Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Changes

Sometimes I come across old internet posts and comments of mine. I haven't changed much. That's why it can be hard when online acquaintances go through various ideological and/or religious phases. Sometimes it means they don't want to be "Friends" anymore. This is usually guys, usually considerably younger, though I can think of one female former friend about my age to whom it applies. I think sometimes young men get interested in Monarchy--why not, it's awesome--but then when they learn that the modern world is never going to take this seriously, and Europe's contemporary royals are not going to do what they want, they either sell out and embrace "normie" politics or gravitate to more extreme ideologies that they see as "tougher." Sometimes they reject Christianity altogether; sometimes they embrace a fanatical Christianity that rejects all earthly goals dear to the hearts of traditionalists. It's sad to witness. I'm sticking with what I know is right. If that makes me a "LARPer," so be it. I'm grateful for all those who have stayed loyal and aren't budging. Monarchism Forever.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Royal Encounters in Mexico

Last week I visited my brother William in Mexico, where he has been serving as concertmaster of the Orquestra Sinfónica Nacional in Mexico City. We did a lot of fairly typical Mexican sightseeing (including Chapultepec Castle where Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota lived) and eating, mostly beyond the scope of this blog post, but the evening of June 6 was far from typical: a performance for HI&RH Archduke Carlos Felipe, a grandson of Emperor Bl Karl of Austria-Hungary and great-great-grandnephew of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, at his Mexico City home, for an audience that also included his wife, his two sons, and his cousin HRH Prince Alexander Margrave of Meissen, head of the Royal House of Saxony! While I have had many special experiences as a musician, it's hard to imagine that anything could top playing Bach, Kreisler, and the Kaiserhymne for such an audience. Afterwards (as well as the day before when we were getting ready) I had ample opportunities to talk to all the royalty present, who were impeccably gracious and appreciative: a monarchist musician's dream. I felt that my brother and I got to be the latest in a long line of musicians who have performed for members of the Habsburg dynasty over the centuries. Archduke Carlos Felipe has done a great deal to rehabilitate the image of Emperor Maximilian in Mexico and it was a tremendous honour to be his guest.


With Archduke Carlos Felipe and his wife Annie-Claire in front of a portrait of Emperor Maximilian, June 5
Portraits of Maximilian & Carlota, and their piano, at Chapultepec Castle

My brother and I with Prince Alexander of Saxony, Margrave of Meissen






With Archdukes Louis-Damien and Julian
With Archduke Carlos Felipe and a portrait of his ancestor Emperor Charles V
Altar of the Kings, Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, June 7

Friday, June 1, 2018

Habsburg Twitter and Me

Yesterday, much to my delight, I had a light-hearted exchange with not one but two Habsburgs on Twitter. You can read about it at my friend Jovan's blog here.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

History

It has been fashionable lately to bemoan Americans', especially young Americans', ignorance of the Holocaust. But there's so much ignorance of history in general that I don't see these statistics as particularly surprising. I daresay that Americans, even millennials, still know more about the Holocaust than they do about many other historical topics, about which they know nothing at all. In fact as a classical musician and as one who loves the authentic Germany of many centuries before 1918, I resent it that most bookstores' "Germany" history shelves tend to be dominated by books about the Nazis, as if 1933-45 were the only twelve years in all of German history that matter.

However little millennials know about Nazi atrocities, I bet they know even less about numerically greater Communist atrocities, which is why the work of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (even if I disagree with its Americanist orientation) is so important. So yes, history education needs to be improved, but in all areas, not just this area. I was lucky in that I had an excellent 9th grade world history teacher, and read a lot on my own, but many were probably not that fortunate, and why do high schools require only one year of non-US history?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Poulenc and the Real France

I would like to quote, in French and then in English, a stanza from "Litanies à la Vierge noire" by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), sung beautifully tonight in Dallas by the choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral. My friend Charles A. Coulombe has written about the difference between the "Pays Legal" and the "Pays Reel." I was powerfully struck by how this text reflects the real France, which still lives, barely, in spite of 225+ years of madness.

Reine du sanctuaire,
que consacra Saint Martial,
et où il célébra ses saints mystères.
Reine, près de laquelle s'agenouilla Saint Louis
vous demandant le bonheur de la France,
priez pour nous.
Reine, à qui Roland consacra son épée,
priez pour nous.
Reine, dont la bannière gagna les batailles,
priez pour nous.
Reine, dont la main délivrait les captifs,
priez pour nous.


Queen of the sanctuary,
which Saint Martial consecrated
and where he celebrated his holy mysteries.
Queen, before whom knelt Saint Louis
asking of you good fortune for France,
pray for us.
Queen, to whom Roland consecrated his sword,
pray for us.
Queen, whose banner won the battles,
pray for us.
Queen, whose hand delivered the captives,
pray for us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

1909

The owner of these wonderful images of flags and heads of state in the world in 1909 kindly gave me permission to use them on a page at my website, so here it is, for all your Edwardian nostalgia needs. I realized while making it that this series of cards can be quite precisely dated: to between March 4, when William Howard Taft became President, and April 27, when Sultan Abdul Hamid II was deposed.
 
I didn't feel like adding all the other republics (mostly in Latin America). Maybe I'll look up their presidents and add them eventually, but I think it's fine this way. France, Mexico, and the USA were pretty much the only republics that really mattered then anyway. (Well, OK, Switzerland, but their President doesn't. Can you name the current President of Switzerland? I didn't think so.)

Note that the Kings of the United Kingdom & Romania and the Emperor of Japan lack their own images but are pictured in the 1908 postcard at the bottom of the page.
 
I think what I love so much about Belle Époque Europe (1871-1914) is that it was modern enough not to seem completely foreign to us today, yet traditional enough that royal families with their roots in the early Middle Ages remained at least nominally sovereign in most countries, and Modernity was limited enough that when you wanted to get away from it you could. Unlike earlier eras, they had trains, they had photography, they had widely and easily circulated newspapers and magazines, the telegraph allowed for long distance communication, and the symphony orchestra existed in its modern form, with most of the repertoire considered standard today already written. Standardized time zones, borders, flags, and anthems were firmly established. But in rural areas and small villages, life continued much as it had for centuries. Both the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches remained firmly rooted in their traditional liturgy. Not everyone whose ancestors had belonged to them still believed in them, but those who did go to church could be confident they were getting the same religion. It was possible (probably for the last time) to be both a conservative with a firm belief in Monarchy as the best form of government and confident in the future of Western Civilisation.
 
 

Monday, April 2, 2018

Monarchy and Selflessness

I don't want to give specific examples, as criticising particular monarchs is hard for me and should only be done with the greatest caution. But I think most regular readers of this blog will be aware that when discussing monarchical history in modern times, monarchists will sometimes praise certain monarchs (usually their countries' last ones to date) who allowed their monarchies to fall rather than risk bloodshed, as an illustration of how much more altruistic they were than politicians tend to be. I understand where they're coming from: the King as the benevolent Father of his People who would rather go into exile or even die than hurt any of them is a powerful archetype. And it's certainly true that in modern times most countries' "Last Monarchs" have been good and kind men, with their predecessors often more culpable for any real or perceived failings of the Crown than they were.

However, I must confess that I've never been entirely comfortable with this line of argument. It seems to me that to posit the end of a Monarchy as preferable to bloodshed concedes too much to the essentially republican view that a monarchy exists primarily for the benefit of the monarch. But as monarchists, that's not what we're supposed to believe. The monarchy exists for the benefit of the people, or at least (when it is no longer possible to please all of them) those people who still believe in the Monarchy. The point of preserving the Monarchy is not so that the monarch can continue to live in the palace and perform the tasks of a head of state for his own enjoyment; no, it is so that those of his subjects for whom no other form of government is possible to love can continue to have the only kind of relationship with their country they understand. So is it really "selfless" for an embattled monarch to let the Monarchy end, possibly forever, rather than risk violence? I'm not sure it is. Do monarchs even have the moral right to deny their loyalists the chance to fight for them? I'm not sure they do. If the very existence of the Crown is not worth fighting for, nothing is. And in most cases it is ordinary monarchist people who will lose far more than the monarch personally does if the Crown is abolished. Aspiring to be a benevolent "father" who would never hurt any of his "children" is all well and good--in normal times, when the existence of the Crown is broadly accepted. But just as the Crown even in normal times does not invalidate its essential benevolence by punishing common criminals, it seems to me that in times of potential revolution those who would eradicate the Crown itself have forfeited any right to its protection. And so I think the greater sacrifice would be for an embattled monarch to fight to the end for the survival of the institution he was born to serve, even if he personally would be relieved to be rid of the burden, for as Queen Elizabeth I said, “To be a king and wear a crown is a thing more glorious to them that see it than it is pleasant to them that bear it.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Progress

Perhaps unlike some of my more purist reactionary friends, I'm not necessarily opposed to everything that went under the banner of the "Enlightenment." As much as I hate the French Revolution, there's a lot that I like about the 19th century (without which my orchestral profession as we know it would be unimaginable), and I tend to mentally extend "19th century" up until 1914. Remember that in Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, over a century after the fall of Louis XVI, the French Revolution had apparently failed to spread republicanism outside of French borders--and even France itself remained a more conservative and Catholic society than the Jacobins had envisioned. Europe was at least nominally as monarchical as it had ever been, with many new monarchies having been created. It's when "Progress" starts replacing kings with presidents, not to mention the absurdities of our own time, that I turn against it. I don't believe that every historical development necessarily made every subsequent historical development inevitable. It's not incoherent or illogical to accept what is good and reject what is bad. Everyone does, since absolute chronological consistency is not actually possible.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

University

One hears a lot these days about ideological battles on college campuses. Part of me wishes I were about twenty years younger so that I could participate in them provocatively as an internet-savvy Eurocentric reactionary monarchist, though I'd have to side in practice with the classical liberal ("conservative") defenders of "Free Speech" despite not actually being a classical liberal. I don't remember politics touching the Indiana University School of Music very much in the late 1990s when I was actually in college. There was more at Juilliard--in reaction to which I think I started my journey towards the Right, though having always been fond of royalty I was never a very pure leftist, and I still don't really fit into American Conservatism (in either its pro-Trump or anti-Trump versions). But I think I'd rather have been born even earlier, and defended the Shah in the 1970s, or Franco in the 1930s. See how "evil" I am? Ha!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg Schwerin (1882-1918)



One hundred years ago today, Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 35, committed suicide, for reasons that have never really been satisfactorily explained, though given what happened to all the German monarchies later that year, it may appear in retrospect to have constituted an escape from defeat and revolution. His death plunged the grand duchy into confusion as not only was he childless, his only brother having been killed in a duel, but his only surviving non-morganatic heir, Carl Michael, had served in the enemy Russian forces and wished to renounce his rights to Mecklenburg-Strelitz. With no one to be Grand Duke, the other Mecklenburg Grand Duke, Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, acted as regent. The succession issue was not resolved until after the fall of the German monarchies, with Carl Michael adopting his hitherto morganatic cousin the Count of Carlow. As the Mecklenburg-Schwerin line eventually died out, ironically today it is that Carlow line that serves as the sole representative of the Mecklenburg family.


Adolf Friedrich VI as a boy


There have been so many depressing centennials, especially for monarchists, since June 28, 2014, and it's far from over. I liked it better when we were less than a century removed from my beloved Belle Époque Europe (1871-1914). Think of how much time has elapsed since summer 2014, all the things you've done, and imagine how horrifyingly endless that war would have seemed by "now," in February 1918, a hundred years ago. How many boys born in the 90s, so much younger than I am, had died. Perhaps that's what got to poor Grand Duke Adolf Friedrich VI, who as a grandson of Queen Victoria's cousin Princess Augusta of Cambridge (1822-1916) deeply loved England, where he had spent a good deal of time before the war. In December 2016 I marked the centennial of Grand Duchess Augusta's death; today I remember her grandson. Adolf Friedrich had been close to his formidable grandmother. She was not spared the war between the two nations she loved, but at least she was spared her grandson's death and the fall of the monarchy.


Modern Mecklenburgers paying their respects at the grave of Adolf Friedrich VI on the centennial of his death, 23 February 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Denmark mourns Prince Henrik

As condolences pour in, Denmark is observing a month of official mourning for Prince Henrik, who will be cremated according to his wishes. More photos and video at the Mail.

Prince Henrik & Queen Margrethe and their family celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2017

Queen Margrethe II & Prince Henrik, 2017

Prince Henrik with his grandsons Princes Nikolai & Felix

Crown Princess Margrethe and Prince Henrik after their wedding, 1967






Tuesday, February 13, 2018

RIP Prince Henrik of Denmark (1934-2018)

 
His Royal Highness Prince Henrik died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday 13 February at 11.18pm, at Fredensborg Palace.

Her Majesty the Queen and the two sons were at his side.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Monarchists and the Internet

As a traditionalist, I'm broadly sympathetic to critiques of Modernity. The internet and social media are now part of modernity. If I could have the pre-1914 world back, I would, and there was of course no Facebook or Twitter then. That said, I'm nevertheless skeptical of articles--I just saw yet another one, ironically via Twitter--that castigate social media as somehow uniquely destructive of society. The thing is, I remember late 20th-century society, before iPhones or Facebook, and I didn't think it was that great. I remember trying to learn royal genealogy before Google or Wikipedia via out-of-date print encyclopedias with no way of finding out who had died since they were published, and conventional media (newspapers, radio, TV) didn't usually report on that sort of thing because it wasn't what most people were interested in. And frankly, being as far as I knew the only teenage monarchist in the world was kind of lonely. I suspect that the sort of Thoughtful American Commentators who denounce social media's ability to connect like-minded people with unusual interests are the sort of commentators who would say that non-conformists like me should get over ourselves and learn to fit into one of the two camps American politics provides. No.

Another common criticism is that social media allows people to expose themselves only to views they already agree with. At least in my case, that's not true; while I freely admit that anyone who used Facebook to advocate the abolition of the British or any other monarchy would not last long on my Friends list, regarding virtually every other issue my News Feed encompasses a wide range of views. Sometimes I see enthusiastically pro-Trump and vehemently anti-Trump posts right next to each other. One of my favourite things on Facebook is when I look at the list of people who have Liked one of my royalist posts, reflect on how some of them would disagree sharply on other issues, and feel affirmed in my conviction that Monarchy can bring people together as no politician can.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The New York Times discovers monarchists

In a new article entitled "What’s the Cure for Ailing Nations? More Kings and Queens, Monarchists Say" the New York Times notices us, including my friend Charles Coulombe. I hadn't heard of The ISSA Center for the Study of Monarchy, Traditional Governance, and Sovereignty, but it looks like a worthy endeavor.

Monarchists and Entertainment

The combination of a Facebook discussion yesterday on The King's Speech, and my recent "discovery" of Stranger Things last month nearly a year and a half after everyone else got into it, prompts this observation. As much as I love movies and TV shows about my pet topic of royalty, like The Crown and Victoria, when I watch them, even if I basically enjoy it, there's always a part of me that's judging. "No, that's not right!" Same with classical music (e.g. Mozart in the Jungle). I can't help it. To a lesser extent I suppose that's true even with quasi-medieval fantasy like Game of Thrones. With Stranger Things, and also Breaking Bad (the other modern mainstream show I belatedly decided I liked), there is something liberating about not having to be like that and just being captivated, as millions of others have been, by how extraordinarily well done it is.

That said, Dungeons and Dragons (which I never played as a kid, though I attempted it a couple times in 2014-15 thanks to a younger friend) plays an important role in Stranger Things, and over the years I've occasionally seen republicans in online arguments accuse monarchists of just wanting to play Dungeons and Dragons. So, there's that. Probably not many people are aware that Finn Wolfhard (2002) has the same birthday (December 23) as Emperor Akihito of Japan (1933), Queen Silvia of Sweden (1943), and Grand Duchess Maria of Russia (1953).