Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Queen of Canada is Home Again

A poll taken just ahead of her arrival (go figure) showed some sadly low figures that do not bode well for the future of the Canadian monarchy and of course the republican traitors have been trotted out for TV spots vowing to make the change when the throne passes to Prince Charles. Loyal Canadian monarchists need to fight hard and fight now. Rest assured, The Mad Monarchist is on top of this, my top man in Canada is keeping a close watch on the traitors that come out to take a few cheap shots and will have plenty to say when this trip concludes.

Belgian King in the Congo

Today is independence day in the Congo and a couple days ago HM King Albert II of the Belgians arrived to participate in the festivities of the former Belgian colony. The trip has been controversial since the first mention of it. Relations being somewhat rough between the two countries as of late there was doubt as to whether or not the King would attend or even whether or not it would be safe for him to do so. There were many protests; some by those who never tire of dragging up ugly memories from the colonial days and trying to blame the current generation for past misdeeds and by those who did not want the Belgian monarch to give any attention to what is, by many accounts, a government that continues to preside over rampant corruption, crime and so on.

Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola arrived Monday in the capital city formerly known as Leopoldville (in honor of Belgian King Leopold II) and were reportedly greeted by a crowd of well-wishers, which is good to hear, but nothing was said about how big these crowds were. Because so much hatred and hysteria has been drummed up over Belgium and the Congo the entire trip seemed to be like walking on egg shells and it was finally decided that the King would make no public speeches or statements at all. In the end, his silence may speak more truth than any words from him ever could. I cannot help but think about the day 50 years ago when the Belgian King Baudouin came to the Congo to officially hand over the independence of the country to the new republican government.

It has become very popular and fashionable in recent decades to harp about the many evils of colonialism and even 50 years ago many were offended by the speech that King Baudouin gave, but he was speaking the truth and it took courage for him to say some things that many would have rather ignored. What stays in my mind the most was his warning to the new republic that with independence comes great responsibility. This is something that has been sorely lacking, not only in the Congo but in countries and a great many formerly colonial countries particularly. In the Congo, Belgium was blamed for keeping them under colonial rule and when independence was granted and the Belgians went home they were blamed for pulling out too quickly and leaving things a mess.

That blame game has been going on ever since, even when foreign countries contribute money to ease the suffering the local republican government has imposed on its people these countries are blamed for not giving enough. Even when they send troops to stop warring factions, fighting for power in the “Democratic Republic” and murdering innocents along the way, these other countries are blamed for not doing enough. No matter what the problem, it is never the fault of the populace or the government but rather is invariably the fault of some foreign country or countries that is keeping them in misery. This does, of course, help the elites in power to stay there when they are never responsible for the problems the people are facing. In the same way this ‘victim mentality’ only makes it that much harder for the people to act responsibly and take charge of their own lives.

King Albert II reigns over a country that certainly has its own share of problems but people are not starving, crime is not out of control, the system of government is not broken down and the people are not killing each other. The Kingdom of Belgium is, on the whole, a free, stable and peaceful country and an all around wonderful place. On the other hand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo contains a population still largely in misery, plagued by corruption, civil wars, exploitation and crime. They are presided over by a president, Joseph Kabila, who was once the general of an “army” of children with machine guns, a man who was trained by the Communist Chinese, a socialist who came to power after the previous president was assassinated, has had to put down efforts to overthrow him and whose only election is widely considered suspect. It may be popular and convenient to point to the bad aspects of colonialism but the simple fact is that independence and the adoption of the republican government in the Congo has not brought the freedom and prosperity that was promised. Now, 50 years later, things are no better than they were before and in some ways much worse.

These are sad facts and it is also sad that so many would rather worsen the situation than face reality. It is also, unfortunately, a situation that is far from uncommon across the formerly colonial nations of the world. If anyone dares say anything about it, you will be branded a villain. Yet, as I said at the beginning, King Albert II will not be saying anything and does not really need to. A simple look around at the current situation should tell everyone all that they need to know.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Passing of a Governor

Yesterday my right-hand-man "Teapot" called and delivered the sad news that the former Governor of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Jr, passed away that morning. His was one of the first families of the country, the signature of one of his ancestors appearing on the Texas Declaration of Independence. One of the wealthiest men and one of, if not the, largest land-owners in Texas he served as the 41st Governor from 1973 to 1979. His family and my own have been good friends for three generations. For several years I went to school with his grandsons and my first 'sleep-over' was at their home. Even as babies we played together. I only met the Governor, known affectionately as "Big Daddy" a few times while staying at the home of his son, Dolph Briscoe III, but despite our having very different political opinions (he a lifelong Democrat -though a conservative one like most in Texas- and me an ardent reactionary in a family of GOP supporters) I could not imagine anyone ever having an un-kind word for him. When having dinner with him and his family he was always gracious, friendly and took care that I did not feel like an outsider. Governor Briscoe was that rare sort of man who was powerful, influential and yet without enemies. He got along with everyone and he and his late wife, his son and his wife, are the most down-to-earth and thoughtful people one could ever hope to meet. My deepest sympathies go out to his family and all his many friends. Texas has lost one of its most genteel leaders and a great friend. +Rest In Peace Your Honor...

The Emperor's Library (V): Emperor Trajan

In any listing of the greatest emperors of western civilization, one name that will certainly make the list is that of the Emperor Trajan. Many remarked on how his behavior seemed to match well his commanding presence. Cassius Dio, consul and historian, wrote of Emperor Trajan that, “His association with the people was marked by affability and his inter-course with the senate by dignity, so that he was loved by all and dreaded by none save the enemy”. That last line is significant for Trajan has certainly been most remembered for his victorious military campaigns more than anything else. Under his rule the Roman Empire reached the peak of its expansion, never before or since would so much of the world be ‘Roman’ as during the reign of Trajan. He was also though, an able administrator, setting up a more normal situation after the innovations of Emperor Domitian, and a great builder who left Rome more glorious than he found it.

He was born Marcus Ulpius Traianus on or about September 18, 53 AD in Spain. His father had an illustrious military and civil career having led the X Legion in the Jewish War, served as consul and as governor of Syria. Young Trajan served with his father in Syria and rose to command the VII Legion “Gemina” in southern Spain. He aided in suppressing a rebellion against Emperor Domitian and so gained imperial favor being successively named praetor and consul. When Nerva became emperor in 96 AD he made Trajan governor of Upper Germany where he was serving when Nerva adopted him as his son and heir. So it was that on January 28, 98 AD that Nerva died and Trajan became Emperor of Rome. With his authority secure he showed his care by first touring the Rhine and Danube frontiers before going to Rome to officially take up the purple.

When he arrived in Rome Trajan was enthusiastically celebrated but made it a point to behave with friendliness and modesty to all, senators and commoners alike. He was an absolute ruler but never treated the people with contempt and patiently dealt with the senate with the utmost respect. Because of this welcome change he had praise and adulation heaped on him from every section of society. Yet, it seems to have had no ill-effects on him as his nature inclined him to disregard flattery. He preferred hunting, hiking and rock climbing and while devoutly religious he preferred to worship privately without show or ostentation. Similarly his wife, Lady Plotina, was described much the same; regal in bearing but modest in dress and unassuming. One would be tempted to suspect sycophancy from all the praise heaped on Emperor Trajan but his many accomplishments prove that praise directed at him was mostly deserved.

As a ruler Emperor Trajan worked tirelessly to defend, expand and improve the empire. He improved the road system, built bridges, established imperial funds to aid the poor (children especially) and remarkably this system of social welfare (first considered by Nerva) worked well and went on caring for Roman children for nearly 200 years. He enacted extensive building programs throughout his reign which left many remarkable monuments such as Trajan’s Forum, Trajan’s Market and, perhaps most famously, Trajan’s Column. This last monument was built to celebrate the military victories in the Dacian Wars and the military victories of Emperor Trajan were many. He was a very skilled military commander and much adored and respected by his troops. He fought three large-scale wars during his 19-year reign as Emperor and the first two were against the powerful Kingdom of Dacia in what is now Romania.

Emperor Domitian had fought the Dacians to a negotiated peace but the Dacian king, Decebalus, was ostentatiously spurning the terms of that peace and Emperor Trajan decided to strike before the situation worsened. In 101 AD the Emperor left Rome to command his legions and inflicted a sharp defeat on the Dacians at Tapae. King Decebalus launched a counter-attack across the Danube that winter but was repelled by the Roman defenders. The next year Emperor Trajan renewed his offensive and fought to the outskirts of the Dacian capital of Sarmizegethusa at which time Decebalus sued for peace. Emperor Trajan spared the Dacians further humiliation but annexed considerable territory to the Roman Empire before returning to the Eternal City for a grand triumph and the award of the title “Dacicus” by the senate.

The peace had not been harsh by Roman standards but nonetheless Decebalus did not seem to learn his lesson. Flouting the terms of their agreement yet again he used the peacetime interlude to rebuild his forces and plan new attacks so that by the summer of 105 Emperor Trajan had to take to the field once again. The Dacians attacked and captured a number of Roman frontier outposts but Trajan had wisely built a large bridge across the Danube which greatly increased the speed with which he could get his forces into striking position. As the imposing Emperor and his battle-hardened legions approached Decebalus was abandoned by many of his allies and he was driven to desperation, even attempting to assassinate Trajan but to no avail. After all of his past antics, this time the Emperor was in no mood to be forgiving. Sarmizegethusa was captured and sacked by the Roman forces, the royal treasury emptied and carried back to Rome and the Dacian king was forced to flee for his life before finally committing suicide. All of Dacia became a Roman province and Trajan’s Column was erected to celebrate the victory.

There was another triumph for the returning Emperor and 10,000 gladiators fought in the long series of games held in celebration. The captured loot Trajan brought back was put to use on his many building projects. For several years there was peace during which time Trajan devoted himself to improving and embellishing Rome. However, the blast of war came again in 114 when the primary rivals of Rome in the east began interfering in the border Kingdom of Armenia. This would put the Parthians on the doorstep of Rome and Emperor Trajan gathered his legions and marched east, drove out the Parthian influence and annexed all of Armenia to the Roman Empire. The following year he turned south and marched into modern-day Iraq and by 116 he had conquered the entire region to the Persian Gulf and captured the Parthian capital near present-day Baghdad. The Roman Empire had reached its peak, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean and Hadrian’s Wall in northern England to the Sudan.

However, Emperor Trajan was beginning to suffer more and more ailments and the strain of such campaigning could not have helped. In 116 he had to suppress an uprising by the Mesopotamians which proved more difficult than expected (imagine that) and the following year an attack on the city of Hatra failed with Trajan himself narrowly avoiding death. Word then arrived that the Jews in Cyrenaica had risen up and the rebellion was spreading to Egypt and Cyprus. There were also rumblings of trouble from the northern frontier. Emperor Trajan left his army in Syria and began the trip back to Rome to take charge of things but fell ill along the way. He suspected someone had attempted to poison him. Nonetheless the result was a stroke which left him half-paralyzed and on August 9, 117 AD the great Emperor died at Selinus in what is now Turkey. His body was taken back to Rome, cremated and his ashes buried in a golden urn at Trajan’s Column.

In his own time and ever since Trajan had been held up as a model Emperor of Rome and an example of everything such a monarch was expected to be; strong, imposing, tolerant and humble, absolute but respectful, harsh when necessary but charitable to the downtrodden, hard working, brave and victorious in war. Noted author Edward Gibbon named him as one of the “Five Good Emperors” and every time a new emperor came to the throne after him the senate would pray, ‘felicior Augusto, melior Traiano’, “may he be more fortunate than Augustus and better than Trajan”. Even after the rise of Christendom in the Middle Ages, despite being a pagan, Christian writers could not consign Emperor Trajan to Hell. Unlike all other pre-Christian Roman Emperors the poet Dante placed Trajan in Heaven and a legend even spread that Pope Saint Gregory the Great raised him from the dead and baptized Emperor Trajan to ensure his place in Paradise. Certainly few other monarchs in history have been so celebrated in their own time and so widely honored for so long since.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Monarchy Is Not Tyranny


There are many who, ignorantly or otherwise, equate monarchy with tyranny. Unfortunately, some ill-informed monarchists also push this point-of-view as a positive (since such people view totalitarianism as a good thing). This has been a plague for monarchism and I see it time and time again. It is engrained in the minds of so many people that a monarch is either a tyrant or a totally ceremonial waste of money. At one time the common model of the constitutional monarch could be used to counter this belief but even that model, which worked well for a time and became fairly widespread, has been reduced today because constitutional monarchy is today equated with a totally ceremonial monarchy since monarchs are threatened with extinction if they dare use those powers that are legally their own.

I know it confuses many people when I state that my ideal is a monarchy that is absolute but not arbitrary. This inevitably leads to confused looks and it can be rather difficult to explain. To get around that difficulty I point to the words of the French monarchist Bishop Jacques Bossuet who wrote extensively on the powers, the obedience owed to and the responsibilities of princes. After explaining in detail the absolute, sacred and inviolable nature of monarchy Bossuet addressed what he termed arbitrary power to which he attributed four things. These four attributes of arbitrary government were (I) that subjects are born slaves and none are free, (II) no one possesses private property, the prince controls all sources of wealth and there is no inheritance, (III) the prince can dispose of the property and the lives of all in his realm at his whim and finally (IV) there is no law but the will of the ruler.

For those who would advocate such a system so long as there is a monarch in charge rather than a republican leader one could be forced to split some minute hairs over what exactly constitutes a monarch. For example, the communist government of North Korea would fit every one of the above criteria for an arbitrary state and they are ruled by a hereditary leader chosen from a single family. Would this be considered a true monarchy? Would putting a crown on Stalin make him a Tsar? Monarchists must ask themselves if there is really anything more to their beliefs than titles and decorations. Once again, Bishop Bossuet explains it quite well:

It is one thing for a government to be absolute, and another for it to be arbitrary. It is absolute with respect to constraint - there being no power capable of forcing the sovereign, who in this sense is independent of all human authority. But it does not follow from this that the government is arbitrary, for besides the fact that everything is subject to the judgment of God (which is also true of those governments we have just called arbitrary), there are also [constitutional] laws in empires, so that whatever is done against them is null in a legal sense [nul de droit]: and there is always an opportunity for redress, either on other occasions or in other times. Such that each person remains the legitimate possessor of his goods: no one being able to believe that he can possess anything with security to the prejudice of the laws - whose vigilance and action against injustices and acts of violence is deathless, as we have explained more fully elsewhere. This is what is called legitimate government, by its very nature the opposite of arbitrary government.”

We can see another explanation of this in the supposed trial of King Charles I of Britain, who was certainly held (by himself and his royalists) to be absolute, holding a sacred and inviolable position, but who stated at his trial that his use of absolute power was to defend his people against the arbitrary power of the parliamentary military forces of Cromwell. After being condemned Charles I addressed his enemies one last time saying, “I must tell you that the liberty and freedom [of the people] consists in having of Government, those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own. It is not for having a share in Government, Sir, that is nothing pertaining to them. A subject and a sovereign are clean different things. If I would have given way to an arbitrary way, for to have all laws changed according to the Power of the Sword, I needed not to have come here, and therefore I tell you…that I am the martyr of the people”.

Taken as a whole, it can be seen then a monarch, to fulfill their own obligations and duties before the Almighty, must not be constrained by the whims and fancies of passing majorities. As the martyred Tsar Nicholas II saw it, his absolute power was a divine imposition that he could not shirk by passing his responsibilities to others. At the same time however, such power cannot be arbitrary and holding all people as mere cattle for the ruler but must be exercised in upholding, as the Stuart king said, “those laws by which their life and their goods may be most their own”. The ruler of a state in which all property and the entire public is in every way “owned” by that state is no true monarchy but is the very definition of the communist state whether the ruler wear a workers cap, a top hat or a crown. The true monarch, like many who have gone to their martyrdom for this principle, fight for their absolute power (or divine right if you like) not out of personal ambition but because in so doing they are fighting for the absolute right of every one of their people to all that is justly their own.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Favorite Royal Images: A Group of Saxe-Coburgs

I do like it when royals get together. Here we have (LtoR) the soon-to-be King George VI of Great Britain (Emperor of India etc), consorts Queen Astrid and Queen Elizabeth and King Leopold III of the Belgians.

Royal News Roundup

The biggest news of course was the royal wedding in Stockholm of Crown Princess Victoria and (now) Prince Daniel of Sweden. All around it seems to have been a resounding success. Everyone who is anyone (save senior members of the House of Windsor) was there, guests had such a good time at the reception they did not want to leave, the police had no problems and wedding-related tourism provided a welcome bump for the economy. Again, we wish the happy couple all the best. Since the wedding the two have reportedly been Honeymooning in French Polynesia. If there was any downside to the festivities it was the unfortunate consequences caused by greedy people. Reuters, AP and AFP boycotted the event after SVT tried to impose a time limit on the coverage purchased from their exclusive video of the event. What was hoped to be an event that draw international attention to Sweden was somewhat dampened by this. Likewise, the mark-up in hotel rooms once the date of the wedding was announced may have discouraged people from coming as hotel bookings were no higher than usual.

The latest from the British royals is that Prince Harry has been following in the footsteps of his famous mother, visiting a minefield in Mozambique during the boys’ African tour. However, Prince Harry is also said to be having romantic problems as his girlfriend Chelsy Davy has been wanting to move back home to Africa and her family. Her family recently left Zimbabwe because of the worsening situation regarding the treatment of those of European descent and have relocated to Zambia. Prince Harry is in New York City this weekend on a trip to strengthen Anglo-American relations and participate in a little training exercise at West Point. Older brother Prince William, who turned 28 on Monday (happy birthday Wills!) has also said to be regretting a prediction he made earlier about getting married when he is 29 or 30 as those eager for another British royal wedding are counting down the days. After keeping company for seven years some are accusing the royals of second-class treatment regarding Kate while others point out that, after living through the ugly divorce of his parents, Prince William may be naturally hesitant to take the marital plunge.

And speaking of being hesitant to marry, probably the second-biggest royal news event of the last week was the announcement that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend Charlene Wittstock. In the Low Countries, on Wednesday the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg celebrated its National Day. Showing that little countries can still have big color, the Grand Ducal family attended a torchlight procession, fireworks display, military parades and a mass of thanksgiving at the national Cathedral. Three cheers for the Grand Duchy and long live the Grand Duke!

In Africa the Commission on Gender Equality (South Africa) is being asked to rule on royal succession after Princess NomaXhosa Sigcawu of the AmaGcaleka Kingdom brought a case before them arguing that, as daughter of the senior consort to the late King Zwelidumile, she should have succeeded to the tribal throne instead of her brother, currently King Xolilizwe. The CGE is put in a rather difficult position by this since the laws and constitution of South Africa do tend to go against the spirit of monarchy and royal succession but nonetheless allow these to exist within the framework of the state in an unofficial capacity. The leader of the Congress of Traditional Leaders has said that royal succession is about tradition and the laws of the government have no bearing on them.

In the Middle East the little emirate of Kuwait was stunned by the murder of a popular local prince, Sheikh Basel Salem al-Sabah who was shot eight times by his uncle at the palace on Thursday after the Sheikh refused to reinstate his uncle to the board of a boat racing club. In neighboring Saudi Arabia plans are underway for the upcoming visit of King Abdullah to the White House next Tuesday to meet with President Obama. It will be their first meeting since the media stir caused by Obama bowing to the monarch. The King will also be the foreign guest of honor of the President of France for Bastille Day (Boo! Hiss!).

Sunday, HM Gyanendra Shah, former King of Nepal, returned to Katmandu after a five day tour of the central Terai districts. He visited a number of temples and attended the mass animal sacrifice at the Gadhimai temple. The King was the last reigning Hindu monarch in the world. After returning to Katmandu the King was asked about the current political problems in Nepal but made no comment saying that any words of his would only cause controversy.

On Tuesday HM King Norodom Sihanouk, former monarch and ‘King-Father’ of Cambodia with several other members of the Khmer Royal Family visited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. King Sihanouk said, “Being retired and no longer doing politics nor diplomacy, my journey and trip to the glorious Socialist Republic of Vietnam will have a strictly private character”. Nonetheless, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said the visit was a sign of the close solidarity of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The ‘King-Father’ will meet numerous active and retired Communist Party officials and take in a night at the Hanoi Opera House. The two countries have a long history of animosity most recently involving the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia which resulted in the overthrow of the regime of Pol Pot and 10 years of occupation by the Vietnamese.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Monarch Profile: The Showa Emperor

The late Showa Emperor of Japan, Hirohito, was the longest reigning monarch in modern Japanese history and one of the most controversial. His reign saw the peak of Japanese power as well as the greatest devastation the country has ever suffered and was a turning point in history, the end of one era and the beginning of another. He was born on April 29, 1901 at the Aoyama Palace in Tokyo to Crown Prince Yoshihito and Crown Princess Sadako of Japan and was given the name and title of Prince Michi. His grandfather, the Meiji Emperor, died in 1912 and his father became Emperor Taisho of Japan. In 1916 he was formally named Crown Prince. He was given a mix of traditional and modern western education during his childhood and as a young man was the first Japanese royal to travel overseas to make Japan more visible on the world stage and strengthen foreign relations. For six months he traveled the world visiting Great Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Italy.

In 1921 Crown Prince Hirohito was named regent of the Empire of Japan due to the failing mental faculties of his father. Numerous political and diplomatic events of great significance happened during these years but perhaps none were to have such a far-reaching impact as the ending of the Anglo-Japanese alliance. This was done by Britain to placate the United States, Britain gambling that American friendship would be more beneficial than Japanese friendship. The leadership in Japan took it as an insult and tantamount to a betrayal. The course of history would show that America had no great love for defending the British Empire and making an enemy of Japan left all of the east Asian holdings of Great Britain vulnerable to a rising Japan. The Japanese were further angered by numerous treaties that followed aimed at limiting their naval power in comparison to the other major powers.

Nonetheless, from the time of his youth when the alliance was intact, Hirohito had been greatly impressed by the British, an island nation like Japan, which ruled a vast empire and which was based on a monarch that reigned but did not rule. This basic system would be one Hirohito held to throughout his time on the Chrysanthemum throne. In 1924 he married his distant cousin Princess Nagako Kuni and the two eventually had a large family of five girls and two boys though not all long survived. In 1926 the Taisho Emperor died and Hirohito formally became the Emperor of Japan with the era name of Showa (“Enlightened Peace”). However, this was not to be a time of political peace for Japan which was still struggling to modernize, industrialize and, to some extent, westernize while at the same time fighting to maintain their traditional culture and values against subversive new threats from abroad.

The Depression hit Japan especially hard. There were too many mouths to feed, too few raw materials to feed the new industrialization and many feared losing their own identity in the flood of foreign trends and ideas sweeping Japan. Governments rose and fell rapidly and the Showa Emperor himself was nearly assassinated by a Korean dissident in 1932. Amidst all of the tumult it was the military and the spiritual-political symbol of the divine Emperor that alone seemed capable of uniting the country, providing stability and a path to overcoming the current problems to achieve a vision of greatness for the Japanese Empire. Many have since come to view the Showa Emperor as complicit in the military takeover but such is not the case. When military officers tried to take power in a coup the Emperor ordered a crackdown and threatened to take charge of the troops himself to suppress them.

The Emperor did, however, like most Japanese at the time, realize that they needed secure sources of raw materials to feed their economic recovery and overseas expansion was the way to accomplish this. It was the way every other great power operated and what they had all been doing for centuries; why should Japan be left out? The Emperor did not object to the takeover of Manchuria and he was genuinely kind and supportive when meeting with the last Emperor of China who was placed on the Manchu throne. He had a more clear grasp on world affairs than he is often given credit for. He sympathized with the plight of his fellow monarch, did not look kindly on the corrupt and chaotic Republic of China and viewed the USSR as a terror. Yet, he was not a part of running the government or the military which, especially in China, often acted on its own with its own agenda quite apart from Tokyo.

Unlike many high-ranking Japanese the Showa Emperor did not welcome the alliance with Italy and especially Nazi Germany. It was only after the Axis forces in Europe seemed to have the war all but won that he finally, reluctantly, consented to the idea of Japan being partners with Germany and Italy. When his military came to him with the plan for war against the USA he was deeply troubled and doubted their grandiose aims could be accomplished, noting that they had not totally pacified China in the time promised and that the Pacific was considerably larger than China. Breaking with tradition, he shocked his council by addressing them directly about his wish for a peaceful solution to the problems Japan was facing but this did not stop the drive to war. He issued the declaration of war against the US and UK but was still concerned about how this conflict was carried out.

After the stunning success at Pearl Harbor the Emperor again broke tradition by directly questioning the flight commander, Mitsuo Fuchida, whether any civilian areas had been hit in the bombing (they were not). This was a great concern to him and the attacking forces had been told repeatedly that only military units and installations were to be targeted. Throughout the rest of the war the Emperor did what he could to boost morale and give helpful advice. Given the behavior of the military on certain occasions this is often made to seem sinister but it should not be considered outrageous that the Emperor of Japan wanted his country to be victorious. When it became clear that Japan would lose the war he was not the first to face this fact nor was he the last and when he determined that the time had come to negotiate an end to the war he was opposed at every turn.

After two atomic bombs were dropped on Japan there could be no more delay. Facing the threat of nuclear annihilation the Emperor took decisive action to order the surrender to save his country. He recorded an announcement that had to be smuggled out of the palace to the radio station because of an uprising by the military which was intent on fighting on to the death. The first time the Japanese people ever heard the voice of their divine Emperor was when the message came over the radio announcing the surrender. Japan would, as the Emperor said, “bear the unbearable”. For a country that had not known defeat in centuries and which had never been conquered by an outside force, his sentiments were sincere and correct. Japan surrendered, officially unconditionally, but with the assurance of the US that the fate of the Emperor would rest in the hands of the Japanese people who revered him.

Many in the US and other Allied countries wanted the Emperor put on trial for war crimes; holding him responsible for all actions of the military who all served in his name. However, General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the Allied occupation forces, was adamant that the Emperor had to be kept in place. His status was diminished and he was forced to renounce his divinity but he was a symbol of such great importance that MacArthur feared Japanese society would come apart if he was removed. Instead, the Emperor would henceforth be the “symbol of the state” with no political power or role. Emperor Showa had to reinvent himself as a modern, more western-style “people’s monarch”. He tried to make the occupation and the unprecedented changes Japan was going through at breakneck speed go as smoothly as possible.

Emperor Showa attempted to apologize for the misdeeds of Japanese forces during the war but was snubbed by MacArthur. He also refused to honor any war dead that included convicted war criminals. For the first time he visited the Japanese people and met them face to face -which took some getting used to for all concerned. He even visited the United States and was a crucial figure of tradition and stability during the tumultuous years that saw Japan change more radically and thoroughly that at any other time in her ancient history by far. After the longest reign in modern Japanese history Emperor Showa died on January 7, 1989 and was succeeded by his son HIH Crown Prince Akihito, the current Emperor of Japan. He was buried next to his father in the Imperial Mausoleum at Hachioji. His legacy has been debated ever since and he remains one of the most controversial as well as one of the most significant monarchs in Japanese history.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Enemies of King Leopold

A number of people have used the image of King Leopold II of the Belgians and his rule of the Congo Free State to attack, not only colonialism/imperialism and the King himself but monarchy in general and the Belgian monarchy as a whole. Given that, it is worth looking at who were, in his own time, the most outspoken enemies of King Leopold II and what sort of men they were. Two were most prominent and effective in their criticism. One was the British Consul to the Congo Free State Roger Casement who wrote a report damning the colony which had far-reaching consequences. So, who was Roger Casement? Many of you, particularly those hailing from the British Isles, may have heard of him.

Roger Casement was an Irishman, born in Dublin to a Protestant military officer (his Catholic mother had him re-baptized in the Roman rite when he was 3) in 1864; the same year Leopold II became King of the Belgians. The connections of his father allowed him to become a British diplomat and he spent most of his career both in Africa and Brazil raising the alarm about mistreated native peoples. It is safe to say that he was, very early on, an enemy of monarchy and colonialism in general. This caused quite an international sensation and King George V of Great Britain even gave him a knighthood but Casement, evidently, was less than grateful for this honor from his monarch. After he retired from diplomatic service in 1913 he became a full-time republican revolutionary in Ireland.

Oddly enough it was the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland that had been among the most forceful in picking up and joining in on his condemnation of the Congo Free State yet he devoted the rest of his life to the destruction of this very government. He became a major figure in the Irish republican, nationalist crowd and raised money in the USA for the revolutionary cause. This would have been enough to condemn him as a traitor in Great Britain but things became worse with the outbreak of World War I when he actively sought out and negotiated an alliance with Britain’s greatest enemy, the German Empire, in the planned rebellion in Ireland. He even tried to convince Irish prisoners-of-war to form their own unit to fight alongside the Germans against the British. Those plans culminated in the Easter Uprising in 1916 and the proclamation of the first Irish republic.

This uprising, as everyone knows, did not succeed and Casement along with numerous others was arrested, tried and convicted of numerous charges, the most serious of which was treason. The trial also led to the discovery of his diaries which proved Casement to have been a rampant homosexual and pederast, perhaps even a pedophile. He was found guilty and hanged for treason against his King and country in quick order. In short, hardly the stuff of which heroes are made unless you are an anti-monarchist republican revolutionary it seems.

The other most significant figure in the business of opposing King Leopold II and the Congo Free State was Edmund Dene Morel. He was a British journalist, English on the side of his father, French on that of his mother, and had been born in Paris. He also eagerly spread stories, each more horrid than the last, of atrocities in the Congo, all of which he blamed squarely on the King, and he founded the Congo Reform Association in which capacity he made effective use of the report by Casement among his many activities. He recruited numerous famous literary figures to champion his cause, a long list of almost exclusively liberal and very anti-monarchist individuals. He left this work in 1911 and from there his story mirrors that of Casement to a large extent.

Despite being a British subject and born in France he was, very early on, openly sympathetic toward Germany. He wrote in support of Germany during the crisis over Morocco in 1912 and as the build-up to the First World War began he was again openly pro-German. His hatred of King Leopold evidently extended to the whole nation of Belgium as he advocated abandoning them to the Germans, did not think Britain or France should lift a finger to help defend the country and argued against France of Great Britain going to war against Germany. He became very much associated with far-left pacifist groups in Great Britain, particularly the Union of Democratic Control. When it was discovered that his longtime friend Casement had been plotting with the Germans to cause rebellion in Ireland and after he was hanged for treason because of this, Morel began to be suspected of being a German agent.

Morel was put in prison for a time for his anti-war activities and though he was on the side of some issues that were ultimately proven correct, he continued to drift farther and farther to the radical left. He later admitted that he had been a lifelong socialist and remained adamantly so up to his death in Devon in 1924. Now, it must also be said that the misdeeds of these men in no way excuse the misdeeds of King Leopold II, but they are not often even mentioned by those who hold them up as great heroes. However, the core ideologies of these men ultimately caused more death and more misery than even the most exaggerated accounts of the crimes of Leopold II. It is also noteworthy that most monarchists will certainly not hold up the late King as an example of monarchy at its best and yet the enemies of monarchy will hold up socialists, pederasts and traitors as heroes of their own.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Engaged - Finally

After keeping steady company for the last three years and going together off and on for about the last ten, HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco has finally asked Miss Charlene Wittstock to be the next Princess of Monaco.

Consort Profile: Queen Noor al-Hussein

One of the most fascinating royals of the modern Middle East, and certainly one who has brought a great deal of American attention to the monarchial life of the area is the Dowager Queen Noor of Jordan. She was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby on August 23, 1951 in Washington DC. Her father was an official in the defense department under President Harry Truman and led the FAA under President Kennedy as well as serving as CEO of Pan-Am Airways. Through her parents she has ancestry from Britain, Sweden and the Syrian population of Lebanon. Little Lisa grew up in the United States and was educated in New York and Massachusetts at the best schools. After graduating from Princeton in 1974 she moved to Australia for a time before taking a job with a British company doing remodeling work in Tehran where her degree in urban planning was put to good use.

In 1976 Lisa Halaby moved back to the US and, through her father, took a job in design with the Jordanian airlines. It was in this role that she first met HM King Hussein of Jordan while working on the plans for the Queen Alia International Airport. The King was still in mourning for the beloved Queen Alia (his late wife) but he and Lisa became good friends. Their relationship grew and in 1978 the two were engaged to be married. In the summer of that year King Hussein walked down the isle (so to speak) for the fourth time and made Lisa Halaby his wife and Queen of Jordan. She renounced her US citizenship, converted to Islam and took the name Noor al-Hussein. Not everyone in Jordan was delighted by their new queen consort whose background seemed so far removed from their own. In time she began to win them over with her care and concern for the Kingdom of Jordan.

As the new consort Queen Noor took over the upbringing of her stepchildren and between 1980 and 1986 gave King Hussein four more children; Prince Hamzah, Prince Hashim, Princess Iman and Princess Raiyah. It was a very happy family life for the royal couple but the same background of Queen Noor that brought her so much attention also brought criticism with some in Jordan viewing her as ‘too American’ and many in America viewing her as ‘too Jordanian’. Giving her opinion on political matters also upset some traditionalists and there were difficulties within the family over the succession as Queen Noor wished her son Prince Hamzah to be heir to the throne. Queen Noor was heartbroken when King Hussein died on February 7, 1999 and even more upset when her son was removed from the succession and the father-to-eldest son formula was adhered to.

As dowager Queen and stepmother to King Abdullah II, Queen Noor is in a rather unique position being neither consort nor queen mother. However, she has not been lacking in a role to fill. She was worked extensively in improving western-middle eastern relations, conflict resolution and numerous charitable activities. She has often worked with the UN in these areas and formed the Noor Al Hussein Foundation to fight poverty, promote the rights of women, small business, health care, environmentalism and cultural exchanges. She has been invited by world leaders and traveled across the globe to trouble spots for peace talks and humanitarian efforts. Most recently she has been leading a (noble but probably naïve) effort to see the total abolition of nuclear weapons. She currently lives in Jordan, Washington DC and London as she travels to meet her extensive speaking schedule.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Belgian King Doing His Job

HM King Albert II of the Belgians has been at work, showing how invaluable even a very limited monarchy can be, in the wake of the recent elections which gave the largest number of seats to the openly separatist New Flemish Alliance. Although most Belgians still voted for parties which support national unity it is disturbing that, for the first time, the largest number of seats were won by Flemish nationalists who support the secession of Flanders and thus the destruction of the Kingdom of Belgium. Since then the King has been meeting with political leaders in an effort to quickly form a coalition government before the lack of a government makes the political and particularly the economic situation even worse (Belgium ranks third in terms of overwhelming debt which has been dragging down European countries lately). As it stands now (though not exactly a pleasant prospect in my view either) it seems possible that the winning socialists of Walonia could join with the Flemish socialists to form a national government without the support of the separatists. It is important for monarchists to remember the crucial role played by the King in all of this as the one figure in government who has the prestige and the (even if symbolic) authority to bring the various parties together to work in the national interest. In a way almost unique to Belgium in the degree to which this is true, the King is also virtually the only man in government who can stand above the regional differences of the country. As the saying has long been, everyone else may be Flemish or Waloon but the King is Belgian. Hopefully, for the sake of the country, his efforts will be successful and Belgium will have a government, dedicated to national unity, that can quickly get down to taking care of the business of the country.

MM Video: Baron von Ungern

Shameless Plug

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Crackdown in Tibet

The communist bandit government in Beijing has recently let loose another wave of persecution on the people of the occupied Kingdom of Tibet, still considered a backlash to the wave of opposition protests a few years ago which were the most widespread since the initial takeover of Tibet by the PRC. However, what is different this time is the sort of people being persecuted, being arrested and given years of "reeducation through labor". The latest people to suffer this fate are people who the PRC had previously held up as model subservient, submissive Tibetans. They have been mostly intellectual and artistic types such as environmentalists, antique dealers, artists and so on; people who most certainly *not* been advocating opposition to the PRC, independence or even real autonomy for Tibet, not the restoration of the XIV Dalai Lama and certainly not the restoration of the Tibetan sacred monarchy as it had been before.

So why is this happening? For one thing, the problem is more widespread following protests over greater Han Chinese migration and development in the far west, particularly Xinjiang where the Uygher population has been a problem for the government. This is something the PRC has been making an effort to deal with lately as, perhaps seeing the potential of the trade ports dropping off with the economic collapse in the west, they have been increasing their influence in central Asia. If the trade at the ports dries up they will have to look into restoring the old "Silk Road" as the primary avenue of trade. The authorities have also obviously been becoming more nervous about the amount of opposition that remains even after the numerous crackdowns and the influx of massive numbers of Han Chinese and of course the usual government strong-arm tactics to discourage foreign government from even listening to the Dalai Lama.

The insecurity of the PRC can be seen in their overreaction to even the slightest hint of opposition to their absolute rule and their extreme sensitivity to the slightest criticism from virtually any source in the western media. The adoption of the vague, socialist liberalism that has settled on most of the world may be easier to hammer into people but Tibetans, like the Uyghers and the Mongols etc, cannot be indoctrinated to the extent that they will not notice the waves of Han colonists moving into their parts of the country. Due to the 1 child policy that has left Red China lacking in women, most of these are single men who take local wives and thus Tibetans and other minorities can see their population being drowned out in a flood of loyal communists. Even outside the borders of China, such as in Outer Mongolia, this trend is being noticed and other minorities are growing increasingly worried that they will soon go the way of the virtually extinct Manchurians.

Of course, the best way to stop this would be a return to traditional authority; for Tibet the full restoration of the Dalai Lama. However, for westerners about all that can be done is to stop depending on cheap Chinese imports. Unfortunately, given the state of the economy in western countries and the failure of US and EU elites to grasp the cause of it, trends would seem to indicate a future even more dependent on cheap Chinese imports and fewer and fewer options for the west when it comes to spending money.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Papal Profile: Blessed Pius IX

It is fairly rare in history to find a figure whose life provides beneficial lessons in their mistakes as well as their successes. Pope Pius IX is such a figure and one I came to know rather well writing a lengthy paper at university on the unification of Italy as it effected the Pope and the States of the Church. One thing I learned from that experience is how much more complex, colorful and extremely humorous man Pius IX was. He was the last pontiff to hold temporal power over the Eternal City of Rome and central Italy. He came to the throne of St Peter with the reputation of a liberal and left it with the reputation of a reactionary. While that is true, what I found in studying him was that those who considered him a liberal may have exaggerated that aspect of him; selectively looking at his words and deeds and seeing more of what they wanted to see than what was fact.

He was born Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti in Semigallia on May 13, 1792 to an aristocratic family. After taking holy orders he came to be known for his great charity, concern for the poor and his Italian patriotism and “Italian” was a bad word to many at the time. When he was elected to the See of Peter in 1846 conservatives across Europe moaned. Taking the name Pius IX, the new Pope released from prison those held for revolutionary activities, he welcomed new technologies and innovations but liberal love for him collapsed when he refused to bless the war against Catholic Austria. Revolutionary mobs drove him out in 1848 and forced him to take refuge in Gaeta in the Kingdom of the Two-Sicilies while they set up the Roman Republic, which most of the people opposed.

Pope Pius IX was restored in July of 1849 thanks to the French after which the Pope made it clear that he was on the side of traditional authority and the established political and religious order. He condemned the anti-clerical practices of the nationalists and organized an international Catholic volunteer army to defend the States of the Church. Nonetheless, the nationalists continued to be victorious, partly because of Franco-Austrian antagonism. By 1860 the Papal States were annexed to the new Kingdom of Italy and only Rome remained under the control of Pius IX and then only because of the presence of French Imperial troops. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870 and these forces were recalled the Italian nationalist forces pounced. After putting up token resistance the Pope surrendered and withdrew behind the walls of the Vatican, declaring himself a political prisoner.

The Pope excommunicated all those involved in the downfall of the temporal power of the Church and issued the famous Syllabus of Errors in which he methodically laid out the revolutionary doctrines and trends to which the Church would never submit. He declared that the Pope would not conform himself to the march of so-called modernity and progress, effectively every passing popular trend, as the Pope was the guardian of those truths that were timeless, eternal and unchanging. The liberal world shrieked at the publication of the document, in many cases declaring that the end of the Catholic Church was at hand and that Pius IX, isolated and shut off inside the Vatican, would be ignored and forgotten; perhaps even be the last pontiff.

Pope Pius IX, however, was determined that such would not be the case and he had the support of many more than was at first recognized. The injustice of how the Pope was treated made many, even among non-Catholics, sympathetic toward his plight and for the first time in Church history the Pope himself became a focus of devotion with pictures of the Pontiff being displayed in humble homes alongside the Sacred Heart or the Blessed Virgin. Pius IX was also determined to show that while his temporal authority could be taken from him; his spiritual authority could not. In 1869 he summoned the First Vatican Council which likewise condemned the revolutionary trends in society and formally defined the doctrine of papal infallibility which states that the Pope, when speaking to the whole Church, from the Throne of Peter, on a matter of faith and morals as the Supreme Pontiff is protected from error.

It was a remarkably audacious thing to do at a time when the enemy was literally at the gates. Europe and much of the world howled at the actions of the Council but the Pope had made a very hard choice. He could have reconciled with the changes in society, adjusted the Church and how it operated to meet the new challenges but instead he drew a line in the sand and determined that the Church would instead present an alternative, a starkly different alternative with the modern world, between which the people would have to choose. Yet, through all of these times he never lost his compassion or his sense of humor (and he was a very funny man). When the man who had vanquished him, Victor Emmanuel II, the first King of Italy, was on his deathbed, Pius IX lifted his excommunication so he could be reconciled with the Church and receive the last rites.

Pope Pius IX died on February 7, 1878 after more than 31 years on the throne; the longest reign in papal history after St Peter himself. The Church was in a precarious situation; the papacy under house arrest, her territories occupied and in a standoff with the secular authorities. The people were forbidden to participate in Italian politics, forcing a choice between Church and State and even the nobility was divided between the White nobility around the King and the Black nobility around the Pope. Yet, the spiritual life of the Church continued to endure and even grow and while the temporal authority of the Pope had been destroyed his moral authority had never been stronger or more widely recognized.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wedding in Sweden!

The happy day has come at last. At about 3:30 pm local time it became official as HRH Crown Princess Victoria and HRH Prince Daniel of Sweden became a married couple. It was an immense and colorful gathering of royalty from around the world with numerous princes, exiles and reigning monarchs on hand for the happy occasion. These included the Crown Prince and Princess of Serbia, the Hereditary Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Crown Prince and Princess of Belgium, the Prince and Princess of Orange, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Prince and Princess of the Asturias, King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece, King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway, Prince Albert II of Monaco (and Charlene Wittstock), Prince Alois and Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein, Princess Margarita and Prince Radu of Romania, Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark, Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands among others. The ceremony was fairly short but through it all the devotion of the new couple was well evident as they hardly took their eyes off each other. The King spoke as did the newly wed Crown Princess who thanked the people for giving her her new Prince. The Mad Monarchist joins all Swedes and monarchists around the world in sending heartfelt congratulations to the happy couple with best wishes for many, many years of wedded bliss!

Royal News Roundup

On Monday HM King Michael of Romania announced that his eldest grandson, Nicholas, son of his daughter Princess Elena, will henceforth be known as HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania and will take his place in the succession to the Romanian throne behind his mother and aunt the Crown Princess Margaret. There has been some controversy over the Romanian succession in the past and this move has not been without its detractors who point out that placing Prince Nicholas in the succession goes against the last constitution of the former Kingdom of Romania. Such attitudes are unfortunate but probably cannot be helped as such always seems to be the case as royal exiles try to adapt to new situations while historic constitutions remain frozen in time. The Mad Monarchist wishes the new Prince of Romania and his family all the best and prays that they may hasten the day that King Michael is properly restored to his rightful throne.
In Belgium HRH Crown Princess Mathilde and HM the Dowager Queen Fabiola voted with the rest of their countrymen in the Belgian general elections held on Sunday. These elections were seen as especially critical given the fall of the last government over the Flemish-Walloon divide. How the two charming royals voted no one knows, but sadly for Belgian patriots and monarchists worldwide, the result of the election was, for the first time, that the largest number of seats went to the New Flemish Alliance which advocates the secession of Flanders which would spell the end of Belgium as a country and the loss of the Belgian monarchy. Thankfully, they did not achieve an outright majority and must form a coalition government if they expect to get anything done which would hopefully prevent them from acting on their platform of Flemish nationalism. However, lest anyone think the problems are confined to one region alone, the most successful Walloon party was the socialists. God save the King of the Belgians from his feuding subjects! On the bright side though, taken as a whole more Belgians voted in favor of unity than otherwise.

In Sweden, the soon-to-be husband of Crown Princess Victoria, Daniel Westling had his official coat-of-arms revealed, his official monogram and an informal vote of confidence from the Swedish public. A poll taken found that the vast majority of Swedes think Daniel will be a good Prince of Sweden (heartening news) and that over half of those polled view Crown Princess Victoria as the best representative Sweden has. The poll (taken by a tabloid so -keep that in mind) showed that Mr. Westling has his strongest support amongst the older members of the population and among women. The royals started arriving for the wedding yesterday for a special concert in Stockholm but more on that will be forthcoming.

For the British it has been a mix of news since the cheerful pomp and ceremony of the Queen’s official birthday on Saturday. Princes William and Harry arrived in Botswana for a tour of Africa that will allow them to check up on their charities operating in the region and to take in the games of the World Cup in South Africa. However, memories of some sad history of republican-monarchist relations were also brought up recently with the publication of the official report, after a lengthy investigation lasting many years, on the events of “Bloody Sunday” in Derry, Northern Ireland. In 1972 British paratroopers fired on a crowd of Irish Catholic demonstrators (republican) which killed 14 and wounded 13 more. At the time the soldiers claimed they had been responding to attacks from the crowd. The report showed (nothing much new really) that there had been no provocation from the crowd and that a number of those killed had been shot in the back while trying to escape the gunfire. No real legal action is expected but Prime Minister David Cameron did apologize for the actions of the British troops on that occasion. The report also found that Martin McGuinness, currently the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland and a republican nationalist member of Sinn Fein, was present and “probably armed with a sub-machine gun” but took no hostile action while there. Martin McGuinness for some time tried to deny that he was ever a prominent member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army.

In southeast Asia HM the Sultan of Brunei, one of the wealthiest and most absolute monarchs in the world, announced on Wednesday that he will divorce his wife Princess Azrinaz Mazhar, a former journalist from Malaysia. The Sultan has long had two wives but the marriage to his first wife is the only one to have endured. His previous secondary wife was a former flight attendant who he divorced in 2003 after 21 years of marriage. He has only been married to Princess Azrinaz Mazhar for 5 years after a private ceremony in Kuala Lampur. Oil revenues have made the Sultan one of the richest men in the world, worth an estimated $20 billion.

Friday, June 18, 2010

MM Video: The Knights of Malta

video

Battlefield Royal: Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands

HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands had a rather controversial life from the very start of his marriage to the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands due to his German nationality. However, despite being born a Prince of Lippe-Biesterfeld, and having been a member of the Nazi Party as a matter of convenience, upon his marriage he became Dutch all the way and absolutely loyal to the Netherlands and the Royal House of Orange. At no time was this more thoroughly proven than during his service in World War II against the country he was born in.

Prince Bernhard played an active role in the war from the very start when the Germans bombed and invaded the Netherlands. He grabbed a machine gun, made a battle group out of the Dutch royal guards and led them in shooting at German airplanes. When the Dutch government and (reluctantly) the Queen went into exile in Great Britain Prince Bernhard initially refused to go, wishing to stay in Holland and fight on, however, he finally submitted to go to England and take charge of the Dutch military mission in London. He wanted to work with British Intelligence and the Navy and Allied high command. Some had misgivings about him because of his German background, but he was thoroughly investigated and King George VI of Great Britain recommended him and he was finally accepted into the inner circle.

The people back home in the Netherlands, however, had no such misgivings. Despite the controversy over his German nationality when he first married into the Dutch Royal Family, the Prince had proven whose side he was on and proven his loyalty to his new country and new people. On the first birthday of Prince Bernhard after the occupation, in a subtle act of defiance against the Nazi occupiers, Dutch people from all walks of life placed white carnations (the Prince’s favorite flower) at national monuments around the country in a show, not just of birthday wishes for the Prince, but a sign of loyalty to the House of Orange

The prince also expanded himself by training as a pilot in a British Spitfire with the Dutch squadron of the RAF and in 1941 was promoted to wing commander. He also flew bombing and reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic, France, Germany, Italy and so on for which he was decorated with the Dutch Flying Cross. Ultimately Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands promoted him to the rank of general and in 1944 was given command of the Dutch military forces. When the government-in-exile ordered a rail strike to stop supplies to the German army the Nazis retaliated by cutting off all food and fuel to the Netherlands. People were reduced to eating tulip bulbs and stripping abandoned houses for wood.

The original Allied invasion of the Netherlands (Operation Market Garden) failed (partly due to the dismissal of Dutch reports on the ground) with the crushing defeat at Arnhem followed by the movement of the main Allied effort to the southern front. Prince Bernhard was greatly concerned with the privations that prevailed in the Netherlands and he tried to persuade the Allies (principally the British) to organize a separate offensive north to liberate that part of Holland still under Nazi rule. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Ardennes offensive in Belgium put a halt to all such ideas. Nonetheless, by 1944 Prince Bernhard had become the top commander of the Netherlands armed forces and returned with his family once the country had been liberated by the Allies. He was on hand for the negotiations and the formal surrender of the Nazi forces in 1945. When the Germans tried talking to Prince Bernhard he refused to speak in his native tongue, having become Dutch through and through.

After the war he was made Inspector General and did a great deal to encourage business and the rebuilding of the Dutch economy as well as taking on a leading role in the aircraft industry. In the years that followed he had his share of problems and controversies but was always honored for his service during the dark days of World War II. He lived to see his daughter Beatrix become Queen of the Netherlands and died in Utrecht at the age of 93 from cancer in 2004.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Monarchist Profile: Tomás de Zumalacárregui

Tomas de Zumalacarregui y de Imaz was a controversial figure, and remains so, though none could deny his zeal or ability. His inclusion here may be questioned by virtue of the fact that this adamantly monarchist soldier came to fame in a civil war, not between monarchists and republicans, but between rival royal claimants (always sad when that happens). I speak of course of the Carlist wars in Spain and Zumalacarregui stands out as being a great military leader for the Carlist forces who were ordinarily lacking in that regard. He was a Basque born in 1788, the son of a lawyer. His first military experience came with the invasion of Spain by the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte. He joined the Spanish Royal Army, saw combat at Tudela and was eventually taken prisoner. Managing to escape, he saw about his family and promptly joined the guerillas fighting the French occupiers.

As a member of irregular forces Zumalacarregui stood out for his firm principles. More of the strong, silent type he was a devoutly religious man who fought for independence and the most noble traditions of the Catholic Kingdom of Spain. As soon as possible he rejoined the regular Spanish army and became an officer. He proved his natural ability on the battlefield, was promoted to captain and once King Ferdinand VII was restored to his throne Zumalacarregui worked to even out his military experience with studying the art of war in books. He was staunchly royalist and was disgusted by the spread of liberalism throughout Spain following the French occupation. When the 1820 Revolution erupted liberal officers betrayed him to the revolutionary government as a reactionary but the Basque captain was not removed. Yet, when the government found out he was organizing royalists they did act and he was forced to go into exile in France.

He returned from France in 1823 with other Spanish royalists to restore the power of King Ferdinand VII and he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1825 and colonel in 1829 for his courage and proven steadfast loyalty to the Crown. However, as the King determined to make his daughter his heir without bothering about the law and traditions of Spain Zumalacarregui, who had fought for Ferdinand VII all is life, was known to be opposed to this and supportive of the succession of the King’s brother Don Carlos. Uprisings on behalf of Don Carlos began as soon as the King died and his daughter was proclaimed Queen Isabella II by the more liberal faction directed by her mother Queen Maria Cristina. However, the pious soldier held back, naturally hesitant to take up arms against his countrymen.

The Carlists suffered a number of setbacks before Don Carlos (King Carlos V to his supporters) named him commander of Navarre and Zumalacarregui answered the call and joined the Carlist forces fighting for the traditional Catholic Kingdom of Spain that he held most dear. Under his leadership the Carlists stopped being simple dissidents and took on the form of a regular military force. He trained his men, instilled discipline and self-confidence and proved a very adept and resourceful commander, arming and supplying his army almost exclusively from materials captured from the enemy (known as Cristinos). He was also a very honorable man who did away with executions while his enemies often had Carlist prisoners executed by firing squad. His experience during the French occupation paid dividends and he proved a master of unconventional warfare.

Battle after battle was won by Zumalacarregui and his troops adored him for his skill that gave them victory, his religious faith that inspired them and his concern for their welfare. The top command, however, did not make the best use of him partly due to fears of his being too popular and a potential threat. Their fears were entirely misplaced as there was no one more loyal and less ambitious that the stern, quiet Basque general. By 1835 he had secured most of northern Spain for the Carlist cause, commanded an army of over 30,000 men and for the first time gave Carlos V a military rated better than that of the Queen-regent. He wanted to march at once on Madrid to see Carlos V properly installed as King but he was overruled and ordered to attack Bilbao on the north coast in his native country. While besieging the port he was wounded in the leg and died on June 24, 1835.

His death was controversial with many claiming that if his English doctor could have treated him rather than the surgeons sent by Don Carlos he would have lived or that the war could have been one if he had been allowed to march on Madrid instead of being diverted to the coast. What few could dispute is that the Carlists would never have the benefit of another general of quite the same calibre as Zumalacarregui who was the complete package of reserved demeanor, heartfelt patriotism, deep faith, honorable principles, courage, skill and resourceful military talent who could command the hearts as well as the obedience of his men. Even the most bitter enemies of the Carlist movement would be hard pressed to say anything negative about this great and upstanding Spanish monarchist.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Today in Monarchist History

It was on this day in 1863 that the Superior Junta, assembled by General Forey of the French Imperial Army, appointed the noted conservative and Catholic traditionalist General Juan Almonte provisional President of Mexico. Almonte's government is most known for its restoration of the place of prominence of the Catholic Church in Mexico and, of course, its formal invitation for the Archduke Maximilian of Austria-Hungary to become the Emperor of Mexico. Viva el Gran Emperador! Viva el Imperio Mexico!

I Hate Reality TV

I can hardly express the extent to which I *hate* reality TV or at least the vast majority of it. Even the most benign I find bafflingly pointless. What is so entertaining about watching people living their “normal” lives just because the people are morons, have 30 kids or are 2 ft tall? For one thing, it is simply lazy television; it is something quick and lucrative networks can slap together on the cheap because (we are told) they don’t have to hire any writers or actors (after all, both groups have unions and are thus rather pricey). However, I believe that the worst examples of reality TV are far worse than being just pointless or far from entertainment. I object to them mostly because they are a betrayal of the divine spark in humanity.

As most know I am an avid fan and supporter of the ancient sport of traditional Spanish bullfighting. A lot of people want to see it banned for being “barbaric” (and the day it is banned in Mexico will be the last day I ever visit that country). Naturally, I disagree. I know it is certainly not for everyone but in my opinion it is a glorious, beautiful tradition of skill, grace and the struggle between a man and his courage. It is pure, it is natural, it is poetry in motion. I have been to some rather “gruesome” bullfights but even in the worst cases I find reality TV far, far more barbaric. In fact, I will go a step further and say that I find most of reality TV more detrimental to western civilization than gladiatorial combat in the Roman Colosseum.

For a thousand years the games in the Vespasian Amphitheatre in which gladiators, men and beasts, fought to the death, have been held up as the image of ancient Roman barbarity and we have long smugly patted ourselves on the back that we are so much more “evolved” than those bloodthirsty Romans signaling with their thumbs the fate of a defeated slave. However, I submit to you that we are actually no better than they were and in fact, in some ways, even worse. Why? Because, like the toro bravo in the bull ring, the gladiator at least had a fighting chance, however slim, and he went down heroically, bravely, with dignity and honor. All of which are absolutely lacking in the so-called “entertainment” of reality TV today.

What we have seen instead in the last few years is a race to the bottom in numerous shows revolving around people degrading themselves, disgracing themselves, humiliating themselves and their families all for money or the chance at 15 minutes of fame. They pass as entertainment people eating disgusting things, exaggerating ignorant stereotypes, showing off how shallow and stupid they are or displaying how over-the-top immoral they are by some woman who has to drag in half the trailer park for paternity tests to find out who the father of her child is. It is disgraceful in every sense of the word. A common working girl walking the streets has as much dignity (if not more) than most of the cretins that appear on these displays of the breakdown of high civilization. If the ancient Romans could see such displays as the modern masses devour I think they would shake their heads in embarrassment that people descended from their civilization would hold their lives so precious but sell their honor and dignity so cheap.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Favorite Royal Images: Monegasque Mother and Daughter

Princess Grace of Monaco was an icon of style and beauty and Princess Stephanie grew from an adorable girl to a beautiful woman but what makes this one of my absolute favorite Grimaldi family photos is that look on Stephanie's face -priceless! What does that look say? 'I spell "cute" t-r-o-u-b-l-e'! Priceless... And of course, Grimaldi fans can keep up with the history and monarchy of the Monegasque at my blog Mad for Monaco.

Monarchism in Egypt

Recently the UK newspaper “The Guardian” (of all people) published an article about the revival in Egypt of interest in their Royal Family and former kingdom. Whereas in the old days the monarchy was condemned by the revolutionary radicals who seized Egypt and the former King and royals could only be spoken of with condemnation, things have been changing. Books on the old kingdom are flying off the shelves, visiting royals of the Mohammad Ali dynasty are hounded for interviews and while speaking supportively of the monarchy is still not something conducive to health and long life in Egypt, one can now at least speak of them without condemning them. It is entirely fitting that this should be so. The unfortunate King Farouk may have had his problems and shortcomings but, unlike some that came after him, he was not a cruel or oppressive leader and he represented a dynasty whose history has been bound up with Egypt for centuries.

Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight people will begin to look dispassionately on the revolution which saw the King of Egypt deposed and replaced by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Much of this stemmed from ties between the monarchy and the British and the loss of the 1948 war with Israel. However, the King was certainly not a subservient British lackey and when it comes to unsavory political ties Nasser has him beat in spades having tried to form an alliance with the Italian Fascists in World War II and during the war with Israel offering his first support to Grand Mufti Amin al-Husayni who had been very supportive of the Nazi regime during the war. He would, as dictator of Egypt, go on to support what he called “Arab socialism” and the republican government, if it has succeeded in nothing else, it has done so in bringing their country down to the gutter and robbing it of the grandeur and mystique it knew as a monarchy.
Because of the political situation in Egypt any open advocacy of monarchy is taboo. However, there are some groups on-line which, though they are careful to say that they are not pushing for a restoration, exist to keep alive the history and foster interest in the Egyptian monarchy. You can find such groups on sites like flickr and Facebook. You can also read the full article mentioned above at The Guardian.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Birthday of the Queen of Australia

Today HM Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her official birthday in the Commonwealth of Australia. The republicans Down Under have been a particularly persistent bunch but the loyal monarchists have been steadfast in defending their sovereign and their constitutional monarchy. It is to their great credit that the trends have been toward more support for the Crown recently although nothing can be taken for granted as the 'treason crowd' have shown no signs of giving up but have vowed to continue asking the republic vs. monarchy question until they get the answer they are looking for and they are willingly aided by the political elites and the mainstream media. They have made no secret of the fact that they wish to change everything about Australia, from its constitution, its form of government and even the Australian flag. Some have even called for a change to the national anthem (silly me, I thought they already had). One would be caused to wonder if there is actually anything about their country these people *do* like. For the moment however, loyal Australians can take this occasion to celebrate their Queen, their constitutional monarchy, the deep ancestral roots they represent and the history of their proud and heroic service with the Empire and the Commonwealth that has made them famous throughout the world. Happy Birthday to Her Majesty and God Save the Queen of Australia!

Monarch Profile: King Philip IV of Spain

The peak of Spanish power is usually dated with the reign of King Philip II, yet in terms of the size of the Spanish Empire, that peak was reached during the reign of his successor King Philip IV. He reigned at a crucial time. After the death of the dominant Philip II, Spain is generally considered to have gone into decline due to the often unscrupulous ministers (especially the Duke of Lerma) who dominated the country during the reign of Philip III. When it came time for his son to take the throne he was pulled in opposite directions and went back and forth between the noninvolvement of his father and the quality of his grandfather.

Philip IV was born on April 8, 1605 in Valladolid to King Philip III and Margaret of Austria. When he was only ten years old he married Isabella of France in 1615. The couple had seven children, 6 girls and 1 boy who sadly died in 1646 when he was only 16-years-old. Despite being pushed toward temptation in many ways, King Philip IV corresponded with Venerable Mary of Agreda; a Spanish mystic who advised him on how to be good Catholic monarch. Yet, he was not always a hard enough man to bear the burdens of his office and found diversion in riding, hunting, the theatre and being a great patron of the arts. He also, like his father, placed a great deal of power in the hands of his chief minister the Duke of Olivares. Thankfully, however, Olivares was a more noble man than Lerma had been. However, Queen Isabella and a clique of powerful nobles managed to have Olivares removed in 1643 and she became a much more dominant figure until her own death the following year.

Still wishing to maintain the Austrian alliance, in 1646 King Philip IV married Maria Anna of Austria, his niece and the daughter of the Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II. Yet, Philip still had trouble producing an heir with his only surviving son of six pregnancies, Prince Carlos Jose, being often in poor health. As monarch his government was plagued by the financial problems he inherited from the Lerma regime which left Spain strapped for cash and heavily dependent on gold and silver imports from Latin America to fund continental obligations. These Spain certainly had for, while Philip IV could often be an absent monarch like his father, he also tried to carry on a foreign policy more like Philip II, fighting for the restoration of Catholic Christendom in the Thirty Years War alongside Emperor Ferdinand II. The Spanish contribution largely consisted in renewing the war against the Dutch republic which had previously broken away from the Spanish empire.

Spain won a number of victories over the Dutch and even marched into Germany to support the Emperor against the intervention of the Swedes on the Protestant side. However, this ultimately led to war with King Louis XIII of France and Spanish troops and finances were stretched to the limit and uprisings broke out in areas already conquered and even in Spain itself. Peace was finally agreed to with the Dutch and a renewed effort was made against France but no decisive victory was forthcoming. Philip IV was finally forced to make peace, sealed by a marriage between his daughter and King Louis XIV of France. Spain itself and the war effort suffered greatly from financial problems, particularly as English and Dutch warships raided the Spanish treasure fleets Philip IV heavily depended on.

Despite a very eventful reign, what Philip IV will probably be most remembered for is his great love of art. He was patron to a number of artists, loved artwork and the theatre and during his life amassed an extensive and very impressive art collection of his own. He gained renown across Europe and the world for the majestic grandeur of his court, an image which he owed to a large extent to his many large and magnificent paintings. Unfortunately, these were expenses he could not afford and despite the success of his early years Spain was going into visible decline by the time of his death on September 17, 1665 at the age of 60 in Madrid. He was buried in El Escorial and succeeded by his son King Carlos II, the last Spanish Hapsburg.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Consort Profile: Sophie of Wurttemberg

Queen Sophie, consort of King Willem III of the Netherlands, was born in Stuttgart on June 17, 1818 to King Wilhelm I of Wurttemberg and Grand Duchess Catherine Pavlovna of Russia who was the daughter of Czar Paul I. She died shortly after Sophie’s birth and Sophie was raised by her aunt Catharina, wife of Jerome Bonaparte, one-time King of Westphalia. In the aftermath of being raised to the status of a kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars the Royal Family of Wurttemberg were anxious to further establish themselves through dynastic alliances with the major houses of Europe. Marriage ties were made to the British Royal Family and King Otto of Greece and Duke Wilhelm of Brunswick were considered as potential husbands for her. However, her father King Wilhelm I did not consider Greece stable enough for the investment of his daughter.

Instead, previous marital ties were reinforced. Sophie’s aunt, Anna Pavlovna, had been married to King Willem II of the Netherlands and she was betrothed to their son; Willem III, Prince of Orange. The two first cousins were married in Stuttgart on June 18, 1839. She was a very intelligent, driven young woman and her family (along with several other observers) expected that she would ultimately be the dominating force in the Netherlands once her husband came to the throne. However, Willem III was already dominated by his Russian mother. Surprisingly enough she had been against her son marrying her niece and she opposed her from day one. This did nothing to help the marriage of two people who were almost polar opposites to begin with.

The new Prince and Princess of Orange did their duty and produced a son and heir in 1840, followed by another son in 1843. In 1849, with the passing of Willem II, the couple became King Willem III and Queen Sophie of the Netherlands. Willem III was a reluctant monarch but, coming from a military background, expected to be obeyed without question and had a volatile temper. Queen Sophie, on the other hand, was considered liberal by the standards of the day and while she was well educated and gloried in learning, particularly history. Perhaps resenting a wife most considered smarter than him, Willem III tried to forbid intellectual pursuits at his court. In 1851 the couple had their last child, another son, but it soon became clear their marriage existed in name only as Willem III became infamous for his adultery with his reputation for debauchery even reaching the United States.

The Queen was tormented by this and in time the affairs and bursts of temper on the part of King Willem III drove Queen Sophie to publicly denounce him as an unfit monarch. She said she could better rule the country and that may have been true but it was not about to happen and the undermining of Willem III did not make anything better. Their standoff came to its worst point in 1850 with the death of their son Prince Maurits. He suffered from meningitis and Queen Sophie wanted to call in more doctors to care for him but Willem III dismissed the idea that it was anything serious and refused to allow it. Five years later Queen Sophie managed to live apart from her husband, at least during the summer months and spent greater amounts of time back in Wurttemberg.

Queen Sophie tried to carry on as a traditional consort but it was extremely difficult for her. She corresponded with more moderate monarchs like Queen Victoria of Britain and Emperor Napoleon III of France as well as leading scholars and thinkers from around Europe but her husband disapproved. She was a patron of the arts, a leader in promoting the ethical treatment of animals and she sponsored a number of charities and construction of public parks. Still, she was lonely, unhappy and viewed her husband as a simplistic autocrat. When she died on June 3, 1877 she was, according to her final wishes, buried in her wedding dress as she had long considered that occasion to be the real end of her life. The King did not mourn her much and many people tended to view the intellectual German lady as aloof and withdrawn while Willem III was generally popular with the Dutch public for his simple, unassuming ways. Yet, at the very least, Queen Sophie can be judged as a royal ahead of her time and even in her own time she was widely respected and sympathized with across western Europe.
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