Friday, April 29, 2011

TRH William & Catherine, Duke & Duchess of Cambridge

In a glorious day of pageantry and ceremony crowned by not one but two kisses on the famous Buckingham Palace balcony, Prince William and Catherine Middleton became a married couple, the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I watched live on television (BBC America) and also intermittently online (YouTube's TheRoyalChannel, which eventually seemed to be struggling with the volume of traffic) from 9:20 AM in London (3:20 in Dallas) until 1:40 PM in London (7:40 in Dallas), and it was well worth the loss of sleep. I loved the Abbey decorations, her dress, the uniforms and pageantry, the traditional liturgy, the music (particularly the Parry classics and young Welsh composer Paul Mealor's setting of Ubi Caritas), the infectious glee of London's huge loyal crowds...in other words, everything about it. Normally I try to assemble links for posts, but in this case there is so much coverage available online it seems unnecessary, as well as impossible to choose.

Undoubtedly this was a wonderful day for the monarchy, with the enthusiastic crowds resoundingly refuting any naysayers. As my friend Gareth Russell observed, "[y]ou don't get this with a republic. Great day. And to all who have griped 'Who cares?' over the last 5 months - billions, seems to be the answer." I am in awe of the magnificence of the triumphant procession of the greatest human institution there is, wish Their Royal Highnesses the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge all possible happiness, and hope that someday I will be their loyal subject in law as I surely will be at heart!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Royal Wedding Details Revealed

After months of secrecy and waiting, the official wedding programme (including the Order of Service) and the musical selections are now available for the general public. I am pleased to see Parry's incomparable "I Was Glad" chosen for the bridal procession, and am curious to hear the new choral compositions by John Rutter and Paul Mealor. I hope that at least some of the music before the service will be available to television viewers as well; I'm looking forward to seeing my Charlotte former colleagues' music director Christopher Warren-Green conduct the London Chamber Orchestra. Westminster Abbey has been splendidly prepared for the festivities and tomorrow is sure to be a magnificent day!

My friend J. Anthony McAlister (president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Monarchist League), who introduces Southern California Public Radio listeners to the American monarchist perspective in this engaging interview, reflects on the musical choices at his blog.

Readers, if you're looking for a way to show your support for Prince William and his soon-to-be bride, I encourage you to give a gift to the Royal Wedding Charity Fund as I did recently if you have not done so already.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wise Windsors, Perfidious Politicans

Peter Oborne reflects on the prudent adaptability of the British Monarchy, while Simon Heffer warns against meddling politicians.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Musicians Prepare

My two favourite things about Britain are the Monarchy and the English choral tradition, so it's particularly exciting when they come together as they will on Friday. The New York Times reports on Westminster Abbey (in which I had the honour to sing with my own choir in 2009 and will again this summer) and its acclaimed choir as they prepare for the royal wedding under the direction of organist & choirmaster James O'Donnell. Musical traditionalists, for whom rumours of performances by pop stars were cause for concern, can look forward to a thoroughly traditional and magnificent spectacle at the Abbey's consistently high standards.

Note: the NYT now limits readers to 20 free articles a month, so if you don't want to pay, be selective regarding which articles to click on. This is one that is worth it!

This CNN video, featuring the military fanfare trumpeters, Chapel Royal choristers, and London Chamber Orchestra, complements the NYT article nicely.

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The bit in the church"

Veteran journalist Charles Moore, in perhaps the best article I've seen on it, eloquently explains why the royal wedding matters.

More irreverently, The Washington Post profiles Prince Harry as his elder brother's wedding nears.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

King Constantine on Prince William

As the royal wedding (apparently to include a properly dressed Prime Minister) approaches and Prince Charles becomes the longest serving heir to the throne in British history, exiled King Constantine of Greece praises his godson Prince William while defending proper royal succession, also advising him not to fly when in love.

Kate Middleton's parents have finally met the Queen.

Meanwhile, at Taki's Magazine Kenneth Minogue blasts "repulsive republicans," some of whom are apparently planning on converging on London from all over Europe to try to ruin the wedding for the rest of us. I am nevertheless confident that the police will maintain order and dignity on the big day, a responsibility which is not to be taken lightly.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coulombe trounces republicans at Oxford Union

My friend Charles Coulombe, distinguished American monarchist, recently spoke in defence of the Monarchy at the prestigious Oxford Union. The motion against the monarchy was resoundingly defeated. Charles, the epitome of the high-spirited monarchist who has a lot more fun than his dreary republican opponents, recounts his experience in this delightful article for Taki's Magazine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Novelist attacks royal family

As a cellist in the Dallas Symphony, I am proud to be a classical musician, but have often felt estranged from the [left-leaning] wider "Arts Community" (whatever that is). If British novelist Martin Amis, who has denounced the Royal Family as "philistines", is its representative, then count me out. Fortunately, other arts personalities such as conductor Christopher Warren-Green have had much nicer things to say about the Royal Family and particularly the Prince of Wales, who with his generous support of the arts and championing of traditional architecture is about as far from being a "philistine" as anyone could be. I consider myself a passionate opponent of real philistinism, especially in the Church, but have not read any of Amis's books, and it doesn't look like that will be changing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

People on the Royal Wedding Maestro

People magazine, not usually noted for its classical music coverage, has a feature on my Charlotte former colleagues' conductor Christopher Warren-Green who as posted here previously will be conducting the royal wedding. As a monarchist and a musician, there is nothing more satisfying than when the two worlds come together as I'm sure they will beautifully on April 29.

Meanwhile, preparations for the big day are underway on multiple fronts, as the Daily Mail reports with colourful pictures including two of the Westminster Abbey choir rehearsing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American Royalty

Prompted by a query from the aforementioned president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Monarchist League, I suppose this is as good a place as any for a list of American women who have married into royal families. (Men of course generally cannot obtain royal titles by marriage, unless they marry a female sovereign; no American man has ever done this.)

Elizabeth Patterson
(1785-1879) married Napoleon's brother Jerome Bonaparte (1784-1860), later King of Westphalia, in 1803; the marriage was annulled in 1805, but they had a son who founded an American line of Bonapartes that flourished (with some distinction) until 1945.

Alice Heine (1858-1925) married Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922) in 1889; they separated in 1902 but never divorced.

None May "Nancy" Stewart Worthington Leeds (1878-1923), a wealthy widow, married Prince Christopher of Greece (1888-1940), youngest son of King George I, in 1920; she was granted the title "Princess Anastasia of Greece." Her son from her first marriage, William B Leeds, then married into royalty as well, wedding his new stepfather's niece Princess Xenia of Russia.

Wallis Warfield Simpson (1896-1986) married the former King Edward VIII (1894-1972), who had famously abdicated the British throne for her, in 1937, becoming the Duchess of Windsor.

Grace Kelly (1929-1982) married Albert I's great-grandson Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005) in 1956.

Hope Cooke (b 1940) married Palden Thondup Namgyal (1923-1982), the last King of Sikkim (1963-75) in 1963. Sikkim was annexed by India in 1975 and they divorced in 1980.

Lisa Halaby (b 1951) married King Hussein of Jordan (1935-1999) in 1978, becoming Queen Noor.

Marie-Chantal Miller
(b 1968) married Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece (b 1967) in 1995.

Minogue on Reactionaries

Taki's Magazine has a good article "In Praise of Reactionaries" by Kenneth Minogue, an emeritus professor of the London School of Economics. It's always good to see a distinguished commentator making one of my favourite points in defence of royalty, namely that the fact that they're not elected is a strength, not a weakness. Also important is the oft-overlooked fact that those who have assumed that abolishing or weakening monarchies would eliminate war ("Kant's Fallacy") have been profoundly wrong.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

American Monarchists on the BBC

I'd like to congratulate my friend J. Anthony McAlister (president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the International Monarchist League) on having presented an excellent BBC World Service programme explaining why even Americans might be monarchists, which may be heard here. The segment also features noted monarchists Charles Coulombe and M.M. Eskandari-Qajar.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Royal Weddings in the Digital Age

This month's upcoming royal wedding, the first of a future British sovereign to occur in the age of the internet, crosses several new frontiers in media coverage. Monarchists are sometimes accused of wanting to simply "turn back the clock" or "live in the past." To the contrary, I think few monarchists do not welcome the opportunities presented by such new media as Facebook or iTunes. But surely one of the most frustrating aspects of the decline of monarchy throughout the world in the modern era is precisely the fact that so many great monarchies tragically were never given the chance to coexist with contemporary communications technology, which they surely could have used with great effectiveness. It is not so much "The Past" in which I and other monarchists wish to live, but rather an altered version of modernity in which other ancient monarchies such as those of France, Russia, or Austria-Hungary could join the House of Windsor in making their own glittering ceremonies accessible to the world.

Charles in Morocco

The Daily Telegraph is supposed to be a "conservative" paper, whatever that means. But that doesn't stop this article, which is supposed to be a report of the news and not an editorial, from casually labeling in the headline the late King Hassan II of Morocco (1929-1999) a "tyrant" and uncritically regurgitating Moroccan dissidents' view that it was inappropriate for the Prince of Wales to lay a wreath at his tomb during an official visit. The article's own examples of Hassan's alleged misdeeds (over the course of a mostly stable 38-year reign) sound positively mild by Middle Eastern or African standards.

Apparently in the myopic Democracy-worshiping worldview virtually dominant in the West today, any monarch who actually rules his country and has not been reduced to a ceremonial figurehead is ipso facto a "tyrant." Whatever one's opinion of King Hassan or the Moroccan monarchy, there is no excuse for such blatant bias masquerading as objective journalism. For Prince Charles to courteously pay his respects to his host's deceased father and predecessor while on a official visit (the purpose of which was presumably to improve diplomatic relations between Britain and Morocco) can hardly be considered controversial. But as the similar furor in Sweden a few years ago over King Carl XVI Gustaf's polite remarks to the Sultan of Brunei when visiting that country suggested, Monarchy's enemies are not really interested in diplomacy or courtesy.