A Christian Science perspective: The influence monarchs can have in people's lives through the example they set.
In a survey commissioned by the BBC in December 2007, 78 percent of respondents agreed that Britain should have a royal family. Eighty percent were sure there would still be a monarchy in 30 years. Even most young people would keep the monarchy, according to a separate poll of 18-to-24-year-olds, commissioned by the Discovery Channel.
Monarchs in Europe have a largely ceremonial position, serving in what are termed constitutional monarchies, with no parliamentary role or direct influence on political policy. Elsewhere in the world, monarchs have varying degrees of influence, from little to a great deal. But whatever the status of a monarchy, even apolitical, the influence it exerts is very real, in that monarchies are made up of highly public figures.
A statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor and the Christian Science movement, gave me an insight into the potential a monarch might have. She once wrote to her students that their “example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 110). At its best a monarchy, being so much in the public eye, can set a fine example of ethics, altruism, wisdom, good taste – in short, of the highest quality of thought. When the “ruler” shows himself or herself to be thus ruled, this must have an impact on the thought of the population, even if unconsciously. As wise and good parents influence the quality of life of their children, so those “at the top” have the opportunity to influence the quality of thought and life of their countries by the way they think and live.
The first letter to Timothy in the Bible encourages Christians to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” This indicates a specific link between the godliness, honesty, and peace of the population and prayer for kings and authority figures, prayer in line with God’s will for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:1-4).
Such prayers today will make a valuable contribution to the peace and quality of life of kings or queens, and therefore of nations, even those nations subject to an absolute monarchy. In its highest sense, prayer for kings, queens, emperors, or governments begins with the recognition that all are subject to God’s universal government – the government of infinite, divine Principle or Truth. Since Truth, God, is infinite, no one can be outside its holy influence or power to govern righteously. This holy influence is the Christ, whispering wisdom into the consciousness of every individual. Sincere prayer to recognize these facts in relation to “all that are in authority” helps silence the static that can obscure this voice of wisdom in those with leadership roles.
Monarchs of whatever hue have great responsibility, opportunity, and potential value in the setting of standards for their subjects, and they need our prayers. For them to “come unto the knowledge of the truth” must bless their countries and the world immeasurably.