Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Royal Profile: Archduchess Sophie of Bavaria

Princess Sophie of Bavaria, later Archduchess of Austria, is another one of those royal women who have been burdened with a very distorted popular image. Despite the fact that she was the mother of two emperors on two continents, thanks to Hollywood and certain pop history portrayals her image these days has been reduced solely to that of an over-bearing mother-in-law; all too often the “villain” in stories about the more beloved Empress Sissi of Austria-Hungary. I think this is quite unfair and, while she was imperfect as all mortals are bound to be, my view is that she was a much more admirable figure than she is often given credit for. Her son, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria-Hungary, is often remembered for his devotion to duty. Much of that, perhaps most of that, should be credited to his mother, Princess Sophie, who was nothing if not totally committed to her duty; her duty to her family, the monarchy and the Hapsburg empire she married into.

HRH Princess Sophie Friederike Dorothee Wilhelmine of Bavaria was born on January 27, 1805 along with her twin sister Princess Maria Anna (future Queen of Saxony) to King Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria and Queen Karoline of Baden. Contrary to the popular image of her as a cold and scheming woman, those who knew her throughout her youth attested to the very opposite. She was always known as a strong woman, even when very young, determined, intelligent and passionate. When she learned that her parents had arranged for her to marry the Austrian Archduke Francis Charles she was originally furious and referred to him as an “imbecile”. However, she was a princess who knew that royals lived lives of duty and as Austria was the strongest neighbor of Bavaria, marriage ties and good relations were essential so she put her best foot forward. On November 4, 1824 she married the Archduke, tolerating his odd habits and giving him six children.

It is rather humorous, in a way, that a woman so often accused of being cold and calculating is, usually in other accounts, also accused of having an affair with the un-crowned “Emperor of the French” Napoleon II. There is, of course, no evidence that there was ever an affair, but the two were close friends and were known to laugh and joke for hours -an image not often associated with Sophie. She was the only one with whom the young man could openly talk about his father and Sophie even encouraged him to look up to the “Little Corporal” from Corsica. She reassured the frustrated young man that he would rule France one day, though of course that was not to be. Sophie was most concerned with the Austrian throne of course, particularly after the birth of her first child, Francis Joseph, in 1830. With her husband unassuming and un-ambitious and Emperor Ferdinand I rather handicapped it was clear to Sophie right away that her son would sooner or later be Emperor of Austria, and that could not be soon enough for her.

This is often cited as evidence of Sophie having a scheming mind, anxious for power, but that is simply putting a very negative spin on the existing facts. Emperor Ferdinand I was handicapped and her husband really didn’t have any desire to rule and with radical forces growing ever stronger the Austrian Empire needed a strong, vigorous monarch. For Sophie, this was not self-serving ambition, this was simply common sense. Someone in the House of Hapsburg had to be on guard, with an eye to the future, and Sophie was perhaps the only one up to the task. One thing most do remember her for was being known as “the only man at court”. Even the formidable Prince Metternich recognized her as his only intellectual equal at the palace. In another example of her strength, and putting reality ahead of emotion, Sophie actually despised Prince Metternich but still enlisted him to tutor her son in statecraft, recognizing that, despite her personal feelings, he was the best man for the job. However, Sophie could hardly have had much time for conspiracies as she was kept pretty busy with pregnancy. In 1832 she gave birth to another son, Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, and the next year another son, Archduke Charles Louis. Her next child, a daughter, died before she was five years old in 1840 and later that year tragedy struck again when she delivered a stillborn baby boy.

There was little time for mourning though as events were building rapidly toward the calamitous Revolutions of 1848. It was then that the strength and determination of Sophie proved invaluable for the House of Hapsburg. She persuaded (with little difficulty) her husband to abdicate his rights to the throne and so Emperor Ferdinand I passed the throne to her son and retired. The young and determined Emperor Francis Joseph was then able to save the situation, suppressing rebellions in Italy, Austria and (with help from Russia) in Hungary. It was taken for granted that Sophie had arranged it all and she remained a force to be reckoned with in Vienna. Because of this, it is not surprising that Sophie wanted to hold fast to a working formula and she fully approved of the idea of her eldest marrying a Bavarian princess as his father had. She did not, however, approve of that choice falling on the beautiful young Princess Elisabeth, “Sissi”. Sophie warned that she was too young, too liberal and too immature but Francis Joseph would have no other and the two married.

To be sure, Sophie and Sissi were polar opposites. It seems clear that Sissi did suffer from some degree of depression and she was willful and headstrong. Sophie could not begin to understand her daughter-in-law. For her, duty always came before personal happiness. She also could not understand the way Sissi seemed always downcast for no apparent reason. When Sophie had determined that it was her duty to marry Archduke Francis Charles she said, “I have decided to be happy, and I will” and for her, with her level of self-discipline, it was as simple as that. She also could not abide the liberal affiliations of her daughter-in-law as Sophie was ever on the alert for any potential threats to the Hapsburg empire and, remembering 1848 all too clearly, saw Sissi’s fascination with Hungary, particularly dissident elements within Hungary, as not only foolish but possibly dangerous to the dynasty. It also did not help their relationship that, concerning issues over which the two clashed, Sophie was usually proven correct.

This relationship, should also been seen in context. Sophie was extremely optimistic about the marriage of her second son, Ferdinand Max, to Princess Charlotte of Belgium and was greatly impressed by the charm and intelligence of the young lady. When Mexican monarchists enlisted the Archduke to become Emperor of Mexico, Francis Joseph was adamantly opposed and Sophie had to work to keep the two from an open break and when the Emperor demanded that his brother renounce all rights to the Austrian throne in order to accept, Princess Charlotte enlisted Sophie’s help in trying to dissuade her son from such a drastic measure. She wished her son well on his new enterprise, he had always been something of a favorite, and Sophie was positively devastated when word came in 1867 that her son, Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, had been shot by a republican firing squad. He had written her regularly and though news of the slow deterioration was widespread, Maximilian had always been hopeful and optimistic. Sophie was heartbroken and retired from public life, never really recovering from the loss of her beloved boy.

Princess Sophie of Bavaria, Archduchess of Austria, died at the age of 67 on May 28, 1872 from what was determined to be a brain tumor.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Favorite Royal Images: Imperial Family

HIM Emperor Showa, the then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko and HIM Empress Kojun in 1959 on the occation of the Crown Prince's wedding.

Mad Motivation

Monday, August 29, 2011

Papal Profile: Pope Paul VI

It has very often been said by many Catholic clerics and learned men and women that it is absurd to apply terms like “liberal” and “conservative” to the Supreme Pontiffs. Nothing is said about the laity, however, and it says something, I think, that if you ask a liberal Catholic to name the most controversial pope of the twentieth century they will most likely say Pope Pius XII and if you ask a conservative Catholic the same question they will most likely say Pope Paul VI. Vehemently opposed by many staunch traditionalists, Pope Paul VI is likewise often just as despised by the liberal extremists, usually a sign of being right on target. However, the shared opposition to Pope Paul VI comes from very different sources. Generally, conservatives dislike him for what he changed and liberals dislike him for what he did not. Many things changed during the reign of Paul VI, and being very much reluctant to see changes of any kind, to this day I still fail to see the sense in most of it. Yet, when it came to the things that mattered most, particularly the very issue of life and death, Pope Paul VI was always on the right side and did his best to lead the Church in such a way that would be both steadfast in doctrine and friendly toward progress. It was a tightrope act that, in the end, even the Pope himself seemed to recognize as realistically impossible.

Paul was born Giovanni Battista Montini in Concesio, Italy on September 26, 1897. After becoming a priest he served as Archbishop of Milan and Cardinal Secretary of State of the Vatican. After his election to the Throne of Peter on June 21, 1963 it was left to the new Pope, Paul VI, to conclude the Second Vatican Council and begin dealing with the changes and problems which were a sure result. Controversy was already to be found in ample supply. Paul VI had always been known for his opposition to certain Papal traditions, at one time he even suggested that the Pope be removed from the Vatican -a drastic idea to say the least that was quickly discarded. Numerous acts, from almost the very beginning, had traditionalists in an uproar. He gave up the Papal Tiara, ancient symbol of papal authority and did away with numerous other things he viewed as out of step with modern times, from the Papal court to the military corps. Princely Roman families who had given up their place in secular society to stand with the papacy were suddenly told their services were no longer needed. The Noble Guard was disbanded, as was the Palatine Guard and Paul VI even thought to discharge the Swiss Guards but was dissuaded from this given the centuries of tradition they represented.

Naturally, changing so much so fast caused some painful divisions, most famously the schism of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who opposed any changes to the old “Tridentine Mass” (aka the Latin mass). Even those not intricately familiar with the minutia of Church ceremony could see some confusion in the more diverse countries where masses had to be scheduled in various different languages, depending on the congregation, whereas before it had been Latin for all. The traditionalists were outraged further by the fact that liberals seemed to think that the changes of the Council, put into effect by Paul VI, gave them free reign to pretty much do as they pleased with the apostolic blessing of the Pope himself. This was when guitars and hand-holding started showing up in Church and those were among the tamer innovations in some areas. However, Paul VI was to prove almost as good at attracting progressive condemnation as he was the traditionalist sort. He began to travel around the world calling for Christian unity and worked feverishly on paper after paper explaining the documents Vatican II had produced.

One of these was the great encyclical Humanae vitae, issued in 1968 which in no uncertain terms, firmly and strongly condemned any methods of artificial birth control or human interference in the process of life. Contraception, Paul VI wrote, far from being part of women's liberation, removed all responsibility from the man and reduced women to being simply objects of pleasure for men. Needless to say, the "free love" crowd of the 60's was not very happy with this stern warning from a Pope they thought was going to let them do whatever they wished. Pope Paul further defended the tradition of priestly celibacy, which many of the Vatican II spin doctors had predicted would be dropped. This caused further uproar among the liberal community. Such an uproar in fact that Humanae vitae would be the last encyclical the disheartened pontiff would ever write.

Pope Paul VI broke plenty of new ground during his reign. He was the first pope to travel to the United States, where he met President Kennedy and held mass in Yankee Stadium. He was the first pontiff to travel by way of planes and helicopters, the first pope of modern times to go to Israel, the first to ever visit India and the first to address the United Nations, which the Vatican joined as a permanent observer. However, this was a time of great hardships and instability, for both the world and the Church. The Cold War was raging, Southeast Asia was covered by war, international terrorism was on the rise and the Church was torn by divisions. In 1970 the Pope himself had been the subject of an assassination attempt in Manila. The Pontiff was, contrary to what some think, greatly distressed by the reaction to Vatican II, both by those who opposed it and even more so by those who seemed to willingly misinterpret it. When he defended traditional Church teachings, in some cases, the Church leadership across whole countries simply refused to obey. Paul VI lamented that, "the smoke of Satan" had entered the Church.

Paul VI was certainly not traditional, but neither could he be called a total modernist as he upheld consistently fundamental Church teachings. The worst thing he could be accused of is seeing the hold modernists had gained in the Church and failing to take any direct action to stop them as his predecessor St Pius X had done. He was very aware of this, but feared that making use of his disciplinary authority would only drive more people away. Instead, he reacted in the pastoral way he was most comfortable with, writing encyclicals upholding Catholic doctrines. For defending human life at any stage, the special role of the family, which he called "the domestic Church" and condemning contraception he was just as often attacked for being old fashioned and autocratic as he was for failing to remove all modernists from authority. He was the favorite whipping boy of many for all the problems of his time.

Because of all this, it is safe to say that his final days were not happy ones. Perhaps he had been a bit too idealistic upon coming to the papal throne but, whatever the case, he was certainly distressed by the state of the Church and the world during his reign. Things had definitely taken a turn for the worse in terms of vocations and even the public image of the Church which did not change despite all of the efforts to more or less 'make nice' with the modern world. The liberals may have welcomed such changes but so long as fundamental truths were upheld, their opposition to the Catholic Church, or indeed any organized religion, was not about to change and Paul VI seemed rather dismayed by it all. It would be left to his successors to try to put the changes into the proper perspective and to come out with the "correct interpretation" of the Second Vatican Council, the consequences of which so dominated the reign of the "pilgrim pontiff".Pope Paul VI died on August 6, 1978 after suffering a heart attack while hearing mass at Castel Gandolfo. Most of the positive feelings attached to his memory revolve around his defense of Church teachings on life and although not given much attention a cause for his beatification has been initiated.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Royal News Roundup

The big news this weekend is, of course, the royal wedding in Potsdam. On Thursday HIRH Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and HSH Princess Sophie von Isenberg ‘tied the knot’ in their civil wedding ceremony, conducted by the Lord Mayor of Potsdam, Jann Jakobs at the Potsdamer Registry. On Friday the happy couple attended a special charity concert in Berlin to benefit the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation and today is the big day for the religious wedding, which has been causing quite a stir in Germany much to the annoyance of the socialist politicians. There has been some squabbling over broadcasting the wedding, but it seems the monarchists have won out due to the outpouring of public interest, the event even attracting some headlines in the United States, which is fairly unusual for any royals not named “Windsor” or “Grimaldi”. It will be an ecumenical wedding, Protestant for the groom, Catholic for the bride, and while it may not include the most well-known royals of today, almost every royal house is sure to be represented. However, due to lingering bad feelings over the succession of Prince Georg Friedrich to the leadership of the Prussian Royal Family, his still resentful uncles will not be attending. Unfortunate, but their problem and not his. Of course The Mad Monarchist wishes the happy couple all the best, with sincere congratulations and hopes that one day the prince may be properly called German Kaiser Friedrich IV.

To the north, the recently expanded Royal Family of Denmark has been keeping busy. Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Mary, along with their new twins, went on a tour around the Jutland Peninsula aboard the Danish royal yacht, visiting a number of fishing villages along the way. The biggest news out of Denmark though is that Prince Joachim and Princess Marie recently announced that the Princess is expecting their second child. The Prince has two children, both boys, from his previous marriage and one son with Princess Marie. In a radio interview Prince Joachim said it would be nice to have a girl this time, but of course, as long as the baby is healthy that is all that matters. Congratulations to the Prince and Princess and the Danish Royal Family!

Even father north, Thursday marked the tenth wedding anniversary of TRH Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. Their match came not without some raised eyebrows, even for a country so libertine as Norway. An unwed mother, mixed up with the drug crowd, and the two living together before their marriage, yes, you could say there was some controversy. However, it has all worked out for ten years now and the couple seem devoted, happy and popular with the Norwegian people. A special service was held at the Oslo Cathedral in honor of their anniversary and rightly so as Norway deserves to celebrate any happy occasion given all that has happened there recently. We hope the future King and Queen of Norway continue to have many, many years of happiness together.

My Flags

Having discussed this with some others, I thought I would list here some of my flags, in case some might find it of interest. I have long had an interest in what the educated folks call vexillology. Flags have a way of inspiring strong emotions in people that has never ceased to amaze me. Since I have a great many I will list here only those I have large enough for display outdoors (though at least a couple of them were not made durable enough for that) and with a few exceptions are 3’x5’.

The Grand Union Flag: This is the only American flag that I own and I fly it on those occasions in which I feel compelled to. There are a few misconceptions about this one. It was never an official flag of the United States as it was only used prior to the declaration of independence. However, it was the first flag to represent the thirteen colonies as a whole or the ‘American nation’ when they were still fighting simply for a redress of grievances while remaining within the British Empire. It was also the first American flag to ever fly over foreign soil in the brief capture of Nassau, Bahamas.

The Republic of Texas: This is the one that sees the most service and is the one that can usually be seen flying over my home. It is the flag of my country as I am one of those stubborn few who still adheres to the old idea of state sovereignty. So long as Texas adheres to the Union, I adhere but that is as far as it goes. It has been the official flag of Texas since December 10, 1836 though the basic symbol of the “Lone Star” is much older. Obviously not a monarchist flag, but nonetheless the symbol of my home and native land. As we say, “I’m Texas born, Texas bred and when I die; I’ll be Texas dead!” I’m also one of the few, even among Texans, who can sing the first two verses of the Texas national anthem, “Texas, Our Texas”.

The De Zavala Flag: Reading about this one always makes me laugh because someone will inevitably declare that this flag is a "myth"! Does that mean the one I own does not really exist? Silly. Of course it is no myth, it exists -I can hold it in my boney, nicotine-stained fingers. Whether or not it is an accurate depiction of the design suggested by Vice President Lorenzo De Zavala in 1836 I don't know, but it certainly exists and did at the time as well as the basic design, a blue field with a lone star, was quite common as were various words or mottos displayed on flags, the most common being "Texas" or "Independence". In any event, the historical facts regarding it are of little importance to me, I just think it is a nice design and it does quite well to convey my feelings to those passing by concerning the subject of Texas and our relationship with the Union.

The Confederate States of America: Here is one always sure to cause controversy. Some love it, some hate it and some hate anyone who would even display it. Well, for those, you’ll have to take a number and get in line, there will be quite a long wait. I also have the more familiar ensign but I prefer to fly this one, the third and last national flag of the Confederacy. I own it out of principle, my country voluntarily adhered to the Confederacy and was involuntarily forced back into the Union, which rather annoys me. It is not, I assure you, intended to show any support for racism or slavery. In fact, the nearest county to mine that existed at the time of the war voted unanimously in favor of secession and it had not a single ‘White’ resident at the time. I usually fly it on occasions when I am especially annoyed with the federal government in Washington. Tax day immediately comes to mind.

The New Orleans Greys: This one takes me back to my “Living History” period many years ago. The New Orleans Greys were two companies of volunteer militia from the United States (though it included members from Europe as well) which came to Texas in 1835 to aid in the War for Independence. They were ultimately wiped out almost to a man at the Alamo and the Goliad Massacre. This flag was presented to the first company by the ladies of Nacogdoches, Texas and flew at the Alamo where it was captured by Santa Anna and sent back to Mexico as a war trophy. Back when “W” was governor he tried to get it back, offering to exchange it for one of the Mexican flags captured at the battle of San Jacinto but Mexico said “no”. This has led some to think that the Mexicans either lost it or allowed it to deteriorate completely.

The Spanish Empire: This was the ensign of the Kingdom of Spain from 1785 to 1931 but, around here at any rate, is known as the Spanish imperial flag and can be seen in the more accurate displays of the Six Flags of Texas to cover the centuries during which Texas was part of the colonial empire of Spain. I bought it because of that, the Kingdom of Spain being the one monarchy Texas was longest associated with and though it does not see the light of day very often I do fly it occasionally on days significant to the Kingdom of Spain or just to cause annoyance on the sixteenth of September. What can I say? I’m a pain.

The Cross of Burgundy: I own this flag for much the same reason as that above. It was widely flown in the Spanish colonial period, though the only place I have ever seen one still flying today was at Mission San Jose near San Antonio. It is pretty rare and I was surprised to find one at my usual flag store and had to grab it immediately. I have never actually flow it though because it is significantly smaller than the rest and would not fit my flag pole. However, I like the flag, I like what it represented and it was also commonly used by the Carlists and the (historic) Carlist cause is one I have great sympathy for. Let us not, however, get into the debate again over those still using the name today.

The Cross of St George: This one I did not buy but was given to me as a gift by an Englishman. In fact, the first time I met this friend of mine ‘in the flesh’ he had this flag wrapped around him so he was certainly hard to miss. I like the English flag, I do not like the rather negative reputation many have attached to it today. It is also a part (one of many) of my ancestry and having had ancestors who fought for the King in the English Civil War it seems only appropriate to have an English flag. Alas, if it has ever been flown it was only briefly (I can’t really remember) as it was one of those not made for outdoor use but more for hanging on a wall inside.

The Dominion of Canada: As I have said before, I do prefer the old Canadian Red Ensign but I have nothing against the current design. I purchased this flag during my first visit to Canada (indeed the first time I had ever visited an existing monarchy) which was close to Dominion Day (aka Canada Day) and so a lot of Canadian paraphernalia was to be found in the stores. I also flew it the first time the friends I was there to visit came down to Texas. However, I don’t think it was made for extended outdoor use and in any event, given the odd shape of the Canadian flag compared to most, was not a perfect fit for my pole. It could be done but was bubbled a little in the center so was not exactly at its best. I do have some family in Canada as well, I’ve never met them and they live on an Indian reservation but -there’s that anyway.

The German Empire: I don’t recall what prompted me to buy this flag but it was a disappointment in any event. We will blame it on the German percentage of my ancestry and if I am going to have a German flag it was going to be the German Empire and not the republic and if it is going to be an Imperial German flag it was going to be the ensign as I just think it is much more attractive than the civilian flag. Anyway, when it actually arrived it was, again, a great disappointment. It was one of those printed versions and something must have been askew in the printing process as the colored portions in the central arms were almost all missing, so there is a cross but no orb, a tongue but no beak and so on. It just looks terrible. I did fly it once but it was not made for outdoor use. It also has some blood stains on it as I had it in my truck when I was in a bad accident and nearly broke my neck.

The Kingdom of Italy: This is my latest addition, which I bought this year to mark the anniversary of Italian unification. If I am going to fly the flag of Italy it is going to be the flag of the Kingdom of Italy and not the current dysfunctional republic, whose blank tricolor is just boring anyway. It was not made for extended outdoor display, which is probably just as well as down here it would probably just confuse people who would think it was some sort of version of the Mexican flag. Also, as with just about every Italian flag made outside of Italy the shade of green used is not quite correct. But, it serves its purpose and I like a flag with a crown on it in any event.

The Holy See: I do not remember the exact occasion I first bought this flag for but I do remember I had a hard time finding it at the flag store. I looked under “V” for “Vatican City”, then I looked under “P” for “Papal flag” and finally even looked under “C” for “Catholic Church” only to still find nothing. Finally I asked the clerk and it was quickly located, of course, under “H” for “Holy See”. Anyway, as the symbol of the tiny State of Vatican City it is the flag of the last Christian absolute monarchy in the world so significant for that at the very least. I do not often display it but it has been flown on Vatican “independence day” (the day the Lateran Treaty became official) and possibly some other days of papal significance.

The Principality of Monaco: Ever since buying my first Monegasque flag (whenever that was) I have always wondered if they didn’t lie to me and sell me an Indonesian flag instead. I may never know. The red and white come from the coat of arms of the House of Grimaldi which dates back nearly to time immemorial but the national flag was officially adopted by HSH Prince Charles III on April 4, 1881. Since I was knee-high to a duck the Monegasque monarchy was always most prominent in our home, no doubt because of the influence of the late, beloved Princess Grace, who caused a craze for monarchy and Monaco in particular across the United States. Ever since then, in our house at least, the Princely Family, being half-American, was seen as partly our own and it is from that, I suppose, that my fascination with the very long history of Monaco and the Grimaldi dynasty grew. I fly it on every significant Monaco-related occasion, be it National Day or any date significant to the Princely Family.

The Kingdom of France: Finally we come to the French. This flag I have had for quite a while and is probably the most common French flag one will see in my part of the world. I bought this flag both for my admiration for the ancien regime and because it is one of the Six Flags of Texas, during that brief period when we were claimed by King Louis XIV. That claim was made by La Salle with whom there is some local connection and while the blue flag with the three lilies is also often seen, it is the white flag that I have always preferred. I make it a point to fly this flag at least once a year, naturally on Bastille Day.

There are a few others on my 'list' to get that I just havn't gotten around to picking up yet, but I'm sure I've gone on long enough now on a subject of interest to very few if any. Moving on then...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Monarch Profile: King Ludwig III of Bavaria

The last King of Bavaria was born Ludwig Luitpold Josef Maria Aloys Alfried on January 7, 1845 in Munich the firstborn son of the long-serving Prince Regent Luitpold and Archduchess Augusta of Austria. He came from pretty solid roots as the regency of his father was known for being conservative, traditional and opposed to the “culture war” that Bismarck waged against the Catholic Church but all of that was still to come. His mother was the daughter of Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany (link to profile), came from Florence and always spoke to her children in Italian. As a boy Ludwig loved the outdoors and in 1861, when he was sixteen, he was commissioned a lieutenant in the 6th Jägerbattalion by his uncle King Maximilian II, the start of what would be a long military career. The following year he started attending classes at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich to study law and economics, fine fields for a future monarch, but he would have preferred agriculture. That same year, upon turning eighteen, he was appointed to the Senate in the Bavarian Legislature as was custom for all princes to gain some practical experience in government.

In 1866 Prince Leopold served in the Seven Weeks War between Prussia and her allies and Austria and her allies, which included Bavaria. By then a First Lieutenant he was shot in the thigh at the battle of Helmstedt and for his service in the conflict was awarded the Knight’s Cross 1st Class of the Bavarian Military Merit Order. However, Austria was defeated and by the conflict was displaced by Prussia as the dominant German-speaking country. The following year, while in Vienna for the funeral of one of his cousins Ludwig met Archduchess Maria Theresia of Austria-Este, a step-cousin of his and a beauty at eighteen years old. On February 20 the following year the two were married in Vienna. It was a real coup for Ludwig who obtained a good wife and vast estates in Bohemia and Hungary. This allowed him to further his interest in farming and agriculture and brought in sufficient funds for him to purchase and build his model estate in Bavaria which was very successful. His wife also had quite an illustrious lineage of her own and in time was recognized as heiress to the British throne by the handful of Jacobites still lingering around (the Jacobite succession having passed from the House of Stuart, to the House of Savoy and then to the House of Modena and Austria-Este). She would also give Ludwig thirteen children, doing more than her duty to secure the succession.

Ludwig and Maria Theresa were a happy couple, very devoted to each other and their children and Ludwig would have liked nothing better than to have spent all of his time with his family and dabbling in his favorite pastimes such as farming, livestock and harnessing water power for energy production. However, royal duty came first and often interfered with his pastoral interests. In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War broke out and the Prince-Regent led the Bavarian forces in alliance with the Prussians and afterwards joined in the formation of the German Empire under Prussian leadership in 1871. In 1912 his father died and Ludwig succeeded him as Prince-Regent still ruling on behalf of the nominal King Otto who had been supposedly suffering from insanity and kept locked away since 1875. Because the regency has been a fact of life for so long there were soon calls to made Ludwig the King of Bavaria. This made sense to everyone and when the legislature reconvened in 1913 a new law was passed which made the regent King Ludwig III of Bavaria, though Otto continued to be titled King and treated as such for his few remaining years as well, meaning that from 1913-1916 there were actually two Kings of Bavaria.

King Ludwig III was very close to his people, quite concerned with their welfare and always looking for ways to improve his kingdom. However, he was not without his critics. The Prussians tended to view the Bavarians as difficult and somewhat pretentious for so minor a power, no matter how cooperative they were, but there were also some in Bavaria who criticized King Ludwig, as they had his father before him, for being too subservient to the Prussians. This was, however, quite unfair. Just as the Prince-Regent Luitpold has clashed with Bismarck over his anti-Catholic policies, so too did King Ludwig III take great care to preserve the unique culture of Bavaria, especially her Catholic character, and to limit Prussian influence. He saw Bavaria as the southern counter-weight to Prussia and was always concerned with Prussia becoming too powerful at the expense of his own kingdom within the German Empire. This was seen particularly after the outbreak of World War I only a year after Ludwig III became King.

Some accounts like to portray Ludwig III and to an extent Bavaria as a whole as unwilling participants in what was a Prussian conflict. This, however, is not entirely true. As with most countries the German public as a whole was very enthusiastic about the war and anxious for a final showdown with the nations which had, they felt, denied them their “place in the sun”. Where King Ludwig III was concerned was in preventing Prussia from becoming inordinately powerful as a result of the conflict. Again, as he viewed Bavaria as the only major counter-weight to Prussian dominance within the German Empire, Ludwig III felt it essential that Bavaria have her own share of the spoils. These included, most famously, a plan for the Bavarian annexation of Alsace (Alsace-Lorraine having previously been imperial lands not associated with any particular member state) and the Belgian city of Antwerp to provide Bavaria with an outlet on the North Sea as the King had long been interested in maritime developments.

Yet, despite these actions, as the war situation worsened for Germany, the King was again accused by many opposed to the monarchy of being a puppet for the Prussians, which was certainly untrue. However, the losses Bavaria incurred were major given her status as the second most powerful state within the German Empire. At the outset of the war Bavaria contributed three Army Corps, the largest contingent after Prussia among the German states and Munich was headquarters to a separate Bavarian General Staff, War Ministry and her Army Corps were almost totally autonomous with their own commanders, their own uniforms and military establishment. In 1917 Georg von Hertling of the Catholic Center Party (the dominant power in Bavaria) left his post of Prime Minister in Munich which he had held since 1912 when appointed by the King’s father to become Imperial Chancellor in Berlin. However, the government remained dominated by Field Marshal Hindenburg and General Ludendorff and the course Germany was on remained unchanged.

Separatist attitudes increased along with opposition to the war and Bavaria was especially hard hit by the infiltration of Marxist and other left-wing revolutionaries. At the very end in 1918 there was even an effort by Bavaria to come to a separate peace with the Allies but this failed. Revolution broke out in the streets and King Ludwig III was forced to leave Munich with his family in fear of their lives. The revolutionaries declared the King deposed (the first German monarch to suffer such an indignity) and seeing no other option Ludwig III released all soldiers and government officials from their oath of loyalty. He did not, however, abdicate even though the republican leaders announced as much to the crowds. However, legal formalities aside, the monarchy had fallen and Ludwig III was forced to leave the country, moving from Hungary to Liechtenstein to Switzerland. However, in time, after more conservative forces put down the Marxists and restored order, the Royal Family was able to return in 1920 and they continued to enjoy a sizeable minority of monarchist support. There remained for quite some time a cautious optimism that a restoration would be possible but only the following year, while visiting Hungary, King Ludwig III died on October 18, 1921. Because there continued to be such a strong monarchist presence in Bavaria the republican government gave him a state funeral. He never abdicated and his son, Crown Prince Rupprecht, who succeeded to his rights likewise refused to accept the republic until the people of Bavaria were given the choice in a free referendum to decide between a republic or a monarchy. To date, such a vote has never been held.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mad Rant: Natural Monarchy

I was recently asked what I thought about the idea of Japan abolishing the monarchy. Now, obviously, this was a silly question to ask someone who would oppose any monarchy being abolished, but it struck a nerve. I should hasten to add that there is absolutely no talk in Japan of doing such a thing. Many people in Japan are absolutely loyal to their Emperor and even for those who might not be, the monarchy keeps a low enough profile for them not to bother about it. However, the case of Japan is one of the finest examples around of a “natural” monarchy; so to speak. Of course I said I opposed any tinkering whatever with the Chrysanthemum throne (unless of course it was to strengthen it and I don’t see that happening) because Japan would simply not be Japan without the Emperor. Moreover, as the oldest monarchy in the world, the longest lasting succession anywhere in the world, to destroy that would, in my opinion, be a crime not only against the Japanese but against the world in general. A living link with ancient history would be lost.

Japan is certainly not the only example, but it is a good one. I repeat, Japan without the Emperor would not be Japan. The family history of the Emperor is bound up with the entire history of the country and the people, they share the same founding legends and they have shared all of the triumphs and misfortunes of their ancient history together. The power or the centrality of the Emperors may have risen and fallen but the Emperor was always there, reigning above the clouds, as the one constant in a changing world. A Japan without the Emperor would be something not only different but something illegitimate, something unnatural; an abomination. They could, of course, call the country by the same name, they would still be the same people and would still speak the same language --but it would not be Japan. Monarchy is the natural state of Japan and anything else would be a mockery. The same has happened in other countries, always with dire results.

Russia, for example, was Russia under the Romanovs. However, after the Revolution and the Bolshevik seizure of power Russia was not Russia anymore. It was the “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”. A new, artificial regime was imposed on the body of Russia which even did its best to purge the Orthodox faith from the soul of Russia. There was, to put it a certain way, absolutely nothing “Russian” at all about the Soviet Union. The same could be said for the Communist bandit government in China. I don’t care how long they have held on to power, there is nothing Chinese about the regime that sits like a cancer in Peking. It is an artificial political system dreamed up by a self-hating Jew from the other side of the world. Some might protest this and say that the last imperial dynasty was not “Chinese” either -it was Manchurian. True, but the Manchurians did not impose anything foreign or unnatural on the Chinese, they adopted the traditional Chinese system of government themselves. It has long been said that the Manchus militarily conquered the Chinese but the Chinese culturally conquered the Manchus. You can take that or leave it but the fact is that the dynasty changed, the traditional political system did not.

Many others have made the case that they are for the ’status quo’ in so far as the countries that are monarchies should remain so and the countries that are republics should remain so as well. Not me, I am a reactionary and make no apologies for it. Germany is not really Germany anymore, in fact, these days it seems to be less and less German in any sense. France is another example. There are those who think that the republic and the whole “culture” of the revolution has been around so long that there is no separating France from it; they are one and the same. Not true. There was an older France, a more noble and sacred France that has virtually nothing, whatever, to do with the strutting poseurs who occupy Paris. I think about those (quite attractive) propaganda posters featuring the image of St Joan of Arc urging people to give to help the war effort. Very nice, very inspiring but the painful truth is that St Joan of Arc would not even recognize France today or even then. That was a different France. That was the France of Clovis, Charlemagne, St Louis and Versailles; not the France of guillotines, multiculturalism and moral relativism.

How about closer to home? How about the United States? In a way, the United States gets off on a technicality. It had no history, as a country, prior to 1776. It has no common ancestry and no common religion, everything had to be borrowed or built from scratch and it has become even more diverse since. So, is the republic the natural state of the United States of America? Perhaps so, perhaps not, but it is the default state of the United States. I can say that I have never met one American monarchist, even among those few who actively advocate for the United States to become a monarchy, who think that if such a thing ever happened it would be anything at all like the same country that we know today. Most admit that such a conversion would require so drastic a change in the American culture and worldview that it would be, for all intents and purposes, a totally different country. Or, as another alternative, that the change to monarchy could only happen if America completely broke down, dissolved or broke apart and became something different.

I am a history lover, I admire very old things often simply for being very old. I cannot grasp the mentality of those who throw history away, seemingly without even giving it a second thought. Such is one reason why I support very limited constitutional monarchies even if I do not consider them absolutely ideal. At least those people recognized that there was something about the monarchy that made it worth preserving. They might keep it pinned down and under glass behind a velvet rope -but they at least have not thrown it away. People who throw history away simultaneously disturb and depress me. I do not look at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle and see frivolous waste. I look at Versailles and say, “What a waste”. I see herds of tourists tramping through the Forbidden City and I could just cry. I look at the President of Italy living in the Quirinal Palace and think, “how dare you!?”

This could, of course, be just a peculiarity on my part and perhaps so. I think a little bit of England died when they banned foxhunting and any Spaniard who would support banning bullfighting is nothing short of treasonous in my eyes. But I also thought it was treasonous when Britain adopted the metric system (I mean, how odd is it that the ‘rebel’ Americans use English weights and measures but England does not?). I don’t want to get off on a side-rant here, but it seems a good analogy to me. English weights and measures are so complicated and difficult because they grew up naturally, over time, in the same way monarchies developed all over the world from clan patriarchs to tribal chieftains to national kings and cosmopolitan emperors. So, you can imagine, if I have a hard time accepting a Great Britain with the metric system, I will go into orbit if someone spouts off about abolishing the British monarchy. Imagine Bavaria without beer, Egypt without the pyramids or, to bring it back, Japan without the Emperor. It would be an aberration, a sacrilege, an evil and unnatural thing. And that is why opposition to the advocates of this, the carriers of this poison, should know no boundaries, and that is why I am … The Mad Monarchist.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Libyan Wet Blanket

Alright, rebels are now strutting around Tripoli wearing the clothes and jewelry of their former dictator, there is rejoicing all around the world, even the Red Chinese are looking to belatedly ‘make nice’ with the rebel government and with all of this happiness around me, I just have to go and upset everybody. There is a reason why even if the current rebellion succeeds (which it seems to have done) there are few expecting very much out of the new Libyan government. There is also, I think, a reason why Libya fell prey to the rule of a treasonous dictator like Gaddafi in the first place. (here it comes, get ready for the outrage) I don’t think Libya was ever prepared to be an independent country in the first place and what is more (yes, I am doubling down) it is far from being alone in that amongst the modern nations of the world. Putting aside for the moment that I am a monarchist, a simple bit of honest observation would make one assume that had the Kingdom of Libya managed to survive long enough to take hold and accomplish something things might have been much better. However, as we know, that did not happen. Why was that?

One thing I have never heard anyone say in all of the constant news coverage about Libya is anyone calling it an “artificial state”. They say that about the Kingdom of Belgium all the time (wrongly) and one or two promptly chastised souls even said it about Iraq but no one has ever said it about Libya. Yet, the fact is that before 1951 there had never, in all of human history, been an independent Libya. In fact, prior to 1934 there had not been a spot on the map called Libya since the days of ancient Rome. All that existed was three isolated and neglected Ottoman provinces, won by the Kingdom of Italy from the Turks in 1912. Wishing to call to mind the ancient presence of the Roman Empire in the region, in 1934 the Italian government lumped the provinces together and named the colony “Libia”. After that unpleasant episode known as World War II, the United Nations ruled that Libya should become independent and the former Emir of one of the provinces (Cyrenaica) became King Idris I of Libya.

Enemies of the Libyan monarchy will say that the people were poor and things were miserable during their brief stint as a kingdom before Colonel Gaddafi came along and gave them their bread and circuses. That is a very slanted picture of course, but in truth things were not ideal in Libya. They had never been an independent country before, never really had to work together before and while the new King had much in common with his native province, the others were not instantly faithful to him. One of the ways Gaddafi was able to gain support was by playing up the discontent from those outside of Cyrenaica and encouraging them to feel as if the King was favoring his native province (which the King had first declared independent, again giving no thought to the colonial entity known as Libya). Gaddafi also used the old tactic of class warfare, accusing the King of hoarding the oil wealth of the nation to the detriment of the people -fittingly the exact same thing the rebels today accuse Gaddafi of doing. It worked because things were unsettled in the country, everything was new and the public which had been fed a steady diet of propaganda to encourage the desire for independence from Italy, retained those same thoughts as they looked at how many British and Americans were setting up shop.

Gaddafi saw a chance and he seized it, though like a coward he did it while the King was not in Libya to be dealt with. He was able to maintain himself because of the mineral wealth of the country even though no one would have ever seen a dime of that money were it not for foreign investment and the infrastructure set up by British mining companies and Italian oil companies before whose time the vast resources had never been exploited. In essence, the British and Italians had tapped the keg and then Gaddafi grabbed control of the spigot. Virtually every road, every major facility, every airport and so on in Libya was not something built by the independent Libyan government, but were simply taken over after being built by someone else, usually the Italians. The government never had to do much of anything for the Libyan people, being able to get by mostly on seizing control of foreign companies and then by extorting money from their best customer. If the people got restless, there was always terrorism to take their minds off of things; that is until recently.

This is not an effort to be harsh on Libya. However, almost every country in the Americas, Africa and Asia was at one point subject to one of the great colonial empires of history. I think history will show that those which have been the most successful as independent nations are those which gained independence slowly, one step and at a time, peacefully and naturally. Those which suddenly (and usually violently) broke away before they had any real experience in self-government have almost invariably failed. I am as glad as anyone to see Gaddafi gone, he was a traitor, a terrorist and a criminal of the worst order. However, I remain rather skeptical about how much of an improvement the government that succeeds him will be, partly because it looks less and less likely to be a traditional sort of monarchy but instead just more of the same sort of regimes that have led to other tyrants and the whole process starting all over again.

Let the outrage begin…

Favorite Royal Images: Devoted Consorts

HM Queen Fabiola of Belgium and HM Queen Sirikit of Thailand

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yugoslav Prince Honors Italian Queen

Recently, on the feast day of St Helena (Roman Empress and mother of Constantine the Great) HRH Prince Sergius of Yugoslavia (son of Princess Maria-Pia of Bourbon-Parma and Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia) was in Valdieri, Italy to remember Elena of Montenegro, Queen of Italy, consort of King Vittorio Emanuele III and the Prince’s great-grandmother. He was also there to express his support and appreciation for the Queen Elena Foundation which endeavors to carry on the charitable work that the late Queen was famous for. Queen Elena gained a great deal of popularity in her time for the many hospitals she founded, her relief work after the tragic earthquake in Messina numerous other activities to benefit the most vulnerable in society. HH Pope Pius XI recognized her good work by presenting her with the Golden Rose, the last to be given to a Queen and in Italy, where almost every royal had a nickname, she was known as the “Queen of Charity”.

The Queen Elena Foundation was established in 1985 to support humanitarian and spiritual causes and has helped many throughout Italy and in troubled spots around the world from Kosovo and central Africa to Iraq and Afghanistan. Several of the international projects were undertaken in cooperation with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The Foundation also helps fund the restoration of churches, monuments and scholarships. Prince Serge was very proud to talk about his Italian great-grandmother and her many good deeds, which have not been forgotten and indeed are even being continued. It does make me rather exasperated with those who dismiss all the good work royals do around the world, considering how many are helped even by those who have gone on to their reward. It was also noted that such love for the late Queen of Italy remains, because of all of those she helped in her life, that the preliminary steps have to taken toward opening a possible cause for her beatification. Another cause I would whole-heartedly support.

A special thanks to Monarchici in Rete for bringing this to my attention.

The Queenship of Mary

Yesterday was the Feast of the Queenship of Mary (in the Catholic Church) and having posted previously about the Kingship of Christ, I wanted to address this holiday as well, though to have time to I had to put it off for a day. Like many things in Christianity, the idea of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen is often regarded as modern but is actually quite ancient. Many mistakenly believe that the devotion dates only to 1954 with an encyclical by HH Pope Pius XII. However, it actually goes back to the earliest days of Christianity with the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) in which the Blessed Virgin Mary was declared “theotokos”, in Greek, or “Mater Dei” in Latin, the ‘Mother of God’. Because of this it was only natural to recognize her as a Queen (Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Angels etc, the titles are numerous) in keeping with the traditions that go back to the Old Testament when it was the mother of the King, not the wife of whom there were at times many, who was given the most respect and reverence of anyone after the King himself. So, as Jesus Christ is universal King, the Blessed Virgin Mary has long been recognized as Queen, in a way the “Queen Mother” of Christianity.

This is very significant in a cultural sense as well, in addition to religious, for western civilization. A Turkish ambassador, visiting Vienna for the first time to represent the Sultan at the court of the Emperor of Austria (still nominally the Holy Roman Emperor at that time) was most surprised by the deference that even the Emperor showed to ladies walking down the street; pausing to let them pass in front of him. This type of gallantry was unknown in Muslim countries and it was the ambassador himself who reasoned that this must have grown out of the level of devotion Christians attached to the Blessed Virgin. Because the Holy Mother was regarded as the Queen of Heaven, the most pure, the most perfect, living vessel of God on earth, this had the effect of making Christian men take a more chivalrous attitude toward all women which was remarked upon even centuries ago when most modern feminists think women lived absolutely horrible lives. Yet, contemporaries did not think so, compared to other cultures and, if anything, it seemed to the casual observer that, in Europe, there was a rather idealized and romanticized view of women and their place in society.

Around the world, numerous cities and countries have adopted the Holy Mother as their Queen. Examples include Siena, Massa Marittima, San Gimignano, Poland, Bavaria, Ireland and others. In Portugal King John IV declared Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception the “Real Queen of Portugal” and even in countries on the other side of the world, where Christianity has always been a minority, such as in China, images of the Virgin Mary can be found in which she is portrayed in the style of a Ming or Qing era Empress. Similarly, Our Lady of Lavang, the most significant Vietnamese Marian apparition is sometimes referred to as “Empress of Vietnam”. The Blessed Virgin, in various images, has been called upon, not always as a royalist symbol, but as a symbol for royalists, and of course mostly Catholic royalists. Before there was much fuss about republicanism this occurred in the religious wars that shook Europe after the birth and spread of Protestantism. One of the more famous examples was in England where Catholics were devoted to the Virgin Queen in Heaven (Our Lady of Walsingham or others) while Protestants were devoted to their own “Virgin Queen”, Elizabeth I, in London. Both sides were royalist but each supported a different “Virgin Queen”.

One of the more unusual cases, which involved Catholic royalists fighting Catholic republicans (and some Catholic royalists fighting other royalists) with competing Holy Virgins was in the War for Independence in Mexico. Since the time of Padre Hidalgo the rebel forces had adopted the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as their symbol, their Queen and generalissima. On the other side Spanish royalists adopted the image of the Virgin de Los Remedios, a devotion dating back to the original Spanish conquest of Mexico, as their own special patron, divine intercessor and official protector of the Spanish army (even dressing the image in a military uniform). However, as we know, the forces of independence prevailed and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was honored by the monarchists of the Mexican Empire as it was by the revolutionaries who supported a republic. And, of course, the Virgin Mary was an important and ever-present symbol among the royalist counterrevolutionaries in the struggles in France, Spain and elsewhere. Even today, one would be hard pressed to find any element of Catholic monarchists who do not have a devotion to the Queen of Heaven.

Monday, August 22, 2011

UKIP Support for the Australian Monarchy

This may be a little behind the times but it was just brought to my attention and I wanted to share it. I'm glad that opposition to the EU is not the only thing I can agree on with Mr. Farage. God Save the Queen of Australia!

(And also a thank you to the one who brought this to my attention even though he really, *really* dislikes Nigel Farage ;-))

A Note to All Readers

It has been a while and I've let it slip my mind a couple of times already, so before I forget again I just wanted to take a moment to say "Thank You" to all members, regular readers and the occasional observers. We are now up to 300 members, 1,681 subscribers to the MM Channel and many more than just members are regular readers as there are now over a thousand people a day checking in and having a read. These may not be huge numbers but considering how often I seem to be telling people *not* to read my blog, almost anything would impress me. So, thank you to all readers, viewers etc, a special thanks to the members and even to all of you who just pop in every day to have a look at the latest lunacy. I appreciate you all taking the time, tolerating my odd views, occasional fits and regular mad rants. I know not everyone agrees with *everything* I say, and I know there are certain subjects I tend to harp on that are particularly unpopular, but I am grateful that those of you who do can look past those moments and still come along for the ride. I hope you like most of what you see or at least find it in some way interesting. Thank you for coming, thank you for keeping up, I do appreciate it and I want all of you to know that I do.

God Bless and ... Keep it Royal!
The Mad Monarchist

Rebels Take Tripoli

It has been all over the news tonight that Libyan rebels have taken Tripoli. The old flag of the Kingdom of Libya is flying in Green Square and there are crowds cheering in the streets of almost every major city in Libya. Rebel forces named the campaign, "Operation Mermaid Dawn" and although skirmishes are still going on, they seem to be in control. Colonel Gaddafi is nowhere to be seen but has been addressing the public by telephone, calling on all of his supporters in Tripoli to arm themselves and kill any rebels they can. There is already speculation that Gaddafi may not be in Libya at all but may have already slipped out of the city and fled to Algeria. Al Jazeera has reported that Gaddafi's son Al-Saadi Al-Gaddafi had been captured and Sky News has reported that the dictator's son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi has also been captured. The situation is still up in the air, there is alot of confusion but it seems that Gaddafi is no longer in control of Libya, he's down, he may not be out, but many are now hopeful that his regime has come to an end with the rebel occupation of Tripoli. I remain rather skeptical about the chances for a royal restoration of the short-lived Senussi dynasty, though the downfall of the treasonous murderer Gaddafi is satisfying in any event. I did notice, in the video of the celebrations in Benghazi a very large French tricolor being waved amongst the sea of Libyan royal flags, probably as a mark of the early French recognition of the rebel government. That fact alone would make me less than optimistic about the chances for the Kingdom of Libya to return. We will have to see how the situation continues to develop. For now, it is enough that a very evil man is no longer in control.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Royal News Roundup

It is a pleasure to have a royal news roundup this week that is almost totally dominated by *good* news for a change. The only possible downer comes from the Far East so we will get that out of the way first, even though I am sure most would regard it as a happy occasion as well. On Wednesday Their Imperial Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan attended a special ceremony in Tokyo to mark the 66th anniversary of the surrender of Japan and the end of World War II. It was on August 15, 1945 that the Showa Emperor (Hirohito) father of the current Emperor issued his unprecedented radio address to the people of Japan, the first time the public had ever heard his voice, saying that they would have to bear the unbearable and endure the unendurable and surrender. The announcement was made in the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the ceremony, the Emperor gave a solemn speech in which he paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the war, all those who suffered by it and expressing his sincere wish that the horrors of war would never be felt again. As usual, he also called for world peace and the continued development of Japan.

In southern Europe it has been a week of protests and celebrations for HH Pope Benedict XVI. On Monday the Principality of Liechtenstein, one of the last few officially Catholic monarchies left in the world, celebrated their National Day. However, for the first time, the traditional mass was not part of the festivities. The Bishop of Vaduz refused to allow the mass to be said out of protest to the princely government recently legalizing gay “marriage” in Liechtenstein. Church and state relations were not improved when Hereditary Prince Alois (who has mostly taken over the actual governing duties of his father, Sovereign Prince Hans-Adam II) made a speech in which he announced that if the government council voted to allow some exceptions to the ban on abortion in Liechtenstein he would sign the bill into law. He did say his support would only extent to abortions done in the first trimester and that he opposed abortions done on children who would be born handicapped. Needless to say, the Church has not been impressed with this recent turn of events.

However, things were much brighter in Spain where the Pontiff arrived to open World Youth Day in Madrid. More than a million young people from around the world braved the sweltering Spanish summer heat to greet His Holiness and listen to his words of wisdom. Upon arrival in Spain, of course, the Pope met with Their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. After being greeted by the King and Queen the Pope later returned to Zarzuela Palace to meet the Prince and Princess of the Asturias and their children. Little Infanta Sofia (age 4) was less than impressed with the papal visit and was caught by the cameras yawning a few times. The Pope has been particularly concerned over Spain recently as the government legalized abortion and gay “marriage”, both of which would have been considered unthinkable not such a long time ago as the Kingdom of Spain has traditionally been a bastion of traditional, conservative Catholicism.

There is good news to report concerning Monaco. The cranky old blogger from southern California who has been harassing the Prince of Monaco and anyone associated with him for years (and who even took to e-stalking your resident mad man) has been slapped with judgment of tens of thousands of euros by a French court for spreading false and slanderous information. Further judgments against him are expected though making him actually pay-up is another story. The obsessive old man first made news after trying to extort the Prince for a million dollars and since then has devoted his every waking hour to accusing the Prince of Monaco of every sort of criminal activity short of being the second gunman on the grassy knoll. Although the facts remain unknown many believe him to have been responsible for the despicable rumors (now definitively proven false) which put a slight cloud over the recent princely wedding. You can read the details over at Mad for Monaco.

Moving northward, the biggest happy news came on Wednesday when it was announced that HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and HRH Prince Daniel are expecting their first child in March of next year. The Crown Princess has long been known for her love of children and has expressed before her wish to be a mother and both she and Prince Daniel, before their wedding, said they were ready to start a family of their own right away. So far the Crown Princess has not made any changes in her schedule but there is no disguising the broad, beaming smile she has been sporting lately. Due to the last changes made in the royal succession in Sweden this child, whether male or female, can expect (God willing) to be the next King or Queen of Sweden. Crown Princess Victoria has always been a super gal and The Mad Monarchist sends the Swedish Royal Family heartfelt congratulations on this most happy occasion and wishes that everything proceeds smoothly with the new coming addition. Additionally, on that same topic, it was also recently announced that HRH the Duchess of Vendôme, wife of the Orleanist pretender to the throne of France, is also expecting a child sometime in January of next year. Hopefully more information on that will be forthcoming but until then, congratulations to the happy couple!

Finally, to end on another high note, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is giving the Canadian Navy and Air Force their “royal” title back. I was thrilled to pieces to hear about this and, upon doing so, was a little shocked to realize just how long this travesty has taken to correct. I had not realized it had been so long since the change was made. It was 1968 when the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force were merged into that slimmed down and streamlined entity known as the Canadian Armed Forces. Since then the stirring title of the three elements of these forces have been known as the “Maritime Command”, the “Land Force Command” and the “Air Command”. Which many people have found rather dull and lifeless for a long time. At one point a politician suggested changing the name of the Maritime Command to something with the word “navy” in the title at least. All of this action was taken at a time when Canada was going through something of an anti-British fit, getting rid of anything that reminded them of their past place in the British Empire. The most noticeable change was in 1965 when the flag was changed, dropping the old Canadian Red Ensign in favor of the current (which, as I’ve said before, I like but still prefer the Red Ensign). Royal portraits started being the exception rather than the rule and so on. However, to the consternation of republicans, Harper (who is a politician and far from inspiring) has had an administration most regard as more monarchy-friendly; which is a good thing. So far, from all I have seen, giving the navy and air force their “royal” back has been met with overwhelming support and approval, certainly from the servicemen and women themselves. A most welcome change. God Save the Queen of Canada!
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