Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cusack on the Crown

Writing at Taki's Magazine, Andrew Cusack eloquently laments the fact that HM Queen Elizabeth II will probably sanction the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, a piece of legislation which certainly seems to be contrary in principle to any serious concept of a Christian Monarchy, which the United Kingdom nominally still is. While Mr. Cusack makes good points, it remains my position that HM cannot and should not be blamed for consistently acting within the constraints of modern constitutional monarchy, according to which the sovereign is expected to automatically sign any bill passed by the legislature. We have seen in Europe and elsewhere what has happened to monarchs who have strayed outside the "democratic" box. It should also be noted that none of the modern examples of British or Commonwealth royal intervention cited by Mr. Cusack involved an attempted royal veto of any legislation approved by the elected government, and even King Baudouin's defiant gesture on abortion was obviously not effective. While a relatively activist style of monarchy has been fairly successful in the Principality of Liechtenstein, the last European King who clashed with his government was Constantine II of Greece--now in exile for the past 40 years.

Traditionalists who long for a more active Crown should think of modern royalty as prisoners in a golden cage, in which case it is up to us to rescue them. We can start by trying to combat the false belief that only those who have won elections are entitled to have any real influence in government. But for the time being, that is the way Britain works, and it is the MPs who voted for this bill, and the ordinary people who voted for them, not the Queen, who should be held responsible for it. I doubt that even all of those opposed to this Bill would wish for it to be defeated via royal veto, so deeply ingrained is the democratic mindset even among "conservatives."

Friday, May 30, 2008

Forbes: Hottest Royals

Forbes identifies the world's twenty "Hottest Young Royals." Apparently a related E! TV special will air at 9 PM EDT on June 6. I'm sorry that no representatives of the generation of European Catholic royalty born in the 1980s (Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, the Habsburgs, etc.) were included; apparently they weren't considered to have enough "international Web and media presence."

What next for Gyanendra?

Deposed monarchs of the past have explored a number of options, the BBC helpfully informs us, as King Gyanendra is formally evicted from the palace.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


I have just updated (for the first time since 2004) my page on Population of the World's Monarchies, to reflect events in Nepal and the latest population estimates from Wikipedia. My conclusion is that, sadly, with the loss of Nepal (a country of about 29, 519,000 people) and other factors, the percentage of people living in monarchies has declined from about 8.6% to about 8% of the world's population. That may seem like a small change, but it's significant when we're talking about percentages of such a huge number (6.7 billion).

Another interesting development is that due to population growth in Britain and the Commonwealth Realms compared to relatively static figures in Japan, Queen Elizabeth II has overtaken Emperor Akihito as the monarch with the most subjects.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kingdom of Nepal (1769-2008)

It looks likes it's over for the world's only Hindu monarchy, with Nepal poised to formally become the world's newest republic, as reported by the BBC and the New York Times. I don't have much to add to what I wrote last month and in other Nepal posts. The modern era has offered few good times to be a monarchist, but this would appear to be a particularly dismal one, and I cannot think of any positive spin to put on what has happened.

This is a black day for Nepal and the world. The gang of thugs and murderers currently in charge of Nepal have "swept away more than two centuries of history," as the Telegraph put it. Will those photographed dancing in the streets still be dancing after they've experienced Maoist rule? Whatever happens, the new republican "government" is an abomination and while we may have to deal with its existence for the foreseeable future, we should never accept it. Once again Revolution, the diabolical enemy of all that is good and beautiful, which has been poisoning the world since the late 18th century, has claimed another nation as its victim. Let's make sure this is the last time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Auster on Edward VIII

Right-wing blogger Lawrence Auster reflects on the abdication of King Edward VIII, as dramatized in 1978 by ITV. I don't agree with a reader's posted dismissal of the current Prince of Wales, but otherwise some interesting thoughts.

Gyanendra leaves the palace

In a sad development for monarchists, King Gyanendra has vacated the palace of his ancestors as Nepal continues to move toward the establishment of a republic. The Telegraph reports, almost happily, that the King's image is disappearing from souvenirs and currency, but admits that many ordinary Nepalis still support the institution of the monarchy. The Maoists now in control are unlikely to listen to them, much less to us monarchists in other countries who can only shake our heads in distress as Nepal follows that tragic path, which those of us too young to remember the 1979 Iranian revolution had previously observed only in history books, of consigning its monarchical heritage to oblivion.

Danish royal wedding

In a ceremony attended by representatives of the Scandinavian royal families, Queen Margrethe II's second son Prince Joachim of Denmark (previously divorced from Alexandra Manley) married Marie Cavallier (b 6 Feb 1976) in Møgeltønder.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Queen's grandson marries at Windsor

With most of the royal family attending, Peter Phillips married Autumn Kelly at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Autumn Kelly

The Telegraph profiles Autumn Kelly, who will marry Peter Phillips at Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel on Saturday.

I couldn't help but be mildly irritated by her father's comment that prior to his daughter's relationship with the Queen's grandson he hadn't known much about the Royal Family because "it's not something we follow that closely in Canada." Who is "we"? Speak for yourself, Mr. Kelly. Maybe you didn't care about your daughter's future in-laws, who happen to be your country's Royal Family as well as Britain's, but there are other Canadians who do.

Saad al-Sabah (1930-2008)

The former Emir of Kuwait has died after a long illness.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Rare Non-Monarchical Rant

I posted this summary of my current thoughts on religion at Taki's Magazine in response to Tom Piatak's article I Confess: I Don’t Understand Why Some Atheists Are So Angry. Mr. Piatak responded kindly and sympathetically. While these issues are not directly related to monarchism, I know I'm not the only monarchist who is disturbed by the changes which have overtaken Western Christianity over the past fifty years or so. Since some of these developments I deplore are related to ideological currents which have also undermined monarchies, I don't think this "cri de coeur" is totally off-topic.

I am one of those agnostics to whom Mr. Piatak refers who deeply respect Christianity’s fundamental role in Western culture. However, while my reasons are quite different from those of C. Hitchens, I too am angry at contemporary Christianity, and I’d like a chance to explain why, since in the polarization between staunch Christians and fierce atheists my point of view is rarely heard.

Whenever atheists attack Christianity, I am indeed the sort of person who is inclined to respond, “but what about...the Sistine Chapel/Chartres Cathedral/Bach’s St. Matthew Passion/Choral Evensong?” etc. But the question must be asked: what does the bulk of contemporary Christianity as it actually is, with its banal liturgies, hideous architecture, pathetic capitulation to egalitarian agendas, insipid music, and puritanical/philistine attitudes among those ("traditionalists") who claim to be resisting all of this, have to do with all of that past glory? Not very much, it seems to me.

I’m honestly not sure what I believe about God, but I do know that I long to be able to attend a beautiful church with a great pipe organ in which traditional liturgy (whether Latin or Elizabethan English) is celebrated by an all-male clergy and augmented by a strong commitment to the greatest sacred music of the past millennium (preferably sung by a choir of men and boys, though I suppose one can compromise on that last point). In most of the United States, that simply isn’t possible anywhere, and yes, that makes me angry. Now, my two favorite American churches that I’ve attended, St. John Cantius [Roman Catholic] in Chicago and St. Thomas Fifth Avenue [Episcopal] in New York are truly magnificent in every way, and I salute them, and I am deeply moved by the heroic efforts of those responsible for making them what they are. But what of those of us who do not live in Chicago or New York? Are we condemned to compromise with the most unfortunate cultural trends of the past half-century and accept the nearly universal dumbing-down of liturgy, music, and architecture?

I am angry at Anglicanism for “ordaining” women; I am angry at Catholicism (Pope Benedict excepted) for not caring about good music; and I am angry at both Churches for modernizing their liturgies and for the misguided emphasis on congregational singing which rules out the regular liturgical use of Christendom’s countless magnificent choral settings of the Ordinary of the Mass. The “traditionalist” movement has its own problems, as I discovered when, as a volunteer organist at an SSPX chapel, I was not allowed to play Bach Preludes and Fugues before and after mass as it might “distract people from their prayers.”

I am tired of the lectures (ironically from both Novus Ordo and Traditionalist Catholics, though they put their different spins on it), examples of which are plentiful online, about how one must choose “Truth” over “Beauty.” I don’t accept that, because I don’t see liturgy, music, and architecture as superficial, but rather as fundamental to what’s gone wrong with Christianity in the past half century. I cannot support a church, or a Church, that is committed to capitulation to cultural trends I regard as destructive, and “conservatives” are often no better than “liberals” in this regard. Part of me genuinely wants to believe, but where is there to go? Surely I am not the only non-believer who has been alienated from Christianity, not because it isn’t “modern” enough, but because it has tried too hard to be “modern,” and in the process has sacrificed nearly everything that ever made it beautiful.

Goya's Ghosts

Aficionados of period dramas and believable portrayals of historical royalty would do well to check out Goya's Ghosts (2006), set in Spain during the Napoleonic wars. As I wrote at my Movies page, Randy Quaid and Blanca Portillo are so convincing as King Carlos IV (1748-1819; reigned 1788-1808) and Queen Maria Luisa (1751-1819) that they might have stepped out of Goya's (Stellan Sjarsgård) portrait.

Neither the Church nor the Revolution are spared, so that it is hard to figure out precisely where the film stands, except with its mistreated heroine played movingly by Natalie Portman. One wonders if the Spanish Inquisition in the late 18th century was still truly as harsh as depicted, though apart from the existence of certain historical events and personages the film makes no claim to be anything but fiction.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Famous Are the Flowers

The Left is not generally known for its support of monarchy. However, recently The Nation published a thorough cover story on "Hawaiian Resistance Then--and Now" which is fairly favorable to the monarchy and its advocates, a position which is not all that surprising in light of The Nation's longstanding opposition to American imperialism, which the annexation of Hawaii undoubtedly was. Politics make strange bedfellows indeed!

Queen Lilliuokalani's autobiography can be read online here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Democratic Monarchy in Kuwait

Surrounded by thriving absolute monarchies, some Kuwaitis are wondering if democracy is all it's cracked up to be.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Native Hawaiians blockade palace

(When I maintained my News page in which articles were strictly sorted by date and archived each month, I would sometimes ignore articles dated late in the month when I did not find them until after the month had changed. I see no reason to do that with this new blog format, so here's a story dated April 30 which I didn't see immediately.)

A group of native Hawaiians who advocate separation from the United States and restoration of the monarchy overthrown in 1893 took over the Royal Palace, vowing to conduct the business of the kingdom's government. I have long opposed the U.S. annexation of Hawaii, and wish these protesters the best, though I should stress that my support of Hawaiian independence is inextricably linked to the restoration of the monarchy; I would oppose any "Hawaiian Republic" as worse than the current status quo, since there are already too many presidents and too many republics in the world and the last thing we need is another one.

Unlike some American monarchists, I do not dream of converting the United States as a whole into a monarchy, and accept that for 225 years America's authentic tradition has been republicanism, but that applies only to the continental U.S., beyond which I do not believe American territory should extend. Hawaii, unlike any other American state, has a substantial tradition of indigenous monarchy as an independent country, which should be honored and revived. Long live the Kingdom of Hawaii!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

William in Afghanistan

Prince William visited British troops in Afghanistan.