Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thrifty Queen

The royal family are doing their part in the current economic crisis.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Archduke Otto at 96

Gerald Warner salutes Central Europe's de jure Emperor on the recent occasion of his 96th birthday, though few of the ensuing comments have anything worthwhile to say.

P Hitchens on the activist monarchy of Charles III

Peter Hitchens hopes Prince Charles will speak out as King, arguing that the crisis this would indeed provoke is necessary. Hitchens is a bit hard on the present Queen, but I see his point.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

LIFE photos on Google

My father informs me that Google has made the entire archive of photographs for LIFE magazine available online, including many royal images. Note that Queen Victoria is the icon for the 1890s.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

News flash: Queen of Spain actually believes in Catholicism

Spain is atwitter over Queen Sofia's comments, quoted in a new book, critical of both the liberal social developments of modern Spain and American foreign policy under George W. Bush. I imagine that HM's combination of views, which seem to be thoroughly grounded in her Roman Catholic faith, must be terribly confusing to those who imagine that there are only two political types: "liberals" who support abortion & gay rights and oppose Bush's wars, and "conservatives" who oppose the former and support the latter. How dare she confound that false dichotomy?!

Really, I thought her comments were pretty mild considering how uncomfortable modern Spain must be for orthodox adherents of the faith that was once so integral to Spanish society. I also applaud HM for not falling into the false trap of pro-war "conservatism." I'm not even sure that her quoted remarks are best described as an "attack on gays and abortion" as trumpeted by the headline.

I do not agree with those right-wing Catholics who condemn King Juan Carlos for facilitating Spain's transition to liberal democracy; I am convinced that if he had tried to rule as unreconstructed Francoists would have liked, there would be no monarchy in Spain today, and another Republic would not do Catholics any good. However, I think it's awfully churlish of the Left to begrudge their Queen, who as a conservative politician pointed out was only saying what most 70-year-old Spanish Catholic women think, a few moderate expressions of discomfort, given that their side, not hers, has had its way with contemporary Spain.

One often encounters the statement that most Spaniards are "juancarlistas," not monarchists. As a monarchist, this is hard for me to understand; the mentality of a Spaniard who does not love the monarchy itself, who does not treasure the heritage of St. Fernando III, Ferdinand & Isabella, Philip II, Carlos III, Queen Maria Cristina, etc. is incomprehensible to me. But alas it would seem that there is some truth to the cliché, as it is impossible to imagine a British newspaper, even a Leftist one, printing a headline telling the Queen to "shut up." It would seem that in what was once that most Catholic of countries, a queen must keep her Catholic opinions to herself if she wishes to avoid spiteful attacks.

Charles III: An Active King?

The Sunday Times reports that Prince Charles, while acknowledging the monarch's need to stay out of partisan politics, intends to develop a more vocal approach to the throne than that associated with his mother. I personally think this could be a great thing, but he will have to tread carefully due to the unfortunate persistence of the idiotic belief that no one who has not won an election should have any political voice or influence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thais mourn Princess Galyani Vadhana (1923-2008)

Thousands of Thais paid their respects to their King's late sister, at a time when doubts about the monarchy's long-term future are alleged to exist, despite the popularity of the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Prince Charles at 60 (6)

The Prince of Wales celebrated his 60th birthday with a performance featuring Robin Williams raising money for the Prince's Trust, a dinner at Buckingham Palace, and a serenade by schoolchildren.

A King in Waiting - The Daily Beast features three reflections on Prince Charles and this milestone. (Thanks to reader Anna Brew.)

Dominic Sandbrook points out that the once-mocked Charles is truly a prince of our times. (Thanks to forum member Jovan Weismiller.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Prince Charles at 60 (5)

The Telegraph reports, without any real evidence, that King Charles III will be known as "Defender of Faith" rather than "Defender of the [Anglican] Faith." I wonder what such tinkering would accomplish; after all, the original Latin (Fidei Defensor) would be unaffected.

I've never understood the idea that explicitly identifying the British monarch with Anglicanism is offensive to non-Anglicans. While it is true that I now attend an Episcopal church, I was once a very secular sort of a monarchist, and then for 2-3 years felt more or less aligned with Roman Catholicism; during neither of those periods did it ever occur to me that this particular title of Elizabeth II's would have somehow excluded me from the benefits of being one of her subjects, had I been lucky enough to be one. It seems to me that religious people of all faiths benefit from a monarchy that acknowledges a spiritual dimension and is committed to the defense of its own religious tradition, since one cannot truly defend them all. Even an atheist or agnostic ought to be able to acknowledge the special relationship that Christianity in general and Anglicanism in particular had with the development of British culture. The fact is that Britain for some time (especially since the 1829 Catholic Emancipation) has had a deserved reputation as a land tolerant of various faiths, and of secularism, for rather longer than many European countries, and the monarch's status as "Defender of the Faith" has not interfered with that. So why get rid of it now?

Additionally, it might be reasonably objected that changing the title to "Defender of Faith" implies a new and unnecessary opposition between the monarchy and modern Britain's many non-religious people, in a way that simply leaving it as it is does not.

An alert member of my forum pointed out that the Telegraph article's list of royal guests is rather remarkable in its errors. "Prince Mary" of Denmark should of course be "[Crown] Princess Mary," and "Felipe" and "Matilda" of Belgium should be "Philippe" and "Mathilde."

The Queen in Dallas, 1991

A colleague's husband sent me these PDFs of articles about HM's visit to Dallas in 1991; I thought readers might find them of interest. Too bad it looks like some leftist agitators attempted to overshadow the visit.

The Meyerson Symphony Center mentioned is where I work. My colleague and her husband were in the audience at the gala. (I, of course, was a 12-year-old 7th grader in Indianapolis at the time.)

Prince Charles at 60 (4)

The Queen paid tribute to her son and heir, expressing her confidence in his role as future King.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Prince Charles at 60 (3)

Andrew Pierce wonders if Prince Charles will ever be King. Frankly I don't see what all the anxiety is about. Yes, he has waited longer than any previous Prince of Wales and is likely to wait some more. But barring an unforeseen tragedy, he will become King; that is the law, and despite the continuous sniping of republicans I'm honestly not too worried that the law is about to change any time soon.

I wish that those members of the British public who are not abolitionists, but seem to think that their silly preference for Prince William (why? because he's 34 years younger?), or their spiteful wish to deny the former Camilla Parker Bowles her husband's rank upon his accession, ought to count for something, could get it through their thick heads that the monarchy is not a popularity contest and is not supposed to be. Legally the wife of the King is the Queen, not the "Princess Consort," whatever that is. Brits should be glad that they have an heir to the throne as thoughtful and energetic as Prince Charles, and that he's finally found a wife who supports him and with whom he can be happy.

Queens Consort

Helen Brown reviews Lisa Hilton's Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Prince Charles at 60 (2)

Robert Hardman, who was responsible for the documentary mentioned in my previous post, has focused on the Prince of Wales in a new program exploring his contemporary role.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Monarchy on PBS

On Wednesdays November 12, 19, and 26, PBS will be airing Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work. I already own this excellent program (which really ought to permanently shut up those who claim the Windsors "don't do anything") on DVD, but I encourage Americans who haven't yet seen it to take advantage of this opportunity to do so.

Bhutan Coronation

Bhutan crowned its new King, world's youngest head of state Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, in an ancient and colorful ceremony.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Choice I Cannot Make

Tomorrow Americans will go to the polls to decide whether the next President of the United States should be an unstable crazed warmonger who jokes about bombing Iran or a quasi-socialist "messiah" who would be more firmly committed to legalized abortion than any president ever elected. Many people I like and respect, most of them Roman Catholics, believe that the former, John McCain, must be preferred as the "lesser evil." Many other friends and relatives of mine are enthusiastic supporters of the latter, Barack Obama. (It is interesting that I do not know anyone who is actually enthusiastic about McCain.) I do not agree with either point of view and will not be voting tomorrow, for two different sets of reasons, only one of which depends on being a monarchist.

Some Americans who share my distaste for the nominees of the two major parties will be voting for alternative candidates like Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin. I cannot see the point of this. Neither of them has achieved even as much momentum as Ralph Nader did in 2000, and not only because the system is stacked against them; they're just not very appealing candidates except to tiny niches of voters. In this spring's Republican primaries, there was an alternative candidate who, while far from perfect, I thought worthy of support: Rep. Ron Paul. But Dr. Paul managed to gather a diverse coalition that, while ultimately unsuccessful, was commendable in galvanizing and uniting anti-war radicals, conservative Christians, secular libertarians, and other assorted dissidents whose one common denominator was dissatisfaction with the choices usually offered by American politics. Neither Barr nor Baldwin can do that. And neither of their ideologies are much closer to mine than those of McCain and Obama.

To the extent that I have a preferred outcome at all, if someone held a gun to my head and said that I had to choose between a McCain victory and an Obama victory, I would opt for the latter. There are several reasons for this. The pragmatic one, from a right-wing American point of view, is that an open enemy is not as dangerous as a false friend. If Obama is elected, as now seems likely, conservatives will fight him every step of the way. But if McCain is elected, they will let him get away with actions they would oppose in a Democrat. A McCain victory would confirm the triumph of neoconservatism, move the Republican establishment further to the Left, and extinguish hopes that traditional conservatives will ever regain any kind of influence in Washington. An alternative pragmatic, perhaps even selfish, reason for me to prefer an Obama victory is that as much as I disagree with most of the Democratic agenda, there's no getting around the fact that Democratic administrations are generally more favorable to the interests of both the arts and labor unions than Republican ones, and I'm a unionized classical musician. However, I won't claim that my weak desire for an Obama victory is purely pragmatic. I have serious disagreements with the American Left; but I despise and detest the American neocon "Right." I believe George W. Bush to have been one of the worst presidents in history, certainly much worse than Democrat Bill Clinton; in my view, justice demands that Republicans be punished for inflicting the abomination of Bush upon the world. And in our system the only way for Republicans to be punished is for Democrats to win.

Yet for all that, I cannot vote for Obama. For all his talk of unity and transcending ideology, he is clearly of the Left, and to the extent that its original meaning still survives at all, I am essentially of the Right, even if I can hardly recognize any of my values in the contemporary "Right." Barack Obama believes in Progress and Equality; I believe in Tradition and Hierarchy. I may be currently estranged from the ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholicism I once thought I might one day espouse, but I still retain enough Catholic influence in my thinking to be uncomfortable with the consequences of Roe vs. Wade and Obama's unflinching support for it. It is simply not possible to hang out with traditional Catholics for two years and remain totally indifferent to abortion, as much as I resent the way the issue repeatedly has been used to rope pro-lifers into the GOP column without delivering any substantial change in return. In fact, it is not necessary to favor a blanket nationwide ban on abortion in all circumstances (as Catholics must) to see that Roe vs. Wade was a terrible decision that has poisoned our national politics and ought to be overturned. Unlike hardcore pro-lifers, I would be content to see the matter returned to each of the 50 individual states, with abortion remaining legal in the more liberal states and becoming illegal in the more conservative ones. But President Obama and the sort of justices he would appoint to the Supreme Court would not permit even that compromise.

So far almost everything I have written could have been written by an American paleoconservative or libertarian who believed in republican government and admired the American Revolution. And I would indeed concede a certain respect to anyone who refuses to choose between Obama and McCain, even if his fundamental beliefs do not match my own. But this is after all a monarchist blog, and it would not be honest or logical to restrict myself to the above arguments, especially since I am aware that there are other races being decided tomorrow besides the presidential one.

When confronting the decision of whether to bother going to the polls, one must ask oneself as an individual what the purpose of voting is. A single vote is not going to decide the election. This is particularly true if one lives in a state that is solidly Republican (like mine, Texas) or solidly Democrat. Therefore, the only real reason to vote is to symbolically affirm one's faith in Democracy in general and in the American system of government in particular. And that is what I refuse to do, quite apart from my objections to this year's presidential candidates. (I now consider even my primary vote for Ron Paul to have been a futile mistake.) For all American politics, "liberal" and "conservative," Democratic and Republican, ultimately proceeds from the Revolution, from that unjustified and hypocritical rebellion against King George III that I believe was wrong, even though it did not approach the horror of the rebellion against another King it helped to inspire a few years later. Unlike the world's other leading ideological republic, France, the United States has never had a viable or even visible faction opposed to the legacy of the Revolution itself. There is no political party advocating a return to royal sovereignty, no political party that does not at least pay lip service to the Constitution (whose explicit prohibitions of titles of nobility and religious establishment are deeply offensive to anyone who idealizes the kind of society that I do) and the Founding Fathers (who I consider to have been Traitors to their King). And so I cannot in conscience participate in this system, for the system is the problem, and there is no way to vote against the system.

I freely admit that I have no principled argument to refute anyone who says that if I really believe as I say I do, I should move to another country, perhaps the United Kingdom or Canada, where I would undoubtedly be willing to participate in electoral politics, albeit with only slightly more enthusiasm for today's Tories than I have for America's Republicans. Yes, in principle I should. But there are other things in life that matter besides political philosophy. My theoretical temporal allegiance may lie with the Crown--but my family, friends, and job are all here in the United States, and it is not so simple to uproot one's entire life, especially for purely ideological reasons. And there is no legal or moral requirement that Americans who are eligible to vote do so; I am hardly the only non-participant, though few non-voters are likely to share all of my particular reasons. Ironically, the very Constitution that Americanists revere requires them to respect my "right" to denounce the American system of government, and my "freedom" not to participate in elections. So I will stay here for the forseeable future, knowing that whatever happens tomorrow or on subsequent Election Days, I will remain profoundly alienated from the politics of the country where I happen to live, but determined to find as much meaning and enjoyment as possible in the non-political aspects of life.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Prince Charles at 60

Andrew Alderson reports that Britain's future King, finally content with both his personal life and his role as Prince of Wales, is much happier than at previous milestone birthdays.