Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ireland and the Monarchy: Two New Books

Flying to and from Indianapolis for Christmas this weekend I had plenty of time to read. My two choices (one a Christmas gift), though quite different, fit well together as they both dealt with the complex relationship between Ireland and the British royal family. From a Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb by Timothy Knatchbull is a poignantly personal account of trying to come to terms with the trauma of the IRA bomb that on August 27, 1979 in Mullaghmore, Ireland killed his twin brother Nicholas (14), grandfather Lord Louis Mountbatten (79), grandmother Doreen Lady Brabourne (83) and friend Paul Maxwell (15). Crown and Shamrock: Love and Hate between Ireland and the British Monarchy by Mary Kenny (see other posts labeled "Ireland" for previous links to her articles on this blog) outlines (superficially from the Middle Ages and then substantially from Queen Victoria to the present) the historical background against which the particular outrage that bereaved Knatchbull transpired.

This cannot be not a conventional review, for I am still not sure exactly what I think of Timothy Knatchbull's book. I am glad I bought and read it and would certainly encourage all readers interested in its subject to do so. Certainly it is moving and beautifully written. As Nicholas Knatchbull became a real person and not just a name on a family tree, I occasionally found it necessary to put the book down and gaze out the airplane window for awhile, appropriately enough at plenty of clear blue sky, away from other passengers. Particularly important and effective is the emphasis on how the bond between identical twins is such that for one of them to lose the other is to lose part of himself. "We never doubted that our relationship was for life," writes the author in a heartrending photo caption. This is not a comfortable book to read, not only because the subject matter (despite uplifting elements) is so inherently tragic, but also because the reader is liable to wonder if he is being made privy to emotions and details so private and sensitive that he is intruding. (Reportedly that was the view of the author's older brother Norton, Lord Brabourne.)

Clearly Timothy Knatchbull, a survivor of one of the most heinous crimes of a conflict that produced many, has found a sort of peace, and that is to his credit and benefit. What can a reader, remote from the horror of terrorism, who has never known the pain he has, say other than to admire his resilience and eloquence and wish him well? But I am still not sure that "Peace" and "Forgiveness," however fashionable since the Good Friday Agreement, should be the only permissible reactions to the legacy of IRA terror. The Knatchbulls (who continue to love Ireland and its people) are remarkable for their lack of bitterness, but if other victims' families do not feel that way, are they wrong? Even if an individual can "forgive," should the State? Is it right that the man convicted of murdering those four people (two of them teenagers) in 1979, released as a result of that Agreement in 1998 and never publicly repentant, is able to live out his latter years in obscure quiet freedom with his wife, while Nicholas Knatchbull will never spend time with a wife or anyone else because that man murdered him? I tend to think not, but intend no criticism of the author, who is probably a better man than many, by raising these questions. I do wonder though if a general problem with aristocrats and royalty in the modern era has been that they are basically Nice People who perhaps do not fully grasp how evil their enemies are, at a time when Niceness is not enough and will not save their civilization.

Mary Kenny's book, though not without its personal touches in the form of first-person recollections of the author, is a more straightforward and comprehensive history. Conventional wisdom on both sides of Irish conflicts has tended to paint a picture of Irish Catholics being unanimously resentful of the British monarchy as a symbol of "oppression." (I don't think any reasonable Protestant, Unionist, or monarchist would deny that British policy in Ireland was not always particularly benevolent, as Kenny though not a propagandist does not let the reader forget.) Kenny paints a more nuanced picture in which Irish nationalism and Catholicism coexisted with affection for members of the royal family, sometimes even in the same households, with King Edward VII being particularly well regarded of the six monarchs discussed in depth. There were, of course, those in the Catholic/Nationalist camp who really did hate the royal family, in some cases combining strict Catholic morality with Puritanical disdain for the "flummery" of monarchy--exactly the same attitude I used to encounter among Catholic republicans, particularly those of Irish descent, when I used to try to promote monarchism in traditional Roman Catholic forums.

Altogether Crown and Shamrock, whose narrative is too complex to adequately summarize further here, makes for intriguing reading. However, I wish it had been better edited: its pages are marred by needless mistakes such as "Haakon I" for Haakon VII of Norway, "1995" for the 1997 death of Princess Diana, and "opionion" for "opinion," as well as a more serious type of error in which the facts of the Eulenberg scandal in Imperial Germany are completely jumbled. Hopefully subsequent editions will correct these lapses. Kenny concludes by eloquently hoping that the Republic of Ireland will finally invite Queen Elizabeth II for an official visit.

Ireland is, frankly, a difficult topic for English-speaking monarchists, especially those who are either Roman Catholic or who (like myself) are not but generally respect the role the Roman Catholic Church has played in history and like to think of it as a traditional bulwark of "Altar and Throne" monarchism. Unlike most of Europe's other Catholic nations, Ireland never developed an enduring unified monarchy of its own (surely a factor in its subjugation by England). While (as Kenny points out) many early nationalists were monarchists, the Irish national cause became increasingly identified and equated with militant republicanism, perhaps especially among its diaspora sympathizers in the United States. When considering Continental topics such as the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War, my sympathies are every bit as pro-Catholic as those of my militant traditionalist Latin-mass-attending friends, but when it comes to the British Isles, it's just not that simple. These two books don't pretend that anything about modern Irish history is simple, but taken together, From a Clear Blue Sky and Crown and Shamrock will do much to enrich the reader's understanding of the painful background their subjects share.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Awaiting a [Legitimist] Dauphin

"Tiberge" of GalliaWatch, a useful right-wing, monarchist-friendly blog intended for those interested in French history and politics who do not understand French, helpfully translates some recent royalist discussion about the pregnancy of Margarita Duchess of Anjou, wife of Legitimist claimant to the French throne Louis "XX," who is expecting twins (they already have a daughter), and the implications of the dispute between "Legitimists" and "Orleanists."

It is my position that since the extinction of the senior Bourbon line in 1883, it is possible to be a truly traditional monarchist, not desiring any ideological compromise with the principles of the French Revolution, and still regard the head of the House of Orléans, currently Henri "VII," as rightful King of France and heir not only to Louis Philippe but also to Henri V. The purely genealogical angle, focusing on whether the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht truly and validly excludes the Spanish Bourbons from the French throne (if so, Henri should be King; if not, Louis), tends to get overshadowed in these discussions by ideological, religious, and historical baggage. Henri's devoutly Catholic son Jean would certainly appear to be closer to the values of Louis XVI than to those of the despicable Philippe "Egalite." However, the perception that Henri "VII" necessarily stands for a modern secular constitutional monarchy like that of Spain's Juan Carlos, and only Louis "XX" can stand for the ancien regime and a thorough repudiation 0f the Revolution remains an influential one in French royalist circles and cannot be casually dismissed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Young Victoria: A Royalist Review

Monarchists and Anglophiles living in the United States certainly had to wait awhile for our latest dose of sumptuous royal period drama. The Young Victoria (previously mentioned on this blog here and here) was released in the UK on March 6 but did not appear in the US until today, and then only with a very limited release. Fortunately one of the theatres showing it is not far from me, so I was able to attend the first public showing this morning, and am happy to report that the film was worth the wait.

As Andrew Roberts observed, despite a couple minor inventions (Prince Albert did not attend his future wife's Coronation, and was never wounded shielding her from an assassination attempt), this is a film admirable for its historical fidelity. Director Jean-Marc Vallée is clearly not interested in sensationalism, nor is his creation aimed at those who demand action-packed plots or smoldering love scenes. I am not sure how broad the movie's appeal will be for those not interested in 19th century British royal history, but then I am, and I loved it. Like all good period movies, The Young Victoria completely engrosses the audience in its beautiful world, allowing viewers a two-hour escape from our relatively dreary contemporary lives.

Emily Blunt portrays Victoria (1819-1901) in her last years as a princess and first years as a queen, an important time in any sovereign's life but a particularly interesting one in this case given the dramatic contrast between the suffocating imprisonment she endured under her mother the Duchess of Kent (1786-1861) (Miranda Richardson) and the confident authority she quickly demonstrated as Queen upon her accession in 1837 at the age of 18. Miss Blunt is probably prettier than the real Victoria was, but admirably captures her dutiful yet stubborn, refined yet passionate nature. Mark Strong as the Duchess's unpopular adviser Sir John Conroy (1786-1854) is the perfect villain; the viewer is likely to resent him as much as Victoria did. Some might find Jim Broadbent's exuberant performance as King William IV (1765-1837) a bit over-the-top, but I had no trouble being convinced by the intensity of his dislike of his sister-in-law. Thomas Kretschmann's portrayal of Victoria's uncle King Leopold I of the Belgians (1790-1865) is the only one I thought unfair; all he is allowed to do is scheme and vent, and I think there was probably more to Leopold (and more genuine affection for his niece and nephew) than that. But Rupert Friend's performance as Prince Albert (1819-1861), devoted to Victoria but firmly intent on using his gifts to play the substantial political and cultural role she is at first reluctant to grant him, is exquisite, and moviegoers watching him and Blunt together are likely to have no trouble understanding why the real Victoria would be so devastated by Albert's death two decades later. As a classical musician I was particularly pleased that the movie found time to demonstrate Albert's enthusiasm for the great composers of his time.

Films depicting royal courts, with their potentially bewildering array of personalities, tend to flesh out only the major roles. It is to this film's credit that relatively minor characters, including Jesper Christensen as Baron Stockmar (1787-1863), Harriet Walker as Queen Adelaide (1792-1849), and Jeannette Hain as Baroness Louise Lehzen (1784-1870), are also given their chance to make an impression. Paul Bettany, 38, was perhaps an odd choice to play Lord Melbourne (1779-1848), who was already 58 when Victoria came to the throne; he does his best with the role but an older actor might have been better able to convey the nature of their relationship which though vaguely romantic was more grandfatherly than anything else. The "Bedchamber Crisis" of 1839 with Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) (Michael Maloney) is the perfect sort of constitutional crisis for this sort of movie, as it really was a political standoff about nothing more than whether the Queen's attendants should be wives of members of the ruling party. This is not an ideological film and anyone expecting more political substance than that will be disappointed, though Victoria and Albert both indicate their commitment to social reform.

Some reviewers have apparently found The Young Victoria insufficiently gripping, but they must look for different things in a film, since when it ended I was surprised that two hours had gone by, generally a sign that a movie has done its job. The Young Victoria is not about political intrigue or fast-paced action; it is about the beauty of 19th-century England, the grandeur of monarchy, and the forceful personality of a charming girl who would become one of history's most enduring and revered monarchs. No lover of ecclesiastical and royal ceremony will fail to be moved by the splendid recreation of Victoria's 1838 Coronation, which we get to see twice, once as a sort of introduction and again when it actually occurs in the plot, complete with Handel's incomparable anthem "Zadok the Priest," which composer Ilan Eshkeri skillfully weaves into the score. Be sure to catch the real Victoria's great-great-great-great-granddaughter Princess Beatrice in a cameo as a lady-in-waiting in the coronation procession, an intriguing touch that to my knowledge is without parallel in the history of movies about royalty. She and her mother, producer Sarah Ferguson, can be proud of having been associated with a film that is a credit to its genre and its subject. I encourage all readers of this blog to go see it if they have not already.

Listen to Prince Charles

Country Life editor Clive Aslet eloquently argues that Prince Charles has every right to express himself to ministers, and they would do well to listen to him. Like Mr Aslet I cannot claim to agree with every one of HRH's opinions, but as he says, that is beside the point. The Prince of Wales is a thoughtful and dedicated man whose wide range of experiences have given him appreciation of perspectives likely to be ignored by the contemporary political class, and modern Britain needs his insights more than ever.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn

I don't often link to specific posts on blogs that are already included in my links anyway, but this discussion, primarily between two correspondents of mine both of whom I like and respect despite their rather different perspectives, on the marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in the context of a review of Alison Weir's new book The Lady in the Tower is worth a look. As one of those high church Anglicans never able to quite sort out exactly where I stand on the English Reformation, I am open to various points of view on Henry's wives, though it seems clear that for all his gifts Henry himself (at least in his last two decades) is pretty hard to defend, no matter where one is coming from.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Empress Zita's Cause

The New Liturgical Movement reports (with lovely photos and video), as does Andrew Cusack, that the Roman Catholic Church has opened the cause for beatification of Empress Zita (1892-1989), wife of Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary (1887-1922) who was himself beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Naturally I am in favor of such a process, but I am also anxious that appreciation of the Habsburgs not be confined to the past. Austrian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, and Croatian Catholics should be praying and working not only for her beatification but for the demise of the illegitimate republics that have dared in their arrogance to claim to replace one of history's greatest dynasties, and the restoration of her son Otto to the thrones of his ancestors! Yes, by all means honor Empress Zita, but not as the "last" Empress; the tragedy of 1918 must never be accepted as permanent, as the efforts of organizations such as the Black-Yellow Alliance and the Czech Crown remind us, no matter how formidable the odds.

Here is a beautiful video of Karl and Zita's wedding in 1911.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Obama snubs King Harald

I defended President Obama when neocon Americanists attacked him for bowing to the Emperor of Japan. But that doesn't make this a pro-Obama blog. Norwegians are apparently miffed that he has declined an invitation to lunch from King Harald V (which Nobel laureates have traditionally accepted) as well as other opportunities to cultivate goodwill in Norway. This is inexcusable. While Obama has expressed his admiration for Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, he did not bow to her as he did to the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Japan, leaving one to wonder if it is only non-Western monarchies towards whom Obama feels inclined to demonstrate humility. Obama's insensitivity to Norwegians suggests that American arrogance and unilateralism did not disappear when George W. Bush left the White House, as Europeans are learning.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Young Victoria

Back in March I mentioned my anticipation of the film The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt, produced by the Duchess of York and with a cameo by Princess Beatrice as one of her great-great-great-great-grandmother's ladies-in-waiting. One of my royalist friends fortunate enough to live in the UK described the movie as "fabulous," so I am very much looking forward to it finally being released in the US in select cities on December 18. Hopefully this movie, which from the trailer promises to be visually stunning, will help to counter the image of Queen Victoria (who ascended the throne at 18, and actually wasn't all that stuffy even when she was old) as a stuffy old lady.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Always Have, Always Will

Kudos to Australia's new opposition leader Tony Abbott, who in an article that must have been painful for the Sydney Morning Herald to publish, has dashed the hopes of republicans who acknowledge that any renewed republican effort must have bipartisan support. ''I support the monarchy, always have, always will, not because I'm a royal groupie,'' he said. ''It's a terrific system of government and I challenge anyone to come up with a better one.''

Monday, November 30, 2009

Kingdom of Canada

Andrew Coyne defends the Canadian monarchy, while suggesting that its long-term future might be best served by making Prince Harry a resident King of Canada. That's an interesting idea, though I would ask Mr Coyne, what about Her Majesty's fourteen other Commonwealth Realms? Even if Prince Harry himself were agreeable, I am not sure there would be enough other members of the Royal Family prepared to leave Britain to give each of them its own monarch. Why is it more problematic for Canada to share its sovereign with the United Kingdom than, say, St Vincent & the Grenadines, where a republican proposal was recently defeated?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Queen Mother on Politics and Life

Yesterday I finished reading William Shawcross's excellent official biography of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002). This post is not a full review--perhaps I will attempt that later--but I wanted to share two delightful private comments from Her Majesty, one from the beginning of her public life and one from near the end.

"I am extremely Anti-Labour. They are so far apart from fairies & owls and bluebells & Americans & all the things I like. If they agree with me, I know they are pretending--in fact I believe everything is pretence to them." [letter to D'Arcy Osborne, 1924] (412)

In the mid-1990s [Major Michael] Parker [organizer of HM's 80th, 90th, and 100th birthday celebrations] had tea with the Princess of Wales and the Queen Mother. When the Princess of Wales said to her, 'We're all so looking forward to your hundredth birthday,' Queen Elizabeth replied, "Oh, you mustn't say that, it's unlucky. I mean I might be run over by a big red bus." Parker said he thought this was very unlikely, to which Queen Elizabeth replied, "No, no, it's the principle of the thing. Wouldn't it be terrible if you'd spent all your life doing everything you were supposed to do, didn't drink, didn't smoke, didn't eat things, took lots of exercise, all the things you didn't want to do, and suddenly one day you were run over by a big red bus, and as the wheels were crunching into you you'd say 'Oh my god, I could have got so drunk last night!' That's the way you should live your life, as if tomorrow you'll be run over by a big red bus.' (912)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Act of Settlement revisited, again...

Once again the Act of Settlement and male primogeniture are under scrutiny, as Gordon Brown reportedly prepares to address what the modern world apparently regards as one of the greatest evils imaginable, "discrimination." It does seem like some journalists and politicians like to get excited about this every few years, [fortunately] without anything actually happening. It's almost a ritual. Perhaps this time they mean it, but all those Roman Catholics presumably traumatized by the fact that the Earl of St Andrews is not considered 25th in line to the throne, and all those women supposedly oppressed by the fact that the Princess Royal is 10th rather than 4th, probably shouldn't hold their breath.

Surrender as false resistance

Recently a number of conservative Christian clergy representing the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant traditions signed something called the "Manhattan Declaration" affirming their common opposition to secularist policies regarding abortion and same-sex marriage. Their efforts have been widely hailed, even by Gerald Warner, as representing a bold orthodox challenge to political correctness. But this document is nothing of the kind. In fact it is a sad reflection of the pathetic tendency of "conservative" Christians to concede entirely too much to the liberalism that has paved the way for the current state of affairs they find so objectionable.

I wouldn't bother posting on this here, though, if I hadn't been irked by, among other concessions to the worldview of those the signers claim to oppose, a completely unnecessary swipe at the European monarchies of the past:

In Europe, Christians challenged the divine claims of kings and successfully fought to establish the rule of law and balance of governmental powers, which made modern democracy possible. And in America, Christian women stood at the vanguard of the suffrage movement. The great civil rights crusades of the 1950s and 60s were led by Christians claiming the Scriptures and asserting the glory of the image of God in every human being regardless of race, religion, age or class.

Far from a daring challenge to secular leftism, this paragraph is a model of the Progressive interpretation of history that uncritically celebrates the advance of "Democracy" and "Equality" and regards the past four centuries or so as an uplifting struggle of liberal Good against reactionary Evil in which Good so far has usually triumphed, an interpretation with which I vehemently disagree. While some Christians did indeed support the developments this paragraph lists, other Christians opposed them. Did they necessarily sin by so doing? Is there now only one Christian position on all the great political controversies of the past? When did universal suffrage, for example, become Christian orthodoxy?

While no Christian monarch ever claimed divinity in a pagan sense, many pious Christians ardently supported royal claims of divinely based authority, with one of the most tragic defenders of "divine right," Charles I, traditionally regarded as a martyr in Anglicanism. Are he and his supporters to be cast into darkness? I am tired of the way official "conservative" Christianity--Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant (the Orthodox usually not so much)--aligns itself with liberalism on every issue other than sex and abortion.

Contemporary Conservative Christianity too often seems to want to say to its liberal enemies, "we really love all the Liberal Progress that's been made and believe in Democracy and Equality and Human Rights and Religious Liberty just as much as you do, we just don't like abortion and homosexuality." Apparently, God was always on the "progressives'" side in past conflicts, He just isn't today, because now having ruined everything else, they're going after sex, and we can't have that, because sexual peccadilloes are absolutely the worst thing imaginable, and the decline of traditional beliefs about sex is ever so much more intolerable than the decline of everything else people used to believe in. Sarcasm aside, this kind of thinking is simply incoherent. Why leftists should pay attention to those who assure them that they've previously always been right about everything, but please let's just not go any farther, is beyond me. As long as conservatives and Christians refuse to challenge the Left's basic premises, offering it only a pale echo, they deserve to lose.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hitchens on "comedians" vs the Queen

Peter Hitchens defends the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh against the thoughtless jibes of ignorant so-called "entertainers" like Ben Elton (of whom I had happily never heard), who still ludicrously imagine that they are boldly challenging the "establishment" when in 2009 it actually shows far more independence of mind to declare oneself a monarchist, even in the United Kingdom.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20

Today is not only the 62nd wedding anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, but also the 97th birthday of HI&RH Archduke Otto of Austria-Hungary, son and heir of Emperor Bl Charles I, who if there were any justice in modern Europe would be internationally recognized as Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. This is a particularly significant birthday for AD Otto because it means he has reached a higher age than even his mother Empress Zita (9 May 1892 - 14 Mar 1989) did.

Other blogs saluting Europe's uncrowned emperor include Wilson Revolution Unplugged, Ad Orientem, A Conservative Blog for Peace, and The Mad Monarchist.

God Save the Queen and God Bless her Consort! Gott erhalte Otto den Kaiser!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

French Royal Birth

Congratulations to Jean d'Orléans, Duc de Vendôme, and his wife Philomena on the birth of their son Gaston in Paris today. For French monarchists who accept the Utrecht renunciations, this little boy now represents the future of French royalism. Even for those who do not, he is still a Capetian prince. Vive le Roi!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama and the Emperor

The tiresome uproar over President Obama's apparent bow to the Emperor of Japan is a perfect illustration of why I hold that monarchists who happen to live in the United States should not necessarily identify with the American "Right." Not only are bows standard greetings in the Orient, but presidents of republics are still commoners, and it's entirely appropriate for commoners to bow to royalty, especially the world's only remaining Emperor. I am reminded of the Vatican's excellent seating arrangements for the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005, when as Fr Brian Harrison observed, royal guests, no matter how small their countries, sat in the front row, while republican representatives, no matter how powerful theirs, were firmly relegated to places behind them. It's also worth noting that Obama has been a head of state for less than a year, whereas Akihito has reigned for 20 years and is a generation older. While I disagree with Obama on many issues, his appropriate gesture of respect for a senior world leader and ally is not one of them, and for it to be considered an "issue" at all reflects not so much on him as on the pathetic infantilism of knee-jerk Americanists.

Friday, November 13, 2009

King of Tonga surrenders power

In yet another triumph for "Democracy" and defeat for tradition, King George Tupou V of Tonga has agreed to relinquish his executive powers in favour of the development of a Western-style parliamentary constitutional monarchy in which politicians will presumably be the real rulers. While unlike the most hardline sort of reactionary monarchists I prefer a "figurehead" monarchy to none at all, I am sorry to see yet another king reduced to a powerless symbol. Note the article's arrogant tone of inevitability. Nothing in politics is truly inevitable, yet the great triumph of the forces of "Progress" has been to convince many people that their agenda is.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lone monarchist challenges republican mob

Kudos to Suzanne Reny who defiantly stood up to Quebeçois republicans protesting the visit of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Monarchists need more of this defiant spirit. Relentlessly sneered at by the media as in this New York Times article, Canadians who value their country's monarchical constitution--an integral part of the heritage of American Loyalists who sacrificed everything to remain loyal to the Crown and from whom many Canadians are descended--need to make their voices heard, as the heroic Monarchist League of Canada knows very well.

November 11

Yesterday, widely known as Armistice or Veterans' Day, was also the anniversary of two tragic (and in the first case, closely related) historical events: the 1918 fall of the Habsburg monarchy, eloquently mourned by Gerald Warner in the Telegraph, and New Labour's 1999 expulsion of most of the hereditary peers from Britain's House of Lords. Both developments constituted important steps of the relentless and heartless advance of "Democracy," at the expense of everything ancient, honourable, and beautiful.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ten Years since Australian monarchist victory

The Monarchist has an extensive list of links on today's tenth anniversary of the defeat of republicanism in Australia. I remember having closely followed this story while a college student and being greatly relieved by the result, probably the happiest any news story has ever made me.

It seems that it's hard for even the most diehard republicans in Australia to escape the general consensus that, ten years on, there simply isn't as much interest in republicanism as there was in the 1990s. That doesn't mean that most Australians have become passionate monarchists, but rather that appetite for radical constitutional change has diminished and most Australians are reasonably content to focus on other issues, at least for the time being. However, monarchists cannot be complacent and let their guard down; republicans have not disappeared or given up.

God Save HM Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

More on Jean d'Orléans

The Telegraph notices France's would-be king, who correctly and admirably dares to argue that the French Revolution was a horrible mistake. I wish journalists reporting on the French succession dispute would mention that the Orléans are descended in the male line not only from King Louis Philippe (1773-1850), but from Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe (1640-1701), which is the true basis of their present-day claim, if the 1713 renunciations of Philip V of Spain are accepted as valid, the senior French Bourbon line having sadly died out in 1883.

I also wish journalists would not refer to princes as "Mr"!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time for Kings

While as an Episcopalian I obviously don't share their "Feeneyite" Roman Catholic religious beliefs, I'm pleased to see the [New Hampshire] Saint Benedict Center endorsing the introductory statement for "The Monarchist Club" on Facebook, to which I belong.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Afghanistan's Golden Age

It is a fond myth of progressives that despite various setbacks, things in general have been continually improving and "there has never been a better time to be alive than now" (an actual quotation from British leftist Polly Toynbee of The Guardian). One of the countries in which this is most obviously untrue is Afghanistan. Contrary to the widely believed cliché that Afghanistan has always been inherently "ungovernable," Afghanistan was actually quite governable and a relatively decent place to live under the monarchy from the 1930s through the 1970s, as this New York Times article points out.

(Link suggested by my brother, who will be moving there next year to teach violin and viola in Kabul.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

King Jean IV

One of the most frustrating things about being a monarchist today is that all too often, it seems like the royal individuals who are genealogically entitled to claim Europe's vacant thrones are perfectly content to make peace with the republics that have supplanted their families and have little interest in advocating restoration. However, as this article reveals in a refreshing contrast, Jean d'Orléans, Duke of Vendome, second (but oldest non-disabled) son of the Count of Paris, is openly and courageously promoting the restoration of the French monarchy, no matter how unlikely this may seem at present.

Since the extinction of the senior French Bourbon line in 1883, France's royalists have been bitterly divided between supporters of Jean's Orléans line (descended in the male line of Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe) and supporters of the Spanish Bourbons (descended in the male line from Louis XIV himself and therefore genealogically senior but arguably excluded by the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht). I myself have tended to waffle on this debate, but recently have been more inclined to regard the Orléans claim as superior, and Jean's admirable forthrightness certainly confirms those sympathies. Vive le roi!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monarchies: Better Places to Live

The United Nations Human Development Index ranks the world's countries in terms of quality of life. In 2009, the Kingdom of Norway ranked first, with the Republic of Niger on the bottom. As in previous years, monarchists can take heart from what the report suggests.

Monarchies (including Andorra) unfortunately make up only 43, or less than 24%, of the 182 countries ranked. However, of the 38 top-rated countries ("Very High Human Development"), fully 19, or 50%, are monarchies; of the top 20, 12, or 60%, are monarchies. So much for republican claims that retaining a constitutional monarchy holds a country back!

The bottom 24 ("Low Human Development")? You guessed it: all republics!

Queen "appalled" by current Church of England?

This Telegraph article is interesting, though more speculative than factual. I do recall reading that Anglican modernists have criticised Her Majesty for apparently preferring to worship (as do I) at services conducted in traditional Prayer Book language by an all-male clergy, and her son Prince Charles (who the bishop who baptised me once met at a Prayer Book Society gathering) is known for his support of the 1662 liturgy. However the Queen has always struck me as a very Protestant sort of Anglican, not at all Anglo-Catholic, and indeed the clearest evidence the article presents of her dissatisfaction with the current state of the Church of England is a sympathetic but noncommittal response to conservative evangelicals. Nevertheless I'm sure the Queen will be a gracious hostess to the Pope, as she always is.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ertugrul Osman (1912-2009)

The man who would have been Sultan of the Ottoman Empire died in the city formerly known as Constantinople at the age of 97.

Monday, September 21, 2009

King of Thailand in hospital

Thailand's beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-serving head of state, is reported to be "stable" in hospital where he has been admitted for a fever. I wish HM the best for a speedy recovery.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Habsburgs seek right to seek Austrian presidency

Lawyers for the Habsburgs are trying to overturn the ban on members of the dynasty which ruled Austria for centuries until 1918 running for the republic's [ceremonial] presidency. I have mixed feelings about this. A monarchist might be expected to side with councillor Ulrich Habsburg-Lorraine and enjoy the chance to point out the republic's hypocrisy. But in a sense it is fitting for the Habsburgs to be excluded from the office of president of the republic, as the Republic of Austria (which in my view has no right to exist and deserves no respect from anyone, least of all the Habsburgs) is the antithesis of all for which the Habsburgs stood.

Habsburgs should be Emperors, not Presidents, and with all due respect to former MEP Archduke Otto, I have always felt that involvement in the democratic process as politicians is beneath the dignity of royalty. I could perhaps support a Habsburg presidential campaign if it were intended as a step towards restoration of the monarchy, but this does not seem to be what Ulrich, as a "Green," has in mind. As long as full royal restoration eludes the Habsburgs, it is perhaps better for the law to remain on the books, reminding Austrians that the Republic represents a negation and defeat of their ancient heritage, and even after 90 years remains fearful of Austria's legitimate rulers.

Reflections on Equality

The following excerpt, from The Worm Forgives the Plough (1973) by John Stewart Collis (1900-1984), appeared in the latest bulletin of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir to which I belong, and I think it's relevant for monarchists as well.

"I took a short cut and made for the Big House and entered the Old Garden. It was not open to the public, but it was open to the private, so to speak. No one seemed to be in residence at the moment. The door through the wall in the garden was not locked and I went in. I sat down on a seat backed by the high wall and fronted by a pool of lawn cliffed by ancient trees..."

"...I fell into contemplation of the Old Garden. Aloof in the melancholy shade of history, it gave out peace and cast the ancient spell. How did it come into existence? By some men being rich and others poor, by inequality, by privilege. Entering the era of equality, shall we then throw them open to the public? The moment we do so they will become--something else. They will, no longer be gardens: they will be parks. Instantly their essence will evaporate and they will no longer be what they were. We must face the logic: the moment privilege becomes public it ceases to be privilege, for you cannot have a privileged many--they would not then be privileged. So our question is--Shall we have a privileged few? Well, the many do not like this kind of place anyway; secluded reverie is alien to them, quiet reflection wholly unsought--they prefer the definite peopled park. But they also enjoy on occasion the parade of circumstance and the pomp of power. And I said--Let us not throw everything away in the name of Equality. Let there be privilege! Let there be pride! Let there be palaces though they be built out of the pennies of the poor! The time is coming when the flood-tide of the multitudinous Many shall flow through all the gates and into all the courts of pleasure; but even then, let there be here and there a too favoured Few, so that scattered throughout the land there may yet remain, enwalled from the world's babel, the sequestered place, the pool of silence, the repository of peace, into which the wanderer may come and bathe in the spirit of the past and hold converse with the mighty dead!"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Shawcross on the Queen Mother

William Shawcross, author of her aforementioned official biography, elaborates on why the late Queen Mother was a joy to profile.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wanted: Fergie

The Turkish government is demanding that Britain extradite the Duchess of York for trial, who it absurdly accuses of trying to "smear" Turkey in order to keep it out of the European Union. Ankara is annoyed that she and her daughter Princess Eugenie dared to draw attention to the mistreatment of children in Turkish orphanages by participating in an undercover documentary. I hope the British government tells the Turkish government exactly what it can do with its extradition request. While I highly doubt that Her Grace had any such intention, I also hope this kerfuffle does hinder Turkish EU membership; Turkey is not a European country and does not belong in the EU. Whether the EU should exist at all is of course another question...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Secretary to King

Peggielene Bartels, a secretary at the Ghanaian embassy in Washington, was surprised 15 months ago to discover that she had become the new King--not Queen--of Otuam in Ghana. Her story has already caught the attention of royal biographer Eleanor Herman.


The Dutch royal family gathered for the glittering opening of Parliament by Queen Beatrix.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Windsor Wedding

Lord Frederick Windsor, 30, son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, married actress Sophie Winkleman in the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry VIII married Katherine Parr in 1543. More (and pictures) from the Telegraph and Hello!.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Royalist Riot in Uganda

Police loyal to the republic and supporters of the traditional King of Buganda clashed violently in Uganda. While riots like this are perhaps not particularly constructive, I can't help wishing that monarchists in Europe demonstrated a little more militancy. There must be some sort of middle ground...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Czars, real and false

Conservative Telegraph blogger James Delingpole, commenting on the Van Jones "green czar" controversy in the United States, rather tastelessly calls for "a Yekaterinburg of ALL the Czars." My comment:

I don’t disagree with any of Mr Delingpole’s criticisms of Obama or the appalling Van Jones. However, as a reactionary monarchist who actually believes in real czars, I am sick of the modern world’s abuse of this ancient and noble title and don’t appreciate the irreverent reference to Yekaterinburg, perhaps the single definitive horror of the 20th century, which set the stage for all the others. America certainly does not need “czars” like Van Jones, but Russia does need a czar…or, to be specific, a czarina, since the current rightful claimant to the Imperial Throne is a woman, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna. Bozhe, Tsarya khrani!

Architecture and the Prince of Wales, cont'd

Peter Hitchens defends Prince Charles against modernist architects. (See previous posts here, here, and here.)

There now seems to be an orchestrated campaign by architects against Prince Charles. Hardly a week goes by without another one attacking him. I think we should all side with the Prince. He is the nearest thing we now have to the great John Betjeman, who saved many fine buildings from being destroyed, and spoke up for beauty against barbarism. Charles may be wrong about many things, but he is right about buildings, and his interventions against ugliness have been a proper use of his influence. These architects, all glinting efficient types who seem unable to design anything except boxes, go on about democracy. But who chose them, or the hideous and un-British styles they force on us?

A lively discussion follows (relevant comments excerpted here). My contribution:

Other respondents have already defended the monarchy calmly and eloquently. I will add, perhaps less calmly, that republicans like the one to whom they were responding make me sick. I've lived in a republic (the USA) all my life and find it profoundly alienating; I cannot stand having a head of state who other people voted for but I did not. Far more fair to have a head of state selected by no one. Critics of Prince Charles don't seem to understand what "above politics" means: it means that the sovereign and royal family are not products of the partisan political process, not that they are to express no opinions on anything which might be controversial. I do not agree with the Prince of Wales on everything, but I am glad he speaks his mind, and he is certainly right about architecture. What is so sacred about the "democratic process" anyway?

I recently spent a month in England and despite all the inconveniences of travel felt at home there in a way I cannot in the USA, and the monarchy was a big part of that. Places like Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are thrilling to visit not only because they are beautiful, but because they can offer what Versailles and Schonbrunn cannot: the excitement of a working palace, still used for its intended purpose, still occupied by the direct descendants of those for whom it was built, still part of an ongoing tapestry of tradition and pageantry. When I would love to live in a constitutional monarchy but due to number of practical obstacles cannot yet do so, it makes me absolutely livid to see those lucky enough to have been born in one spit on their good fortune, showing nothing but contempt for those of us who love Britain as she is--or at least was. The monarchy is not for the benefit of the royal family, it's for the benefit of the ordinary people like me, neither powerful nor rich, who love it. Yet republicans in the UK would tear the heart and soul out of their country, cutting it off from all continuity with its past, depriving their monarchist countrymen of the very centre of their patriotism, alienating people like me forever. I cannot see their goals as anything less than evil. As far as I'm concerned, "British" republicans are essentially traitors who ought to be consigned beyond the pale of civilised discourse. Just as I do not seek to transform America into a monarchy, but rather hope one day to immigrate to the country I truly love and join the noble fight for England's heritage and traditions, perhaps republicans should consider immigrating to the United States. I'd be happy to trade places with any of them. In the meantime though, they should at least keep their mouths shut.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fall Books

Two books coming out next month look like must-reads for all fans of the British royal family. One is From A Clear Blue Sky: Surviving the Mountbatten Bomb (reviewed movingly here) by Nicholas Knatchbull, grandson of Lord Mountbatten and twin brother of Nicholas (1964-1979), who was also killed in the explosion whose 30th anniversary was marked recently. Knatchbull's memoir of tragedy and healing will be available in the US on October 27.

The other is William Shawcross's long-awaited The Queen Mother: The Official Biography, due to arrive in American bookstores October 20.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Watching the Coronation in Ireland

Ireland has a more complex relationship with the British Crown than republican propaganda would suggest. Irish journalist Mary Kenny recalls secretive enthusiasm in Dublin for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, mostly among Protestants but from which even Roman Catholics were not entirely immune, to the horror of dogmatic republicans.

(H/T: American Monarchist)

Young Australians for the Crown

It is a fond myth of anti-monarchists in Australia and elsewhere that their eventual victory is inevitable because "only old people support the monarchy" and "no new monarchists are being born." Not so fast, say these young Australian monarchists.

(H/T: American Monarchist)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Afghan tragedy

The Christian Science Monitor wisely warns that the alien dogma of "Democracy" has no legitimacy in Afghanistan and that therefore it was a mistake to fail to restore King Zahir Shah (1914-2007) to the throne.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Princess Madeleine engaged

The Royal Court of Sweden announced that Princess Madeleine, 27, will marry her boyfriend Jonas Bergstroem.

Monday, August 10, 2009

EvKL centennial

Norwegian monarchist Jorn K. Baltzersen salutes the great Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1909-1999) on the 100th anniversary (July 31) of his birth.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

England 2009

This evening I'm leaving for England, where I will spend nearly five weeks on tours with the two Anglican choirs in which I sing. I look forward to what should be a fantastic experience. Blogging will probably be less frequent than usual, though I hope to check in occasionally. Apart from the obvious attractions for a monarchist of being in the United Kingdom, I look forward to meeting a number of monarchist contacts, including some members of my forum. Here is my itinerary for readers to follow if they wish.

Tour I: Choir of the Church of the Incarnation

July 18 (Sat): Depart Dallas
July 19 (Sun): Arrive London (Heathrow); coach ride to Lichfield

July 20-26: Choir in residence at Lichfield Cathedral
(Music List)
Evensong daily except for Thursday 23 July (free day in Lichfield)
Eucharist & Evensong Sunday 26 July

July 27-August 2: Choir in residence at Westminster Abbey
(Music List)
Evensong daily except for Wednesday 29 July (free day in London)
Matins, Eucharist, & Evensong Sunday 2 August

August 3-6: I will be staying with a monarchist friend in Northern England.

Tour II: Choir of St. Mark's School of Texas

August 6-9: Rehearsals at Bruern Abbey in Chesterton; sightseeing in Oxford; men stay in Bicester

August 10-14: Choir in residence at Chichester Cathedral
Evensong Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri

August 15-18: Choir in residence at Southwark Cathedral, London

Evensong Sat, Sun, Mon, Tue
Eucharist Sunday 16 August

August 19 (Wed): Concert (noon) at Canterbury Cathedral

August 20 (Thu): Depart London (Heathrow)
August 20 (Thu): Arrive Dallas

I am grateful to those responsible for maintaining the websites of UK Cathedral Music Links and the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir for their assistance in promoting these tours.

Friday, July 17, 2009

July 17

Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918)
Empress Alexandra (1872-1918)
Grand Duchess Olga (1895-1918)
Grand Duchess Tatiana (1897-1918)
Grand Duchess Maria (1899-1918)
Grand Duchess Anastasia (1901-1918)
Tsarevich Alexei (1904-1918)


I have little original or new to say about this tragic anniversary, but recommend the posts at Mad Monarchist, Sword & Sea, Tea at Trianon, and Wilson Revolution Unplugged.

Friday, July 10, 2009

1776 revisited

Anarcho-capitalist Stephan Kinsella, though not a monarchist, dissents from the prevailing view that the American Revolution was a wonderful thing. A vigorous debate ensues. [To address the argument that modern Britain, though a constitutional monarchy, is hardly a model of limited government, I would point out that it was only the emasculation of the Crown and the [hereditary] Lords in favor of the Commons (and increasingly, of even the Commons in favor of the European Union) that made this possible.]

Along the same lines, the late John Attarian's 2003 "Hurrah for King George!" is always worth re-reading.

As a monarchist, for whom monarchy is a positive good and not merely a "lesser evil," I obviously believe anarcho-capitalists to be wrong to suggest that the state could or should be dispensed with entirely. But recognition that the replacement of kings with presidents and other non-hereditary sorts of rulers increased, rather than decreased, the potential for tyranny is always welcome.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Carl XV, King and Artist

I'm currently in Vail, Colorado, where the Dallas Symphony is in residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. I hadn't expected to find much of a monarchical nature, though it was not far from Vail that Alfonso de Bourbon (1936-1989), father of the current "Legitimist" pretender to the French throne, was killed twenty years ago in a skiing accident in Beaver Creek. On a happier note, however, I was delighted to discover yesterday when wandering into a charming art gallery, "The Englishman," that one of their paintings, "A Mountain Landscape," had been painted in 1868 by King Carl XV of Sweden & Norway (1826-1872)! I didn't really have $58,000 to spare, but the clerk kindly printed out a copy for me. I hadn't known of Carl XV's artistic abilities, but apparently they were considerable.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reza Pahlavi in the NYT

The heir of the late Shah of Iran answers some impertinent questions from the New York Times with rather more dignity than they deserve.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Architecture and the Monarchy

As noted previously, Prince Charles's war against modernist architecture has not endeared him to the architectural establishment, though I'm not convinced that the whining of these pompous defenders of ugliness truly constitutes a serious "Debate Over Monarchy."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More from Empress Farah

The Shah's widow may have been in exile for 30 years, but Empress Farah has never lost touch with events in Iran.

Henry VIII Coronation Anniversary Service

Available (for the next five days) to listen at the BBC website is Sunday's highly recommended Chapel Royal service marking the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Henry VIII, with music of William Smith, Purcell, Tallis, and Henry VIII himself. The King's "Green Growth the Holly" features BBC Young Chorister of the Year Harry Bradford, 13, as soloist. The Rt Rev'd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Dean of the Chapel Royal, preaches a thoughtful and inspiring sermon on the monarchy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lonely Battle

With ugliness abundant in modern British society, who besides Prince Charles speaks up for beauty, asks Nigel Farndale.

Future Commander in Chief

Prince William, in a joint interview with brother Prince Harry, has not given up hopes of being allowed to fight in Afghanistan.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Iranian monarchist hopes

Exiled de jure Shah Reza II Pahlavi and his mother Empress Farah view the current turmoil in Iran as a threat to the Islamic Republic. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that most opponents of the Ahmadinejad regime see monarchy as the answer. Crown Prince Reza says that he is not necessarily fighting for the the restoration of the monarchy, but only for a democratic and secular government which might or might not include a European-style constitutional monarchy; I wish he would, but perhaps he is simply being prudent.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Modern Monarchist Experience

Writing in TakiMag about the diverse anti-modern faction in American politics known loosely as "paleos," Charles Coulombe makes a provocative observation relevant to monarchists such as himself: "I am, myself, a Catholic Monarchist at base; Robespierre was not. Yet he was more a man of the Ancien Regime than I could ever be, just I am much more a man of the Revolution. The reason, of course, lies in the periods of our upbringing, and the influences of the culture around us."

This is a problem I have thought about but had never seen summarized so succinctly and brutally. It is frankly difficult for 21st-century monarchists, especially those of us living in a country which lacks not only a monarch but any post-independence monarchical tradition of its own, to achieve the authenticity of, say, a French royalist in the 19th century when the question of "Monarchy versus Republic" was still very much part of mainstream public discourse, kings still reigned or had reigned within living memory, and society's prevailing values were still essentially conservative. And our lives are in many ways more "modern," more thoroughly shaped by the legacies of the anti-monarchist Revolutions than those of the original advocates of those Revolutions--just as many contemporary "conservative Christians" routinely dress in ways that would have seemed indecent to secular progressives of a hundred or even fifty years ago and listen to "music" the latter would have dismissed as noise. That is the nature of the Revolution; it ultimately influences even those who believe themselves opposed to it. To a certain extent we have to accept this--no monarchist today can actually live, consistently, as if it were still 1788--but I'm sure my friend Mr. Coulombe would agree that that is no reason to give up!

Architectural Friends and Foes

Prince Charles's latest intervention against modernist architecture has stirred up quite the controversy, reports Andrew Pierce. Obviously, as one who would be happy for royalty to wield more power than they currently do, I have no patience with those who object to the Prince using his influence because he is "unelected." In any case, as Gerald Warner points out, who elected his critic Lord Rogers? Modernist architecture has been thrust down the throats of people who never wanted it for years; it's about time someone with the ability to do so make a difference. Andrew Roberts is correct to celebrate HRH's "meddling."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

John Zmirak on "Praying with the Kaisers"

Andrew Cusack's always attractive and interesting blog brought to my attention this thoughtful article by John Zmirak on the Habsburgs and what replaced them. "Progress," indeed! In the past I've occasionally parted company with Mr. Zmirak in that he doesn't always seem to have much use for monarchies other than the Habsburgs', and is more willing than I am to accommodate himself to participation in the American political system, but when waxing lyrical on his favorite dynasty he is right on target.

Also worth reading (though endorsement of the site's other views is not implied) is "The Hands of the King" by Br. André Marie of the [New Hampshire] Saint Benedict Center.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trooping the Colour

Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her official 83rd birthday with the spectacular pomp and pageantry of the annual Trooping the Colour parade in London, concluding with a Royal Air Force flypast.

HM's husband, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, recently achieved his own milestone as Britain's longest-serving royal consort, for which Gerald Warner and David Flint salute him.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brazilian prince on lost flight

The Imperial House of Orléans-Bragança has confirmed that Prince Pedro Luíz (b 1983), fourth in line to the Brazilian throne, was among the 228 people aboard the Air France flight that disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean. Authorities do not expect to find any survivors. My condolences to the Brazilian Imperial Family, Brazilian monarchists (some of whom, given his uncles' links to the controversial militant Catholic association TFP, had pinned their hopes for the future of Brazilian monarchism on Pedro), and all those who appear to have lost loved ones in the disaster.

The above picture shows Pedro with his double first cousin Princess Alix de Ligne (b 1984), who was to be on the same flight but had decided to take a different one. Pedro's younger brother Prince Rafael (b 1986) is next in line and presumably must now tragically be considered to have replaced him in the succession.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Prince Harry in New York

Concluding a successful visit to New York City on a lighter note in contrast to Friday's somber visit to "Ground Zero," Prince Harry delighted onlookers at a charity polo match. MSNBC has video here.

I hope that someday the writers of articles about Prince Harry will not feel obliged to routinely bring up the same 2005 and 2009 incidents as if they constitute some sort of significant deplorable pattern. They don't. What's deplorable is the culture of political correctness that would have people live in perpetual fear of saying or doing something that might offend somebody, and attempts to paint a good-natured, fun-loving prince as some kind of "troubled" or "insensitive" delinquent in need of redemption and reeducation.

Louis XVI manifesto found

The original copy of King Louis XVI's "Declaration to all the French," written shortly before the unsuccessful June 1791 flight to Varennes, turned up in the United States after having been presumed missing for over two centuries. Despite what the Telegraph article says, this isn't really his "final testament": that would be this moving document written on Christmas Day 1792, less than a month before his tragic but heroic death.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Letters from Nicholas II's sister

Newly revealed letters from Grand Duchess Olga (1882-1960), written to her mother and sister at the height of the Russian Revolution, reflect the terror and uncertainty of that time. With the precise details of the tragic fate of her family etched on our minds as they are today, it is difficult to imagine what it must have been like to have to wonder what had happened to them, fearing the worst but not able to know for sure.

Monarchists should never allow the world, especially Russia, to forget the significance of July 17, 1918, when savage thugs murdered a beautiful family, including a sick 13-year-old boy, crossing a Rubicon of sorts and setting the stage for all the horror of the accursed 20th century. There is only one way for the Russian people to truly repent and cleanse their land of the stain of this shameful sin: restore the monarchy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

French Republic snubs Queen

The British press is fuming that the French government failed to invite Queen Elizabeth II, the only living head of state who served in uniform during World War II (though it should be noted that King Michael of Romania remains the only living adult head of state from that era) to celebrations of the 65th anniversary of D-Day. It is hard to know if HM personally shares the media's indignation, but it would seem unlikely for there to be no sense of disappointment at Buckingham Palace. I am not surprised that the president of the bloodstained illegitimate abomination known as the French Republic is more interested in sharing the limelight with Barack Obama. France needs a King, not a President, and in the meantime should show more respect for the head of state of its neighbor across the Channel.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prince Charles winning architecture battle

The Prince of Wales may succeed in his battle against a modernist flats development in a historic part of London, resulting in the usual criticism from those who live only for money and "progress."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Prince Albert at the Poles

In a rare interview, Prince Albert II of Monaco discussed his passion for the environment, expeditions to the North and South Poles, and the pressure to marry.

Dispossessed Royalty

Somehow I missed this little Telegraph article (it would have been nice if it were more comprehensive, but oh well) when it appeared in March, so I'll link to it now. Of course, in France it is not only "republicans" who believe that Luis Alfonso's "ancestors relinquished the right to the French crown when they took the Spanish throne," but also royalist supporters of his rival Henri d'Orléans.

I came across this while reading a much older (2001) article on Prince Georg Friedrich, head of the Imperial House of Hohenzollern, prompted by the irritating news that modern Germany has just "re-elected" something called a "president," as if any commoner could possibly be an adequate German head of state. It's a shame that HI&RH does not "see any reason for the political system in Germany to be changed," but encouraging that he nevertheless points out that his "family could undertake a representative role by setting an example."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

True Leaders: the Queen and her Heir

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Peter Hitchens contrasts the royal family with Britain's scandal-plagued politicians:

One good effect of the exposure of our ‘democratic’ representatives as greedy luxury-lovers may be a bit less silly mockery of the Royal Family. The Queen herself is a model of frugal living. And I’ve never believed that Prince Charles gets his toothpaste squeezed on to his brush by a footman. This change of climate might lead to the views of this often thoughtful and intensely patriotic man being taken a little more seriously. Why shouldn’t he challenge and criticise brutalist architects, who dwell in Georgian splendour themselves but force us to live and work in howling canyons of chipped, stained concrete (which looked so nice and artistic on the drawing board)?

Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday and "Cranmer" hope that the Queen will dissolve Parliament.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Princes and Frogs

Appearing with his sons Princes William and Harry, various celebrities, and...a frog, Prince Charles, launching his new Rainforests Project, appealed for action to save the world's rainforests.

Meanwhile, Prince William dropped in on a 109-year-old woman who had complained that his grandmother the Queen had been wearing the same outfit in all the birthday cards she had received.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

King Constantine surgery

The Greek Royal Family announces that King Constantine II is to undergo heart surgery. I wish His Majesty a speedy recovery!

Monday, May 4, 2009

SSPX bishop rebukes monarchists

Given all the trouble that SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson has caused his fellow traditional Roman Catholics and the Pope this year, I suppose monarchists should be grateful that he has suddenly decided to distance himself from us. Nevertheless, given the traditionally strong association between the SSPX and French royalism, it is surprising to learn that Bishop Williamson has "never felt entirely comfortable around monarchists." It seems to me that in declaring that kings are "insufficient," the bishop is jousting with straw men; I am not aware of any monarchist claiming that the restoration of kings per se would instantly solve all our problems.

It is all very well, and hardly inappropriate for a bishop, to emphasize humanity's need for the "King of Kings," but that very title implies that there ought to be earthly kings under Him, and the bishop ignores the fact that even if everyone were to embrace the Roman Catholic faith, the question of what sort of temporal government is best would still be a pertinent one! Bishop Williamson is missing the point: no one denies that "kings alone are not enough"--as if any monarchy could exist without a complex patchwork of factors that certainly includes religion. But that doesn't mean that the revolutionary destructions--which he himself admits were "ghastly"--of ancient Christian monarchies such as those of France and Russia are not in themselves evils that must be remedied if the Christian world is to have any hope of genuine rebirth. Temporal Kings and Queens are not sufficient, but they are necessary; necessary in their embodiment of Tradition and Continuity, concepts which are integral to any authentically Christian worldview. Saying that because monarchy per se is not the only thing we need, there is no point in being a monarchist, is as absurd as saying that because one needs other ingredients besides sugar to bake cookies, there is no point in buying sugar if one wishes to bake cookies. Yes, Europeans need more than just the restoration of their monarchies, but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a good start!

If Bishop Williamson is not a monarchist, but also opposes the contemporary democratic political order, then one naturally wonders what sort of government he would support. Roman Catholicism, like my own tradition of Anglicanism but unlike the more extreme forms of Protestantism (not to mention Islam), does not demand "theocracy;" the Church has always taught that there is a legitimate need for a political sphere distinct from (though ideally allied to) the Church. Faith in the "King of Kings" may be enough for salvation, but it is not a specific blueprint for civil society as long as we're alive on this planet.

Traditionalists of Bishop Williamson's ilk often seem like they would prefer some sort of conservative Catholic dictatorship, of the sort likely to be called "clerical fascist" by its enemies. Not only do I as an Anglican monarchist find that model profoundly unappealing, but it seems to me that if they reject traditional monarchy in favor of "Catholic strongman" authoritarianism, right-wing Roman Catholics--for all their alleged conservatism--are ironically reflecting the essentially modernist mentality that they have the right to judge and to a certain extent choose (though perhaps by bullets rather than ballots) their head of state. Rejecting hereditary monarchy because it cannot guarantee (as if any system could) that every ruler will be a devout Catholic, they embrace key errors of the very modernists they claim to detest: that we are now in a "new era" for which "new solutions" must be found, that "you cannot turn back the clock," and that any insistence that older political forms remain valid and valuable is nothing more than a "nostalgia trip," a "distraction."

Bishop Williamson and other non-monarchist trads will not like being told (especially by an Anglican) that they resemble modernists or liberals, but in this one area, at least, they do. (Indeed, throughout the 20th century it has been the European "Right"'s acceptance of the abolitions of monarchies that has served to consolidate the gains of the egalitarian Left, which hates the Altar at least as much as the Throne.) I hope that my Roman Catholic monarchist friends will join me in saying to them: we do not want your Dollfusses, your Salazars, your Tisos, your Francos; we want Bourbons, Hapsburgs, Witttelsbachs, and Braganzas, and we cannot envision any "Social Kingship of Christ" that does not include the legitimate temporal rights of the latter.

New Prince of Denmark

Fellow blogger MadMonarchist reports that Princess Marie, second wife of Prince Joachim of Denmark, has given birth to his third and their first child, a boy, whose name has not yet been announced. Congratulations! I'm sure HM Queen Margrethe II and HRH Prince Henrik are thrilled to have another grandchild.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dutch royal parade car attack

The Dutch royal family expressed their shock and horror after a car apparently aiming for the royal bus crashed into the crowd celebrating Queen's Day, killing several people and injuring more. Dutch police charged the driver with attempting to attack the royal family.

UPDATE (May 1): The driver of the car has died of his injuries.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Big Question

Prompted by rumors of an imminent abdication in the Netherlands, The Independent ponders the future of European monarchy.

Friday, April 24, 2009

St George's Day in New York

My April 23 was about as English as it could have been without actually being in England. I spent less than twenty-four hours in New York City, but packed in what seemed like more than a day's worth of activities, most with royal and Anglican connections.

First stop was the Henry VIII exhibition "Vivat Rex" at the Grolier Club (about which I'd blogged two months earlier). A single room, though not particularly large, held an astonishing collection of artifacts from his reign, mostly books and documents, that was thrilling to behold. I doubt anything like this had ever been assembled in the United States before. My personal favorite was probably the 1502 Latin textbook in which the eleven-year-old Henry had written
“Thys Boke Is Myne Prynce Henry," in a precociously authoritative penmanship whose tone leapt off the page five centuries later and would clearly brook no opposition. Other highlights included a Gospel that had been made for the coronation of Holy Roman Emperor Otto III in 983 and presented to Henry by a grateful Pope Leo X in thanks for his defense of Catholicism against Luther (also displayed, with Luther's response, and Bishop John Fisher's response to Luther's response), ironic in light of later events, and a letter from Catherine of Aragon to her nephew Emperor Charles V complaining about the King. One got a thorough view of Henry's involvement in every aspect of 16th-century English life, via the very documents he and his contemporaries had held and signed. There was much more than I can possibly describe and it was all a bit overwhelming to try to process in the hour I spent there; I highly recommend this exhibit to any readers able to make it there before it ends on May 2.

From the Grolier Club it was not far to the splendid Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, where for the first time I attended a weekday Choral Evensong--the full choir's first since Easter, which exhibited the meditative dignity and musical excellence I'd come to expect via the webcasts but was even more satisfying to experience in person.

Afterwards I hurried over to Inside Park restaurant to meet two members of my monarchist forum, Aaron Traas and "Ethiomonarchist,"
for dinner. The three of us enjoyed a delicious meal and the rare chance to discuss a wide variety of monarchical topics the old-fashioned way. We couldn't linger too long, though, as soon it was time to head next door to St Bartholomew's Church for the Canterbury Cathedral choir concert. Having just recently been to Houston to hear the choir of St John's College Cambridge, this was only my second chance to hear an English choir of men and boys in concert, and their performance was a rare treat indeed. The lavish program booklet included a message from Development Appeal Patron HRH the Duke of Kent. While everything on the program (which included music of Byrd, Parsons, Tallis, Philips, the aforementioned Emperor Charles V's chief musician Nicolas Gombert, Scarlatti, Glinka, and Fauré, as well as some more recent composers whose works fully deserved to stand beside those of the older masters) was delightful, a special highlight for the (at least) three monarchists in the audience was Handel's glorious anthem for the 1727 coronation of King George II, "Zadok the Priest." Afterwards a church docent kindly took this picture of the three of us:

The English choral tradition is a priceless treasure, which along with the monarchy constitutes what I love most about that wonderful country, and it was a great joy to experience such a fine representation of it, especially when combined with the opportunity to meet fellow monarchists in real life, something I hope to repeat more often in the future.

After the concert I visited and stayed the night with my brother William, with whom I had a wonderfully decadent breakfast at Norma's this morning before returning to Dallas. I don't intend to make a habit of airplane trips this short, but this one was definitely worth it. For England and Saint George!