Sunday, May 31, 2009

Princess Grace's Last Interview

Fellow blogger Famille Princiere has posted a series of videos from 1982 showing the last interview (by ABC) with HSH Princess Grace of Monaco before her untimely death.

A Conversation with Princess Grace

The Mayerling Mystery

One of the most well-known, true-life royal dramas is that surrounding the double-suicide of the Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Baroness Marie Vetsera at Mayerling hunting lodge in 1889. Everyone knows the tale; the tormented lovers do themselves in and the Hapsburgs close ranks to cover up the facts so as to keep from public view that the heir to the Austrian throne went to hell for being a victim of suicide. That is the story everyone knows, but is it the true story? Recent research has raised some doubts in scholarly circles, yet, could it be that the truth has been widely talked about for quite some time but the "educated" circles turned their backs on it and have only recently been forced by unquestionable evidence to ponder that they might be mistaken?

A very different story was long told by the late Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary, widow of the last Hapsburg Emperor Charles I. According to her foreign agents were trying to drive a wedge between Emperor Francis Joseph and his more liberal son (though when conisdering these terms keep in mind that even Queen Victoria was a liberal compared to good ol' Frankie Joe). When they went so far as to suggest that Rudolf might overhrow his father and become Emperor himself the Crown Prince refused to go along with a plot and as a result these enemies of the Hapsburg empire had to kill Rudolf to keep the conpsiracy a secret. They then murdered the Crown Prince and Baroness Vetsera at Mayerling and made it up to look like a suicide so that it would quickly swept under the rug and forgotten.

For a long time this was dismissed as an effort by the matriarch of the Hapsburg Imperial Family to deny the "shame" of a suicide in their ranks. However, in the early 90's the bodies were re-examined and facts came to light which made the accepted story of a suicide simply impossible. It was found that Marie had been beaten to death and that the remains of Rudolf showed signs as well of a violent struggle before his demise. Still not wishing to back down too far most simply said that this new evidence only meant that the deaths of the pair are an unsolved mystery. However, the evidence fits perfectly with the story long told by Empress Zita who did not have a history of dishonesty to say the very least. To add further doubt to the "accepted" version of events the gun that was found had been fired 6 times even though Rudolf is the only one to have been shot and the weapon was not even his own. In short, it is impossible that the death of the Crown Prince had been a suicide and everything points to the story of Empress Zita being absolutely correct.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Monarch Profile: The XIIIth Dalai Lama

One of the most significant figures in Tibetan history was the predecessor of the more internationally famous Dalai Lama we know today, that was His Holiness Thubten Gyatso the 13th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Over the years he became known for his efforts to somewhat modernize Tibet as well as for his political savy and sheer ability to survive in difficult times. For a long time the Tibetan regents had been the real power in Lhasa and the 13th Dalai Lama was the first in a very long time to manage to survive to adulthood and actually exercise his spiritual and temporal power as Tibetan monarch. He was born on February 12, 1876 and was recognized in 1878 as the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama, the "Living Buddha", "Ocean of Wisdom" and reincarnation of the bhodisatva of compassion. He was formally enthroned the following year in the magnificent Potala Palace. He was given all of the usual instructions and upbringing for a Dalai Lama and against all odds survived to become the temporal monarch and actual ruler of Tibet when he reached his majority in 1895.

At the outset the Dalai Lama was keen to establish good relations with Imperial Russia. His primary advisor was a Buriat Mongol who had been born a Russian subject and the British tended to blame him for influencing the Dalai against them. However, the expanding British influence northward from India worried the Dalai Lama a great deal and he seems to have viewed the Russians as a more distant and safer friend than the British. As staunchly orthodox as Imperial Russia was there had long been good relations with the Mongolians on the Russian frontier who shared the same style of the Buddhist faith as the Tibetans.

His fears were confirmed in 1904 when the British invaded Tibet and the Dalai Lama was forced to flee to Mongolia where he stayed in Urga (modern-day Ulan Bator) as the guest of the Bogd Gegen for over a year. However, the two theocrats did not get along well. The Dalai Lama led a much more devout life than the Bogd and with his good teachings was becoming more popular amongst the Mongols than their own spiritual leader. The Bogd Gegen also complained that it was costing too much to play host to the Dalai Lama and his court. In any event it was necessary for the Dalai to move on anyway given events that had taken place in his absence in relation to China.

After the British invasion the Chinese had declared the Dalai Lama deposed and claimed full sovereignty over the entire Himalayan region. The Dalai Lama was able to restore something of the status quo when he visited Peking and had an audience with Emperor GuangXu and the real power-behind-the-throne Empress Dowager Cixi. The Emperor stressed Tibet's status as a vassal of the Great Qing but the Dalai Lama refused to kowtow to the monarch and more or less left with the usual stand-off in place in 1908. He had just returned to Tibet and began putting the government back in order when Qing Imperial troops invaded in 1910 which forced the Dalai to flee again, this time to India (via Sikkim). However, Qing rule was short-lived as the following year the disastrous republican revolution broke out in China and brought down the Manchu dynasty.

By this time the Dalai Lama had become an astute master of international affairs and began dealing directly with China, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and the British Raj. The Chinese republic apologized for the recent invasion and offered to restore the status quo but with the fall of the Qing the Dalai Lama basically said that all deals were off and the theocratic monarchs of Tibet and Mongolia recognized their mutual independence and promised support for each other in the event of an attack (he lived up to this promise when Chinese republican troops arrested the Bogd Khan as the Dalai Lama sent a force of Tibetan cavalry to aid the army of Baron von Ungern in liberating the Bogd and restoring Mongol independence). In domestic policy the 13th Dalai Lama made many modernizing innovations such as adopting a postal system, a more fair national tax code, an official national flag, a police force and he also abolished the death penalty and worked to wipe out corruption amongst the government officials. He also improved education, for the first time allowing secular subjects to be studied alongside religion and sent Tibetan students abroad to be educated along modern lines. He had a keen interest in new technologies and displayed the first signs that the secretive, hermit kingdom was starting to come out of its centuries of isolation.

By that time, however, the Dalai Lama had become quite old and he began looking forward to what would come after him. He predicted a bleak future for Tibet and listed many details that were (sadly) to come true after his death during the reign of his successor. He died on December 17, 1933.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Royal Visit & Royal Snub

Today HRH Prince Harry of Wales is visiting New York City in his first official visit to the United States. He will be visiting "ground zero", talking with 9-11 families and then dedicating a garden in memory of the British subjects who were killed in the terrorist attack in 2001. Of course, all of the media coverage of this I have seen have made mention of the verbal gaffes of Prince Harry and his poor choice of costume at a fancy dress ball some time ago but sadly I have not heard any mention the Prince's service on the front lines of combat in Afghanistan. That, I think, should count for significantly more than a poor choice of words on occasion. It is to his great credit that while others talk a tough line about the War on Terror, Prince Harry has actually put his life on the line with the other British soldiers to keep his country safe. New York City and the US as a whole should feel honored that he has decided to make his first official royal trip for such a good reason.

However, while Prince Harry is fostering Anglo-American solidarity in the War on Terror the disgraceful French Republic is insulting the British monarch and the brave veterans of two countries. Perhaps someone should tell them the Hundred Years War is over. President Sarkozy has been planning the upcoming commemoration of the June 6, 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy; the first step in the liberation of France and the begining of the end of Hitler's "Festung Europa". He is reportedly eager to make this a Franco-American affair and get as much face time as he can alongside global super-star and self-styled "messiah" President Obama. However, he failed to invite HM Queen Elizabeth II; thus insulting not only the Queen herself but all of the WW2 veterans of the United Kingdom and Canada in one foul swoop. Why would the French show favoritism to Obama over HM the Queen? It is plain and simple pandering to the current fashionable trend of Obama worship.

It is worth remembering that Barry Obama was not a twinkle in his daddy's eye in World War II nor has he ever served his country in uniform. Queen Elizabeth II, on the other hand, did serve in uniform, with the British military, during World War II when the British Empire was fighting to liberate the seemingly ungrateful French from Nazi domination. It is a positively outrageous development and if President Obama had any sense of justice and gallantry he would refuse to attend if the Queen (head of state of the most faithful ally of his country) were not immediately invited along with the profuse apologies of Sarkozy. However, I will not hold my breath for that to happen as Obama's own prejudice against the British is well known. It seems the younger generation is willing to hog the limelight for themselves while slighting the Queen who is the only one among them who is actually a World War II veteran.

Down with the rotten republic and God Save the Queen!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Royal Anthem Series: XIV Oman

The Sultanate of Oman is an Islamic absolute monarchy at the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula currently under the reign of HM Qaboos bin Said al Said. The national anthem is Nashid as-Salaam as-Sultani.

Spanish Royals Visit Colombia

Their Highnesses the Prince and Princess of the Asturias are currently on an official visit to Colombia. They will be commemorating the Colombian victims of terrorism, pledging Spanish support in the continuing struggle with that issue and making the usual round of social visits, talking about economic ties and speaking to the Spanish community. It would be better, in my opinion, for the Latin American countries to seek closer political and economic ties with Spain rather than trying to get closer to the US and extend NAFTA southward. I would prefer a sort of Spanish version of the British Commonwealth (I know, it's not called "British" anymore but ask me if I care!) for the nations that make up what was once the empire of Spain. I would also like to see the British Commonwealth strengthened too and let organizations such as these eclipse the UN, EU and hopefully thwart efforts to enact of NAU. From what I have see, these massive international organizations are useless at best and threats to the freedom, traditions and even independence of countries at worst. It might seem odd for the future King of Spain to be joining in celebrations for Colombian independence in front of a huge statue of Simon Bolivar, but I guess if Queen Elizabeth II can visit the US for the celebrations in 1976 the Spanish can do the same.

Scandinavian Heirs Head North

HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, HRH Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden have all joined up for a trip to the massive Danish island of Greenland to study the effects of global warming (or "climate change" as the current pc terminology goes) on the region. The group of royal heirs will be meeting with scientists and looking into the danger of the ice cap melting. Last year the Scandinavian heirs made a similar trip to the Norwegian islands of the polar region. They arrived yesterday and Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik will also be in Greenland to mark the independence of that country. Climate change seems to be one of the most popular pet-causes for European royals these days, allowing them to be trendy and humanitarian without being explicitly political. Of course there are political consequences as many countries have and are finding out. There are businesses in Germany, for example, that have stopped producing anything and simply survive by selling their carbon credits to companies that are actually doing something. Increased tax revenues brought about in the name of climate change are also helping fund the growing EU-superstate and causing even many politicians in this country to look on the set-up with envy. For my part I would rather see the royals working to save monarchy rather than trying to "save the planet" (as if it's going anywhere) but of course their political masters would never allow that.

(note: the flag above is that of the old Kolmar Union of Denmark, Norway and Sweden)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Canadian Queen Invited to Olympics

It has now been confirmed that HM Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, has officially been invited by her government there to attend the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. It is not known yet if the Queen will be able to attend but HRH the Prince of Wales has also expressed his interest in attending as well. Hopefully as many of the royals will make the trip as possible, it is always helpful for the Canadian monarchy when the Queen or other members of the royal family visit and her presence would certainly add a little majesty to the pageantry of the games. God save the Queen of Canada!

Royal Anthem Series: XIII Norway

The Kingdom of Norway is a constitutional monarchy in the Scandinavian region of Europe. Norway had been in union with Sweden until 1905 when it dissolved the union and voted to become a monarchy. HM King Harald V is the reigning monarch.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Consort Profile: Queen Mary of Modena

Mary of Modena was the second wife and Queen consort to Britain's King James II. She was born in 1658 in the Duchy of Modena in Italy and descended from the French royal family and the Medici family of Italy. Following the death of his first wife and his conversion to Catholicism James (then Duke of York) began looking for a good Catholic wife, despite the problems this was sure to cause. His older brother King Charles II had ordered his first children raised Protestant but did not object to him marrying a Catholic (Charles II himself believed Catholicism to be correct but political fears kept him from converting until he was on his deathbed). The young Mary of Modena seemed the ideal choice for James. Like his own mother Mary of Modena was a pretty Catholic girl with French connections who believed in religious monarchy. The two married in 1673; James was 40 and Mary of Modena only 15.

King Charles II, never one to miss a pretty face, quickly warmed to his new sister-in-law and those who knew her descibed her as charming, kind and intense; seemingly the ideal royal wife. However, religious divisions in the country worked against her and she was immediately attacked many Protestants who accused her of being an agent of the Pope (Clement X had suggested the match); secretly plotting some sinister attack on Great Britain. Others, however, looked at the age of James II and did not expect he would have any children by his Catholic wife and that the Protestant succession was secure in his eldest daughter who was wed to the Dutch Prince of Orange. Their fears seemed to be groundless as Mary and James had no luck with pregnancy with several children being stillborn or not living past infancy.

All of this became even more critical in 1685 when James became King and Mary of Modena became Queen consort of Britain. From the outset their were troubles and worries about rebellion as King James II tried to introduce religious freedom for Catholics and dissenting Protestants and uphold the powers of the monarchy. Queen Mary of Modena was not very politically involved but when she did advise her husband she advised him toward that which he was already naturally inclined to; friendship with France, support for Catholicism and staunch defense of royal authority. Sadly, it was Mary's greatest happiness that was to be the downfall of her husband as, in 1688, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy who was, naturally, baptized as a Catholic and even had the Pope named as his godfather.

Immediately Protestants claimed that the child was an imposter and called for the overthrow of the King and Queen. Even James' own daughter in Holland announced she believed her half-brother to be illegitimate. The King ordered an investigation simply to silence the critics but it did no good. With the threat of revolution and a Dutch invasion looming James sent Mary of Modena and his young son to safety in France. In due course his army mutinied, he was captured and finally allowed to escape into exile to join them there; thus begining the long years of the Stuart exile. Queen Mary of Modena was a staunch Queen-in-exile and a strong support to her husband. She gave birth to a daughter in exile and when James II died she persuaded King Louis to recognize her son, James III, as the legitimate King of Great Britain and Ireland. She devoted the rest of her life to religious devotion and to supporting the Jacobite efforts to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. She died in 1718 of breast cancer in Paris. Her tomb was later destroyed by republicans in the French Revolution.

Life Lessons from Korea

Recently the world collectively spit milk out their nose when the communist regime in North Korea carried out underground testing of a nuclear warhead roughly equivalent to the atomic bombs used against Japan at the end of World War II. Even Russia and China were outraged, the US has demanded enforcement of previous UN agreements and Japan is actually raising the subject of its own deterrent. The leaders of the world have a problem on their hands but it should be remembered that all of this might have been avoided if the victorious WW2 Allies had restored the House of Yi to their traditional place on the Korean throne.

Obviously the communists who were sponsored by the Soviets in the north would not have gone along with this but preventing the Soviets from having a sphere of influence in Korea at all would have been ideal (they were kept out of Japan thanks to MacArthur) but a return to monarchy was at least considered as a possibility in the south because President Syngman Rhee suppressed the former dynasty because he was afraid that they might be restored and he considered them a threat to his power. However, such a restoration may have helped in the reunification of the country based on the concept of legitimate authority. Prior to becoming part of the Empire of Japan there is no doubt that the last, legitimate government for all of Korea was the Yi monarchy and calling upon this history and the traditional monarchial establishment might have been able to unite all Koreans via their shared history rather than subjecting them to the communist-capitalist divisions of the western world concept of politics.

If, for example, Crown Prince Euimin had been restored in Seoul as King or Emperor of Korea they could have used the weapons of shared history and Korean nationalism to combat the communist revolutionaries. Would it not have been at least possible that a campaign led by the Crown Prince to reject both foreign republican models in favor of the traditional Korean political system would have been more successful in undermining the communist campaign and keeping Korea united? If such wisdom had been shown the ill-effects of the Cold War and the north-south division and war might have been avoided and the world would never have been faced with the dangerous situation before us today.

Royal Anthem Series: XII The Netherlands

The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy on the North Sea coast of Europe, currently under the reign of HM Queen Beatrix of the House of Orange.

The National Anthem of the Netherlands: Het Wilhelmus

Monday, May 25, 2009

American Royalty

This weekend Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha married American Kelly Jeanne Rondestvedt; an investment banker from the United States. It was quite a gathering with the King and Queen of Sweden, Archduke Lorenz and Princess Astrid of Belgium, Lord Nicholas Windsor, Czar Simeon II of Bulgaria, Duke Francis of Bavaria and Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia were all in attendance. The wedding did not get much press in the USA, but it is only the latest in a rather respectable list of American girls who have joined the ranks of world royalty by marriage. Some are better known than others, some had successful marriages and others did not but here is a list of some of them who have wed monarchs or an heir to the throne:

-Marie Alice Heine, Dowager Duchess of Richelieu became Princess of Monaco when she married Reigning Prince Albert I in 1889.
-Julia Mullock married HIH Prince Yi Ku of Korea, head of the Yi Imperial dynasty, in 1959. As they were not married according to Korean rituals the marriage was not listed in the official imperial record.
-Marie-Chantal Miller became a Princess of Denmark and Crown Princess of Greece when she married the Greek Crown Prince Pavlos in 1995.
-Lisa Najeeb Halaby became Queen Noor of Jordan when she married HM King Hussein of Jordan in 1978. -Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco when she married Reigning Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. -Hope Cooke became the Crown Princess of Sikkim when she married Crown Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal who was the last King of Sikkim.

Leave a comment to list your favorites.

Battlefield Royals: Kronprinz Wilhelm III

During the First World War probably few army commanders were as ridiculed as the German Crown Prince Wilhelm III. He was tall, thin, had a rather relaxed demeanor and long neck that cartoonists on the Allied side had a field day with. He was portrayed as a dandy, a playboy who owed his rank solely to his birth and did nothing but drive around tossing cigarettes and iron crosses to his soldiers. All of this is quite unfair to the late Crown Prince. In virtually every case the exaggerated portrait of him is entirely false. Some viewed him as a villain of an even darker shade than the Kaiser. This was certainly not true. He had been associated growing up with the hard right in German politics but the Crown Prince was no warmonger. In fact, when war broke out in 1914 he called it, "the most stupid, senseless and unecessary war of modern times".

The Crown Prince was given command of the German 5th army on the western front and, despite what many now think, he was a capable battlefield commander. He earned high marks for his leadership in the Ardennes during the initial German invasion and, while he may not have been a military genius, he was certainly capable, worthy of his rank and undeserving of the ridicule he was and is subjected to. In early 1916 his forces led the offensive against Verdun for which he has often also been much and unjustly criticized. Wilhelm had put forward a reasonable plan to take the city but his superior, General Erich von Falkenhayn, rejected it because he did not so much want to take Verdun as to bleed the French army. After 2 months of this butchery the Crown Prince tried to convince the high command to call off the offensive but, again, he was ignored.

In the fall of 1916 he was given command of his own army group (aptly named 'Army Group Crown Prince') which consisted of 3 armies in the center of the western front. By 1917 the Crown Prince could see that the war was going to destroy victor and vanquished alike no matter who they might be and he began to speak out in favor of ending the war as things stood. His forces won a great victory at the Aisne in 1918 but Wilhelm could see that Germany did not have the strength to continue and that they would be overwhelmed by the Allies. He advised retreat but yet again the high command would hear of no such thing.

When the war finally did end with the armistice and the abdication of the Kaiser the Crown Prince requested to return home with his troops but the republican government refused. He went into exile in Holland as his father did. He was allowed to return to Germany in 1923 and continued to support the restoration of the Hohenzollerns but it never came to be. He died in Hechingen in 1951 of a heart attack.

Royal Anthem Series: XI Morocco

The Kingdom of Morocco is a constitutional monarchy in North Africa currently under the reign of HM King Mohammed VI. The national anthem is Hymne Cherifien.
The National Anthem of Morocco: Hymn of the Sharif

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Attention Racing Fans

The roar of the engines has died down in the 67th Grand Prix de Monaco. The celebrations started with a charity soccer match in the Louis II Stadium. Prince Albert II himself took to the field to participate, supported by Princess Stephanie from the sidelines. The match was to benefit AMADE. For the main race it was a star-studded event as usual. Prince Albert II, girlfriend Charlene Wittstock, Andrea, Charlotte and Pierre Casiraghi were all on hand to watch and congratulate the winners. Also on sight was Elizabeth de Massy, Princess Beatrice of the UK and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon. Jenson Button of Britain took the top honors and was handed his trophy by the Reigning Prince. Andrea Casiraghi awarded the second place trophy to Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and the lovely Charlotte Casiraghi presented the third place award to Kimi Raikkonen of Finland.

Tonight the glittering crowds are gathering for the F1 gala. So far Princess Caroline and Prince Ernst August have not attended any of the events surrounding this year's race but princely girlfriend Charlene and Charlotte will ensure that glamor is not absent from the festivities.

Monarchist Profile: Jacques Cathelineau

Jacques Cathelineau, known as the Saint of Anjou, was one of the leaders of the great royalist counterrevolution in the Vendee region of France. The revolutionaries like to speak of themselves as the champions of the "common man" against elitist tyranny and yet it was the common people who suffered most from their bloodlust and it was often common people who were prominent in fighting against the horrors of the revolution. Jacques Cathelineau was one of them. He was born in what is now Maine-et-Loire and he was a well known peddler or what we might call a travelling salesman in Anjou. He was known for being very physically strong, very handsome and popular but also extremely pious.

When the revolution broke out and the First Republic was established Cathelineau rallied a small, ragged army of peasants and waged a guerilla war against the revolutionaries. As time went on his strength grew and soon his forces were capturing villages and castles in some of the most fierce fighting. His troops fought out of loyalty to the monarchy and the Church and also out of righteous anger caused by the horrid, absolutely grissly atrocities committed by the republicans against the innocent people of the Vendee; including women, children, the elderly and even animals. They left nothing alive. Actions such as these, over time, prompted some of Cathelineau's men into reprisals but former salesman himself always behaved with the utmost gallantry.

As Cathelineau's successes grew he joined forces with other counterrevolutionary leaders and was ultimately made their commander as generalissimo of the Catholic and Royal Grand Army. However, Cathelineau put himself in great danger by the very bravery that so inspired his troops. In the summer of 1793 while he and his men were storming the city of Nantes the heroic general was shot down by a republican sniper. Without his leadership the royalists were defeated and soon they broke up into different factions. After the Bourbon restoration, in honor of the heroism and sacrifices of the "Saint of Anjou" the Cathelineau family was given noble rank. One of his grandsons served as an officer in the French Imperial Army during the Franco-German War of 1870.

Royal Anthem Series: X Luxembourg

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy at the southern tip of the "Low Countries" currently under the reign of Grand Duke Henri.

Luxembourg Royal Anthem: De Wilhelmus

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Monarch Profile: High King Brian Boru

Brian Boru was the younger brother of King Mahon of Thomond in Ireland which was overrun by Danish Vikings in 951. When his brother made a deal with the Vikings Brian would have none of it and parted ways to wage a guerilla war against the invaders. His courage and example rallied many Irishmen to his cause and finally the support he gathered convinced his brother, King Mahon, to renew his war against the Vikings. Brian Boru won many victories over the Vikings, adopting their more advanced weapons for his own forces and then also made war on the Irish states that had allied with the Norsemen. In 1000 Brian won a spectacular victory at Glenmama valley in a dramatic display of tactical brilliance and using the terrain to his advantage. Within 2 years he was crowned High King of Ireland and in 1003 the states of Ulster and Connaught also pledged loyalty to him, causing some scholars and observers to refer to him as 'Emperor of the Irish'.
There was peace across a united Ireland for 10 years until the King of Leinster rose against him and incited the Vikings to launch another attack, making treaties with Viking chieftans from Norway, England and Denmark. Brian Boru assembled his loyal forces from across Ireland, gathering an army 20,000 strong. In 1014 on Palm Sunday the bay of Dublin filled with Viking ships and the fierce warriors moved ashore to attack on Good Friday. Brian Boru was 73 and wanted to lead his troops in the field but was finally persuaded to leave it to younger men. However, he gave his forces a stirring speech from horseback, holding a sword in one hand and a crucifix in the other. He sent his troops forward to meet the enemy and then returned to his tent to spend the battle praying for victory.
The Irishmen fought heroically, the tide swept the Viking ships out to sea, cutting off their retreat and after a long, hard day of brutal combat the invaders were beaten and the Irish were victorious. Many were lost, includng King Brian's son who was killed by a Norwegian chieftain. When told of the victory the High King sent his bodyguard to join the pursuit and finish off the enemy remnants while he returned to his prayers to thank God for the victory. A while later he heard someone enter the tent and assumed it to be his priest but it was a stray group of Viking warriors led by the chieftain Brodir who stabbed the elderly and unarmed High King to death.

Royal Anthem Series: IX Liechtenstein

Today we have the national anthem of one of my favorite monarchies; the Principality of Liechtenstein, which is Oben am jungen Rhein or "Up Above the Young Rhine". Liechtenstein is a tiny constitutional monarchy between Switzerland and Austria currently under the reign of His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II.

The National Anthem of Liechtenstein: Up Above the Young Rhine

Friday, May 22, 2009

Royal Anthem Series: VIII Kuwait

Today's anthem is that of the State of Kuwait, a constitutional monarchy on the Persian Gulf currently under the reign of HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of Kuwait.

The National Anthem of Kuwait: Al-Nasheed Al-Watani

End of Alleged Monarchist Aaron Burr

It is odd that one of the most infamous Americans accused of being a monarchist is most known for killing the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in a duel; a man who was himself often accused of being a monarchist in the ranks of the Founding Fathers of the United States. It was on this day in 1807 that Aaron Burr, former U.S. Vice President in the Thomas Jefferson administration, was first indicted by a grand jury for treason concerning allegations of a conspiracy on his part to become the monarch of a new western American monarchy carved out of the territory of New Spain and Louisiana. It is still uncertain how much of the accusations are fact and how much was simply rumor aimed at several extremely unpopular figures but it involved such prominent individuals that it commanded the attention of the nation and the government at the very highest levels.

The alleged conspiracy was as follows; Burr used his position to get General James Wilkinson, commander of the US Army, appointed Governer of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory, a man who had himself been accused of trying to break away Kentucky and Tennessee from the Union. Burr allegedly conspired with the British minister Anthony Merry for money and support in gaining control of Louisiana in return for increased British influence in the region and Royal Navy dominance in the Gulf of Mexico. He did give Burr some money for the enterprise but he was not supported by London and was eventually recalled though Burr promised the plan would go ahead in any event.

Burr also had land grants from Spain for land in Texas which he also spoke of taking control of and while visiting New Orleans he gained the support of some prominent Mexican exiles who wished to rest the region from Spanish control as well as the local Catholic bishop. Reports soon spread that Burr was raising a private army and was planning to take control of a vast but vague region on the western and southwestern frontier over which he would establish his own government and rule as a king or emperor in grand, Napoleonic fashion. However, different people heard different stories. A Spanish official claimed that Burr had approached him as being sympathetic to the cause of Spain in the New World and that his plan was to take control of the United States and that they should support him as the expanding USA was an obvious threat to the security of New Spain. As with the British, the Spanish government refused him support.

Burr established a base on an island in the Ohio River in what is now West Virginia to gather supplies, munitions and troops for his enterprise. When the Governor of Ohio moved against them Burr was forced to relocate south where General Wilkinson was promising to supply him with troops once he reached New Orleans. By this time alarm bells were going off in Washington as voices were raised warning President Jefferson that Aaron Burr was gathering an army to be used against the US government and to provoke war with Spain in order to carve out his own empire. Jefferson alerted the US Congress and orders went out to arrest any armed men marching for the Spanish border.

General Wilkinson, hoping to save himself, turned traitor on Burr and began supplying information on the plot to the President, which he tweaked in order to make himself look innocent and to portray Burr as threatening to overthrow Jefferson's administration rather than looking to take territory from the Spanish. The President finally ordered Burr's arrest and he was forced to flee to Mississippi. However, it did him no good and he was finally captured and taken to Washington DC to stand trial. However, since the plot had never had a chance to fully develop, and the actual intent and target was widely disputed, Burr was acquited of treason but his future in North America was effectively over. He went into exile in Europe and died, heavily in debt in 1836. General Wilkinson had a very stormy career and ruined himself during the War of 1812 with a disastrous invasion of Canada. He also went into exile and died in Mexico in 1825.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Royal Anthem Series: VII Japan

Today we have one of my favorites, Kimi ga Yo, the national anthem of Japan. The island nation of Japan is a constitutional monarchy in East Asia currently under the reign of HIM Emperor Akihito. Kimi ga Yo (May Your Reign Last Forever) is the national anthem but could also be considered a royal anthem as it is basically a simple but moving hymn of loyalty and praise to the Emperor of Japan.

The National Anthem of Japan: May Your Reign Last Forever

Royal Guardians Profile: The Walloon Guards

Back when the modern Low Countries were known as the Spanish Netherlands the King of Spain recruited an elite body of troops from the area that is now Belgium known as the Walloon Guards. Despite the modern conotations of the time the force originally consisted of soldiers from Flanders, Brabant and Wallonia . The Walloon Guards later joined the ranks of the Spanish Royal Guard entrusted with protecting the King but the first were 4,000 men organized into elite regiments. Recruits were chosen on the basis of their size, strength, speed and courage and the troops were used to lead the way in assaults (what today might be called shock troops) and to cover the rest of the army in the event of a retreat. When the Netherlands became independent and Belgium became the Austrian Netherlands Belgian troops continued to serve as elite forces in the Spanish army.

King Philip V of Spain increased them and raised them to the status of royal guards, charging them with his own protection, guarding palaces and such duties as well as their previous task of maintaining law and order and protecting the peace in Spain itself. New recruits were organized from an office in Liege and 4 to 500 men per year were enlisted and sent to Spain to serve in the Walloon Guards in the Flanders, Brabant and Brussells regiments. Their proud tradition of service lasted until 1794 when Belgium was conquered by the armies of the French Revolution, however, although the line infantry and cavalry regiments were dispersed the Walloons serving as royal guards lasted until 1820 when the final Royal Walloon Guard regiment was dissolved. Throughout their history the Walloon Guards fought in the Wars of the Polish and Austrian Successions as well as the Peninsular War. One of their last and more famous commanders was the first Duke of Valencia who later went on to great fame fighting for Isabella II in the Carlist Wars. Their honorable service and their reputation for being the bravest and toughest reminds one of the words of the great Julius Caesar who said of his wars in Gaul, "Of all these, the Belgians are the strongest".

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monarch Profile: King Otto of Greece

Today, May 20, marks the anniversary of the day in 1835 when Prince Otto Friedrich Ludwig of Bavaria was first named King of the recently liberated country of Greece. The choice of Prince Otto, a German Roman Catholic, as first monarch of modern Greece certainly presented a great many problems to overcome and given how things turned out for him, he could not, in practical terms, be considered a success. Yet, his reign also represented a vision for future greatness that one cannot help but be attracted to; and rather sorry that the Greeks were not able to achieve it. He was only 17 when he was elected King of Greece in cooperation with the 'Great Powers' of Europe which were sympathetic to Greek independence but also worried about a major war with the Ottoman Empire to which many Greeks in the un-liberated areas were still subject.

Almost as soon as he set foot on Greek soil King Otto faced considerable discontent and many, many problems. For one thing, although he agreed that any future heirs of his would be raised Greek Orthodox, Otto refused to abandon Roman Catholicism which earned him the wrath of many Orthodox Greeks. He also had to built a new country almost from scratch and that required a considerable increase in taxes to staff new positions, build infrastructure and things like schools and hospitals to put Greece on the road to becoming a modern country rather than the underdeveloped Turkish vassal it had been. This also aroused discontent as did the number of Bavarians that Otto brought with him to help get things up and running. His wife, whom he married in 1837, was not terribly popular either.

One thing that no one can deny is that King Otto cared about Greek greatness. Despite the opposition of the major European powers he almost immediately began to call for the restoration of traditionally and ethnically Greek territories but was thwarted at almost every turn. Religious problems were myriad with the Greek Patriarch still living in the Ottoman Empire, Russia backing up the Orthodox position and other European powers sending in Protestant missionaries along with the resentment of the King's Catholicism. One camp portrayed the new regime as determined to destroy the Orthodox heritage of the country while the other portrayed Greece as primitive and religiously intolerant. The threat of revolution was never far and as soon as the King sent his Bavarian troops home there was a mutiny which forced Otto to grant a constitution. The King was also thwarted in his efforts to expand Greece by entering the Crimean War against Turkey to annex those areas populated by Greeks into a restored Byzantine Empire. The British took swift action to prevent such a conflict and the King's prestige dropped further.

In 1862, while away from the capital, there was another coup which declared the King deposed and a new provisional government established. The major powers somewhat sympathized and urged King Otto to accept the situation, which he reluctantly did, taking a British ship away from Greece and going into exile in his native Bavaria. He wore traditional Greek costume for the rest of his life and died in Bavaria in 1867.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Consort Profile: Queen Marie Antoinette

Queen Marie Antoinette is certainly one of the most evocative figures when it comes to monarchy. Probably the simplest way to have some grasp of the tragic queen is to take all of the popular assumptions about her and think the opposite. Born in 1755 she was the daughter of the famous Austrian Empress Maria Theresa and grew up in a sometimes more relaxed atmosphere in Vienna. In 1767 she was married by proxy to the Dauphin of France, Prince Louis Auguste and went to France in 1770. She was at first widely popular with most people though she found the strict etiquette and court ceremonies in France a little difficult to get used to. However, there were some at court who did not like the idea of the next Queen of France being an Austrian and the King suffered a medical problem (and some simple ignorance) that long delayed the consumation of the marriage which greatly distressed all parties concerned.

About the only criticism of the Queen that has any merit at all was that she did tend to spend money too lavishly but she was never arrogant or haughty and always displayed a great deal of concern for the poor. It must also be remembered that she was in a time and place in which extravegance was the norm. In any event, her spending was never nearly enough to cause France any serious distress. The blame for that must fall on the foreign policy of the government, particularly the Seven Years War and the upcoming aid to the American revolutionaries. In 1774 Louis XV died and Marie's husband was crowned His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XVI. She was not crowned with him but became the Queen of France. In 1778 the Queen was greatly relieved to finally give birth to her first child, a daughter, with more to follow.

Her stock rose a few points when she produced an heir to the throne but Louis and Marie Antoinette seemed plagued by a myriad of minor scandals among their courtiers and Marie Antoinette was particularly vulnuerable to baseless criticism. The French accused her of not being 'French enough' and her Austrian relatives accused her of not being 'Austrian enough' when France gave them problems. It was all quite unfair as the Queen was never involved in politics and never influenced political decisions by her husband much one way or the other. She was also the victim of numerous, baseless attacks and smear-campaigns by the anti-monarchy crowd to the point that a minor industry seemed to have grown up around making up the most lewd and atrocious accusations about the Queen.

As to the woman herself Marie Antoinette was a devoted mother, a supportive wife, a kind and caring person and a woman with great curiosity. She loved to read and was interested in a fairly wide array of subjects. Nonetheless, as France slipped ever closer to revolution the Queen was blamed for the most absurd problems which she could never have had anything at all to do with. It was clear she was simply becoming a popular scapegoat. This finally caused her to throw up her hands in disgust and stop being involved in politics at all, even in the most indirect way. When the revolution finally broke she displayed great courage and great loyalty to her husband and family. The long list of horrors she was forced to endure do not need to be dwelt on here but she endured them all with amazing courage, grace and fortitude.

When Louis XVI was executed she was crushed and went into deep mourning. Her health declined rapidly afterwards. Unconcerned with plots to rescue her she had already been robbed of her husband and family, all that she held most dear in the world, and seemed to be preparing herself for martyrdom. When she was finally brought to trial she was charged with a list of crimes so far-fetched, baseless and absurd as to positively stagger the imagination. Yet, her bold defense of herself was so moving she actually won over some of her most bitter enemies in the crowd. Nonetheless, the outcome had never been in question, it was a show-trial from start to finish and on 16 October, 1793 she was convicted of "treason" and executed on the guillotine.

Royal Anthem Series: VI Jordan

The Kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy in the Middle East currently under the reign of HM King Abdullah II. What follows is the National and Royal Anthem.

Royal Anthem: Long Live the King

Monday, May 18, 2009

Forgotten Yesterday

Yesterday, May 17, marked the anniversary of the restoration of the independence of Monaco in 1814 at the time under the reign of HSH Prince Honore IV. Monaco had fallen victim to the French revolutionary tide and had been annexed to France. It was not until the rise of Napoleon that the Grimaldis were able to see the restoration of their titles if not their sovereignty and several members of the Princely Family fought valiantly in the French Imperial Army just as they had previously done under Ancien Regime. Some might criticize this but surely anyone can see how hopeless it would have been to try to resist. After Napoleon's first abdication the Principality was in very real danger of being abolished altogether, however, they were saved when Prince Talleyrand managed to slip in a special clause in the Treaty of Paris to keep the principality in tact. When Napoleon attempted to restore himself during the famous "Hundred Days" Monaco was occupied by British troops which meant that the Grimaldis would play no part in the final act of the Napoleonic drama. On May 17, 1814 Prince Honore IV was formally restored as Sovereign Prince of an independent Monaco which he reigned over until 1819 when the throne passed to his son HSH Prince Honore V.

The Foundations of Canada

Today is Victoria Day in Her Britannic Majesty's Dominion of Canada, celebrated in honor of the birthday of Queen Victoria and subsequently the official day of celebration for the Canadian monarch and a day when the Royal Union Flag (still an official Canadian national flag) is flown from official buildings. It also happens to mark the anniversary of the arrival of the first loyalists from the 13 British American colonies which formed the United States. It was 1783 when this first group arrived, on this day, in New Brunswick. I am sure there are those traitors who object to the celebration of Victoria Day for the simple reason that it honors the Queen-Empress who is such a symbol of the glory days of the British Empire. However, these creatures should remember that a considerable portion of the credit for the foundation of Canada goes to those American loyalists who fled to Canada because they wished to remain under the benevolent reign of HM King George III and wanted nothing to do with the republican regime that had come to power in their former homeland. They had the choice to stay in a republic or move to a monarchy and they chose to remain loyal and go where the monarch still reigned. Canadian republicans who so detest the United States should keep in mind this part of the founding of their country and remember that remaining loyal to King and Country was the first and most paramount aspect that distinguished them from the United States. If these people had their way the Dominion of Canada would basically be betraying their entire history in order to become the United States of Northern North America. They might as well petition to become the 51st state.

Royal Anthem Series: V Denmark

The following is the Royal Anthem (not the national anthem) of the Kingdom of Denmark; the oldest monarchy in Europe. Denmark is a constitutional monarchy in Scandinavia currently under the reign of HM Queen Margrethe II.

The Royal Anthem: King Christian Stood By the Lofty Mast

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Mad Rant

The republican revolutionaries of the world are ceaseless in their attacks and one of the monarchies that has been on the front lines fighting for its life in recent years is the great Commonwealth of Australia, currently under the glorious reign of Queen Elizabeth II of Australia. I am not ranting about the republicans themselves; I actually do very little ranting about republican revolutionaries -they are traitors who should be put up against a wall and that's that. However, one of the things that seems to go hand-in-hand with republicanism in Australia is the call for a new flag -because evidently they seriously hate the British, their own history and die a little inside whenever they see the Union Jack in the canton of the Australian flag. This is the sort of stuff that makes me feel like my brain is bleeding!

I cannot fathom a country changing its national flag. For example, there is no way that the people of Texas would ever, for any reason, abandon the Lone Star. I could not imagine any circumstance, ever, that would provoke any sizeable portion of the US population to even consider ditching the Stars & Stripes for a new model. Because a flag is not just a piece of decorative cloth. When I look at the Lone Star flag I don't just see a "design", I see the 1st Texas Infantry that carried that flag into the cornfield along Anteitam creek in 1862, suffering the highest casualty rate of any regiment in American history. I see 185 men at the Alamo standing behind a line in the sand saying 'we will stay here and fight to the death rather than be pushed one step farther'. Likewise, your true-blue American types look at the Stars & Stripes and they don't just see a flag, they see the siege of Ft McHenry, they see marines storming the halls of Montezuma and the sands of Iwo Jima, they see Normandy beach.

I simply cannot fathom how anyone in Australia, no matter how despicable a republican traitor they might be, could wish to throw away the flag their forefathers fought under at Tobruk, the flag that flew when the ANZACs stormed the beaches of Gallipoli or even hold such anger against the Union Jack which was the flag of the British Empire of which they were a part. Why would they be ashamed of that? I would dismiss it as being too ridiculous to ever come to fruition were it not for the fact that others have already done it, such as the proud Dominion of Canada. I like the Maple Leaf flag, it's a nice design, but my head wants to explode whenever I try to understand how a country could change the national flag that their fathers and forefathers fought for, saluted and carried into battle. The Red Ensign was good enough for the brave men who fought at Vimy Ridge; why did it suddenly become not good enough for a new generation?

Changing the national flag of an independent, long-established country must require a sentiment that is simply beyond my comprehension because I cannot for the life of me bring myself to any degree of understanding of it. Why not just change the name of the country while you're at it? But of course, I shouldn't say things like that because someone in the traitor's camp just might be sick enough to take it seriously. Issues such as talking about changing the flag of Australia is yet another reason why I am...
The Mad Monarchist

Royal Anthem Series: IV Cambodia

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy in Indochina, currently under the reign of HM King Norodom Sihamoni with his father, HM Norodom Sihanouk, retired, as "Great King". Although officially a democratic, constitutional monarchy the country has, since the destruction of the Khmer Rouge regime by the communist Vietnamese, been ruled by the "former" communist first put in power by the Vietnamese, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The National Anthem of Cambodia: Nation, Religion, King

Monarchist Profile: Eastern Jewel

The woman known as Eastern Jewel was born in Peking in 1907 as Princess Aisin-Gioro Xianyu into the house of Prince Su of the Qing Imperial Dynasty. After the revolution toppled the Qing she was sent to be raised in Japan by a friend of her father's who was deeply involved in the pan-Asian movement. There she went by the name of Yoshiko Kawashima. When she was 17 she attempted suicide and began wearing men's clothing on occasion. This behavior is usually attributed to being raped by her foster-father, which would certainly explain a lot. She was later married off to the Inner Mongolian prince Ganjuurjab to foster ties between the Japanese, Mongols and the Manchu Imperial Dynasty. However, she was not happy there and soon divorced and fled Mongolia.

Eastern Jewel moved to Shanghai and there first became involved with the Japanese military as an espionage agent were her Qing dynasty connections with the upper echelons of Chinese, Mongol and Manchu society proved invaluable. Throughout her life she suffered from something of an identity crisis but the one thing that never wavered was her devotion to monarchism; be it her loyalty to the Emperor of Japan or her zeal to see the restoration of the Qing Imperial Dynasty of which she was a member. The last Emperor of China was her cousin and always welcomed her at his court-in-exile. She played a major role in persuading the last Emperor to go with the Japanese to Manchuria to establish the new monarchy of Manchukuo.

When open warfare broke out again between the Chinese and Japanese, Eastern Jewel, then going by the name of Kam Bik Fai, became an officer in the Manchukuo Imperial military and formed and led her own anti-guerilla cavalry force known as the Anguo Army. As she cleared bandits and red guerillas out of Manchuria, Eastern Jewel became a media sensation in Japan where she was known as the "Joan of Arc of Manchukuo". However, the media attention all but ruined her chances to return to the spy game which was a problem following her being wounded and unable to remain with her army. She opened a resteraunt in Tientsin as a front for Japanese espionage work and she was still there when the war ended and Japan surrendered. She tried to return to Japan but was captured by the Chinese republican forces and executed in 1948.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cinema Royals

In "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Adventures in the Secret Service" there is an appearance by Patrick Ryecart and Jennifer Ehle as Emperor Charles and Empress Zita of Austria. For those unfamiliar with the series, Sean Patrick Flannery plays a young Indiana Jones who joins the Belgian army during World War I. At one point he becomes a spy with the secret service and is given the task of escorting Prince Xavier and Prince Sixtus of Bourbon-Parma to meet with the Emperor of Austria in the hope of bringing a peaceful end to the First World War. I am glad to say that the Imperial couple are portrayed sympathetically as people who sincerely want peace and know better than to trust their scheming ministers to carry it out. Sci-fi fans will also recognize Christopher Lee as Graf von Czernin, a typically villainous part for him. This part of the Young Indiana Jones saga was last released in 1999.

Queen Fabiola Death Threat

The Belgian government has just made public a letter sent to a Belgian newspaper last Tuesday which threatens the Dowager Queen Fabiola with assassination by crossbow. It is accepted that the letter was written by a lunatic, due to the rather archaic means of assasination threatened as well as the very poor quality of the French it was written in. The letter claims to come from the representative of a radical group but the authorities are uncertain as to how serious the threat is but, needless to say, they are investigating and taking no chances given the recent tragedy in the neighboring Netherlands and with the upcoming Belgian National Day. So far the Royal Palace has not commented on the threat. My own comment is that Queen Fabiola is one of the greatest queens in the world today, truly a jewel in the crown of Belgium and whoever is responsible for this threat should be dealt with using the utmost severity; where I come from that would be a few injections that would send the traitor to his eternal torment. In any event all should pray for the safety and long life of the great Queen Fabiola.

Royal Anthem Series: III Brunei

The national anthem of the State of Brunei Darussalam, an Islamic absolute monarchy on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, currently under the rule of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. The national anthem is "God Bless the Sultan":

The National Anthem of Brunei

Royal Guardians Profile: The Potsdam Giants

The Potsdam Giants Guard, also known as the "Long Guys" was formed by the eccentric Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I. He inherited the No.6 Prussian Infantry Regiment (founded in 1675) which, as king, he began to populate with exceptionally tall soldiers. The King loved military pageantry and displays and enjoyed drilling his pet regiment to perfection. Over time he became increasingly fanatical about having his Potsdam Giants be the tallest men in the world. Their official name was the "Grand Grenadiers of Potsdam" but came to be better known as the Potsdam Giants because of their height or as the "Long Guys" in German. The usual requirement was that one had to be at least 6 feet tall. The tallest of all was reportedly an Irishman named James Kirkland (pictured left) who was 7 feet tall. The king collected tall men from across Europe, recruiting them, buying them or in extreme cases even kidnapping them. His efforts to produce extra-tall soldiers let to him instigating the coupling of especially tall men and women to produce tall children to the even more extreme idea of stretching his soldiers; which was dropped as there was almost a mutiny as soon as the men heard the first hints of the idea. However, the Potsdam Giants, probably more imposing than any soldiers in the world at the time, were parade ground troops only. Friedrich Wilhelm was far too fond of his tall favorites to ever risk them in combat. When Friedrich the Great succeeded as King of Prussia he saw the Potsdam Giants as useless window-dressing and diverted most of the men to active combat units. The No. 6 was downgraded and finally disbanded in 1806 after the Prussian defeat at Jena. Those interested in the Potsdam Giants can visit the website of the 'Long Guys' Association in Germany.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Princess Lays the Foundation

Today, Her Serene Highness Princess Stephanie of Monaco set down the first stone of the foundation for the "House of Life" in Carpentras, France which will serve as a haven for those suffering from the terrible disease of AIDS. Ever since the Princess learned how prevalent the disease was in her own country she has devoted herself to helping those suffering from the disease who are, all too often, treated as outcasts. The "House of Life" is being built by Fight AIDS Monaco of which Princess Stephanie is the founder and president. The center is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2010. The "House of Life" will have facilities to accomodate 28 adults and children and will complement the Fight AIDS Monaco headquarters in Monaco. I give Her Serene Highness a great deal of credit for her work in this area and I think she is, in a way, uniquely qualified for it. My experience has been that it is often those who have been, to varying degrees, ostracized, looked down on etc, who are most able to take to heart the needs of "the least of these" around them. God bless Princess Stephanie for all the great charitable work she does.

Monarch Profile: King Baldwin IV

One of my favorite monarchs of all time was Baldwin IV of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. He was born in 1161 to King Amalric I of Jerusalem and Queen Agnes of Edessa. While playing as a child it was discovered that he had leprosy and thus could not be expected to live a long or happy life. However, even as a boy, he never let his terrible disease get the better of him. When he was only 13 he became King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem with Raymond of Tripoli as his regent. When he became old enough to rule, he ruled well, but even from day one this diseased young boy was a King to admire. In 1174 the barely teenage monarch led his troops in an attack on the Muslim forces threatening Damascus and Andujar. The following year when the great Muslim warrior Sultan Saladin of Egypt attacked Ascalon King Baldwin IV (better known as Baldwin the Leper) took a mere 500 men to march to the defense of the city.

Feeling supremely confident Saladin split his forces to take Ascalon and the supposedly defenseless Holy City of Jerusalem. However, Baldwin summoned the Templars who joined him in defeating the troops at Ascalon and then rushing to overtake Saladin at Ramleh. The Christian knights were vastly outnumbered but were devoted to their young monarch who, despite his disease, led from the front and they were encouraged by their faith with the Bishop of Bethlehem on hand with the relic of the True Cross. In a stunning and, to the eyes of many, miraculous battle Baldwin IV and his army totally defeated Saladin's forces. The Sultan himself only escaped because his guard sacrificed their lives to give him time to get away. Saladin tried and tried again but the leperous teenage king bested him at every turn; at Belvoir castle in 1181, before Beirut and at Kerak castle in 1183. In those final campaigns Baldwin's leprosy was so advanced that he was blind, could not walk, was covered in bandages and had to be carried on a litter, yet he still led his troops in the field. King Baldwin IV survived longer than anyone had expected him to but finally died on March 16, 1185 not long after the death of his mother. With the brave warrior-boy-king gone Saladin soon came back and in his next major campaign conquered Jerusalem which prompted the calling of the Third Crusade.

The Pope & Royals in the Mideast

The visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the Middle East has come to a close and one of the most commented on aspects was his visit with the Jordanian Royal Family. Throughout his trip the Pope made all the expected comments calling for inter-faith dialogue, peaceful coexistence between the religions, solidarity with the Christian community, sympathy for the past sufferings of the Jews and solidarity with the Palestinians (as the Syrians in Israel like to call themselves). On the whole he probably impressed more Muslims than Jews with the visit but even then I doubt he won any converts (so to speak) amongst the Muslim community. The problem is that the Muslims most in need of his message are the ones most assured not to be listening to him. From Queen Rania's extensive coverage of the visit it seems the Pope was a big hit with Her Majesty, but of course Queen Rania is a very kind, tolerant and modern-minded woman and the Kingdom of Jordan as a whole probably stands above all other countries in the region for being stable, peaceful and open. Jordan, along with most of the Gulf states, serve as examples of the benefits of monarchy compared to the plight of republics like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

I leave out the State of Israel because the problems there have very little (if anything) to do with the form of the government. Saudi Arabia is also a rather unique case but even in that case I would prefer to see the House of Saud maintain their position given that the only thing likely to replace it would be a theocratic republic in the mold of Iran. Everyone knows the Pope is going to advocate for peace, dialogue and tearing down the security wall, which is good to push for the ideal, but I cannot help but being pessimistic as to how realistic such 'reaching out' is. I won't go into the whole mess, but I think that Islam as a whole, especially the radical elements, know that such calls for peace on the part of Christians are coming from a position of weakness, and there really can be no denying that. Muslims have now surpassed Christians in number around the world and Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe and Canada. Muslims also have the advantage of having a very clear world-vision to advance alongside their religion whereas the "Christian" world has mostly abandoned its own culture as well as its religion and for the most part those elements that are left are not working together. However, monarchy should not be forgotten amongst the turmoil because history has shown, including such cases as Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, that stemming the tide of radical Islam must go hand-in-hand with defending the Islamic monarchies. That holds true even in Saudi Arabia where the government seems to be pushing a brand of fundamentalist Islam that often comes back to bite the hand that feeds them as in the case of Osama bin Laden.

The King and Queen of Jordan represent about the best that the modern Islamic world has to offer. Pope Benedict XVI represents (I think) the best of traditional, Christian Europe. The problem is that not too many people seem to be following these examples in the Muslim or Christian worlds.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Royal Anthem Series: II Bhutan

Below is the National Anthem of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan or Druk Yul "Land of the Thunder Dragon". The current reigning monarch is HM King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks the 5th anniversary of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Frederick (son and heir of HM Queen Margrethe II) and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (the Australian beauty who met the Prince at the Sidney Olympics and quickly won the hearts of the Danish public). The Mad Monarchist wishes the future Danish King and Queen many more years of wedded bliss and a secure future for the oldest reigining monarchy in Europe.

Today is also the 47th anniversary of the marriage of His Catholic Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain and HRH Princess Sofia of Greece and denmark. The two were married in Athens in Catholic and Orthodox ceremonies. At the time, Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still ruling Spain but later designated Juan Carlos as his heir with the monarchy to be fully restored after his death. This happened in 1975. The Mad Monarchist wishes Their Catholic Majesties a happy anniversary and many more years together on the throne of the Spains.

Anniversary of the Grand Monarch

Today marks the 366th anniversary of the accession of His Most Christian Majesty King Louis XIV of France and of Navarre, also called the "Grand Monarch", "Louis the Great" and "the Sun King". Love him or despise him, Louis XIV remains a historical colossus who gave his name to an era, who became synonymous with a certain style of grandeur and absolutism. For much of his life he was the dominant figure in western Europe with almost every major historical event being in reaction to some action of his. As I have often said, Louis XIV was remains a hard man to like but also a hard man not to admire. He had some very good points and some very bad points but no one could dispute the fact that he mattered, that he was a force to be reckoned with and that his legacy is still felt today. Some might find it strange that a Catholic absolute monarch like Louis XIV was opposed by Rome throughout his reign and many of his most ardent fans and glowing tributes came from the ranks of liberal "enlightenment" types such as Voltaire who compared him to Augustus Caesar and called his reign the "Great Century". France reached a height and glory and greatness under his reign that has seldom if ever been seen before or since. Perhaps the most obvious reminder of the importance of Louis XIV we can still see today is in Spain where a descendant of his, a prince of the House of Bourbon, still reigns as King. Today Louis is most often seen as the quintessential absolute monarch and I think, were he alive today, he would be rather disappointed by the modern French Republic. He might smile at certain loosening of the public morals but I think he would see the country as rather too dreary for his taste, too complacent and bickering. For Louis XIV, I think, France had to be great, grand and glorious or it would not be France at all. In any event, love him or hate him (and there are reasons for both) the man who built Versailles, the man who made France the most dynamic power in Europe, who left his footprint on an era of history and whose daily life was compared with the rising and the setting of the sun, first began his reign 366 years ago today.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Royal Anthem Series: I Bahrain

The first in a series of national and royal anthems, the national anthem of the Kingdom of Bahrain currently under the reign of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifah

Bahrain National Anthem

Anniversary of the Red Fort

Today marks the anniversary of the completion of the famous Red Fort in Delhi, India in 1648. Originally called the 'Blessed Fort' it was built by the great Emperor Shah Jahan and was meant to be the crown jewel of his new capital city of Shahjahanabad which was to replace the former capital city of Agra. It remains one of the great monuments of the Mughal dynasty and a powerful symbol of the grandeur and glory of imperial India. It took roughly ten years to build the massive palace complex and imposing fortifications, the Delhi and Lahore Gates, the Rang Mahal where the Emperor kept his wives, the Pearl Mosque, and the massive "Life Bestowing Garden". The Red Fort of Delhi remained the seat of power and the most grand symbol of the Mughal Empire throughout the years of its height and slow decline. The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II lived there until the great Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. The Emperor was liberated by the rebels, proclaimed the ruler of a free India but was eventually captured by the British, who defeated the uprising and the aged monarch was brought back to the Red Fort as a criminal for trial. Nonetheless, the symbolism of the Red Fort remained constant. The British used it as their military headquarters during the period of the British Empire of India and when India became independent the occasion was marked by the raising of the national flag over the Red Fort by Prime Minister Nehru. To this day the political leaders of India make use of the Red Fort as a powerful backdrop to address the nation on independence day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New Face of Free Speech?

Since answering a question from a gay activist that her religion tells her that marriage is between a man and a woman Miss California Carrie Prejean lost the Miss USA crown and almost lost her Miss California title until pageant owner Donald Trump ruled in her favor. In the interim Prejean was attacked and slandered in the most vicious fashion as well as having "racy" photos of her publicized in an effort to discredit her as a Christian. I was on her side from the start for standing up for her beliefs instead of giving in to the tyranny of political correctness. When the photos came out I was not scandalized in the least for a number of reasons. First, the photos were pretty tame, it was under-handed how they were made public and even if they had been even more "racy" I don't care about what mistakes people have made, but what they are for now. Christians are supposed to forgive and never condemn people as being beyond redemption, there are others I could go into but this is not the time. What I find alarming is how this fits in with a world-wide trend that has been building up for some time now.

Carrie Prejean is attacked for giving her opinion against gay marriage. Queen Sofia of Spain has been criticized for the same reason (though usually, thankfully, with more tact). Now, it can be argued that this is totally different because royals (these days) are supposed to be non-political. However, where was the outrage when the same Queen said she did not approve of the Spanish tradition of bullfighting? Where is the outrage when the Prince of Wales speaks out about "climate change" and environmentalism. No one seems to object to royals speaking out on those political views. Yet, have someone speak out against gay marriage and suddenly they are vilified in the media. Why does the effort to silence only seem to go one way? It seems that if you have liberal opinions your freedom of speech is championed and upheld by everyone but if you have traditional opinions you will be met with efforts to silence you, discredit you and slander you. In other words, the modern idea of "free speech" seems to be a one-way street.
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