The role of Harry and Meghan, the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, was to be the almost fairy-tale models for a world in need of elite leadership. They were called to embody all that is excellent in the British nation so that others might strive to imitate them. But they have utterly failed in their duty.

Most people are employed for what they do. Others find jobs for what they know. However, few people find their function exclusively in what they are.

Of the three jobs, the last is by far the most important and difficult. The other two involve situations where individuals can rest from their occupations. The third job calls for persons to represent what they are at all times and places. They must live up to specific standards that define them and for which they are known.

Such was the case of Harry and Meghan, the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who once lived as part of England’s royal family. Their role was to be the almost fairy-tale models for a world in need of them. They were called to embody all that is excellent in the British nation so that others might strive to imitate them.

The Tragic Tale of Oprah Show

Most now know their tragic story. In the recent interview on Oprah Winfrey’s show, the couple tried to justify the abandonment of their role as models. They expressed instead the desire to live a contradiction. They want to lead an ordinary life while enjoying and cashing in on the notoriety that comes from their extraordinary role.

Many looked upon the interview with distaste. It was an exercise of woke victimhood as the couple accused the royal family of racism, elitism and other maladies. They railed against the monarchical system that demanded service and restraint. The two royals reveled in the freedom of defining who they wished to be.

Many might be tempted to write off the whole episode as proof of the rottenness of all elites. They might reason the world would be better off without them.

Representative Characters

Such a conclusion is at odds with the real world. People need heroic figures who can embody the best of humanity. There need to be people who set the standard. Such figures are capable of great deeds and actions. However, their main role is to unite, harmonize and elevate society by the power of their presence. Take them away, and society decays into mediocrity and sloth.

Indeed, sociologists recognize this innate need, and some identify these figures as what are called  “representative characters.” As scholar Alasdair MacIntyre writes, such characters “are, so to speak, the moral representatives of their culture and they are so because of the way in which moral and metaphysical ideas and theories assume through them an embodied existence in the social world.”

“A representative character is a kind of symbol,” writes Robert N. Bellah. “It is a way by which we can bring together in one concentrated image the way people in a given social environment organize and give meaning and direction to their lives.”

True Elites Unify Society

Thus, Harry and Megan are meant to be representative characters. They should take upon themselves the sacrifice of being models for society. The privilege of being part of royalty is merely a platform from which they can better offer their disinterested service to all.

The role of true elites is to be representative characters that engage, encourage, coax and interpret all that is most excellent out of society. As for royals, they aim at such high standards that many often take them to be the stuff of fairy tales. That is why all levels of society find fulfillment in representative characters. Far from causing class struggle, these figures serve to unify society around sublime ideals. Their role is to sacrifice themselves for the common good of the nation.

Thus, the Queen commands the respect of everyone—even the two errant royals. Despite her shortcomings, she endures well into her nineties, representing the British nation with grace and dignity. She is a living symbol of stability, self-sacrifice, and decorum in a cold, cruel, and volatile world.

False Elites: Heroes to Victims

Postmodern society destroys the narratives that support representative characters. It encourages self-aggrandizement and success with no duties attached.

The Oprah interview demonstrated this well. It presented the model of false elites who hold a selfish and individualistic outlook with no objective standards of excellence. Everything is subjective and directed inward. The most important matters are emotional and passionate. It is all about self, not the serving of others.

When events eventually turn against these false elites, the protagonists turn against the system with resentment and bitterness. False elites no longer direct heroic actions. They whine about the injustice of the same system, which affords them so many privileges. The extreme effort of the hero is replaced by the easy sloth of the victim who demands everything.

Thus, many people find cause to denounce the swamp of false elites destroying society by the horribleness of their bad examples. These unrepresentative characters inspire and fool no one. Quite the contrary, false elites are like the Gospel salt that loses its savor. It is good for nothing but to be trodden underfoot, which is what the scorning multitudes do.

A Need for Good Elites

Thus, contrary to the populist spirit of the times, society needs good elites who can be those representative characters that sociologists claim are essential.

Society needs models, and youth need heroes. People are tired of ideological and partisan political agendas. There must be those who sacrifice for the common good.

Above all, this kind of society presupposes the help of God’s grace to overcome the weakness of fallen human nature. That is why true elites are naturally Christian. The supreme figure is Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who embraced the Cross and died on it to provide a divinely heroic model for all ages to come.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

The featured image is a photograph of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with other members of the royal family going to church at Sandringham on Christmas Day 2017. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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