Saturday, February 26, 2011

English Queens, Russian Tsars

The New York Times reviews Helen Castor's She-Wolves: The Women who Ruled England Before Elizabeth and Solomon Volkov's Romanov Riches: Russian Writers and Artists Under the Tsars. The latter reviewer seems to think Volkov is too nostalgic for Russia's Imperial past, as if that's a bad thing...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monarchs Up, Presidents Down

The New York Times reports the encouraging news that the US government seems to have concluded that the unrest sweeping the Middle East is more likely to topple the region's presidents than its monarchs. One reason for this is that the monarchies have more legitimacy precisely because unlike authoritarian presidents they do not pretend to be "democratic." Another is that while not perfect the monarchies generally do a better job taking care of their people. What's particularly surprising is not so much that this is the case, but that the Obama administration has apparently recognized it. (Thanks to my brother William for calling my attention to this article.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Defending Camilla

Simon Heffer rightly castigates the British public and media for their cruel and absurd treatment of the Prince of Wales and especially his wife the Duchess of Cornwall. I like Charles and Camilla and wholeheartedly agree, being sick of the abuse routinely hurled at them even by people who claim to support the monarchy and would never criticize his mother or his elder son. It is dangerous for monarchists to pin all their hopes on Prince William simply because he is young, handsome, and as yet more or less untouched by scandal. Everyone ages eventually, and the monarchy cannot depend on the youth and glamour of William & Kate. Prince Charles has served his country tirelessly, as has Camilla since their marriage, and they deserve more respect.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prospects for Restoration in Libya?

With the 42-year rule of Colonel Gaddafi (who overthrew King Idris in 1969) hopefully nearing its end, nothing is out of the question for Libya, not even the restoration of the monarchy. Protesters in Stockholm even raised the old monarchical flag at the Libyan embassy. The royal family are not silent: Prince Idris al Senussi talks to CNN about the turmoil in his country; Crown Prince Muhammad al Senussi calls for the removal of Gadaffi. Let's hope that in at least one Middle Eastern country the unrest of 2011 may have a positive result.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Beethoven and George VI

In my review of The King's Speech I criticized the use of the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony as background music for George VI's climactic speech announcing the beginning of war with Germany. I was therefore intrigued by this thoughtful comment (at a blog reached via a link posted by a Facebook Friend) which explicitly defends and reflects on that musical choice, along with some other observations. I'm still not entirely sure I agree, but thought I should present Mr. Kogan's interesting alternative view, which is the only commentary I've seen directly addressing this particular irony.

The Monitor on Monarchies

The Christian Science Monitor has a decent and thorough (albeit slightly patronizing) article on the world's remaining monarchies. It's nice to see monarchies besides Britain's covered in a prominent English-language publication, though the map omits Bhutan. I'm not always sure if contemporary monarchists should be offended by the label "anachronistic," or embrace it. What do readers think?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Borgias

I recently saw an extended preview for Showtime's The Borgias, which stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503), an ancestor of Europe's Catholic royalty through his descendant Luisa de Guzmán (1613-1666) who married King João IV of Portugal. While there will probably be some dramatic departures from historical accuracy, it looks amazing, and I can't wait for the April 3 premiere. (What with The Borgias, HBO's Game of Thrones, and the royal wedding, April is shaping up to be quite the TV month for fans of royal spectacle.) With Irons likely to prove a more convincing lead than Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII, this series promises to outshine The Tudors.

Say what you like about the much-maligned Renaissance popes, but at least they had style, and didn't care about appeasing the iconoclastic "simplicity" crowd (who were already around). Nor did they interfere with the liturgy and teachings of the Church as experienced by ordinary Catholics far from Rome. As I said last month, give me an Alexander VI over a Paul VI any day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Andrew Jackson vs Mr Peanut

I've never really felt that I belonged in the United States, and this article helps to explain why. It's not specifically about monarchy, but monarchy is undeniably part of the Old World heritage that Americanism implicitly rejects. There is nothing more "un-American" than the sentiments behind this blog.

Gaeta remembered

On the occasion of yesterday's 150th anniversary of the fall of Gaeta, last stronghold of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, to Garibaldi's thugs, it seems appropriate to post this article in defense of the legacy of the Italian Bourbons. Down with unified Italy (how exactly is Berlusconi an improvement on the kings of old?), and shame on Vittorio Emanuele II for cooperating with the enemies of his class and his Church!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Middle Eastern developments

With Egypt in turmoil, this September 2010 profile of its rightful ruler is worth re-reading. I am no apologist for the Egyptian regime (itself the heir of the 1952 revolution against King Farouk), but doubt that its fall would lead to anything better. Unfortunately, in a country where 84% of the public reportedly believe in executing converts from Islam to Christianity, "Democracy" may be more likely to lead to an Islamic theocracy than a restoration of the monarchy. However, one can always hope...long live King Fuad II!

Meanwhile, in a response to similar protests in Jordan, King Abdullah II has dismissed the prime minister and appointed a new one. So far there appears to be little opposition to the Jordanian monarchy itself, but it is an uncertain time throughout the Middle East, even more so than usual.

The current wave of protests began in Tunisia, which like Egypt abolished its monarchy in the 1950s, as if more proof were needed that revolutions only lead to more problems. With the American government continuing to trumpet "Democracy" as the solution to all ills, it seems that neither the West nor the peoples of the Middle East have learned anything from history. Past upheavals like the 1979 Iranian Revolution didn't exactly turn out well for "Human Rights." Tunisia should restore King Mohammed X and Egypt King Fuad II, but that would be far too sensible. Apparently the world would rather babble about "Democracy" while radical Islam surges ahead.