Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Politics and Modern Western Monarchy

Your friendly Mad Monarchist "Brain Trust"
This is an issue that I have refrained from talking about because, as a monarchist, I frankly do not like being unnecessarily critical of monarchs; there are plenty of others willing to do it for us after all. However, a number of issues recently have skirted the edge of political involvement on the part of monarchs and royals, so I am going to address it. The official line, of course, is that royals in general and reigning monarchs in particular, do not get involved in politics, do not make political statements on their own and do not give their opinions on politics. This is usually considered a simple matter of survival on their part since if they did take a political position on some issue it would cause division and lead to calls for the monarchy to be abolished. However, as I am sure most of us have realized at some point or another, this rule is not strictly followed. Royals can make political statements and their political views known but only on issues that are “politically correct” and in agreement with the ruling mindset.

For example, the Prince of Monaco can hardly open his mouth without talking about man-made global warming, which is still disputed in many corners. The Prince of Wales is also known as a leading environmentalist but, in fact, environmentalism is a very fashionable political platform these days and one would be hard pressed to find a modern royal who has not attended some meeting on it, given out or received an award relating to it or addressed it in some way. The Prince of Monaco is, of course, an absolute monarch in all but name and can say what he likes. However, I have never heard too many republican traitors in Great Britain raising dust about the Prince of Wales speaking on “climate change” as crossing the line into politics. When the Grand Duke of Luxembourg recently said that the integration of the huge number of immigrants to his country was his top priority and that the native Luxembourgish should not be “selfish” in this situation, no one thought he was being political. Likewise the Dutch Queen Beatrix has never been criticized for her well-known dislike of the anti-immigration party in the Netherlands. Royals and monarchs across Europe have more or less done the same under the name of promoting “diversity”.

Does anyone think this would be considered non-political speech if the monarch or royal in question spoke in favor of the reverse? A monarch speaking in favor of diversity, in race, religion, culture etc, is not considered to be involving themselves in politics. Yet, if a monarch said that their country was for their own people alone and that they should guard against foreign peoples outnumbering the natives in their country would this be considered non-political as well? I think I can safely say that the answer is no based on two examples from opposite ends of Europe. In Norway, when Crown Princess Mette-Marit has spoken out about the need for greater acceptance of homosexuals no one thought this was controversial or political. Yet, when Queen Sophia of Spain spoke, even privately, of her reservations about homosexuals she was immediately pilloried in the press. Now, I know someone will say that the two cases cannot be compared because Norway has long had a very liberal society and Spain has, traditionally at least, had a much more conservative society. That is true, though much less so today, and it is also why this is a defense of monarchy rather than an attack.

Royals, like any of us mortals are, invariably to at least some extent, products of their environment. In an age when European society is liberal, secular, permissive and things like diversity, tolerance and environmentalism are the new moral orthodoxy we cannot be too surprised that royals, the same as anyone else, who are brought up in this environment will reflect those values that modern society upholds as most sacred. This does not absolve them of all guilt or endow them with all credit for the various views they support but it does, to some extent at least, explain them. For good or ill royals have always been influenced by the fashions, trends and prevailing attitudes of their time. Today, I tend to think some things have made this more pronounced such as royals being educated outside of the palace (a great mistake in my view), the idea of royal children being treated ‘the same as everyone else’ being upheld as a good thing (not so in my view as royals are inherently NOT the same as everyone else) and also to some extent royals being allowed to marry the common born (not always a terrible thing but not always a good thing either).

All of this is why I tend to be rather forgiving when a royal says something I disagree with; because I know they are being genuine, sincere, well-meaning and in some cases they simply know no better. However, I also raise this issue which I do not relish dealing with because I think a word of warning is in order. This can be dangerous for monarchies because there comes a point when backing fashionable, politically correct liberal causes will turn away those who are most naturally inclined to support a monarchy. Aside from the loss of support for the monarchy this can also cause the disaffected to turn to more radical and often repulsive political alternatives. This is not to justify rebellion in any case but simply to point out the facts of reality. As I have mentioned before, while a royal adopting a liberal cause might gain them some momentary support, no matter how liberal they become they will never convert a revolutionary into a monarchist whereas they may risk alienating permanently a group of people who would otherwise be their most staunch supporters.

There were, for instance, aristocrats, clergy and royals who supported the French Revolution and yet, their endorsement did not make the movement any less republican. There were royals who endorsed the communist party in Laos but this did not turn this communists into monarchists. Nothing will ever turn a committed leftist into a royalist and it is only if a royal completely turns their back on their heritage and embraces republicanism that such an individual may win revolutionary favor but that applies only to the individual not royalty or monarchy as a whole. Today, in most cases certainly, royals and monarchs, I do not believe, see themselves as taking political positions. Again, they have been raised in a society where such liberal opinions are accepted as mainstream as the sort of thing all “decent” people are expected to support. Traditional views have been so marginalized that their opinions are rarely considered and if ever mentioned are generally ridiculed. Royals and monarchs should also consider something I have noticed regarding the attitudes of different political positions in monarchies. The right tends to assume that their monarch agrees with them whereas the left tends to assume that they do not. Think that over before considering where the best interests of the monarchy really reside.


  1. I also think that monarchs and royals should refrain from political commentry... It certainly degrades the position and does them no favours.

    It also does the institution of monarchy no favours for royals and monarchs to act like politicians either. As much as it pains me to say this, Elizabeth II seems to me like the last bastion of true royalty in Europe. Last of the monarchs who know what it is to be a Queen.

    I don't know all too well the royals of Europe, but they all seem to have embraced "egalitarianism", dressing like bank clerks and acting like Presidents. The tribal instinct of humans makes us want to look up to some great tribal chief. In modern terms, it means we want (we NEED) our royals to be recognisably royal. It would truly sadden me for the monarchies of Europe to become nothing more than hereditary Presidencies.

  2. I would prefer royals to have much more of an actual role in government but if they are going to stay out of it they need to be careful to do just that. I completely agree about the egalitarian attitude (and dressing like bank clerks). Alot of this I really things goes back to royals being educated with other children and trying to treat them like everyone else when, of course, they are not just like everyone else and never will be.

  3. The only relevant question is how unpopular the monarch's expressed opinion, and his way of stating it, or the actions he takes in line with it -- might be. The Prince of Wales is not likely to raise many hackles commenting on the environment in ways that both conform to the prejudices of fashionable opinion, and that don't wind up having much political effect.

    But matters are likely to be very different if HRH too obviously takes the "wrong" or unfashionable side of an issue or uses his considerable official and unoffical influence in ways other centers of power find difficult.

    The surviving monarchs of Europe have indeed, as one commenter put it, embraced "egalitarianism" in one way or another. Now we might not like that, but that's survival oriented behavior, and is probably in the best long term interests of the dynasties in question, and is in contrast to the principled, but non-survival oriented positions taken by other royal personages: how much better off would France been if Henri V had recalled that Henri IV thought Paris to have been worth a mass; and had been able to, in a similar way, bring himself to accept the Tricolour? The one reigned, the other died an exile.

    Wise kings take conditions as they find them, not as they wish they might be.

  4. That is true, which is why I do not 'blame' royals for the stances they have taken; they are following the flow of modern social norms and popular movements and in most every case I'm sure sincerely believe they are doing the right thing. The problem is that there is hardly anything these days that is *not* political -which is a result of the liberal grown of expansionist government- and things that might not *seem* political to a certain class most certainly are.

    I raise the issue exactly because I worry about royals not being concerned enough with their own survival. Royal championing of political issues they may not see as being political are at least part of the reason, I think, that so many people on the mainstream right (not even the radical fringe) are slowly dropping their support for the monarchy.

    The fundamental nature of monarchy is repugnant to the left -they will never truly embrace it but only ignore or tolerate it at best. No amount of royal cheerleading on popular issues will convert them to monarchism. On the other hand, if the right sees royals backing leftist policies, not standing up for traditional values or embracing the so-called multiculturalism that is leading to the demographic death of European countries the right might drop their support for the monarchy and then royals will suddenly find themselves completely friendless.

  5. It is hard to separate the health of the monarchies from that of the larger societies surrounding them. If Britain and the rest of old Europe, and the civilizations they have embodied these last thousand years, are to be saved from the twin evils of multiculturalism and demographic extinction it will be because what remains of the European right has managed to organize enough of society to do it.

    If that can be done, the monarchies will be all right (whatever the foibles of the incumbent monarchs and their courts), and if it cannot, if it is not God's will, than resurrecting the first Elizabeth, or the first Wilhelm, or Henri IV or anyone you care to name could not do it.

    Sadly, the west in general, both the old monarchies, and republics such as the United States, are still paying for the catastrophe of 1914.

  6. As usual, great post! It's interesting how some royals receive more attention than others on particular topics.
    By the way I've been reading your blog for at least a year now and have learned a lot.

    On a side note about Prince Charles and the environment, his newest book on the subject is on sale for US readership.

  7. i do not see how global warming is a tenent of the ideology of leftist parties, unlike civil rights for gays and other issues, only that it is something that they agree on and conservatives do not. Its like a personal preference, for example, if all leftists had a craving for apple pie rather than cream pie.

    the problem is the low birthrate rather than immmigrations, because if all europeans continued to have a low birthrate and allowed no immigration, soon enough europe would be empty and immigrants will move there anyway. An example of massive immmigration was in Yuan dynasty china, when the Mongols moved massive amounts of west asian muslims, christians, and jews into China, grouping them into the "semu" class, but they did not significantly affect the demographics of China, because chinese people had a massive birthrate, and soon enough, the semu immigrants merged together, islam became the predominant religion among them, and the Chinese designated them as "Hui", they still live in China in their own enclaves, and do not "dilute", the mainstream population, because marriages usually result in chinese being absorbed into Hui rather than the other way around.

    we should remember that over 2,000 years ago, italic romans moved to egypt, and european, germanic peoples like the Vandals moved to places like North Africa and mixed with the people there, leaving behind some traces in the population, some north africans have blonde hair or colored eyes, this is not to justify quid pro quo immigration from these places, but to note that there is an undefined continuum between europe and these places. the difference between them nowadays is one mainly of religion.

  8. Global warming is not a tenent of leftist ideology but the response to it certainly is. It is quite clear to me that they are pushing man-caused global warming as a way to further their global socialist agenda, particularly the transfer of wealth from Europe and North America to the Third World. Look at all of the policies that are drawn up to 'deal with' global warming/climate change/whatever they are calling it this week and you will see a common theme; taking money from one group of people to give it to another group of people who did not earn it.

    The birthrate is certainly a problem (and the root cause of that is religious and moral imho) but immigration cannot be discounted. Never before has there been such massive immigration into Europe in modern history.

  9. The thing about Europe is that, even though the Elite is left-leaning and politically correct, it is in actuality, a highly xenophobic continent.
    Well, xenophobic is too strong a word. Perhaps "wary of foreigners" is a more appropriate term. Europeans want to keep Europe for Europe, as Africa wanted and has Africa for Africans.
    Why is that idea so difficult to understand? Because we have more wealth? We earned that wealth. Because we dominated the world for so long? We earned that privilege, for better or for worse. The world has been fashioned by Europe, and it will forever remain the foremost continent on our planet. I cannot imagine Europe taking a backseat on any global crisis.

    But, in referral to your actual post, Mad Monarchist, I wonder about the Habsburgs. I read once that the current family still has great plans and still believes it will shape the destiny of its people. But you never hear about them. They must be bidding their time...

  10. They are and have been involved, just not in ways that I particularly approve of (which is fine as they certainly do not require my approval). HIRH Archduke Otto was of course a European representative and some of the younger members of the family have tried getting into politics in Hungary and Austria.

  11. Towing the zeitgeist line is considered apolitical in all walks of life, sir, and opposition to it, likewise, political.

    Not only royals get in trouble for choosing the "political" line. Imagine a CEO of a large corporation choosing doing the same...

  12. Sadly true. The problem which drawing a line between what is political and what is not these days is that the progressives want to legislate on and regulate on every minute detail of society and private life; which means virtually everything is political.


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