Friday, March 30, 2012

Remembering the Queen Mother

Ten years ago today, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother died peacefully at the age of 101. At the time, as a graduate student in New York City, I was saddened not only that her remarkable life (which encompassed the death of Queen Victoria and 9/11) had drawn to a close but also that I could not be among the huge crowds that assembled in London to pass through Westminster Hall and pay tribute to her memory before her April 9 funeral. While I can't confirm the quotation exactly, I believe it was said of her that "while most famous people can make you feel like the day you meet them is the most important day in your life, the Queen Mother made you feel like it was the most important day in hers." Today her family gathered at St George's Chapel to celebrate her long life and that of her daughter Princess Margaret who also died in 2002. The mood was enhanced by the news that Peter and Autumn Phillips have presented the Queen with her second great-grandchild, Isla Elizabeth Phillips, born last night in Gloucestershire and 13th in line to the throne.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

King George Tupou V (1948-2012)

It is with sorrow that I learn of the death at 63 of George Tupou V, who had been King of Tonga since 2006. King Tupou was widely admired for relinquishing absolute power to oversee the evolution of a democratic constitutional monarchy, a move perhaps not without dangers from a traditionalist perspective but one which seems to have had some success without eliminating royal influence. Much of the world probably saw HM for the first time last year as one of the most prestigious foreign guests making his way down the aisle of Westminster Abbey at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. As the unmarried King had no legitimate children (a daughter lives in Auckland), he is succeeded by his brother ʻAhoʻeitu ʻUnuakiʻotonga Tukuʻaho, 52. I know readers will want to keep the royal family and people of Tonga in their thoughts and prayers during this time of transition. The King is Dead; Long Live the King!

Update: See the official Tongan government memorial page and also this article and video on the funeral.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Maria Vladimirovna on Monarchy

As the 400th anniversary of the end of the Time of Troubles (1605-13) and the establishment of the Romanov Dynasty approaches, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna released this address to the people who ought to be her subjects. At a time when it too often seems that most of the would-be occupants of vacant thrones have little or no interest in restoration, it is refreshing to see one of them commit explicitly to that beautiful goal, not for her own benefit but for that of her country. Long live Empress Maria I!

The Head of the Imperial House is not, as some mistakenly believe, a “pretender to the throne,” but is rather the hereditary head of a familial institution that preserves the ideas and traditions of the millennium-long monarchical Family-State that is Russia.

For the Imperial House to abjure the idea of a monarchy is as senseless as the Church abjuring faith in God. For me to betray the centuries-old ideals of our Ancestors for the sake of some short-term political advantage would be debasing, hypocritical, and dishonorable. I am sure that this is understood not only by those who share my beliefs, but also by those who do not.

I affirm my belief that legitimate hereditary monarchy is the only form of government that is divinely ordained, and I am convinced that it is compatible with any age, including our own, and could be suitable for and useful to our multi-national country.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Philipp Prinz von Preussen for Restoration

Kudos to Prince Philipp Kirill of Prussia, 43, the great-great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II (and himself the father of six children ranging in age from 16 to 6) who if his parents' marriage were regarded as dynastic would be heir to the German and Prussian thrones, for taking advantage of the recent disgrace of the German president to advocate the restoration of the German monarchy, ensuring at the very least that the issue is raised in public discourse, even reaching the British and American media. As he points out, Germans after 93 years of various kinds of non-monarchical regimes remain interested in events such as royal weddings, including that of his cousin Prince Georg Friedrich last summer. Germans would do well to listen to Prince Philipp, if their politicians and their rigid republican constitution will ever let them. Below is my comment at The Local, answering the question posed by the headline "Should Germany bring back the royal family?":

Absolutely! The beauty and glamor of a royal restoration would be exactly what Germany needs to finally repudiate the disastrous 20th century. The destruction of the German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies in 1918 led to nothing but suffering. Now today Germans are stuck with a drab and corrupt presidency that inspires no one and recently has been a source only of embarrassment...yet they are obliged to pay not only for the new president but for all his predecessors! Fortunate countries like the United Kingdom have only one head of state to pay for--and she's still working, brilliantly. Monarchy can bring a nation together like no politician ever could--look at the worldwide joyous enthusiasm last year for royal weddings, which despite 93 years of official contempt for royalty (the one thing Nazis, Communists, and democratic republicans have in common) included even many Germans with their own Georg Friedrich and Sophie. Monarchy is not out of date--contemporary monarchies such as Britain's have fully embraced Facebook, YouTube, etc--and can be as relevant today as it ever was, perhaps even more valuable than ever before as a source of continuity and tradition in an often bewildering and frightening age. Long live the House of Hohenzollern and all Germany's ancient dynasties!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Marie Antoinette myths debunked

While I personally would love it if America's national anthem were still "God Save the Queen," I'm pleased to see author Juliet Grey in the Huffington Post demonstrating more concern for historical accuracy than certain Republican presidential candidates, with "Busting Marie Antoinette Myths: Seven Things She Never Did."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Philosopher Prince

As promised a month ago, Rod Dreher delivers perhaps the most thoughtful article on the Prince of Wales ever published in an American magazine. For years Prince Charles has been maligned and misunderstood by both sides of the political spectrum; it's refreshing to see a serious political magazine, and an American one at that, take him seriously and appreciate what he has to offer. "Conservatives" who dismiss the heir to the throne as "left-wing" are likely to be the sort who equate conservatism with unfettered free-market capitalism. They're not, in fact, the same thing, and it's the Prince's "revolutionary anti-modernist" vision (as exemplified by Poundbury of which some lovely pictures are posted on the thread at my forum discussing Dreher's article) that is more in touch with the transcendent truths conservatism used to defend than that of his glib libertarian critics.

Strictly constitutional monarchists like Charles Moore might be forgiven for wondering how the future King Charles III will reconcile his propensity for sharing his often controversial opinions with the role of an impartial constitutional monarch, but the point is that Charles is not yet the monarch. As the longest-serving heir to the throne in British history, he has had to invent a role for himself, choosing to speak up for causes that might not be championed by politicians but nevertheless resonate with many ordinary people when he might have chosen a "safe" life of innocuous royal duties and relative leisure (in which case he would have been criticized for "not doing anything"). While part of me is frankly sympathetic to the idea of a more politically active monarch unafraid to stand up for the interests of the countryside against soulless urban modernists, I am sure that when the time comes--probably not until he is a rather elderly man himself expecting a relatively short reign--he will take on the very different duties of Sovereign gracefully, having spent the bulk of his life as a uniquely conscientious Prince of Wales whose endeavors have made a positive difference in the lives of many of his future subjects and whose ideas are well worth considering.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

For God and King

Back in December I blogged about the forthcoming film The War of the Vendée from independent Catholic studio Navis Pictures, which was released on February 24 (the 219th anniversary of the Republic's decree of conscription that was the last straw for the Vendeans). Yesterday my copy arrived in the mail so I was able to watch the movie myself. Anyone who compared this film unfavorably to big-budget Hollywood productions would be missing the point. Yes, it is a bit odd that all the cast are children or teenagers (though as director Jim Morlino pointed out in an interview, most of the actual Vendeans were relatively young themselves). Yes, there are some unintentionally amusing scenes, such as when a heroic Vendean girl successfully intimidates a couple of even younger republican soldiers with a rolling pin (if only it had been that easy!), and what is almost certainly the only depiction ever of Robespierre with braces (and, at one moment, digitally enhanced glowing red eyes, in case we didn't know he's evil). Traditionalists might be slightly uncomfortable with a concluding paean to "Religious Liberty." (Were the Vendeans fighting for religious freedom in the modern sense, or for the faith that they believed was the one and only Truth which the state ought to acknowledge as it did under the ancien regime?)

But I think in the end all that pales compared to the admirable sincerity and zeal of these beautiful young Catholic performers in bringing to the screen for the first time the tragic and heroic story of the Vendée, arguably the first modern genocide, and in introducing the royalist perspective on the French Revolution to American viewers (especially Catholics) who may not be accustomed to associating loyalty to one's heavenly king with loyalty to one's earthly king. [For a review by a prominent Catholic priest, see WDTPRS. For a thoughtful interview with Morlino and Paul Reilly, 16, who stars as Jacques Cathelineau (1759-1793) see The Remnant.] As a musician I also appreciated the stirring orchestral score by Kevin Kaska, especially the lyrical cello solos, perhaps the one area in which The War of the Vendée is fully comparable with major studio releases.

I believe any monarchist, regardless of religious beliefs, will be genuinely moved as I was by this tale of resistance to the terror of the French Revolution, as brave young men and women react with horror and boldly refuse to accept the imprisonment and murder of their King Louis XVI, even at one point hoping to liberate and crown his young son Louis XVII. Perhaps it will even eventually inspire someone with more resources to take on the task of bringing the story of the Vendée to the screen at the epic blockbuster level it deserves (which to be truly honest about the horrific reality of the Revolution would need to not be as "family-friendly"). I encourage all readers to support this worthwhile endeavor by buying a DVD from the website, or even arranging permission for a public screening if possible. Never forget that the French Republic (which has never acknowledged its guilt and continues to this day to celebrate its evil Revolution which has been the source of so much suffering for more than two centuries) remains stained by the blood of the martyrs of the Vendée. Only restoration of France's ancient Catholic Monarchy can cleanse that once-great nation of the sins of the Revolution. Vive le Roi!

"Mes amis, si j'avance, suivez-moi! Si je recule, tuez-moi! Si je meurs, vengez-moi!"
--Henri de la Rochejaquelein (1772-1794)

Lord St John of Fawsley (1929-2012)

One of Britain's most colourful and devoted monarchists, Lord St John of Fawsley (the former MP Norman St John-Stevas) has died at the age of 82. His fascinating Telegraph obituary contains many delightful anecdotes, such as his response when he was accused of being a "compulsive name-dropper": "The Queen said exactly the same to me yesterday." St John-Stevas, unlike some of those I've argued with online over the years, was a devout Roman Catholic who had no trouble combining loyalty to the British Royal Family with loyalty to the Papacy. The world is surely a slightly less interesting place without him. Requiescat in pace.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Prince Harry in the Caribbean

Prince Harry certainly seems to be enjoying himself in Belize, one of his grandmother's 15 Commonwealth Realms, where he is representing her as part of the Diamond Jubilee. The people of Belize are clearly enjoying welcoming him as well. What is clear from this video though is that far from mere frivolity Prince Harry's well-deserved popularity, charm, and sense of humour are invaluable assets in the public relations of the monarchy. Everyone who cares about the future of the Crown in the Commonwealth Realms should be grateful to Prince Harry, who concluded his visit to Belize by laying a memorial wreath at a memorial to British soldiers and now goes on to the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Brazil.

Meanwhile, back in Britain, only two months after heart surgery his 90-year-old grandfather Prince Philip is back to carriage driving. Three generations of royal women, the Queen, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duchess of Cambridge delighted staff, dignitaries, and award recipients at Fortnum & Mason. Encouragingly, growing enthusiasm for the Diamond Jubilee suggests that it may be even more popular than last year's triumphant royal wedding.

My Royal Memorabilia

I'm grateful to a symphony colleague who sold me (at a very reasonable price) three wonderful items to add to my collection of British royal memorabilia: a King George VI & Queen Elizabeth plate and mug, and rarest of all, a tray for the coronation of King Edward VIII that never happened. Here they all are, covering royal history from 1897 to 2011; the only monarch of the past 175 years not represented is King George V (1910-36). Hopefully I'll acquire a comparable item from his reign one day.

(L-R): Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee cup (1897), King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra Coronation cup (1902), King Edward VIII Coronation tray (1936), King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Coronation plate and mug (1937), two Queen Elizabeth II Coronation plates (1953), Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee plate (1977), Charles & Diana wedding plate (1981), William & Catherine wedding plate (2011).

Republics vs Monarchies: Expenses Compared

Radical Royalist points out that despite having resigned in disgrace after less than two years in office, the former President of Germany (how painful it is even to type those three words!) will receive an annual pension of nearly 200,000 euros, as well as an office, staff, and chauffeur-driven limousine, all of which Germany's five other living ex-presidents or widows also receive. None of this is considered an argument against Germany's republican constitution. Yet "British" republicans dare to complain about the alleged cost of the British monarchy, with only one head of state to pay for--and she's still working. The mind boggles.

Friday, March 2, 2012

News Flash: Democracy Doesn't Work

In a conclusion unlikely to come as a surprise to monarchists, researchers at Cornell University have determined that democracies rarely if ever pick the best leaders because most people are incapable of identifying mastery of topics about which they are ignorant themselves. Yet modern history suggests that a dictatorial regime entrusted to "experts" like the faculty of Cornell is unlikely to be preferable. What's left? Hereditary monarchy, of course! (I have no objection to the Crown being supplemented by an elected legislature, since with many legislators each selected by a local constituency at least some of them are likely to be more decent and competent than a single winner of a nationwide election, if only via the law of averages.) I disagree only with the last sentence claiming that democracies "effectively prevent lower-than-average candidates from becoming leaders." Really?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Afonso V at the Meadows

Tonight I took advantage of Thursday evening free admission to make my first visit (I'm sure I'll be back, hopefully next time with my fellow monarchist who comments here as "Flambeaux") to the new exhibition The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries at Dallas's incomparable Meadows Museum. These magnificent lavish works of art, preserved since the 17th century at the Collegiate Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción in Pastrana in the Spanish province of Guadalajara, depict the 1471 conquest of Asilah and Tangier in Morocco by King Afonso V of Portugal (1432-1481) and his son Prince João (1455-1495), the future King João II, who was only 16 at the time.

As I walked into the room I was overwhelmed by the colorful richness of the four huge splendid tapestries, one on each wall, which fully convey the chivalrous glory of a European civilization that believed in itself and in loyalty to God and King. While the Flemish weavers apparently did not know what North African Islamic buildings looked like, otherwise the wealth of historical detail is impressive, and unusual at a time when tapestries normally depicted religious or mythological scenes rather than contemporary events. The vanished brilliance of the Portuguese Monarchy, with the King and his young Heir depicted as brave and heroic leaders, makes the past century of republicanism all the more pathetic by comparison, as I ventured to remark to a museum guide who observed that neighboring Spain certainly did well to restore its King. How anyone could view these tapestries and not long for Portugal to have a royal family again is beyond me. There are not many places in Dallas where a monarchist can feel at home, but the Meadows Museum is one of them. I highly recommend this exhibit, which is definitely worth seeing more than once, to any readers living near or able to visit the Dallas area before May 13 when it closes.

Downton Abbey: Un-American?

Via Tea at Trianon I learned of recent articles by quasi-Jacobin "Catholic" commentators Santiago Ramos and James Martin SJ helpfully informing us that U.S. fans of Downton Abbey should feel guilty because it's "un-American" and celebrates "income inequality" and "Noblesse Oblige," as if those were all bad things. It is truly sad to see the extent to which essentially Marxist premises and thinking have penetrated the Christian Churches in our time. Lord, spare us from Marxists masquerading as Christians!

First of all, if Downton Abbey is "un-American" (whatever that means), then that's one reason I love it so much! Too many American Christians seem to assume that their bizarre artificial country with its revolutionary founding by hypocritical traitors is God's gift to the world, some sort of ideal nation against which everything should be measured. While individual Americans have certainly been capable of great goodness and beauty, it isn't. But more broadly, the assumption that inequality is inherently wrong, something that a Christian should be ashamed of, is perhaps the single most wicked and destructive lie of modern times. To be sure, Christians are supposed to care for the poor. But there is all the difference in the world between voluntarily caring for the poor (who Jesus said "you shall always have with you") and attempting to use the State to wipe out all inequality so that no one is rich and no one is poor, an impossible dream which inevitably leads to even more suffering, as the experiences of those nations unfortunate enough to fall to Communism ought to demonstrate. The truth that leftists and Americanists don't wish to face is that (as the non-leftist Catholic website Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites tirelessly maintains) elites of some kind are inevitable. There will always be some sort of elite, even when "elitism" is officially condemned. The Soviet Union had an elite, whose lives were considerably more comfortable than those of the vast majority of Soviet citizens. As indicated above I personally dislike the leaders of the American Revolution, but they were undoubtedly an elite. Since elites of some sort necessarily exist, the only real questions are whether we are going to be honest about it, and whether their members are to be shaped and motivated by worthy, charitable, Christian principles (as royal saints such as Louis IX & Elizabeth of Hungary were, and Downton's fictional Earl of Grantham is) or less admirable materialistic ones such as most of the the dominant contemporary elites seem to be.

But even if inequality and elites could be done away with, should they be? Absolutely not! For the truth is that virtually everything good and beautiful in human civilization depends on inequality. Without elites to fund it, there would be precious little great art, architecture, or music. Without elites and their "lavish lifestyles," those (like me) whose gifts best equip them to produce expensive and labor-intensive products or services would have no livelihood. Without elites, the Church would not be able to build magnificent edifices for the worship of God. While there is much to criticize in the contemporary capitalist global economy (built I might add on the ruins of the old monarchical and aristocratic order I prefer), as a classical musician whose profession depends for its very survival on the generosity of the wealthy I weary of the "Occupy" assumption that the rich are inherently wicked for being rich and it would be better if their wealth were confiscated. Virtually everything worth seeing in Europe--castles, cathedrals, palaces, museums, opera houses, and yes, grand country estates such as Downton Abbey--is a product (whether directly or indirectly) of inequality. Even today, their power and status much diminished, conscientious royalty and aristocrats, whose families have shaped the destiny of Europe for more than a thousand years, continue to contribute to society and make a positive difference to the lives of ordinary people in ways that would never be possible in some dreary egalitarian utopia. Thank God for Inequality!