Still waiting for moral leadership in Britain: Queen’s cousin speaks to LSN
ROME, March 21, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Lord Nicholas Windsor, the youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Kent and first cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth II, told LifeSiteNews.com earlier this month that patience is required from those waiting for true moral and spiritual leadership to turn the anti-human, anti-life tide in Britain.
Lord Windsor sat down with LSN at the annual plenary meeting of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life on February 25th. He spoke at length of his conversion to Catholicism, through the influence of the late Pope John Paul II, and his dedication to the pro-life philosophy.
The hope of turning society away from the post-Christian amorality, he said, lies with the post-Baby Boom generation: “Our generation is the one after [the one] which made these, I think, calamitous decisions. To some extent, our generation looks upon all that with horror.”
He said that “undoubtedly” true leaders will emerge from the generation disillusioned with the social revolution. “There are inspiring people,” he added, but “perhaps not on the national stage … One has to be patient.”
Lord Windsor was received into the Catholic Church ten years ago and became the first ever member of the current English Royal Family to be married at the Vatican and the first since 1554 to be married according to the rites of the Catholic Church. His son Albert was the first member of the Royal Family to be baptized a Catholic since 1688.
Under the 1701 Act of Settlement, Lord Windsor lost his place in line, 27th, for the English throne upon his conversion. He studied theology in university and recently moved to Italy, but when resident in London attends Mass regularly with his wife at the Brompton Oratory. Lord Windsor’s mother, Katherine, Duchess of Kent, and his sister, Lady Helen Taylor, are also converts to Catholicism.
Recently, the American media was made aware that a member of the British Royal Family was a strong pro-life Catholic when the journal First Things published an article in which Lord Windsor asserted that abortion is a greater threat to Europe than Islamic terrorism.
As with so many young converts, he credits the influence of Pope John Paul II for his awakening to faith.
“It was a recognition of a richness and a fullness of Christian exposition, what is the faith, that I admit I hadn’t encountered” in the Anglican Church, he said.
Born in 1970, Lord Windsor sits squarely in the demographic that has come to be known in Catholic circles as the “JPII generation,” that which saw directly the “calamitous” results of the sexual and social revolutions of the latter half of the 20th century.
He became aware of the message of John Paul II in his late teens and remembers him as the young, dynamic “skiing” pope who appealed so strongly to younger people. It was the “realisation of the potential excitement of the life of faith” presented by Pope John Paul, that prompted him to look more deeply into what the Catholic Church proposed.
“To invite young people to the challenge of living an orthodox faith with integrity and being prepared to witness to it as much as they were able, was a very appealing thing. The directness of the pope in his address to young people was something perhaps they were not used to.”
The pope, and the Church he represented, offered, “rich, nourishing food” for the spiritual life. “Perhaps nourishing is the best word. He wasn’t offering anything diluted or made softer for our generation. It was a very hard but beautiful and loving presentation of faith and living it.”
“When I was a teenager, I have to say I more or less went along with the prevailing culture, and I wasn’t experiencing much of a pushing back against that from the church I belonged to, the Anglican Church.”
A pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Rome in the Jubilee year 2000 brought about a profound change and moved him away from acceptance of modern social and sexual mores.
“It was then I started to join the dots a bit. How it was possible that the Church could be holding these positions that society found so improbable or worse, retrograde or even wicked. And realising that not only did they make sense, but make sense in a very beneficial way, in a way that really is concerned, doesn’t just pay lip service, to the flourishing of human beings and desiring that they should be happy.”
Asked the million-dollar question: “What’s wrong with Britain,” Lord Windsor said, “I do hear a lot of people say that something has changed, whether it’s something to do with the loss of politeness that the British were famous for, or their reserve or perhaps innate conservatism, social conservatism.”
“It doesn’t really exist any more, or if it does it’s more on the margins of life. And perhaps this is partly where the pro-life question comes in because it’s something wrapped up in a matrix of questions about how to live and how to love and conduct relationships. How family life is and why it matters as the foundation of society.”
He said that, although there are many deep critiques of the direction of British society, his own impression is that there is hope. “There is something in British life that is resilient. I’m not sure that these things that people see should be seen as a permanent change for the worse. I definitely think there’s hope.”
Where things have become “particularly bad,” however, is among the working class people whose lives and prospects have been blighted by the moral breakdown that prevailed in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, and the social breakdown that followed it.
“Life for a lot of working class people, especially in the cities and housing estates, has got very, very tough indeed. With the expectation and opportunities pretty constricted. It looks very grim in some respects for a lot of people, who possibly can’t see.”
He said that this is “possibly” what Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly spoken of when referring to Britain’s “broken society” and his proposals that “voluntary efforts and civil society can help some of the people that the state evidently isn’t reaching,” he said. “By lifting them out of want, in its various forms, including education.”
But he said that it is spiritual poverty, which is outside the purview of the state, that most profoundly affects British life.
Part II of the interview with Lord Windsor will be published tomorrow.
This article updated with a minor correction 03/22/2011 at 11:52 am.