Friday, May 2, 2014

On the Legitimacy of Monarchs

One of the problems with this medium (of the media) is that new people come along and start reading but have no idea what has already been written about unless they go back through the archives beyond the front page. New readers are, of course, not a problem but it does mean that one is often questioned on a point covered in the past, at times covered repeatedly though the questioner is ignorant of this. I have tried to set things out in the “About” section and, of course, anyone can peruse the archives as they wish, yet, not everyone is going to do that. Many, the majority probably, will simply start with the front page and go from there. One such issue that comes up from time to time, more often than I would like certainly (hence the page devoted exclusively to the subject) is royal legitimacy. This is a subject your resident mad man finds increasingly tiresome and frankly, though it is perhaps flattering in a way, I am astounded that anyone would seek out a blogger for the ultimate and absolute definition of “truth” in the universe. It sounds absurd to put it like that, but that is often what it comes down to. The republican mentality and what the former Pope or Pope Emeritus or Co-Pope or whatever Benedict XVI is supposed to be now once called the tyranny of relativism has done its work well. Speaking of the Roman Pontiff, there once was a time when the legitimacy of any monarch, in Catholic eyes, depended on the endorsement of the Pope. Such is no longer the case as there are people who deny the legitimacy of the Pope while still calling themselves Catholics.

That underlies one reason why I refuse to start down the rabbit hole of arguments over royal legitimacy; because there is no end to it. Almost every single monarch still reigning in Europe has some group of people, no matter how small, denying their legitimacy to occupy their throne. And, for the one or two others, I dare say some of the arguments against other monarchs could be applied to them as well. There are some who even delight in feuding over the legitimacy of monarchs who are not even reigning and dynasties which have not actually held a throne in over a hundred years. What this is supposed to accomplish in the reality of the present remains a mystery to me. Two groups that have always stood out the most to me are the Jacobites of Great Britain and the Carlists of Spain. Both were monarchists for whom I have the utmost respect and the greatest sympathy. Had I been alive in their day, I would have certainly been among their ranks of supporters. In the case of the Jacobites, they resisted gallantly and fought like heroes. They were eventually defeated but they remain, for me at least, an honorable memory. In time, they realized that their cause truly was lost and reconciled themselves to the new royal line. The tiny minority today who has taken up their name and denies the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth II are, frankly, no better than republicans and by their very actions insult the legacy of the actual Jacobites.

I say that because, even in the days when actual Jacobites were still alive, men who had actually fought with “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, they recognized then that times were changing and the temper of society was not as it had been in the past. Many came to America and settled in the piedmont of North Carolina. When the American War for Independence broke out, there was no talk from these men of “German Georgie” but rather they rallied to the Crown and in support of King George III, recognizing that the monarchy under a different royal relation than they would have preferred, was far better than supporting godless republicanism. The Jacobites had, in a way at least, been fighting for the “Divine Right” but more or less since the victory of King William III, the Crown ruled by the right of Parliament. However, the American rebels were denying any right for a Crown at all, further than that, they were denying even a place for any Crown at all in national life. This was, obviously, something no Jacobite would find it easy to tolerate. If the people had turned against the very idea of monarchy; how on earth could they be expected to understand the significance of royal bloodlines and dynastic legitimacy?

The Jacobites remain, for me, an honorable memory and an example of truly steadfast monarchist loyalty. That in no way changes my view that the one and only monarch of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is Queen Elizabeth II and that she should be supported and defended to the last measure. The public sentiment has changed quite drastically even from what it was in 1776, even in Britain. As I would assume most monarchists know, the legitimate heir to the Stuart royal line (which was what the Jacobites supported) is, today, Duke Franz of Bavaria. I assure you that the vast majority of people in Great Britain have never heard of the Duke, have no idea who he is and have absolutely no interest in bringing this elderly Bavarian royal bachelor over to London to become their monarch. As it happens, Duke Franz himself has never voiced any such desire either. From his actions it can be assumed that he would be perfectly happy to occupy the throne of a restored Kingdom of Bavaria were he to be asked, but no more than that just as no heir of the Stuarts has actually claimed the Crowns of England, Scotland and Ireland since the death of the last actual male descendants of King James II himself. The point is that, as things stand now, the only option besides a Great Britain and Northern Ireland under Queen Elizabeth II and her heirs and successors is a Great Britain and Northern Ireland with no monarch at all, and it is as simple as that. The public mentality has changed and they no longer accept any legitimacy other than that bestowed by the public will. The monarchy remains because the public wish it to remain and they have not the slightest conception of even the mentality behind legitimacy based on royal bloodlines and this giving someone an inherent, God-given right to be the monarch of their country. That is simply the fact of the matter, deplorable though it may be. Carrying on that fight today would be rather like a Latin-mass traditional Catholic trying to convince a population of Buddhists of the invalidity of Vatican II. You have your priorities grossly out of order.

Next we come to the Carlists who are a very unique case to say the least of it. Here was a group of legitimists who lost the war, lost many wars in fact only to finally have their cause prevail in the end at which point they refused to accept victory and resumed the war (though only in words and mostly confined to the internet these days). In some ways, the Carlists remind me of the pro-Orange majority of the Church of England back in 1688. They were a church that existed only because of the principle of non-resistance to royal authority that was arguing that the church must resist the royal authority. Similarly, the Carlists were absolute monarchists who were driven to rebellion by the actions of the last absolute monarch of Spain, King Fernando VII, who declared his daughter rather than his brother to be his heir and successor. However, he did not do this by the traditional legal process but simply decreed it on his own absolute authority and so, after his death, the Carlists rebelled against his daughter and proclaimed his brother Don Carlos to be the true King of Spain. For myself, I have no doubts that the Carlists were on the side of the angels in their cause, however, one could make a legitimate case that, after a certain point, they were doing Spain more harm than good by continuing on rather than seeking some sort of reconciliation. Eventually, the country went to ruin, the empire fell away and even if they had been militarily successful, the Carlist heir would have had far less of a realm to rule as a result of the long succession of wars.

This was something that Britain did not suffer. The Jacobite risings were fewer and less severe than the Carlist wars and the British Empire did not suffer as a result of them. In Spain, on the other hand, the situation deteriorated to such an extent that both sides were increasingly discredited so that it was decided to reject the Bourbon dynasty as a whole and import a monarch from the Italian House of Savoy. When that failed to solve the problem, Spain became a republic for the first time in history though it was so inept that it thankfully was short-lived. The monarchy was restored, the old conflict resumed and soon enough another republic was declared that proved far more disastrous. Happily, with the death of Infante Alfonso Carlos, Duke of San Jaime in 1936 (“King Alfonso Carlos I”) it seemed that the legitimacy problem was solved as the exiled King Alfonso XIII then became the senior male descendant of King Carlos IV (the last monarch before Fernando VII). That should have been the end of it according to the original bone of contention which was the suppression of Salic Law by Fernando VII which had been in place ever since the Bourbon royals came to Spain (ironically, the older tradition in Spain had allowed female succession).

However, as we know, that was not the end of it as there are still people claiming to be Carlists and in opposition to the existing Spanish monarchy in spite of the fact that King Juan Carlos is the undisputed, senior male descendant of King Carlos IV. Like him or not, he is the legitimate King of Spain, period, end of discussion. The problem is that the modern-day neo-Carlists started changing the standards by which they judged royal legitimacy. With the death of the Duke of San Jaime, it ceased to be based on bloodline legitimacy and became all about religious and political ideology. Of course, even in that they could not agree with themselves and broke up into communist and anti-communist factions (as absurd as that seems) and it basically came down to “the legitimate heir is whoever we think is best”. Now, obviously, one does not have to be much of a monarchist to see that this is a mentality totally at odds with the very idea of hereditary monarchy and which is much more akin to some sort of republicanism. It no longer is accepting whomever Heaven shall provide and turns into accepting whoever I think is best. And, just like in Britain, these neo-Carlists (aside from the leftist lunatics) aid the republican cause by attacking their monarch and monarchy at every opportunity seemingly oblivious to the fact that Spanish society is about as far from being staunchly monarchist and traditional Catholic as one can possibly be. To the extent that they acknowledge it all, they blame it all on the King. This is absurd and unfair and it is easy to see why.

There had been terrorist campaigns by regional separatists and communist groups for some time before the death of Generalissimo Franco. Spain was not some sort of solidly right-wing, traditional Catholic place before the King took over. The prospect of another civil war was a major concern for people at the time as the extremes on the right and on the left had not gone away. King Juan Carlos decided that the only way to avoid this was with a constitutional monarchy in which the public could vote for whichever side they pleased, vote them into power and vote them out again. The idea that everyone was happily pro-Franco in Spain before the King restored the constitutional monarchy is rather disproved by the first election results in which the wishy-washy coalition came in first with 35% of the vote, the socialists came in second with 30%, the communists with 10% and the Popular Alliance (the most pro-Franco of them all) earned less than 9% of the vote. The point being that the people could have told the King, “no thanks” and voted for the old National Movement to continue just as they could have voted down the new constitution of 1978 and held on to the old one but, again, they did not. The King of Spain did not come in, suppress Francoism (or whatever one chooses to call it) and force liberal democracy down the throats of the Spanish people. To avoid violence and unrest, he simply gave them the choice and they decided to go in a very different direction. The Spanish Falange had been in major decline since the 1960’s and it was also no fault of the King that, upon the death of Franco, the National Movement splintered into several feuding factions, none of which have been politically significant since.

It is also a fact that the Falange, the National Movement, was never solidly monarchist and traditional in the first place. Originally, the Falange was, in fact, staunchly republican and, I would argue, some of their more left-leaning and populist policies probably helped the Spanish public get to the point that it is today. It was very modernist and revolutionary but those parts were simply pushed aside after the rise to prominence of Franco who was not a political ideologue but simply a monarchist and traditional conservative. It was Franco who basically forced the Falangists and Carlists together into one movement (the regionalism of the Carlists also being forced to give way to national unity just as certain elements of the Falange program had to give way to accommodate the alliance). So, to sum up, Spain has come a very long way since the days of absolute monarchy and wars over bloodline legitimacy. The legitimate monarch is on the throne of Spain and tearing him down will not bring the old Spain back. The only options available for that are the same options that have always been available; coercion or persuasion of which the only realistic option is persuasion. That means defeating your enemies in the voting booth which can only be done by converting society to a more traditional way of thinking because if the King of Spain falls the result will not be the emergence of another Franco but the emergence of a (God forbid) Third Spanish Republic.

This is why, on the “Legitimacy” page, the first line is, “First and foremost, it is the official position here at The Mad Monarchist that the legitimacy of the remaining reigning monarchs of the world is not to be called into question.” As I said there, monarchists today are an endangered species and no longer have the luxury of feuding over centuries-old dynastic disputes, many of which involve monarchies that have not even existed in over a hundred years. When the very idea of monarchy has been discarded by so many in favor of revolutionary republicanism, this is the time to man the battlements, flood the moat and pull up the drawbridge, not assist the enemy by giving them another reason to disregard their reigning monarchs. These republicans know, even if some monarchists do not, that 9 times out of 10, when a monarchy is abolished, it is gone forever. Restorations are rare things and so long as even the bare bones of a monarchy remain, I will fight to preserve them so that, perhaps, one day society can be brought back to its senses and monarchy resume its rightful place and in proper fashion. That means, it doesn’t matter if I agree with everything a particular monarch or royal says or not (I have to bite my tongue quite a bit sometimes), it means I don’t have to approve of how every existing monarchy functions or what policies their elected governments pursue because, as hard as it might be, refurbishing an existing monarchy is a great deal easier than restoring one that has been overthrown.

In explaining some of the myriad of dynastic disputes to one perplexed person, I was asked why everyone else in the world could not be like Japan; just have one monarchy, one dynasty and no arguments about it. My reply was that we all could but it would require doing something that few people, even some monarchists, seem able to do which is to regard the monarch as sacred and inviolable. If you like and agree with the monarch, wonderful, if not; blame the advisors, blame the politicians, pull the whole world down around the monarch if you like, but the monarch must remain sacrosanct and above all such things. What the world needs right now is a change in values, a change in the heart and in attitude and if that happens, political change will follow naturally and genuinely. I would encourage everyone to push for and strive for and argue for a more traditional society, a return to basic common sense and natural law but I would also urge everyone to not assist the republicans by making an enemy of any monarch but rather display a steadfast loyalty and devotion that is stronger than any passing trends of social fashion.


  1. Interesting post. I'm not as familiar w/the Spanish Monarchy, other than my interest in Queen Ena. I learn something every time I read one of your posts. Thank you for that. We might have some differencesof opinion, but I tthoroughly enjoy reading them.

    As an aside, didnt one of Queen Ena's grandsons marry one of Franco's granddaughters?

  2. I know you don't take requests but as a suggestion could you do a post sometime about the "right of conquest" and/or when one dynasty legitimately replaces another or when the conquest of a particular piece of land is legal. To me they are kind of related because I am not sure what criteria to use to judge it. Generally speaking for both I use a rule I have come up with, that they have until the death of everyone involved in the initial incident to reverse it.

    Like for instance the American conquest of the south west is fully legitimate because it has been part of America for more than a generation and none of the people involved still exist. I kind of feel that way about groups like the Jacobite's they have had a couple hundred years to press their case and in my mind the clock has kinda run out on it. I know its not the best rule of thumb but its the best I can come up with, even if you don't have an exact answer I am interested in your thoughts.

    1. I might do that but it would probably be to explain how overblown the idea of "right of conquest" is. That sort of thing was really never as common as most people presume I think. In the case of the southwest, putting aside how the war started (which is also not what most think), I would never consider that a "right of conquest" situation, nor do I take seriously the complaints about it "rightfully" belonging to Mexico because (aside from the fact that Mexico took it by force from Spain) it was paid for by the US government and once Mexico accepted payment for it, I don't see how they have any just cause to complain. If you accept money for something, you can't call it theft.

    2. Did you cover "Right of Conquest" at all in the posts you did on colonial empires? I haven't read them all yet but if you had, I will endeavor to go and read them.

      Also did you somewhere in a previous article offer some sort of criteria of when one dynasty has legitimately supplanted or succeeded another? as I am interested in your views on that, I always have found it confusing.

      Like for instance forgive me if this isn't the best example but could for instance a Hapsburg claim the throne of Spain on the grounds their dynasty preceded the Bourbons or have they over time lost their claim to the throne?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...