Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Royal Re-Cap of 2009

For loyalists of the British monarchy 2009 might be most remembered for what did not happen. The long listened for wedding bells for Prince William and Kate Middleton did not ring, though Lord Freddie Windsor did tie the knot after a St Valentine’s Day in engagement. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh also gained a place in royal history as the longest serving British consort, passing the mark set by Queen Charlotte, consort of King George III. Royal wedding watchers had plenty to get excited about in the Kingdom of Sweden however where engagements were announced for Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine; breaking hearts all over the world no doubt. In Japan the Emperor and Empress celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary.

In April there was tragedy in the Netherlands when a man attempted to crash his car into the bus carrying Queen Beatrix and the Royal Family killing and injuring a number of people in the crowd before he himself died of his own injuries. In Romania King Michael I endorsed the presidential bid of his son-in-law which, as most expected, ended in failure. In Denmark Prince Joachim and Princess Marie brought a new Danish prince into the world in May. In Belgium the dowager Queen Fabiola was faced with the first in a string of death threats, which she met with courage and humor on a tense occasion. In the summer disaster befell the Imperial House of Brazil when Prince Pedro Luis died along with over 200 others when their plane crashed into the Atlantic.

Charlotte Casiraghi, granddaughter of Princess Grace of Monaco, gave the world a scare when she was involved in a car accident in Italy which she thankfully escaped with only minor injuries. The Kingdom of Denmark voted to abolish male primogeniture and in July King Albert II and Queen Paola of the Belgians celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary. In Russia rumors of a Romanov restoration began to circulate with one government official saying such a proposition had been discussed inside the walls of the Kremlin.

In September Princess Maria Christina of Bourbon-Parma passed away, Archduke Rudolf of Austria turned 90-years-old and the Prince and Princess of Orange visited New York to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first Dutch colony in North America. Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, set to lose his role in politics for refusing to sign a euthanasia bill was honored by Pope Benedict XVI. The heir to the throne of the Ottoman Empire passed away at the age of 97 and Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma became engaged in October. The French Prince Jean of Orleans announced the start of a campaign for royal restoration in France on his part.

In November Prince Henrik of Denmark visited his boyhood home in Vietnam with the rest of the Danish Royal Family, nearby the kingdoms of Cambodia and Thailand broke diplomatic relations and rattled sabers over a long standing border dispute and monarchists and many others were killed in the streets of Iran in a government crackdown following protests over election results. The King of Tonga announced he was giving up his authority in government to become a more symbolic constitutional monarch and another Commonwealth island monarchy, St Vincent and the Grenadines, voted in a referendum to remain a monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II rather than become a republic. In Spain the Infanta Elena announced her long expected divorce, Prince Alexandre of Belgium passed away and this last month the heir of the Orleanist pretender to the French throne had his first child. The Crown Prince and Princess of Belgium celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary and the King of Thailand celebrated his birthday after a long stay in the hospital that gave his people quite a scare.

So, once again, a rather mixed bag for the monarchies of the world. There were threats, there were victories, births and deaths, wedding bells for some and continued silence for others. Good news seemed to abound most in the Scandinavian monarchies with new life beginning and new marriages planned. The British continue to ‘wait and see’ expecting a development soon. So, in a nutshell, that was the royal news of 2009 and this has been ...... The Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Royal Profile: Prince Edward Duke of York

HRH Prince Edward, Duke of York and Albany was the second son of Frederick Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha; he was the younger brother of HM King George III. Edward was born on March 25, 1739 and was baptized Edward Augustus at Norfolk House by Thomas Secker, Bishop of Oxford. His godparents were King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia (Edward’s great-uncle) who was acted for by the Duke of Queensberry; the Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel who was acted for by Lord Carnarvon and his aunt the Duchess of Saxe-Weissenfels who was acted for by Lady Charlotte Edwin, daughter of the fourth Duke of Hamilton.

As a boy the Duke of York, with his brother, went through long hours of schooling in arithmetic, Latin, geometry, writing, religion, French, German, Greek and even dancing to be well rounded. For the future George III the young Prince Edward, Duke of York, was his only constant companion but it was Edward who was their mother’s favorite. As he grew up, quite unlike his simple and solitary brother, the Duke of York became a very popular figure in London society. Having an interest in the sea the Duke requested and was granted a commission in the Royal Navy in which he served during the French and Indian War, taking part in the threatening moves and raids on the French coast and saw action in the British defeats at the battles of St Malo and St Caste in 1758. On April 1, 1760 Edward officially received his titles from his grandfather King George II and was created Duke of York and Albany and Earl of Ulster.

When King George III came to the throne he made the Duke of York a privy councilor. As was typical in the House of Hanover, family warmth and family loyalty did not all go together. Edward was there to welcome his brother’s bride to England, being very courteous to her, but he also later joined with members of the opposition to the King’s government. Those who knew the Duke of York described him as silly, frivolous, rather a chatter-box, someone who loved a good practical joke and who did not keep the most upright company. He was rather put off when his brother the King did not make him bishop of Osnabruck (which oddly enough did not require one to be a cleric) and the two never returned to the close companionship they had as children.

In 1767 the Duke of York was on a tour of the continent. He became ill while in France at a ball but refused to stop but insisted on going on his way to Genoa where he was to meet a mistress of his. On the way he stopped in at the Principality of Monaco where he stood in his full admiral's uniform while the Monegasque troops saluted and fired their artillery in welcome. Becoming more ill by the minute the Duke had to be taken to bed in the Princely Palace. HSH Prince Honore III rushed home to look after so prestigious a guest and saw to it the Duke received the best care he could provide but it was to no avail and the Duke of York passed away in a bed room in the Princely Palace of Monaco which has been known as the York Room ever since. Before his death on September 17 he dictated an apologetic letter to his brother George III (whom he had earlier forbidden Honore III to contact) and thanked Prince Honore for all his care. Prince Honore took great care to follow all protocol exactly with all of the pomp and ceremony for the lying in state and the send-off of the body that Monaco could muster. Afterwards the British king sent the Prince of Monaco two of his late brother's finest race horses and invited him to Britain.

British society mourned the loss of the Duke of York, known as a rather frivolous dandy but popular for all of that. There are a number of lasting reminders of this long past Duke of York, his name having been given to a peninsula that is the northernmost point in Australia, a group of islands off Papua New Guinea, a county in the Commonwealth of Virgnia and a room in the Princely Palace of Monaco.
(more details on the Duke's passing can be found at The Death of the Duke of York at Mad for Monaco)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bhutan Joins 'One World' Bandwagon

The world's youngest reigning monarch, His Majesty Jihme Khesar Wangchuk, King of Bhutan gave a speech on his recent state visit to India in which he spoke about globalization, how all countries and peoples depend on each other, how the wealthy must help the poor, how we are all inter-connected and basically all of the "we're one world" stuff everyone has heard before. Oh, how the mighty have fallen...... First, I should make clear that there was nothing inherently wrong with anything that the young King said, I just tend to recoil at the sound of it and it probably hits me all the harder because of the high pedestal I kept Bhutan on for so many years.

In the past, the little Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was my idea of a monarchial paradise. I've never been there, never been anywhere close to there, but it was my ideal little monarchist Shangri-La in the Himalayas. It was just comforting to know it was there; a country isolated from the outside world, untouched by modernity, where the people loved and were absolutely loyal to their absolute monarch, a very religious country where there was little to no government as we would understand it, no politics, no political parties or factions and no ideologies; just the people and their revered monarch. Now, of course, all of that has changed and it simply breaks my heart.

In recent years, starting with the current King's father, Bhutan embarked on a policy of modernization and openness (yuck!) which included allowing in TV's, the internet, cell phones and the formation of political parties to participate in the democratic process as the King surrendered his absolute authority in preference of a more "modern" constitutional monarchy. This was something handed down from on high, not something the people were clamoring for. The Bhutanese were peaceful, content and while they lived modestly by our standards they were very happy. They seemed perfectly comfortable having as little government as possible and allowing the king to handle national affairs while they concentrated on their own lives. They had to be dragged into democracy kicking and screaming. Now they've started preaching the whole 'we are the world' gospel. Again, nothing actually wrong with what the King said, but hearing it from the King of Bhutan especially makes me want to break down in sobs.

All of these changes were not desired or longed for by the people, they were not needed to save the monarchy from a crisis; Bhutan has long been a peaceful country, no threat to anyone and no bother, content to mind their own business and let the rest of the world stew in its own juices. Now, they seem determined to leave utopia behind them in favor of "progress". Call me a reactionary stick-in-the-mud and you will, but I hold to the old saying that when change is not necessary it is necessary NOT to change. Look at any country in the world you like, it is a fact confirmed by history, that no nation has done well once political parties have taken hold.

So, now Bhutan is anxious to be open to the rest of the world and follow their example. Now, instead of quiet family time they will have soap operas from India on TV. Instead of wearing their traditional clothes they will have American fashions that make everyone look like street bums. Instead of chanting and throat singing they now have ipods stocked with rap "music" rotting their brains out one Bhutanese teen at a time. Instead of a happy, united nation unconcerned with government and unfamiliar with politics they now have competing parties and soon will be able to enjoy the sort of political contests all too familiar in the west, bombarded by accusations from one party that the members of the other party are villains who want to poison the water, make you slaves and who probably eat little puppies for breakfast -vote candidate X!

So, congratulations on joining the rest of the world Bhutan. Soon, you too will be enjoying the full benefits of modernity. Soon they too will have, to quote the late TV series M*A*S*H, "freedom, achievement, hyperacidity, affluence, flatulence, technology, tension, the inalienable right to an early coronary sitting at your desk while plotting to stab your boss in the back." Seriously, I could just sit down and cry, my Shangri-La of Bhutan wants -progress- God forgive them.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Max Mex Movies Post V: Veracruz

“Veracruz” was released in 1954 and starred Gary Cooper, Burt Lancaster, Denise Darcel and Cesar Romero. Unlike many other films regarding the period of the second Mexican Empire, “Veracruz” is considered by many to be one of the greatest classic westerns of all time. It was also, as far as I know, the first such film to be shot on location in Mexico and the filmmakers make great use of the natural beauty of the landscape, even though it at times clashes with reality in the story (given the setting of the film we really should not have seen any pyramids) and also unlike many of its fellows it was shot on a truly grand and epic scale with a huge cast, big battle scenes and some great shots of the scenic castle of Chapultepec. It is also one of the films about the war in Mexico to actually feature Emperor Maximilian (played by George Macready) though it is, unfortunately, a small though important part and a grossly inaccurate portrayal of the man.

The movie also includes a list of truly legendary actors of the western genre in supporting roles such as Jack Elam, Ernst Borgnine and Charles Bronson. It also marked a new, more violent and gritty era in western films. The story follows former Confederate soldier Ben Trane (Gary Cooper) who goes to Mexico to find work as a mercenary and hopefully earn enough money to save his devastated plantation back in Louisiana. Along the way he meets up with the gang of Joe Erin (Burt Lancaster) who is very much the anti-hero, an aggressive, arrogant outlaw dressed in black which Lancaster plays to perfection as someone with some depth to him and wickedly cool. Although Erin and Trane are opposites they each recognize the abilities of the other and realize that, for the time being at least, they need each other.

The group is met by the Marquis Henri de Labordere (Cesar Romero -TV’s Joker from the old Batman series) who the pair describe as a shifty fellow with a crocodile smile though such a description could be applied to Lancaster’s character as well. The whole party is almost captured by a Juarista general but are thwarted by Joe Erin in a display of extreme potential viciousness which thankfully does not go as far as threatened. As usual the Juaristas are portrayed as simple, righteous peasants fighting the good fight against the oppressive Emperor. Unlike many such movies, although the French are referenced and French names are heard, French troops are not really seen and the focus is instead on the imperialist forces of Maximilian. That would be a welcome change but after the Marquis takes the group to Chapultepec to meet the Emperor we see that Maximilian is played as a callous schemer, seemingly genteel and refined on the surface but totally ruthless underneath. Of course, as all readers of this blog should know, that is the complete opposite of historical reality. Maximilian had not a malicious bone in his body and rather than being untrustworthy was far too trusting of those around him who did not always deserve it.

Maximilian enlists Trane, Erin and crew to escort the Countess Duvarre (Denise Darcel) to Vera Cruz as she insists on returning to Paris. However, along the way it is discovered that the Countess and the Marquis are harboring a secret; a French payroll in gold. As expected the outlaws, Juaristas and Imperialistas end up fighting over the loot. Trane and Erin do not trust each other, with good reason, for Erin and the Countess are also plotting to abscond with the loot though it means the Countess must betray her beloved Marquis who is staunchly loyal to the Emperor; but then the Marquis is not quite the dupe others take him for either. It all ends in an epic battle at Vera Cruz for the gold, a feature which is so common in films about the Mexican Empire that the uninformed might think Maximilian was made of money rather than being perpetually cash-strapped. We also get the usual inaccuracies of hopeless saintly portrayals of the Juaristas, the imperialists portrayed as dastardly villains and once again the Imperial troops are given a Gatling gun (never ceases to baffle me).

Those, sadly but truly, are the rule rather than the exception with these movies but putting the unavoidable prejudices aside “Veracruz” is a great movie and one of my favorites. It would be worth viewing simply for the performances of Cooper and Lancaster and the great visuals, the epic scale and glittering style of it. I’m always up for a good cavalry charge and this movie delivers with racing Mexican lancers in shining breastplates and helmets, shoot-outs with Maximilian’s Palatine Guard and they throw in just a splash of humor and romance but never enough to detract from the primary story which is something few films today seem to be able to accomplish. So, to sum up, aside from the usual unavoidable aggravating inaccuracies the performances are great, the visuals are epic, the story is exciting and will keep your attention. All in all one of my favorites and certainly one of the all-time great westerns.

Shameless Plug

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Monarch Profile: The VI Dalai Lama

Tsangyang Gyatso, the Sixth Dalai Lama, had a very unique reign to say the least. He was born in 1682 in Mon Tawang, the region now known as Arunachal Pradesh in India. His parents were Tashi Tenzin and Tsewang Lhamo. It was an unsettled time for Tibet after the passing of the Great Fifth and the Potala palace was still being completed. Knowing this would be a dangerous time, the Great Fifth left instructions that his death was to be kept secret for 15 years; instructions which Desi Sangye Gyatso carried out to the letter. As far as the general public was concerned the Great Fifth was on an extended religious retreat. On important occasions the ceremonial gown of the Dalai Lama was placed on the throne to symbolize the presence of the sovereign. However, when Mongol princes demanded an audience with the Dalai the monks had to resort to using an impersonator; an elderly monk named Depa Deyrab of Namgyal Monastery who looked something like the Great Fifth and who would wear a hat and eyeshadow to help mask his appearance.

This charade was maintained until word came that a boy from the area of Mon had shown signs of being the reincarnation of the Great Fifth. Desi sent investigators to visit the boy in 1688. He was then moved to Nankartse near Lhasa where he was educated until 1697 when Desi sent one of his ministers, Shabdrung Ngawang Shonu, to inform the Manchu Emperor Kangxi of the death of the Great Fifth and the discovery of his reincarnation. Once this was done the 14-year-old Tsangyang Gyatso was openly proclaimed the Buddha of Compassion, the Wish Fulfilling Gem, the VI Dalai Lama of Tibet. There was great public rejoicing and no anger over the years of elaborate deception. As the people said, they were grateful to have been spared, “lamenting the setting of the sun and, instead, making them rejoice in its rising”.

The Fifth Panchen Lama was called in to administer the vows to the new Dalai Lama as a novice monk. Trouble was never far away though as in 1701 Desi Sangya Gyatso was killed in a conflict with Lhasang Khan. The Sixth Dalai Lama did not lead the conventional sort of life for a monk. He left his monastic life, never becoming fully ordained, and preferred to live outdoors. He even visited the Panchen Lama to renounce his vows as a novice; rather unorthodox to say the least but none of which effected his position as Tibetan sovereign. Although the Potala Palace was his official residence, the Dalai Lama spent most of his time living in a tent with friends behind the palace, visiting people in Lhasa and nearby areas. Some of his compositions are still popular in Tibet to this day.

Although unconventional the Sixth Dalai Lama became a beloved figure, spending his days camped out with friends writing poetry and his nights in local taverns drinking and singing songs. The people saw him as a sort of flamboyant romantic figure. In 1706 he was invited to China by the Qing Emperor but died while on his way to Peking.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Messages

The 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing of HH Pope Benedict XVI

The Christmas Message of HM Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain etc

The Christmas Message of HM King Juan Carlos I of Spain

The Christmas Message of HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Birth of the Holy Roman Empire

This being the day before Christmas, I am reminded of one of the most significant events in western history. It was on Christmas day in the year 800 that the Roman Empire in the west was reborn in the person of an illiterate but still educated and cosmopolitan Frankish king when His Holiness Pope Saint Leo III crowned that champion of western civilization, Charlemagne, Emperor of the Romans or as the title would later be best known, the first Holy Roman Emperor. This date should be burned into the minds of all monarchists certainly, all Christians certainly but all Europeans and all the descendants of western civilization as a whole.

The Holy Roman Empire has been often derided in recent times, everyone knows the phrase about it being neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire, but the fact of the matter is that the Holy Roman Empire was the central core of Christendom and a crucial part of the foundation of western civilization as a link between the glorious roots of ancient Rome and the flowering of Europe throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance. Even those nations outside of the Holy Roman Empire which, after the time of Charlemagne, came to be centered largely on Germany (the first Reich or realm) all recognized the Emperor or Kaiser as the first among them even though he had no actual political jurisdiction over them.

Christendom was the tree that branched out around the Holy Roman Empire and gave the world great advances in learning, chivalry, religion and an example of the relationship that existed between religion and monarchy, the temporal and the spiritual, embodied by the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. These two also balanced each other out because all humans can be corrupted and sometimes the Pope had to deal with a wayward Emperor just as Emperors sometimes had to rescue the Church from disorder when a Pope was less than he should have been. It was also an example of a united Europe on an entirely different order than the sort of European unity we are familiar with today. The European unity such as existed as Christendom was a unity based on shared faith and a royal hierarchy but with power resting largely on the local level with each individual kingdom, principality, duchy or city-state.

In this regard the Holy Roman Empire itself represents something of an ideal for those like myself for whom empire is not an ugly word but which represents a multitude of small states rather than massive, centralized states. The Holy Roman Emperor was seen as the first defender of Christendom, one who was absolute in that no one would even think of not having an emperor but whose power was not arbitrary because every peasant, noble lord and royal had their own rights and responsibilities over what was their own. It was, in a sense, a constitutional monarchy though nothing like the symbolic monarchies we think of today. The rule of law was what was paramount and it was the duty of the monarch to uphold the law and that law, or constitution if you like, was based on Christianity.

Things did always go smoothly, which should only serve as an example that no system is incorruptible but success or failure depends on personal character and not some ideal political formula. However, the Holy Roman Empire, successor state of the Western Roman Empire, was the bulwark of Christendom for most of the last thousand years. It was not dissolved until 1806 when the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II became Emperor Francis I of the Austrian Empire. This successor state of the successor state of ancient Rome lasted until 1918 with the defeat of Austria-Hungary in the First World War and the removal of Blessed Emperor Charles I. Thus for the largest part of Christian history the Holy Roman Empire was the heart and center of the wider Christendom and thus it is only fitting that it all started on Christmas 1,209 years ago this Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Accession of King Albert I

The Cross of Laeken details the centenary of the accession of King Albert I of the Belgians, the gallant "soldier-king" who led his nation in their heroic resistance to the German invasion during World War I. The late monarch stands out as one of the illustrious few who was "every inch a king" being regal with the 'common touch', courageous in war, leading his troops at the front, devoted to his family and sincerely religious. His noble example inspired not only the Belgian people but also many others around the world among the Allied powers during the Great War.

Happy Birthday Emperor Akihito!

Today His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan celebrated his 76th birthday. Born in 1933 he has lived through probably the most drastic and far-reaching changes in the long, ancient history of Japan. Coming to the throne when he did the job has certainly been an especially difficult one but he has managed it for all of these years with great dedication, regal bearing and a friendly but familial style. The Mad Monarchist wishes His Imperial Majesty a happy birthday and hopes of many, many more to come. Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monaco and Napoleon

The story of how the Grimaldis fared during the era of the French emperor, the Princes who served in the Napoleonic Wars and the uneasy relationship between Monaco and Napoleon.

Belgian King Displays Christmas Spirit

His Majesty King Albert II of the Belgians has responded to the particular hardships the recent extreme cold have brought in a practical way for some of the least of his subjects. Two homeless families, suffering from the especially harsh winter, have been taken in by the monarch and given shelter at the Royal Trust properties in the royal apartments at the castle in Ciergnon Ardennes. Secretary of State Philippe Courard commented that, "This is truly the will of the King and the royal family to this provision. I emphasize this strong positive step in the right direction." Homeless people have been appealing for shelter from the government in the harsh conditions this year, some sleeping in train stations. Many of the homeless are people who have applied for political asylum in Belgium. Putting all other issues aside King Albert II has displayed the best attitude of the Christmas season, giving shelter to those in need.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mad Rant: Government Is Not the Answer

One of the things that often annoys me in dealing with republicans is the repeated raising of the question of what exactly monarchy can practically do to serve the public or how monarchies can work better than republics or what practical things they can provide that republics cannot. There are, of course, arguments that can be made for monarchy on all of those scores but I get extremely frustrated at the repetition of that line of questioning. Why you ask? Because, when emphasized so much, it seems to me to be a symptom of the disease of revolutionary republicanism that has gripped the world and I get extremely frustrated when monarchists continually try to battle republicans on the enemy’s terms and using republican standards of judging success or failure. To some extent this cannot be avoided but I think monarchists should struggle against it and not surrender the terms of the debate to the revolutionaries.

Despite what can be said for monarchy in this regard it can also be a hard subject to deal with, particularly now, because most monarchies have been reduced to the status of glorified window dressing. On paper the monarchy may be the foundation of the governments in many countries but they have reduced their royals to the point of resembling the lilies of the field who toil not neither do they spin. Given that, it can be difficult at times to list in a practical way what monarchies can provide that republics cannot when most monarchies are effectively republics in all but name already. The problem with this, in even ‘going there’ is that it accepts the model of the revolutionaries who made a sort of god or a secular religion out of government and politics.

Like anyone else, I of course have my own opinions about what political, economic and governmental systems work the best, though never losing my abhorrence for all politics in general and looking back most nostalgically on the era when there was no government as we would know it today but simply a sovereign, his lords and his people who each handle their own affairs within their own sphere of society. It was only with the emergence of mass politics, roughly emerging at the time of the French Revolution if one must take aim at a certain event, when government began to be looked to as the source of the answers to all problems in life and when people started to be fed the lie that if we could just come up with this or that sort of government or adapt this or that political ideology everything would work perfectly and the world would be a utopian paradise.

Retch! It is a lie of course and the most absurd lie which may be why it is so readily believed. In the old days the only institution which would come close to matching this would be religion and even then, in virtually all religions, that paradise was something that could never be achieved in this life with our human foibles and physical limitations. Mass politics emerged as a means for the revolutionary elite to overthrow monarchs and seize power for themselves and the idea of the government as the answer to all life’s problems emerged as a way to allow these revolutionary elites to continually increase the scope and reach of government and thus vastly enlarge their own power continuously as time goes on and we see that very clearly today.

Monarchy, of course, can be of great practical benefit; if it could not it would not have been the dominant form of government for the vast majority of human history, because it takes into account all aspects of humanity; the need for spiritual nourishment, the need for pageantry, the centrality of family as well as seeing to the nuts and bolts of ordering society. However, at times I would like to shout at skeptics that monarchy is not based on trying to give everyone exactly what they want and providing absolutely everything for every single person but rather is based, in my view at least, on the principle of legitimate authority; regardless of how it works because it is legitimate.

If society is well ordered and based on the proper principles true freedom and prosperity will flow naturally. Revolutionaries associate monarchy with oppression to divert from the fact that it is oppression that they themselves truly stand for. They use socialism to keep people in the slavery of perpetual existence without any advancement. They preach freedom while delivering only licentiousness and expanding the scope of government to control every aspect of human life from how much money you make, to what you eat, what you drink, how you travel, how to think correctly, what is passed on through propaganda -er, education, even trying to heal the sick and control the weather. Even Louis XIV at the height of his glory never imagined having such far reaching powers over his people nor would he have cared to have it. I maintain that monarchy is a superior form of government, that in general republicanism is disastrous but government is also not finally the point -it is not the be all and end all of human existence and no government or political system or administrative formula is the answer to all human suffering. I am tired of that line of questioning, I am tired of that mentality and I am … The Mad Monarchist.

Anniversary for Macau

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the official handover of the colony of Macau from Portugal to the People's Republic of China. Macau was first claimed by the Kingdom of Portugal in 1513 by explorers dispatched by King Manuel I, a time of great exploration and expansion for Portugal. The official status of the territory was somewhat ambiguous and went through several changes over the centuries in different treaties and agreements. The Great Qing Empire recognized Portuguese ownership but with the proviso that Portugal could not turn the colony over to any other country without Manchu approval. The coming to power of the communist party in China brought with it renewed calls for the return of all foreign held territory to China, the communists denouncing British control of Hong Kong and Portuguese control of Macau as the results of aggressive conquest and unequal treaties (somewhat rich coming from a government whose rule itself was based on aggressive conquest). During the corporatist regime of Salazar the colony of Macau was declared an overseas province of Portugal and there were concerns that Salazar would oppose any effort by the Red Chinese to take Macau back. However, following the "Carnation Revolution" the corporatist regime was overthrown in a coup d'etat and China was offered Macau then. The Chinese said they were unprepared to accept sovereignty and so it was put off to December 20, 1999 when the official handover ceremony took place. The Portuguese flag was lowered, the red flag was raised and the last European foothold on China passed into the pages of history. The loss of Macau marked the end of the Portuguese colonial empire, the longest lasting in history spanning from the capture of Cueta in 1415 to the handover of Macau in 1999.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Consort Profile: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

One of my favorite royal couples is Britain’s King George III and his consort Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. She was born on May 19, 1744 in Mirow, Germany, the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Mirow. The future George III had been searching for a wife for a while, none of his choices meeting with the approval of his mother, when the match was arranged with the 17-year-old Charlotte mostly due to the lobbying of her widowed mother. Some in Britain were taken aback by the choice. Charlotte’s brother was then the Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz but she did not have so royal a bloodline as many others and was considered by many to be rather unattractive (which seems unfair to me but, ‘eye of the beholder’ I suppose). Nonetheless, the arrangements were made and a Royal Navy squadron under the famous Admiral Anson was sent to bring her to England which proved to be a rather difficult voyage but she arrived safe and sound in early September 1761.

On September 8, 1761 Charlotte and George were married at St James’s Palace though Charlotte, with her typical frankness and good humor, said that she was not very popular because she was not pretty but joked that after breaking her nose in a carriage accident she thought her looks improved. She was also not very warmly received by her in-laws, nonetheless her husband genuinely adored her and the two had a very happy and successful marriage with George III breaking family tradition in the House of Hanover by remaining steadfastly faithful to his wife. Over the years Charlotte bore her husband 15 children, 13 of whom survived to adulthood, so she certainly went above and beyond in securing the succession.

As Queen, Charlotte was a model of gracious royal patronage. She supported Johann Christian Bach and met Mozart as a young boy and he dedicated his Opus 3 to her. She also supported Joseph Haydn, built orphanages, hospitals for expectant mothers and supported women's education. She also dabbled in botany, founded Kew Gardens and supported a number of artists. She had a very loving relationship with her husband and herself suffered greatly as he descended into madness because of his porphyria. She also maintained a long-distance friendship with the French Queen Marie Antoinette, the two being pen pals. Queen Charlotte worried alot about her French counterpart with the onset of the Revolution and prepared a place for the Bourbon royal couple should they be forced to escape to England. When the French queen was executed Charlotte was deeply disturbed and depressed by the news.

Queen Charlotte looked after her husband for the rest of her life, being his legal guardian, never failing in her devotion until her death on November 17, 1818 with her son the Prince-Regent holding her hand. Although she was not given the warmest welcome when she first arrived in Britain she won the hearts of the people by her warmth, generosity and unfailing devotion to her husband and family. She was, in many ways, the ideal queen consort.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Historic Day for Far East Monarchy

It was on this day in 1271 that Khublai Khan of Mongolia founded the Great Yuan Empire, establishing the Mongol dynasty that was the first time all of modern China had been conquered and ruled by a foreign nation. As Emperor, Khublai was a wise and tolerant ruler and along with military strength the economy improved and Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Daoism all lived together peacefully in his far-reaching and cosmopolitan realm. The Mongols would continue to rule China as part of the Great Yuan Empire until roughly 1368 when they were overthrown and replaced by the Ming dynasty, the last native Han dynasty to rule Imperial China.

Max Mex Movies Post IV: The Undefeated

"The Undefeated" came out in 1969 and was directed by John Ford student Andrew V. McLaglen. It is a fairly unambitious but still entertaining movie that starts just as the American Civil War is ending. John Wayne stars as Union Colonel John Henry Thomas who resigns from the army after the war and takes his remaining men out west to round up wild mustangs to sell to the US Army as a way of repaying his men for their wartime service. They are joined by a number of Indians recruited by his adopted Indian son Blue Boy. When government agents try to cheat them they accept a better offer from the representatives of Emperor Maximilian of Mexico to get top dollar in return for driving the herd to Mexico. The federal agents try to stop them but are unsuccessful.

While driving the herd into Mexico they cross paths with a group of former Confederates and their families led by Colonel James Langdon (Rock Hudson). Unwilling to admit defeat and angered by scalawags and Yankee carpetbaggers taking over the south the group packed up to head for Mexico. When Thomas finds them they are on their way to Durango where they will enter the service of Emperor Maximilian. The Yankees help their former Confederate foes fight off a bandit attack (all parties using weapons that are totally historically inaccurate) and to celebrate the Confederates invite the Yankees to a 4th of July party (rather odd considering that the south did not celebrate the 4th again until World War I as it marked the day the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi was starved into submission) and a violent but still good natured brawl finishes the day off.

This point also sees the start of a painfully absurd effort at a romantic subplot between Blue Boy and the Confederate colonel's daughter Charlotte -the less said about that the better. The two sides part on friendly terms though trouble is in the air when the bodies of the French troops sent to escort the Confederates are found slaughtered by the Juaristas by Colonel Thomas. Nonetheless they push on to Durango where they are welcomed by one General Rojas (Tony Aguilar) with a mariachi band playing a Latino version of "Dixie". However, at the height of the celebration the flags change and Rojas reveals that he is actually a Juarista. He takes all the Confederates prisoner and threatens to massacre them all, soldiers and civilians alike, unless Langdon can convince Thomas to turn over his herd of horses to the Juaristas. The French find out about this and naturally try to stop Thomas from turning the animals over to the enemy.

This is where the republican bias makes for some confusion. The unseen Emperor Maximilian has been nothing but honest and generous with all parties whereas the republican revolutionaries are shown executing French prisoners, blackmail Thomas and threaten the mass murder of all of Langdon's people after kidnapping them by deception. Despite all of this they still try to portray Rojas as a basically good guy rather than a villain -which obviously doesn't really work. Reluctant as they try to make Rojas theft, blackmail and the threat of mass murder is simply not something I would think most viewers could get past. However, this is a movie without any real villains other than the bandits. Some minor efforts are made to make the French seem wicked but we never actually see them do anything wrong. Both sides, north and south, are portrayed sympathetically when it comes to the Americans though they do have to make one of the Confederates a jerk.

On the whole, "The Undefeated" is a good, entertaining little western though it does have its annoyances and the usual inaccuracies. I found the ending most absurd of all as they try to have everyone part as friends and given the actions of General Rojas mentioned above I simply cannot see that happening in real life. But, of course, this is a western and not real life. Wayne and Hudson give their typically good performances, there is some humor splashed throughout though I will assume it was unintended that I laughed at the fight scene between Thomas and Langdon when John Wayne, the quintessential macho-man American, gets punched in the face by the gayest man in Hollywood of his day. As I said, I think it is a good movie, not a great one, but for what it is "The Undefeated" is a fine little western that probably gives a more accurate portrayal of the Juarez/Maximilian struggle than the filmmakers intended.

Shameless Plug

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Monarchist Profile: Banastre Tarleton

Every war has its groups of famous armed men; military units which gained notoriety above others. During the American Revolutionary War one such unit was the British Legion; a crack collection of British and predominately American loyalist Dragoons and light infantry commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. Banastre Tarleton first came to fame as a coronet in the 16th Light Dragoons commanded by the Hon. William Harcourt. Coronet Tarleton was in command of a detachment which captured the revolutionary General Charles Lee at Basking Ridge in 1776. He was the son of a merchant from Liverpool and had went to Oxford before joining the army in 1775 and volunteering for service in America. Once there he served in the 79th Foot as well as the 16th Light Dragoons before taking command of the British Legion, which he led at the battle of Monmouth. Described as having a boyish appearance with almost feminine features, Tarleton nonetheless was a talented soldier with all of the attitude one usually associates with a cavalry commander. He was flamboyant, vain, self-assured, had a devil may care attitude and was a young man who liked to joke, have fun, chase women and advance his reputation and fame.

For the war in the southern colonies, the Crown forces needed troops who could move fast and strike hard to deal with the numerous rebel guerilla groups operating in the area. One of these, and certainly one of the best, was the British Legion. Fast moving, well trained and due to the predominance of loyalists they were highly motivated, these men were ideally suited to their task. The British Legion was first formed in August, 1778, in New York. It was formed by consolidating unattached units such as the Philadelphia Light Dragoons, the Caledonian Volunteers and Kinloch's Light Dragoons. Members of the Royal American Reformees, the Bucks County Light Dragoons and the West Jersey Volunteers joined the Legion later. It was listed on the American Establishment as the 5th American Regiment in 1781. On December 25, 1782 the cavalry of the Legion was upgraded to the status of a regular regiment in the British Army. The Legion in 1779 consisted of six troops of light dragoons. Later, in 1780, four companies of light infantry were added, but these were eventually lost at the battle of Cowpens. And, in command of these crack, green-coated cavalrymen was now Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton.

British operations in the southern colonies began again with the attack on Charleston, South Carolina. The British commander-in-chief in America, Sir Henry Clinton, directed the operation as an earlier attack of his on the city had failed and he was anxious to redeem himself. In order to isolate the city he had to cut the rebel supply lines which were guarded by a cavalry brigade under General Isaac Huger at Biggins Bridge. To neutralize Huger, Clinton dispatched two of his best units, both of them loyalist, the Queen's Rangers under Major Patrick Ferguson and the British Legion. Tarleton and Ferguson charged in during the night, surprised the rebels and totally crushed them, defeating Huger and capturing large amounts of men and material.

Along with the contribution of Tarleton and his men, the British captured Charleston and its entire rebel garrison; in one stunning blow totally eliminating the revolutionary forces in the south. Clinton returned to New York and left the campaign in the hands of Lieutenant General Charles Earl Cornwallis. Dispatching troops to secure Ninety Six and Augusta, Lord Cornwallis headed toward Camden. When word came that a rebel regiment from Virginia under Colonel Abraham Buford was retreating before him, Cornwallis ordered Tarleton and his cavalry along with some men of the 17th Light Dragoons, to pursue and overtake Buford. Taking to his assignment with his usual dash and zeal, Tarleton rode north and rode hard, wearing out men and horses in single-minded pursuit of his goal. Tarleton overtook Buford at Waxhaw Creek on the border between the two Carolinas on May 29, 1780. The rebels formed up and Tarleton charged into them with such force that nothing could stop him, even having his horse shot out from under him. Clutched by panic, the rebels tried to surrender, but as Tarleton went down many of his men thought he had been killed and loosed their vengeance on the Virginians. The incident became known as the Waxhaw Massacre and cemented the image of Tarleton as chief bogey man in the eyes of the rebel army. Tarleton was nicknamed "Bloody Ban", "Ban the Butcher" and the "Butcher of the Carolinas" and from then on the revolutionaries referred to the act of taking no prisoners as "Tarleton's Quarter".

Reports from the time are contradictory but it is quite easy to see that Tarleton has been treated quite unfairly on this issue, an issue blown entirely out of proportion in order to portray him as being cruel and bloodthirsty. Unfortunately, many history books, especially in the US, play along and make no mention of the fact that Tarleton offered Buford the chance to surrender that morning and had been refused. Most do not mention that most of the rebel casualties came as a result of the battle and the incompetence of their own commander or of the fact that many of the rebel troops survived even though it would have been well within the power of Tarleton to have pursued them and wiped them out completely. There is simply no evidence to suggest anything malicious in the conduct of Tarleton at Waxhaws and no evidence that there was anything like an actual massacre. At most, there was some killing in the confused minutes after Tarleton was unhorsed and his men were not under his direction. Nonetheless, the rebel propaganda seems to have worked fantastically as Colonel Tarleton still to this day is forced to bear a ruthless reputation because of the incident he certainly does not deserve.

In the larger campaign though, outside of the propaganda war, things continued to go bad for the revolutionaries. In August, Lord Cornwallis met the rebel General Horatio Gates in battle at Camden. The rebel militia scattered when hit by the British attack but the Maryland and Delaware regulars under the Bavarian Baron DeKalb put up stiffer resistance, holding for about an hour before Tarleton and his cavalry slipped around and attacked them from the rear. Tarleton finished them off and the battle of Camden went down in history as perhaps the most complete victory ever by Crown forces during the war. General Gates himself abandoned his army and fled with his men retreating in a panic soon dubbed "the Camden races". Rebel troops under General Thomas Sumter who had planned to join Gates were also nearby and Tarleton and his men were sent racing after them, finally catching them at Rocky Mountain Ferry. Once again, Tarleton totally defeated the rebels, forcing Sumter to flee and capturing a great deal of men, supplies, weapons and freeing a hundred British prisoners.

After the victory at Camden the British advance continued north, though at a slow pace due to widespread illness. In fact, when the British Legion next saw action Tarleton was down with fever and the troops were led by Major George Hanger, a fun-loving party boy and companion in the escapades of the Prince of Wales. The reconnaissance into Charlotte without Tarleton was less than successful though Cornwallis easily occupied the town when he arrived with his main body. The British had more bad luck when the heroic Major Patrick Ferguson and his loyalists were wiped out at King's Mountain on October 6, 1780. After this battle a real massacre ensued when the rebels slaughtered loyalists who had surrendered as well as those who were wounded. They even mutilated the dead body of Major Ferguson and as the rebels carried out their brutality they shouted, "Tarleton's Quarter!" In the face of this rampage and with disease still running rampant, Cornwallis fell back to Winnsboro for the winter. In November, Tarleton fought a bloody battle at Blacktock's Plantation but throughout the south rebel guerillas under Thomas Sumter and Francis Marion plagued the loyalist militia and terrorized loyalist citizens.

In January of 1781 Lord Cornwallis resumed his march north from Winnsboro. Upon learning that the rebel army had split in two, Cornwallis hoped to catch and destroy the column under General Daniel Morgan. In command of the troops sent after Morgan was Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton. The two forces met on January 17, 1781 at Hannah's Cowpens. Morgan placed his men with their backs to the Broad River so that retreat would not be an option. The Crown forces were exhausted, but as was his style, Tarleton decided on an immediate attack at which he had always been successful. As Tarleton attacked, the rebel militia fired two volleys and then fell back as Morgan had planned. Thinking that, as usual, the rebels had broken and retreated, Tarleton sent in the 17th Light Dragoons in pursuit, but they were intercepted by the cavalry of Colonel William Washington who, with twice as many men, charged up from behind a hill and smashed the British dragoons. The rebel militia rallied and the British advance began to slow. Seeing the danger, Colonel Tarleton sent his cavalry reserve charging in and though the rebel line began to waver under the onslaught the Crown forces were rapidly losing cohesion. When Morgan rallied his men and loosed another volley into the British ranks their attack fell apart. As the Crown forces began to surrender and retreat Tarleton led a last minute Hail Mary charge of his own, but it was to no avail. Tarleton had been defeated at the battle of Cowpens, losing a hundred men killed or wounded and 800 taken prisoner.

Cowpens shook the famous reputation of Tarleton and encouraged more colonials in the south to join the rebels. Cornwallis was deeply disturbed by the loss, complaining that with the loss of Tarleton's cavalry he had lost his eyes and ears. Still, he continued on, harassed every step of the way by Greene and Morgan. When he stopped and the two sides met for battle at Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781 the Crown forces numbered less than 2,000 men compared to 4,500 rebel troops under General Greene.

Lord Cornwallis arranged his men with Major General Alexander Leslie on the right and Brigadier General Charles O'Hara on the left with Colonel Tarleton in reserve. After exchanging artillery fire, the British marched forward against three lines of rebel troops. The rebel front line of North Carolina militia broke and retreated fairly quickly. The second line of Virginia militia held longer but also finally gave way. The outnumbered British had broken through two lines of rebel defense, but the third line of Maryland and Virginia regulars proved too much. The British were halted and driven back by a bayonet charge. Cornwallis sent in his reserves and the rebel cavalry charged in as well with both sides locking in fierce close combat. When the redcoats began to waver, Cornwallis ordered his artillery to fire into the mass of men, killing friend and foe alike but keeping the rebels at bay. Cornwallis reformed his men and Colonel Tarleton charged in, crushing the rebel flanks. When the British began moving in again the rebels finally gave it up and retreated, leaving their artillery and ammunition behind. It was yet another victory for the Crown forces, but one that had been very costly with 143 men killed and 389 wounded. The small British army was now smaller and had to secure a port to be supported and re-supplied.

To do this, Cornwallis moved into Virginia and he sent Colonel Tarleton on a raid to Charlottesville, the seat of the Virginia Assembly. On June 4, Tarleton entered the city and came within mere minutes of capturing Thomas Jefferson himself. Skirmishes continued as Cornwallis and his commander, Sir Henry Clinton, clashed over the best course of action. Considering Portsmouth as a possible base, Cornwallis moved in, meeting resistance from rebel troops under the Marquis de Lafayette and Brigadier General Anthony Wayne. At Green Spring Farm Cornwallis set a trap for the rebels and Colonel Tarleton helped lure Wayne in with his Legion cavalry. When the British sprung their trap the force under Wayne was crushed. After the rebels had retreated, Colonel Tarleton located their main force under Lafayette which had been joined by additional troops under Baron von Steuben. Tarleton wanted to charge in and finish them off, but Cornwallis would not allow it, feeling that his troops were too tired and depleted to risk another engagement.

As Cornwallis moved to Suffolk, Tarleton rode off on another raid to intercept supplies at New London meant for General Nathaniel Greene, however, by the time he arrived the supplies had already been moved out. From Portsmouth Cornwallis began moving his army to Yorktown. At the same time, rebel and French forces under General George Washington were moving south, hoping that the French navy could blockade Cornwallis from the sea and allow Washington to overwhelm him. Throughout the rest of the summer and into autumn the French and Continental armies concentrated their men in Virginia. On March 8, 1781 the French navy fought the first battle of the Capes and managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In September, however, in the second battle of the Capes, the French fleet returned and pushed the Royal Navy away from aiding Cornwallis and allowing French ships to land. Cornwallis was now isolated though ideas were considered for breaking through to him.

As Cornwallis entrenched himself at Yorktown and the French and rebels closed in, the siege was starting off what would be the beginning of the end of the American Revolution. Siege warfare has no place for cavalry, but Colonel Tarleton was not done quite yet. On October 3, Tarleton led his Legion cavalry across to the Gloucester area along with some men from the Queen's Rangers and the 17th Foot. He quickly spotted French marines, rebel militia and the French legion of Duc d'Lauzun. Tarleton fought a delaying action to buy time for the foraging wagons to escape. He charged the French hussars and was unhorsed and would have been captured if some of his fast acting British troops had not saved him. The infantry repelled Lauzun, but when Tarleton followed up with a counterattack, French infantry stopped him as well. Tarleton continued the fight until additional French and rebel troops appeared on his right flank and forced him to withdraw. Nonetheless, he had saved the supplies Cornwallis desperately needed and bought them the time to escape. These were the last additional provisions the Crown forces would receive and they would be sorely needed.

With that action, the role of Tarleton in North America had come to an end. On October 19, 1781 the Crown forces formally surrendered and laid down their arms after a well fought siege. Clinton had been in the process of sending help, but turned back when word came that Cornwallis had surrendered. Tarleton was included in this and paroled back to England. In 1790 he became a member of Parliament for Liverpool and was active in opposing the abolitionist movement in Great Britain. In 1794 he was promoted to the rank of major general and in 1798 married an illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Ancaster, though the two never had any children. He wrote about his service in America and in 1812, also his last year in Parliament, he was promoted to full general and held commands in England and Ireland. He was made a baronet in 1815 and died in 1833 at Leintwardine.

Today, Banastre Tarleton continues to endure a reputation he does not deserve. In reality he certainly had plenty of traits for which most people today would criticize him. He was vain, ambitious and opposed the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. However, no one condemns him for any of this, but rather they continue to focus on unfair and unfounded accusations of cruelty. Still to this day he is remembered as "Tarleton the Butcher" and "Bloody Ban" as supposedly serious scholars simply repeat back tired pieces of propaganda from his enemies. The facts all fail to support such accusations, though they continue to be leveled by those eager to paint the British and loyalists as devils and the American revolutionaries as saints. The actual record shows Colonel Tarleton to be no monster, but rather a driven, courageous and skilled officer, probably the best cavalry commander of the war in fact. His personality may have annoyed some of his superiors, but his men adored him and his record of success speaks for itself as to his ability. Perhaps one day the story of the American Revolution will be told without partiality and the truth about Banastre Tarleton will finally become well known.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prince William at His Best

Between being hounded by the media and Pink calling him a "redneck" for hunting, Prince William has not had an easy time of it as of late. However, last night he was in full form at the Sun Military Awards, hosted by The Sun newspaper at the Imperial War Museum. The event was held to honor the military veterans of the United Kingdom, many celebrities were on hand and Prince William was accompanied by his younger brother Prince Harry, himself a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Prince William's speech was modern royalty at its finest and his paid tribute to the men and women who serve in uniform for their Queen and country. Prince William himself has trained with the army and navy and is currently training as a rescue helicopter pilot with the RAF. The Prince told his military comrades that it was, "a privilege and an honor" to wear the same uniform as so many other brave individuals. One of those present was a Royal Marine (Ben McBean) who lost an arm and a leg to a landmine in Afghanistan and returned home with Prince Harry. The royal "spare" referred to him as "a true hero".

Prince William said, "This country is blessed with its Armed Forces,” during his tribute address to the troops.

"These are not just words. It is the truth. Your unremitting pursuit of excellence, your humanity, your humility, your extraordinary self-discipline, your camaraderie – regardless of background – mark you out as amongst the very best in our society.

"Your loyalty to one another will mean the difference between life and death. The example you show us has penetrated the national psyche. It has drawn the British people together in an extraordinary way.

"The magnificent response up and down the country on Armistice Day this year bears powerful testimony to this. So I would say that, although you serve the country, you also show us the way."

Again, what more is there to say? It was Prince William at his finest last evening.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Royal Profile: Prince Regent Abd al-Ilah

One of the key figures in the late history of the Kingdom of Iraq was the Prince-Regent Abd al-Ilah. Born in 1913 he was the son of King Ali ibn Hussein of the Hejaz, a nephew of King Faisal I of Iraq and a cousin and the brother-in-law of King Ghazi of Iraq. On April 4, 1939 he began his service as regent of Iraq for King Faisal II following the death of King Ghazi in an auto accident. From early on, as had the monarchs before him, Prince Regent Abd al-Ilah was criticized for his government policy of friendship and cooperation with the British Empire. During World War II he was overthrown for a time by anti-British forces who were allied with Nazi Germany. British troops were deployed and the Prince-Regent called on the Iraqis to rise up against the pro-Axis government. Eventually the regime fell and the ringleader, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani, fled to Persia.

Prince Abd al-Ilah was restored to power and afterwards strengthened the alliance with Great Britain as well as establishing friendly relations with the United States of America. He even visited America where he was given the Legion of Merit by President Harry Truman. In 1953 King Faisal II came of age and the regency was ended, however, Prince Abd al-Ilah continued to be a primary advisor to the young monarch and as such kept up his support for keeping good relations with the west. He supported the adoption of the Baghdad Pact with Great Britain and other powers in the Middle East as well as the formation of a monarchist coalition of powers (the Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan) rather than joining in the United Arab Republic dominated by Egypt and pan-Arab nationalists.

All of these positions and policies made the Prince a particular enemy of the radical forces that stood opposed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq and included Islamic fundamentalists, xenophobic nationalists and pan-Arab progressives. As such, on July 14, 1958 when the violent coup was launched that saw the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy and the massacre of the Iraqi royal family Prince Abd al-Ilah was singled out for particular cruelty, being murdered, his body desecrated and finally mutilated before being burned by a mob whipped into a frenzy of bloodlust by the revolutionary gang of traitors. Perhaps, in the future, the government of Iraq will admit the immense crime that was done to the Hashemites and rehabilitate the memory if not fully coming to their senses and restoring the monarchy.

Changing the Canadian Flag

It was on this day in 1964 that the Canadian Parliament voted to end the debate on the new design for the national flag, effectively making the current "Maple Leaf" flag official and replacing the older Canadian Red Ensign. It was a hotly debated issue by Canadian standards and although the vast majority accept and love the Maple Leaf there are still those who prefer the Red Ensign. The fact that the issue ever came up at all, however, says alot about the national trend in what was once called the Dominion of Canada. Speaking for myself, it is hard to imagine a sizeable group in any country wishing to change their national flag. The Red Ensign had long been recognized as the Canadian flag and it presided over the movement of Canada to independence and it was the flag Canadian troops fought under in both World Wars. However, rising liberal trends in Canada brought a reaction against the Canadian Red Ensign which they accused of being "too British", "too colonial" and not representative of the new multi-cultural Canada.

Part of this was an effort to appease the increasingly powerful movement of the French Canadians in Quebec toward talk of secession. Obviously if the design was to quiet such talk by the French Canadians the new Maple Leaf design did not work out as hoped. However, beyond that the primary criticism of the Red Ensign was that it reminded everyone of the late British Empire. My response to that would be a simple, "so what?!" The British Empire was one of the least oppressive and most humane and beneficial colonial organizations in the history of the world. There were unsavory instances to be sure but the British Empire brought security, stability, economic progress and representative government to vast tracts of the world, producing a number of the most advanced, free and prosperous independent countries in the world today. Moreover, if not for the Canadian ties with Great Britain the "Great White North" would most likely be part of the United States today which tried to incorporate Canada into their own union during the American War for Independence and the War of 1812. I see no reason why Canadians should not be proud of their past membership in the British Empire. In any event, changing the flag does not change history.

Allow me to also say that, while I would prefer the Red Ensign, I have no problem with the current Canadian flag and find it a very attractive design. However, I consider the issue important, still, because many of the same arguments made against the Red Ensign back in the 60's are being used today by the annoying collection of Canadian republicans who would like to see the Canadian monarchy go the way of the original Canadian national flag. Like the old flag, the monarchy is and always will be associated with Great Britain, always a reminder of the days when Canada was part of the British Empire but, also like the Red Ensign, the Canadian monarchy is also uniquely Canadian; a symbol not only of where the country came from and what it was but also what it is and the most significant difference between Canada and her closest neighbor. So, it is not simply that the flag was changed which I find disturbing (as I said, I like the new design just find) but it is the reason behind it and the trend represented by the change. Canadians should be proud of their history, their flag -both old and new, and of their form of government as well as of their own Canadian monarchy.
God Save the Queen of Canada!

Monday, December 14, 2009

MM Video: Royal Finland and the Winter War

Historic Day for Finland

It was on this day in 1918 that HRH Prince Frederick Charles of Hessen-Kassel renounced his short-lived title of "King of Finland". Frederick Charles was the son of the Landgrave of Hesse and Princess Anna of Prussia. His ties with royal Europe were extensive, being a cousin of Czar Nicholas II of Russia and the brother-in-law of the German Kaiser after marrying his sister Princess Margaret of Prussia in 1893. He became head of the Hessian royal family in 1884 but was to be better known, perhaps, for his stint as the nominal King of Finland at the end of the First World War. During the conflict Germany enjoyed her greatest success on the eastern front, and there was also some encouragement from the fact that much of that part of the Russian Empire was populated by those known as the "Baltic Germans". As victory over Russia looked more and more certain plans were developed to create a number of new monarchies that would be incorporated into the German Empire, such as the Baltic duchies, under their own German royals. Finland, formerly a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire, was declared an independent kingdom with German support when the Finns broke away from Russia following the revolution. On October 9, 1918 the Finnish Parliament elected Prince Frederick Charles "King of Finland". A model for royal government was drawn up, a Finnish crown was made and Frederick Charles began to make himself familiar with what was to be his new country. Of course, the survival of all of these new monarchies depended, naturally, on German victory in the World War and when it became clear, not long after, that such a thing was impossible the dream of a German-dominated eastern Europe began to fall apart. The nominal Kingdom of Finland held on for slightly longer than the German Empire itself but on December 14, 1918 Frederick Charles abdicated his throne and Finland subsequently adopted a republican constitution.

It was also on this day that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (boo! hiss!) was ejected from the League of Nations because of their invasion of Finland. Also, as we all know, Germany did not lose her interest in the Baltic or, to a lesser extent, Finland. A number of Baltic Germans rose to prominence in the Nazi German state and when the USSR invaded the Finns found the Germans the only ally left to them in their effort to regain what had been stolen from them by the Reds.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Anniversary of Attempted Monarchist Coup in Greece

It was on this day in 1967 that HM King Constantine II of Greece launched his attempt at a royalist coup to re-take the government from the military junta that had been in power since launching a coup of their own that spring. The military had sought the support of the Greek monarch and most of the troops who participated in the initial military takeover thought they were acting on the King's orders. Once it was an accomplished fact Constantine II had little choice but to go along with it and bide his time until the right moment to remove the colonels from power. The date chosen was December 13, 1967. The King and Royal Family went to Kavala where he rallied loyal officers, always adamant that there be no bloodshed. Because of this, he tried to organize his coup from the top, dealing only with royalist army commanders and not attempting to incite a popular uprising against the junta. This would prove to be critical as he was essentially risking everything on the loyalty of the chain of command. In the event, not all officers proved as faithful as their generals who took the side of their monarch. Field officers loyal to the military regime turned on their generals and arrested those who supported the King. Constantine II and his family were forced to flee to Rome where he continued to assert that he was the rightful King of the Hellenes and put his faith in popular support. However, obtaining and keeping popular support in a country under military rule is a difficult thing but Constantine was firm about his choice, even turning down an offer from the junta to have him back if he would drop his democratic advocacy. The King refused and when the junta was overthrown and a vote organized, it was a vote to remove Constantine II as the nominal Greek monarch. The King remains in exile to this day, stating when asked his preference for a limited monarchy but fully accepting of the republican government as the legitimate authority in Greece.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Queen of Mexico

Today is the holiday of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church and a federal holiday in Mexico. It honors the image that appeared on the cloak of St Juan Diego and is credited with helping spread a massive wave of conversions to Christianity in Mexico. It is no exaggeration to say that the most significant icon in Mexico, and rapidly spreading abroad, is Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her image is to be seen everywhere Mexican people live and has been carried by royalists and revolutionaries alike. However, none have honored the Virgin of Guadalupe to the same extent as the two incarnations of the Mexican Empire. The first Emperor of Mexico, Don Agustin de Iturbide, while serving as regent, founded the Imperial Order of Guadalupe on November 9, 1821 as the supreme award for national service to the Empire of Mexico; the highest degree of which was reserved to members of the Imperial Family and the high clergy. It fell into disuse in 1823 until being revived as a republican order by President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
(Emperor Agustin wearing the original Guadalupe order)
On June 30, 1863 the honor was restored in a new style as the Imperial Order of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the provisional government and later reformed by Emperor Maximilian in 1865, taking second place in precedence to the Imperial Order of the Mexican Eagle. Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota made frequent visits to the actual icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the symbol was widely displayed and incorporated into imperial portraits. The Virgin of Guadalupe had been named patron of New Spain by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754. Pope Leo XIII crowned the image in 1895, Pope St Pius X named her patron of all Latin America in 1910 and in 1945 Pope Pius XII named Our Lady of Guadalupe “Queen of Mexico and Empress of the Americas”. In 1966 Pope Paul VI granted a Golden Rose to the shrine of the icon.
(the second version of the Order of Guadalupe)
In the last significant counterrevolutionary outbreak in Mexico, known as La Cristiada, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was emblazoned on the flags of the Catholic rebel forces and the Virgin was named generalissima of their army. In another sign of the religious monarchism of the movement their battlecry was "Viva Cristo Rey!" and their actual field commander was obsessed with the Mexican monarchist martyr General Miguel Miramon. Today, unfortunately, the Guadalupe image has become something of a pop icon, something associated with Mexico and Mexicans with no thought as to the meaning behind it; or, to focus on the revolutionary use of the image. However, these people need to be reminded that the icon is a monarchist icon, associated with monarchist movements both temporal and spiritual and a beloved icon of the Mexican emperors.
(2nd empire image of the Virgin appearing to Maximilian & Carlota)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama Too Busy for King

A rather insolent pattern is emerging regarding "The One" U.S. President Obama and the royals of the world. First there was Obama all but kotowing to the King of Saudi Arabia before barely giving a nod to the sovreign of America's most supportive ally Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. Later on, the Marxist-in-chief snubbed the XIV Dalai Lama for fear of offending the communist bandit government in China. This was followed by a technically improper but very reverential bow to the Emperor of Japan. Now, many Norwegians are upset that B. Hussein Obama refused an invitation by King Harald V of Norway to have lunch as is traditional for winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. He has also ruffled Norwegian feathers for refusing to attend other customary events. So what is the attentive monarchist to gather from this odd, inconsistent behavior? Bow to the Saudi King, snub the British Queen, snub the Dalai Lama, bow to the Japanese Emperor and snub the King of Norway... hmmmm... The only possible conclusion I can come to is that Obama only shows respect to the monarchs of people who have attacked the United States within the last hundred years. As Obama's own Democrat party used to constantly point out the majority of the 9-11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia as is Osama bin Laden himself. We also recently passed the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Am I being a tad unfair? Probably. The King of Saudi Arabia and the Emperor of Japan had nothing to do with those tragic events but for a President who is constantly being accused of selling out long-standing allies while trying to make nice with the enemies of America I cannot help but notice which monarchs he bows to and which he chooses to brush off. Probably all just a coincidence I'm sure, after all Obama was probably occupied with his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in which he had to defend his sending of 30,000 more troops to one of the two wars he is engaged in and then go on to remind the world why sometimes warfare is needed and beneficial. Which is true, but probably not the sort of thing one expects to hear in an acceptance speech for someone getting the Nobel Peace Prize. So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you want President Obama to bow to you, first induce some of your countrymen to attack the U.S. at some point and if you want to win the Nobel Prize for Peace you need to send more troops to war.
And I'm the one who's crazy?!
In any event, at least the royals on hand behaved with all of the dignity and civility one would expect and in an effort to leave on a high note I will close with this picture of the lovely Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden looking very regal in her purple dress and matching jewels.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

MM Video: Emperor Khai Dinh

Emperor Khai Dinh of Vietnam, read his Monarch Profile if you missed it.

Monarch Profile: Oba Ovonramwen of Benin

Overami or Ovonramwen was the last Oba or King of the African Kingdom of Benin, also sometimes referred to as the Benin Empire (not be confused with the modern country of Benin) which occupied an area mostly within what is now Nigeria. For many years prior to Ovonramwen coming to the throne British influence in the area had been expanding and strengthening but Benin remained independent but that independence, particularly the trade monopoly the Oba held in the region, aroused the jealousy of elite colonial investors and businessmen. They were determined to bring Benin with its palm-oil, rubber and ivory wealth under British control. Ovonramwen came to the throne in 1888 as the 35th Oba of Benin and in 1892 signed a treaty with the British to abolish the slave trade in the region and making the Kingdom of Benin an autonomous protectorate of Great Britain.

However, powerful forces were arrayed against the king, particularly the Vice-Consul James Robert Phillips and Captain Gallwey of the Oil Rivers Protectorate. Their goal was the full annexation of Benin to the British Empire and the overthrow of the Oba who stood in their way. In 1896 a British column led by Phillips went to meet with Oba Ovonramwen in Benin City but did not get to see the monarch who was occupied with performing important ceremonies at the time. Another expedition was launched despite warnings from the Oba not to come as their visit was timed to coincide with the celebration of the annual Igue Festival; a time of much ceremony when all outsiders were encouraged to stay away. The British were asked to postpone the visit for two months but Phillips refused and sent the king his stick; a traditional sign of insult and a deliberate provocation. As a result, when the party entered Benin territory they were ambushed and massacred with only a few managing to escape.

In February of 1897 the British launched a full-scale attack on Benin City which fell after eight days of fierce fighting. The Kingdom of Benin was totally destroyed, many inhabitants killed, the city looted and many valuable artifacts taken as trophies. The accused mastermind of the ambush and massacre of Captain Phillips and his party, Ologbohere, was put on trial and hanged. Oba Ovonramwen was to be hanged as well but after his surrender was deposed instead and exiled to Calabar with his two wives where he died in January of 1914. The king had actually had nothing to do with the massacre, knowing well enough that such an act would only provoke a war he could not hope to win, which is exactly what happened. The area of Benin was annexed and allowed for further British expansion into the interior of West Africa. However, despite the exile and death of the last reigning Oba of Benin the royal family continued on and still does today in the person of Crown Prince Solomon Akenzua who succeeded as Oba Erediauwa of the Benin people in Nigeria in 1978.
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