Friday, September 8, 2023

Queen Elizabeth II, one year on

Today we remember the one and only Queen Elizabeth II on the first anniversary of her death.

I remember waking up a year ago to the news that she was under medical supervision at Balmoral. I posted the 1662 BCP prayer for the Sovereign. Actually she had probably already passed away by then, and being frequently online I saw the news a few hours later as soon as The Royal Family page posted it. Stunned and shaken, I didn’t cry yet, though I would later.

Queen Elizabeth II had seemed eternal. An institution in her own right who had been on the throne since my parents were little children. Old enough to remember the difficult 1990s, I saw her grow more radiant and joyous as she aged, as if the fairytale lustre of the young Queen had somehow been magnified in a different way. There was something so comforting about images of the Queen. While not “ruling” as her ancestors did, she was a benign authority figure not only for her official subjects in 15 countries, but also for those of us in other countries who looked to her as the sentimental focus of our earthly allegiance, a far more satisfactory head of state than any president could ever be.

One paradox of Queen Elizabeth II was that she was simultaneously both timeless and of her time, a living link to a very different past yet surprisingly adaptable, letting her delightful mischievous sense of humour show more as she aged as seen in the 2012 Olympics and 2022 Jubilee videos.

Occasionally tabloids would claim that the Queen was “furious” over some real or alleged “violation of protocol.” But that wasn’t who she was at all. To the contrary her grandson Prince William said in an interview that she loved it when something went wrong at official occasions so that she and Prince Philip could laugh about it later.

While she had access to grand palaces suitable for the performance of her duties, her private tastes were simple, less grand than many celebrities. She kept leftover cereal in Tupperware, put on a sweater rather than turning up the heat, and was never happier than when in the countryside with her dogs and horses. Now she is in a different and better countryside where there is no more duty, only joy.

We miss her. I miss her. But the Monarchy to which she devoted her life continues under the different but equally dutiful stewardship of her son and successor King Charles, who I have long admired in his own right. The best way to honour her memory is to support him as he serves what are now his realms and to emulate her devotion to duty in our own lives, whatever our duties may be, in my case to the Symphony.

Unlike so many people, I never got to meet her, though at least I saw her in person a few times. But I like to think she knew how many millions of people loved her, even if it was surprising for her in her humility, and she knows even more fully now. Remember the Queen. God Save the King. 🇬🇧

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Musicians and Monarchy

A lot of great figures in classical music have held political views diametrically opposed to mine. Beethoven's admiration of the "ideals" of the French Revolution is well known, though he had many aristocratic friends and patrons. Wagner, before he discovered that the support of the King of Bavaria could be useful to him, was a supporter of the Revolutions of 1848 and was a wanted man in Saxony for a time. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) disliked his former mentor Mily Balakirev's pious Orthodox monarchist conservatism, was critical of the Tsarist regime towards the end of his life, and sympathised with student protests against it. Conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), who according to Norman Lebrecht had only turned against Mussolini when it became clear that Mussolini would not abolish the Italian monarchy, said after World War II that he would not return to Italy as long as the House of Savoy were still reigning. Cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973), despite having owed his early training to the generosity of Queen Maria Cristina (1858-1929), supported the Spanish Republic that ousted her son Alfonso XIII.

Of today's classical musicians, I've heard that one very well-known British conductor is privately a republican, though as he has made no public comments to that effect I won't name him here. The less said about a certain Australian conductor, the better. I hope that none of the British performers I admire are republicans.

In general I don't envy Soloists, who fly from hotel room to hotel room, and am happy to be an orchestral cellist. However, sometimes I wish I were prominent enough in classical music for my monarchist views to be Noticed.

But I can take comfort in the fact that Brahms, despite a youthful essay arguing that music should be "republican" in the sense of being accessible to all, was politically a staunch monarchist and once got very angry at a friend who had mocked the young Kaiser Wilhelm II. Haydn was a monarchist as well; the last music he played when he was dying in 1809, reportedly with great feeling, was his own Kaiserhymne. Verdi, near the end of his own life, was overcome with grief at the assassination of King Umberto I in 1900, wondering if his own 1859 opera "Un Ballo in Maschera" (inspired by the 1792 assassination of King Gustaf III of Sweden) could be in some way to blame. (It must be admitted that most Italians were probably rather more moved by Verdi's death the following year.) Brazilian composer Carlos Gomes (1836-1896) remained loyal to Emperor Pedro II after the 1889 coup and refused the new Republic's request to compose a new national anthem. Bruckner, a devout Catholic who was humbly moved to be decorated by Emperor Franz Joseph and considered moving to Mexico to serve his brother Emperor Maximilian, was a staunch monarchist. Perhaps more surprisingly, as an article in The Critic revealed, so were musical modernists Schoenberg and Stravinsky, who long after the Revolution never lost his reverence for the Russian Imperial Family. Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) was famously pacifist, but as far as I know had no problem with the British Monarchy and counted Prince Ludwig of Hesse (1908-1968) & his wife and the Queen's cousin the Earl of Harewood (1923-2011) as friends.

I guess this just goes to show you that musicians can be all over the map politically!

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Jordanian Royal Wedding

On June 1, Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan married Rajwa Al Saif in Amman. Congratulations to the newlyweds! The Royal Hashemite Court has released this splendid photo of most of the distinguished guests. This article helped me identify almost everyone in the picture.

Front row: King Philippe of Belgium, Queen & King of Malaysia, First Lady & President of Iraq, Sultan of Brunei, King Abdullah, the Bride & Groom, Queen Rania, parents of the Bride Khalid al-Saif & Azza Al Sudairi, Queen Maxima & King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Queen Emerita Sofía & King Emeritus Juan Carlos of Spain.

Behind them, more or less left to right except when listing couples together:

Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg, Crown Prince Theyazin of Oman, Princess Beatrice of York, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Ilham Yassin (Queen Rania's mother), Princess Salma, Crown Prince Frederik & Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, between them Prince Hashem, Princess Takamodo of Japan, Former First Lady & Former President of Iraq, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Prince Mateen of Brunei, King Simeon & Queen Margarita of Bulgaria, Princess Elisabeth of Belgium Duchess of Brabant, US First Lady Jill Biden, Princess Muna (King Abdullah's mother), President & First Lady of Rwanda, Hereditary Princess & Prince of Liechtenstein, May Mikati & Prime Minister Najib Mikati of Lebanon, Sheika Mozha (in lime green) of Qatar, Princess & Prince of Wales, between them Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of Iraqi Kurdistan, Queen Jetsun Pema of Bhutan, Sheikha Muna Al-Klaib (in blue) of Kuwait, First Lady Philippa Karsera (in green) of Cyprus, Crown Princess Margareta & Prince Radu of Romania, Sheikh Ahmad Al Abdullah Al Sabah of Kuwait, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Princess Iman & Jameel Thermiotis, Princess Felicitas & Prince Johann Wenzel of Liechtenstein, Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel of Sweden, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Princess Catharina-Amalia of the Netherlands Princess of Orange.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Coronation of King Charles III

While I'm obviously no longer the frequent blogger I used to be, since I don't want this blog to be considered completely defunct, I can hardly ignore here the glorious historic Coronation of last Saturday 6 May (covered extensively on my social media), in which Charles III was crowned King of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey. I was of course up at 4:15 AM Dallas time to watch the event live on YouTube, following along in my printout of the liturgy, and with millions around the world was thrilled by the spectacle, the spiritual power of the occasion, and the music. As a Loyalist I joined enthusiastically in the Homage of the People. God Save the King!

I assume that readers (if I still have any) have by now seen plenty of Coronation coverage elsewhere, so I will not attempt to be comprehensive in this rather belated post. Instead, I wish to share some links to photo galleries, videos, and thoughtful articles (more or less in reverse chronological order of appearance, as is fitting for the blog format) that you might not have seen, as well as the official photographs taken in Buckingham Palace after the event.

Alexandra Wilson, Music fit for a king

Charles A. Coulombe, After the Crowning

Fr. Steve Rice, God Bless America, God Save the King

Zewditu Gebreyohanes, Britain is Lucky to Have a Monarch (Telegraph)

Benjamin Guyer, Charles III and Kenotic Monarchy
Ruth Dudley Edwards, Coronation of King Charles is a reminder...

John Martin Robinson, Coronation Diary

YouTube: The Coronation Weekend (Prince & Princess of Wales)

Saint Thomas Church: A Service of Thanksgiving for the Coronation of HM King Charles III

CNN: In pictures: the coronation of King Charles III
BBC: Extraordinary photos from King Charles III's Coronation

Mail on Sunday: If we heeded republican wails...

Daily Mail: The new Firm assembles

Paul Shakeshaft, Why a Coronation Matters

Sohrab Ahmani, Coronation is a ritual humiliation

Esmé Partridge, In Defense of the Philosopher King

Rebecca Mead, The Self-Justifying Philosophy of King Charles

Tom Holland, Our bronze age coronation rites seem to speak to a modern love of the sacred

Aris Roussinos, Britain Needs King Charles the Weird

The Critic: Crowning Moment

Anna Tyzack, What sort of man is King Charles, and what sort of king will he be? (2022)

Monday, March 13, 2023

Review: Elena Maria Vidal's "My Queen, My Love"

Most Americans are probably not aware that the US state of Maryland was originally named after Queen Henrietta Maria (1609-1669), daughter of King Henri IV of France (1553-1610) and wife of the ill-fated King Charles I of England (1600-1649). Readers seeking an introduction to this unjustly neglected historical figure would do well to immerse themselves in this charming and engaging book by Elena Maria Vidal, who appropriately enough lives in Maryland.

"My Queen, My Love," which covers the title character's life from her childhood in France through the births of her own children in the 1630s on the eve of the English Civil War, is a historical novel, so includes fictionalized dialogue, but is firmly based on historical research like any biography. Its style vividly brings the complex and colourful world of the 17th century to life, from Italy [homeland of her mother Marie de Medici (1573-1642)] to France to England. The central importance of religion is evident from the outset. Daughter of the pragmatic convert Henri IV, the devoutly Catholic Henrietta Maria finds herself in an impossible situation as wife of the staunch Anglican Charles I in what is by then a predominantly and fervently Protestant country, with even the King's own high church Anglicanism increasingly deemed too "catholic" by some. While the author clearly shares Henrietta Maria's devout Roman Catholicism, it is to Vidal's credit that the sincerity of King Charles who believes that his Church of England is truly Catholic is depicted in a well-rounded manner. I particularly appreciated the writer's evident love of liturgical beauty as reflected in lavish descriptions of Catholic ceremonies including sacred music. Henrietta Maria's enjoyment of the secular arts, so scandalous to the dour Puritans especially her own participation in Masques, is a consistent theme as well.

Anglicans like me who revere Charles as a Martyr, aware of his and his wife's fervent loyalty to each other during the terrible trials of the Civil War which (after the time period covered by this book) would end in his execution and her widowhood, are accustomed to thinking of their marriage as an ideal devoted Christian one, as indeed it later became. However it must be admitted that this was not always the case. While vaguely aware that King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria had had difficulties in the early years of their marriage, I had not thought much about the details until I read this book. One sensitive issue is that in order to gain French approval for their 1625 marriage Charles had had to make various promises, particularly those related to the Queen's Catholicism, that once back in England he finds himself unable to keep. It particularly galls her, understandably, that money from her dowry ended up being used to fund a war with her native France! While Vidal's Henrietta Maria never falters in her ultimately heroic love for Charles, the reader can also see without dismissing his point of view how Charles might have felt frustrated at times.

To the extent that the narrative of the challenging early years of their marriage has a villain, it is surely George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham (1592-1628). A favourite of Charles's father James I (1566-1625), Buckingham continues his leading role in British affairs as a sort of substitute older brother (Charles's real older brother Henry having sadly died at 18 in 1612) of the young and insecure new king. Wary of losing his pre-eminence should the Queen replace him as the King's most trusted confidant, Buckingham (though capable of great charm) does everything he can to undermine the Queen's position and behaves with shocking disrespect to her, while also being egotistically heedless of his unpopularity among the common people who tend to blame him rather than the King for the failures of his aggressive foreign policy. Charles either cannot or will not see this other side of him, and when Buckingham meets his end the reader is likely to feel that he had it coming. Whether the final chapter's theory about who was ultimately behind the assassination is true, I cannot say, but there is no doubt that Buckingham's death finally smoothes the path for Charles and Henrietta Maria to eventually enjoy a happier marriage.

Whether new to the period or an experienced student of Stuart history, any reader will be sure to finish this delightful book knowing Queen Henrietta Maria better than before, almost like a personal friend. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in royal history and look forward to further installments as given her tumultuous life there is certainly more material to come.

Friday, February 24, 2023

175 Years Without A French King

Today is the 175th anniversary of the abdication (24 February 1848) of the last French king to date, Louis Philippe (1773-1850). The fall of the "July Monarchy," itself a product of the revolt against the last Legitimist Bourbon king Charles X (1757-1836) eighteen years earlier, was the first of the Revolutions of 1848, which shook thrones across Europe, with Bavarian and Austrian monarchs also abdicating, though only the French Bourbon-Orléans dynasty lost their throne entirely. With the fall of Louis Philippe (a direct male-line descendant of Louis XIII), the last compromise between the Capetian dynasty that had reigned in France since 987 (except for the period between 1792 and 1814) and the more moderate components of the legacy of the French Revolution failed, and while there would be one more Emperor, no more Kings have reigned in France since then. 🇫🇷

Supported by the new liberal capitalist bourgeoisie, the initially popular Louis Philippe (who reigned as "King of the French" rather than "King of France") never won the hearts of either the traditional Right (who resented his 1830 usurpation) or the growing industrialized working classes. ("Les Miserables" depicts, not the original French Revolution, but a much smaller unsuccessful 1832 revolt against Louis Philippe's government by those unhappy that ousting Charles X had not resulted in a Republic.)

Not wishing to share the fate of his cousin Louis XVI (for whose death his pro-Revolutionary father had voted before meeting the same fate himself), he quickly fled to England where he spent the last two years of his life. (Louis-Philippe's wife, Queen Marie-Amelie (1782-1866), was a niece of the executed Queen Marie Antoinette.)

Many modern Catholic royalty are descended from Louis Philippe, including the present kings of Belgium and Spain. Since the extinction of the senior Bourbon line in 1883, many (most?) French royalists have accepted his descendants as rightful heirs not only to the 1830-48 constitutional monarchy but to the ancient French monarchy, currently claimed by Prince Jean, Comte de Paris

May France one day return to her one true form of government, the Monarchy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

RIP Constantine II, King of the Hellenes (1940-2023)

Yesterday came the news from Greece every royalist had been dreading. Eternal memory to Constantine II (1940-2023), King of the Hellenes (1964-73). Had he not been deposed, he could have reigned nearly 59 years. Exiled for 46 years (1967-2013), at least he got to spend his last decade in his beloved Greece. 

Prompt and thorough coverage as always at The European Royal History Journal. The entire royalist community joins in sorrow with the Greek and extended European Royal Families (especially those of Spain, Denmark, and Britain) in mourning King Constantine. More today: Constantine and Anne-Marie of Greece: A Love Story for the Ages.

Crown Prince Pavlos, born on 20 May 1967 in Athens a month after the colonels' coup that would later first exile and then depose his father, has succeeded his father King Constantine II as Head of the Royal House of Greece and, for monarchists, de jure King Pavlos (Paul) II of the Hellenes. [During the time of the Monarchy (1863-1973), when discussed in English Greek royal names were usually translated into their English equivalents, but the younger generations of Greek royals today generally prefer to use the Greek forms.] The King is dead; Long live the King!

Weirdly, King Constantine II (d. 10 Jan 2023) died the day before the centennial of the death of his grandfather King Constantine I (d. 11 Jan 2023).

Here are the Telegraph and Times obituaries. The King is often blamed for the political instability that began in 1965, leading to the coup of 1967 that he tried and failed to reverse, but let's not forget that his position that the Prime Minister should not be able to make himself also the Minister of Defense in order to head an investigation into his own son was in itself entirely correct.

Shame on the miserable gang of soulless traitors calling themselves the Greek "Government" for denying King Constantine a state funeral. The King was the internationally recognized Greek head of state for nine years, served in the Greek armed forces, and won an Olympic gold medal for Greece. He was as Greek as anyone has ever been. These scummy politicians were not worthy to tie his shoelaces. I curse and condemn the Greek Republic and pray for its destruction. I reiterate my formal repudiation of any interpretation of Christianity that concedes the application of Romans 13 to republics that have displaced monarchies, and urge the denunciation of this pointless cruelty from every Orthodox Christian pulpit in the world.