Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peter Phillips's fiancée converts

In a development that I'm sure will sadden Roman Catholic monarchists, the Telegraph and Times report that Autumn Kelly has decided to renounce her Catholic faith for Anglicanism, meaning that the Queen's grandson Peter Phillips will remain in the line of succession under the terms of the Act of Settlement. One should assume that Miss Kelly's conversion is for purely personal religious reasons, since Mr. Phillips is highly unlikely to ever ascend the throne anyway.

Romanov case closed

Tests confirm (BBC, CNN, Telegraph, New York Times) that remains discovered in Yekaterinburg in 2007 are indeed those of Grand Duchess Marie (1899-1918) and her brother Tsarevich Alexei (1904-1918), the two members of the last Tsar's immediate family previously considered "missing." This ought to permanently lay to rest the already largely discredited theories (which I, following Nicholas and Alexandra author Robert K. Massie, never believed anyway) that one or more of the Tsar's family escaped Bolshevik terror. R.I.P.

May Russia repent for the grisly crimes of 1918, a repentance that can only be adequately formalized by the restoration of the monarchy and the Romanov dynasty. Боже, Царя храни!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Succession unaltered--for now

Labour ministers have apparently abandoned plans to "reform" the royal succession to abolish male primogeniture.

Andrew Roberts eloquently refutes the notion that the monarchy should be altered to conform to modern notions of "equality," though I disagree with his characterization of Kaiser Wilhelm II (perhaps unsurprising for a patriotic British historian who has specialized in the two World Wars). While the Kaiser was indeed prone to occasional tempestuous outbursts against Jews (as he was prone to occasional tempestuous outbursts against everybody and everything, including England which deep down he loved and admired), the idea that he had any kind of systematic Hitlerian agenda in mind is ridiculous.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hindus back Gyanendra

Leaders of the World Hindu Federation expressed their support for King Gyanendra and the monarchy in Nepal. (Isn't it still a little premature to use the word "restoration"? Last time I checked, King Gyanendra remains technically on the throne, albeit shakily.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Your Majesty!

On the subject of the 82nd birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II, I have little to add to The Monarchist's splendid Loyal Address.

King Gyanendra denies exile rumors

Nepal's King Gyanendra, having been ominously warned by Maoist leader Prachanda that other monarchs "have been beheaded," denies that he plans to leave the country.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Royal Tradition Attacked

The BBC, Times, and Telegraph report that Britain's professional egalitarians, who by definition are incapable of ever leaving anything alone, are preparing an assault on male primogeniture, hoping to change the law so that in the future the monarch's eldest child, regardless of sex, will inherit the throne. This has already been done in Sweden, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands (where queens regnant have been the norm for over a century anyway), and is also periodically under discussion in Denmark and Spain. (There doesn't seem to be much agitation for change in the three smaller monarchies; Liechtenstein continues to exclude females from the succession entirely.) The media inaccurately link male primogeniture to the 1701 Act of Settlement that excludes Roman Catholics; actually, the tradition is much older, and England never had a queen regnant at all until 1553. Since then, princes have always taken precedence over their older sisters. (The only legitimate brother of Mary I and Elizabeth I predeceased them, leaving no heirs; the Roman Catholic only legitimate brother of Mary II and Anne was excluded by the "Glorious Revolution" and the Act of Settlement; Victoria was her father's only child; Elizabeth II had only a younger sister.)

Now obviously as an admirer of the present Queens of Britain, Denmark, and the Netherlands, and of past female rulers such as Isabel I of Spain, Maria Theresa of Austria, and (sorry, Catholic friends) Elizabeth I of England, I have no problem with a woman inheriting the throne when she has no living brothers, in accordance with the laws and traditions of her particular country. Indeed, it could be observed that historically female monarchs have tended to be rather more successful and popular than many of their male counterparts. (I would argue that when female leadership is exceptional, it is exceptional women who are likely to come to the fore; if it is made the norm, any such advantage is likely to disappear.) But even if it were not for the complications involved in changing a law which affects not only the United Kingdom but also the fifteen Commonwealth Realms, the idea of discarding ancient tradition in order to conform to modern notions of equality and non-discrimination ought to be offensive to all serious monarchists. For republicans will argue, and unfortunately they will have a point, that it is illogical to abolish only the "anachronism" of male-preference succession, while leaving intact the rather more substantial "discrimination" inherent in any hereditary monarchy. Should admirers of Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II really hope to open this can of worms? Has the law as it is prevented Britain from having outstanding female sovereigns?

Meanwhile, a government summit on Australia's future conveniently designed to exclude any representatives of those who actually won the referendum in 1999, is predictably attempting to resuscitate flagging enthusiasm for republicanism.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Royal grandson christened

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the christening of their eighth and youngest grandchild, James Alexander Philip Theo, Viscount Severn.

Nepalese monarchist murdered

One of King Gyanendra's few politician supporters has been murdered. So this is how the republic comes into existence: with the slaughter of its opponents, just like most of its predecessors. It would seem that someone is anxious to make my prediction that Nepal is heading down the path of France, Russia, and Iran come true. Who with any knowledge of history could be surprised?

(H/T to Jørn K. Baltzersen)

Child of Terror

Valerie Steiker's review of Susan Nagel's Marie-Thérèse, Child of Terror: The Fate of Marie Antoinette’s Daughter makes what sound like some valid criticisms but reflects predictable modernist bias, automatically assuming that 19th century royalism was nothing more than a "narrow mindset" contrasting with "the forces of democracy invigorating Europe." Ah yes, all that bloodshed between 1789 and 1815 sure was "invigorating," wasn't it? How "narrow" for someone who'd lived through that to prefer the ancien regime! For a Catholic monarchist perspective on the same book see Elena Maria Vidal.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Belgian Princess

Congratulations to Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium on the birth of their fourth child, Princess Eleonore Fabiola Victoria Anne Marie, today in Anderlecht. Princess Eleonore shares a birthday with both Pope Benedict XVI (81 today) and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark (68 today).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nepal and the Errors of Republicanism

I promised a more substantial post on Nepal, so here it is. First of all, a new member of my forum has posted a thorough analysis of the political situation there which should be read by all concerned. Also recommended is the latest addition to my blogroll, Nepali Netbook. Today, having already linked to some of the recent coverage, I'll stick to some more general reflections.

My monarcho-skeptical but open-minded father, having heard the NPR report linked last Wednesday, asked me if the fact that one unpopular ruler (King Gyanendra) had apparently turned people in Nepal against the monarchy did not indicate a weakness in the monarchical system, since one unpopular president generally does not turn people against republicanism. An interesting question that deserves an answer. I would reply first of all that this apparent discrepancy is primarily a consequence of the embattled status in which the 21st century's surviving monarchies find themselves, in which republicanism (however defined) is widely assumed to be the default form of government, with monarchies at best tolerated as exotic curiosities. Indeed, ironically I myself have made essentially the same point made by my father, though in reference to what I see as the unfair assumptions behind much contemporary discussion rather than the intrinsic merits of the systems themselves.

Why is it, then, that the unpopularity of a king can lead to calls for the abolition of the monarchy, while the unpopularity of a president rarely leads to calls for changes in the basic form of government? I suppose that most republicans would say that this is because "you can vote to elect a new president," and to the extent that people believe that, and believe that it matters, in a narrow sense they're correct. But this explanation ignores two factors. First of all, what all republics claim in theory is that "the people," not the president, are sovereign; in a sense that is their fundamental difference with monarchies, in which the monarch (whether absolute or constitutional) is officially sovereign. So a King embodies the system of monarchy in a deeper way than a President embodies the system of republicanism, and consequently the failures of a King are more likely to be blamed on the form than those of a president. But does this really make republicanism superior? For the second factor overlooked is that republicanism offers no guarantee or even likelihood that the new president elected to replace an unpopular one will be any better than his predecessor, though he may be unpopular with different people. After all, there is no reason to suppose that presidential elections will reflect any more wisdom than that of the electorate. As difficult as it may be to get rid of a bad king, it is even more difficult to get rid of a bad electorate, the tyranny of which was feared far more by all the great philosophers. And I have more confidence in the randomness of hereditary succession than in the whims of the general public.

Such cynicism hardly seems unwarranted in light of the fact that the biggest winners in Nepal's elections have been the Maoists--the same people who have been slaughtering ordinary Nepalis for over a decade! History offers ample reasons to suppose that an election in which Communists are victorious could prove to be the very last election for a long time. But this does not faze idiotic Western observers such as Jimmy Carter, who, apparently not content with having undermined the Iranian monarchy when he was president, is now cheering on the collapse of Nepal's, while urging the international community to embrace its Maoist enemies. So what if Nepal is about to be run by bloodstained terrorists? All that people like Carter can see is the "total transformation in the form of government from a 240-year-old Hindu monarchy to a democratic republic" which in their myopic worldview is self-evidently a good thing. Even if this "democratic republic" were not likely to be controlled by Maoists, the sheer arrogance of the modernist mentality according to which the discarding of 240 years of tradition is something to be celebrated, or at least accepted, is breathtaking. What authentic, organic, genuine roots in Nepalese culture will this "democratic republic" have? How can it claim the allegiance of Nepalis who value the traditions of their ancestors? In the best-case republican scenario, Nepal, once the world's only Hindu kingdom, will join the ranks of its rootless artificial democratic regimes devoid of soul and character. But it is more likely that Nepal is heading down the tragic path of France, China, Russia, Germany, Iran, and so many other countries, in which its beleaguered monarchy is to be cast aside in favor of a new order likely to bring horrors dwarfing any problems that existed under the old regime. People never learn.

Behind the "gaffes"

A rare positive article on HRH Prince Philip, who usually gets a hard time from the British press, appeared recently in The Herald.

Tradition Abandoned in Sark

The small Channel Island of Sark, under the Crown but not part of the United Kingdom, seems in many ways to be a sort of idyllic traditionalist paradise: no cars are allowed on the island, and the population of 600 "are a self-sufficient, close-knit little community" who "just like to get on with life away from the public eye," according to Seneschal Lt Col Reginald Guille. Since the time of Queen Elizabeth I, the island has been governed primarily by the descendants of the original landlords, in Europe's last surviving feudal system. But the endless march of "democracy" can never leave well enough alone: after years of pressure from the European Union, the UK Privy Council confirmed Sark's plans to abolish the 450-year-old system in favor of a fully elected government. Eight years ago I wrote an article entitled "Why Monarchists Should Oppose the Euro," and nothing in this sorry episode makes me change my mind.

What is notably missing from all the coverage is any evidence whatsoever that the traditional arrangements were truly unsatisfactory to the people living on the island, or that Sark had been poorly governed. What Sark has agreed to is "democracy" for the sake of "democracy," "progress" for the sake of "progress," and no other reason. It is even admitted that "the system of government has proven for our small community to be a very successful way to manage our own affairs." Only recently the islanders affirmed that no change was wanted. But relentless foreign pressure has at last triumphed over local inertia, and now it is time to "move on." For "successful" management of community affairs doesn't matter; the EU "Human Rights" agenda must be enacted across the continent, and not even a tiny island normally unnoticed is exempt. So Sark will join the Brave New World of Democracy, probably eventually losing much of what made it unique and appealing, as traditions are eradicated and subsidiarity destroyed by Europe's new tyrants, far more power-hungry than any king of old. Life will continue on Sark, but something intangible and priceless will have been lost: a sense that no matter what insanity gripped the wider world, this tiny little island had preserved a link to medieval Europe's ancient feudal order, to a time when Europeans accepted that social hierarchies are natural, inevitable, and beneficial, and worshipped something other than Democracy and Equality.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Nepal's Monarchists Pessimistic

One group has had a hard time making its voice heard in the campaigning for Thursday's elections: those who want to keep Nepal's 240-year-old monarchy. BBC and NPR report.

I hope to add more thoughts on this issue once I have my own computer back from the shop. For now, it should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I condemn absolutely the proposed abolition of the Nepalese monarchy and deny that any mistakes King Gyanendra may have made can justify such a radical step, which so many other countries have previously taken with consistently disastrous results, though it might have been a good idea for the [perhaps unjustly] unpopular king and his heir to have abdicated in favor of the young Prince Hridayendra.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Rudd the republican meets the Queen

Australia's Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd met the Queen on his first official visit to the United Kingdom but declared that he remains committed to republicanism.  Australian monarchist leader David Flint, however, is skeptical, noting that Rudd refused to provide a timetable and seems rather less enthusiastic than his party's platform would suggest.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

King Francis?

The Telegraph has an utterly ridiculous article claiming that if the Act of Settlement (which excludes Roman Catholics from the British throne) were repealed, the Duke of Bavaria (genealogical heir of Charles I) would suddenly become King of England and Scotland. This all sounds very exciting, but has the minor drawback of being complete nonsense, as the article itself practically admits by the end. (It's irritating when journalists do this: imply something totally outlandish in the headline and/or opening sentences, and then at the end of the article finally have to concede that their sensational prediction probably will not actually amount to anything.) There is in fact no reason to believe that the repeal of the Act of Settlement (which I do not advocate) would have any retroactive effect whatsoever. It would merely open the door to future Roman Catholic monarchs or consorts from the present line. To declare that Roman Catholics are no longer to be excluded from the succession does not equal pretending that they were never excluded in the first place! By law, the Queen remains the Queen whether laws governing the succession (i.e., who comes after her) are changed or not.

I'm also somewhat perplexed by the claim that "there remains bitter feeling among many Catholics" at the deposition of the Stuarts. Really? Just how many British Catholics today go around tormented by bitterness at the events of 1688? Now there are plenty of historical events that I'm bitter about...1649, 1793, and 1918 come to mind, and I'm not a big fan of the so-called "Glorious Revolution" myself. But I don't think most people are like that.

No one would be happier than I for Duke Franz, by all accounts a charming and intelligent man, to be crowned King of Bavaria, reclaiming the rights of his Wittelsbach ancestors. But the British throne is already occupied--and quite satisfactorily, I think!

Prince Philip discharged

The Duke of Edinburgh has been released from hospital after a three-night stay.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Romanov DNA investigation continues

According to the AP, DNA tests may soon finally lay to rest the enduring mystery of Grand Duchess Anastasia. I'm not entirely sure why this is still considered an open question; like author Robert K. Massie, whose brilliant Nicholas and Alexandra was a major influence on my life, I've always been firmly convinced that all seven Romanovs (as well as four of their servants) were murdered that horrible night in Ekaterinburg in July 1918, and it seems like this has already been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In any case, may they rest in peace, and may Russia eventually repent of the terrible crime of regicide and restore the monarchy!

Prince Philip hospitalized

CNN, BBC, and the Telegraph report that HRH the Duke of Edinburgh has been hospitalized with a chest infection. I've always admired Prince Philip's energy and unique sense of humor (or perhaps I should type, humour) and wish him a speedy recovery. Of course, most 86-year-olds do not have long lists of "upcoming engagements" to cancel...

(BBC update)


Welcome to Royal World! This blog is not so much a totally new project as a continuation in a new format of the old News and Opinion sections of my website, begun in September 2000. Over the years, the quantity of articles to which I've felt like linking has gradually declined to the point where I've decided that the blog style would be more suitable for linking only to those articles I find particularly interesting or notable, with the opportunity for adding commentary of my own. Of course, the old archives, representing seven and a half years of work, will remain accessible, and I will continue to update the other sections of the website as needed, but I intend for this blog to be my main vehicle for highlighting and commenting on royal and monarchical news and views. I may occasionally post on other subjects, but the focus will remain on royalty and monarchy throughout the world. I hope that those who have visited my website over the years as well as new readers will enjoy this blog, my first attempt at joining one of the 21st century's most popular media formats.