Prince Albert and The Paternal Principle

In the September 25, 2014 issue of the New York Review of Books, the British writer, Geoffrey Wheatcroft reviews a biography of Edward VII: The Heir Apparent, A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince, Jane Ridley, Random House, 2014. The review is titled “The Hedonist King Who Knew His Place.” Wheatcroft writes with sophisticated amusement of Bertie’s (Albert Edward’s) sexual promiscuity during his many years as Prince of Wales. This sophisticated acceptance of male promiscuity as perhaps naughty, but not really immoral, is the main critical target of my book. In this post, though, I want to examine a reprimand Bertie’s father, Prince Albert, sent when learning of Bertie’s losing his “virginity” while serving a brief period with the army. I want to point out how a holder of the paternal principle would find the reprimand and find the straightforward language appropriate. What is the reprimand? I quote from Wheatcroft’s review and place the reprimand in bold italic type. For comparison purposes, I repeat the Paternal Principle from my book.

“Some of the younger officers had sportingly smuggled” Nellie Clifton “a superior tart” “into a hut in the camp, where she introduced Bertie to the joys of sex. Lord Tarrington, a lord-in waiting to Queen Victoria, maliciously repeated the rumors to Albert with devastating effect. Victoria never forgot”… “in a letter of terrible reproach Albert told Bertie how shameful it was

to thrust yourself into the hands of one of the most abject of the human species, to be by her initiated in the sacred mysteries of creation, which ought to remain shrouded in holy awe until touched by pure & undefiled hands.

It’s hard to imagine such a letter written by a father to a son in 1961, or 1761 for that matter and even at that time”…

Prince Albert died at age 42 shortly after reprimanding Bertie. Queen Victoria felt that Bertie’s sexual misconduct was a factor in Albert’s death.

Statement of The Paternal Principle,

A male may intentionally attain a sexual climax only in sexual intercourse with a consenting woman to whom he is bound by a life-long monogamous socially recognized union for procreation, In addition he should:(1) intend to cooperate with his spouse to protect and promote the lifelong natural development of any conception resulting from this intercourse and (2) strive to appreciate with his spouse the natural value of their sexual satisfactions and cooperate with her to enhance those satisfactions.

A holder of the Paternal Principle cannot quarrel with the thought expressed in Prince Albert’s reprimand. I can imagine fathers who belong to an organization such as the Knights of Columbus writing such a reprimand and imagine many more at least thinking that they should reprimand their sons in this way if they heard of them having sex with a prostitute or even having one-night stands. I can imagine many men reflecting with shame, expressible in similar words on some of their early sexual experiences. Of course, as their sons grow older and are not being “initiated” into these “sacred mysteries” fathers may conclude that it is not worthwhile reprimanding their sons. They ignore these immoralities with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy familiar to many of us who hold the Paternal Principle and realize when reprimands are ineffective in controlling the behavior of others. However, when reflecting on our own behaviors where we control how we act such sharp reprimands are always in place when we violate the Paternal Principle. Realization that we should be subject to such a reprimand is a helpful thought for fighting off temptations to violate the Paternal Principle. Prince Albert’s reprimand could be slightly rephrased to reprimand masturbation or homosexual activity.

I cannot say that a man should be so sensitive that he “falls apart” if he learns that his son has violated the Principle or realizes that he has violated the Paternal Principle. I can say that a man should not be so sensitive to “sophisticated opinions” that scorn the Paternal Principle that he is afraid to express publicly and privately in judging himself the strong judgment of Prince Albert’s reprimand. In this case, Prince Albert got it right.

However, what about the case of a married couple practicing birth control?

In Wheatcroft’s review we also read about birth control.”Not the least important of the many social changes during the queen’s very long reign was that, as natality statistics plainly show, by the 1890s the higher classes im England were practicing birth control by one means or another. That had not been so in the 1840s, but if any woman would ever have been grateful for the Pill it was Victoria, who hated pregnancy and childbirth as much as she relished passionate nights with Albert. Sad to say she took it out on her chihldren.” She had nine children

So, this post leads into a series of posts on the morality of artificial birth control.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.


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