Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prince Alfred of Prussia (1924-2013)

I am sorry to learn somewhat belatedly of the death in June of Costa Rica of HRH Prince Alfred of Prussia, grandnephew of both the last German Emperor and the last Empress of Russia. May he rest in peace.

Enemies of Monarchy, Heroes of Modernity

I sometimes find it depressing how in so many countries, even non-Communist ones, men I despise are widely and even officially revered:

United States:
Thomas Paine (1737-1809), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), and other "Founding Fathers"
France: the leaders of the French Revolution in general, though it's interesting that no individual is really singled out
Poland: Tadeusz Kościuszko (1746-1817)
Hungary: Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894)
Mexico: Benito Juarez (1806-1872)
Italy: Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882)
Czech Republic (whose very name is offensive):
Tomáš Masaryk (1850-1937), Edvard Beneš (1884-1948)
Eleutherios Venizelos (1864-1936)
Ireland: Eamon de Valera (1882-1975)
Egypt: Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970)

Even in England, Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) still has a much better reputation than he deserves, with that disgusting statue outside Parliament.

That's how it is when one is on what the world considers to be the "wrong side of history"...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monarchy and the Arts

As a monarchist musician, I am intrigued though not surprised by the common enemies that royalists and arts advocates face. First it was Mark Oppenheimer (Americans who watch the royal wedding are traitors/kids shouldn't take music lessons), now the perhaps even more execrable Hamilton Nolan (the British monarchy should be abolished and the royal family imprisoned/don't give a dollar to the New York City Opera). Classical music could not have developed without royal patronage, and European royal occasions would not be as grand without classical music. Music and Monarchy go together brilliantly, as David Starkey recently explored, and even non-royalist musicians should be wary of the utilitarian, bean-counting, egalitarian arguments employed by anti-royalists as they can be easily turned against the Arts as well. What ought to unite monarchists and musicians is a commitment to the Good, the True, and the Beautiful as valuable for its own sake.

German Election? Why?

I read that there was some sort of "Election" in Germany, which is worthless as there has not been a legitimate government in Germany since 1918. If Germany is to remain united (which itself is debatable), its sole rightful ruler is Georg Friedrich Prinz von Preußen. What good have these chancellors, presidents, and other politicians ever done? Such a waste of time and money. Restore all German monarchies now!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Canadian Court Upholds Oath to Queen

It's good that there is still some sanity in the Canadian courts, but the fact that this "case" was even considered is ridiculous. How much attention would the United States government pay to an immigrant who demanded that he be allowed to become an American citizen without taking the oath of allegiance to the US Constitution on the grounds that he was a monarchist? 

Don't believe in constitutional monarchy? Don't move to Canada. There are plenty of republics in the world you could live in. Try Syria.

Ignorant Git Hasn't Changed...but neither has the splendour of April 2011

I will not provide the links, you can look them up yourself, but apparently the same jerk Mark Oppenheimer who famously wrote in Slate in April 2011 that any American who got up early to watch the royal wedding live would be a "traitor," now has an article in The New Republic against children taking music or ballet lessons because the arts are pretty much useless for most people, or something. So presumably I as a monarchist musician am basically a Useless Traitor. Whatever.

Earlier this afternoon I watched the royal wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge again, mainly to express my contempt for the worthless philistine moronic feckless troglodyte known as Mark Oppenheimer. I still don't like John Rutter's anthem "This is the day" that much, though I would not have said so on Facebook if I had been a Westminster Abbey organ scholar at the time. Nevertheless there are plenty of musical moments that never fail to thrill no matter how many times one watches the DVD. One is the superb panoramic shot from the ceiling of the Abbey at the end of "I Was Glad." Another is the close-up of the London Chamber Orchestra timpanist giving the opening drum roll to "God Save the Queen." And another is the close-up of the LCO cellists in Parry's "Blest Pair of Sirens," though it makes me wish I had been one of them. What a marvelous day that was.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Felix & Claire

HRH Prince Felix of Luxembourg, 29, second son of Grand Duke Henri, married Claire Lademacher, 28, in a modest civil ceremony in the bride's hometown of Königstein im Taunus in Germany. She is now legally HRH Princess Claire of Luxembourg. The religious ceremony, with a much larger guest list, will take place on Saturday at the basilica of St Mary Magdalene in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in France. Congratulations!

(L-R) Front row: Prince Gabriel and Prince Noah. Middle row: Hartmut Lademacher, Gabriele Lademacher, the bride, the groom, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, Grand Duke Henri. Back row: Felix Lademacher, Prince Sebastien, Princess Tessy, Prince Louis, Her. Grand Duchess Stephanie, Her. Grand Duke Guillaume, Princess Alexandra.

An intriguing little fact for monarchist musicians is that the new princess, having been born in Filderstadt, Germany on 21 March 1985, is exactly three hundred years younger than Johann Sebastian Bach (21 Mar 1685 - 28 Jul 1750), if the Julian/Gregorian calendar issue is disregarded. I hope she likes his music.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Obamas vs Windsors

The American presidency costs US taxpayers twenty times more than the British monarchy costs UK taxpayers. Yet idiots and traitors in the UK continue to complain about the allegedly high cost of the Monarchy.

Luxembourg couple

Prince Felix of Luxembourg and Claire Lademacher, who are to be married this week, gave an interview about their relationship and their plans.

Monarchial Democracy?

Everyone's favourite remaining absolute monarch King Mswati III (International College Sherborne '86) "explains" what he means by "Monarchial Democracy"...turns out, not much. So what? Most of the world's republican governments also call themselves "democracies" while pretty much doing what they want, though unlike Swaziland allowing the visible leadership to change from time to time. This makes it easier to convince "the people" (whatever that is) that they are in charge.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spanish throne in crisis?

Vanity Fair have a fascinating and thorough, though discouraging, article on the latest controversies surrounding King Juan Carlos. Things have not been going well lately for the Spanish royal family. But Spaniards need to learn from history, remember that there is no crisis so bad that republicanism cannot make it worse, and rally behind their King. Viva el Rey!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Remembering Peter II

Today is the 90th anniversary of the birth of the tragic King Peter II of Yugoslavia (1923-1970). Coming to the throne at the tender age of eleven (upon the assassination of his father King Alexander by Croatian fascists) under the regency of his cousin Prince Paul (1893-1976), he briefly assumed power at 17 in 1941 to end the Axis alliance before being exiled by the Nazi invasion. Churchill assured him that he would have his throne back after the war, and the young king addressed the House of Commons to great acclaim, but he was betrayed by the Western Allies who shamefully aided Tito's Communists instead of the loyal Mihailovich's Chetnik royalists. The monarchy was accordingly abolished in 1945 and King Peter never saw his homeland again.

Unable to accept this, his marriage to the beautiful Princess Alexandra of Greece (1921-1993) failed and he sank into depression and alcoholism, dying of cirrhosis of the liver at 47 in Denver, Colorado. He was originally buried in Libertyville, Illinois, and until this year was the only King buried in the continental United States, but in January 2013 his remains were repatriated to Belgrade where he now finally lies in the land of his ancestors which was cruelly denied to him for most of his sad life. It was via reading his memoir "A King's Heritage" many years ago that I first began to question the standard "Good War" narrative of World War II. To me he will always be the boy king shown in this picture. May he rest in peace and may Serbia mitigate the injustice of 1945 by restoring his son Alexander to the throne.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Daughter of Empire

Vanity Fair runs a fascinating and occasionally hilarious article on Lord Mountbatten's daughters Patricia, 89, and Pamela, 84, as the latter publishes her memoir Daughter of Empire which looks like essential reading. Not many other living people can tell stories of historical figures they knew ranging from Queen Mary and Wallis Simpson to Gandhi and Nehru.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Royal weddings in Turkey and Monaco

In a rare marital alliance between two prominent non-European royal families, Prince Muhammad Ali of Egypt, Prince of Sa'id, son of King Fuad II, married Princess Noal Zaher of Afghanistan, granddaughter of King Zahir Shah (and therefore cousin & niece respectively of the two Afghan princes I had met several days earlier), in Istanbul on Friday. In this picture the groom's father, who reigned as an infant 1952-53 and is still for monarchists Egypt's legitimate head of state, escorts his new daughter-in-law and son.

The following day, August 31, Andrea Casiraghi, son of Princess Caroline of Monaco (and eventual successor to the throne if his uncle Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene remain childless), married heiress Tatiana Santo Domingo. The couple already have a son, Sacha, born in March, who with his parents' marriage now becomes third in line to the throne.

Congratulations to both couples.

Afghanistan 2013

I returned yesterday from a remarkable visit to Afghanistan, where I taught cello for a week at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, founded by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, in Kabul where my brother William has taught violin since March 2010. To work with the wonderful students of ANIM who are devoted to Music in a country where not too long ago (1996-2001) it was essentially illegal was an inspiring experience. At the conclusion of my visit I performed in a concert incorporating both Western and Afghan music. As Afghanistan was ruled by monarchies until 1973, the trip also included several memorable monarchical aspects which I will focus on here.

Shortly after I arrived (via Dubai) in Kabul on August 23, making the most out of our only real free day, my brother took me to see the beautiful Babur Gardens, built by Emperor Babur (1483-1530) who founded the Moghul dynasty of India (which ruled until 1857) and is buried there. A highlight was visiting his tomb:

Later that day we went to see the tragic ruins of the Darulaman palace built by King Amanullah Khan (1892-1960), who reigned from 1919 to 1929 and was the first ruler to attempt (with his glamorous consort Queen Soraya) to thoroughly modernize Afghanistan, probably more quickly than was prudent. The once-magnificent palace remained in good condition in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the monarchy in 1973, but was severely damaged in the wars of the 1980s and 1990s and today lies in ruins, a haunting echo of vanished splendour.

Fortunately for me, my brother's position has brought him into contact with many prominent Afghans including those members of the royal family who have returned to their country since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. So I was honoured on Sunday August 25 to meet HH Prince Nadir Naim (b 1965), grandson (via Princess Mariam Begum) of King Mohammed Zahir Shah (1914-2007), who reigned as the last King of Afghanistan from 1933 to 1973 and came tantalizingly (for monarchists) close to being restored following his celebrated return to the country in 2002 but ended up being declared "Father of the Nation" instead, a non-hereditary title he carried for the last five years of his life. Our brief conversation was interesting if a bit sad. To answer what I suspect all my monarchist friends will want to know, while proud of his royal heritage he does not see the monarchy being restored in the near future. The opportunity was in 2001-02. He reminded me a bit of Otto von Habsburg in his determination to do what he can politically anyway. He has been designated the leader of a movement of tribal elders who feel excluded from the current republic. His activities in Afghanistan prevented him from attending the Afghan-Egyptian royal wedding in Turkey on August 30 but he was pleased for his cousin Princess Noal. The sardar was intrigued by my monarchism and not unsympathetic in principle, pointing out that a president only rents, while a king takes care of the future. But this is a complicated family. It was his great-uncle Daud Khan who originally deposed the king (Daud's own cousin and brother-in-law) and declared the republic in 1973. 

As if one royal meeting were not enough, the following evening my brother and I had the even greater honour of dining for two hours with HRH Prince Mirwais (b 1957), youngest son of King Zahir Shah. The prince, who could not have been warmer or friendlier, shared all sorts of stories including being given at age six a cowboy outfit by President Kennedy and later as a teenager teasing the guards at Buckingham Palace when his father met with the Queen. Like his late father and many other members of his family (particularly his brother Prince Muhammad Nadir, a Persian classical scholar and musician in his own right, expert in the sitar) HRH loves music and is very supportive of the work that William is doing and in which I was joining him for a week. The tie is the same one I wore when meeting Princess Irene of Greece (whose own brother was deposed by the Greek military junta the same year as Prince Mirwais's father, a tragic year for both countries) in 1999.

But the monarchical highlight of my visit came on Thursday August 29, an absolutely surreal afternoon. Prince Mirwais (once considered a possible successor to his father in the event of a restoration) invited William and me to the royal (now presidential) palace, where both he and President Karzai now live, as his guests. The palace is not open to the public, never seen by most Afghans or foreigners, and no photography is allowed (sorry). After passing through heavy security (slightly mitigated by the guard telling us about his music studies and singing scales while patting me down) we were received by HRH for tea in an elegant room full of portraits of his family. After a fascinating discourse on modern Afghan history, he showed us around the exquisite palace full of unique Afghan craftsmanship (some sadly damaged by the Taliban but mostly intact or restored). We saw King Zahir Shah's bedroom, study, and where he received dignitaries, and gifts given to him by other heads of state such as De Gaulle and Mao. By the time HRH took us into his father the King's changing closet and bathroom, I asked William, "is this actually happening?" He then showed us the stunning 1880-81 harem of Emir Abdur Rahman Khan (r 1880-1901), and the now unrecognizably barren smaller house where he had lived as a child while the main palace was being built, and the tiny cupboard where his brother-in-law was imprisoned after the 1973 coup. He presented us each with signed pictures of his father. The atmosphere was utterly unlike touring any other historical building as there were no other visitors and our guide was the King's son. A unique and unforgettable privilege.

Afghanistan is probably one of the clearest of modern history's countless demonstrations of the monarchist axiom that abolishing a monarchy leads only to misery. Westerners ignorant of Afghan history might assume that it has always been chaotic, but actually under King Zahir Shah in the mid 20th century, it was a peaceful, thriving, and vibrant society in which women were free to be educated and dress in Western styles and the arts including music prospered. Prince Nadir Naim remembered a tranquil Kabul which was a favourite destination for other Asians and in which little security for the royal family was required. Since the 1973 coup Afghanistan has been physically and psychologically devastated by war and repression, particularly between 1979 and 2001. Today many young Afghans, such as those I met at ANIM, are determined to make their country a better place. I wish them well, but cannot resist adding that nothing would symbolize and facilitate a brighter future for Afghanistan more than the restoration of the monarchy.