“For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”
~ King Lune (The Chronicles of Narnia)
In The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis scribes the tale of the young boy Shasta, who must learn that Nobility does not necessarily pass down through inheritance, nor does a humble upbringing preclude one from becoming 'Royal'. It is his courage throughout the tale that allows him to complete his Hero's Journey and to re-cognise the truth in the first part of King Lune's message above; a message which our (so-called) "royalty" could never hope to innerstand.
The second part of the quote goes a little deeper, however. Though no doubt referring to actually wearing finer clothes and laughing in the face of hunger and hardship, I also think C.S. Lewis is hinting at the more esoteric meaning of what it is to be 'Royal' and 'Noble'.
To “wear finer clothes” means less about the expense of the finery one wears and more about how you carry yourself on your Quest. The word ‘nobility’ has its roots in 'gnosis' (to know); therefore it can be used to signify ‘one who knows’. I take this to mean that the noble person knows himself. To know oneself thoroughly results in true Self-esteem and, clothed in this most shining of garments, one appears Royal even in the shabbiest of clothes; you know the Truth about your divine nature: that your body is the raiment of Spirit (THE Self).
To "laugh over a scantier meal" is to pluck from The Tree of Life that which most men miss: the fruits of truth, wisdom and knowledge. These me-als* sustain one’s self and lust for life with continued fascination, because they truly satisfy one's hunger and thirst (fruit/ Truth satisfies both). For a Noble existence allows for the brave woman to plunge into every experience of life with renewed wonder, not allowing (the illusion of) "time" to make drab that which is (in truth) made new in each moment.
The great Mystery of Why we are here can never be solved with the thinking, ego mind (that which separates you from the whole/ from God), only felt... or perhaps more accurately re-membered; i.e. to see clearly that you are already whole. As you re-member Who and What you Truly are you be-co-me ('be-with-Me', i.e. be with God) King of all your survey; as you complete your Hero's Journey you realeyes your Royal nature no matter what your material circumstance.
* Meals/ Food symbolically and esoterically equate to 'Truth' (of what we are) - that which truly sustains us.
'Me=ALL' - I AM the WHole contained within a part
'Me-Al' - Me connected back to 'Al' (The Father)
~ A.J. Dunbar