgement, which concerns idolatry, is Deuteronomy 17:2-6:

2 “If there is found among you, within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abomination has been done in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

The author then asked his audience about the severity of punishment under the New Covenant (verse 29): would it not be far greater for denying Christ via apostasy?

Henry describes apostasy and the unimaginable punishment for it in the next life as follows:

(1.) They have trodden under foot the Son of God. To trample upon an ordinary person shows intolerable insolence; to treat a person of honour in that vile manner is insufferable; but to deal thus with the Son of God, who himself is God, must be the highest provocation–to trample upon his person, denying him to be the Messiah–to trample upon his authority, and undermine his kingdom–to trample upon his members as the offscouring of all things, and not fit to live in the world; what punishment can be too great for such men? (2.) They have counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing; that is, the blood of Christ, with which the covenant was purchased and sealed, and wherewith Christ himself was consecrated, or wherewith the apostate was sanctified, that is, baptized, visibly initiated into the new covenant by baptism, and admitted to the Lord’s supper. Observe, There is a kind of sanctification which persons may partake of and yet fall away: they may be distinguished by common gifts and graces, by an outward profession, by a form of godliness, a course of duties, and a set of privileges, and yet fall away finally. Men who have seemed before to have the blood of Christ in high esteem may come to account it an unholy thing, no better than the blood of a malefactor, though it was the world’s ransom, and every drop of it of infinite value.

The author of Hebrews reminds his audience that vengeance belongs to God, that God will judge and repay (verse 30). If we reject His Son and His Son’s ultimate sacrifice for us, then we can expect everlasting damnation and an unimaginably painful eternity.

As the author says (verse 20):

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Henry expands on that point:

From the description we have in the scripture of the nature of God’s vindictive justice, Hebrews 10:30. We know that he has said, Vengeance is mine. This is taken out of Psalms 94:1, Vengeance belongs unto me. The terrors of the Lord are known both by revelation and reason. Vindictive justice is a glorious, though terrible attribute of God; it belongs to him, and he will use and execute it upon the heads of such sinners as despise his grace; he will avenge himself, and his Son, and Spirit, and covenant, upon apostates. And how dreadful then will their case be! The other quotation is from Deuteronomy 32:36, The Lord will judge his people; he will search and try his visible church, and will discover and detect those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan; and he will separate the precious from the vile, and will punish the sinners in Zion with the greatest severity. Now those who know him who hath said, Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompense, must needs conclude, as the apostle does (Hebrews 10:31): It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Those who know the joy that results from the favour of God can thereby judge of the power and dread of his vindictive wrath. Observe here, What will be the eternal misery of impenitent sinners and apostates: they shall fall into the hands of the living God; their punishment shall come from God’s own hand. He takes them into the hand of his justice; he will deal with them himself; their greatest misery will be the immediate impressions of divine wrath on the soul. When he punishes them by creatures, the instrument abates something of the force of the blow; but, when he does it by his own hand, it is infinite misery. This they shall have at God’s hand, they shall lie down in sorrow; their destruction shall come from his glorious powerful presence; when they make their woeful bed in hell, they will find that God is there, and his presence will be their greatest terror and torment. And he is a living God; he lives for ever, and will punish for ever.

The author leaves that message with his audience. Next week’s post will explore the joy and confidence one can have in Christ through obedience in love.

Next time — Hebrews 10:32-39

What follows are the readings for the First Sunday after Epiphany — Baptism of the Lord — January 12, 2020.

These are for Year A in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

Isaiah prophesies the Messiah’s coming in humility and gentleness but with all strength.

Isaiah 42:1-9

42:1 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

42:2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;

42:3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.

42:4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

42:5 Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:

42:6 I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,

42:7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

42:8 I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.

42:9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

Psalm

It is thought that David wrote this Psalm during a thunderstorm. While those around him quaked with fear, David reflected on God’s glory and majesty.

Psalm 29

29:1 Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory of his name; worship the LORD in holy splendor.

29:3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over mighty waters.

29:4 The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

29:5 The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.

29:6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.

29:7 The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.

29:8 The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

29:9 The voice of the LORD causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

29:10 The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.

29:11 May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Epistle

Luke tells us what Peter preached to Cornelius — the first Gentile convert — and his household. Acts 10 is one of the most dramatic chapters of the Apostolic Era. Both Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and Peter have divine visions which served to bring them together.

Acts 10:34-43

10:34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality,

10:35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ–he is Lord of all.

10:37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced:

10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

10:39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree;

10:40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear,

10:41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead.

10:43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Gospel

Matthew tells us of John the Baptist baptising Jesus. Note John’s humility when he says that Jesus should be baptising him.

Matthew 3:13-17

3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.

3:14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

3:15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

3:16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

So often I read from fringe Christian commentators that it is not necessary to be baptised. Yet, following our Lord’s example, every committed Christian should be baptised. It is one of the Sacraments, the second being Holy Communion.

I know of parents who did not have their children baptised. They lived to regret it, as their offspring never did commit to Christianity. Therefore, do not delay.

Francis’s papacy has been a strange one from the start.

However, over the last year, his meet-and-greets have produced further odd behaviours.

Either he is messing with faithful Catholics or he doesn’t feel worthy of the papacy.

I mention the latter, because as the video immediately following shows, he doesn’t seem to want to receive the respect of the faithful. A bit like a bad guy telling a good woman:

You don’t want to love me. Honest. Just go away.

The papal ring

Centuries ago, visitors to the Pope kissed his foot rather than a ring.

Everyone knows that kissing the papal ring is a deep sign of respect for the office of Pope.

However, on March 25, 2019, the Pope appeared to be playing chicken with worshippers after a Mass in Loreto, Italy.

Here’s the video, which independent journalist Ezra Levant revived on New Year’s Day, for reasons explained in the next section of this post:

Either let people kiss the ring or announce in the beginning that handshakes are preferred. Who would have objected? No one.

In the event, he kept pulling his hand away. It’s really disgusting to watch. They approach reverently. After all, it’s not every day that one meets Pontifex. He waited until they were really close to his hand then yanked it out of their reach. He smiled at them, as if he were playing a game — one that he always wins.

For some, it must have been bewildering, even embarrassing, as the BBC reported (emphases mine):

During a 53-second period, Francis snapped his hand away from 19 people trying to bow and kiss his ring. One particularly unfortunate man ended up kissing his own hand after the pope suddenly withdrew from the greeting.

How sad for him.

However, the Beeb said that this 53-second period followed a ten-minute period of greeting those assembled:

Official Vatican TV footage shows that Francis stood in a receiving line for around 13 minutes and received (by my count) at least 113 monks, nuns, and parishioners – either individually or in pairs.

No one appeared to offer any instruction on how to greet him. During the first 10 minutes, 14 people shook Francis’s hand without bowing down to kiss his ring.

In this time, 41 people bowed down towards Francis’ hands, either making the symbolic gesture of kissing his ring, or actually kissing the ring itself.

The Pope did not protest.

Nine went even further. They bowed and kissed his ring, and then embraced him as well (one particularly devout monk outmatched everyone else by kissing both of the Pope’s hands.)

Then:

After the first 10 minutes, the Pope’s behaviour changed.

That’s when he began withdrawing his hand.

Although the BBC article stated was titled ‘Pope’s ring-kissing controversy not what it seems’, nothing in it explained why that was the case.

On March 28, ITV reported the reason in the damage control that the Vatican had to undertake:

Pope Francis has set the record straight as to why he pulled his hand away from worshippers eager to kiss his ring, saying the reason was “very simple: hygiene”.

After greeting a long line of faithful at the Holy House of Loreto, an Italian pilgrimage site, the Pope reportedly started feeling concerned about the spread of germs.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti explained the bizarre footage, saying the Pope was concerned about hygiene when he began pulling his hand away to discourage people from kissing his ring.

“The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene,” Gisotti said to reporters, adding: “He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him.”

Gisotti also said that Francis is fine with ring-kissing in small groups.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to just have said so in the beginning? He would have seen how many people were there.

Does he have ambivalent feelings about wearing the Ring of the Fisherman?

On March 26 — two days before the hygiene statement emerged — The Guardian reported the following:

“Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he does not. It’s really as simple as that,” said a close aide to the pope who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The aide added he was “amused” by all the reaction.

I thought as much.

A Guardian opinion piece on March 27 reinforced this impression:

as so often with Francis, the messages are mixed: according to the Vatican, he sometimes doesn’t mind his ring (the so-called “fisherman’s ring”, which recalls St Peter, who Catholics believe was the first pope), and at other times he doesn’t like it at all. Which makes it a bit tricky for people like those gathered in Loreto the other day: to kiss or not to kiss? It seemed like some sort of strange parlour game, with some people seemingly allowed to touch his hand with their lips, while others had it snatched away.

On March 28, the Catholic Herald confirmed the pope’s ambiguity about his ring.

Let’s keep in mind that Francis has no problem kissing non-Catholics, though:

Not surprisingly, the faithful are unhappy with the contradictory behaviour — and him. We might not endorse each of the following comments in full but can nonetheless empathise with their feelings:

The slapped woman, following the anti-violence sermon

On New Year’s Eve, the Pope had a bit of a walkabout in Saint Peter’s Square.

Earlier that day, he had celebrated a Mass for the World Day of Peace.

Oh, the irony.

During the walkabout, a woman grabbed his arm. We know nothing about her, except that she felt passionately about meeting Pontifex, ‘the bridge’ between Catholics and Christ. She might have travelled thousands of miles to be there at that moment. We also do not know what she said to him. We might never know. In any event, she did not want him to pass her by.

This is what happened. He slapped her hand twice, turned on his heel and stormed off to another part of the crowd:

Comments on this tweet were overwhelmingly sympathetic to the pontiff.

However, comments on another tweet with the same video criticised his reaction. I particularly agree with the first one:

Yes, he apologised in a sermon condemning violence against women the next day. In the post-Vatican II world, Catholics call New Year’s Day The Solemnity of Mary rather than the traditional Naming of Jesus.

The Daily Mail has part of the transcript and photos of his encounter the evening before:

He contended that if we want a better world in the new year, we should treat women with dignity. He added that involving women in decision-making is key to making humanity more peaceful and united.

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis decried ‘how many times women’s bodies are sacrificed on the profane altar of advertisements, of profit, of pornography.’ He lamented that while women are in his words ‘the sources of life,’ they are continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution’ or forced to have abortions.

Francis praised women as ‘donors and mediators of peace,’ and urged that they should become ‘fully associated’ with decision-making in order to make the world more united and at peace.

‘A conquest for women is a conquest for the whole of humanity,’ he said.

Oh, well, at least he apologised before Mass:

‘We lose patience many times,’ Francis confessed.

‘It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday,’ the head of the Catholic church said before celebrating Mass at the Vatican.

Still, with everything going on in Hong Kong, one would think he would have been more sensitive emotionally to that lady. If she is from there, it is hard to blame her for being fraught. She might have wanted to give him a general prayer intention.

Seminarians are taught how to interact with the public. He has been a clergyman long enough to know how to handle unexpected situations.

Then again, he was never much good with the mothers in Argentina when their children went missing during the military junta known as the Dirty War (1976-1983). It was a dangerous and sorrowful time for them. They gathered one day a week at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and were known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. As a prominent priest in Buenos Aires, he was of no help to them — or even one father — in interceding with the government at that time, even when contacted (see 1977 letter to the father of Estela de la Cuadra).

As of 2013, he made no move to open up Church archives to see if they show any information about the Dirty War and missing persons, often taken to prison camps or killed.

In 2018, he merely offered a prayer for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

For someone so interested in social justice — and women, apparently — one would think the Pope, an Argentinian, could do much better.

One year after President Trump put more stringent immigration controls in place along the southern US border, the number of migrants has been dropping.

On January 6, 2020, Issues & Insights (I&I) reported (emphases mine):

Last week, 18 people crossed the border illegally into Arizona hoping they could exploit a loophole in U.S. asylum policy to stay in the country. Instead, they found themselves shipped back to Mexico while their asylum claims are reviewed

The 18 migrants were sent back to Mexico thanks to a policy President Donald Trump implemented that goes by the official name of “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), but more colloquially known as “Remain in Mexico.” First adopted a year ago, the administration has been working with Mexico to steadily expand it. The Nogales port of entry south of Tucson, Arizona, where the 18 were sent, is the site seventh to be included.

Before this policy went into effect, illegal immigrant families knew that if they crossed the border and claimed asylum, they’d effectively get a free pass. Immigration officials would release them into the U.S. within 20 days, on the promise that they would show up for their court date months in the future. Few bother to return. This policy was dubbed “Catch and Release” for a reason.

Now, they must wait in Mexico while immigration judges review their cases.

This has happened without the ‘wall’ (generally, a tall steel and cement-reinforced fence) in place, although that will be built, too.

Results have been incredible:

The number of apprehensions at the southwest border plummeted from 144,000 in May 2019 to just 42,649 in November – the last month for which the government has data. The number of families caught crossing illegally went from 84,486 in May to a mere 9,000 in November.

As the El Paso Times put it, “the policy has proved to be a virtual wall.”

The article, citing the Wall Street Journal, says that successes have occurred elsewhere, too:

Border crossings plummeted in most other areas of the border over the same period.

The I&I article says that the Trump administration has used a multi-pronged approach to border control, including international co-operation and tighter asylum application rules:

Last July, the administration issued a rule denying asylum to anyone who crossed another country before getting to the U.S. border if they didn’t seek asylum in that country first. This policy directly attacks the migrant caravans traversing Mexico. The administration has also struck deals with Central American countries that let the U.S. return asylum seekers to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The administration has tightened up what counts as a “credible fear” claim for asylum seekers. At one detention facility, the number passing the credible fear claim plunged from 97% to just 10%.

Trump’s threat to impose stiff tariffs on Mexico unless it got serious about border control also made a huge difference, with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suddenly sending troops to detain migrants.

Also:

A Government Accountability Office report released in December found that arrests climbed 34% from 2015 to 2018, detentions went up 35%, and removals rose 13%.

Who benefits from these changes?

Americans who have been shut out of the job market:

As we noted in this space recently, it’s been Americans who’ve gained work filling jobs that would have been taken by illegals.

In August 2019, ICE removed many illegals from Mississippi who were working at chicken processing factories. Americans applied for the jobs in droves, as Breitbart reported on August 13:

Roughly 150 locals attended an August 12 job fair to apply for jobs at the Koch Foods’ plants in Mississippi.

The fair was run after the August 7 removal of 243 alleged illegal migrants in two of the company’s chicken processing plants, according to local authorities.

Neil Monro’s article for Breitbart notes that Americans earn more once illegal workers are removed from employment:

… wages have spiked upwards for Americans when employers were forced to give up their illegal workforces.

Black employment also improves when illegals are no longer working. This welcome development will boost the American president’s favourability further, as the following tweet and replies to it indicate (click on original tweet to read more):

President Trump is doing the right thing.

I was unsure about his ‘wall’ idea in 2016, but, living overseas, had no idea how bad the southern border problem was.

As is so often said about him, ‘Promises made. Promises kept.’

What a relief for the American people: a president who truly does have their interests at heart.

The increasingly vocal call for action to resolve the climate emergency — some say ‘crisis’ — involves more than climate.

It would involve a whole new way of life for the West: widespread Socialism.

Issues & Insights (I&I) had a good article, published on January 7, 2020: ‘Climate Hysteria Is A Backdoor For Imposing Personal Interests On The Public’.

Excerpts follow below.

We should hope that Western governments, such as President Trump’s, resist such calls to collectivise us and, and with that, restrict our choices in life.

Food and farmland

We all know about the calls from climate change campaigners for all of us to become at least partial vegetarians, yet, there’s a bit of hypocrisy here with regard to their personal meat consumption (emphases mine):

None were easily found at the last United Nations climate conference in Madrid, where U.N. bureaucrats chow(ed) down on burgers – while attacking meat.”

I bet those burgers were tasty, too.

With our increased immigration numbers in Europe, we find that some nations, particularly the UK, have a housing shortage. If the trend for more immigration continues, more resources (e.g. water) will be needed along with increases in schools and medical facilities, to name but two.

Yet, at least one prominent Briton says we need to turn farmland into nature preserves. How can this make sense when, surely, we will also need more food?

Ian Boyd, a former chief scientific adviser for the government, is claiming, according to a recent British Guardian report, that “half of the nation’s farmland needs to be transformed into woodlands and natural habitat to fight the climate crisis and restore wildlife.”

“We need a large, radical transformation and we need to do it quickly, in the next decade” said the good professor.

Communal housing

Across the pond, a UCLA professor, Kian Goh, wants to do away with private family housing in favour of communal housing:

“If we want to keep cities safe in the face of climate change, we need to seriously question the ideal of private homeownership,” says the subhead of piece published in The Nation two days before Christmas …

“The idea of cooperative living,” (which clearly means “communal” living and therefore is socialism-based) “in both financial and social terms,” writes Goh, “needs room to breathe and grow.”

Obviously there’s no room for the freedom to choose in Goh’s world.

For those who are unaware, this was the mainstay of 20th century housing in the Soviet Union. I couldn’t find any photos to share with you, but I have seen enough documentaries on Soviet living to know that these flats were dreary, noisy and cramped. Furthermore, kitchen and bathroom facilities were shared, which meant that there was little privacy. One also had to guard against theft; food was often kept in the private rooms of these buildings.

This way of living dated back to the days following the Bolshevik-led Russian Revolution, which began in 1917 and ended in 1923.

An article from Reviews in History, ‘Gender and Housing in Soviet Russia: Private Life in a Public Space’, explains:

early Bolshevik thinkers initially imagined a Communist state that would simultaneously provide housing for all citizens and relieve women of the burdens of household labour by transferring domestic chores to socialized kitchens, laundries and childrearing institutions. Organized and financially supported by the government, such facilities would also uphold another Bolshevik aim, that of creating a collectivist society. The municipalisation of housing immediately after the Revolution signalled the inauguration of a new byt by increasing the supply of available living space and essentially decreeing that people of divergent class backgrounds cohabitate

Providing a shared kitchen and collective childcare, this type of dwelling was seen to hold the potential to radically reconstruct bourgeois living arrangements, which, according to Bolshevik thinkers like Aleksandra Kollontai, had enslaved women. Communal housing was also perceived to be the best solution for relieving the relentless shortage of space and enforcing collectivism.

Wikipedia’s entry for the communal apartment explains that the building design was often impractical and could be risky when a group of people who did not care about each other were placed together:

Space in communal apartments was divided into common spaces and private rooms “mathematically or bureaucratically,” with little to no attention paid to the physical space of the existing structures. Most apartments were partitioned in a dysfunctional manner, creating “strange spaces, long corridors, and so-called black entrances through labyrinthine inner courtyards.”[13] Entire families lived in a single overcrowded room, with little hope of changing their situation.[14]

The bit about light switches is surreal:

Residents were meant to share the kitchen, bathroom and corridors amongst themselves, but even these spaces could be divided. For example, each family might have their own kitchen table, gas burner, doorbell, and even light switch, preferring to walk down the hall to use their light switch to turn on the bathroom lights rather than using a closer switch belonging to another resident.[15] Furthermore, the hallways were often poorly lit, because each family had control of one of the lights hanging in the corridor, and would only turn it on for their own benefit. Though communal apartments were relatively small, residents had to wait at times to use the bathroom or kitchen sink. The kitchen was the primary place the residents interacted with one another, “sharing their joys and sorrows,” and scheduling shared responsibilities. Wary of theft, residents rarely left groceries in the kitchen unless they put locks on the kitchen cabinets. However, they often stored their toiletries in the kitchen as opposed to the bathroom, because other residents could more easily use things left unattended in the bathroom. Laundry was left to dry in both the kitchen and the bathroom.[16]

One never knew what one was going to encounter in a communal apartment building.

The government forced disparate people to live there:

the communal apartment residents were placed together at random, as a result of the distribution of scarce living space by a governing body. These residents had little commitment to communal living or to each other.[17] In spite of the haphazard nature of their cohabitation, residents had to navigate communal living, which required shared responsibilities and reliance on one another.

Every resident or family group was assigned communal duties:

Duty schedules were posted in the kitchen or corridors, typically assigning one family to be “on duty” at any given moment. The family on duty would be responsible for cleaning the common spaces by sweeping and mopping the kitchen every few days, cleaning the bathroom and taking out the trash. The length of time a family was scheduled to work usually depended on the size of the family, and the rotation followed the order of the rooms in the apartment.[18]

There were drunks living among decent people:

Communal living posed unique challenges; one author tells of an incident when a drunk neighbor passed out on the floor in front of the entrance to their room and urinated, to the horror of her mother, who was entertaining foreign guests when the “little yellow stream slowly made its way through the door of the room.” She relates this incident to the experience of communal living, “both intimate and public, with a mixture of ease and fear in the presence of foreigners and neighbors.” [19]

Everyone knew your business and your daily routine:

Neighbors are forced to interact with each other, and they know nearly everything about each other, their schedules and daily routines, profession, habits, relationships and opinions, prohibiting any sense of privacy in the communal apartment.[20]

The communal kitchen was an epicenter of the communal life in the apartment, with its news and gossips, joys and dramas, friendly shared salt and nasty practical jokes.

Spying for the authorities was common, too:

Spying was especially prevalent in the communal apartment, because of the extremely close quarters people lived in. It was not unusual for a neighbor to look or listen into another resident’s room or the common room and to gossip about others.[21] Furthermore, the communal apartment was “a breeding ground of police informants,” [22] people were encouraged to denounce their neighbors, and often did so to ensure safety for themselves or to gain their neighbor’s room for themselves after they had them evicted or imprisoned.[23]

Sounds like a great plan, doesn’t it?

No doubt the aforementioned Dr Kian Goh would say he has a better idea in mind.

However, collectivism never has worked and never will, from the 19th century days of religious or ideological sects searching for utopia to the 1970s communes.

Furthermore, our betters — those in government and captains of industry — would not be living like this. They would continue to live in relative freedom and privacy. This is for the little people, the plebs, the ones they detest: you (most probably) and me.

Wealth redistribution

The I&I article mentioned …

a woman described as an “environmental strategist”

… who railed against what she called ‘fossil fuel capitalists’, demanding reparations and redistribution of wealth:

“We will demand reparations for the harm that they caused,” she tweeted. “Together we will redistribute trillions of dollars to fund a #GreenNewDeal.”

According to Townhall, the woman – who was given a microphone and stage clearly to stir up emotions, and has common ground with Joe “Put Fossil Fuel Executives In Jail” Biden –  also said “let me hear your vigor for ending racism while you do it” and “we need to make them pay today.” So again we find evidence that the goal isn’t to stop Earth from overheating, but to fulfill a left-wing wish list.

Greta agrees

Greta Thunberg agrees that the climate emergency is about implementing socialism.

I&I quoted her speech at the COP in Madrid last December:

Last month, she told her thrilled-to-be-scolded followers that the climate crisis is not just about the environment. It is a crisis of human rights, of justice and of political will. Colonial, racist and patriarchal systems of oppression have created and fueled it. We need to dismantle them all.”

There you have it — straight from the Green Goddess herself.

The I&I article concludes on climate fanatics:

We should be appalled at the dishonesty that’s at the rotten core of climate fanaticism. But we’re not, because its disciples learned from some of the most deceitful and vicious characters throughout history.

I can’t say better than that.

Be forewarned. Get informed.

The furore surrounding the notional climate emergency is far from what it appears to be on the surface.

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