Friday, May 28, 2010

Two Anniversaries

Monarchists have two quite opposite anniversaries to contemplate this weekend: one tragic, the other glorious, one recent, the other distant.

Today, May 28, is the second anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic of Nepal and the fall of the monarchy. I have written previously here (see other posts with label "Nepal") about what a horrible and outrageous event this was, the only downfall of a monarchy of my politically conscious lifetime, so will not repeat myself at length today. There are some encouraging signs that King Gyanendra and his supporters have not given up completely, but the struggle to reverse the debacle of two years ago remains an uphill battle. I condemn Nepal's new republic utterly as an illegitimate abomination that has no right to exist and ought to be destroyed; may it not last to see a third birthday! Though a Christian myself I stand in solidarity with all supporters of what was once the world's only Hindu kingdom and wish them success in their effort to restore Nepal's venerable Shah dynasty to its rightful throne.

On a much happier note, tomorrow, May 29, is the precise 350th anniversary of the Restoration of the British Monarchy, when the merry King Charles II (1630-1685) on his 30th birthday was restored to the throne of his martyred father, bringing to an end eleven years of dreary Puritan rule. I will be attending the American Society of King Charles the Martyr's celebratory mass and luncheon at St Barnabas Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and am looking forward to the rare opportunity to observe a royalist occasion in the United States and meet other Anglicans devoted to the memory of the Royal Martyr. St Barnabas's organist and choirmaster Nick Behrens is also Central States Delegate of the International Monarchist League and has invited me to sing in the choir for Basil Harwood's Communion Service in A-flat.

Hopefully the people of Nepal will follow the example of England and realize within eleven years of abolition that they made a terrible mistake two years ago. Long live the United Kingdom and long live the Kingdom of Nepal!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Modern Monarchy and the Boston Globe

Recently The Boston Globe published an interesting reflection on the place of monarchs in the modern world, Saved by the crown. From violent protests in Thailand to parliamentary politics in Britain and Belgium, the role of the Crown has attracted attention in recent months. If people like Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Joshua Kurlantzick (who doesn't exactly seem like a monarchist but at least understands that contemporary constitutional monarchs can be more than decorations) are taking monarchy seriously, that's an encouraging sign.

It's unfortunate that these days Monarchy is likely to be defended only in terms of what it can do for Democracy and Modernity, but that's probably the best monarchists can expect from a mainstream publication such as the Globe. I do not, of course, agree with all of the article's assumptions, particularly the astonishing claim that "where kings and sultans still actually rule...monarchs can be every bit as oppressive and opaque as any other dictatorship." On the contrary, I think it's a pretty fair generalization that with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia (probably my least favorite current monarchy), throughout the Muslim world it is the monarchies that consistently are and have been the most reasonable regimes, from both non-Muslim and female perspectives, and even Saudi Arabia's current King Abdullah is not without his relatively progressive initiatives, as the article admits.

As far as Europe is concerned, it's worth noting that the arguably problematic "Constitutional Monarchs Help Facilitate Democracy and Multiculturalism" defense is one reason why many right-wingers today have no interest in monarchy. I myself would confess to be less than entirely comfortable with modern European royalty's apparent acquiescence to the massive changes being imposed on their societies via mass immigration, not to mention other troubling developments such as the emasculation and destruction of the House of Lords in Britain. But it's nevertheless a legitimate point that, like it or or not, these situations have been brought about by governments elected by the peoples of those countries, and the royals really have no choice but to make the best of them. Perhaps constitutional monarchy in countries like Sweden and the Netherlands really will be the glue that prevents immigration from having the most dire consequences feared by many on the Right and somehow makes modern Europe work in spite of itself.

If that's the case, people (especially politicians) in former monarchies from Serbia to Laos would do well to pay attention to The Boston Globe. For what this article proves is that one need not be a reactionary alienated from modernity and its democratic values to see the value of kings and queens. On many fronts, pure traditionalists frankly have lost, and reversal seems unlikely. But if the advantages of restoration of monarchy can be appreciated even from a generally modernist perspective, there is no reason to give up on this particular front. Symbols matter, and are worth fighting for, even--or perhaps especially--if they mean different things to different people. So whether you see the Crown as the embodiment of the traditional civilisation you nostalgically prefer to the present, or as an effective tool for addressing the problems of modernity capable of endless reinvention and adaptation, or even some combination of the two, join the fight for the restoration and preservation of monarchies! Even The Boston Globe understands.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

Ridley Scott's latest medieval epic has little to do with the traditional Robin Hood legend and even less to do with actual history, but looks spectacular and includes a fine performance by Eileen Atkins as Queen Eleanor (1122-1204), not to mention real-life monarchist Russell Crowe in the title role. Apart from a silly digression about the Crusades (Robin claims that the peaceful Muslims felt "only pity" for the Crusaders for being, you know, not as peaceful), at least it's not quite as "politically corrected" as some other adaptations. For two quite contrasting non-leftist reactions (not necessarily endorsed), see Steven Greydanus (via Tea at Trianon) and Richard Spencer & Paul Smith. If you can ignore Scott's biases and agendas, I think Robin Hood is worth seeing on the big screen in the theatre if mainly for the colourful and detailed views of medieval life and unspoiled scenery it offers.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Grand Duchess Leonida of Russia (1914-2010)

The Russian Orthodox Church has expressed its condolences on the death of HIH Grand Duchess Leonida, who passed away in Madrid last night at the age of 95. Grand Duchess Leonida was the widow of longtime Romanov family head Grand Duke Vladimir (1917-1992) and the mother of current claimant Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (b 1953). She was born on September 23, 1914 in Tiflis, a princess of the Moukhransky branch of the ancient Bagration royal house of Georgia. Though modern republican Russia denied her the status of Empress she should have attained after the fall of Communism, she will be buried with her husband and his ancestors in the Fortress of St Peter & St Paul. RIP.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Crown Princess Victoria's "sexist" wedding

Crown Princess Victoria has annoyed Sweden's fussy guardians of egalitarianism by wishing to walk down the aisle with her father rather than together with fiancé Daniel Westling at their wedding this summer. The politically correct clergy of the Church of Sweden do not approve of what they ironically claim is a violation of Swedish "tradition," though I wonder how old this custom of the bride and groom walking in together really is. But as the Royal Court quite sensibly points out, this is not any ordinary wedding but rather one in which Sweden's King will lead his heir to the altar before the nation. While I don't particularly care for the 1980 abolition of male primogeniture and wish that royalty still married other royalty, in this case I applaud HRH's intention and wish her and Mr. Westling (soon to be Prince Daniel) a happy and fruitful marriage.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Archduke Rudolf of Austria (1919-2010)

I am sorry to report that HI&RH Archduke Rudolf of Austria died yesterday at 90. He was the youngest son of Emperor Bl Karl I (1887-1922) and Empress Zita (1892-1989). His brothers Archdukes Otto (b 1912) and Felix (b 1916) are now the only surviving children of the last Emperor and Empress of Austria-Hungary.

Royal Influence Fading With King in Thailand?

As Thailand continues to suffer from violent clashes between "red shirts" and the government, its widely revered but ill King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 82, is increasingly perceived as being unable to play the conciliatory role he has played in the past.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Crowe backs the Crown

The modern world probably pays too much attention to the [usually rather leftist and trendy] political views of entertainers in general, but since this is unlikely to change any time soon, it is refreshing when one gets it right. Actor Russell Crowe, promoting his upcoming movie Robin Hood, has expressed his support for the Australian monarchy and his admiration for the royal family, including the Queen's much-maligned sons Princes Charles and Andrew. I have enjoyed several of Mr Crowe's movies (especially Master and Commander, for which he conscientiously took violin lessons) and am glad that such a prominent actor is on our side. Mr Crowe has disclosed his monarchist views at least once before, in 2003 when he said, "I never thought I would say it, but I'm actually a monarchist and I think Elizabeth has done a bloody wonderful job. The family deserve more respect." Obviously he has overcome whatever reluctance he once had about saying so. Good for Russell Crowe, and God Save the Queen of Australia!