The most important observation on the inaugural address of Charles III as, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of His other Realms and Territories King, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith? He got the job done.
Turns of phrase are important to a speech, but the real key is accomplishing objectives. And Charles has one of the most difficult acts to follow in human history: a steady, globally revered leader, who for the entire living memories of most of her subjects, devoted herself selflessly to their service. And in so doing, in the words of commentator after commentator, “never set a foot wrong.”
Charles, in contrast, brings to the throne a reputation as an eccentric, a dotty old uncle, a wild card. There has been genuine concern that as he modernizes the monarchy, he will promote some of his nutty ideas (in particular about climate change) and devalue his role as leader of the Anglican church and defender of the faith.
Of equal concern: his roles as the moving party in one of the most public, spectacular and unpopular marital breakups ever, and in helping paper over with heaps of cold, hard cash allegations of outrageous behavior by his younger brother, bosom buddy of cosmic creep Jeffrey Epstein. Can Charles possibly represent the high standard of conduct the queen represented (leading this commentator, born the son of a then-British subject and a lifelong Anglophile, to weep openly at her passing)?
Yet Charles hit all the right notes to reassure a people shocked by their sovereign’s sudden demise. His tone, pace and modulation were somber and serious yet empathetic, sharing in grief without excessive display. His reference to setting aside both the charities he served and the issues he advocated signaled a commitment to rise above politics. But most of all, he emphasized duty, sacrifice, loyalty, tradition, preservation of institutions and the constitutional, social and religious role of the monarchy as the glue that holds British society together. He presented Elizabeth as a model of virtue in governing he would emulate.
The loss of virtue as the basis of government, more than any other factor, has upended society and weakened its bonds, not only in America but, despite the queen’s own example, also in Britain. Of which Charles is now the living symbol and which he must help hold together in a time of great economic, political and social peril, for the monarchy as well as the nation.
Given the choice between protecting freedom and preserving and promoting virtue — which the queen understood is often embodied in tradition — this commentator will take the latter every time. Because without the stanchion and bulwark of virtue, freedom becomes destabilizing and destructive license.
And a government that insists on moral license as the new normal can only do so by imposing it via coercion, thereby curtailing freedom. On that score, allow us to contrast Charles’ measured masterpiece introducing himself as the father of a nation with Uncle Joe’s ugly, bone-chilling diatribe of the previous week.
In an Elizabethan vein, Biden was presented and elected as a seasoned, sure-footed elder statesman and traditional “moderate” who would bring stability and order back to Washington and promised to unify his people. Yet his “Soul of the Nation” speech again proved him to be the opposite: an untrammeled liar and rabid partisan and progressive committed to bringing the full power of the presidency, the government and its allies down on Americans holding even mainstream but opposing views.
It is noteworthy that that Biden, in his unveiled threats to vast swaths of Americans who disagree with him, dwelt only on issues with a moral dimension, in the context of “rights” found nowhere in the Constitution or Declaration he cited, on the doorstep of the hall where both were signed. Surely, “rights” to snuff out life in the womb, engage in same-sex unions or indulge in transgenderism were not “endowed” by the Creator the Founders identified as the source of all rights, and whom Biden professes to worship.
Here, another critical observation: Donald Trump succeeded largely because, despite his own serial divorces and bankruptcies and boasts of a libertine past, he kept promises to protect institutions that promoted upright conduct and therefore, economic and social stability. He fought for religious freedom. Held fast against the transgender agenda. Rewarded and helped restore the Protestant ethics of entrepreneurship and hard work. And stood by our closest ally, a Jewish state, against a powerful global wave of anti-Semitism.
The centrality of virtue to political and social stability was the lesson of Elizabeth’s life and reign, the firm foundation of Charles’ moving tribute to her and pledges to his subjects – and the polar opposite of Biden’s obscene screed.
If Charles can follow through on the promise of this first address, and the model presented by Donald Trump and under attack from Uncle Joe, the new sovereign has a chance to preserve the monarchy and restore British leadership.
The Queen is dead. Long live the King we saw Friday.
Bob Maistros is a messaging and communications strategist, crisis specialist and former political speechwriter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.