Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Thoughts on The Crown

I just finished Season 2 of The Crown. Episode 10 appeased me to some extent after Episode 9, which so offended me. I don't think I fully grasped Peter Hitchens's argument in The Abolition of Britain about the destructive impact of the 1960s satire boom until I saw it dramatised in this episode. The scenes juxtaposing poor Harold Macmillan trying to be a good sport and laugh with the crowd at "Beyond the Fringe" but clearly hurt, the jeers of others including his unfaithful wife, the trial of Stephen Ward, and the Queen's distress at it all as the credibility of the old ruling class is shatteredin the Profumo affair, were quite effective, even heartbreaking. 

When people learn that I'm an Anglophile, they sometimes assume that I must love British comedy. Actually, with rare exceptions (e.g. Fawlty Towers), I often don't, because I see British comedy, or at least certain types of British comedy since the 1960s, as having contributed to the undermining of a lot of what I do love about Britain. The sort of Brits I saw on that stage and in that crowd, snarky towards everything, reverent towards nothing, are the sort of Brits I don't like at all, the sort of Brits who make me feel like perhaps it's just as well I don't live there. And while Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) can certainly be criticised, including from the Right, I for one felt deeply sorry for him in this episode.

I quite liked the scene when Princess Margaret claims that her renovations to Kensington Palace will somehow make it more modern and "egalitarian," to which her sister the Queen witheringly responds, "you're the least egalitarian person I know." I can imagine that conversation happening.

But even in this superior (to its predecessor) episode, the end of which seemed to have been deliberately calculated to tug at my heart personally, there was at least one disturbing false note, and that was the Queen's cruel parting remarks to the outgoing PM Macmillan. While the Queen's relations with her Prime Ministers probably could aptly be described as friendliness rather than friendship, if there's one quality of which I do not believe the Queen has an ounce, it's cruelty, and I can't imagine she would have said anything like that to the ailing Macmillan, especially as it involved also disparaging Churchill who the young Queen revered.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

RIP King Michael (1921-2017)

RIP King Michael of Romania (25 October 1921 - 5 December 2017), who was the last living adult head of state from World War II. I am saddened by his death, and even more saddened that he was not restored to the throne. My condolences to the Romanian Royal Family and to all loyal Romanian monarchists.





King Michael (1921-2017) (R) as a boy during his first reign (1927-30), with his cousin Prince Philip of Greece, now the Duke of Edinburgh, also born in 1921, on Romania's Black Sea coast. Incredible that someone who first shared the world stage as a head of state with Calvin Coolidge and King George V was still with us until today.


 Romania now sadly joins the ranks of former monarchies regarding whose successions monarchists are unlikely to reach unanimous agreement. King Michael & Queen Anne (1923-2016) had five daughters, but no sons. According to Romania's last monarchical constitution, which did not provide for female succession, Michael's heir is Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern (b 1952). However, in the absence of a parliament loyal to the Crown, I choose to accept the late King's authority to modify the rules of succession and designate his eldest daughter as his heir, which he did in 2007. So I now recognise HRH Princess Margareta (b 1949), Custodian of the Throne since March 2016, as the rightful Queen of Romania. The King is dead; long live the Queen.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Providence and Americanism

There's an irritating October 26 New York Times article by David Brooks, trying to make a tortured analogy between the Republicans of 2017 and the Bolsheviks of 1917, and it irritates me not only because David Brooks's main purpose in life seems to be being the sort of "conservative" that liberals find palatable. What's worse is that it arrogantly asserts that the "traditional" American way of being Christian--assuming that Democracy and Equality are moral imperatives--is the only way. Brooks implies that the "hierarchical societies" that dominated the world prior to the revolutions of 1776 and 1789 (and to a lesser extent until 1917)--that is, the great majority of Christian history, let alone world history--weren't really Christian, and that ancient thinkers such as Plato and Aristotle were deficient because they wouldn't have understood Jefferson's Declaration of Independence. It would make more sense to reject Christianity entirely than to believe that somehow no one really figured it out for its first 1750 years or so, but that appears to be what many Christians--including "conservatives"--believe these days. If "universal democracy" is "the global fulfillment of the providential plan," count me out. But perhaps Providence has ideas other than those of David Brooks.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Infanta Alicia centennial

Today would have been the 100th birthday of the genealogically remarkable Infanta Alicia of Bourbon-Parma, Duchess of Calabria (1917-2017), had she not died in March. The last surviving royal born before the end of World War I (in Vienna where Emperor Karl still reigned), she was the heiress by cognatic primogeniture of the Kings of Navarre, Edward the Confessor of England, David I of Scotland, and of the Jacobite (Stuart) claim to the English and Scottish thrones if uncle-niece marriages were excluded. Since her son Carlos (1938-2015) predeceased her, her grandson Pedro Duke of Noto (b 1968), also a claimant to the throne of the Two Sicilies, is the current heir to those theoretical claims. While at 99 she was not exactly cut off in her prime, I was sorry she didn't make her 100th birthday as she came so close. (Only one person of European royal birth has ever reached 100: Infanta Maria Adelaide of Portugal (1912-2012).) Here is Infanta Alicia pictured with Queen Sofia of Spain.

She was succeeded as oldest living European royal by the comparatively obscure Duchess Woizlawa of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Princess Reuss (b 17 Dec 1918).


18th Century Royalty in Minneapolis

On Friday during a wonderful trip to the Twin Cities, I had the pleasure of visiting the outstanding exhibit Eyewitness Views: Making History in 18th-Century Europe at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Full of magnificent paintings of splendid occasions related to Spanish, Neapolitan, French, Austrian, Danish, and Saxon royalty, this is a must-see for American monarchists. Created for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, it's in Minneapolis until the end of the year, after which it will be in Cleveland. Highly recommended if you're near or able to visit either of those cities.

I also visited the American Swedish Institute, where the Grand Hall of the 1908 Turnblad Mansion features portraits of King Oscar II (1829-1907) and King Gustaf III (1746-1792), and attended mass at the Church of St. Agnes where the Catholic culture of the Habsburg empire is alive and well with Viennese style orchestral masses on Sundays throughout the year, in this case Dvorak's Mass in D. It was great fun to meet up in person with a few Minnesota monarchist friends with whom I had previously communicated only via Facebook.

A paradox. On the one hand, for an American to be a self-proclaimed "Monarchist" is fairly unusual. Yet at the same time, the aesthetics of Monarchy are so obviously and universally appealing, it is not hard in the USA to find art exhibits that celebrate them. And if I were the only one who liked them, these exhibits wouldn't be viable. Here are the catalogue books for seven major exhibits on monarchical and aristocratic themes I've attended in recent years, all but the latest one in Texas. I'm anxious though that Monarchy not be confined in the popular imagination to the past, as it still has so much to offer the present and future.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The People

One of the modernist concepts I most detest, which I'm convinced is intellectually lazy and meaningless, is "The People." For example, one reads that in Russia "The People" overthrew Tsar Nicholas II in 1917. No, they didn't. Nicholas II abdicated during street disorders (not the first of his reign) in Petrograd after being wrongly assured by those around him that this would be in Russia's best interests. No doubt some Russians were glad about this, but others certainly were not. There is no way of determining for sure what the majority view in 1917 Russia was, and even if there were, I vigorously deny that a majority can constitute "The People," since those who disagree with the majority are people too. In our time, even though I personally support Brexit, I would never dare claim that "The People" of the United Kingdom voted to Leave the EU. Clearly many British people did not. There is no such thing as "The People," only millions of individual people with many different convictions and opinions. Certainly I have never really felt part of any American "We The People." I'm just me. And you're just you. The majority don't speak for all individuals in a particular country. That's one reason I'd rather have a monarch, who makes no claim of being chosen by "The People."

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Protestantism at 500

While perhaps not known online for being especially moderate or nuanced, like many High Church Anglicans I have mixed feelings about the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. On the whole I'd have to come down on the side that it did more harm than good, and the splintering of Christendom, setting European Christians against each other, surely must be seen as a tragedy. I have no use at all for the radical, iconoclastic, egalitarian, proto-republican wings of Protestantism. (Neither did Luther.) At the same time, I can't quite condemn it as unequivocally as my staunch Roman Catholic friends do. I certainly would not want to be without the distinctive Lutheran and Anglican choral traditions, and include many Protestant royalty among those I admire in European history. I think I've always been clear that it's more important to me whether one is loyal to his King or Queen than whether he calls himself a Protestant or a Catholic. I don't think any work of music better captures my ambivalence than this B Minor Mass by the greatest of all Lutherans, Johann Sebastian Bach.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Portuguese Royal Weekend in DC

With HRH Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, Army & Navy Club, Washington, DC, October 13, 2017
This weekend in Washington DC I was honored to meet HRH Dom Duarte, Duke of Braganza, and was deeply humbled by entry on Saturday October 14 as a Knight of the Portuguese Royal House.



Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A 21C Problem

My natural inclination is to argue, as I have many times, that the European countries that have kept their monarchies are better places to live than the European countries that haven't. Throughout the 20th century, and perhaps even into the early years of this one, I think the truth of that assertion was pretty obvious. Today, however, with the governments of Poland & Hungary and perhaps also other Eastern European republics proving more resistant to the evils and dangers of our time than any Western constitutional monarchy, it's getting harder and harder to make that argument. I almost miss the Cold War.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Christian EU?




As a monarchist who rejects the Italian, German, and French republics in principle, I'm not especially sympathetic to conservative arguments (though Metropolitan Hilarion has also made comments favorable to monarchy) that the European Project was founded by Devout Christians but only later went off track. Alcide De Gasperi, Theodor Heuss, Konrad Adenauer, and Robert Schuman were not acceptable substitutes for legitimate Christian kings. At a personal level, they remind me of the sort of people I used to argue with on Catholic forums who were dismissive of my monarchist beliefs. That they would probably be appalled by what the EU has become today doesn't mean their sort of "conservatism" wasn't part of the problem. That Western Europe, including its republics, was a superficially decent enough place to live during the second half of the 20th century (I'm not so sure about today) doesn't make the catastrophic political changes of the first half acceptable. France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, and Italy shouldn't _have_ presidents, no matter how "conservative" or "Christian." They should have kings. We can't bring the dead of the World Wars back to life. But we can rebuild buildings, and we can restore monarchies, and we should never give up on the real Europe which is Royal as much as it is Christian.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A month late: this year's July 4 thoughts

I was going to reproduce this July 5 Facebook post here, but forgot to do so until now. If anything, attending the "Enlightened Princesses" exhibit at Kensington Palace on Sunday strengthened my commitment to the Hanoverian succession.



Every year on July 4, online discussions of the American Revolution bring out not only Tories like me, but zealous internet reactionaries (one seldom encounters these people in real life) who after more than 300 years still stubbornly deny the legitimacy of the Hanoverian succession, forming a sort of unholy alliance with conventional republican defenders of the Revolution in denying that George III and his successors have been lawful monarchs at all. (A particularly extreme version I encountered yesterday rejects all English and British monarchs since Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I in 1570.) Unsurprisingly I tend to get cross with these people (whose views are not required or even supported by actual Roman Catholic teaching), but not only because of my attachment to the present Queen.
I understand the appeal of the 18th century Jacobite cause, and as a member of the board of trustees of the [American] Society of King Charles the Martyr can hardly be considered an enemy of the Stuarts. I believe I would have sided with James II in 1688. But as my irritation with modern hardline Jacobites has grown, I've realised that I am utterly unwilling to concede that the British Monarchy as it has actually existed since 1714 is any kind of inherent disappointment or lesser evil. 
There is nothing wrong with fantasy. But I believe that monarchism necessarily involves supporting real monarchies, which from time to time (not only in 1688/1714) have undergone irregularities in succession. The truth is, I love the close relationship between British and Protestant German royalty that flourished for exactly 200 years (1714-1914), not coincidentally corresponding to the peak era of British power and achievements. That relationship is essentially the foundation of the modern royal genealogy I take pride in having memorised, and inseparable from traditional concepts of Britishness (as opposed to mere Englishness or Scottishness) now endangered on multiple fronts. I don't think it's hyperbole to assert that the agony of the 20th century, and the root of much of what is wrong with the modern world, is ultimately the breakdown of that Anglo-German relationship: the failure of the cozy Victorian dream in which courts all over Germany--Hanover, Prussia, Coburg, Hesse, Württemberg, Mecklenburg-Strelitz--maintained close family ties to the little old lady in Windsor Castle.

Obviously for some the West has been at least partially on the wrong track since 1517. But for me, as a pan-monarchist Tory Anglican, Britain lost her way not when she imported a sovereign from Hanover in 1714, but nearly two centuries later when in stark contrast to the brilliantly successful policies of the 18th and 19th centuries, she drifted away from Germany into the arms of the regicidal French Republic. I refuse to believe that this rupture was inevitable, and I mourn its consequences. And I will never apologise for my loyalty to King George III of the House of Hanover and his heirs and successors. 

🇬🇧

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Voting

One platitude beloved by Democracy lovers is "it doesn't matter who you vote for, so long as as you vote." To me that is absurd as if someone who claimed to be a health advocate said "it doesn't matter what you eat, so long as you eat." Voting properly understood should be a means to an end, not an end in itself. If you believe that an election matters, and I happen to believe that today's British one does, rationally what matters is the outcome, not Voting for its own sake. Do people actually think after what they perceive as a disastrous result, "well this party/candidate will be absolutely catastrophic for my country, but at least people Voted"? Madness. The defeat of the execrable Jeremy Corbyn and everything he stands for, hopefully by as wide a margin as possible, as well as the weakening of the SNP in Scotland at the hands of the excellent Ruth Davidson, is absolutely imperative. So I feel no shame whatsoever in expressing the hopes that as many of those inclined to vote Tory as possible will do so and that those who would never in a million years vote Tory will stay away from the polls.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

War and Ideology

Despite occasional outbursts from the comfort and safety of my computer, I'm not a violent person. I've never hurt anyone in my life and it's unlikely that I ever will. I would probably be utterly useless to any military. I generally take a dim view of war and am not inclined to romanticize it. But I am an ideological person, which means that when I look at History, some conflicts are easier for me to understand than others. Let's face it: in retrospect, most of history's wars between independent countries, including monarchies, look pretty stupid. It seems to me that it is history's civil wars that, tragic as they were, actually make sense. For example: the idea that if I were a young Englishman in 1914 I should want to kill young German men, when neither they nor their Kaiser had ever done anything to me, because they are German, is utterly incomprehensible and abhorrent to me. But the idea that if I were a young Spanish Catholic monarchist in 1936 I might need to kill Spanish atheist republicans and communists, while I'm under no delusions that it would be pleasant, at least is not irrational.

For the record, it shouldn't surprise readers of this blog that I support, in a few cases reluctantly as a lesser evil, but in most cases fervently:

King Charles I and the Royalists in the English Civil War (1642-51)
King George III and the Loyalists in the American Revolution (which was to an extent the first American civil war) (1775-83)
King Louis XVI and then the Vendeans and Chouans against the French Revolution (1789-c.1800)
the Bourbons, Habsburgs, and Papacy in the Wars of Italian Unification (1848-70)
the Confederacy in the American Civil War (1861-65)
Emperor Maximilian and his supporters in Mexico (1864-67)
the Whites in the Russian Civil War (1917-22)
the Whites in the Finnish Civil War (1918)
the Whites in Hungary (1919-21)
the Cristeros in Mexico (1926-29)
the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
the Chetniks in Yugoslavia in WW2 (1941-45)
the Royalists in the Greek Civil War (1946-49)
the Royalists in the North Yemen Civil War (1962-70)
the Royalists in the Nepalese Civil War (1996-2006)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Monuments Man and the Princess

Here is an interesting article from October I just found yesterday about "Monuments Man" Clyde Harris (1918-1958) of Oklahoma, who married Princess Cecilie of Prussia (1917-1975), a granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Wikipedia's article on her grandmother Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna of Russia is also worth reading.

Crown Prince Wilhelm (1882-1951), Princess Cecilie, Clyde Harris, Crown Princess Cecilie (1886-1954), and Amarillo mayor Lawrence Hagy (1905-1993) at Cecilie and Clyde's wedding at Hohenzollern Castle, 21 June 1949

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Aksel and the Royals

As my two greatest enthusiasms in life are classical music and royalty, it would be hard to find a video more meaningful to me than this one of Norway's star treble Aksel Rykkvin (possibly the leading boy soprano soloist in the world right now) performing Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga" from Rinaldo for his King and Queen and their guests at their 80th birthday gala in Oslo earlier this week. I love watching the royals' reactions almost as much as the music. They--and we--are very lucky that he is still singing treble at 14.



Royal guests in Norway celebrating the 80th birthdays of King Harald V (21 Feb) and Queen Sonja (4 Jul). Seated in front are their five grandchildren, Emma, Leah, and Maud Behn, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus.

Second row, standing, L-R: Princess Astrid, Queen Maxima & King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Silvia & King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, Queen Sonja & King Harald, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Grand Duke Henri & Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, King Philippe & Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, President Sauli Niinistö of Finland, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson of Iceland.

Third row: Lady Elizabeth Anson Shakerley, Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Princess (former Queen) Beatrix of the Netherlands, Prince Daniel & Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Crown Princess Mette-Marit & Crown Prince Haakon, Princess Märtha Louise, Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Countess Madeleine (Bernadotte) Kogevinas & Bernard Mach, Jenni Haukio (First Lady of Finland), Eliza Reid (First Lady of Iceland).

Fourth row: Princess Tatiana & Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Princess Mabel of the Netherlands, Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, Princess Sofia & Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Crown Princess Marie-Chantal & Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume & Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg, Sophie Countess of Wessex (Great Britain), Desirée Kogevinas & Carlos Eugster.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Society of King Charles the Martyr


As a recently elected member of the board of trustees of the Society of King Charles the Martyr American Region, one of my duties is to try to increase membership from among the monarchist community. I would be delighted if I were able to recruit any of this blog's North American readers into the Society. Membership costs very little ($15 a year) and will connect you to one of the few monarchy-related organizations in the United States that actually holds regular organized events. The Society offers a list of goods to purchase, many of which pertain to King Charles and the Stuarts. Information on joining is available at the above website. You do not have to be an Anglican to join. Please feel free to ask me any questions about the Society in comments on this post. I have attended SKCM national masses in 2002 (New York), 2006 (Charleston), May 2010 (Omaha), 2014 (Fort Worth), and 2017 (Philadelphia), and was always glad I did.

Readers in the UK may wish to look into the original SKCM.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

April 1947: Royal Transitions in Postwar Europe

Seventy years ago today, the heroic King Christian X of Denmark (whose reign, like those of the other two Scandinavian kings, had spanned both world wars), who had become a beloved symbol of Danish defiance during the German occupation, died at 76 and was succeeded by his musical son King Frederik IX.

King Christian X (1870-1947)

King Frederik IX (1899-1972)
The postwar period was a time of rapid change in Europe's monarchies. Those of Yugoslavia (1945), Italy (1946), Bulgaria (1946), and Romania (1947) all sadly fell, as Hungary and Albania which were already lacking kings but had remained nominal kingdoms were also taken over by Communists in 1946. In the surviving monarchies, there was for awhile at least one transition every year: Greece (1 Apr 1947), Denmark (20 Apr 1947), the Netherlands (1948), Monaco (1949), Sweden (1950), Belgium (1951), and finally the United Kingdom (1952) all got new sovereigns due to abdication (in the Netherlands and Belgium) or death. The last of the monarchs who had come to the throne before World War I, Christian X's younger brother Haakon VII of Norway, hung on until 1957, his death at 85 severing a last link with the monarchical Old Order. At that point, not only were there no more sovereigns from before World War I, but only Luxembourg (until 1964) and Liechtenstein (until 1989) had the same monarchs they did before World War II. Greece excepted, relatively long reigns then prevailed (and still do in Britain and Scandinavia) until the flurry of abdications a few years ago.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reza Pahlavi rising?

Iran's long-exiled prince wants a revolution in age of Trump. I usually prefer the term "counterrevolution," but Javid Shah! The Middle East needs monarchies now more than ever. Many of our modern problems can be traced to or were exacerbated by the fall of Reza Pahlavi's father the Shah, who envisioned Iran as a great nation in harmony with the international community, in the evil 1979 revolution.

From Isabella to Isabella

Since the Reformation, European royalty have tended to divide into two genealogical groups, Catholic and Protestant, with Orthodox royalty generally having become linked more closely to the Protestant group since Peter the Great started importing German princesses to Russia in the 18th century (Protestant princesses being more willing than Catholic ones to embrace Orthodoxy). While plenty of relationships across the confessional divide exist (the Romanian and Belgian royal families, for example, are closely related to both Catholic and Protestant dynasties), in general they tend to be more distant, so that most contemporary Protestant royals do not have many recent Catholic royal ancestors. 

When reading about the family of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V as background for Carlos, Rey Emperador, as mentioned in a previous post, I was intrigued to learn that while his sister Isabella (1501-1526) was Queen of Denmark as the wife of the unfortunate King Christian II (deposed in 1523), none of their descendants occupied the Danish throne until 1912. The present Princess Isabella, who will turn ten this month, granddaughter of Queen Margrethe II, is named for her distant Habsburg ancestress. With a little help from Wikipedia, I determined exactly what the line of descent is.

-Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504), m. Ferdinand II of Aragon (1452-1516)
-Joanna "the Mad" (1479-1555), m. Philip "the Fair" (1478-1506)
-Isabella (1501-1526), m. Christian II of Denmark (1481-1559)
-Christina (1521-1590), m. Francis, D. of Lorraine
-Renata (1544-1602), m. William V, D. of Bavaria
-Magdalene (1587-1628), m. Wolfgang Wilhelm, C. Palatine
-Philip Wilhelm (1615-1690) El. Palatine, m. Elisabeth Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt
-Carl III Philip (1661-1742), El. Palatine, m. Ludwika Radziwill
-Elisabeth (1693-1728), m. Joseph, C. Palatine of Sulzbach
-Maria Franziska (1724-1794), m. Frederick Michael, C. Palatine of Zweibrücken
-Maximilian I of Bavaria (1756-1825), m. Augusta of Hesse-Darmstadt
-Augusta (1788-1851), m. Eugene, D. of Beauharnais (son of Napoleon's first wife Empress Josephine)
-Josefina (1807-1876), m. Oscar I of Sweden
-Carl XV of Sweden (1826-1872), m. Louise of the Netherlands
-Louise (1851-1926), m. Frederik VIII of Denmark
-Christian X (1870-1847), King of Denmark 1912, m. Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin
-Frederik IX (1899-1972), m. Ingrid of Sweden
-Margrethe II (1940- ), m. Henri de Laborde de Monpezat
-Frederik (1968- ), m. Mary Donaldson
-Isabella (2007- )

And that's how the blood of King Christian II and Isabella of Austria finally worked its way back onto the Danish throne in 1912. I find this sort of thing fascinating; I hope you do as well.

Archduchess Isabella of Austria, Infanta of Castile & Aragon, Queen of Denmark (1501-1526)

Princess Isabella of Denmark (b 21 Apr 2007)

Carlos, Rey Emperador

I stayed up past 2:00 last night to finish Carlos, Rey Emperador. While not always historically perfect, it's a stirring and powerful drama from start to finish that will lift these distant royal historical figures from paintings and books into your heart. The Emperor's final scene, in which on his deathbed he finally addresses his promising young illegitimate son "Gerónimo" (Don Juan of Austria), who has come to be the pride and joy of his final years (and one day will lead Christendom to victory at Lepanto), as "my son" ("mi hijo") for the first and only time, is profoundly moving. As with its predecessor Isabel, I cannot recommend this series highly enough.

Watch it online with English subtitles at: http://wlext.net/series/carlos-rey-emperador?server=openloadco&episode=001

A dying Emperor Charles V (1500-1558) (Álvaro Cervantes) bids farewell to his natural son Jeromín (1547-1578) (Álvaro Villaespesa)



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

RIP Infanta Alicia (1917-2017)

RIP Infanta Alicia, Duchess of Calabria (1917-2017). I had hoped she would make her 100th birthday on 13 November but it was not to be. Extremely significant genealogically, she was the heiress of the Kings of Navarre as well as of Edward the Confessor and David I of Scotland, a distinction now born by her grandson Pedro Duke of Noto (b 1968) as her son Carlos (1938-2015) predeceased her. Daughter of Elias Duke of Parma (1880-1959) and Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria (1882-1940), she married Infante Alfonso Duke of Calabria (1901-1964), nephew and onetime heir presumptive (1904-07) of King Alfonso XIII who after 1960 was one of the two claimants to the throne of the Two Sicilies. In addition to the late Carlos they had two daughters, who survive her.

Born in Austria-Hungary when her similarly long-lived aunt Zita (1892-1989) was still its Empress, Infanta Alicia had been the oldest living member of any European royal family (possibly any). With her death there are no more royals born before the end of World War I; I believe the comparatively obscure Duchess Woizlawa of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Princess Reuss (b 17 December 1918) is now the oldest.

May she rest in peace. Condolences to the Bourbon family.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Europe of 1517

Inspired by Carlos, Rey Emperador, here is the earliest pictorial chart I've made: European Monarchies exactly 500 years ago, 1517, which happens to be when the show starts. No one had heard of a German monk named Martin Luther, though that would soon change. (Thanks to Jonathan Bennett for help with some details.) It's interesting to notice that if I were alive 500 years ago at my present age (38), I would already be older than most of Europe's leading sovereigns.

Unsurprisingly, appropriate pictures of the youngest children named were unavailable. In some cases I could not determine who the heir to the throne would have been at that time. The Papacy, the Empire, and Bohemia & Hungary were elective monarchies so there was no automatic heir as such (though as we see in the show, young King Carlos was assumed by many to be the rightful heir to his paternal grandfather Maximilian I). France and Scotland were hereditary, but while François I and James V both fathered heirs eventually, they hadn't been born yet in 1517, and neither king had younger brothers.

The Swedish throne was vacant, with the kingdom ruled by Regent Sten Sture the Younger (1493-1520); I elected not to include him since I did not include other rulers whose rank was lower than King. Gustaf I Vasa would fully reestablish the Swedish monarchy, never again to be joined with Denmark's, in 1523.

Needless to say, despite (as an Anglican and Bach fan) not having an entirely negative view of the Reformation (though I think I'm more critical of it than the Vatican is these days), I much prefer this European political, religious, and cultural order to the present one. One can't miss modern conveniences, even Blogger, if one has never known them. "I" hopefully would have been some sort of court musician (though the cello hadn't been invented yet) or perhaps a priest, even a bishop (the arts-patronising kind, of course).

One of the interesting things I learned looking up 16th century royalty: the present Princess Isabella of Denmark (b 2007) was named after her distant ancestor Queen Isabella (1501-1526), teenage bride of King Christian II (1481-1559) and sister of none other than our friend Emperor Charles V. Oddly, since Christian II was deposed in 1523 and succeeded by his uncle Frederik I, no descendant of theirs occupied the Danish throne until 1912, but all Danish monarchs since then have been their descendants.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Century Without A Tsar


I once dared to hope this day would never come, yet now it has. With the 100th anniversary of the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (whose brother Michael's purported ephemeral "reign" thereafter had no legal foundation), Russia has now gone a full century without its Monarchy. No republican regime can ever fill the void that was opened that dark day. For those of us for whom the fall of Communism in 1989-91 rekindled hopes of royal restoration in Russia and Eastern Europe, this lamentable anniversary is a bitter pill to swallow indeed. As Nicholas wrote in his diary at the end of the day, "All around me I see treason, cowardice, and deceit." Holy Romanov Passion Bearers, pray for us!

With a heavy heart, I have removed Russia from my chart of European monarchies as they were a hundred years ago. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Montenegro didn't have much longer, and many of the borders shown on the 1914 map no longer meant much. 

Alas, the present "Time of Troubles," now a whole century, has lasted far longer than the original (1605-13). 🇷🇺 May the throne one day again be filled!

One thing I get tired of hearing these days is that politics globally have suddenly become "crazy," as if everything were sort of OK until about a couple years go. By my standards politics have now been crazy for a hundred years. Every day that Russia, Germany, and Austria exist without their traditional hereditary monarchies is an outrage. If more people on both sides of the Atlantic are waking up to the fact that something is terribly wrong with modern liberalism, that could be a good thing, but there is no real solution other than Altar and Throne. I categorically reject what Mussolini said about how the Right cannot attempt to turn back the clock. Nothing else is acceptable. I want the 20th century repealed. If that condemns me to political irrelevance, so be it. I know I'm right, and if the entire world disagrees, the entire world is wrong.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Monarchical Republics?

A pet peeve of mine is when people say that the United States, France, or Russia (three very different republics but all with a strong presidency) are still in some way "monarchical," because the President, the head of state, has a lot of power. No. No no no no no. Monarchy is not about one man having a lot of power. Monarchy is about so many other things: Tradition, Inheritance (the existence of non-hereditary monarchies does not mean that inheritance should be dismissed as irrelevant: most elective monarchies have had some sort of hereditary component to the process), Sovereignty being nominally vested in a person (whether or not that person actually wields power) who did not normally seek the office and is separate from the political process, Titles and Terminology, Aesthetics and Philosophy. 

How much power the head of state holds in practice is completely irrelevant to the question of whether a government is monarchical or republican. A Monarch can be "absolute," serving as both head of state and head of government, or "constitutional," with a stronger (but formally subordinate) elected head of government; both kinds of monarchies are real monarchies. A Republic can have a strong president (like the three examples mentioned) with either a relatively weak (France, Russia) or no (USA) prime minister, or a ceremonial president (which I personally think is pretty much the stupidest thing ever) and a strong prime minister (or chancellor), like Germany or Italy; both kinds of republics are real republics. I wish everyone who writes about these topics could at least agree on terminology.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (1870-2017)

I loved the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus when we went many years ago in Indianapolis. I think I had one of their posters on my bedroom wall for awhile as a boy. This is a melancholy article that arguably reflects a lot of what is wrong with our time, though I say that fully aware of the irony that I'm now as susceptible to the lure of smartphones and the internet (though not some of the other rivals mentioned) as any 21st-century kid. I suppose the animal rights activists will be happy: they finally got their way.

One hundred forty-six years (referring to the 1870 foundation of "P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan & Hippodrome" in Delavan, Wisconsin), stretching back to the last year when even France still had a monarchy, is quite a run. I don't think the circus ever quite stopped echoing the spirit of an era when American entertainers would boast of having performed for "The Crowned Heads of Europe," and circus performers often formed "dynasties," with several generations of the same families carrying on the tradition. Like Disney, the circus was a thoroughly American institution that a monarchist could nevertheless appreciate. Now I wish I'd seen it again more recently.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Who cares about Presidents?

Apparently someone named Mario Soares who used to call himself President of Portugal (whatever that is) died. I suppose it is good to offer prayers for his soul, since he'll certainly need them. But what I can't stand in the coverage is the ubiquitous assumption that the Salazar regime was Bad because it was Not Democratic while the current government is Good because it is Democratic. No. Democracy is at best a tolerable means to an end, but there is nothing inherently good about it. By my standards both the Salazar regime (though it did some good things) and the present republic are bad, because neither one is the Monarchy that shaped Portugal and was integral to its civilisation from its beginnings in 1139 until 1910. Only the Kingdom can be good for Portugal, because only the Kingdom can represent continuity rather than rupture with the glorious past. Only the Kingdom could provide a head of state who represents unity rather than division. Viva o Rei!

As the illegitimate regimes of Portugal and Iran both insist on mourning former presidents, here's a friendly reminder of who those countries' rightful rulers are. Viva o Rei! Javid Shah!





Portugal and Iran are interesting to contemplate together, because chronologically they constitute "bookends" of by far the worst seven decades in the history of Monarchy. While the idea of replacing a longstanding monarchy with a republic, though often claimed to be "modern," had actually been around since ancient Rome (509 BC), prior to 1910 "successful" attempts other than the French Revolution (itself not really consolidated in France for nearly a century) were rare. One thinks of the tragic cases of Brazil (1889) and Hawaii (1893), but that was about it, apart from failures of short-lived monarchical experiments (e.g. Haiti, Mexico) and numerous anti-colonial rebellions in the Americas that did not displace reigning monarchs at home in Europe. And since 1979, the world's remaining monarchies have seemed fairly secure, and for the most part are probably likely to remain so, Nepal being the main exception (let's hope there will be no others).

But by the time of my first birthday, the damage had been done: between 1910 and 1979, which is to say within less than an average modern Western human lifespan, monarchies in the Eastern Hemisphere fell every few years, transforming half of the globe from a world in which Monarchy was very much the norm (France, Switzerland, San Marino, and Liberia being originally the only exceptions) to one in which it is sadly very much the exception and republics (whether democratic or authoritarian) are widely assumed by Left and "Right" alike to be the "default" form of government. We must live in hope that the errors of those catastrophic seven decades may one day be reversed.





Monday, January 2, 2017

Anniversaries 2017

This year features many major round-numbered anniversaries, most of them bad. Going backwards, we have the 50th of the colonels' coup in Greece and King Constantine's subsequent unsuccessful counter-coup which led to his exile and the eventual fall of the monarchy, obviously the 100th of the Russian Revolution (both of them), and the 150th of the regicide of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico. For my Roman Catholic friends, the 100th of Fatima can be celebrated but the 300th of the founding of the Grand Lodge of London and the 500th of Luther's revolt (about which I'm ambivalent myself) will be more sinister occasions.

On the bright side, we can celebrate the 150th anniversaries of Canadian confederation and of the Austro-Hungarian compromise that created the Austro-Hungarian Empire, as well as the anniversaries of the births of two of my favourite royal women in European history, Queen Frederica of Greece (1917-1981) and Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780). This summer will also see the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the House of Windsor (formerly known as Saxe-Coburg & Gotha) in the United Kingdom.