Thursday, December 30, 2010

Medieval Burgundy and Imperial Vienna in Dallas

After an extra-long Thanksgiving/Christmas break I've been happy to return to the Dallas Symphony, which is preparing a traditional Viennese gala for New Year's Eve guaranteed to warm any Habsburg nostalgist's heart. One piece, the "Seufzer-Galopp" (Sighing Galop) by Johann Strauss Sr (1804-1849), requires the musicians to sigh audibly at various moments. I will be sighing for the Austro-Hungarian Empire!

In between rehearsals today I luckily ran into two colleagues who reminded me that the Dallas Museum of Art's exhibit The Mourners: Medieval Tomb Sculptures from the Court of Burgundy, which I had not yet seen, would be closing Sunday and so the three of us hurried over to view it. The exhibit features forty remarkable sculptures from the tomb of John "the Fearless" Duke of Burgundy (1371-1419), normally housed in Dijon but currently appearing on loan in the US. The somber figures are so real, one can easily imagine them crying or their robes blowing in the wind as they move in their Duke's funeral procession. Reading the explanatory texts, which mentioned how tombs like John's were vandalised during the French Revolution, I could not help but be overcome with anger at how much was lost during that terrible time. We are fortunate however to be able to still witness as much of the glorious cultural patrimony of monarchical Europe, of which these statues are an eloquent example, as we can.

For this monarchist it was moving and thought-provoking to juxtapose the seemingly disparate experiences of rehearsing 19th-century Viennese orchestral music and examining 15th-century Burgundian sculpture. After all, the Habsburgs whose capital resounded with the sounds of Strauss waltzes and polkas were descended from the Dukes of Burgundy, whose last heiress Maria (1457-1482) paved the way for the great Habsburg Empire with her marriage to Emperor Maximilian I (1459-1519) in 1477. The cheerful music of Johann Strauss and the tragic sculptures that surrounded the tomb of John the Fearless may project opposite moods, but they both reflect the incomparable richness of true European civilisation, too often today obscured by modernity and republicanism but still accessible when one looks for it.

New Royal Generation

With the birth of a daughter yesterday to Peter & Autumn Phillips, HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh are great-grandparents (and HRH the Princess Royal a grandmother) for the first time. Miss Phillips, whose name has not yet been announced, is 12th in the Order of Succession to the Throne. Once again the Royal Family spans four generations, as it did prior to the death of Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester (last by marriage of the generation of Windsors senior to that of the Queen) in 2004. (Between Peter Phillips's own birth in 1977 and the death of Princess Alice Countess of Athlone in 1981 the Royal Family--broadly defined--spanned five generations!) Congratulations to the Phillipses and all the Royal Family!

Elizabeth II is only the second reigning British sovereign to become a great-grandparent, the first of course being her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria. Victoria (1819-1901) first became a great-grandmother at the age of 60 upon the birth of Princess Feodora of Saxe-Meiningen (1879-1945), daughter of Princess Charlotte of Prussia (1860-1919), daughter of Princess [later Empress] Victoria (1840-1901). Since Feodora married in 1898 while her great-grandmother was still alive, theoretically Victoria could have become a great-great-grandmother, but the couple were childless. As it turned out the next generation began four years after the Queen's death with the birth of Princess Margarita of Greece (1905-1981), sister of the present Duke of Edinburgh. Queen Victoria did however live to see the births of her eventual successors Edward VIII (1894-1972) and George VI (1895-1952), also her great-grandchildren.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Reviews

Recently the New York Times reviewed two books that I'd bought and read (Katie Nicholl's William & Harry: Behind the Palace Walls and Deborah Duchess of Devonshire's memoir Wait For Me!) as well as a book that I requested for Christmas and look forward to reading (Thomas B. Allen's Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War). Nicholl's book was entertaining but some bold assertions and implausible claims (such as the one that Lady Diana Spencer "vividly remembered" her parents fighting over the lack of a male heir despite the fact that she was only 2 when her brother Charles was born) made it hard for me to take seriously. I loved the Duchess of Devonshire's memoir, though I would have to agree with the reviewer that it had its occasional tedious moments.

Here is a brief interview with Deborah Devonshire (via Gareth Russell).

Henry IV's remains identified

The Daily Mail reports that scientists have identified a skull as being that of King Henri IV, one of France's greatest and most popular kings, who was tragically assassinated in 1610.

The last paragraph is a pleasant surprise. A "national mass" for Henri IV? I wonder how that will go over. It is true that of all the Kings of France Henri IV has always had the reputation hardest for republicans to destroy, as he was so clearly successful and benevolent. I sometimes wonder if France might have taken an entirely different (and better) long-term path had he not been assassinated and lived until after his son Louis XIII reached his majority.

GalliaWatch has more here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The King's Speech (2010)

After years of planning and months of anticipation, the definitive cinematic treatment of one of the 20th century's great unsung heroes King George VI has arrived in movie theatres, at least in New York (where I have the good fortune to be vacationing at the moment) and Los Angeles. I am pleased to report that Tom Hooper's The King's Speech does not disappoint. Colin Firth, though not very similar in appearance to George VI, gives the performance of a lifetime as the insecure monarch who with the aid of unconventional Australian speech therapist Lionel Rogue (Geoffrey Rush in an equally admirable performance) overcomes a terrifying stammer to become an inspiring wartime leader as Britain enters World War II. Firth perfectly captures his character's discomfort, making the audience feel it painfully just as those who witnessed the young Duke of York's early attempts at public speaking must have done. The relief and pride when he finally manages to get through a broadcast without stuttering is thus all the more palpable.

A rather closer physical likeness is achieved with the brilliant casting of Helena Bonham Carter as Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother). For those of us who remember HM only as an elderly lady (albeit an exceptionally vibrant and lively one), it is refreshing to see her early years in the public eye portrayed as appealingly as Bonham Carter does. Of course, "Bertie" and Elizabeth never expected to be King and Queen; they were thrust into the position only by the abdication of his elder brother Edward VIII. For someone generally inclined to give royalty the benefit of the doubt, I've always held a rather low opinion of the king who abandoned his duty to marry a twice-divorced American woman, but never have I hated him more than in a particularly painful scene in a wine cellar when he taunts his younger brother. Guy Pearce (as the closest this movie comes to a "villain") must be given credit for believably conveying Edward's selfishness and callousness. I had the same reaction to Eve Best as I always have towards the real Wallis Simpson, namely, "Why?"--which means that she did her job. And Michael Gambon is much more convincing as King George V (mercifully with an untied beard) than he's ever been as Albus Dumbledore.

I can think of only two criticisms of this splendid film. One is a complaint that only a musician would make: as much as I normally love the powerfully tragic second movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, I thought it was a bit odd to choose music by a German composer for the climactic scene in which the King, having finally mastered his speech impediment, addresses the nation on the outbreak of war with Germany in 1939. Surely either an original composition or something by a British composer (perhaps Elgar's "Nimrod") would have been more suitable. The other minor complaint is that Timothy Spall as Winston Churchill seems to be delivering more of a caricature than a real performance, as if he's impersonating a Churchill impersonator. But compared to the movie's countless strengths these are minor quibbles indeed. These strengths lie not only in the cast but also in the sets and costumes which bring a previous era (in this case the 1920s and 30s) to life as only the best period films do, the closest to time travel we are ever likely to experience. This is definitely a movie that should be seen on the big screen, not delayed until release on DVD, though I will probably buy the DVD when it comes out.

One point that non-monarchist reviewers are unlikely to make is how this movie highlights the way in which one of hereditary monarchy's perceived weaknesses can become one of its greatest strengths. Critics of monarchy complain that it involuntarily elevates individuals who are not necessarily particularly suitable for public life, and it is true that a man with George VI's handicap would have been unlikely to choose to pursue a career in politics and even more unlikely to succeed at it. Yet in the end King George VI did succeed beyond anyone's expectations, becoming not just an adequate but an exceptionally heroic head of state whose resilience (with that of his wife) was an essential component of British resistance in one of the most difficult periods of her history. There is a true nobility in his triumph which would be absent from a world in which prominent political roles were limited to those naturally gifted at public speaking. Edward VIII, once perceived as the flashier and more impressive brother, truly was unsuitable, but the point is the system worked; in the end Britain got the King she needed in her darkest and finest hour. And those of us who are committed to the preservation and restoration of hereditary monarchies can take pride in our allegiance to the only system of government that makes stories like the one told by this excellent film possible.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Castles and Childhood

Today at the mall I had to wonder if I had ever really "grown up," after wandering into a toy store, seeing the "Knights' Empire" Playmobil castle, and realizing that deep down I wanted it. Perhaps republicans are onto something (but not quite what they think) when they say monarchists need to "grow up," though that only proves how dismal their creed is. Children are natural monarchists; only adults who have lost any sense of childlike wonder could invent something as pedestrian as republicanism. To be a monarchist is to insist that there really is more truth in fairy tales than in the American Declaration of Independence. And that's nothing to be ashamed of.

[Update: About a month after writing this post, finding that I couldn't stop thinking about the castle, I finally gave in to my inner child and bought it. Above are a couple pictures, taken in January 2011 after I put it together. Note that this particular model is no longer available from Playmobil.]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tonga embraces Democracy

One of the world's last "absolute" monarchies has given way to "Progress," as King George Tupou V welcomes Tonga's first popularly elected, "commoner" Prime Minister. While I'm glad that there does not appear to be any significant movement to abolish the monarchy entirely, I fail to see what is so wonderful about this development. It's not like elected commoners have done such a spectacular job throughout the rest of the world...

Elizabeth II, Charles III, William V

To his credit, Prince William has no time for suggestions that he, rather than his father, ought to succeed the Queen. Looking forward to embarking on married life with Kate Middleton, he is not in a hurry. As Peter Hitchens points out, such speculation is at best stupid and at worst sinister. I happen to believe that the Prince of Wales will make an excellent King, but more importantly, a hereditary monarchy is not a popularity contest; that's part of the point, and those who don't understand that might as well be republicans.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

April 29

Prince William and Kate Middleton have decided that their wedding will take place on Friday, April 29, 2011, at Westminster Abbey. While I'm slightly disappointed that I will not be in London for the event as previously speculated, watching on TV will be more comfortable and probably almost as exciting, with a more comprehensive view of events.

Meanwhile, the Bishop of London has quite properly suspended his suffragan who made such nasty remarks on Facebook.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Altar and Throne

Decent Anglicans are horrified by the Bishop of Willesden's insulting online comments about the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton, in which he predicted the marriage would only last seven years and expressed his contempt for the royal family and monarchy in general, intending to plan a "republican holiday" to France. (Telegraph, Mail) Frankly I can't help wishing that Henry II or Henry VIII were around to deal with this neo-Jacobin creep. Lambeth Palace pathetically refused to censure the bishop, claiming that he is “entitled to his views.” Well, he may be entitled to any idiotic views he likes as an individual, but he is not entitled to be a bishop or use his stature to promote such treasonous nonsense. Pete Broadbent is supposed to be a bishop of the Established Church of which HM the Queen is Supreme Governor. As such he is obligated to pray for the Queen and Royal Family and to honour & obey her in all things but sin. There is no place for republicans in the hierarchy of the Church of England, the Church that King Charles the Martyr died to save. If Bishop Broadbent doesn't like that, perhaps he could find a better occupation--or better yet another country.

On a lighter note, this morning at my own parish guest preacher Joseph "Skip" Ryan (former pastor of Park Cities Presbyterian Church) gave an interesting sermon for Christ the King Sunday. He began by noting, unfortunately correctly, that Kingship is something that doesn't sit well with Americans, perhaps especially Texans, a statement that I would have to agree with if qualified by "most." Rev. Ryan went on to note that Americans tend to think of kings as being either ruthless despots or ineffectual figureheads, and jokingly wondered what our Canadian Rector (himself a loyal subject of the Crown) was thinking when he invited an Irish-American Presbyterian to preach on Christ the King. Such generalizations about "Americans" tend to make me feel that I don't really belong in this country, but I appreciated Rev. Ryan's subsequent comments critical of Oliver Cromwell; indeed, he later assured me privately that he is not anti-monarchist at all. During our own Rector's Greetings after the sermon, I got some unexpected free publicity when Bishop Burton, pointing out that the most famous Presbyterian in the world is Queen Elizabeth II of the Church of Scotland, introduced me as "the most stalwart monarchist in the United States" and encouraged the congregation to look for a "rebuttal" at my website, the URL to which I then provided at his request. I'm not sure this blog entry qualifies as a rebuttal, especially as I mostly agreed with the bulk of Rev. Ryan's sermon, but thanks Bishop Burton!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

William and Kate

After years of waiting and speculation, the media (Telegraph, BBC, Guardian, Daily Mail, New York Times) finally got their big announcement. HRH Prince William will marry Kate Middleton (ancestry) in the spring or summer of 2011. While I rather doubt they read this blog, I congratulate the happy couple on their engagement and wish them all possible joy and success. The timing of what will probably be the biggest royal wedding since that of William's parents thirty years earlier seems perfect; 2012 is the year of his grandmother's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, so London has enough going on that year, and waiting any longer would just be ridiculous. Prince William is unlikely to want to evoke parallels with his parents' wedding in St Paul's Cathedral, so in all likelihood the ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey. I hope the exact date will be announced soon, so that I'll know if it will coincide with my choir's trip to England (July 16-August 1). If it's during or shortly after the tour (personally I'm hoping for August 6), I'll be in England for the royal wedding! Somehow though I don't think we'd get to sing for it...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bertie in America

The divide between Americans who love British royalty and Americans who do not is nothing new, as indicated in this New York Times article about the visit of the teenage future King Edward VII to the United States 150 years ago this month.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lords "reform" at 11

On the occasion of the 11th anniversary of New Labour's expulsion of all but 92 hereditary peers from the House of Lords, an unforgivable act of constitutional vandalism, Sean Gabb's 1998 defence of the peers' role in Britain's ancient constitution is worth a re-read. Too bad the so-called "Conservatives" currently governing the UK, who won't even try to reverse this travesty, don't care. A documentary on "The Lords' Tale" is available at YouTube.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Queen on Facebook

HM the Queen has joined Facebook....or rather, an official Facebook page has been established for the British Monarchy. The page, launched this morning, already has over 75,000 fans, including me of course. Actually I did not have to do anything today to be included among the fans; it seems that the new official page has taken over the URL of an older unofficial page of which I was already a fan.

Unfortunately, it appears the numbers may be slightly inflated by republicans who have joined only to insult the monarchy and argue with real fans; hopefully they will remain a tiny minority. The page promises that "any offensive comments will be deleted," but given the nature of the internet that will be a big job if they're really serious and comments continue to be open to anyone who clicks "Like." I must say I don't understand the mentality of people who join a Facebook page or group that is diametrically opposed to their actual beliefs; I would never join an anti-monarchist page or group in order to argue with them. But then consistency and courtesy have not been known as republicans' strong points, have they?

I wish the Royal Household the best in its admirable continuing efforts to take advantage of the best of modern technology in promoting an ancient institution. This Facebook page is a perfect example of how monarchy can and should adapt to the contemporary world without sacrificing tradition and dignity. God Save the Queen!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Resurrecting the Czar

A symphony colleague called my attention to an article in the latest issue of The Smithsonian (available online) on the continuing controversy over the remains of the Romanovs, as well as the monarchist movement in Russia. I find myself in the awkward position of being inclined to agree on the facts with the scientific establishment (which holds that the remains of all seven martyred members of the immediate Imperial Family have been definitively identified) despite sympathizing ideologically with Russian monarchists who, like the Russian Orthodox Church, tend to still be skeptical. I can see why in an age when our cause tends to be dismissed as foolish and irrelevant by the Powers That Be, after so many decades of Soviet lies, monarchists might be inclined to regard the pronouncements of any contemporary establishment with suspicion, but even a broken clock is right twice a day, and it does seem to me that these scientists know what they are talking about even if they are not Orthodox Christians or monarchists. I hope that one day the issue can finally be resolved so that all those interested in the Romanovs, whether scientifically or ideologically, can finally stop quarreling with each other, though that seems unlikely at present.

It is encouraging, however, to read about the efforts and activities of monarchists such as Georgy Fyodorov of the Russian Imperial Union and artist Xenia Vyshpolskaya who specializes in portraits of the tsars. They have not given up, and neither should their sympathizers abroad. Боже, Царя храни!

Swedes and their allegedly "Reluctant Monarch"

Swedes, or at least the Swedish media, have been atwitter about the revelations of a new biography of King Carl XVI Gustaf, subtitled "The Reluctant Monarch". But the Telegraph article admits that few have actually changed their opinion of the King and most are inclined to give the royal family some privacy. Perhaps this book in the end will not have as much of an impact as its writers and some of their colleagues in the press seem to hope.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Imperial Mexico, and other blogosphere highlights

I usually try to avoid posts that simply link to specific entries of blogs that I already feature permanently on the side of my own blog, but sometimes my fellow royalist bloggers (most of whose blogs are rather more colourful than mine) are so inspiring that I have to make an exception. Andrew Cusack has a great post on Mexico's imperial heritage encompassing both Emperors, Augustin (1783-1824) and Maximilian (1832-1867). Coincidentally, Mr Cusack's excellent "Mexico Week" has immediately preceded my own Dallas Symphony Orchestra's presentation of "Latin Masterworks" under the direction of the young, beautiful, and gifted Mexican conductor Alondra de la Parra with whom it has been delightful to work.

Also recommended are Elena Maria Vidal's account of her meeting with Archduke Imre of Austria and Prince Bertrand of Orléans-Braganza (Brazil) (of which I couldn't help being a little envious) and Gareth Russell's 255th birthday tribute to Marie Antoinette.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Monarchy: Solution for Serbia

Monarchists advocating restorations of long-defunct monarchies are sometimes accused of not being in touch with reality. But the Business News site, which does not look like it wallows in sentiment or fantasy, offers a refreshing pragmatic and practical argument in favor of constitutional monarchy for Serbia. Long live King Alexander II!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vandalizing Versailles, Part II

Following in the footsteps of his "nephew" (actually cousin) Prince Charles-Emanuel, who in 2008 unsuccessfully challenged an exhibit there by an American "pop artist," Prince Sixte-Henri of Bourbon-Parma is seeking a court order to stop a Japanese "manga" transformation of Versailles. Of course, if Versailles were still being used for its proper purpose, as residence of the King and center of the Court, such silliness would not even be proposed...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The King's Speech

Dominic Sandbrook reflects on the upcoming movie about King George VI, concluding that glimpses of his human foibles did not prevent his subjects from embracing the mystique of monarchy, and that "[i]t will be a sad day when we are so cynical that we cannot do the same."

Monday, October 4, 2010

One Hundred Years of Darkness

On this date in 1910 the young King Manuel II (whose father and older brother had been murdered by republicans just two and half years earlier) was forced to flee Portugal after warships shelled the royal palace, with a republic proclaimed the following day. This was the first of the wretched twentieth century's evil anti-monarchist revolutions, a sign of the horrors to come. Predictably the current republican Portuguese government seems to think this anniversary is something to celebrate, but we whose taproot in Eden has not been cut (to quote C S Lewis) know better. October 1910 was the beginning of the end for the Old Order, the true European Civilisation which outside of France had seemed relatively stable for nearly a century, foreshadowing the way that all over Europe and the world nation after nation would succumb to the idiocy of abolitionist republicanism, callously and stupidly throwing their royal heritage in the gutter, only to find consistently that kings would be replaced by regimes worse than the worst king could have ever been.

Unfortunately Portuguese monarchists since then have faced all kinds of obstacles, not least of which was the allegedly "right-wing" regime (1932-68) of the traitor Salazar, whose positive reputation among some Catholics not unsympathetic to monarchy baffles me. Like other "right-wing" dictators, Salazar was happy to take advantage of monarchists when it suited him but was never one of us and (unlike Franco in Spain) never delivered. Today the would-be king Dom Duarte, recognised by all but a tiny quarrelsome minority of monarchists, is popular, but that does not seem to translate into momentum for serious efforts at restoration, apparently prohibited by the current constitution. Nevertheless, heroic groups such as PDR (Portugal, Democracia & Rei) and the Royal Association of Lisbon have not given up, and keep the flame alive as seen in this video.

The Portuguese Republic is a bloodstained abomination that has no right to exist; it is an ugly repudiation of all authentic Culture and Tradition; it is a negation of all that is good and holy and true. I condemn it with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind, and call on all true Portuguese Patriots to join together in demanding the restoration of the Duke of Braganza to his rightful Throne. Why would anyone put up with some boring president when they could have such a beautiful Royal Family? Long live HM King Duarte III!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cheers for the King in Athens

At least some ordinary Greeks apparently agree with my previous post. Australians for Constitutional Monarchy reports that truck drivers demonstrating in Athens, surprised to see King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie, regaled them with cheers, calling for them to return to the throne and throw out the politicians. But can monarchists capitalize on such spontaneous events and overcome the formidable obstacles republics (which are far more intolerant of monarchists than monarchies are of republicans) place in their way?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Balkan Kings

Thanks to Radical Royalist for this report (including the photograph shown here) on a recent gathering of the four rightful sovereigns of the leading Balkan countries and their families. King Simeon II of Bulgaria, Crown Prince Alexander (II) of Serbia [Yugoslavia], King Michael I of Romania, and King Constantine II of Greece were together to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine. As far as I'm concerned, the alleged "Fall" of Communism in Eastern Europe is a sham and a fraud as long as these four men are denied their rightful thrones. If only they and not common politicians were ruling the Balkans!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Médaille on Monarchy

Catholic professor John Médaille of the University of Dallas explains in The Remnant why he is a Monarchist. (Interestingly, though writing here in a traditionalist publication, Médaille is not a [liturgical] traditionalist himself and, a mutual friend tells me, has only recently come around to the monarchist point of view, which he used to oppose.) Some of his points are not unlike those I've made myself, particularly regarding the illusion of "choice" in modern democracy. While I would be reluctant to link monarchism too closely to the entirety of the traditional Catholic agenda, the truth of much of what he says can be appreciated by readers of any religious viewpoint. I'm not sure, however, what the juxtaposition of the images of Louis XVI and Barack Obama is supposed to mean.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Greatest Nation?

David B. Hart denies that the United States is the "Greatest Nation on Earth," whimsically nominating the Kingdom of Bhutan as an alternative recipient of this nonsensical designation. Alas, Bhutan is changing, and probably not for the better, as lamented by both The Mad Monarchist and Peter Hitchens. At least they still have their monarchy, unlike a certain other Himalayan country.

"Scandal-Ridden" Monarchies?

Canadian publication Maclean's irreverently profiles Europe's surviving monarchies. Writer Patricia Treble exaggerates the importance of various "scandals" and (as RadicalRoyalist points out) ignores the rather more serious problems plaguing republics such as Germany's, but concludes that monarchies are "good fun" and acknowledges that republics are no cheaper. Serious monarchists, however, are likely to regret that "good fun" is the extent to which modern monarchies are all too often appreciated, and may be forgiven for wondering if the marital decisions of younger royalty might indeed have something to do with it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

WSJ on Ahmed Fouad II

The Wall Street Journal profiles Egypt's King Ahmed Fouad II, who reigned briefly as a baby in 1952-53 following the ouster of his father King Farouk (1920-1965). The image of Egypt's monarchy has in recent years begun to recover from the propaganda of the Nasser regime. The King lives in Switzerland and apparently has not had a particularly happy life, though he points out with a hint of optimism that monarchy has worked beautifully for Spain.

There is one slight error in the article, which says that "King Constantine II of Greece fled his country in 1967 when the junta abolished the monarchy"; actually the junta did not get around to that until 1973, with Constantine nominally remaining king while in exile for six years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sir Charles Petrie (1895-1977)

Australian journalist and musician R J Stove (who has kindly linked to my website for years) profiles the distinguished but neglected monarchist historian Sir Charles Petrie, who among his many other worthy activities used to write articles for the International Monarchist League (founded 1943) to which I have belonged since 1999.

More on Nikolaos & Tatiana of Greece

Taki's Magazine has articles on the recent Greek royal wedding by Maria Carraciola and Taki himself.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Meghrajji III of Dhrangadhra-Halvad (1923-2010)

The last Indian Maharaja to reign under the British Empire recently died at the age of 87. Judging from his Telegraph obituary and this tribute by Rafal Heydel-Mankoo, he seems to have been a delightful and fascinating gentleman. I particularly liked his comments about the Coronation:

In 1953 the Maharaja was invited to attend the Coronation of HM The Queen at Westminster Abbey, an occasion he found deeply moving. When I reported recent news stories of possible alterations to the Coronation service in order to better represent a multi-faith society, the Hindu scholar was unequivocal in his condemnation: “If the Coronation ceremony in its traditional form and all its glory is abandoned I shall mourn its loss as an exquisite part of our world heritage. It would be like the wanton destruction of a national, indeed a world monument, – say Stonehenge or the Taj Mahal.”

When will the West's politically correct killjoys learn that their alleged "multicultural sensitivity" is actually patronising and insulting to thoughtful non-Christians and non-Westerners?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Republican Slump Down Under

To the delight of good monarchists everywhere such as Australian David Flint and Canadian Robert Finch, a new poll reveals that support for a republic in Australia has sunk to its lowest level in 16 years. So much for that "inevitability" they're always telling us about...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Church and State, Here and There

As wonderful as the Edington Music Festival is, one thing that does irk me (which I've also noticed at other churches of the Church of England) is the absence of prayers for the Queen and Royal Family from the Intercessions. Of course it is nice at Evensong to hear the Precentor intone the correct words "O Lord, Save the Queen" rather than the awkward American substitution "O Lord, Save the State," but that's all the acknowledgement Her Majesty gets, with nothing for the rest of her family. This seems strange and indefensible to me, since as an American Episcopalian I am accustomed to hearing prayers for the President (and for the US armed forces, courts, and elected officials) in church every Sunday as a matter of course. As American Christians publicly pray for the President, whether they particularly like him and his office or not, surely British Christians should publicly pray for the Queen, whether they particularly like her and her office or not (not that I have much tolerance or respect for those who don't!). But in my experience, with the exception of Royal Peculiars such as Westminster Abbey, they do not. Why not?

It seems to me that while American Christianity tends toward excessive patriotism, British Christianity errs in the opposite direction. American Christians like to put the national flag in the chancel, where I don't believe it belongs, and too often appear to confuse America's will with God's. But the dominant clerical mentality in the contemporary Church of England appears to be ashamed of the Church's historical links with the Monarchy and the State, reluctant to mention not only the Queen and Royal Family but anything distinctly English. The prayers I've heard in churches here in England generally concern only the Church and the World, with nothing that could not be said in any other country, as if belonging to a universal Church and sharing a common Faith means that Christians should be concerned only for Humanity in general. But this is false and incomplete: as human beings we are meant to relate to God and each other through a particular local reality, and as members of a particular national society we are obliged to pray for those in authority over us, who in Britain and the Commonwealth Realms are all represented by the Queen. Now admittedly I as an American personally have a hard time putting this into practice enthusiastically, since I am hampered by my persistent wish that my "particular local reality" were British rather than American, a dilemma I have not yet resolved. But at least I understand the concept.

I don't think the Anglican clergy who refuse to pray for the Queen are anxious to live somewhere else, or even necessarily republican. But they appear to have been shaped by a globalist, egalitarian, and implicitly anti-patriotic worldview that while couching itself in the language of the universal Church owes more to modern political correctness than to authentic Christianity, which enjoins its adherents to render onto Caesar that which is Caesar's, honour the King, and be subject to the higher powers. Christians should not fall into idolatry of their particular Country, but neither should they pretend that it has no claim on them at all. The national flag should not be placed in the chancel, which ought to be focused on that Kingdom not of this world, but Christians should pray for their temporal leaders, of whom in Britain the Queen is the most important. It is frustrating that on neither side of the Atlantic do we appear to get this balance right.

I mentioned that the clergy of Westminster Abbey do pray for the Queen and Royal Family, but even they no longer use the beautiful florid collects of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, having replaced them with shorter and simpler versions. I wish they would, for it is the classic texts that most perfectly express the ideal relationship of the Christian to those in authority over him. Even if the clergy will not join us, it cannot hurt all English-speaking Christians and monarchists to join me in saying them regularly ourselves.

O LORD, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally, after this life, she may attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and all the Royal Family: Endue them with thy Holy Spirit; enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Greek Royal Wedding

Prince Nikolaos of Greece married Tatiana Blatnik today on the Greek island of Spetses. I believe this is the first royal wedding to take place in Greece since that of Prince Michael and Marina Karella in 1965, Prince Nikolaos's parents King Constantine & Queen Anne-Marie having been married the previous year. Pictures of the pre-wedding reception featuring royal guests from all over Europe can be seen here; preliminary Hello! coverage here; BBC video here; CBS pictures here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma (1930-2010)

Prince Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma (b 8 Apr 1930, Paris) died on Wednesday at 80 in Barcelona (Telegraph obituary). He was the head of the branch of the Bourbon family that ruled the Italian state of Parma until 1860 and was a "Carlist" claimant to the Spanish throne. His 1964 marriage to Dutch Princess Irene (they had four children and later divorced), younger sister of Queen Beatrix, was controversial in the Netherlands at the time. The Dutch royal family led mourning this week in The Hague. Some pictures are available at my forum (thanks to "Ethiomonarchist") here and here.

England 2010

The lack of posting recently is mainly because I've been enjoying my fourth visit to the United Kingdom (1st/2nd/3rd), this time focused on Wiltshire. I arrived on Thursday and spent the weekend at Sarum College in Salisbury, where I toured and attended services at the magnificent Cathedral and visited numerous fascinating attractions including the Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, Stonehenge, Old Sarum, Mompesson House, and The Rifles (Berkshire & Wiltshire) Museum. It was a marvelous three days.

The main reason for my trip, however, is the Edington Festival of Music within the Liturgy, a unique week at Edington's gorgeous 14th-century Priory Church featuring four choral services a day (generally Matins, Mass, Evensong, & Compline) sung by three superb choirs incorporating some of the best singers from all over England: a men's chant schola, a choir of men & boys, and a choir of men & women. The three services I've attended so far (last night's opening Compline and today's Matins and Solemn Eucharist) have been stunning. As I posted on Facebook, imagine at night a medieval stone church lit only by candles in which the haunting sounds of plainsong echo from somewhere beyond the ancient choir screen, and then a single boy treble intones the first verse of a Latin hymn, the service later concluding with "Totus tuus" by Henryk Gorecki gradually diminishing to the sort of pianissimo that only the most polished singers can pull off. Then imagine mass the next morning as the sunlight streams through the windows illuminating clouds of incense to the sounds of polyphony by Victoria and Byrd. That's the Edington Music Festival.

Edington is a small village surrounded by idyllic English countryside. I'm staying in a beautiful bed & breakfast, parts of which date to the Tudor era, run by the wife of a former military equerry to HRH the Prince of Wales; his family have served King (or Queen) and Country for at least eight generations. I could not think of a better way for a devotee of England and sacred choral music to spend a week.

(Anyone curious about the Edington Music Festival can listen to tomorrow's Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3, live at 4 PM in the UK which is 11 AM US Eastern/10 AM US Central.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Weak Tsar?

Blogger Christina Croft dissents from the conventional wisdom that Russia's Nicholas II (1868-1918) was a "weak" Tsar. I mostly agree with her analysis, though it's perhaps unfair to compare Britain's King George V (1865-1936) unfavourably to his Russian cousin as the British constitution would not have allowed him to occupy his time with anything much more politically decisive than shooting and stamp collecting. (Via Tea at Trianon via The Sword & The Sea.)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Queen Michelle?

A ridiculous article in the New York Daily News, trying to criticize American First Lady Michelle Obama's Spanish vacation by making a clumsy analogy with Marie Antoinette, only demonstrates the writer's deplorable ignorance. For one thing, as blogger Elena Maria Vidal just reminded me privately, Marie Antoinette didn't take "vacations"; she never left France after arriving there for her marriage in 1770. This writer's casual calumny indicates how much Jacobin propaganda continues to cloud the reputation of the much-maligned queen, who while she might have had little concept of the value of money when a teenage girl (not, I think, the last teenage girl with that trait), was in fact deeply concerned with the plight of her husband's poorest subjects and undertook many charitable endeavors. Clearly monarchists have a lot of work to do, when it is still widely taken for granted that "Marie Antoinette" can be a byword for heartless extravagant luxury. This blog takes no position on Michelle Obama's vacation, but will not stand to see Marie Antoinette insulted. Recalling Lloyd Bentsen's famous 1988 retort to Dan Quayle, I can only say, "Michelle Obama, you are no Marie Antoinette."

Tea at Trianon has more on this silliness here.

Most of today's "conservatives" know nothing of history and nothing of conservatism. It used to be that opposition to the French Revolution was a defining characteristic of conservatives, even Americans (starting with John Adams). Not anymore; now it's nothing but naked partisanship. As far as I'm concerned anyone who brings up the French Revolution in order to side with the mob against the King & Queen has no right to be considered any sort of right-winger. Modern Republican "conservatism" is utterly bankrupt and deserves nothing but contempt.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Truth about Royal Assent

Socially conservative monarchists, especially Roman Catholics, sometimes complain about the way Europe's contemporary constitutional monarchs, whatever their private beliefs, have failed to block legislation contrary to traditional Christian morality. This issue has previously been discussed at this blog with regard to Spain, Luxembourg, and the United Kingdom. The staunchly Catholic blog Roman Christendom explains why Queen Elizabeth II had no authority to veto Britain's 1967 legalization of abortion. Wherever one stands on abortion or other divisive contemporary issues, it ought at least to be clear that in modern European monarchies, if you don't like the laws, you must blame the politicians who enacted them, not the sovereigns who nominally assented to them.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

27 July 1980

reminded me that today is the 30th anniversary of the death in Cairo of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran (1941-79). The Shah was betrayed by his Western "allies," particularly the incompetent American President Jimmy Carter (who 30 years later, not content with having helped destroy Iran, would cheer on the collapse of yet another monarchy in Nepal), and rejected by the people for whom he had tried to do so much. His regime was not perfect but infinitely superior to what Iran has endured since, as anyone familiar with the history of revolutions should have been able to predict. R.I.P.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Heartbreaking Contrast

I was reading Wikipedia's article on East Prussia and was struck by two adjacent photos that I think when juxtaposed together illustrate as starkly as possible the difference between traditional Christian monarchical Europe and modern secular republican Europe, all the more so because the hideous "House of the Soviets" stands on the very site of Königsberg Castle, tragically destroyed along with so much else in World War II. Whatever its flaws, the Europe of Kings and Princes cared about Beauty and left an unparalleled legacy of magnificence, of which Königsberg Castle was but one of countless examples. The Europe of Presidents and Bureaucrats is ugly to the core, and is fittingly represented by the House of the Soviets. The French writer Anatole France (1844-1924) perhaps foreshadowed the lesson of these two buildings when he wrote, "For every monarchy overthrown the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star. A republic is ugliness set free."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Le Roi Danse

For some time I had wanted to watch the 2000 film Le Roi Danse, about the relationship of King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) (Benoît Magimel) and composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) (Boris Terral) whose music provided the soundtrack for the splendid early years of the Sun King's personal reign. The movie is not available on DVD in the US; however, tonight a friend informed me that it is available (in 14 parts; here is the first) on YouTube, so I finally saw it. While pausing thirteen times to let the next installment load is not the most satisfying way to watch a movie, that should not be allowed to detract from Gerard Corbiau's triumph in capturing ancien regime France in all its glory.

Few movies could be as appealing for lovers of both the French monarchy and Baroque music (expertly performed here by Musica Antiqua of Cologne). Gorgeous sets and costumes bring the court to life, while Magimel's performance perfectly captures the king's complex mixture of regal aloofness and artistic enthusiasm. In Louis XIV the badly behaved genius Lully had a patron who fully understood the power of the arts and lavishly exploited it to the hilt, and was not without skill as a dancer himself. As with many monarchs who lived and reigned a long time, historically the image of the elderly, intolerantly pious, and warmongering Louis can tend to overshadow that of his younger self; this movie puts the glamorous, sparkling, talented, and fun-loving Louis of the 1660s and 70s back in the center of our imaginations. How the once-great nation of France could go from Louis XIV to the elected common nonentities that have dared to claim to be its heads of state for the past 140 years is beyond me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Today (my 32nd birthday, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden's 33rd) France, for some reason, celebrates the beginning of its evil Revolution, which swept away centuries of tradition & heritage, destroyed a great civilization, and led to a vicious bloodbath, in the long term paving the way for the horrors of 20th century totalitarianism according to which unlimited atrocities are justified in the name of creating a New Order. (More from RadicalRoyalist here; from MadforMonaco here; from this blog in 2008 here and here; from TeaAtTrianon here; from Confessions of a Ci-Devant here.)

This year's festivities in Paris were apparently marred by criticism over the presence of various African leaders of former French colonies whose human rights records are less than stellar. Monarchists can be grimly amused by the complaint that "[i]t would be no small paradox that during a celebration of the values of the Republic, these values should be flouted by the presence of torturers, dictators and other predators of human rights, and that instead of pursuing them, France honours them." Paradox? No, actually, I think it makes perfect sense. The Republic was born in blood and terror; surely the presence of "torturers" and "dictators" affirms, not flouts, its real "values."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Default Republicanism?

Robert Hardman criticises British politicians' neglect of the monarchy and explains its oft-misunderstood financial situation.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Queen in New York

Having concluded a triumphant tour of her Dominion of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived in New York City this afternoon for their third visit there, where the Queen addressed the United Nations and laid a wreath at Ground Zero.

Congratulations to my friend Cian Horrobin (a fellow participant in the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto last month) who appears in this CBC clip expressing his support for the Canadian monarchy earlier today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Windsors in North America

Prince Harry, in New York (where he threw the first pitch at a baseball game) to promote closer links between American and British military charities, expressed his desire to return to Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, his grandparents the Queen and Prince Philip have arrived in Canada for a nine-day tour, after which HM will address the United Nations in New York. It's "very good to be home," the Queen told her cheering Canadian subjects in Nova Scotia. For continuing coverage of the royal visit and in-depth information on the Canadian monarchy, see the website of the Monarchist League of Canada and its Dominion Chairman's Blog. Videos are available at the 2010RoyalTour YouTube channel.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Charles vs the Modernists

With the row over the Prince of Wales's intervention in architectural matters reignited, Norman Tebbit and Gerald Warner defend HRH from the apologists for unrestrained ugliness who can't stand a single defeat.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Prince of Monaco engaged

Over the years Monegasques might have been forgiven for wondering if their Prince (who has two illegitimate children) would ever marry, but their doubts have finally been laid to rest with the announcement of the engagement of HSH Prince Albert II, 52, to former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock, 32. I wish them a happy and fruitful marriage and hope that the future princess in giving Monaco its first consort since 1982 will prove a worthy successor to Albert's beloved mother Grace. Mad for Monaco has more.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Victoria & Daniel

Today Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden married trainer Daniel Westling (now HRH Prince Daniel) in Stockholm, in what has been called the biggest royal wedding since that of Britain's Charles and Diana in 1981. (BBC pictures) RadicalRoyalist reflects on some of the benefits of such royal occasions here, and Hello! and The Local have extensive coverage in English. I wish the couple all possible happiness and success in guiding the Swedish monarchy through the 21st century.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Trooping the Colour 2010

In one of the spectacles that makes the British monarchy admired throughout the world for its pageantry, Britain celebrated the Queen's official birthday with magnificent pageantry in London on June 12. I am not the American tourist quoted in the Telegraph article, but I certainly share the sentiment.

A Greek salutes his King

(I'm currently in HM's Dominion of Canada attending the Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute in Toronto, so don't have a lot of time for blogging, but wanted to link to this article.)

Earlier this month exiled HM Constantine II, King of the Hellenes (1964-74), celebrated his 70th birthday with a grand party attended by many distinguished guests including HM Queen Elizabeth II. One of the other guests was the controversial right-wing Greek journalist Taki, who despite youthful republicanism and occasional irreverence towards other royalty has always spoken respectfully of his king, who he defends in "The Crown Knows Best."

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Remembering Grand Duchess Leonida

The last member of the Russian Imperial Family who was born before the Revolution, Grand Duchess Leonida (1914-2010), has been laid to rest in St. Petersburg. Russia Today has excellent video and commentary in English. Also see videos in Russian here and here.

(I thank Monarchy Forum member Seth for these links.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Two Anniversaries

Monarchists have two quite opposite anniversaries to contemplate this weekend: one tragic, the other glorious, one recent, the other distant.

Today, May 28, is the second anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Nepal and the fall of the monarchy. I have written previously here (see other posts with label "Nepal") about what a horrible and outrageous event this was, the only downfall of a monarchy of my politically conscious lifetime, so will not repeat myself at length today. There are some encouraging signs that King Gyanendra and his supporters have not given up completely, but the struggle to reverse the debacle of two years ago remains an uphill battle. I condemn Nepal's new republic utterly as an illegitimate abomination that has no right to exist and ought to be destroyed; may it not last to see a third birthday! Though a Christian myself I stand in solidarity with all supporters of what was once the world's only Hindu kingdom and wish them success in their effort to restore Nepal's venerable Shah dynasty to its rightful throne.

On a much happier note, tomorrow, May 29, is the precise 350th anniversary of the Restoration of the British Monarchy, when the merry King Charles II (1630-1685) on his 30th birthday was restored to the throne of his martyred father, bringing to an end eleven years of dreary Puritan rule. I will be attending the American Society of King Charles the Martyr's celebratory mass and luncheon at St Barnabas Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and am looking forward to the rare opportunity to observe a royalist occasion in the United States and meet other Anglicans devoted to the memory of the Royal Martyr. St Barnabas's organist and choirmaster Nick Behrens is also Central States Delegate of the International Monarchist League and has invited me to sing in the choir for Basil Harwood's Communion Service in A-flat.

Hopefully the people of Nepal will follow the example of England and realize within eleven years of abolition that they made a terrible mistake two years ago. Long live the United Kingdom and long live the Kingdom of Nepal!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Modern Monarchy and the Boston Globe

Recently The Boston Globe published an interesting reflection on the place of monarchs in the modern world, Saved by the crown. From violent protests in Thailand to parliamentary politics in Britain and Belgium, the role of the Crown has attracted attention in recent months. If people like Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Joshua Kurlantzick (who doesn't exactly seem like a monarchist but at least understands that contemporary constitutional monarchs can be more than decorations) are taking monarchy seriously, that's an encouraging sign.

It's unfortunate that these days Monarchy is likely to be defended only in terms of what it can do for Democracy and Modernity, but that's probably the best monarchists can expect from a mainstream publication such as the Globe. I do not, of course, agree with all of the article's assumptions, particularly the astonishing claim that "where kings and sultans still actually rule...monarchs can be every bit as oppressive and opaque as any other dictatorship." On the contrary, I think it's a pretty fair generalization that with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia (probably my least favorite current monarchy), throughout the Muslim world it is the monarchies that consistently are and have been the most reasonable regimes, from both non-Muslim and female perspectives, and even Saudi Arabia's current King Abdullah is not without his relatively progressive initiatives, as the article admits.

As far as Europe is concerned, it's worth noting that the arguably problematic "Constitutional Monarchs Help Facilitate Democracy and Multiculturalism" defense is one reason why many right-wingers today have no interest in monarchy. I myself would confess to be less than entirely comfortable with modern European royalty's apparent acquiescence to the massive changes being imposed on their societies via mass immigration, not to mention other troubling developments such as the emasculation and destruction of the House of Lords in Britain. But it's nevertheless a legitimate point that, like it or or not, these situations have been brought about by governments elected by the peoples of those countries, and the royals really have no choice but to make the best of them. Perhaps constitutional monarchy in countries like Sweden and the Netherlands really will be the glue that prevents immigration from having the most dire consequences feared by many on the Right and somehow makes modern Europe work in spite of itself.

If that's the case, people (especially politicians) in former monarchies from Serbia to Laos would do well to pay attention to The Boston Globe. For what this article proves is that one need not be a reactionary alienated from modernity and its democratic values to see the value of kings and queens. On many fronts, pure traditionalists frankly have lost, and reversal seems unlikely. But if the advantages of restoration of monarchy can be appreciated even from a generally modernist perspective, there is no reason to give up on this particular front. Symbols matter, and are worth fighting for, even--or perhaps especially--if they mean different things to different people. So whether you see the Crown as the embodiment of the traditional civilisation you nostalgically prefer to the present, or as an effective tool for addressing the problems of modernity capable of endless reinvention and adaptation, or even some combination of the two, join the fight for the restoration and preservation of monarchies! Even The Boston Globe understands.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

Ridley Scott's latest medieval epic has little to do with the traditional Robin Hood legend and even less to do with actual history, but looks spectacular and includes a fine performance by Eileen Atkins as Queen Eleanor (1122-1204), not to mention real-life monarchist Russell Crowe in the title role. Apart from a silly digression about the Crusades (Robin claims that the peaceful Muslims felt "only pity" for the Crusaders for being, you know, not as peaceful), at least it's not quite as "politically corrected" as some other adaptations. For two quite contrasting non-leftist reactions (not necessarily endorsed), see Steven Greydanus (via Tea at Trianon) and Richard Spencer & Paul Smith. If you can ignore Scott's biases and agendas, I think Robin Hood is worth seeing on the big screen in the theatre if mainly for the colourful and detailed views of medieval life and unspoiled scenery it offers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grand Duchess Leonida of Russia (1914-2010)

The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its condolences on the death of HIH Grand Duchess Leonida, who passed away in Madrid last night at the age of 95. Grand Duchess Leonida was the widow of longtime Romanov family head Grand Duke Vladimir (1917-1992) and the mother of current claimant Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (b 1953). She was born on September 23, 1914 in Tiflis, a princess of the Moukhransky branch of the ancient Bagration royal house of Georgia. Though modern republican Russia denied her the status of Empress she should have attained after the fall of Communism, she will be buried with her husband and his ancestors in the Fortress of St Peter & St Paul. RIP.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crown Princess Victoria's "sexist" wedding

Crown Princess Victoria has annoyed Sweden's fussy guardians of egalitarianism by wishing to walk down the aisle with her father rather than together with fiancé Daniel Westling at their wedding this summer. The politically correct clergy of the Church of Sweden do not approve of what they ironically claim is a violation of Swedish "tradition," though I wonder how old this custom of the bride and groom walking in together really is. But as the Royal Court quite sensibly points out, this is not any ordinary wedding but rather one in which Sweden's King will lead his heir to the altar before the nation. While I don't particularly care for the 1980 abolition of male primogeniture and wish that royalty still married other royalty, in this case I applaud HRH's intention and wish her and Mr. Westling (soon to be Prince Daniel) a happy and fruitful marriage.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1919-2010)

I am sorry to report that HI&RH Archduke Rudolf of Austria died yesterday at 90. He was the youngest son of Emperor Bl Karl I (1887-1922) and Empress Zita (1892-1989). His brothers Archdukes Otto (b 1912) and Felix (b 1916) are now the only surviving children of the last Emperor and Empress of Austria-Hungary.

Royal Influence Fading With King in Thailand?

As Thailand continues to suffer from violent clashes between "red shirts" and the government, its widely revered but ill King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 82, is increasingly perceived as being unable to play the conciliatory role he has played in the past.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crowe backs the Crown

The modern world probably pays too much attention to the [usually rather leftist and trendy] political views of entertainers in general, but since this is unlikely to change any time soon, it is refreshing when one gets it right. Actor Russell Crowe, promoting his upcoming movie Robin Hood, has expressed his support for the Australian monarchy and his admiration for the royal family, including the Queen's much-maligned sons Princes Charles and Andrew. I have enjoyed several of Mr Crowe's movies (especially Master and Commander, for which he conscientiously took violin lessons) and am glad that such a prominent actor is on our side. Mr Crowe has disclosed his monarchist views at least once before, in 2003 when he said, "I never thought I would say it, but I'm actually a monarchist and I think Elizabeth has done a bloody wonderful job. The family deserve more respect." Obviously he has overcome whatever reluctance he once had about saying so. Good for Russell Crowe, and God Save the Queen of Australia!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Second Swedish Royal Wedding Off

Princess Madeleine of Sweden has broken off her engagement to lawyer Jonas Bergstrom after learning of his infidelity with a Norwegian Bournemouth University student. Hopefully the scandal will not overshadow the wedding of her older sister Crown Princess Victoria to gym owner Daniel Westling in Stockholm in June. Frankly I wish that princesses still married princes, but the contemporary Scandinavian royal families seem unlikely to ever go back in that direction.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Habsburg Ukraine

Archduke Karl von Habsburg keeps his ancestors' memory alive in the part of Ukraine they once ruled, reports the Kyiv Post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Presidents are not Kings

Polish unity in the aftermath of the plane crash that wiped out much of its political establishment has been damaged by plans to bury the late President Kaczynski in Krakow's Wawel cathedral, an honor traditionally reserved for kings. Opponents of the Wawel burial might not be monarchists--in fact, they are more likely to be left-wing than right-wing--but they instinctively sense that burying a controversial politician among ancient kings & queens and more recent national heroes is not appropriate, and on this one point (if no other) their viewpoint makes sense. Politics may make strange bedfellows, but I would have to agree with the protesters; whatever Mr Kaczynski's merits, he was obviously not a king, and to elevate him posthumously to de facto royal status is disrespectful to the genuine kings of Poland's glorious past. It is the Organization of Polish Monarchists, not Mr. Kaczynski's republican Law & Justice party, that has the most authentically patriotic vision for Poland's future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Queen and I

The Queen and I (2008; featured at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival) is a unique documentary by Iranian expat filmmaker Nahid Persson, now a resident of Sweden, about Empress Farah. Apart from both being exiled Iranians, the two women have little in common; Persson in her youth before the 1979 Revolution was a leftist agitator dedicated to opposing the regime of Farah's husband the Shah. But the documentary shows how the two women became, if not exactly friends, able to understand each other, and is sympathetic enough to the Empress to appeal to viewers like me whose views are quite unlike the filmmaker's. Scenes with exiled Iranian royalists, especially those visiting the Shah's grave in Egypt, as well as old footage of imperial pageantry, will stir any monarchist's heart, even if such a reaction is quite contrary to Persson's intentions.

When pressed, the Shahbanou ably defends her late husband's much-maligned regime, pointing out among other things that in the context of the Cold War the Soviet Union really was trying to make Iran Communist necessitating a security service, that the allegedly all-powerful SAVAK left the mullahs who would overthrow the Shah untouched, and that the Iranian leftists opposed to Khomeini all fled to the [formerly Shah-allied] Western countries they had denounced as "imperialist," not to their beloved USSR, Cuba, or China. While I certainly do not endorse Nahid Persson's political perspective, which inevitably colors the narration, she has made a film I think monarchists will enjoy almost in spite of herself.

Monday, March 29, 2010

President Habsburg?

Back in September I reported on efforts to overturn the Austrian Republic's law prohibiting members of the Habsburg family from seeking the presidency. I expressed mixed feelings, balancing the natural instinct of a monarchist to side with a Habsburg with reservations as to whether competing in a presidential election is really an appropriate thing for royalty to do, concluding that in a sense it is appropriate for the Austrian Republic to exclude the Habsburgs from its presidency--an office which from a monarchist point of view ought not to exist at all. This recent article confirms my view that Austrian monarchists should have nothing to do with trying to overturn this law. Ulrich Habsburg-Lothringen (who comes from the Tuscan branch of the dynasty and is therefore a distant cousin, not a nephew, of Otto von Habsburg) is a left-wing (Green) self-proclaimed republican who is "embarrassed" by support from monarchists. His goals are not our goals and his cause is not our cause; he fully accepts the legitimacy and permanence of the Austrian Republic and wants only to be permitted to play his part in its affairs like an ordinary citizen. This is exactly how monarchists should not want the Habsburgs to be treated, as it would reduce royal ancestry to irrelevance--arguably a far greater triumph for Jacobinism than the guillotine could have ever accomplished.

It ought to be clear that "Mr. Lothringen" (as he apparently prefers to be known) has no intention of using his political career to advance monarchical restoration or even any other political cause with which monarchists might be sympathetic, and it would be naïve to assume that anything good is likely to come from his election (a long shot in any case). He does not seem to respect either his family's legacy or those people who still believe in it, and I see no reason therefore why we should have anything to do with him. It should not surprise us if the Republic appears to fear Habsburgs more than it does Nazis, since Nazis with their belief in a progressive New Order are actually closer to its values than we are. The Austrian Republic is an abomination and the Habsburgs ought to be proud to be excluded from its worthless offices and institutions. Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze Unsern Kaiser, unser Land!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wandering towards War

Dwight Garner reviews Miranda Carter's George, Nicholas and Wilhelm: Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I. This is the second recent book to link the three monarchs; Catrine Clay's King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins who Led the World to War (reviewed here) covered the same territory a few years ago. Garner's article reflects some misconceptions probably inherited from Carter's book: for example, while the Romanovs were indeed wealthy, the later Tsars generally did not allow their children to live in luxury and they were actually brought up in surprising simplicity. Alexander III himself, though his role required him to preside over grand ceremonial functions, personally preferred to dress in peasant clothes and eat peasant food. The upbringing of Victorian and Edwardian British royal children was similarly modest.

It is certainly true, sadly, that the family relationships of European royalty failed to prevent the outbreak of World War I. This often resulted in heartbreaking conflicts of interest for the royals themselves. For example, the German-born Empress Alexandra of Russia, though she never liked her cousin the Kaiser and her loyalties were firmly Russian, had to deal with the pain of her own brother the Grand Duke of Hesse serving in the opposing German army. But the downfall of monarchies has hardly prevented more foolish and destructive wars; indeed, it arguably paved the way for them. So the fact that dynastic relations did not prevent wars from being fought between countries whose monarchs were closely related to each other is not itself an argument against hereditary monarchy or the cosmopolitan genealogical web of European royalty, which at least in peacetime was not without its advantages. Direct political power had mostly passed out of the hands of European monarchs by 1914 anyway, and subsequent history shows that plebeian politicians are perfectly capable of dragging their countries to war on their own. Of course if one starts from the presumption that kings and courts were already "anachronistic and absurd" in the early 20th century, their actions and rituals are going to be hard to understand. The question of whether it might have been the modern ideas that made them seem so that were in error is never raised.

[Update on April 5: Another review, by Miranda Seymour, appears here, possibly even more steeped in anti-monarchist bias than the first one.]

Iraq's Throne, via Parliament?

Ali bin Hussein claims the throne of Iraq, but for now is seeking a seat in Parliament, reports the Times of Malta. I am normally opposed to royal claimants taking this kind of path; however, not all monarchists recognize Sharif Ali as the rightful claimant, so perhaps a political career makes sense for him.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Anglican detour

I don't usually post on non-monarchical matters, but this is probably too controversial for Facebook and I feel like saying something, so I'll do so here. I honestly don't understand why anyone in the Anglican Communion is particularly upset over the election of partnered lesbian Mary Glasspool as "bishop" suffragan of Los Angeles. In my view the current controversy over homosexuality, which whatever one believes about it cannot affect the sacraments, pales in comparison to the question of women's "ordination" in general. The situation is really quite simple: either it was OK for the Episcopal Church in 1976 (and the Church of England in 1992) to junk nearly 2,000 years of Christian tradition clearly holding that only men can be priests and bishops, or it wasn't. If it was, then logically everything else pertaining to sex is subject to revision as well. If it wasn't, then Glasspool is just one more woman wearing a silly costume, and we already have plenty of those, so it's hard to see how her private life makes much of a difference if all her purported sacramental acts will be null and void anyway. (My sympathies are with the latter view, but since I for various reasons remain in the Episcopal Church anyway, I realize that it may be difficult to take my own alleged traditionalism too seriously.) I respect consistent liberals and consistent traditionalists and have friends in both camps, but I cannot respect the viewpoint of those who insist on the legitimacy of the unprecedented and still controversial & divisive novelty of women in holy orders but get apoplectic when one of them turns out to be a lesbian. Pro-priestess anti-gay Anglicans are truly the most incoherent of factions.

Church designs on Romanov site

Much to the dismay of archaeologists, the Russian Orthodox Church wants to build a new church (unconnected to the Imperial Family) at the site where the Romanovs' remains were dumped in 1918, which would obstruct further archaeological efforts. The Church, though it canonized the Imperial Family as Passion Bearers in 2000, has never acknowledged the authenticity of these remains, despite the overwhelming consensus of the scientific and historical communities. I have never understood the Church's obstinacy in this matter and am with the archaeologists on this one. It is sad to see an institution that ought to be a bulwark of monarchism standing in the way of thorough investigation of the Romanovs' demise due to its leaders' apparent inability to admit they were wrong in the 1990s.