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Commencements

Be Loyal to the Royal Within You

My message today can be stated in a single, short sentence: “Be loyal to the royal within you.” I first heard this advice from President Harold B. Lee when I was your age and a student at BYU.1

I offer this same advice to you today: Be loyal to the royal within you!

I was recently reminded about what it meant to be of royal lineage when I was in the presence of the King and Queen of Tonga. I was privileged to dine and to attend a welcoming ceremony at the new Tonga Village with His Majesty King Tupou VI and Her Majesty Queen Nanasipau’u. Their visit was full of pomp, pageantry, and protocol. We honored the royal within them in many ways. The king and queen were always seated above and separate from the other guests. Two young women knelt in front of their table to fan them. Guests bowed as they approached the monarchs and backed away from them as they left their presence. They were welcomed with formal speeches, dances, songs, cheers, and lavish gifts—including whole pigs and a magnificent tapa cloth that stretched across the entire lawn. The royal couple were people of great dignity and commanding presence. We honored our royal guests, and it was clear that they honored and were loyal to the royal within themselves.2

Are you being loyal to the royal within you? None of you is common born. Each of you has a royal pedigree. You are sons and daughters of a Heavenly King. As President Uchtdorf reminded us in Conference: “We are of the royal house of Elohim, the Most High God. We walked with Him in our premortal life. We heard Him speak, witnessed His majesty, learned His ways.”3

Live up to your heavenly heritage. For you are born to become kings and queens. That is the Father’s plan and great purpose. In the Book of Revelation we read that Christ “hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father,”( Rev. 1:6; cf. Rev. 5:10) and that he will share his throne with those who overcome ( Rev. 3:21 ). He intends to clothe his faithful children in regal robes and crowns, and to confer upon them honor, power, and glory that will eclipse that of any earthly monarch (Cf. D&C 132:19 ). He lives in you. So be loyal to the royal within you.

Not many years ago, my family held a reunion in which we honored our recently deceased father. We took a phrase from The Lion King as the theme of our family reunion and printed it on t-shirts: “he lives in you.”

Brothers and sisters, a kingly father lives in you, too: your Heavenly Father. Never forget this. Be loyal to the royal within you. Like Simba, you were not born to wallow with warthogs or yuk it up with weasely meerkats. You were born for more noble things. You were born to become kings and queens.

You come this earth with divine longings and potential. Your education here has helped you develop your potential, but you have much, much more capacity to learn and grow—truly unimaginable possibilities. For you have the potential to grow into godhood.

Take a moment and look at the person sitting on your left and on your right. They may appear ordinary, nothing very special. But if you could see your neighbor or yourselves for who they and you really are and someday may become, you would be struck with wonder. You might even be inclined to fall down and worship them.

As C. S. Lewis so memorably observed: “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship. . . . There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . . [I]t is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit.”4 And I would add, love, honor, and serve.

Satan, who wants all men to be as miserable as he is, ( 2 Ne. 2:18, 27 ) will tempt you to live below your privileges. He wants you to wallow in the mud and waste your lives in the base and the banal. He comes to all of us, as he did to Moses, “tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me.” But Moses knew that he was not merely a son of man. He was a son of God. “Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee.” ( Moses 1: 13-14)

Moses chose to be loyal to the royal within him. He embraced his divine identity as a son of God, rather than settle to see himself only as a son of man. You, too, can choose to be loyal to the royal within you.

Like Moses, you may be tempted to live beneath your royal heritage. You may even, at times, wander far from your heavenly home. If so, listen to the voice in your heart’s core that calls you back to your true self, for it calls you home. Heed its call, as did the Prodigal Son, who, “when he came to himself,” arose from a pigsty and returned home. ( Luke 15:17 )

To sin is to stray from our eternal identity and to wander from our true home. Heavenly Father bids us return to Him and to His image within us. When we turn to God, we return to who we really are—sons and daughters of a king.

I wrote a poem about this some years ago, inspired by the phrase in the Parable of the Prodigal Son that says, “And when he came unto himself.” It is called “Thy Gentle Voice."

Thy gentle voice recalls me home However far I stray. It whispers in my mother tongue When I have lost the way. It bids my restless soul to rest That rests in thee alone, And calls me back unto myself When I begin to roam. Sin is a wandering and a mask. A hollow vanity. I am not made for such pretense Since I am made for thee.

You , too, are not made for the hollowness, vanity, hypocrisy, greed, and lusts of this fallen world. Do not spend your labor for that which cannot satisfy, ( 2 Ne 9:51; cf. Is. 55:2) nor sell your divine birthright for a mess of worldly pottage. ( Gen. 25:29-34 ) You are made for better things. You are children of a King. You are made for kingdoms and glory. God’s purpose is to place royal robes on you and crown you with glory, immortality, and eternal life. He stands ready to receive you back into his “royal courts on high” with a divine embrace.5

So be loyal to the royal within you. You are a chosen, royal generation. (Cf. 1 Pet. 2:9 ) You are not made to eat husks with the swine but to feast with your father. You are not made for mud but for realms of glory and light.

With all my heart, I invite you, I encourage you, I implore you: Be loyal to the royal within you!

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Harold B. Lee, “Be Loyal to the Royal Within You,” BYU Speeches (Sept. 11, 1973).
[2] Coincidentally, when I returned home from being with the King and Queen of Tonga, I turned on the news and watched similar festivities in the UK, which was celebrating the 90 th birthday of the Queen Elizabeth II. Her majesty was honored with pomp and pageantry as only the Brits can do it. The news showed the royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace with thousands gathered below to celebrate the longest-reigning monarch in English history. Queen Elizabeth II has always acted in her royal role with dignity and decorum. She has been loyal to the royal within her.
[3] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “O How Great the Plan of Our God,” LDS General Conference, Oct. 2016.
[4] C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory,” in The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses, Ed. Walter Hooper (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975), p. 39.
[5] “O My Father,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1985), no. 292