Monday, January 31, 2011

Monarchy's Enduring Appeal

Boris Johnson reflects on what The King's Speech reveals about the enduring appeal of hereditary monarchy, as perceived even by those who oppose it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Monarchy a "problem"?

As an admirer of his performance as King George VI in The King's Speech, I was disappointed to learn that Colin Firth says the monarchy is "a problem" for him because he "likes voting." I for one have never understood what is so great about voting, though of course someone ought to point out to Mr Firth that in Britain it has been possible to vote for politicians and support the monarchy for quite some time. Perhaps Mr Firth should stick to acting, which he does brilliantly, and keep his political opinions to himself. It is particularly incomprehensible to me that a British actor could be a republican, given the invaluable inspiration that the monarchy has given the dramatic arts, which Mr Firth's colleague Geoffrey Rush (though not a monarchist either) seems to acknowledge. What would the plays of Shakespeare, for example, be without Monarchy?

William Dove responds to Mr Firth's comments here. As he says, there are far more powerful "unelected bodies" to worry about today.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

German Empress

Kaiser Wilhelm II could hardly disapprove. His great-great-grandson HRH Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, 34, head of the House of Hohenzollern and rightful German Emperor and King of Prussia, has announced his impeccably traditional engagement to HSH Princess Sophie of Isenburg, 32. German monarchists had anxiously awaited Georg Friedrich's marital choice for years, especially since his claim to be head of the house rests on his genealogically senior uncles having married commoners. Much has deteriorated in the world since the Hohenzollerns were on the throne, but it is refreshing to see that some royalty at least still keep to the old rules regardless. I congratulate the couple and wish them a happy and fruitful union.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Louis XVI

"Euroseptic" blogger Mary Ellen Synon marks the 218th anniversary of the martyrdom of King Louis XVI. Gareth Russell, Elena Maria Vidal, and Babylon Baroque have more. (Previously on this blog: 2010, 2009.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

George VI under fire in Hollywood

I've never had that much respect for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, but since whether I like it or not a great deal of importance is attached to the Oscars, I'd still like to see The King's Speech (as the leading monarchical movie of 2010) do well at the ceremony on February 27. Apparently, however, some people would not--not because of any actual flaws in the film as entertainment, but because it does not address King George VI's allegedly insufficiently anti-Nazi sentiments before World War II. Never mind that George VI was a constitutional monarch and therefore obliged to agree with his government's policies, which prior to 1939 were understandably oriented towards appeasement in hopes of avoiding another catastrophic war, which it was (correctly) feared would destroy the British Empire. Never mind that no Western governments were particularly interested in helping Jews escape from Nazi Germany before World War II, which was originally declared to free Poland from the Nazi and Soviet invasion, not to save the Jews from Hitler. Never mind that whatever their reservations about war before it came, once it had been declared King George VI and Queen Elizabeth proved to be magnificent emblems of resistance to Hitler and therefore played a crucial role in sustaining the morale necessary to defeat Nazi Germany.

What is really offensive is the underlying premise that every work of art or entertainment ought to be judged not on its own artistic merits but on whether it sufficiently satisfies Jewish concerns. And what is really tiresome is the ubiquitous reduction of World War II to the Holocaust (not generally regarded as a central aspect of the war until the 1960s), as if Jewish suffering is the only suffering that matters and ought to dominate any reference to the period. Churchill and Roosevelt's ally "Uncle Joe" Stalin had already starved seven million Ukranians before the war even began, about which the West did absolutely nothing, yet I don't see Ukranian lobbies agitating that every film set in the 1930s address this. Whatever the flaws of British immigration policy in Palestine, that subject is not the point of The King's Speech, and whoever is behind this attack on the film needs to get over themselves. My own ancestry is part Jewish, but this sort of embarrassing arrogance only makes genuine anti-Semitism harder to refute. I hope that common sense and artistic integrity will triumph over this irresponsible smear campaign and allow The King's Speech to gather the accolades it deserves.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bl John Paul II?

The Vatican has announced that Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) will be beatified on May 1. I'm not happy about this, though I'm glad I'm an Anglican and don't have to accept it. I considered saying so on Facebook but decided it would cause more trouble than it's worth, so I'll say so here. John Paul II was the epitome of everything I dislike about Contemporary Catholicism: clinging fiercely to a few "conservative" positions (mostly regarding sexuality) while eagerly embracing Modernity in many other areas. Give me a "Renaissance" pope with a scandalous private life but a reverence for Tradition, Beauty, and Grandeur over a pseudo-humble modernist "saint" who consolidated liturgical Revolution any day.

The only thing he did that I really liked was beatifying Emperor Karl (1887-1922). OK, he helped his native Poland overcome Communism--but only in the name of "Freedom," not because Communists are implacably opposed to the kind of traditional, hierarchical, non-democratic, monarchical society I believe in but for which he had no more use than they did. His unqualified praise of "Democracy" (barely tolerated by popes before Leo XIII) made that clear. I think his role in the collapse of Communism outside of Poland has been exaggerated. He did nothing to halt the catastrophic decline in Catholic liturgy and music, even embracing some of its worst aspects, only grudgingly trying to accommodate traditionalists in 1988 when Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (1905-1991) forced his hand. He confirmed his immediate predecessors' renunciation of the papal tiara and traditional papal pageantry, his long reign making it much more difficult for a successor to reverse course. The beatification of Emperor Karl was small compensation for his many failures. I'm not one to bang on about the over-hyped priestly sex abuse scandal, but he didn't exactly handle that well either. John Paul II may have been a holy man personally, but that's really not the most important thing for a pope. Beatifying him sets a terrible example--and ought to warn any traditionalists who have been inclined to be overly optimistic since Benedict XVI took over that there will be no retreat from the Vatican II Revolution.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Archduchess Ilona of Austria (1927-2011)

According to an unofficial site on the Grand Ducal House of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, HI&RH Archduchess Ilona of Austria, widow of Georg Duke of Mecklenburg, died this morning in Bad Krozingen. RIP.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Danish Prince and Princess

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark gave birth to twins, a boy and girl, today in Copenhagen. The prince and princess are her and Crown Prince Frederik's third and fourth children. My congratulations to the royal couple. (I do hope they are not really going to call the little prince "Elvis." Perhaps a middle name, but surely not the first?)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wedding Details Revealed

On a happier note, Clarence House has released some information about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. The ceremony will begin at 11 AM and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, with the Bishop of London and Dean of Westminster also playing major roles. Eleven o'clock in London is 5 AM in Dallas, but I'll be up and ready!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Prince Ali-Reza Pahlavi of Iran (1966-2011)

HIH Prince Ali-Reza Pahlavi, second son of the last Shah of Iran, committed suicide in Boston this morning, according to his brother's official website. This is a terrible tragedy for his family, especially his mother Empress Farah, who has now lost two of her four children. Apparently Prince Ali Reza, who was deeply saddened by Iran's suffering since 1979 and more recently by the death of his sister Leila, was never able to come to terms with being exiled from his homeland by the revolution that deposed his father. He can therefore be considered yet another casualty of the evil Islamic Republic of Iran, an illegitimate abomination that has no right to exist and has already claimed so many lives. My heart goes out to his family; may he rest in the peace he was not able to find on Earth.

Nine Kings 1910

I should have compiled this page in time for the centennial of the death of King Edward VII in May 2010, but didn't think of it until tonight. Here is a tribute to one of my favourite photographs of royalty: the nine kings who assembled in London for Edward VII's funeral in 1910. I wish that someone with the power to bring it about had had my idea of re-creating the photo a hundred years later with those kings' present-day heirs.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Austrian Republic still afraid of three-letter word

A European Union court has ruled that the Austrian Republic's law prohibiting the use of the aristocratic "von" (even when legally part of one's name in Germany) is not a violation of Ilonka von Sayn- Wittgenstein's (adoptive daughter of Prince Lothar von Sayn-Wittgenstein) human rights. I would not be anxious to attempt to apply liberal "human rights" doctrine to the defense of nobility, and there may be legitimate questions in this particular case even from a traditional monarchist perspective as to whether the adoption genuinely confers aristocratic status (or even exactly who "Prince Lothar" is!). However, since the prohibition hinders her professional freedom of movement between Austria and Germany (guaranteed to EU residents), the hypocrisy of the republic and the EU is deafening. What are they afraid of?

Nicholas II replaces Lenin

Good news from Russia: in the eastern town of Shushenskoye, a new monument to Tsar Nicholas II has replaced a statue of Lenin. May this symbolic positive development herald a growing appreciation of Russia's imperial past, paving the way for restoration of the monarchy. Bozhe Tsariya Khrani!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Planning the Royal Wedding

Hugo Vickers has an interesting commentary on the complications of planning a royal wedding, informed by his access to the archives regarding Princess Alexandra's marriage in 1963.

Savannah Phillips

Apparently the aforementioned royal great-granddaughter is to be named Savannah.