Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Money and the Monarchy

Coming to you from the Mad Monarchist 'eastern compound' the news of the day, even on the far side of the Atlantic, is the report on the cost of the British monarchy to the taxpayers of the U.K. I wonder if this tired little ritual will ever get old? Not finding much to complain about with the fact that the average cost of the monarchy is about 69p a year the talking heads have instead focused on the royal travel expenses. I'm sure this can sound outrageous to British taxpayers in these tough economic times, but let me assure the loyal Brits that life under a republic would be no free ride either. In fact, they could expect prices to go up dramatically. Here in the land of the free and the home of the heavily taxed not only do we pay far more for our president and ex-presidents that the British do for their monarchy but we have travel expenses to cover at every level of government from county to state to national. As an example, city taxpayers in San Antonio recently had to foot the bill for some city officials to go to DC to witness the coronation -I'm sorry, the "inauguration" of President Barack Hussein Obama. Keep in mind that this was not an official function, they had no part to play in it, they were simply spectators like the hordes of other people who had to pay their own way, buy a place and sit for hours in the freezing cold mashed together like so many sardines to witness the historic occasion. The only difference was these city councilmen & women had someone else to pass the bill to. We also have to pay for state reps, senators and governors to go on "fact finding missions" (aka usually vacations) and for congressmen and senators and now we also have to pay for First Lady Michelle Obama to fly to Chicago for dinner or for the President & First Lady to fly to New York City for a "date night" of dinner and a broadway show. Now, given that, and keeping in mind that the Queen actually surrenders more money from her estates than she gets from the civil list, that the government must sign off on all travel and that the Queen actually gets taxed twice over; is there really that much for subjects of the monarchy to complain about? I think not. On average, all around the world, the statistics show that those living with a monarchy get a far better value and certainly more 'bang for their buck' than citizens of a republic. In fact, I would say that if the Queen were totally in charge of the economy herself, Britain would probably be in far better financial shape than it is now.

MM Video: The Belgian Royals

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mad Rant: Our Utopian Republic

(this is an old article of mine, so while some changes have been made it might sound dated)

It is remarkable how the U.S. government seems to have so many problems when roughly 98% of the American public (supposedly) believes that we have the very best administrative system ever devised in the history of the world. It is just as remarkable that a majority of Americans think our current President is the greatest thing since sliced bread and yet that same majority disagrees with virtually all of his actions when these are presented to them plainly. Contradictions seem to abound in this great Utopian republic. So far, I have yet to find a single argument against monarchy that could not just as easily be made against our own federal republic. Perhaps, it would be different were it not for the extremely lofty vision we have of ourselves. If anyone doubts that "we" have such a loft opinion I will direct them to the capital dome in D.C. to see the painting of George Washington ascending into Heaven flanks by cherubs.
One example is the debate over gun control. The U.S. Constitution very clearly guarantees American citizens the right to own firearms, as well as providing a well-regulated militia, which would today be the National Guard. However, when the Constitution was written militias were under state or local control whereas today they are also under federal control. The point, which conservatives are quick to point out, of the Second Amendment was to give the American people the means to overthrow the government or change it in some way by force of arms if their rights are threatened as our Founding Fathers did against Great Britain.

However, I can easily argue in favor of gun control by pointing out that the underlying right championed by the revolutionaries, to change the government if it does not suit you, was proven to be irrelevant regarding the U.S. government by the Civil War. President Lincoln did not say, "well, these backward southerners are just exercising their right to set up a government more to their liking", but rather called up 75,000 troops to make war on American citizens and force them to submit to federal authority. The point behind the right to bear arms fades away when presented with this fact of history. My own political science professor a number of years ago admitted that the question of secession had never been legally settled, which was why no southern leader was ever charged with treason. The issue was settled, not by the democratic process, but by simple brute military force.

The past debate over war protestors also brought up a few cracks in our perfect republican armor. Why is it so important to Americans to have a right to voice protest and disapproval? Since we live in a democracy, since the foundation of our republic is that sovereign power resides in the people, why would we ever need to protest anything? A constant argument I hear against monarchy is that, since it is a hereditary 'office' the king, queen or emperor is not accountable to the public. And yet, how accountable are leaders in a republic if their citizens find it necessary to lie down in front of traffic or put tape over their mouths and carry pictures of dead children just to make their point of view heard by those in the halls of power? When it comes to answering the call of the people, one of history's most overlooked monarchs made one of the most eloquent statements on the subject. It was 1945, Viet Nam, which was being engulfed by revolution, was the place and the man was Emperor Bao Dai, who issued a proclamation reaffirming his commitment to independence which read in part, "We put the happiness of the Vietnamese people upon our golden throne. We would rather be one of the people in an independent country than the king of an enslaved country." Many years and many thousands of lives later not a few would wish that the mob, under the influence of so many propagandists and rabble-rousers, had forced their monarch into such a position. No one appreciated what they had until it was gone.

I also recall a fictitious conversation on the subject, thanks to the late, great monarchist Walter Moore who recommended to me the film "Juarez" in which takes place a mini political debate between the Emperor Maximilian and the captured general Porfirio Diaz (who despite his portrayal in the film later became a brutal dictator). Emperor Maximilian in this scene makes one of the most accurate statements regarding republican government as probably ever graced the silver screen. He agreed with the principle of democracy as an ideal, but stated that without such safeguards as a monarch could provide, democracy could deteriorate into mob rule in which the masses flock to whatever silver-tongued politician promises them the most (see the film for the correct words). Sound like anything you know?

The truth is, any 'Great Society' based upon the rule of the people alone could never be ideal in my opinion. Personally, I regard truth and principles to be unchanging, and many of mine have gone 'out of style', but regardless of that, public opinion is a very erratic and unpredictable thing, which is easily manipulated and easily swayed. Some of you may recall the case of the New York waitress who was mugged and beaten to death in front of her apartment building while more than 30 of her fellow tenants watched without making the slightest effort to come to her aid or even call for help. This is the very essence of what psychologists call Deindividuation or 'mob mentality'. While among the masses, it is difficult to see the true nature of things, even when it is happening right in front of you. You suffer from pluralistic ignorance, many in that apartment said they assumed someone else had already called the police. You suffer from audience inhibition, it being a scientific fact that the larger the group, the less willing one is to stand out and act differently. Finally, there is diffusion of responsibility, as the crowd gets bigger you share responsibility with others and take less and less notice of your own actions or inactions.

Most monarchists are aware of the fact that Adolf Hitler failed to take power by revolution but succeeded using the democratic method. Once in power, even if free elections were held, the public was so easily manipulated and influenced, it is doubtful the Nazis would have been voted out of office even then. After the war was over the constant defense given by ordinary Germans and war criminals alike was that they could not stand out, they could not disregard the propaganda and decide for themselves. Hitler received the full support of the German public for an unprovoked invasion of Poland simply by having a few prisoners dressed in Polish uniforms and shot on the German border. Photographs were taken and evidence was produced of this 'Polish attack' and the German people dutifully rushed to the front to 'defend' their country from Poland.

Our Utopian Republic depends on a wide array of variables. Do people have the correct information to make important decisions on their own? Do they have the desire? An intelligent, well informed populace is widely considered to be the prerequisite for democracy, and yet, in America, the oldest 'modern' republic in the world, many people in government think it is necessary to penalize smokers for their habit. It seems that our own leaders do not think the American public is intelligent enough to know by now that smoking is harmful and so 'Uncle Sam' has to step in with legal action to keep you from hurting yourself. We say that an intelligent, well informed public is necessary for democracy, yet we all know what trouble resulted when laws were made that you could not vote if you could not read. Apparently not knowing the alphabet does not mean you cannot have a thoughtful opinion on economics and foreign policy. Then there's always the fact that we will trust an 18-year-old boy with a machine gun in the army but not allow him to have a glass of champagne on his own wedding day for lack of 'maturity'.

Can monarchs wave a magic wand and solve all of these problems? I seriously doubt it. In my more wicked moods I have even doubted if they should even try, well imagining the monarchs of the world saying, in the words of Kaiser Wilhelm II, 'You have cooked this broth and now you're going to drink it'. What monarchs can do is to provide a voice, even if theirs is the only one, of reason in the middle of the insanity. They can simply do things that others cannot, and would do more I think if given the opportunity. If one denies a royal any role at all in the affairs of their nation, what have they left to do but fall into frivolity and scandal?

The Prince of Wales is often the center of attention for his lack of a 'job' but, despite his personal failures, I do applaud him for championing many causes I think were worthy, outside of the usual starving and diseased peoples around the world. When the British farmer was in need, their Prince came to the rescue. When urban designers wanted to fill beloved London with so many modern Towers of Babel, Charles protested; and, when something as English as fox hunting came under fire, the environmentalist Prince lended his voice to the country minority. However, for me, and remember these views are only my own, few royal figures set such an example as when King Baudoin of Belgium was 'deposed for a day' because he refused to sign into law a bill that went against his moral beliefs (it was an abortion bill). It was an action quite unheard of, but demonstrated the depth of his personal convictions that he would do whatever was necessary to avoid putting his signature to something that he believed to be morally wrong.

What would the United States be like with a royal figure, in the national spotlight as a part of the government, who could demonstrate to the public leadership rather than simple political maneuverings and endless debates decided ahead of time by polls and percentage figures? How would our dear politicians, bureaucrats and congressmen respond to having a monarch looking over their shoulder, competing with them for public esteem and working with enough charities to perhaps make even the apathetic American public aware of just how many millions congress drains from the average taxpayer? Perhaps when we can level the playing field and the continued rule of our own 'absolute republic' we can move closer to that dreamed of idyllic society. But of course, any such talk critical of republican government in this country especially will quickly earn you the title of 'Mayor of Crazytown'. But, what do I care? I am, after all, The Mad Monarchist.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Anniversary of a Tragedy

It was on this day in 1914 that HIRH Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were murdered by a Serbian terrorist in Sarajevo, thus lighting the fuse for the horrendous nightmare that was World War I and the final destruction of the last remnants of Old Europe. It is worth remembering that almost every single major world crisis, war, ethnic struggle and so forth that plagues the world today and which has troubled the world since 1918 can be traced back to that conflict which was sparked by that terrorist. Whether it is the trouble with Korea, the problems in the Middle East, the Balkans or looking back at all the problems across Africa and Asia as the colonial empires collapsed, the Iraq Wars, the Vietnam War, the Korean War and on and on can all be traced, directly or indirectly back to the death of an Austrian Archduke named Franz Ferdinand. Conspiracy? It is tempting to think so but whether it was or was not, all monarchists of every nationality should mourn the day that saw the Old Europe of Crowns and Altars fall prey to short-sighted and self-serving ministers and commit mass suicide. No war has ever been so unnecessary nor has any war ever had such far-reaching consequences for all subsequent generations.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Royal Guardians Profile: The Qing Imperial Guards Brigade

When the Manchurians took power in China and established the "Great Pure Dynasty" they imported their own system of military organization. Known as the Eight Banners the system was designed by the founder of the Qing, Emperor Nurhaci. Based on the tribal-clan structure of the Manchu's nomadic society it allowed large and well trained armies to be gathered very quickly and put directly into action. The Eight Banners included Manchu, Mongol and Han troops though eventually the sheer number of Han soldiers necessitated forming them into their own army. However, the Eight Banners always remained the reliable central core of the Qing Imperial Army. In time they became more professional and more modernly trained. However, from the outset, the Emperor selected the very best warriors from each of the Eight Banners to serve as his guards and personal troops in the Forbidden Purple City. This elite force became known as the Imperial Guards Brigade and they were charged with the personal security of the Emperor and ensuring that no one violated the sacred confines of the Forbidden City and live to tell about it. These forces served throughout the life of the Qing Dynasty and many if not most remained loyal to the Manchu Emperor even after the fall of the dynasty and the establishment of the republic. Many were on hand when the last Emperor was enthroned as Emperor of Manchukuo though in that political entity the Emperor had a new and more modern Imperial Guard that was kept under close watch by the Japanese.

Papal Words of Wisdom

Think religion has no part in politics? Not so:

"We are taught most clearly that the obedience which men are obliged to render to the authorities established by God is an absolute precept which no one can violate, except if by chance something is commanded which runs counter to the laws of God or of the Church...By observing these admonitions the first Christians, even during the persecutions, deserved well of the Roman emperors themselves and of the security of the state. 'Christian soldiers,' says Saint Augustine, 'served an infidel emperor: when it came to the subject of Christ, they recognized no one except Him who is in Heaven. They distinguished between the eternal Lord and the temporal lord, but also were subject to the temporal lord because of the eternal Lord"

Keep in mind that these words were written by HH Pope Gregory XVI to the Catholic bishops of Poland in opposition to their revolt against the Eastern Orthodox Czar of Russia. St Thomas Aquinas called monarchy "the best of all governments" and such sentiments were echoed by Popes such as Pius VI, Pius VII and Leo XIII.

Prince of Orange Honors Veterans

Today is Veterans Day in the Netherlands and HRH Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, will be in The Hague to attend official events honoring the 125,000 Dutch veterans. The Prince has undergone his training and service in the Dutch military and has always shown special attention to his future subjects who have served in unform for Queen and Country. Earlier this year, in April, the Prince of Orange made a surprise visit to Dutch troops in Afghanistan which was a great boost to morale. Perhaps this would be an appropriate occasion to comment on the often overlooked but long and disntinguished tradition of military service in the Netherlands. From their first, long, war for independence from Spain the Dutch became renowned military engineers and masters at siege warfare. A past Prince of Orange, Maurice of Nassau, son of Willem the Silent, stands out as one of the greatest generals in military history for his innovative tactics and training methods. On the seas the Dutch have long enjoyed an illustrious reputation particularly the legendary Amiral Maarten Van Tromp who was a great hero in the war against the vile regime of Cromwellian England. Whether their struggles resulted in victory or defeat the Dutch proved their courage on battlefields as far flung as the English Channel to Taiwan. During World War II, caught off guard, the Dutch struggled against overwhelming odds for four days in their homeland and fought a colonial and naval war against the Japanese in Indonesia. It is a little known fact that in the opening days of the War in the Pacific the tiny Dutch submarine flotilla based out of Indonesia actually sank more Japanese shipping than the whole US Navy sub fleet. In more recent years Royal Dutch forces have been deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan where they have participated in several hard-fighting combat operations. The Mad Monarchists salutes the Dutch veterans who have fought and are fighting for their monarch.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mad Rant: The African Colonial

A recent article written by a first-generation American of West African descent, L. E. Ikenga, went into great detail explaining how Barack Obama is an "African Colonial" which is to say one of the tin-pot dictators who took over many or most African countries following the collapse of the European colonial empires. You can read her complete article here. The article goes a long way to explaining not only Obama's totalitarian domestic policy but also his recognized prejudice against Great Britain. Ms. Ikenga explains that the "African Colonial" is one who blamed "Whitey" for the problems of their society and yet adopted Eruopean philosophies such as socialism and Marxism rather than drawing upon their own pre-colonial history as African nations. Now, I will take it a step further than Ikenga and say that, it seems clear to me, these would be the native monarchial systems which, almost without exception, these "African Colonials" cast aside in favor of European or American style republicanism but based more often than not on socialism and Marxism.

This has happened all around the world and few seem to recognize it. The same terms could be used to describe "Asian Colonials" such as Sun Yet-Sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Tse-tung, Kim Il Sung and Ho Chi Minh. Think about it; in China, which was never even colonized outright, you had an American-educated, American-inspired republican like Sun Yat-Sen whose movement rose to success on the Han population hyped up into an anti-Manchu hysteria which described the Qing Dynasty as "foreign". Forget the fact that the last Emperor could barely speak any Manchurian and forget the fact that they stopped considering Manchuria "foreign" when the Japanese tried to make the region into a seperate country. Forget also that, even if the Manchus were "foreign" to the Han Chinese they were certainly far less foreign that the republican ideologies of the United States and the Soviet Union which arose in their wake to tear the country apart in the bloodiest civil war in human history. Likewise, in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh rode to power on the back of a wave of anti-French nationalism and yet in the process of putting Ho in power the native imperial system which had existed in Vietnam for thousands of years, then represented by the Nguyen Emperor, was cast aside in favor of a Marxist dictatorship based on the Soviet model. If these people had looked to their own history, their own culture and their own traditions there would still be kings all across Africa and emperors all across Asia. I also firmly believe that all such countries would likewise be infinitely better off than they are now.

These are the same people who constantly advocate for "democracy" and yet a quick look at Africa or Asia will show very, very few real democratic countries. Oftentimes the native, traditional governments that existed previously were more democratic than those today and we have the Prime Minister of Australia, speaking to the visiting King and Queen of Spain, saying that constitutional monarchy is good for democracy. The bottom line is that all too often the talk of democracy is simply a distraction to keep attention off the politicians and bureaucrats who are constantly gobbling up more and more of the *independence* of people all around the world. Another little known fact; if the nations of the "First World" looked to their own history, traditions and culture for inspiration; dare I even say their religion, Europe and the West would be much better off as well. I know, that's not "progress", that's archaic and reactionary thinking. That's just plain nuts. Well, what do you expect? I am ... The Mad Monarchist.

Monarch Profile: Emperor Hsuan-tung of China

His was a strange and tragic life; for a time the nominal ruler of the world (in Confucian belief) and a recognized emperor for longer than most realized he spent most of his life as a powerless prisoner of the designs of those around him. He was born Aisin-Gioro Pu-Yi, took the English name Henry among his siblings, reigned as the Emperor Hsuan-tung and later as Emperor Kang Teh but thanks to an award-winning film about him he is probably best known simply as "The Last Emperor". A member of the Manchu dynasty little Pu-Yi was born in 1906 to the second Prince Chun and Princess Youlan. When he was 3 years old he was taken to the Forbidden City in Peking. Emperor Guangxu had just died, still locked away by the Grand Empress Dowager Cixi and the aged woman who had dominated China for so long, then on her deathbed, appointed Pu-Yi to be the next Emperor of China with his father as regent. A short time later, in a grand, elaborate Confucian ceremony that was the last of its kind in China, the little boy was formally enthroned as Hsuan-tung, "Great Emperor of the Great Qing Dynasty, Grand Khan of Tartary, the Son of Heaven and Lord of 10,000 Years".

It was not to last long as the Qing Empire was already close to collapse when the Empress-Dowager breathed her last. The end came in 1911 following a double-cross by the General Yuan Shihkai. However, agreements with the new Republic of China allowed the Emperor to keep his titles, a considerable income, his property and to remain in the Forbidden City where he was treated rather like a foreign ruler. As the era of the warlords opened it was a time when everyone in China wanted to keep a foot in every camp. Pu-Yi grew up in isolation, primitive but luxurious captivity. In 1917 he was briefly restored to nominal power by the German-backed Marshal Chang Hsun but promised support from republican officials did not come and the effort collapsed. The Republic of China declared war on Germany a short time later. In 1924 Pu-Yi's life as he knew it changed forever when a socialist and Methodist Christian warlord captured Peking and ordered the Manchu royals out of the Forbidden City. The last Emperor ended up in Tientsin where the Japanese were very friendly and protective of him. He enjoyed living a modern lifestyle but never lost sight of his ultimate goal: to restore the Great Qing Empire.

Pu-Yi kept contacts with numerous Chinese and White Russian warlords in the hope of effecting a restoration but his life as an ex-emperor did not end until 1932 when he was persuaded to go to Manchuria to become the "Chief Executive" of the State of Manchukuo; a Japanese protectorate. In 1934 he was formally enthroned as Emperor Kang Teh of the Great Manchu Empire, however, the League of Nations judged Manchukuo a Japanese puppet state and the only major foreign powers to recognize Manchukuo were the World War II allies of Japan. As politically incorrect as it might be, in light of the post-war history of China and Korea I maintain that it would have been better for everyone if the Empire of Manchukuo could have been preserved but it was not to be. The last Emperor's fortunes were tied to the fortunes of Japan and when the Japanese surrendered he was forced to abdicate and was quickly captured by the invading Soviet troops in 1945.

He castigated the Japanese at the Tokyo War Crimes trials but despite his efforts to ingratiate himself with his Soviet captors he was eventually handed over to the Red Chinese in 1950. For 10 years he was held in a prison for war criminals in Fushun where he was subjected to a decade of "reform through labor". If the autobiography he was forced to write can be believed the indoctrination methods were successful and when he was released he proclaimed himself a loyal communist, grateful to his captors and scorning his past life and imperial heritage. He worked as a simple gardener in Peking for the rest of his life before he died in 1967 during the height of the Cultural Revolution. The government said it was a result of natural causes but rumors spread immediately that he had been killed by the communist authorities as part of their campaign to sweep away the last remnants of "old China" which the Emperor was certainly a living embodiment of.

Despite the best efforts of the communists the idea of the last Emperor as a villain never really took hold. Most today probably view him as a tragic figure but I take a more nostalgic view. It often seems that the world as a whole missed the significance of the fall of the Chinese Empire; an imperial system which lasted from the time of the ancient Greeks until the 20th Century. His life marked the end of an era and the start of a long period of suffering and terror for China. It also marked the end of China as a society based on the moral principles of Confucius. It is debated as to who would be the heir of the last Emperor today. In his book, Pu-Yi wrote that he designated his cousin, Prince Yu-Yan as his successor. He died in 1997 and if his line is accepted the heir to the Dragon Throne today would be his son Prince Hengzheng, aka Yuan Yuan.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Local Girl Made Good Passes Away

Before she was one of Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett was the girl-next-door in the coastal city of Corpus Christi, Texas. She made it big as a model, TV and movie star after moving to California to see if she could make it. She died today at the age of 62 as a result of a long struggle with cancer. Close to death for some time her family suspected she would not last the day and summoned a priest to perform the last rites. Farrah and her long-time friend Ryan O'Neil were set to marry as soon as she had the strength but was never able to. It may be a little 'off-topic' for this blog, but I had to take time out to remember one of the best things to ever come out of Corpus Christi. May she rest in peace.

Consort Profile: Roxelana

For being the most favored concubine of the most famous Turkish sultan not much is known about the origins of the woman known to history as Roxelana. We do not know her birth name but she seems to have been from what is now the western Ukraine but which was then part of the Kingdom of Poland, possibly the daughter of an Orthodox priest. She was captured by Crimean Tatars in a raid and sold into slavery, eventually passing into the harem of Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Slavic slave women were actually favored by many Muslim sultans for their harems both for their fair complexions and because of their religion (a good Muslim could enslave a Christian and not feel bad about). However, Roxelana was not to remain a lowly concubine for long. Her beauty quickly attracted the jealousy of the other women in the harem as well as the attentions of the sultan who was very taken with her.

Sultan Suleiman was quite the smitten kitten and Roxelana's enemies became his enemies. When the Sultan's formerly favorite concubine (and mother of his son and heir Prince Mustafa) attacked Roxelana Suleiman had them both exiled. Eventually he had his son Mustafa killed, an act for which Roxelana is usually blamed with instigating. In quick order Roxelana was raised from the status of concubine to that of legal wife to the Sultan, an unprecedented act for European slave girl. However, she seems to have generally used her position for benevolent purposes. She is most famous for her patronage of the arts and for building. She also gave Suleiman five children and it would be one of her own, Selim, who would one day succeed his father.

As a freed woman and legal wife of the Sultan, Roxelana seemed to have immense influence. She advised him in many areas, including foreign affairs and, not forgetting her origins, she wrote letters to King Sigismund II Augustus of Poland and helped keep the peace between the two countries as well as convincing the Sultan to crack down on the Crimean slave traders who had once captured her. She was responsible for the building of a special women's hospital near the women's slave market and was patron of many other charitable works across the Ottoman Empire. Among these were a mosque and two religious schools in Istanbul as well as a bath near the Hagia Sophia and she built the first public soup kitchen in Jerusalem. She was also famous for her patronage of the arts and for her own embroidery which was often sent to foreign leaders including the King of Poland and the Shah of Iran. As the favorite of the Sultan there was nothing he would deny her and when she died in 1558 she was buried in an extremely elaborate mausoleum next to that of her husband in the Suleiman Mosque.

Roxelana's story, from captured slave girl to favored wife of a Sultan, is made to order for romantics and has inspired a great deal of artistic expressions across Europe and the Middle East. Novels, poems, songs, paintings, ballets, plays and whole operas have been written or painted about her. As recent as 2007 a new mosque in Mariupol, Ukraine was named in her honor.

Royal Anthem Series: XXV Bulgaria

The Kingdom of Bulgaria was formed in 1908 when the principality of Bulgaria declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire. It's first monarch was Tsar Ferdinand I who was followed by Tsar Boris III who was followed by Simeon II who is the current legitimate Tsar of Bulgaria. Bulgaria was shaken by its loss in World War I and following World War II the monarchy was destroyed by the Bolshevik forces of the Soviet Union.

The national anthem of the Kingdom of Bulgaria: Shumi Maritsa

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monarchist Profile: General Tomas Mejia

Of all the top generals of the second Mexican Empire none were probably so universally praised and respected as Tomas Mejia. Much is unknown about his origins, he may have been from the state of Guanajuato and the year of his birth has been listed variously between 1812 and 1815. He was full-blood Indian and an extremely devout Catholic who fought for the pro-Church party in the "Reform War". He first held aloof during the French invasion, praying for the Holy Virgin to give him direction. When he met Emperor Maximilian he found in him a man worthy of his support and loyalty; a selfless leader who could have been the political salvation of his country. Once he made his choice the Emperor had no more upright, talented or steadfastly loyal defender than General Mejia.

Some were shocked at Maximilian giving such high rank to an Indian but the Emperor's faith in Mejia was not misplaced and even his enemies had to admit that Mejia was an honest, upright and always humane and gallant officer. He was placed in command of the northern forces of the Mexican Empire and drove the Juaristas out of San Luis Potosi and continued north to the Texas border where he occupied the city of Matamoros. With wars raging on both sides of the Rio Grande it was a difficult position for General Mejia but he was more than up to the challenge. When the Juaristas launched a major attack on the city Mejia successfully fought them off, at one point even leading a cavalry charge in a counter-attack himself when the republicans briefly broke through his lines. Following the disastrous defeat of General Olvera at the battle of Santa Gertrudis Mejia was forced to abandon Matamoros but the republican general Escobedo allowed him to retreat unmolested because Mejia had once spared his own life.

General Mejia joined Emperor Maximilian at his heroic last stand at the siege of Queretaro and again led a desperate charge with his cavalry when republican troops entered the city even though he was extremely ill. Following the capture of Queretaro Mejia was subject to a show trial with the other imperial leaders. By that time his devoted wife had arrived to plea for his life and when sentance was about to be passed an observant and sympathetic Maximilian carried the hysterical woman out of the courtroom to spare her the ugly scene. Mejia was a devoted family man, husband and father and his wife was beside herself at the thought of losing him. When Mejia, along with Maximilian and General Miramon was being moved to the place of execution his wife was almost killed when she clung to the wheels of the wagon they were being carried in weeping uncontrolably.

Wearing a dark suite and carrying a crucifix General Mejia met his death with the same stoic Indian courage he had displayed throughout his life. As the republican firing squad aimed their rifles and fired the deadly volley General Mejia shouted his last words, "Long live the Emperor!"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MM Video: Royals on Duty

Royal Guardians Profile: His Majesty the King's Guard

In the Kingdom of Norway the protection of the monarch, royal palaces and the city of Oslo falls on the shoulders of Hans Majestet Kongens Garde (His Majesty the King's Guard). They are a colorful but highly trained and motivated fighting force. The Guard was formed in 1856 during the union of Sweden and Norway when an all-Norwegian company of guards was formed by King Oscar I drawn from the troops of the Norwegian Jaeger Corps. Northern Huseby farm near Oslo was purchased by the government as a barracks for the new unit and it is still the home base of the HMKG to this day. When Norway became independent of Sweden in 1905 King Haakon VII raised the company to the status of a royal guard and increased them in size to a full battalion. That original structure is still maintained as a light infantry battalion in the Norwegian Royal Army. Their distinctive uniforms with their plumed bowler hats were inspired by Italian styles which Princess Louise of Sweden was particularly taken with.

The HMKG has served honorably on numerous battlefields since their formation but never at a more crucial time than during the Nazi invasion of World War II in which the guard fought heroically to prevent the Norwegian Royal Family from being captured by the Germans. Dogged Norwegian restistance caused the Germans to take longer than expected in conquering Norway and the HMKG earned the grudging respect of their enemies. Because of their hard-fighting zeal and dark uniforms the Germans named the King's Guard "the black devils". Most members of the guard today are relatively new recruits in the army but they are drilled to parade ground perfection for the numerous ceremonial duties they are called on to perform. As is the tradition their nominal commander-in-chief is His Majesty King Harald V.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Otto of Austria Hospitalized

The Royal Forums has reported that His Imperial Royal Highness Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, by rights Kaiser of Austria and King of Hungary, has been hospitalized after suffering a fall at home. The Archduke is the eldest son of HIRM Emperor Charles I and Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary and is 96 years old. According to his family he is recovering well, is alert, talking and eating but of course at his advanced age any such fall is to be taken seriously. All too often such falls are cause for the elderly person in question to give up. However, given all that His Imperial Royal Highness has been through up till now and how active he has always been, I certainly would advise against anyone counting him out prematurely. The thoughts and prayers of The Mad Monarchist are with the true Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary and the entire Hapsburg Imperial Family. May his blessed father pray for him.

MM Video: Romanovs and Their Spouses

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Monarch Profile: Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands

The longest reigning Dutch monarch since the founding of the Kingdom of the Netherlands was the formidable Queen Wilhelmina. She reigned for 58 years and saw her people and her country through the tense neutrality of World War I, invasion and occupation during World War II and the collapse of the Dutch empire in the years that followed. For someone who inherited the throne at a relatively young age, from start to finish Queen Wilhelmina was a woman who could be instantly recognized as *the* person in charge. Given the constitutional confines of the Dutch monarchy it would be going too far to call her 'autocratic' but she was certainly a much more "hands-on" monarch than most modern Europeans would expect today.

Wilhelmina Helena Pauline Maria of Orange was born on August 31, 1880 to King Willem III of the Netherlands and Queen Emma of Waldeck und Pyrmont. Her father was in his 60's when he had her and so she did not have long to wait before inheriting the throne in 1890 with her mother acting as regent. In 1901 Queen Wilhelmina married Duke Hendrik of Mecklenburg-Schwerin but the marriage was not an extremely successful one and it was 1909 before the couple had their first and only child; the future Queen Juliana. From early on in her reign the Queen proved to be quite an independent force in foreign affairs. She harbored harsh feelings against the British because of the Boer War as she naturally sympathized with the Dutch farmers. The world was surprised and impressed when the 20-year-old Dutch Queen sent a warship of the Royal Netherlands Navy to rescue President Paul Kruger of the Transvaal.

World War I did nothing to improve the image of the British in the eyes of the Queen though she was wary of Germany as well. When Kaiser Wilhelm II boasted that his guard-troops were 7ft tall Queen Wilhelmina reminded him that if the Dutch opened their dikes the water would be 10ft deep. However, the Germans decided against invading the Netherlands and respected Dutch neutrality, though the border was flooded with Belgian refugees. Yet, the Dutch suffered considerably due to the blockade of the entire North Sea by the British Royal Navy. Many Dutch people, from the Queen on down, felt unjustly persecuted by the blockade which only forced them to trade almost exclusively with Germany and often increased feelings of solidarity with the Germans rather than animosity. When World War I ended and Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated and fled into exile in the Netherlands Queen Wilhelmina allowed him to take refuge. When the Allies demanded that she hand him over for prosecution she staunchly refused and when it was demanded again with hints of a threat the Dutch Queen essentially dared them to "try it!"

One of the remarkable things about the Queen's granting of asylum to the Kaiser was the rise of revolutionary communism across Europe following the horrific Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. It was these feelings and fears which caused King George V of Britain to refuse his cousin Czar Nicholas II and his family sanctuary in Britain; which ultimately spelled the doom of the Romanov family. Queen Wilhelmina, to her credit, did not give in to the same mentality even though the Kaiser was a far from popular person in 1918 and there were threats of communist revolution in Holland itself. However, Queen Wilhelmina showed iron resolve and displayed the total trust she had in her people and the people responded with the utmost respect and loyalty. Simply by her powerful, regal, personality she stopped a revolution in the Netherlands before it started. In the inter-war years the Queen played a major role in government and the country went through large land-reclamation projects and massive industrialization. However, it also saw tragedy for the Queen with the death of her mother and her husband.

World War II brought even more suffering. Despite pledges to respect Dutch neutrality as in the last war the Germans launched a surprise attack on Holland preceded by a brutal bombing campaign and all the rigors of occupation. The outmatched Dutch army fought for four days before being forced to surrender. Queen Wilhelmina was rescued by a British warship and she relocated to Britain where her government-in-exile helped coordinate resistance forces, military forces working alongside the Allies as well as the war in Asia which came with the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies. Queen Wilhelmina was the symbol of opposition for the Dutch people and her radio messages gave them courage to endure and resist the long years of the German occupation.

After Germany and Japan were defeated the Queen faced another crisis when rebellion broke out in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). Queen Wilhelmina was determined to resist the revolutionaries to the utmost and was staunch in her defense of the Dutch empire. However, the Netherlands was hardly in a position to carry out a long struggle against guerilla forces and with little to no foreign support the government was forced to accept the loss of Indonesia. This may have been the last straw for the long-serving monarch and in 1948 Queen Wilhelmina abdicated in favor of her daughter Juliana and retired to Het Loo Palace. She spent a mostly quiet retirement, only making occasional appearances to boost public moral in times of crisis. She died in 1962 after a near lifetime of service to her country and seeing her people and her country through their darkest periods of crisis.

Happy Birthday Prince William

Today is the 27th birthday of the heir to the British & Commonwealth thrones HRH Prince William of Wales. Odds are in his favor in London that he will also soon be engaged. Whatever the case, The Mad Monarchist wishes Britain's future King William V a happy birthday!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

MM Video: German Reich Royals

Party Like a Monarchist

The Abahuza Party: Officially the Party for the Restoration of Monarchy and Dialogue in Burundi was founded in 2004 with the aim of ending the ethnic conflicts by a royal restoration. The party has gained more notoriety since running former Paris fashion model Princess Esther Kamatari for president. Their platform is aimed mostly at poor and rural Burundians; the majority of the nation.

The Albanian Democratic Monarchist Movement Party: A minor political party in Albania led by Guri Durollari. It competed in the 2005 Albanian elections but failed to win any seats.

The Black-Yellow Alliance: An Austrian monarchist party founded in 2004 who advocates the restoration of the Hapsburgs to Austria and the wider Danube region of Europe. They have contested elections in 2008 and have gained some degree of attention out of proportion to their strength because of their colorful demonstrations and public celebrations of Austrian imperial glory.

The Carlist Party: Founded in 1969 but only legal since 1977 and the death of General Franco they are a Carlist opposition party but have broken with the traditional values of the old Carlists in many ways, most prominently in that they are advocates of a sort of moderate socialism. Since 2000 their leader has been Evaristo Olcina.

The Constitutionalist Party of Iran: Founded in 1994 the CPI is a party in exile based in Los Angeles, California which favors a constitutional monarchy but has also stated that they would not oppose a republic so long as it was chosen fairly and democratically by a majority of Iranians.

FUNCINPEC: The Cambodian Royalist Party, founded in the 1980's by King Norodom Sihanouk as part of a coalition with the Khmer Rouge to combat the Vietnamese invasion the party went on to support the restoration of the constitutional monarchy in the political reorganization that followed the war and the collapse of the Khmer Rouge. Prince Norodom Ranariddh led the party for many years in a coalition with the Vietnamese Communist favorite Hun Sen. Years of association probably hurt the image of the party and they have since lost their status as the primary opposition to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party. After Ranariddh was forced out and formed his own party leadership went to Keo Puth Rasmey.

Koruna ceska: A Czech royalist party which advocates the conversion of the Czech Republic to a constitutional monarchy. Since the founding of the party in 1991 it has been led by Vaclav Srb and has contested elections but with little success. In the 2006 parliamentary elections the party received 0.2% of the votes.

Legality Movement Party: An Albanian monarchist party led by Eqerem Spahia it advocates the restoration of the Albanian monarchy under Crown Prince Leka of the House of Zogu. In 2001 it formed the political coalition "Union for Victory" and won 46 members of Parliament.

The People's Monarchist Party: Founded in 1974 in opposition to the corporatist regime of Salazar as part of the "Carnation Revolution" in Portugal it advocates the restoration of the Portuguese monarchy but has never gained much political support. They have certainly not been helped by the fact that the heir to the throne, Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, has refused to endorse the party. It has never had any members elected on its own to office but did gain two seats through an agreement with the Social Democratic Party.

The Real Politics Union: A conservative political coalition in Poland which is not strictly a monarchist party but does include monarchist members along with libertarians and traditional conservatives. It supports private property rights, traditional values, free-enterprise and opposes socialism and the EU.

The Serbian Democratic Renewal Movement: A Serbian monarchist party, founded in 2005 after splitting from the Serbian Renewal Movement it has suffered from a great deal of internal divisions and bickering. A conflict between the two presidents of the movement prevented the party from contesting the 2008 elections.

The Serbian Renewal Movement: A mostly pro-monarchist Serbian political party founded in 1990 the movement has suffered almost since its founding from political infighting and unpopular leadership. It has, over the years, gained and held a fair number of seats in government but has also been weakened by many factions breaking off or dividing to take different directions.

Action Francaise: A French monarchist party which supports the Orleans branch of the French Royal Family and is devoted to the principles of the French nationalist Charles Maurras. Association with the Vichy regime in World War II led to a drop in popularity but the party has revived and continues on today advocating nationalism, royal restoration and opposition to the EU.

Alliance Royale: A French royalist movement founded in 2001 and currently led by Yves-Marie Adeline. The AR advocates a constitutional monarchy for France and is mostly opposed to further EU integration. The party has tried to stay out of the Orleanist-Legitimist dispute.

The Democratic Rally: A French monarchist party founded in 2004 under the leadership of Philippe Cartellier it advocates "royalist democracy" and has allied with the National Movement of Czar Simeon II of Bulgaria.

Nouvelle Action Royaliste: An Orleanist French monarchist party that was originally an offshoot of Action Francaise the NAR is mostly known for what it opposes; it is anti-liberal, anti-American and anti-EU. That being said, it has in the past endorsed socialist candidates and other leftist causes.

This list is by no means exhaustive and readers are free to list other parties that should be included in the comment box. My criteria were simply parties which are fairly well known (and thus 'real world' parties and not purely internet-parties), which have held seats in government or at least fielded candidates and which are of course currently alive and functioning. It should be noted that not all monarchies feel the need to have a monarchist party, many republics ban them from existing and many monarchists do not organize themselves as parties.

Royal Anthem Series XXIV: Tibet

The Kingdom of Tibet was a Buddhist theocracy on the Tibetan plateau in the Himalaya mountains, known as the "roof of the world". Ruled for centuries by nobles and a religious hierarchy topped by the god-king known as the Dalai Lama ("Ocean of Wisdom") Tibet was once a powerful empire but overtime became a vassal of the Great Qing Empire. When the Manchu dynasty collapsed Tibet and Outer Mongolia (which share a religion and have many cultural and historical ties) declared and recognized each others independence; asserting that their agreements had been with the Manchu Emperors and not the nation of China as a whole. For many years political turmoil in China allowed Tibet to remain free and blissfully isolated. That all changed with the victory of the communists in the Civil War who quickly moved to conquer and occupy Tibet. With no allies, a tiny, primitive army and a culture that found killing repugnant the Tibetans were easily conquered and remain occupied by the Red Chinese to this day. The government-in-exile of Tibet operates from India and is currently under the reign of His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the XIV Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan national anthem celebrates the radiance of the Buddha, his teachings and the gives praise and invokes blessings on the divine monarchy. The anthem, like the Tibetan national flag, is strictly forbidden by the communist authorities in Tibet today.

The Tibetan National Anthem: Gyallu

Friday, June 19, 2009

In Memory of Emperador Maximiliano

It was on this day in 1867 that HIM Emperor Maximilian of Mexico was executed by firing squad alongside his loyal generals Miguel Miramon and Tomas Mejia on the Hill of the Bells in Queretaro, Mexico. It was the end of what had been a grand adventure and romantic dream to bring enlightened monarchy to the chaotic country south of the Rio Grande and to forge a Catholic Latin Empire in the New World. Archduke Maximilian von Hapsburg had been plucked from his castle in Italy and invited to become Emperor of a restored Mexican monarchy and the good natured younger brother of Kaiser Franz Joseph who was known for keeping his head in the clouds was determined, along with his Belgian bride Carlota, to show the world what they could do. They were young, idealistic and full of hope for the future. They would be the start of a new era in monarchy, raising up a poor country in the New World to its true potential.

Maximilian saw the Mexican Empire rising to become the dominant power in Central America; the linchpin between the United States and the Empire of Brazil which dominated North and South America respectively. As a former Grand Admiral of the Austrian Navy, he also saw Mexico growing in strength to become a full fledged naval power that would rule the Gulf of Mexico. For the time being he needed the help of France, but he proved he was a stooge for no one even though he probably would have been better off if he had been. Yet, the high-minded monarch would not allow anyone to influence him in their own self-interest be it the French or the conservative party in Mexico.Any unbiased observer would have to judge Maximilian as the best ruler Mexico ever had. He was not autocratic, prejudiced, greedy or selfish. He was determined that his monarchy would bring a hereditary stability to a country whose history since independence had been nothing but a long succession of coups, civil wars, feuding elites, rabble-rousing revolutionaries and petty dictators.

Yet, everything in the end depended on the outcome of the Civil War raging north of the border. From the outset the United States was openly hostile to his regime and continued to support the 'government-on-the-run' of the liberal, anti-clerical republican Benito Juarez. The Confederacy was friendly to Maximilian as a potential French ally and offered to recognize the legitimacy of Maximilian's monarchy in return for French recognition of the Confederate States of America. When the Union forces succeeded in crushing the southern Confederacy in 1865 it was the begining of the end for Maximilian and his Mexican Empire.As the USA massively increased their aid to the guerilla forces of Juarez, sending money, supplies, the latest modern weapons and even thousands of "volunteers" to beef up his army they also send a massive military force to the border and ordered the French to leave or face a Yankee invasion. Contrary to their previous agreements the French pulled out just as their forces were on the verge of final victory. Mexicans saw which way the wind was blowing and began to abandon their Emperor and cheer Benito Juarez.

It was at this point that Maximilian displayed his true character and how different he was from the other Mexican leaders who had come before him and who would follow him. Traditionally in Mexico it would have been at that point that Maximilian would have packed up, grabbed all the loot he could carry and taken the first ship back to Europe to live out the rest of his life in luxurious exile. This is what so many Mexican leaders had done before and what others would do after him. Yet, Maximilian refused for his high-born Hapsburg principles would not allow him to abandon his loyalists who would be put to death for his sake nor to abandon his country and his people for whom he had sworn an oath to God at his coronation to serve and protect.Emperor Maximilian left his foreign volunteers behind and led his loyal Mexican troops into a hopeless last stand at the epic siege of Queretaro. Surrounded, outnumbered, out-gunned and out-supplied everyone in Queretaro was impressed by how Maximilian met his most desperate hour. He gave his last bit of money to the poor on the streets, slept on the ground amongst his soldiers, shared their privations and risked his life alongside their own. Finally, the end came through the treachery of a man Maximilian trusted, Colonel Miguel Lopez, known forever after as the Traitor of Queretaro.

Given one last chance to escape by the victorious republican general Maximilian again refused. If his loyal generals were to be shot for his sake he would not abandon them to save his own life. Pleas and appeals came in to Benito Juarez from across the civilized world from presidents and kings and liberals and conservatives alike to spare the life of the noble Maximilian. Juarez would not hear of it. He feared that as long as Maximilian was alive his own power would never be secure, as long as the Emperor lived the flame of monarchy would continue to burn and he was determined to eliminate all resistance to his rule and his vision for a republican Mexico. He gave the order and on June 19, 1867 Emperor Maximilian, General Miguel Miramon and General Tomas Mejia were taken to the Hill of the Bells and executed by firing squad. Maximilian's last words were, "Long live Mexico". The two generals flanking him both died shouting in unison, "Long live the Emperor!" May he rest in peace and may the vision he died for be someday born again in the long suffering land of Mexico.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Problems in Iran

Everyone is talking about Iran right now and a few precious souls are predicting that the power of the Ayatollah might be shaken and regime change could be on the way to the Islamic Republic. Hope springs eternal I guess. The problem, as I see it, is that not only are there relatively few major differences between the two feuding claimants to the presidency; that presidency holds only nominal power anyway and I don't see the "change" crowd advocating the right kind of change. Where are the brave soulds standing up to defend the monarchy of the late Shah? They are out there of course but are given virtually zero face time by the mainstream media. Everyone is talking about the smell of revolution being in the air but what should be talked about is how all of this proves what a disastrous mistake the Islamic revolution was and illustrates the need for a good ol'fashioned counterrevolution.

The son of the late Shah has long been working for "regime change" in Iran though unfortunately he has stopped short of advocating restoration of the monarchy. He has been beating the democracy drum for a while and when pressed on the issue of the monarchy inevitably claims humbly that he would be willing to serve in whatever capacity the Iranian people choose for him once they have a true democracy in Iran. I have the utmost respect for the Crown Prince and at this point almost any change in Iran would bound to be an improvement. However, my fear is that, even if democracy takes root, it will not lead to the restoration of the monarchy and we will see the Islamic revolution portrayed in official histories in the same way that the French Revolution is today.

Consider how often you have read or heard about the French Revolution and the horrific bloodbath that followed. Almost without exception the liberal elites will half-heartedly confess that the Reign of Terror was "unfortunate" but that it was a necessary evil to destroy the monarchy of the ancien regime that is, to them, the ultimate bogey man. My fear for Iran is that, if there is regime change and by some wildly implausible series of events Iran becomes an actual democracy their own revolution will be glossed over in this way as well. Liberal elites will shrug off the horrors and crimes of the theocratic republicans and say that the Islamic Revolution was a sad but essential step in getting rid of the autocratic monarchy to continue down the path to a secular, democratic republic. If anything the people should look at Iran, wake up, and realize that republicanism is not a guarantee of prosperity and democracy is a fickle and fragile thing that can be easily manipulated, suppressed or steered in a chosen direction. All that has happened in Iran in the last few decades should prove that republicanism is a failure and that the Shah had been right all along. His son should be restored asap with the mullah's sincerest apologies. Sounds unreasonable I know, but I am...The Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mother's Day in Monaco

June 17 is Mother's Day in the Principality of Monaco and HSH Princess Stephanie marked the day by visiting new mothers and their babies at the Princess Grace Hospital.

MM Video: British Monarchs

Consort Profile: Queen Catherine of Aragon

One of the greatest English queen-consorts and a longtime favorite of mine Queen Catherine of Aragon was a 'woman among women' and it would be hard to imagine how she could be capable of such inner strength, such devotion, tenacity and even forgiveness and even fighting spirit without keeping in mind that she was very much her mother's daughter and that mother happened to be the formidable Queen Isabella of Castile. She was born in 1485 even as her parents Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile were fighting the last battles of la Reconquista; the longest war in history, to liberate Spain from the Moors. From an early age her character was shaped by two guiding forces; her fervent Catholicism and her betrothal to HRH Arthur, Prince of Wales, son and heir of King Henry VII of England. She thus saw it as her lifelong destiny to be Queen of England.

Unlike other girls of her era Isabella inisted that Catherine be extremely well educated and capable of being a monarch in her own right as she was. In 1501 Catherine and Arthur were married, both at a very tender age, but the two never lived together fully as husband and wife before Prince Arthur died of disease in 1502. This left Catherine in limbo and soon she was reduced to poverty at the hands of her miserly father-in-law. This only changed when King Henry VII died and his younger son became King Henry VIII. The new monarch decided that he would marry Catherine and after obtaining a papal dispensation the two were wed in 1509. From her first arrival she was beloved by the English people and their esteem for her only grew over time. As Queen consort her primary duty was to produce an heir to the throne but this proved extremely problematic. In 1511 she gave birth to a son but the boy, named Henry after his father, lived for only 52 days.

Nonetheless, Catherine was a hard working, learned and religious Queen who quite capably acted as regent for her husband while Henry VIII was away on the continent renewing the war with France. It was during this time that the Scots under King James IV invaded northern England and Queen Catherine met the crisis with courage and cool determination that would have made her mother proud. The army she sent north inflicted a crushing defeat on the Scots at the battle of Flodden in which James IV was killed. Catherine sent her husband the cloak of the late King of Scots as a trophy of her victory in his absence. She was also constantly furthering her own education and growing in her own faith. Yet, bearing children continued to be problematic. Numerous painful pregnancies ended with only one surviving child, Princess Mary, who was Catherine's pride and joy.

Eventually Henry, who had numerous mistresses, became infatuated with Ann Boleyn (sister to one of his previous mistresses) but Ann was not content to be used as her sister had been and demanded that Henry make her his wife and queen. Doubts were cast on the validity of his decades long marriage to Catherine and Ann also introduced the King to the new religious ideas of Protestantism of which he particularly favored the theory that the King, rather than the Pope, held final power over the Church as well as the state. Finally, Henry, who was totally infatuated with Ann Boleyn, became determined to divorce his older and long suffering wife and demanded that Catherine go away quietly and agree to an annulment by the Church. Catherine bravely refused, not only for herself, but to protect her daughter from being declared a bastard. Knowing that the clerics in England would bend to Henry's will (as all but the Bishop of Rochester did) she appealed her case to Rome and Pope Clement VII.

At the time Rome was occupied by the forces of the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who happened to be Catherine's nephew. Obviously the Pope was not eager to risk the wrath of Charles but he also did not want to offend Henry who had heretofore been a loyal if not devout Catholic; who had even been given the title "Defender of the Faith" for his vehement condemnation of Lutheranism. In the end, the facts could not be denied and the Pope ruled in Catherine's favor. In the eyes of the Church she was Henry's true and only wife till death should they part. Henry VIII was not a man to be thwarted however, and though Catherine had seemed to win the day, he did something no one had thought he would have ever dared to do. Henry VIII broke with Rome and declared himself Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England. The people were outraged and the vast majority sided with Catherine as the faithful wife who had been wronged. They had nothing but hatred for Ann Boleyn whom they regarded as a home-wrecker who had bewitched the King in her ambitious grasp for the role of Queen.

Undoubtedly Catherine could have commanded a significant rebellion on her behalf by her sympathizers and those who refused to give up the Catholic faith in favor of the new government religion. Emperor Charles V also promised to invade England at once should his beloved aunt only give the word but this Catherine refused to do. Even while she was locked away under house arrest she refused all offers of rescue or rebellion on the grounds that she would not be the cause of any further suffering on the part of her English people. To the frustration of Henry, however, she refused to stop calling herself his true wife and Queen. Kept away from her daughter she finally died in 1536, forgiving Henry and worrying for his salvation with her last breaths. The King buried her as a dowager Princess of Wales rather than a Queen of England. He did not attend the funeral nor would he allow their daughter to. Catherine's life was over but her influence would be felt in English history long after her death even if she is one of the more overlooked of the famous 6 wives of Henry VIII.

MM Video: The Kings & Queens of Romania

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cinema Royals

JUAREZ (1939) Starring Paul Muni, Bette Davis and Brian Aherne is probably the most well known film on the subject of the French intervention in Mexico, Maximilian and Juarez. It is a classic piece from the Golden Age of Hollywood and much more than simply a biopic of Benito Juarez. Paul Muni is the intended star as Benito Juarez but it is Brian Aherne as Emperor Maximilian who steals the show and has the most screen time. Muni balked at this and had more scenes for himself put in but lingering on his wooden portrayal only serves to slow the film down whenever he appears. Despite bending the truth considerably to portray Juarez in a favorable light Emperor Maximilian still comes off as a sympathetic character. Also on hand are John Garfield as General Porfirio Diaz and Donald Crisp as Marshal Achille de Bazaine. Claude Rains delivers a typically brilliant and villainous portrayal as Emperor Napoleon III. The film leaves no doubt as to who the viewer is supposed to be rooting for with a succession of ham-fisted efforts to portray Juarez as a secular saint but the character is so dull and the story of Maximilian and Carlota (played by Bette Davis) is so much more interesting that the film really revolves around them. Bette Davis also offers up a brilliant portrayal of the doomed empress and her descent into madness must stand out as one of her greatest moments on film ever. Those interested in the period cannot afford to overlook this film no matter which side you are on in the republican-monarchist debate.

MM Video: African Kings

Monarchist Profile: Jean-Baptiste Chaigneau

Jean-Baptiste Chaigneau was a French adventurer who played a leading role in the rise to power of the Nguyen Dynasty in Vietnam. Born in Brittany in 1769 he drifted east and was enlisted in the mercenary army of Father Pierre Pigneau de Behaine to fight alongside the forces of Prince Nguyen-Phuc Anh. He came to Vietnam with the padre in 1794 and joined in the grand campaign wherein the foreign troops were particularly helpful in naval and artillery roles and it was in such a role that Chaigneau distinguished himself in the naval attack on Thi Nai.

In 1802 the war ended with success for the Nguyen and Prince Anh was crowned as Emperor Gia Long. The new monarch was a man as generous to his friends as he was harsh toward his enemies and Chaigneau was awarded the rank of a mandarin, roughly in the middle of the scholar-gentry hierarchy of Confucian Vietnam. Chaigneau stayed at court to serve Emperor Gia Long and was soon raised to the status of Grand Mandarin with the honor of a 50-man escort. He also married a Vietnamese lady, Ho Thi Hue, from a prominent Catholic Viet family. As he continued his service he took the name Nguyen Van Thang and was made an advisor to the Emperor who sought to utilize his foreign officials in dealing with the Europeans who were feared as much as admired.

Eventually he returned to France and was made the first French consul in Cochinchina, their name for the far south of Vietnam. However, his situation, and those of Europeans in general in Vietnam, changed with the passing of Gia Long and the accession of Emperor Minh Mang. The new monarch favored closer ties with China and the rejection of all ties with Europe. Chaigneau proposed a treaty between France and Vietnam but Minh Mang rejected it. As tension increased between the court in Hue and all foreigners Chaigneau was finally obliged to leave Vietnam for good and return to France where he died in 1832 in Lorient.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MM Video: The Nguyen Dynasty

Prince of Hanover Back in Court

HRH Prince Ernst August V of Hanover is back in court again for an appeal of the case from 2004 in which he was accused of beating a hotel owner in Kenya (no comment yet if he is related to Barack Obama). Prince Ernst August's wife, Princess Caroline of Monaco, will likely be called to testify as a witness to the event. The Prince of Hanover has admitted to hitting the hotel owner but denies that he was as violent or extreme as the man claims. The hotel owner claims that the Prince hit him repeatedly, with a "ring" that left bruises and caused him to have to go to the emergency room. Oh, puh-leez! Is this guy up for "Drama Queen of the Year" award? The Prince of Hanover says he slapped the guy, lightly, and that is all. He also has witnesses who will verify his version of the story. To me, this sounds like a trumped up accusation by the hotel owner who is looking for some easy cash. True, the Hanoverian heir has had problems in the past with alcohol and his temper but this sounds to me like the Prince was being targeted, possibly for that very reason. Prince Ernst August V of Hanover is a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and a great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Royal Anthem Series: XXIII Vatican City State

The Vatican City State is home to the governing body of the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy See, and is a neutral, micro-state, absolute theocratic-monarchy within the city of Rome. The current sovereign of Vatican City is HH Pope Benedict XVI. Vatican City has existed since 1929 when Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with the Kingdom of Italy. Technically the Vatican State has no national anthem though what is usually taken for one is the official papal anthem.

The Papal Anthem: The Pontifical March

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Royal Guardians Profile: Den Kongelige Livgarde

The Danish Royal Life Guards are a unit of the Royal Danish Army charged with the security of the royal family and their residences. The Lifeguard is a palace guard with all of the parade ground precision and spit and polish one would expect of the guardians of Europe's oldest monarchy, however, they are also a front-line combat regiment that serves on Danish military missions overseas. HM King Frederick III founded the Lifeguards in 1658 as a royal body guard and a line infantry regiment. Since that time the Royal Lifeguard has seen service on a wide variety of battlefields in numerous wars throughout the history of Denmark such as the Great Northern War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Schleswig Wars, the German occupation of Denmark and more recently in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While not on active service the Royal Lifeguard provides security details at Hovelte, Rosenborg Castle and Kastellet in Copenhagen and a detachment is always on duty at the primary Danish royal residence of Amalienborg Palace. Sometimes the Royal Lifeguard also stands duty at Fredensborg Palace, Marselisborg Palace, Grasten Palace, Christiansborg Palace and other areas across Denmark as needed. Tourists flock to Amalienborg to watch the changing of the guard and the troops cut an impressive figure in their dark blue tunics, tall bearskin busbies and French sabers. On the rare occasions that full dress is called for they were bright red tunics that cause them to bear more than a passing resemblance to the famous Grenadier Guards of Britain.

Today there are two battalions of the Royal Lifeguard, one of which is a training battalion and the other an armored infantry battalion. Over the years many princes of Denmark have served in the ranks of the Royal Lifeguard and that tradition has continued to the present day. When Crown Prince Frederick served his tour of duty with the army he served in the Royal Lifeguard and worked his way up to the rank of sergeant before his time was up.

MM Video: The House of Grimaldi

Monarch Profile: Emperor Gwangmu of Korea

With all of the problems concerning North Korea lately I thought it would be a good time to deviate from my planned blog post and make Korean Emperor Gwangmu the monarch profile for today. Gwangmu (aka Gojong) was the 26th King and 1st Emperor of Korea from the Yi dynasty of the Chosen people. Born in 1852 Gwangmu came to the Korean throne as a child following the suspicious death of the pitiful Emperor Cheolijong in 1864. His father served as regent on his behalf until 1873. During the regency of his father, Prince Heungseon Daewongun, the government of Korea pursued a policy of strict isolation with the western world and carried out a number of persecutions against Catholic missionaries and native converts. These policies led to difficult confrontations, first with the 2nd Empire of France in 1866 and the United States in 1871.

In the years that followe Japan forced Korea to open up and fought the First Sino-Japanese War which effectively ended the era of Korea as a vassal kingdom of the Great Qing Empire. The efforts of Gwangmu to modernize the country caused some problems and overall was a case of 'too little too late' as Japanese power in Korea increased. In 1896 the situation became so severe that King Gojong and the Crown Prince had to flee to the Russian legation in Seoul from which he governed for about a year. The following year Gojong declared the total independence of Korea from China by proclaiming Korea an empire and took the reigning title of Emperor Gwangmu. The Japanese opposed this move and the seemingly close ties between the Korean Emperor and the Russians. From 1904 to 1905 the Russo-Japanese War raged and the resulting victory of Japan spelled the end of Korean independence as Japan forced a protectorate treaty on the empire. Emperor Gwangmu tried to oppose this and attempted to gain international support for the independent Korean Empire but it was to no avail.

Because of his efforts to thwart their domination of his country the Japanese forced Emperor Gwangmu to abdicate in 1907 with the throne passing to his son Emperor Sunjong. In 1910 the last pretense of Korean independence was removed when Japan annexed Korea. Emperor Gwangmu lived under Japanese house arrest at the Deoksu Palace until his death in 1919. Immediately rumors spread that he had been poisoned by the Japanese. In any event, Korea remained a province of Japan until 1945 when the country was partitioned as it has remained ever since. Thus, Emperor Gwangmu was the last Korean leader of a united Korea.
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