Monday, May 27, 2013
Stay mad my friends
Papal Profile: Pope Alexander III
The prestige of the papacy rose somewhat during the time Alexander III was exiled to France and locked in combat with the German emperor. It often seems the papacy is never so popular as when under direct attack. Still, Alexander III attracted plenty of criticism, both for his determination in asserting the rights of the Church as being apart and above those of the state but also because of his cautious nature and his willingness to hear out both sides of an argument. Because of this, there were those, then as now, who accused the pontiff of being “shifty” and simply putting off taking a side until the victor was clear. He was not always the best diplomat but he was an unwavering defender of the rights of the Church. He died on August 30, 1181 at Civita Castellana after reigning for 21 years. At his burial a stone-throwing angry mob attacked his funeral procession which should be kept in context with the tumultuous and divisive events of his reign and only puts him in the lofty company of someone like Pope Pius IX.
Sunday, May 26, 2013
MM Sunday Scripture
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Royal News Roundup
That seems perfectly understandable to me. In all this fashionable celebration of multiculturalism and diversity, what seems to me to be overlooked is the fact that England at least still has an officially established church and the monarch is the head of that church so it hardly seems unreasonable that the official installation of the head of the Church of England be a purely Church of England affair. I say this as someone who is not terribly fond of the Church of England these days, in fact as someone who scarcely considers them to be “Christian” at all any more but, whatever you think of them, however you want to label the thing, there IS a Church of England, the British monarch is the head of the Church of England and the coronation is to Anglicans what the “installation” (or whatever they are calling it these days) of a new Pope is to Catholics or what the election of an Ecumenical Patriarch is to Orthodox Christians. Why should the Church of England have to include others in their ceremonies just because their governor has ‘another job’ which involves working with a great many non-Anglicans?
Meanwhile, in other news, royal wedding fever has again gripped the Kingdom of Sweden. However, this week there was an additional bit of meat for the media to chew on when it was announced that Princess Madeleine’s husband-to-be Chris O’Neill has “declined” to accept Swedish citizenship and will not accept any royal or noble title. A statement from the Marshal of the Realm said, “Mr. Christopher O’Neill has respectfully asked to remain a private citizen and not be granted royal status”. Who would turn down the chance to be a prince? That seemed to be the question everyone was asking. Personally, I find this to be another story which does not surprise me in the least. He doesn’t want to be granted royal status? Fine, he’s not royal anyway and I am not very wild about anyone “becoming” royal unless it is a girl marrying into a royal family -and even then I think it would be best if everyone kept to their own kind. Whether or not the Swedes find this upsetting I do not know but I think, if anything, I would be more offended by his refusing Swedish citizenship than refusing a royal title. After all, he already has dual US-British citizenship as it is, so why not add another and pledge allegiance to your father-in-law? If they still do that in Sweden, and why refuse it when being a citizen of the UK (and I’m trying very hard not to go on a rant about when all these monarchies suddenly started having citizens instead of republics -”citizen” used to be a dirty word) automatically makes one a citizen of the EU which includes Sweden anyway. Right?
Compared to another high profile case, Princess Madeleine is coming off quite well. When HIH Princess Nori of Japan decided to marry an ordinary commoner she, in accordance with Japanese law, had to relinquish her imperial title, left the Imperial Family, took the name of her husband and gave up her government allowance. Princess Madeleine is not required or expected to make any such sacrifices though, in 2011, Swedes were rather upset about the Princess still receiving a state allowance despite living in New York, carrying out no official duties and also probably because all anyone ever saw of her in the papers was shopping and going to parties with her then live-in boyfriend. That may change in any event but it would be no great sacrifice as I am sure whatever she receives from the Swedish government is pocket change compared to the expense allowance her multi-millionaire husband-to-be can provide her. The law in Japan may seem unkind to some and I will admit I am no more fond of someone “becoming” common than I am of someone “becoming” royalty but differences of birth hold no terror for me. I am a monarchist and I think royals and commoners are very different things and even if the blood sucking investment banker thinks being a prince is “beneath him” or simply a waste of time, I cannot get very upset about it because I don’t think he should be a prince anyway. Honestly, I don’t think he’s terribly worthy to be marrying Princess Madeleine but (full disclosure) I have long had a soft spot for the princess and would probably find anyone unworthy of her. If Chris O’Neill wants to say, “I am not royal” then I am perfectly fine agreeing with him.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Did Japan Read the Baron's Playbook?
Roman von Ungern-Sternberg (our blog mascot here) may have been a bit on the “unusual” side but he had a grand vision and was nothing if not ambitious. We have talked in the past about his aspirations and his, albeit short-lived, efforts to bring his vision to reality. It says something that, despite being only very briefly on the scene in Outer Mongolia, the “Mad Baron” became something of a legendary figure. For years later he was viewed with a sort of awe, a mixture of both fear and admiration. He was a bogey man to the Bolsheviks and he still pops up from time to time in works of fiction, from novels to comic books to video games and movies. Many legends grew up around him including, as is nothing new or uncommon, the legend that he was not really killed by the Soviets and would return someday to resume his holy war against the revolutionary enemies of tradition and monarchy. A legend though, is of course a fanciful tale, not reality. However, one could be forgiven for thinking that there may have been something to the basic premise considering the extent to which the “cause” of the bizarre baron was taken up by the forces of the Empire of Japan during and prior to the Second World War. How was that? Let us see by first having a little refresher on what the plan of the baron was.
Bogd Khan (roughly “Holy King” or emperor, aka Bogd Gegeen or “Holy Shining One”. He wanted to see the Eurasian empire of Genghis Khan brought back to life in some form or another, at least as the vehicle for his goal of a pan-monarchist crusade against the forces of the revolution that had decimated his beloved Russian Empire. So, step one was to drive the republicans out of Mongolia, restore the Holy Khan to his throne and consolidate the area as a bastion of traditional authority. In that first step he was entirely successful, driving out the forces of the Republic of China, liberating the Holy Khan and then beginning at least to build his multi-national counter-revolutionary army of White Russians, Mongols, Tibetans, Manchus, Japanese and other peoples of the region.
Xuantong Emperor (Henry Pu-Yi to most westerners) though it is unclear if he ever actually did or not. His old partner, General Semyonov certainly did though and was actually employed by the last Emperor for a time. Had that worked out, the next step would have been to arrange an alliance with the Empire of Japan, and he sent agents to try to make contact with the Japanese for that purpose but, again, it is unknown if any ever even reached anyone in authority. We do know that the Baron had among his army a number of Japanese troops, many or most of whom were detailed to handle the artillery as Japan was one of the few countries in the region that had developed sufficiently to master things like modern artillery, automatic weapons and so on. When all that was done, which it unfortunately was not, the Baron then planned to launch a massive offensive against the Soviet Union drawing on peoples from Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, Tibet, Mongolia and the Russian Far East. He hoped to sweep away the Bolshevik revolutionaries, restore the Romanov monarchy and then build a coalition across the area of the former Mongol Empire of Genghis Khan into a Eurasian “empire” that would be a bulwark of traditionalism as well as a base from which to strike out and eradicate the forces of revolution everywhere.
Prince Demchukdongrub, a cousin of the Manchu emperor, longtime Qing loyalist and a pan-Mongol nationalist that the Japanese Kwantung Army was quick to reach out to. With backing from Japan the Prince and his family established the autonomous monarchy of Mengjiang with the hope of eventually reunited Inner and Outer Mongolia into a revived country with Prince Demchukdongrub and his relatives as the new Royal Family of Mongolia. In their support of the Prince the Japanese issued a proclamation which would have sounded very familiar to any follower of Ungern-Sternberg saying that the Prince would, “inherit the great spirit of Genghis Khan and retake the territories that belong to Mongolia, completing the grand task of reviving the prosperity of the nation”. The Baron could have said the same thing in his own day.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Celebrating Crime in Colonial America
The consequences were more far reaching than most people realize. The Gaspee Affair (as it tends to be called) prompted the formation of the Committees of Correspondence which led to greater unity throughout the American colonies in fomenting revolution. The greater level of organization as well as the impression that British laws could not only be ignored but that a British warship could be attacked and still have a sizeable portion of the public sympathize with the attackers who went unpunished led ultimately to the events of the Boston Tea Party. With that bit of vandalism, undoubtedly to the surprise of many who remembered the Gaspee Affair, Britain finally decided that enough was enough and took repressive measures. They learned, perhaps a little too late, that when the public embraces criminal behavior and when elected civil officials start to pick and choose which laws they will uphold and which they will not (sound familiar) the country is on a fast track to disaster.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Favorite Royal Images: Through the Smoke a Tsar
Monday, May 20, 2013
MM Mini View: Kings of England (Part IX)
King Edward VII: It seems incredible that a woman of such incredible moral fortitude as Queen Victoria could have an eldest son like Edward VII and it can only call to mind the vast difference between the third and fourth Georges. However, the first British monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, while no paradigm of virtue, was certainly of better quality than George IV. He, at least, waited for the throne with better grace and dignity and he waited quite a long while. Still, while he was undoubtedly a bit of a rascal in his private life, he at least was a much more likeable fellow and proved himself a seasoned and capable monarch. Fashionable, jovial and a man who enjoyed good living, he personified a Britain that was ’large and in-charge’. My opinion of him is somewhat prejudiced by his peacemaking with republican France, to the detriment of Austria-Hungary and Germany. His rather warmer attitude toward Imperial Russia, on the other hand, was certainly a welcome change in my view from the hostility of his mother, if not very whole-hearted. His modernization of the army and navy was also a major positive, the move toward curtailing the power of the House of Lords was certainly not. He avoided war with France over colonial rivalries but set the stage for World War I. Given how that turned out, a little colonial conflict might have been preferable. Still, a steady and sober monarch, far removed from his reputation as heir apparent.
King George V: When I think of George V the image that comes to mind is of a hard working, stable, reliable, methodical monarch. He lacked the style and personality of his father but was a more meticulous monarch and a more upstanding man, even a bit on the authoritarian side. Those looking for a romantic figure would be disappointed but George V was a good, steady monarch for those interested in substance rather than style. He was perhaps more closely familiar with the far flung dominions of his empire than any British monarch before him and things would have gone better had his advice been heeded more often, particularly in the wake of the Easter Uprising in Ireland. World War I was a disaster, though he was not to blame for it and was a commendable wartime monarch. In the aftermath he seemed to have every radical, revolutionary movement plaguing him and that is nothing to be taken lightly. He was a good man and a good monarch but, understanding the unrest he faced in his own country, I will still always have some bitterness in regard to George V for his failure to rush to the aid of his cousin the Tsar and his family.
King Edward VIII: When Edward VIII came to the throne, albeit briefly, it must have seemed to some that history was repeating itself. Again a stern, upright and moral father had produced a rather libertine son and heir. I cannot have a very high opinion of Edward VIII (later Duke of Windsor) who led quite an immoral life in his youth and who put his own desires before his duty to the empire and the royal house he belonged to. Still, I certainly do not hate the man as many seem to. He had no use for the League of Nations, which I would agree with and he was opposed to war which, while considered outrageous today, might have saved the British Empire. I don’t think he would have been a terrible king but his beloved was never going to be queen and I doubt he would have settled for anything less. His abdication was a dereliction of duty, no question, but if that was his nature, surely it was best that he abdicate rather than inflict an unwilling monarch on his country and dominions. I have also never understood those who hold anger against the man, totally despise him and yet still condemn him for abdicating. Makes no sense to me.
King George VI: Back on the right track, with George VI Britain again had an ideal constitutional monarch. I have often said that when I picture “a king” in my mind, it is George VI that I usually see. He was a man of great dignity, high moral standards, a devoted family man and he was disciplined, dutiful and dedicated. His calm and majestic presence was just what Britain needed in World War II and, though he is often left out of the historical narrative, he was a very “hands-on” wartime monarch. More than enduring the blitz alongside his people, he kept up with the war economy, visited the front and was involved in all the major planning sessions for strategy. Even the American supreme Allied commander, General Eisenhower, had nothing but respect and the highest praise for King George VI. He also had the good sense (and persistence) to marry a fine Scottish lady who proved to be a tremendous asset for the Royal Family and the country. His reign is bitter-sweet though as he did see Britain through her “darkest hour” but was also the last King-Emperor and presided over the beginning of the disintegration of the British Empire, mostly due to the government poverty caused by the war.
Queen Elizabeth II: One of the greatest but simplest things one can say about HM the Queen is that she is and has always been worthy of her father. It must be said that her reign has covered the most drastic decline in British power and influence in centuries but none of that can be attributed to her. She follows the advice of her ministers without fail and has been a model constitutional monarch. Warm, friendly, even humorous but at the same time dignified and majestic, no matter what has gone on around her, the Queen has always conveyed continuity, stability and integrity. Few other monarchs have been faced with such rapid and drastic changes as Elizabeth II and she has shown both strength and an ability to adapt in navigating through such waters. Even on the rare occasion when she became rather unpopular, the public eventually realized she had been right all along and that they had behaved rather childishly. The Queen has been an anchor in the storm and has, seemingly effortlessly, upheld the monarchy as a popular institution by her spotless moral values and her matchless ability to never make a mistake. It has been said quite often by now that the Queen has “never put a foot wrong”. That is quite a remarkable thing to say when you think about it -and the most remarkable thing is that it is completely true.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
MM Sunday Scripture
He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king shall be his friend.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Royal News Roundup
Elsewhere on the continent, a 44-year old man from Zwolle was arrested by Dutch police two days before the recent inauguration of King Willem-Alexander of The Netherlands (it was recently announced) for making threats against the House of Orange. The threats were made via text message which prompted one recipient to alert the authorities. The man was released on Monday to await trial at his home. In neighboring Belgium TRH the Duke and Duchess of Brabant paid tribute to International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne this week before visiting the Olympic Museum which is currently being housed on a boat on Lake Geneva while its building is renovated. And, down in Luxembourg Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie visited the historic town of Vianden, talking with the locals and soaking up some of the early history of the Grand Ducal Family’s ancestors. And, further south, more dead royals have returned to return to Serbia. This time it was Prince Andrej, third son of King Alexander I whose remains were taken from Illinois in the United States and arrived on Wednesday at the Royal Chapel in Dedinje. For the British and Commonwealth Royal Family most of the news this week was taken up with the minute details of Prince Harry’s recent visit to the United States. In other news this week, the Prince of Wales and HM the Queen attended the service for the Order of Merit at St James’s Palace. The Order of Merit is about the only royal honor which remains exclusively in the gift of the Queen rather than the government. And, in southern Europe, the King of Spain has had to give up his yacht (I’m rather surprised it has lasted this long) and gossipmongers have started to say nasty things about the Princess of Monaco -file that under “news” that is nothing new.
In the lands of Eternal Asia, in a colorful ceremony (sadly only symbolic these days held for the sake of tradition alone) the 9-year-old prince of Jaipur HH Rajkumar Lakshya Raj Singh was formally anointed as the Maharaja of Sirmaur, a former princely state of India in southern Himachal Pradesh. The ceremony was held at Nahan Palace on Wednesday, giving locals a chance to glimpse some of the old royal splendor of imperial India. Representatives of other princely states were on hand as were a few politicians and some Bollywood celebrities for the occasion. And there has been some very big monarchy-related news out of China recently, though, as usual, it is “too little, too late” to be very helpful. A former government official and historian, Jia Yinghua, has discovered records in the secret archives of the Chinese authorities at Zhongnanhai which explain why the imperial system came to such a sudden and unceremonious halt with the abdication of the last Emperor, acted for by the Empress Dowager Longyu. It seems she was not exactly acting freely but was offered 20,000 taels of silver (1,700 lb) and threatened with beheading by General Yuan Shikai. His efforts to threaten or bribe court officials was apparently extensive, including the Empress Dowager’s closest eunuch Xiao Dezheng and Prince Yikuang who accumulated 2 million dollars in silver in his Hong Kong bank account, mostly from efforts to buy his support for Yuan Shikai taking power and ending the rule of the Qing Dynasty. Evidence also suggests that he convinced friends in the Russian embassy to write threatening letters to the Empress Dowager warning her that the European powers were about to bring down the dynasty anyway. The entire affair was utterly disgraceful. It has also always been perfectly obvious that the agreement signed by the Qing court with the republican leaders for the abdication was never honored by the republican side and should, therefore, be considered invalid.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Consort Profile: Queen Maria Cristina of Savoy
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Ordinary for a Republic
It is perfectly understandable that many on the right in America would, in the absence of any concrete evidence, believe that the President had something to do with this. Many of these same sort of conservative groups have, in the past, been lumped together with violent radicals and terrorists by the Obama administration. It is perfectly clear he doesn’t like these people and the feeling is mutual. I make it a rule to have nothing to do with organizations or political parties but even on my own, I have no doubt that, were I known to him, the American president would have as low an opinion of me as I do of him. It doesn’t bother me, but it does strike me as rather disconcerting for those “conservative” republicans with fairly mainstream views who would fall into the same camp. More than those people though, I wonder what, if at all, the people in the monarchies of the world think about this state of affairs. Do they realize what this means? And do the republicans on those monarchies arguing against a hereditary head of state realize what it is they are arguing for?
But even if we are to take President Obama at his word, that he knew absolutely nothing about the Benghazi talking points tampering, the IRS targeting his political enemies (how convenient) and the Justice Department spying on the Associated Press it certainly doesn’t speak well for the accountability of the U.S. government. After all, the advocates of a republic always tout accountability as one of their greatest arguments, yet, here we have an elected president who claims to know next to nothing about all of these major events going on in his own administration. Furthermore, even in this American republic which has a better record than most, is full of departments and agencies like the IRS which have extensive, sweeping powers, which can put you in jail, seize your property and totally ruin your life and they are all being run by people no one ever voted for, who cannot be voted out of office and who often keep their jobs regardless of who the occupant of the White House is. It seems to me that anyone living in a monarchy need only to look at the United States right now and thank God for their reigning sovereign.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
The Knights of Malta
Eventually, however, the Muslim forces were able to come together and drive out the Christian presence from the Holy Land, conquering (or re-conquering) Jerusalem in 1187. The Knights Hospitaller relocated their main base to the County of Tripoli until the last Christian foothold in the Holy Land, Acre, was captured by the Muslims in 1291. It was at that point that the Knights Hospitaller withdrew to the island of Rhodes, after a brief stay on the Kingdom of Cyprus where they found the political atmosphere not to their liking. So, at that point, many began to refer to the order as the Knights of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes. This took time though as Rhodes was then held by the Byzantine Empire (sometime ally and sometime enemy of the Latin Crusaders) and it took more than two years to conquer Rhodes and the surrounding islands which the Knights then held for some time thereafter. Once secure in their new base, the Knights won more battles and earned greater fame. They also got a considerable boost with the unfortunate dissolution of the Knights Templar, many of whom chose to continue their vocation by joining the Knights of St John.
In 1522 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent sent an invasion force of 400 ships and more than 100,000 troops to conquer Rhodes which was defended by a scant 7,000 knights and their auxiliaries. Obviously, the odds were hopeless for the knights, but they fought with immense tenacity and held out for some six months before finally accepting the Turkish terms for surrender which allowed the survivors to evacuate to Sicily. The Knights were then homeless for a time until the King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V granted the Knights the island of Malta in return for a rather unique annual rent payment which was a Maltese falcon to be paid to the Viceroy of Sicily every year on All Souls Day. Today, at least among film noir fans, “The Maltese Falcon” is quite famous even if few know exactly where it comes from. In any event, the move to Malta was of great benefit to the Knights, thereafter known as the Knights of Malta, who settled in and began to grow and strengthen again while still standing guard on the southern frontier of Europe to ward off the ever present Barbary pirates and the occasional Turkish offensive. The Ottoman Sultan was still determined to see the Knights of Malta eliminated and once they reappeared on Rhodes, Suleiman sent another invasion force against them.
This was undoubtedly the most famous battle and “finest hour” for the Knights of Malta but they carried on for quite a while afterwards. Because of their island location they became as much a naval power as they had been a cavalry force in the Holy Land. They sent ships to fight with the Christian fleet at the battle of Lepanto and their war galleys escorted Christian vessels in the Mediterranean to protect them from pirates and hostile powers. When money became scarce they began to hire out their ships to the navies of France and Spain. Money became an ever bigger problem, especially after the spread of Protestantism meant that many who had previously supported the Knights would no longer do so and many Catholics had other priorities closer to home to deal with and could no longer make their usual donations. So, the Knights of Malta adapted and despite being a Catholic order did their best to make friends with Protestant powers as well. The increase in mercenary work, usually for France, also meant that at times the Knights of Malta would be allied with their old enemies the Turks while fighting against the Catholic Spanish who had once been their saviors. Still, they did the best they could to survive and carry on. They remained secure on their island fortress of Malta until 1798 when the French forces of Napoleon Bonaparte conquered the island on their way to Egypt.
Protestant countries founded several different orders inspired by the Knights of Malta and there are numerous groups which make use of the name, or some variant of it, with no real connection at all to the original order (much like the Knights Templar). The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is the only valid continuation but, again, it is for all intents and purposes something new. Among those royals who have been granted ranks in the Knights of Malta are King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Prince Albert II of Monaco, King Albert II of the Belgians, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and Vittorio Emanuele Prince of Naples (former Crown Prince of Italy). There are over 10,000 members of the order around the world, membership is by invitation only and until recently was exclusive to the aristocracy. Today, however, the lower ranks are open to commoners while the higher still require an extensive pedigree.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Favorite Royal Images: Swedish Princess, Danish Queen
Monday, May 13, 2013
MM Mini View: Kings of England (Part VIII)
King George I: If nothing else, one can at least say that Britain’s first German monarch was a colorful character. A distant relative thrust onto the British throne by the 1701 Act of Settlement, something which further cemented the notion that the King reigned ‘by the grace of Parliament’ rather than the grace of God. He had no burning desire to be King of Great Britain and had already proven himself a fairly competent Elector of Hanover. He is known for his mostly “hands-off” approach to governing, which gave rise to the first British Prime Minister as we would understand it today, for his mistresses, his contempt for his eldest son (a Hanoverian tradition) and his inability to speak English. Still, he understood English law and government better than most of his subjects realized, he kept a steady hand on the wheel and if his British subjects did not understand him, he likely understood them just as little. Hanover was always his home and his first concern, he hadn’t sought to be king and certainly launched no invasion to bring it about like the Prince of Orange but he nonetheless made the most of it. He was not a likeable character but was probably at least somewhat better than most think.
King George II: Like his father, there is not an overabundance with which to recommend George II. He hated his son just as his father had hated him, though he was more kind to his wife (not difficult) and the British Empire grew considerably under his reign. Still, he spent some lengthy periods in Hanover and was always more concerned with Germany than with, for instance, the British North American colonies. The 1745 Jacobite uprising gave him quite a scare but he was certainly no coward, being the last reigning British monarch to lead his troops on the battlefield. Overall, he was a fairly effective monarch, fulfilling the traditional requirements for a successful monarch; securing the succession, defending his throne, winning victories in war and enlarging his domain. Still, he tended to put Hanover before Britain, was not a very likeable person and his forces were positively brutal in Scotland in the aftermath of the ‘45. So, all in all a successful monarch but one I could never muster a great deal of enthusiasm for.
King George III: It is a shame that George III will probably always be remembered most for losing “the United States” and for going “mad”. He really deserves to be counted among the greatest of British monarchs. For the first time since Queen Anne the country had a monarch who didn’t speak with a German accent and who was as thoroughly “British” as he could be. Unlike his predecessors, he took an active role in the government of his kingdoms and far from being harsh or tyrannical was almost invariably a voice of fairness and consideration. Also unlike his predecessors, King George III was a man of upstanding moral integrity, a faithful husband, devoted father and a man of great generosity while still having enough of George II in him to appreciate a balanced budget and deplore extravagance. Still, tradition being tradition, he and his eldest son never got along very well, mostly because of the extent to which the King disapproved of the rather weak moral fiber in his son. It should not be forgotten though that while losing what became the USA, he won the wider war and although he would not forget he was able to put the past behind him without holding a grudge, establishing diplomatic relations with the United States and going to war with revolutionary France after his old enemy Louis XVI was murdered by the mob. He also certainly secured the succession (in a big way) and was, in every way, a monarch any of his subjects could be proud of.
King George IV: When it comes to character, George IV was everything his father was not; licentious, lazy and wasteful. Still, he was not a terrible monarch though certainly not a great one. He may have been extravagant but he had a tremendous sense of style and he left Britain a more grandiose country than he found it. Yes, he was a scoundrel, but also a patron of the arts, a driver of fashion and a great builder. Those are about his only redeeming qualities though, aside perhaps from reviving highland dress in Scotland. His reign (and regency) coincided with some of the greatest moments in British history, the passing of historic legislation and at least he did not manage to mess any of that up though, based on what his ministers wrote some may have suspected him of trying. He was not a monarch one could admire, though many found him likeable. He did have sense enough to realize at least to some extent when politicians were trying to take advantage of him and his political views shifted after inheriting the throne. So, not a great one, not very praiseworthy but neither can it be said that things went to ruin under his watch.
King William IV: The “Sailor King” William IV often seems to get lost in between his colorful and controversial brother and the historic reign of his niece. Overall, my impression of William IV is as a pretty good, solid monarch. In sharp contrast to his brother he was frugal, plain and blunt which was probably a good thing on the heels of the fuss and feathers of George IV. William IV could behave in ways rather lacking in “majesty” but he was a man of strong leadership, good instincts and common sense. Since the reign of his father the politicians had become more and more dominant, which mostly continued under William IV though he was the last monarch to appoint a prime minister of his own choosing. He provided steady leadership during his time on the throne and had the wisdom and fortitude to hold on to life long enough for his niece to succeed him without a regency -probably saving the country from a great deal of trouble.
Queen Victoria: In some ways, Queen Victoria can be seen as being more revered than she should be and yet, I at least cannot help but have the greatest admiration for her. She made her share of mistakes over the years but she had a presence few other English sovereigns could ever hope to match. Like Elizabeth I, she gave her name to an era and on the world stage it was the Victorian era that was far greater. The Queen deserves at least some of the credit for the great, powerful, dynamic force that the British Empire became during her reign and she was an admirable woman. A very devoted wife, a reluctant (but frequent) though dutiful mother and a woman of impeccable moral fortitude. Queen Victoria made the monarchy widely respected again as well as a force for good in society with the outreach to the poor, the working class and her strident opposition to racial bigotry. Like a few others, it is hard to separate the Queen herself from the image of the Queen but that image was so great and remains so brilliant that it seems a pity to even try. The first to made Empress of India, the British Empire may have grown larger after her time on the throne yet it is still the reign of Queen Victoria that stands out, in my mind at least, as the pinnacle of the British Empire. Plus, she really was the “Grandmother of Europe” and anyone who doesn’t love their grandmother must have something wrong with them.
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