Friday, October 26, 2012

Spanish heir "out of touch"?

Spanish anti-royalists are really scraping the bottom of the barrel. Now they're criticizing Prince Felipe for...apparently not immediately realizing upon exiting a friend's funeral that a woman extending her hand was a beggar and shaking her hand instead of giving her money. Shocking!  To be honest, I, unlike the Prince, usually ignore beggars completely.  I suspect most of the Prince's critics do too.  Is that what they would have preferred?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah

As long as I'm crediting family members, I'd like to thank my brother William for recommending the lavish and thoroughly enjoyable Bollywood epic Jodhaa Akbar, about the legendary Mughal Emperor of India Akbar the Great (1542-1605) and his Hindu wife Jodhaa.  Below is one of my favorite scenes, in which loyal subjects from throughout India sing praises to their sovereign, who was a model of skill, vision, magnanimity, and tolerance, a Muslim ruler who respected all religions in a part of the world which has not always known such qualities since.  Full of exuberance, colour, and joy, this is what a magnificently monarchist song-and-dance spectacular looks like, even if towards the end there is an ominous sign of the truth that uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.  (I recommend watching this clip full screen, with the volume fairly high, for maximum impact.)

Frederick the Great at Carnegie Hall

My alert mother Susan Raccoli called my attention to this New York Times review of a concert I'm sure I've would have enjoyed celebrating the music of Prussia's remarkable King Frederick the Great (1712-1786) and the composers he sponsored.  "In a country where eliminating public support for the arts can be used as a campaign stop applause line, it may seem unthinkable, but there was a time when a court prima donna pulled a greater government salary than a cabinet minister.  Frederick II’s Prussia, in which this fantastical situation was reality, was one of history’s great musical hotbeds. The king was a composer and flutist so devoted to the arts that as an 18-year-old prince he tried to escape to England rather than accept his father’s restrictions on his playing."  "It is amazing that a king wrote music that can be played without embarrassment centuries later at Carnegie Hall, and Frederick’s Flute Concerto No. 3 in C is sprightly and fluent."  I discussed Frederick's contributions to music in a 2002 paper as a graduate student at Juilliard.  Even when kings were not as talented as Frederick was, they generally cared about artistic excellence and wanted to be associated with art of the highest quality, a trait sadly but (for monarchists) unsurprisingly lacking in today's democratic politicians who prefer to pander to the lowest common denominator.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Defending Tsarist Russia

I'm a little disappointed in Peter Hitchens, normally one of my favourite British political commentators.  In a passage mainly about Cuba, he deflected criticism that by attacking Castro he defends Batista with the analogy, "No more do I defend the Tsarist autocracy which ruled Russia before the Bolshevik revolution," adding later (provocatively for monarchist readers) that "[i]f Russia had had only the February Revolution of 1917, and not the October putsch, it would have been saved from a long nightmare."  As I just wrote in a comment at his blog,

Well why not? I do. Tsarist Russia has been unfairly maligned by leftist propaganda for more than a century and as a staunch monarchist I am always sorry to see otherwise discerning right-wingers falling for it. Consider this observation from a 1998 letter to The Independent from Oleg Goridevsky:

Russia under Nicholas II, with all the survivals of feudalism, had opposition political parties, independent trade unions and newspapers, a rather radical parliament and a modern legal system. Its agriculture was on the level of the USA, with industry rapidly approaching the West European level.

In the USSR there was total tyranny, no political liberties and practically no human rights. Its economy was not viable; agriculture was destroyed. The terror against the population reached a scope unprecedented in history.

No wonder many Russians look back at Tsarist Russia as a paradise lost.

What is often overlooked is that after the 1905 upheavals subsided, conditions were actually improving considerably in Tsarist Russia and very well might have continued to do so had it not been for the 1914-18 War you rightly mourn as the end of traditional European civilisation. Imperial Russia had its flaws, but they were not insurmountable, and it deserves better [from conservatives]. Nicholas II was a good man who loved his country and served it to the best of his ability. As Dominic Lieven points out in his excellent biography, he was neither as weak nor as unintelligent as commonly thought. I cannot accept any abolition of any monarchy for any reason; Kerensky's republic might have been more tolerable than Communism (anything would be), but it was essentially no more legitimate than the USSR--or Putin's regime today.


I might have added that while I can't endorse every point of this defense of Nicholas II and Tsarist Russia by a Russian Orthodox priest, it is worth reading as a counterbalance to the mountain of calumnies commonly hurled at pre-1917 Russia.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, political hype has reached a fever pitch difficult even for determined non-voters to ignore.  With that in mind I conclude this entry on Russia (thanks to the Mad Monarchist) with a pertinent observation from the great Tsarist Russian conservative statesman Konstantin Pobedonostsev (1827-1907):

“In a Democracy, the real rulers are the dexterous manipulators of votes, with their placemen, the mechanics who so skillfully operate the hidden springs which move the puppets in the arena of democratic elections. Men of this kind are ever ready with loud speeches lauding equality; in reality, they rule the people as any despot or military dictator might rule it.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Guillaume & Stephanie II

I hadn't sent an alarm, but nevertheless found myself up by 4:00 AM this morning to watch the two-hour religious ceremony at Luxembourg's Notre Dame Cathedral live via  I'm glad I did as it was a beautiful service with a glittering array of royal guests in attendance.  Being a musician, I noted with approval (while wishing I could have been one of the three cellists in the orchestra) the choices of Gigout's Grand Choeur Dialogue for the processional, Mozart's Missa Brevis in C as the mass setting, anthems by Mendelssohn and Handel (the famous Hallelujah Chorus), and the Finale from Guilmaunt's Symphony in D Minor for the recessional, though I do wish that TV commentators (whether American, British, or Luxembourgish) would not feel at liberty to talk so much during the music.

Bride Countess Stephanie (now HRH Hereditary Grand Duchess), who looked every inch the beautiful fairytale princess, was escorted down the aisle by her brother Count Jehan de Lannoy, as their father Count Philippe at 90 is a bit old for such a role.  (Stephanie is the youngest of eight children.)  Touchingly, they stopped to share a moment with him upon reaching the altar and the service began with a minute of silence in honour of their mother Countess Alix (1941-2012) who died in August.  The Catholic nuptial liturgy, celebrated with dignity by Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, was conducted mostly in French with some Latin and a few greetings and prayers in English (presumably for the benefit of international guests and viewers).  Afterwards, the bride and groom appeared on the palace balcony where they delighted cheering crowds with kisses and were subsequently joined by the rest of the grand ducal family.  I congratulate Their Royal Highnesses and wish them and their families all the best. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Guillaume & Stephanie I

Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy exchanged civil vows at Luxembourg's town hall, mingling afterwards with enthusiastic crowds.  I only caught the tail end of the live stream, but video highlights are available here and here.  I usually wish I were British, but this weekend would be quite happy to be Luxembourgish.  The couple's relaxed, warm, and happy demeanour is clearly reciprocated by their future subjects.  There is not much of a sense of pressure; everyone is just having a good time.  Blessed in many ways and enjoying its rare turn in the spotlight this weekend, Luxembourg is truly a fortunate country to have Guillaume & Stephanie as its future grand ducal couple.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

J K Rowling defends the Crown

Though a longtime fan of Harry Potter, I've been critical of some of author J K Rowling's other political beliefs.  So it's a relief to know that unlike the actor who played her most famous character in the movies, in this interview with Jon Stewart (starting at about 26:30) she demonstrates an admirably concise understanding of one important benefit of the Crown (its separation of State from Government), even suggesting that what the USA needs is "a monarch" and the Queen would be glad to have us back!  (Thanks to my brother William for the link.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

King Norodom Sihanouk (1922-2012)

Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk, father of the present sovereign, died in Beijing today at the age of 89, ending a remarkable life (pictures).  I remember how happy I was as a 15-year-old royalist when he was restored to the throne in 1993, having already been at the center of Cambodian politics off and on for more than half a century; at the time I assumed this restoration would be the first of many.  RIP.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Only Candidate We Need

Dictators Go, Monarchs Stay

I am not a fan of American neoconservative Democracy projects, but this article by former Bush administration security adviser Elliott Abrams nevertheless makes good points comparing monarchies to republics in the Middle East.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Cathedral is Full!

An advantage of living in a small monarchy: members of the Luxembourg general public will be able to attend the October 20 wedding of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Countess Stephanie de Lannoy, though unsurprisingly the first-come-first-served tickets quickly ran out.  For those lucky guests, the sense of their grand duchy as one extended family led by the royals will be beautifully reinforced even more strongly than usual.  Those not inside the cathedral will still be able to watch on large screens in the nearby Place Guillaume, where the newlyweds will mingle with the crowds.

Newcastle's Luckiest Lad

Visiting Newcastle on her first official visit to England's Northeast, the Duchess of Cambridge gave a cheeky ten-year-old boy who stretched out his arms a hug--and a magical moment he'll remember for the rest of his life.  Would children be nearly as excited about a president's granddaughter-in-law?  Republicans want to deprive children like Terry Campbell of unique experiences like this.  Remember that next time they claim to speak for "ordinary people."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Prince Albert of Saxony (1934-2012)

Prince Albert of Saxony, the last surviving male-line grandson of the last King of Saxony, has died in Munich at the age of 77, less than three months after his brother Maria Emanuel who had been the last undisputed head of the family.  In recent years there has been some controversy over the succession to the Saxon throne, which my friend Arturo Beéche explains in detail at Eurohistory.  This blog, like Mr. Beéche's, supports the late Maria Emanuel's adoption of his nephew Alexander (son of Princess Maria Anna and Lebanese aristocrat Robert de Afif and himself married to Princess Gisela of Bavaria) as heir (accepted by the entire family in 1997, though some members including Albert subsequently reneged on the agreement) and so hails him as Margrave of Meissen and rightful King Alexander I of Saxony.   Two thousand twelve has been a sad year for the Royal House of Saxony. Princess Maria Anna (b 1929) died on March 13, Prince Maria Emanuel Margrave of Meissen (b 1926) on July 23, and Prince Albert (b 1934) on October 6. They were all children of Prince Friedrich Christian (1893-1968), son and heir of King Friedrich August III (1865-1932). Only their sisters Princess Maria Josepha, 84, and Princess Mathilde, 76, survive of this generation of Saxon royalty.  May all three departed dynasts rest in peace.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Discreet Tonic of Monarchy

From a European site comes this relatively encouraging article about monarchism in Romania as King Michael's grandson Nicholas, 27, moves from Britain to Romania.  While the lack of momentum towards formal restoration in the Balkans over the past two decades since the fall of Communism has been frustrating for monarchists, it is clear that many Romanians have not forgotten their royal family. But what will it take for this land of rich history and beauty to take the leap to become once again the Kingdom of Romania? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

King & Queen of Sweden in Minnesota

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are visiting the U.S. state of Minnesota, known for its Scandinavian immigrant history, this weekend.   They were welcomed at the American Swedish Institute, where a little girl presented the Queen with flowers, and toured its new Nelson Cultural Center.  Today they visit Gustavus Adolphus College in St Peter to celebrate its 150th anniversary, and tomorrow return to the ASI for a dedication and gala dinner.  This is an exciting weekend for Minnesotans of Swedish heritage!  (Note to "Swedish" republicans: would anyone in Minnesota care about a foreign president visiting?  Probably not.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Princess Maria Krystyna of Altenburg (1923-2012)

Princess Maria Krystyna of Altenburg, daughter of Archduke Karl Albrecht of Austria (1888-1951), of the Polish branch of the Habsburgs, and his Swedish morganatic wife Alice Ankarcrona (1889-1985), died yesterday in Poland at the age of 88.  As obituaries at blogs such as Royal Musings and Eurohistory make clear, her long life was deeply affected by the vicissitudes of the twentieth century, but it ended peacefully in the same town where she was born, Maria Krystyna having become a popular local figure living in a small apartment on what had been her father's estate.  Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Chinese Imperial Family Reunion

Even more so than most non-reigning royal families, relatives of China's last Emperor, Pu Yi (1906-1967), tend to keep a low profile.  Recently, however, many of them gathered to celebrate a new series of books about the imperial family.  Sadly, the article as well as some of its comments show how successful Communist anti-imperial indoctrination has been, even among the relatives themselves.  The fall of the ancient Chinese monarchy in 1911-12 was one of the first signs of how horrible the 20th century would be.  Even a relentlessly optimistic (at least publicly) monarchist like me has a hard time seeing how Imperial China could ever be restored.  RIP Pu Yi.