Monday, September 30, 2013
On the near eastern front, the Ottoman Empire made the news last week as researchers in Hungary, searching for the tomb of the celebrated Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent found the remains of an entire town near the village of Turbek. In events of more recent concern, analysts are saying that the Emirate of Qatar is losing influence these days after the abdication of their monarch on June 25 and with Saudi Arabia emerging as the primary backer of the anti-Assad forces in Syria. The Paris-based Observatory of Arab Countries marks the ousting of the Islamic Brotherhood from power in Egypt by the military as the start of the decline in influence for oil-rich Qatar. The state, known for its Al-Jazeera television network and considerable support for the Muslim Brotherhood helped bring down Gaddafi in Libya and has been supporting the rebels in Syria only to see that not everyone is buying what the Brotherhood is selling and the Saudis taking on a bigger role in Syria. However, Qatar still supports Islamist movements in many areas, including Syria, where the current government of republican Turkey is also assisting in the support for Islamist rebels against the Ba’athist dictatorship. And, over at the United Nations, King Abdullah II of Jordan has asked for more foreign assistance in handling the crisis being caused by the huge numbers of Syrian refugees seeking safety in the peace and stability of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The King told the General Assembly, “…I say here and now that my people cannot be asked to shoulder the burden of what is a regional and global challenge”. Outside the UN, rather than the King, it was his glamorous Queen Rania who attracted the attention of photographers. Later, at the Clinton Global Initiative, the style Queen of Jordan presented an award for leadership to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban militia for promoting the idea of education for girls in New York City (that is, the award was given in NYC, no one was shot there for trying to educate girls -with the public education system in NYC neither girls or boys are educated).
In Africa there has been a bit of royal news making the headlines. In the Kingdom of Swaziland, the last absolute monarchy in Africa, a pro-democracy activist won a seat in the national parliament for the first time despite an African Union mission complaining that certain political parties were barred from participation. Jan Sithole, president of the Swaziland Democratic Party won a seat and said that others of his party did as well but he refused to name names. Their participation was criticized by some who wished for pro-democracy groups to boycott the process entirely. As it stands now the King appoints two-thirds of the upper house as well as the prime minister. Others are elected from amongst candidates chosen by hand-picked chiefs loyal to the King -something the pro-democracy crowd is not happy about. Also, not far away, in the neighboring Kingdom of Lesotho, Britain’s Prince Harry has teamed up with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to help herd boys in that small country. And, at the other end of the continent, journalist Ali Anouzla was arrested in the Kingdom of Morocco on the charge of defending and inciting terrorism after posting a link to an Al-Qaeda video on his news website. The free press people are complaining but, really, an Al-Qaeda video; what was he thinking?
In Europe, moving from south to north, HM the King of Spain kept busy with official duties in the days running up to another hip surgery. It comes at a bad time as the Royal Palace has been trying to improve the public image of the King by highlighting how hard he works, his many engagements and obligations only to have to keep postponing things because of medical problems, all the while trying to tramp down speculations about the King abdicating in favor of HRH the Prince of Asturias. In any event, the Royal Family rallied around the monarch to support him in this difficult time and, fortunately, the surgery seemed to go well with the King reportedly “stable, comfortable and in good spirits”. The hospital manager called the monarch’s recovery, “highly satisfactory”. We wish His Catholic Majesty a swift recovery and for many more productive years on the Spanish throne. Farther up the Mediterranean in Monaco, the Princely couple were absent having lots to do at the UN. Prince Albert II called for reinforcing the UN’s emergency relief office and Princess Charlene was welcomed to the Big Apple by First Lady Michelle Obama. Closer to home the newlyweds Andrea and Tatiana Casiraghi made their first post-nuptial public appearance last week.
The Low Countries were a mix of good and bad news this week. First, the good news, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg gained a new royal with the wedding of Prince Felix and Claire Lademacher, now Princess Claire, at the Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine. A very happy and handsome couple, we send our congratulations and wish them all the best and a lifetime of wedded bliss. Less pleasant was the not surprising but still infuriating display of treason mixed with plain rudeness by republicans in the neighboring Kingdom of Belgium. It was to be expected that there would be problems when the new King Philip and Queen Mathilde, as part of their tour of the provinces, visited the notoriously rowdy city of Antwerp in Flanders. Several hundred loyal people showed up to cheer and display proper, warm Flemish hospitality but just as many traitors showed up to boo and heckle the new King and Queen, among other things shouting, “Death to Belgium”. What refined, civilized people republicans are. All other “joyous entries” have been just that, Antwerp has the dubious dishonor of being the only city to display such vile behavior to the new King and Queen. Finally, in the Kingdom of The Netherlands, some unfortunate news as well. Princess Beatrix (the royal formerly known as Queen) had a fall at home and broke her cheekbone, requiring surgery. The 75-year old former monarch was operated on Sunday. We wish her a speedy recovery.
Forging ahead, things were busy but not necessarily earth-shattering for the Scandinavian royals recently. The Crown Princess of Norway was talking about AIDS in New York at the Clinton Global Initiative, Queen Sonja teamed up with the Duchess of Cornwall to tour a cancer center in Scotland and King Harald V had an area on the eastern part of the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard named “King Harald V Land” in his honor. The Norwegian King and Queen are also being urged to call off a trip to the Republic of Turkey because of the record of that country when it comes to the media and freedom of the press. Currently Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country. Across the border in Sweden, the King said goodbye to the ambassadors from Japan and the bandit government in Peking and opened a new tourism office in Stockholm. Prince Daniel visited Lund with Prince Daniel’s Fellowship and down in Denmark, a special story was done by “The Australian Women’s Weekly” called “A day in the life of Crown Princess Mary”. She’s still a pretty big deal in her native land (Down Under) and she’s pretty big in Denmark too of course; biggest thing in Denmark since Reptilicus (maybe).
Finally we finish up with the royals of the British Isles (and apologies, I did not plan on this being the longest royal news report ever) where little Prince George of Cambridge got his passport for his upcoming trip to Australia, commemorative coins released for his christening and his Duke and Duchess mom and dad got a new “married” coat of arms approved by HM the Queen. The Richard III Society has withdrawn funds pledged for the late King’s tomb beside they thought the design was terrible and a petition for a parliamentary debate on where to bury the Yorkist king failed to garner anywhere near the 100,000 signatures necessary. There just never seems to be any good news related to King Richard III. We were though very pleased to hear that the Duke of Edinburgh was back at the barbeque in Balmoral (hurrah for Prince Philip!) but we were much less impressed to see uncouth busy-bodies lashing out at the Earl of Wessex simply for wearing a necktie that included scenes of the great, glorious and beautiful traditional Spanish sport of bullfighting. Meanwhile the Duke of York visited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and met with the chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung on strengthening economic ties between Vietnam and Great Britain. The Prince of Wales has kept very busy, among other things by promoting environmentally friendly cabinets. I don’t really have anything to say about that one.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Bad weather is causing some problems here at MM HQ so this will be a rather stark post. I wanted to let everyone know that I've decided to see if I can get away with slacking off on posting on the weekends but I plan to still do the news report on Mondays. I will see how it goes as ordinarily I only hear about what people do not like and have to guess at what is popular. Also, if any are interested, posts that will be coming up will include another mad rant (sure to upset some people so be prepared for outrage), some of my favorite Kings of Sweden and we will be taking a look at the story of the monarchy of Liechtenstein. I hope you will all look forward to that. Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions the comment box below is always open.
-Frederick the Great, King of Prussia
Friday, September 27, 2013
The first formal claim on the islands came in 1895 when the Empire of Japan formally incorporated the islands and installed markers on them to clearly show them as being Japanese territory. No other power had ever even attempted to do something similar at any point in the past. In fact, Chinese records dating back to the Ming dynasty clearly show the islands being labeled as non-Chinese territory and more recent Chinese maps and documents list them as belonging to Japan and label them with the Japanese rather than the Chinese names for them. The best China can do is to point to some “discovered” historical maps which show the islands labeled in Chinese. However, these merely prove that the Chinese knew of their existence, not that they were Chinese territory. Furthermore, words alone have never been deemed enough to lay claim to a territory. One can claim to own anything in the world but unless some effort is made to actually possess such a territory, the claim is meaningless. Recently, the Chinese republics have become quite adept at finding historical maps that show just about everything around them as belonging to China. Thankfully, these are all meaningless to the current dispute as they do not take into account the many international agreements and treaties made in the intervening centuries. After all, there are historical maps which show Florida belonging to Spain, most of France belonging to England or Poland belonging to Russia yet they have no bearing on the current legal status of any of these places.
In fact, as late as 1969 officially Chinese documents still listed the Senkakus as Japanese territory. During the American occupation, U.S. forces even used a couple of the islands as a bombing range for American aircraft and yet, during all that time, China raised no protest. Surely, if they truly believed these islands were Chinese territory, they would have at least raised their voices slightly when they were being bombed by American aircraft, but, not a sound was heard. The situation only began to change in 1969 (the same year the Chinese still say the Senkakus belong to Japan) when the UN identified potential oil and natural gas reserves in the area surrounding the Senkaku Islands. Suddenly, as if by a miracle, the bandit government in Peking became interested. Yet, they still said nothing until 1972. What happened in 1972? Purely by coincidence I am sure, this is when the United States ended its occupation of the Ryukyu Islands, including the Senkakus, handing them back over to Japan (the Allied occupation of Japan having ended in 1952). So it was only then, once oil and natural gas had been discovered and after the United States was no longer responsible for the area, that the Chinese republics suddenly announced to the world that the Senkaku Islands had “always” been Chinese.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
|Captain John Byron|
In 1766 another British expedition landed and established a British fort on Saunders Island named Port Egmont. The Spanish never knew of this outpost until 1770 at which time they found out and the Spanish authorities in Buenos Aires sent a military expedition to Port Egmont which forced the British to withdraw though they still maintained their claim on the islands. They had arrived first and none of the treaties invoked by Spain (the Treaty of Tordesillas or the Treaty of Utrecht) to back up their claim applied to the Falkland Islands. Nonetheless, for the time being, Spain was in control of them. When the Spanish empire in the Americas began to fall apart, British entrepreneurs endeavored to settle the islands again in the 1820’s. By this time, the British presence was protested by the revolutionary government of the “United Provinces of the River Plate” or the “United Provinces of South America” which was the rebel government that had broken from Spain and taken control of what had formerly been the Spanish Viceroyalty of the River Plate (Rio de la Plata) and which presided over territory that would eventually become the northernmost reaches of the Republic of Argentina.
The United Provinces were formed, usurping authority from the Spanish Viceroy, in 1810 and were not recognized by any major foreign powers. Moreover, they did not actually declare independence from Spain until 1816. Britain, for example, did not recognize Argentine independence until 1823, a year after the Jewett episode. The Kingdom of Spain did not recognize Argentine independence until 1857! Furthermore, though modern Argentina claims descent from the United Provinces, it was certainly not the same political entity that exists today. Bolivia and Paraguay broke away and the United Provinces were succeeded by the Argentine Confederation of 1831-1861 which was itself succeeded by the rival Republic of Argentina and State of Buenos Aires. Obviously, the claim of the modern country of Argentina to the real or imagined territories of past revolutionary governments that were always in a state of transition, is extremely tenuous at best. What makes the modern-day claim of Argentina to sovereignty over the Falklands really rich is that it is based on someone planting a flag on them and occupying them, all the while claiming that when the British did the same thing that this should be considered illegal and should not count as a way of determining sovereignty. Because a government which they claim as a predecessor of their own held possession of the islands, very briefly, Argentina asserts that this negates the British holding possession of the islands for centuries.
|God Save the Queen!|
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
To arms! then, Americans [note: not Texans -MM], to aid in sustaining the principles of 1776 [note: not 1824 -MM], in this western hemisphere. To arms! native Mexicans, in driving tyranny from your homes, intolerance from your altars [note: a swipe at Catholicism, the at least nominal faith of many Texan leaders -MM], and the tyrant from your country. In this very hour the crowned despots of Europe have met in unholy conclave, to devise the means of crushing liberal principles [if only that were true -MM]. Louis Philippe of France, faithless to his oath, now sits side by side with the monarchs of Russia, and Austria, and Prussia, and Spain, and the minister of Santa Anna is seen among them. Before this, it is more than probable that the freedom of Mexicans has been sold to the tyrants, that European force is to sustain the diadem on the head of the traitor Santa Anna [and he was a traitor, to the King of Spain, which would make one wonder why Spain would wish to help him -MM]. Not only Texas and Mexico, but the genius of liberty, demands that every man do his duty to his country [look out there Frank, you’re starting to sound like that great monarchist Lord Nelson there -MM], and leave the consequences to God. Our first attack will be upon Matamoros; our next, if Heaven decrees, wherever tyranny shall raise its malignant form [bringing democracy to the world, even in 1836 folks -MM].
|Colonel Frank Johnson (later in life)|
It seems also particularly unfair that, among all of these crowned heads of Europe, the only one Colonel Johnson singled out by name was the hapless French King Louis Philippe. In fact, after the Republic of Texas won independence from Mexico at the pivotal battle of San Jacinto in April of that year, King Louis Philippe was among the first foreign leaders to recognize the Republic of Texas and establish friendly, diplomatic relations (one can even still visit the old embassy of the Kingdom of France in Austin). One also cannot help but wonder how someone like Colonel Johnson, in the wilds of northern Mexico, commanding a ragtag army of, well, probably tens of men at that point, was so well informed about the secret conclaves of European monarchs? However, as it happened, and as we have discussed before, Santa Anna did, in fact, send a delegate to Europe to see about importing a royal to Mexico but this was around six years after Colonel Johnson made the above declaration and, even then, one cannot help but be cynical as to the sincerity of the man who had betrayed King Fernando VII of Spain, Emperor Agustin I of Mexico and was then hailed as a hero for thwarting the Spanish attempt to retake Mexico at the siege of Tampico (and it should also be remembered that this Spanish expedition stood no chance at all of conquering Mexico and was defeated by coastal illness rather than Santa Anna).
|King Louis Philippe, actually a friend of Texas|
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
During this battle, unfamiliarity with the terrain and misinformation provided by guides in the pay of the enemy, led a small Italian colonial column of 18,000 troops (mostly African natives with Italian officers) to become separated and then attacked piecemeal and overwhelmed by a massive Ethiopian army of well over 100,000. In the aftermath, many of the survivors on the Italian side were massacred and/or tortured and mutilated. Those who were taken prisoner were not released at the close of hostilities but held for ransom (which was paid secretly by King Umberto I of Italy to the Ethiopian Emperor). It horrified public opinion in Italy and brought down the government of the long-time political powerhouse Francesco Crispi (a proud and ambitious veteran of “The Thousand”). Now, enter Prince Henri of Orleans. Throughout his life Prince Henri had proven himself to be a bold and intrepid traveler as well as a condescending man. He was most known for being an inveterate Anglophobe, writing and uttering many a diatribe insulting and condemning Great Britain in the harshest terms. Yet, oddly enough, the British seemed to celebrate him in spite of that. He would learn that Italians responded quite differently to being insulted.
The time and place were decided; August 15, 1897 in Vaucresson at Versailles. The weapon chosen was the sword since, even though the French preferred to duel with pistols, the Italians felt this unworthy of princes deciding a matter of honor. In Italy, pistols were used by cuckolded husbands while nobles and the high born settled differences with the saber. So, at five o’clock in the morning, it began with the duel being supervised by Count Leontieff and Count Avogadro in the Bois de Marchechaux. The two had at each other and after five reprises the Count of Turin was victorious, inflicting a wound on Prince Henri’s abdomen that the doctors of both parties deemed serious enough to put the Prince at a disadvantage and so the match was awarded to the Count of Turin. All of Europe was rather enthralled by this showdown that seemed like a throwback to centuries past. In Italy, however, the Count of Turin became a national hero instantly and was celebrated across the country for his victory and for standing up for Italian honor. When he returned to his homeland he was met in Turin by King Umberto I who said, “I want to be the first to congratulate you with all my heart on the example you set and the success you scored.”
Sunday, September 15, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
On the continent, HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco donned Monegasque native dress for the annual Monegasque “family” picnic at Antoinette park in Monaco, also attended by the Sovereign Prince, Princess Caroline, Baroness de Massy and daughter Melanie.
Also in New York, at UN headquarters, HM Queen Sofia accepted, on behalf of Spain, the FDR International Disability Rights Award. A very worthy cause even if it is named after one of the worst presidents in American history.
In Belgium, a spokesman for Prince Laurent was asked if he will give a DNA sample for the paternity lawsuit against his father and he said, “If asked, he will consider it. He’s not against it as a matter of principle. He’s very open to the notion. This doesn’t reflect on his possible decision.” Representatives of the former monarch himself have given the impression that King Albert II will not be cooperating in any way with this latest legal case. In happier news, King Philip and Queen made their “joyous entry” into Wavre, the capital of Walloon Brabant, meeting with local officials and the public on a walk about town. This is the second such visit for the new King and Queen who will have visited every Belgian province by the end of October.
|Prince Felix and his future Princess|
On the Scandinavian front, HRH Crown Princess Victoria attended the Sustainable Seas seminar this week (everyone seems very keen to conserve and sustain things these days) where she probably had more fun that her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who had an audience this week with US President Obama on his way to the G-8 summit in Russia. And, down in Paris, France, HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway was guest of honor at the opening of the Norwegian stand at the international art fair at the Grand Palais, proudly showing off what Norway has to offer.
Finally, I wanted to talk about some stories this week that really disturbed your humble correspondent the most. First to come to my attention was a collection of drawings done by children in the Republic of Korea, very small children by the look of them, which carried the theme of hatred for Japan. These included drawings showing Japan being bombed, the islands in flames, Japanese flags being burned and trampled on among other disgraceful things. Sadly, this is not an unusual attitude amongst the republican neighbors of Japan. Red China has for years included in the education program by the bandit government in Peking indoctrination lessons to teach children to always hate Japan (the only remaining monarchy in northeast Asia) and lest anyone think North Korea is an exception, this is the same country that has said that if South Korea attacks them -they will attack Tokyo. As little sense as that makes to anyone with a working brain. This is all the more disgraceful because children are not born holding such hateful feelings. No group of children, on their own, just decide to draw pictures of a neighboring country being bombed or engulfed in flames; this is a hatred they were taught. Given attitudes like this, is it any wonder that more people in Japan are talking about revising Article 9 of their constitution? I hate to see cases like this in particular because I like South Korea and would like to see more friendly solidarity between the non-communist countries of Asia in opposition to the expanding power of Red China.
(as an aside, Sept 8 marked the 400th anniversary of relations between Britain and Japan when gifts were exchanged by King James I and the Tokugawa Shogun)
Friday, September 13, 2013
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Moving on, traditionally, in most countries, the twin pillars of support for monarchy have been the aristocracy and religious institutions. Haile Selassie had long had a contentious relationship with the Ethiopian aristocracy over his efforts, throughout his reign, to centralize power. There were, of course, reasons for this. Battles between feuding nobles had long troubled Ethiopia. This was partly how Haile Selassie himself had come to power, leading a rebellion of nobles in deposing the emperor in 1916, after which he was able to consolidate power further and ultimately the empress handed power over to him. Haile Selassie wanted to end all of that and was likely concerned that internal strife could be taken advantage of by foreign powers with designs on the country. As far as the Ethiopian Church was concerned, although they always remained largely supportive of the monarchy, tensions were certainly raised when the emperor made Church lands subject to taxation and claimed the right of the government to judge clerics whereas previously a cleric could only be judged by a church court. They, however, could be dealt with, but the nobles remained problematic, especially when they offered staunch opposition to his effort to enact progressive taxation in Ethiopia.
It did not take long for the poison of communism to begin to take root in Ethiopia and when natural disasters, the oil crisis or famines caused immense suffering in Ethiopia the communists were quick to seize on each crisis as an excuse for turning people against the emperor even though, obviously, all of these things were quite beyond his control. The Soviet Union made Ethiopia something of a priority and turned out massive amounts of propaganda in an effort to turn the Ethiopian people against their monarch. This was the same country that had, in World War II, been allied with Haile Selassie and which had awarded him the military Order of Suvarov in 1959 (just as they gave King Michael I of Romania the Order of Victory shortly before deposing him). Realizing too late the danger of communist infiltration and communist subversion, the emperor tried to move against them but this, as usual, was seized upon by the communists and their fellow travelers as “proof” of what a harsh, reactionary autocrat the emperor was. Mutiny broke out in the army, led by leftist officers of course, and the emperor tried to placate them with land grants and higher salaries but, as usual, this did not work. Any effort to negotiate with communists goes the same way; you give them what they demand and they promptly demand more. In 1974 a small clique of army officers seized power and arrested the emperor, deposing him and, the following year, announced his death.
The man in charge of all of this, the man who had taken the place of Emperor Haile Selassie, was Mengistu Haile Mariam. Remember that name. What Stalin was to Russia, what Choibalsan was to Mongolia, what Mao was to China, Mengistu was to Ethiopia. He instituted a reign of terror in Ethiopia on a scale that made even the French revolutionaries look like slackers. Hundreds of thousands of people were massacred, hundreds of thousands were arrested and tortured and hundreds of thousands more were starved to death. All told, even by conservative estimates, Mengistu caused the deaths of more than two million of his fellow Ethiopians. Some believe he may have killed his former emperor personally and given what a vicious, hateful man he is, it is not beyond the realm of possibility. The Ethiopian people experienced a level of suffering under his rule that none of them had ever known before. No emperor, nor even any foreign conqueror, was so brutal and barbaric toward the Ethiopian people as Mengistu was. He intentionally murdered people by slow starvation and if there was one constant throughout his decades in power it was probably widespread starvation, some of it purposely inflicted and much of it the result of his idiotic, Marxist policies. He remains one of the most despicable villains in African history.
None of these facts are in dispute. The important thing to remember is this; Emperor Haile Selassie may have made some mistakes that hurt his own cause. His overthrow (and probable murder) was a mistake that hurt every last Ethiopian man, woman and child in the entire country, and many in surrounding countries for that matter. The loss of the monarchy brought about a nightmarish era of murder, starvation and misery. Since 1991 things have improved somewhat but actually quite little. There is still no real freedom, no prosperity and no true connection with the ancient history of Ethiopia which can only happen when the monarchy is restored and sacred, traditional authority resumes its rightful place.