Monday, April 26, 2010

Second Swedish Royal Wedding Off

Princess Madeleine of Sweden has broken off her engagement to lawyer Jonas Bergstrom after learning of his infidelity with a Norwegian Bournemouth University student. Hopefully the scandal will not overshadow the wedding of her older sister Crown Princess Victoria to gym owner Daniel Westling in Stockholm in June. Frankly I wish that princesses still married princes, but the contemporary Scandinavian royal families seem unlikely to ever go back in that direction.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Habsburg Ukraine

Archduke Karl von Habsburg keeps his ancestors' memory alive in the part of Ukraine they once ruled, reports the Kyiv Post.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Presidents are not Kings

Polish unity in the aftermath of the plane crash that wiped out much of its political establishment has been damaged by plans to bury the late President Kaczynski in Krakow's Wawel cathedral, an honor traditionally reserved for kings. Opponents of the Wawel burial might not be monarchists--in fact, they are more likely to be left-wing than right-wing--but they instinctively sense that burying a controversial politician among ancient kings & queens and more recent national heroes is not appropriate, and on this one point (if no other) their viewpoint makes sense. Politics may make strange bedfellows, but I would have to agree with the protesters; whatever Mr Kaczynski's merits, he was obviously not a king, and to elevate him posthumously to de facto royal status is disrespectful to the genuine kings of Poland's glorious past. It is the Organization of Polish Monarchists, not Mr. Kaczynski's republican Law & Justice party, that has the most authentically patriotic vision for Poland's future.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Queen and I

The Queen and I (2008; featured at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival) is a unique documentary by Iranian expat filmmaker Nahid Persson, now a resident of Sweden, about Empress Farah. Apart from both being exiled Iranians, the two women have little in common; Persson in her youth before the 1979 Revolution was a leftist agitator dedicated to opposing the regime of Farah's husband the Shah. But the documentary shows how the two women became, if not exactly friends, able to understand each other, and is sympathetic enough to the Empress to appeal to viewers like me whose views are quite unlike the filmmaker's. Scenes with exiled Iranian royalists, especially those visiting the Shah's grave in Egypt, as well as old footage of imperial pageantry, will stir any monarchist's heart, even if such a reaction is quite contrary to Persson's intentions.

When pressed, the Shahbanou ably defends her late husband's much-maligned regime, pointing out among other things that in the context of the Cold War the Soviet Union really was trying to make Iran Communist necessitating a security service, that the allegedly all-powerful SAVAK left the mullahs who would overthrow the Shah untouched, and that the Iranian leftists opposed to Khomeini all fled to the [formerly Shah-allied] Western countries they had denounced as "imperialist," not to their beloved USSR, Cuba, or China. While I certainly do not endorse Nahid Persson's political perspective, which inevitably colors the narration, she has made a film I think monarchists will enjoy almost in spite of herself.