Britain buzzes with excitement over the birth of a royal baby boy. Thats as it should be. After all, this baby is third in line for the throne. The nation looks forward to its first glimpse at their potential monarch. But Britain isnt the only country that cares about the new royal. While the whole world is curious, Americans possess an excitement that is second only to Britains. Why?
Didnt we fight a war so that we wouldnt have to care who was third in line for the throne? Didnt we explicitly repudiate titles of nobility in the Constitution? Why all the interest in a foreign royal? We cant help it. Its just human nature.
Its hardwired into our very being to desire a king. Throughout the history of the world, monarchy has been the most common form of government. Some people will argue that selfish strongmen imposed their will on oppressed populations, but that narrative doesnt fit the historical record. Monarchys predominance doesnt rest on oppression. It rests on the fact that for the last six thousand years most humans have been incredibly comfortable with the institution. People always preferred good kings to bad kings, but they rarely questioned the kingship itself.
We can point to a few notable exceptions. After the Athenians threw out their tyrants, they had a fling with democracy that lasted about a hundred and seventy years. Rome did a bit better. It operated without a king for almost five hundred years. Eventually the novelty of republicanism wore thin, and the Romans opted for one-man rule again. When Tiberius tried to become a private citizen, the Senate begged him not to. They needed a monarch.
Weve flirted with those failed models of governance in America. Hearkening back to Athens and Rome, we called ourselves a democratic-republic. We had a fine run with it, but were getting back to our monarchical roots. In a nod to our constitutional past, we still hold elections, but were increasingly looking to one man to solve all our problems. We just elect our king every four years now. No one looks to Congress to accomplish anything. Americas founding fathers would be astonished at the amount of hope and faith we place in the president. Theyd also be shocked by the amount of power that weve handed him. The world has never seen a mightier king than the modern-day POTUS.
So what are these monarchs supposed to be doing? The job description of a king might vary from culture to culture, but a couple of features stay constant. First, people expect their king to rule them. Second, they expect their king to protect and save them from their enemies. Why did the ancient Israelites demand that Samuel choose for them a king? They wanted to be like all the other nations (like I said, its human nature to want a king). But how? They said, We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles. The king fights for the people.
Ruling yourself and fighting your own battles is hard. Wed rather not do it. Its human nature to look to a king to do it for us. It actually might be worse than hard. It might be impossible. Can we rule ourselves? The Apostle Paul said, I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. So much for ruling ourselves. Fighting our own battles is equally futile. We cannot save ourselves. We need a king to do it for us. We need King Jesus.
Its this spiritual need for an eternal king that drives humans to look for temporal kings. Were looking for something that our souls need. Moreover, the two are not antithetical. Living under temporal authority trains the soul for living under spiritual authority. (Thats why libertarians are so dangerous.) Earthly kings are a shadow of Gods authority. Our souls are designed to be subject to a king.
We shouldnt be surprised that many Americans are so enamored with Britains royal family. Britains royals are the closest thing we have to a monarchy. We let our POTUS act like a king, but he doesnt carry the same mystique, and since we elect a new one every four years, its hard to get excited about tradition and dynasty. We claim that we dont believe in royalty, but in our hearts we know that were lying. A fascination with monarchy is not a cultural curiosity. Its part of human nature. Kings matter.