“He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” As King Charles III prepares for his coronation, the words of poet J.W. Goethe give him – and us – food for thought.
Charles has many things in greater quantity than non-royals like me. Wealth. Fame. Butlers. Private jets. Clearly, we occupy slightly different real estate on Goethe’s spectrum – between king and peasant. Charles presides as head of state over 14 countries. I preside – happily I might add – over the dishes, taking out the garbage and mowing the lawn.
However, perhaps our similarities run deeper than our differences. We’re both husbands. We’re both fathers. We both have friends. And we both deeply value – and sometimes struggle with – the people in our lives. Our pathways to happiness and peace – in our hearts and our homes – centre on relationships.
Amidst the luxuries, indulgences and anxieties of royalty, I’d bet all the coronation chicken – sorry, quiche – in Westminster that Charles’ greatest memories, joys, struggles and hopes revolve around the people in his life, not the jewels in his crown.
The people around us need not define our identity, but our need for them does define our humanity. It’s no coincidence that the Bible’s vision of flourishing is anchored in how we relate to God and how we relate to each other. Relationality. The common DNA that runs in royal and peasant blood.
The success of King Charles III’s reign will attract commentary and judgment – most of it about his popularity, mistakes and relevance. But my prayers for the new King are for his relationships with his friends, his family, his staff, his subjects and his maker – the surest path to peace in his heart and home.