Thursday, June 30, 2011

Canadians welcome their future King and Queen

Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Ottawa to a rapturous reception, as reported in both Canadian and British media.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Other Royal Wedding

Meanwhile, the Principality of Monaco is preparing for the wedding of Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock this weekend, with no expense being spared. This will be the first wedding of a reigning European sovereign since that of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Silvia Sommerlath in 1976. Miss Wittstock's transition from South African swimmer to Monegasque princess has reportedly not been without obstacles, but that is sure to change should she and the Prince give Monaco her long-awaited heir.

Romanian president attacks king

President Traian Basescu, who for some reason is allowed to consider himself the head of state of Romania, stunned his country with a vicious attack on former King Michael, 89, who is generally well regarded by Romanians, even non-monarchists. Despite the King having deposed the pro-Axis premier in 1944, only to be deposed at gunpoint by the Communists three years later, Basescu attempted to link the King with both the fascists and the Communists. The King and his mother Queen Helen (1896-1982) did all they could to help Jews during the war, but none of that apparently matters to Basescu. Naturally I condemn the traitor Basescu and his appalling remarks totally. King Michael, the world's last surviving adult head of state from the time of World War II, is a good man who does not deserve such calumny; it is he and not this disgusting common liar who should be Romania's leader still. I call on Romanians to rid themselves not only of this horrid president but of all presidents, and show Basescu exactly what they think of his venomous idiocy by restoring the Monarchy!

Canada's young monarchists

On a happier note, The Ottawa Citizen reports on growing support for the monarchy among young Canadians. The Monarchist League of Canada not only helps coordinate and mobilize this support but is vigilant about correcting errors in the media, as with the Telegraph's bizarre and unverified claim that Canadian monarchists' goal is to install Prince Harry as King in Ottawa. This week Canadians will welcome their future King and Queen, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for their first joint overseas royal tour.

Puritans or Habsburgs

On the occasion of the ninety-seventh anniversary of the assassinations in Sarajevo that provoked the war that all but ended Western Civilisation, this 2007 article "Puritans or Habsburgs" by Paul Gottfried is worth reading, as are Peter Hitchens's reflections (though not specifically monarchist) on what was lost.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dean of Westminster in New York

Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster, who presided at the royal wedding, recently visited New York City to preach at Saint Thomas Church, whose choir school is (along with the Abbey's) one of only two remaining church-affiliated schools exclusively for choristers in the English-speaking world. While in New York he spoke with the Today show about the royal wedding.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Quiet Royal Wedding

Like another commoner who married into a reigning royal family this year, South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock has waited a long time for her prince to propose. Her wedding to Prince Albert II of Monaco on July 2 is unlikely to attract as much media attention as April's, but should still be a splendid event for the principality.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Swedish monarchy under pressure

As The Local reports, the Swedish monarchy is no longer enjoying the glow of favourable publicity that surrounded it a year ago at the time of Crown Princess Victoria's splendid wedding. Questions surround the king's alleged behaviour as described by a recent book, but Swedish royalists are confident the monarchy will survive. Hopefully the media-fueled scandal will eventually subside in a country which cannot reasonably claim today to adhere to traditional Christian sexual morality anyway. My guess is that most ordinary Swedes are not quite as appalled as republicans and the media claim they are and will continue to support their country's ancient monarchy, one of only three European kingdoms (the others being neighbours Denmark and Norway) to have endured without a break since the first millennium. Republicanism is utterly alien to Sweden, which has always been ruled by kings or queens, and must be vigilantly resisted.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Other King's Speech

I'm not one to blindly cheer "democratization," but former Ambassador Marc Ginsberg's article "The King's Speech vs. The Dictator's Deceit" shows how Morocco's King Mohammed VI has shown himself to be far more adaptable and humane than Syria's President Assad as both leaders deal with the current wave of unrest in the Arab world.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Succession "reform," again...

Hopefully these latest efforts to abolish male primogeniture and repeal the Act of Settlement will prove too complicated and go nowhere. Sometimes I find the "modernisers" almost as annoying as republicans. "Fairness" and "Equality" are not the point of a hereditary monarchy. How is it any more fair to favour the eldest child? Doesn't that "discriminate" against younger siblings? (Not to mention people not born into the royal family, as republicans--who are at least consistent, much as I despise them--will point out.) Is there no one in Government who will point this out and obstruct the nonsensical egalitarian agenda?

Asked by a liberal Dutch monarchist to address the point that to him hereditary succession itself seems more rational than favouring males over females, I responded at my forum that one
rational argument is that republicans especially in the Commonwealth countries would do their utmost to turn the necessary debate into one on the very existence of the monarchy itself. Most of us would rather not open that can of worms.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is relatively new, a creation of the post-Napoleonic era, so it is perhaps somewhat more appropriate for it and its even younger neighbour the Kingdom of Belgium to "move with the times" to a certain extent (though I don't really agree with the adoption of equal primogeniture there either). But the British Monarchy with its roots in the ninth century is all about Tradition, and the tradition there has been for male monarchs to be the norm (even if it doesn't quite seem like it due to three female monarchs having had exceptionally long reigns), with queens regnant the exception. Personally as an admirer of Elizabeth I, Victoria, and Elizabeth II I think that female monarchs shine when they are the exception, having come to the throne due to the absence of any (living) brothers.

I would consider it a travesty for Prince William's eldest son to be bypassed by a sister, which with the unique exception of Prince James Stuart (1688-1766) (hardly analogous to the present situation; somehow I doubt the "Glorious Revolution" was motivated by concern for gender equality) has never happened before in the history of the British monarchy. It is natural, and in accord with most monarchical traditions, for the eldest son of a king to expect to be king in turn, and cruel to deny that to him as it has been denied to Prince Carl Philip of Sweden (b 1979) whose sister Crown Princess Victoria (b 1977) would probably have preferred not to be heir to the throne. [In the Netherlands, ruled by Queens since 1890, it's a moot point at present since Prince Willem-Alexander has three daughters and no sons, but in Belgium Princess Elisabeth (b 2001) precedes her brother Prince Gabriel (b 2003), which still seems odd to me.]

Discovering Korea's imperial past

A Washington Post reporter encounters Korea's imperial past in a meeting with Yi Seok, grandson of Emperor Gunjong. It's a melancholy, even tragic article, though the prince's return is uplifting in a way. I often get the idea that modern Asia is even more indifferent to and disconnected from the past than modern Europe. The prince's observation that "Korean people, they don't care about the royal family. They just care about democracy" is like a knife in my heart--but probably true. I just don't understand Modern People, whether Asian or European. For me of course as with most countries there is no legitimate Korea other than royal Korea--and no, the Kims of North Korea don't count! The Asia that is "modern or fast or covered in dingy concrete" is fake and will eventually crumble, probably much sooner than the ancient monarchies did; it certainly deserves to. The real Asia is monarchical and traditional, like the real Europe--but only a minority today still listen to her spirit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Debunking "Progress"

Traditional conservatives William S. Lind (unusual in American right-wing circles for his endearingly idiosyncratic affection for Kaiser Wilhelm II) and William S. Piper propose an alternative narrative of Western history, which includes many points likely to appeal to monarchists, including the proposition that the French Revolution and the fall of the Russian, German, and Austro-Hungarian empires must be regarded as tragedies.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Prince Philip at 90: Videos

Two excellent recent documentaries on the Duke of Edinburgh to mark his 90th birthday, including rare footage of his early life, are now available online: Prince Philip at 90 (Part 2) and The Duke (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5) (Part 6) (Part 7) (Part 8).

Guest Blogger: Choristers and the Royal Wedding

My friend Grayston Burgess of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir to which I belong sent me his thoughts on one aspect of the recent royal wedding. As it's germane to the topic of this blog and I fully agree with him, I'm happy to publish it here.


Like the vast majority of the population I like to take Saturday mornings at a nice easy pace; in fact so easy that I try not to wake up until 9 o'clock at the earliest. I have to tell you that I fail every time to meet my target even though I refuse to open my eyes when I put the radio on in the early hours in the hope that the drone of the morning Overseas News Service and Weather Forecast will send me straight back to sleep again. From then on it's a toss -up whether I snooze, meditate, ruminate or contemplate.

On this particular Saturday I was thinking about the recent Royal Wedding, its colour, its pageantry, its beauty, the crowds, the music – ah the music! Having been Head Chorister at Canterbury and eventually going from there into the profession (indeed I had been a member of Westminster Abbey Choir itself), I have played my part in previous Royal occasions. Like those young choristers I was brought up to perform to high standards of discipline and technique, and was thus able to appreciate the hard work that must have gone into their performance whilst not forgetting the influence of the Master of the Choristers James O'Donnell. With their clear voices still ringing in my memory my subconscious took over and I was suddenly very much awake - “what a stupid thing to say” I declared out loud, opened my eyes and sat up in bed.

I was referring to a piece I had read about the Royal Wedding which rightly praised the wonderful choirs of men and boys of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal but then added “It's probably time for the Monarchy to rectify this ancient bias, perhaps by inaugurating a parallel girls choir”. The next day a different writer added “O what a pity....things would have been even better with female singers”!!

With my background you would hardly have expected me to go along with that kind of thinking, but I have never seen such a deliberate dollop of insane political correctness and frustrated feminism! Most of us are fed up with political correctness just about as much as with some of the the ridiculous Health and Safety rulings which spoil so much of the fun and challenges in our lives, particularly those of our young children.

It is the same political correctness that insists that whatever boys do, girls must do the same, and that a male institution must have its female equivalent however unsuitable that may be. Of course we are all agreed that girls should sing as often as possible, and let us hope the present interest in Choral singing and singing in small ensembles becomes an educational and cultural requirement for all.

However, let us also remember that the sound of a boy's voice is different from a girl's, lasting a mere 5/6 years, before developing into a Counter-tenor, Tenor or Bass. Whereas a girl's voice lasts well into maturity. There is real concern that by mixing the voices of boys and girls, the unique sound of the boy's voice will be lost. Moreover, since we are also denying girls the possibility of developing their own particular style, we are in danger of reaching a creative stalemate.

We should not underestimate the benefits of creative stimulus at an early age and the positive influence that this has in later life. The tragedy is that the opportunity for building lasting self-esteem is being denied to many disaffected young people in our society. The good news is that the potential for artistic and creative success is not merely a bolt-on for those with money and privilege. There are countless musicians, artists, writers and sportsmen and women for whom social disadvantage has not been a handicap. But at some time or another these people will have been inspired to pursue their own particular excellence by their teachers or role models.

The boy chorister is no exception. He is uniquely placed to carry forward a long and distinguished tradition into 21stcentury Britain. He is making and enjoying music – often to very exacting standards – with boys of his own age, whilst at the same time being part of an adult world. We must not deprive him of the opportunity to scale his particular heights, or the evocative “Once in Royal David's City” and “Oh for the wings of a Dove” will be lost for ever.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Trooping the Colour

Today is Her Majesty's official birthday, marked by the annual Trooping the Colour parade, of which the Mail has great pictures and the BBC has great video. This is the sort of spectacle that makes Britain truly Great, even with all the problems of the 21st century. I never fail to be moved and impressed by the greatest pageantry on earth; no one does it like the British, and I wish the UK were my country. Given that I live in the US however, I regret that I could not be present in Los Angeles last night for the LA monarchists' Grand Birthday Celebration; I'm sure it too was a splendid event.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Prince Philip at 90

HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, long one of my favourite members of the British Royal Family due in part to his refreshing lack of deference to the plague of political correctness that suffocates most public discourse today, turned 90 today. Amusing as his so-called "gaffes" are, however, what's more important is his lifetime of service to the monarchy and his country, to which many commentators including Peter Oborne, Tom Utley, and Ed West have paid tribute. As the oldest and longest-serving consort in British history, the Queen's husband has surely earned the right to finally "wind down," as he said he would in a recent interview. I hope Prince Philip enjoys many more years in which to finally relax a bit, and congratulate HRH on his milestone birthday and his richly deserved new honour of Lord High Admiral. Additionally, the Canadian government has appointed HRH an honorary admiral and general in Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces.

The Duke has been a fixture in British public life for so long (since his engagement to then-Princess Elizabeth in July 1947) that many people probably do not realize that he was born a member of the Greek royal family, the youngest child and only son of Prince Andrew of Greece (1882-1944) and Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969). At Andrew & Alice's 1903 wedding the guests included her aunt and uncle Empress Alexandra and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, providing a startlingly close connection between present British and long-gone Russian royalty. Contrary to the stereotype of royalty having "privileged" childhoods, Prince Philip had to be smuggled out of Greece in an orange crate as a baby due to political instability affecting his father and grew up moving from place to place relying on various relatives without a true home of his own, his parents estranged and his mother suffering from deafness and mental illness. Being born a Prince of Greece in the 20th century was no guarantee of safety, let alone privilege, but as a member of first the Royal Navy and then the British royal family Prince Philip has made his own mark on the world, to the benefit of countless people affected by the causes he's championed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Encouraging Signs?

Restorationist monarchists don't often have cause for optimism (especially when even generally popular and stable existing monarchies like Sweden's are currently having a rough time). Yet recent articles report growing support for restoration of monarchies in both Serbia and Libya. Could one or both of these nations enjoy the Return of the King in the not too distant future? Let's hope so; a restoration anywhere in the second decade of the 21st century would do wonders for the monarchist cause worldwide, proving that monarchy does not belong only to the past but also to the future, and even providing cause for hope that this century might be an improvement upon its horrid predecessor.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Choirs and the Crown

Earlier this year I agreed to donate a lecture on the British Monarchy for the Church of the Incarnation Chancel Choir's fundraising auction. My friend Ann Peak, also a member of the choir, bid on the item and won it; we agreed to narrow down the topic to the relationship between the Monarchy and the Anglican Choral Tradition. On May 23, she hosted my lecture at her mother's house for an appreciative group of friends. A complete transcript is available at my website, which I hope readers will enjoy.