Thursday, January 31, 2013

Monarchies, Republics, and the "Arab Spring"

Fareed Zakaria explains in the Washington Post why the kingdoms of Morocco and Jordan have handled recent tumult in the Middle East better than the republics of Egypt and Libya.  If only Egyptians and Libyans would listen, and restore their own monarchies!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Royal Blogger

The late King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia (1922-2012) had many distinctions, one of which was being surely the first king to blog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima

The Dutch Royal House has confirmed that it's to be King Willem-Alexander I (not Willem IV as traditionalists like me would have preferred) and Queen Maxima, hopefully putting to rest rumors that Maxima would not be titled queen.  Also, the Dutch national day will move in 2014 from April 30 to April 27, the by-then-king's actual birthday, and the children of Princess Margriet will no longer be in line for the throne or members of the Royal House, though their titles will not change.   

Incidentally this will be only the second time a European kingdom has changed hands since I've been old enough to follow royal news (the first time being Belgium in 1993, almost twenty years ago, when I was 15).   While Juliana was still Queen when I was born, Beatrix has been on the throne for longer than anyone my age or younger can remember, so this will be quite a momentous transition.

Beatrix to Abdicate

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has just announced in a televised address to the nation that she will abdicate on 30 April, making her reign exactly 33 years. Congratulations Your Majesty on exemplary service to your country and people. And good luck to the future Willem IV, who will become the first King of the Netherlands since 1890.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Thought for the Day: On Conservatism and Monarchy

Conservatism (whether a good thing in general or not) can be coherent only in a country that is either a monarchy, or a republic that was founded as a republic (e.g. Switzerland, the United States): that is, in a country that since independence has preserved its basic constitutional order, whatever other political, social, and cultural developments (and they may be profound and substantial without rendering conservatism irrelevant) have occurred within that structure.  Once a country's monarchy is abolished and a republic is firmly established, genuine political conservatism (for what is the point of conservatism without continuity?) is effectively abolished as well, though cultural and religious conservatism may persist.

If conservatives (as is their unfortunate tendency) eventually accept and defend the new republican order (sadly, no longer so new in most cases), they have broken with at least some of the fundamental values of their nation as it existed for decades or even centuries prior to the fall of the monarchy, and would not be recognized as kindred spirits by conservatives of that time.  They perpetuate a regime whose foundation is intrinsically revolutionary (having sought to abolish the old order of things and build a new one, the essence of leftism) and under which those who identify emotionally with the pre-revolutionary past must always be strangers.  But if on the other hand conservatives advocate the restoration of the Monarchy, and therefore undermine (even peacefully) the existing constitutional settlement, they are no longer behaving as conservatives.

In other words, if one lives in a republic that used to be a monarchy, either one can act in a conservative manner, or be true to traditional conservative principles, but not both.  So while we may speak of British conservatives, Spanish conservatives, Swiss conservatives, or even American conservatives (though I am not one), there are today no such creatures as German conservatives, or Austrian conservatives, or Portuguese conservatives, but only varying degrees of liberals.  Anyone in such a country who would not be a liberal must identify as reactionary or counterrevolutionary, or eschew ideological labeling entirely, longing for the Return of the King.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Former People

Taki has a great column inspired by the recent 90th birthday celebrations for Prince Nicholas Romanov.  Among his choice observations:

"Caught up in the maelstrom of the revolution that was to prove that when society’s lower elements prevail, the outcome is always a hundred times worse than what it replaced, this [Douglas Smith's Former People] is a chilling tale of looted palaces, desperate flights, cold-blooded murders of innocents (especially women), and marauding peasants and so-called red soldiers butchering the helpless."

"King Constantine’s story is also one of survival and accommodation, of overcoming the psychological wounds inflicted by the loss of his world. I think it was a golden period, and if you don’t agree, all you have to do is look at the brothel that my country has become today. Without a higher authority to keep them honest, the politicians stole the country blind, then stole all the EU money the thieves in Brussels were sending them to prepare the country’s infrastructure as a German outback."

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Peter II comes home

The remains of the tragic King Peter II of Yugoslavia (1923-1970), hitherto the only king buried in the United States (Libertyville, IL), have been returned to his native Serbia. Ascending the throne at the age of eleven upon the assassination by Croatian fascists of his father Alexander I, he was exiled by the Nazi invasion at 17, only to be betrayed by the Western Allies as they helped Stalin take over half of Europe, with Churchill aiding Tito's Communists despite having promised the young exiled King he would have his throne back after the war. King Peter never accepted the loss of his kingdom and drank himself to an early death in Denver, Colorado. R.I.P.

Monday, January 21, 2013

German Royal Twins!

On a happier note, congratulations to Prince Georg Friedrich, rightful German Emperor and King of Prussia, and his wife Princess Sophie (née Isenburg) on the birth yesterday of twin sons, Prince Carl Friedrich and Prince Louis Ferdinand. May Germans come to their senses and abandon republicanism so that little Carl Friedrich (the first-born) may one day sit on the throne of his ancestors!

French Revolution debated

A highly intelligent young friend of mine, on whom I like to think I've had a little influence, posted on Facebook a status mourning the anniversary of the regicide of Louis XVI which was actually more provocative than mine in that he explicitly distanced himself from today's rather better-publicized twin celebrations of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama's second inauguration, which I have simply tried to ignore.  While most of my non-monarchist Facebook Friends seem to ignore my royalist posts most of the time, some of his are apparently more combative and his status unleashed a storm of comments, some of them even defending the French Revolution as a necessary reaction to "oppression" (never specifically demonstrated).  I wrote (rather quickly) this impassioned response and hope it will still make sense here out of context.  At the close of a day during which I have felt even more estranged from the world than usual, I am grateful for my like-minded friends (with two of whom I attended a traditional Latin mass at Fisher More College this afternoon followed by lunch at which we toasted His Most Christian Majesty's memory) who keep me from feeling completely alone in this mad world enslaved to the banality of liberalism and republicanism. Vive le Roi.

[My friend] is of course absolutely right. I do not admire either Martin Luther King or Obama and am not willing to give them even as much credit as [his mother] does, but I would rather not go into that as it would detract from the main focus of today which should be the Regicide (the most heinous sin there is after Deicide--if Dante's Inferno were to be updated to include more recent historical figures, Brutus, Cassius, & Judas would have plenty of company in the centre) of King Louis XVI.

I am appalled by some of the pro-Revolutionary sentiments above. There was nothing "oppressive" about the monarchy of Louis XVI (do some of those commenting even know anything about him?), one of the most kind-hearted men ever to serve as any country's head of state, certainly not in comparison with the Reign of Terror that replaced it or even the modern democratic state which exerts far more control over the average inhabitant than the ancien regime ever did. If Louis XVI erred it was to support the American revolutionaries in their rebellion against their King, which bankrupted the French Treasury and precipitated the Revolution. But even this serious mistake does not make him an "oppressor" or a "tyrant" who deserved to be overthrown, let alone murdered, by any stretch of the imagination.

Do you know what the French Revolution was? It was unborn babies ripped from their mothers' wombs and killed with the women raped then killed. It was peasant men, women, and children tied together on rafts and drowned in "Republican Marriages." It was the destruction of churches. It was the murder of priests and the rape of nuns. It was a once-angelic eight-year-old boy forced to spend the last two years of his short life in miserable squalor that would have appalled the poorest peasants because he happened to be the son of the King and Queen. It was countless people who had committed no crime executed for having the "wrong" ancestry--a forerunner to the genocides of the 20th century. It was the establishment of the evil principle that the State may exterminate those who get in the way of the creation of a New Order. It was oceans of blood. It was in short the most diabolical explosion of evil the world had yet seen and cannot be condoned by anyone who is both decent and well-informed.

It is suggested above that the French Revolution constituted unjustifiably harsh means in pursuit of valid ends. But I fundamentally disagree even with this temperate analysis, for to purport to replace an ancient Christian Monarchy, one of the most beautiful and venerable institutions in all the world, from which all that was noble and admirable in France flowed, with a Republic would be intrinsically evil even if accomplished (as if this were possible) by peaceful means. I deny that "Democracy" is a good in itself, for what is inherently virtuous about majority rule, especially in a society as depraved as ours? As traditional Catholic writer Chris Ferrara demonstrates exhaustively in his magnum opus
Liberty: The God That Failed, the enthronement of "Liberty" as an idol has always and everywhere meant the diminishing of actual liberty in practice. The replacement of kings with presidents and other regimes has led to nothing but misery and corruption. The sooner humanity awakens from its enslavement to the false goddess "Liberty," the better. But I am not optimistic.

In Memoriam Louis XVI

Two hundred twenty years ago today the French revolutionaries murdered their King, a well-meaning and kindhearted man killed not for anything he had done but for who he was. European Political Modernity was born with this heinous crime of regicide, a sin with only one historical equivalent (London 1649) in its public nature and impossible claims of legality. But it only took the English eleven years to realize they'd made a horrible mistake. May the French people yet repent of their sins and reject their intrinsically bloodstained Republic, turning once again to the Altar and Throne and to an heir of the forty kings who in a thousand years made France. Vive le Roi!

Friday, January 18, 2013

German Empire

On today's date in 1871, 142 years ago, King Wilhelm I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor at Versailles. While in retrospect monarchists can be ambivalent about German unification, at least most of the other German kings, dukes, and princes continued to reign until 1918, unlike their Italian counterparts ten years earlier. Outside of the Balkans, the European map and political order (all monarchies except for France & Switzerland) would remain essentially unchanged for the next 43 years, perhaps the most stable and glittering era the continent has ever had.  In honour of the anniversary I compiled this chart of European Sovereigns at the time of the proclamation and this chart of all the German rulers exactly one hundred years ago.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hawaii: 120 Years of Injustice

With Hawaiian nationalists I mourn the 120th anniversary of the deposition of the brave and eloquent Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii by greedy American businessmen and will never accept the illegal occupation of her country by the United States. Restore the free Kingdom of Hawaii now!  In a sense, the "Birthers" are correct that Barack Obama was not born in the United States, but not for the reasons they claim. Hawaii is not and has never been legally a part of the United States.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Francesco II

Today we remember HM Francesco II, last (for the time being) King of the Two Sicilies, born on this date in 1836.  In honour of King Francesco's birthday, here is a chart and map of Europe at his accession in 1859 on the eve of the vastly overrated "Risorgimento," including all the then-sovereign rulers of small German and Italian states.  I've never done a chart this comprehensive before.  I think it gives an idea of a what a beautiful complex organic patchwork the European political order used to be, even 70 years after the French Revolution, before the centralizers, modernizers, and republicans ruined it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Commendable Caution from the Heir to the Throne

Recently the Prince of Wales, with his outspoken concern for the preservation of the countryside, demonstrated once again how his understanding of what conservatism at its best ought to mean is superior to that of many self-proclaimed "conservatives," who see only "Economic Growth." And now it is revealed that Prince Charles has also voiced a mild but urgent note of caution regarding the Government's heedless plans to do away with male primogeniture and the Act of Settlement. If these politicians had any sense, they would have at least consulted the heir to the throne, who seems to understand these issues rather better than they do. As I and others (such as my friend and ally Michael Davis) have pointed out, it is foolhardy to imagine the Monarchy can be blithely conformed to modern preoccupations with "Equality" without damaging its very essence. For too long zealous "reformers" (who never seem to actually make anything better) have trampled all over Britain's constitutional traditions with precious little criticism by anyone in the public eye. Whatever comes of his remarks, the Prince of Wales deserves credit for attempting to act as steward of the constitution of the country whose throne he will one day inherit, as he has long acted as steward of its land.

Downton Abbey returns

Much to the delight of American Anglophiles, Downton Abbey returned to PBS last night with the two-hour premiere of Season 3. While the show's delay in crossing the Atlantic has presented a problem of spoilers for some American viewers (including me; a Telegraph headline unfortunately gave away a key plot point), there is still much to look forward to, and the first episode, resuming the story of the Crawley family and their servants in spring 1920, did not disappoint.  Branson is still horrid. Dowager Countess Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) is still magnificent. Mr Carson is still everything that made Britain great. And the irritating smugness of Whiggish Americanist triumphalism (Shirley Maclaine) arrives with a vengeance as the consequences of the War That Ruined Everything are felt. After the show concluded I was inspired to create this chart of the reigning European monarchs of 1912 (beginning of season one) and 1920 (beginning of season three), showing how much had changed in only eight years, and also came across this interesting article on royal references in Downton.  I've also resolved to include the show's very real location Highclere Castle on a future visit to England, perhaps as soon as this summer.

It's probably fair to say that in the world of Downton Abbey, more than any other "Downstairs" characters, the dignified butler Mr Carson (Jim Carter), who last season was clearly thrilled with his employer the Earl of Grantham's gift of a book on the royal families of Europe, and Lord Grantham's Irish radical chauffeur-turned-son-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech) represent the two basic opposing ideological camps of the early 20th century. Mr Carson stands for tradition, duty, loyalty, hierarchy--everything that the First World War would undermine or destroy.  Seldom has a fictional character so perfectly encapsulated the worldview this blog tries to defend.  (While Monarchy per se is rarely mentioned, when it is, there is no doubt that Mr Carson is on our side.)  In contrast, Branson, who believes that morning coats are "uniforms of oppression" and cheers on the fall of European monarchies, represents the rising forces of egalitarianism and republicanism that will make the twentieth century a horrifyingly bleak and violent one, and not only for monarchists. 

As one who feels a strong urge to throttle him every time he is on screen spouting his leftist views, I have been unable to discern any reason for the popularity of Branson, whose revolutionary political agenda led to the deaths of millions, among some Downton fans other than that they think he is good-looking. Therefore I propose that the next big PBS period drama should be set in World War II France and sympathetically portray the Nazi collaborator Paul Touvier (1915-1996), who has described as having been "
unusually good-looking, almost pretty, with wavy blond hair, delicate features and deep-set, intense blue eyes." Perhaps he or a character like him could attain an affectionate following as well. If looks and charm trump all, why not?

I suppose some people watch Downton Abbey (enthusiasm for which has been criticized as "un-American," as I reported last year) and think, "how horrible that they had such a rigid class system back then."  But true Downton fans watch the show and think, Yes, that's the way things should be (at least in the first season), because inequality and hierarchy of some sort are inevitable and it's better to be honest about it. And whatever flaws Downton may have, it deserves traditionalists' gratitude for portraying an Earl (Hugh Bonneville) who is both a believer in the aristocratic tradition he has inherited and a sympathetic character, as well as his heroic butler Mr Carson with whom all monarchists of humble birth can identify.