Saturday, June 30, 2012
Over in the Middle East, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has, for the first time, announced that they will allow women to compete at the upcoming London Olympic Games. Public sporting events for women are banned in Saudi Arabia as being immodest. HM King Abdullah reportedly pushed for the change but put off announcing the new policy due to the recent death of the Crown Prince. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are the only countries which have never allowed women to compete at the Olympics but all three are now sending women to the games in London this year. Brunei will send one, Qatar three and Saudi Arabia (probably) one.
On the European front, the King and Queen of Sweden, as well as the Prince of Monaco, joined other world leaders at the Rio+20 UN sustainability conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil talking about the environment and all of that terribly important stuff. In Luxembourg the Grand Ducal Family was out in full force to celebrate Luxembourg National Day last Saturday, the day set aside to celebrate the birthday of the reigning Grand Duke. There were walkabouts, military parades, a church service and waving from the balcony all in true, understated, stylish Luxembourg fashion. Meanwhile, up in The Netherlands, HRH Princess Alexia, second daughter of the Crown Prince and Princess, celebrated her seventh birthday on Tuesday. We hope the diminutive Dutch darling had a dandy of a day and many more.
In the United Kingdom, there has been an historic name change as “Big Ben” (officially St Stephen’s Tower -though actually it is the bell that was called “Big Ben”) at the Palace of Westminster has, by act of Parliament, officially been renamed “Elizabeth Tower” in honor of the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The Victoria Tower at the west end of the palace was named in honor of Queen Victoria when she celebrated her diamond jubilee. Most, however, admit that it will probably always be referred to as “Big Ben” simply out of force of habit. As we have discussed previously the Queen and Prince Philip also visited Northern Ireland this week, meeting with local officials including deputy first minister Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein, a former commander in the Irish Republican Army. All went well, the Queen even riding in an open car in a display of how secure and stable Northern Ireland is. The odd bits of anti-monarchy graffiti did nothing to dampen the occasion. The following day the Queen unveiled a new memorial to the Bomber Command in Portland which honors those who flew bombing missions against Germany during World War II.
Friday, June 29, 2012
I could do my best to stomach all the previous wounding of the upper house but the introduction of “life peers” as the expulsion of the hereditary peers was, to me, effectively the end of the House of Lords anyway. What is being proposed now is simply the final nail in the coffin but that is one nail that is still worth opposing. Compounded stupidity is still stupidity after all. As the British parliamentary system was originally established, the House of Peers served an important and practical function. It consisted of men who had a vested interest in the long-term success of Great Britain, men who had a stake in the country and who had a lifetime of diverse, “real world” experience from which to draw on in their deliberations on the bills passed by the Commons. They were non-political and beyond the influence of the passing trends of popular opinion. They were also guardians of the most time-honored traditions of England and later the United Kingdom. Their ancestry and the hereditary nature of the house meant that they could take a broad view, unconcerned with elections and political pandering, to do what was in the best interests of the country as a whole and the British legacy. What shall replace it?
This will do Great Britain no good whatsoever. All this will do is add another layer of the same sort of confused, incompetent leadership that has made the House of Commons the center of so much derision. Which is not to say that the House of Lords was not in need of some authentic reform. It was too loosely organized, too large and made the British Parliament rather top-heavy, though -I hasten to add- this was mostly a result of the way the House of Peers was tweaked and tortured into assuring the outcome desired by the Commons. If I had my way the House would have been reformed by restoring the hereditary peers, restoring the powers of the House but cutting down on the number of those given seats which could be done by granting seats to those peers who hold the senior most title in their general area. Just an idea. Instead, since the Blair government has thrown out the baby, the Cameron government is adding more bathwater. Again, it is possible to overstate the calamity of this because so much of the damage had already been done. Many factors have certainly been at play over the years but, I cannot help but note, that when the House of Peers operated in the traditional fashion the United Kingdom was one of the most successful and dynamic countries in the world and the center of the largest maritime empire in history. Since the U.K. started down the road of a unicameral legislature, just how has Great Britain fared? Is Britain greater or poorer now and what does the answer to that say about the direction the country is going in? A simple question, posed by the simple, and damaged, mind of … The Mad Monarchist.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Taking Economic Advice from Monaco over at my sister-blog Mad for Monaco. Read and reflect if you please.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
In short, the United Kingdom won and the Irish republicans lost, whether they are inclined to admit it or not. British sovereignty over Northern Ireland was challenged, that challenge was defeated, those opposing it have, in their deeds if not their words, accepted the “rule” of the Queen over Northern Ireland and while Sinn Fein was given a cold shoulder when they stood for election in the Republic of Ireland, Protestant firebrand Ian Paisley was given a seat in the House of Lords by former British Prime Minister Gordon (is alive) Brown. The Republic of Ireland accepts British sovereignty over Northern Ireland as do the majority of Catholics in Northern Ireland now, even though they might not be enthusiastic about, they are not willing to challenge it. Of course, some still make trouble as some probably always will but these IRA fringe groups are few and far between with virtually no popular support behind them and whose actions are denounced by both Catholic and Protestant communities in Ulster.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
Clinton gave good service, made profitable friendships, married a member of the landed gentry and even gained as a patron the Duke of Gloucester, the brother of the new King George III. After serving in Gibraltar for a time Clinton was promoted to major general in 1772 and was elected to a seat in the House of Commons. He also gained further military experience touring installations of the Imperial Russian Army in the Balkans, witnessed some clashes with the formidable Ottoman Empire (even met some Turkish envoys who he described as “very civil”) and had an audience in Vienna with Emperor Joseph II. It was upon his return to England that he learned about the outbreak of rebellion in America and was ordered by King George III to proceed there along with his fellow major generals William Howe and John Burgoyne to bring a quick end to this challenge to the authority of the Crown. Their immediate goal was to relieve the besieged British forces in Boston under General Thomas Gage. The result was the first major clash of the war, the battle of Bunker Hill.
There was no doubt that Clinton was an extremely capable military commander but his own personality often worked against him. This was especially true following the death of his wife when Clinton became noticeably more difficult. He had also earlier been dispatched by General Howe to lead the campaign in the southern colonies but a delay suffered by the Royal Navy and bad weather helped turn the expedition into a dismal failure, a soft spot for General Clinton who did not respond well to criticism (who does?). He returned to New England where he captured Newport, Rhode Island after which he went back to Great Britain in early 1777. When Burgoyne was chosen by the King and Lord Germain to lead the northern offensive coming down from Canada Clinton tried to resign but was refused. He was knighted and returned to New York to resume his post as Howe’s deputy, though neither man was happy about it.
General Clinton also faced a Continental Army that had become much more disciplined and well trained than the one he and Howe had chased from pillar to post in New York. Clinton was thus forced to adopt a generally defensive strategy with British forces concentrating on holding key strategic ports, with supply and mobility dependent on the Royal Navy, rather than undertaking any grand offensives to wipe out the Continental Army. Clinton, who had seemed so daring as a subordinate, found himself to be a very cautious commander, which even he realized, referring to himself on one occasion as “a shy bitch”. Still, he executed a brilliant march to New York during which time Washington tried to win a decisive victory over him at the bloody battle of Monmouth. Usually dismissed as a stalemate, it is hard to see how this should not be considered a victory for Clinton even if a less than decisive one. Even though Washington caught the rear of the British army, Clinton fended off his attacks, losing less men than Washington while still managing to complete his movement to New York as planned while the rebel goal of destroying his army had failed. It would be the last major battle in the northern theatre as attention turned toward the southern colonies where Lord Cornwallis was dispatched to restore Crown authority and rather the many loyalists of the region.
In 1780, after British forces captured Savannah, Georgia General Clinton led another attack on Charleston, South Carolina. He more than made up for his earlier defeat there and after a successful siege operation forced the surrender of the city and the entire 5,000-man garrison. It was a stupendous victory for the British and the costliest defeat the American rebels would suffer in the entire war. With such a great success under his belt, Clinton left Cornwallis to command the southern campaign while he returned to New York to direct overall operations on the continent. Lord Cornwallis won a string of victories but tensions between him and Clinton only increased. Cornwallis blamed Clinton for indecisiveness while Clinton accused Cornwallis of insubordination and trying to run his own war. When a French naval victory ultimately bottled up Cornwallis at Yorktown the end was at hand. Clinton organized a rescue operation but was too late to save his subordinate who surrendered in 1782, effectively ending the war. Clinton offered his resignation again and it was finally accepted, turning command over to General Sir Guy Carleton. Unfortunately, despite being blamed for the defeat at Yorktown, Clinton was not allowed a court martial to clear his name.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
How many people, in or outside of Italy, are truly aware of this? How many of those who have loaned money to the safekeeping of the free-spending republican politicians are aware of this? How many are aware that the Italian Chamber of Deputies actually has far more members than the House of Representatives in the United States (which, for those unfamiliar with geography) is very many times larger than the Italian Republic? Not only is the government bigger, which means that there are more politicians to pay, but they are paid quite a few times more than their American counterparts as well (and rest assured that American Congressmen are in no danger of going hungry). In fact, Italian politicians are amongst the most highly paid and lavishly compensated in the entire world! So, what do Italians today have to administer their country? A republican government that is bigger than most, more expensive than most and more ineffctive than most as well. Bigger is not better and for as much as they cost the Italian taxpayer the government has clearly not provided value for money. Further, despite the promises of democratic republicans, they are by no means more accountable. When the people vote to cut the pay of their politicians, their votes are ignored and, of course, presiding over it all now is Prime Minister Mario Monti, an EU financial bureaucrat who was never elected to any office in Italy ever!
Italy would be better off to rid themselves of the lot of these overpaid, under-performing members of the political class, restore the lire, restore the monarchy, trash the tangle of regulations that strangle growth and incentive, leave the EU and pursue again a policy of "sacred self-interest" in which only those policies are pursued which will be to the benefit of the Italian nation. As things stand now, the people are disenchanted with their government, over taxed, over regulated and rapidly growing frustrated and divided. No country or government is ever without fault and certainly the Kingdom of Italy was not free from error. However, the Kingdom of Italy was brought down by intrigue and betrayal at the end of a world war while the Italian Republic is being brought to its knees simply by corruption, idiotic policies and carelessness, all of which amount to "business as usual" in the realm of the republicans.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Over in Europe, the Prince of Wales is still very concerned about the environment and is very much afraid that human beings are going to destroy the world through negligence. In a taped message to the UN sustainability conference in Brazil, the Prince of Wales warned of the ‘catastrophic’ consequences of climate change. The Queen also gave her son and heir a promotion this week, elevating HRH to the ranks of Field Marshal in the army, Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy and Marshal of the Royal Air Force. HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and HRH the Duke of Kent hold similar ranks, the Queen, of course, is commander-in-chief of all armed forces. The Prince consort was also back in the spotlight this week alongside the Queen at the Trooping of the Color, the official celebration of the royal birthday. The Duke of Cambridge was there as well and Prince William is apparently very upset over the illicit trade in rhino horns saying, “It makes me very angry” and described the poaching as “ignorant and selfish”. The Duke warned that rhinos could become extinct if greater measures are not taken to protect the massive animals. The Duke of Cambridge also, upon turning 30, inherited some 10 million pounds from his late mother.
Also in London this week HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall met with HH the XIV Dalai Lama, the Prince being a long-time supporter of the exiled Tibetan monk-monarch. Meanwhile, over in Denmark, HM Queen Margrethe II hosted a garden party at the royal palace for the members of Volunteer Denmark along with other members of the Danish Royal Family. In Norway, TM King Harald V and Queen Sonja visited Andebu and Tonsberg in Vestfold County. In the Low Countries, HM Queen Beatrix received the credentials of some new ambassadors, in Brussels HM King Albert II received the Secretary of State for the Fight Against Social and Tax Fraud and in Luxembourg the Grand Ducal court released their first schedules of the upcoming wedding of the Hereditary Grand Duke. In Grimaldi news, Prince Albert II attended the Rio+20 conference on the environment, Princess Charlene handed out diplomas to the graduating class of 2012 from the International School of Monaco and later joined her brother and his girlfriend in an informal visit to Los Angeles, California.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Aside from the children themselves, it is the parents of these vicious little spawn that are ultimately to blame for raising no better than to think that such behavior is acceptable. Even in my teenage years when I was at my most insolent and rebellious I would have never, ever even thought for instant of speaking to a 60+ year old woman in such a way. That’s entirely to the credit of my parents and not to myself. The parents of every one of those little demon-seed should be held accountable for the behavior of their children. However, the school itself is also to blame. The children behave in such a manner because they know they can, they know they can get away with it and that there will be no consequences. However, again, schools answer to school boards who must answer to the parents on election day so we are back to them again. I was not always the best student but one thing I was consistently cited for was being well behaved. When I was in kindergarten, for the only time in my student years, I was sent to the principal for writing on my desk. The principal took his blue wooden paddle to my backside and I never got sent to the principal’s office ever again. Once was enough.
I don’t have children and don’t plan to ever have children but I have long said I could solve all the disciplinary problems in any school in two days with only a rule book, a leather strap and a free hand. Here is how it works: you make sure every student is well aware of the rules and that no infraction will be tolerated. When someone breaks the rules (and here is the important part), you don’t send them to the office. You wait until recess or lunch break and you assemble the whole student body on the playground. You take the guilty party into the middle of the playground where everyone can see and there you announce what they did wrong, how they will be punished and then start bringing the tears to their eyes. I know, I know, that sounds horribly cruel to the modern mind but, I assure you, once that is done and everyone sees it being done, it will very, very rarely (if ever) have to be done again. Once they know it can happen and will happen they will not risk the pain and, more so, the humiliation that comes from breaking the rules. I welcome anyone who would wish to test this theory -I guarantee immediate results. You do not cause any damage to the body, you leave no scars or anything but simply apply sufficient force to make it really, really hurt and let these bullies be seen crying like a baby and no one will risk breaking the rules again.
I am dead serious about this and just to show that I do not commit age discrimination allow me to say that I think corporal punishment should be revived for adults as well. Some people think only slaves used to be beaten but, on the contrary, in those days corporal punishment was common for free men as well and no city, town or village was complete without a whipping post. Personally, I have most wished for this option when dealing with grown-up bullies and by that I mean men who beat their wives or beat up any woman or who abuse their children. It would give me great satisfaction to see some of these creeps who get drunk and end up putting their wife or child in the hospital, stripped to the waist, tied to a post and have a big, brawny fellow come with a big whip and flog them to the bone. Give them a taste of their own poison and see how eager they are to inflict such pain on those weaker than them in the future. I think it would do a world of good, both for the offender and for all those who witness such punishment.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
His foresight was first proven in the Italo-Turkish War of 1911-12 when he was given command of the first ever aviation battalion in Italian military history. Under Douhet, Italy broke new ground by becoming the first power to successfully carry off air-to-ground attacks with the bombing of Turkish outposts in Libya. This was all the proof Douhet required and he immediately saw a brilliant future for military aircraft. Drawing on his wartime experiences, after the conflict he wrote and published the first manual on the doctrines of air combat entitled “Rules of the Use of Airplanes in War” in 1913. Thanks to Douhet, the Kingdom of Italy had taken an early lead as the first world power to take aerial warfare seriously. However, being a ground-breaking thinker is rarely easy. When Italy entered World War I, Douhet was first posted as chief of staff of an infantry division but given his talent and experience was soon transferred to command the army aviation division. He called for Italy to devote huge resources to the air arm and to launch a campaign of saturation bombing against Austria. However, very little was done before his criticisms of the supreme command earned him the wrath of General Luigi Cadorna who had him arrested and court-martialed.
Why, at the end of it all, was General Douhet such a visionary who we should still remember today? What were his great ideas and theories? He was the first to call for an independent air force, separate from the army and the navy (eventually realized in the Regia Aeronautica) and the first to call for versatile fighter planes, what he termed a “battle plane”, that would be capable of air-to-air combat and ground attack missions. Douhet believed that massive fleets of bombers could be used as the ultimate strategic military weapon. He envisioned ground forces being used solely in a defensive role, guarding Italian territory, while the air force was the primary offensive arm of the military and would devastate enemy countries and armies, destroying their infrastructure and forcing them to capitulate. This, he argued, he would be more cost effective, save lives that would otherwise be wasted in human-wave attacks and would make warfare more swift and decisive.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
I will admit, I have a soft spot for Tsar Paul I, often referred to as the “Mad Tsar”. He was a monarch of very monarchist sensibilities, a dedicated sovereign and a man with a great sense of imagination and adventure. The popular image of him as an unsavory, authoritarian lunatic was, it must be remembered, an image spread by those who murdered him and who tried to portray him in the most negative light possible to justify their heinous crime. He was certainly not flawless, but his faults have been grossly distorted and he possessed many admirable qualities. He was born on September 20, 1754 to the future Tsar Peter III (then a Grand Duke) and his formidable wife who would become known as Catherine the Great in St Petersburg. His mother, however, would later cast doubts on his legitimacy, showing little regard for the future stability of the Russian Empire but all of that involves speculation. Soon after he was born the Empress Elizabeth removed the little prince from his parents and as he grew up he would hold a grudge against his mother for the murder of his father and the subsequent coup that made Catherine Empress of Russia. His education was entrusted to Nikita Ivanovich Panin who was to teach him to be an “enlightened” monarch but he was also surrounded by the quiet example of many pious women as well as the Empress Elizabeth who was a devoted daughter of the Russian Orthodox Church in the best, traditional, fashion.
Contrary to those who have portrayed Paul as cold and unfeeling, he was immediately taken by the Princess Wilhelmina, a beautiful, pleasant and outgoing young lady who won over everyone. It took only two days for Paul to determine that she was the one for him and on September 29, 1773 the two were married, the princess converted to Orthodoxy and was thereafter known as Grand Duchess Natalia Alexeievna of Russia. She supported her husband but soon rumors were running thick of an affair between the Grand Duchess and her husband’s best friend. Paul remained blissfully ignorant of this talk and was extremely distraught in 1776 when Grand Duchess Natalia died after giving birth to a stillborn son. Paul was crushed and blamed the doctors for the death of his wife. There was little time for mourning, however, as Empress Catherine quickly arranged another marriage for her son with Princess Sophia Dorothea of Wuerttemberg, later known as Maria Feodorovna. Paul gave his wife a detailed set of instructions which show how well he knew his own shortcomings, keeping his entire day strictly regimented so that not a minute was lost to idle frivolity. In their years together Maria Feodorovna gave Paul four sons and six daughters.
Still deprived of a role in government, when the couple returned to Russia the Grand Duke set up his own model estate at Gatchina Palace where luxury and decadence were forbidden in favor simplicity, military discipline and pursuits which expanded the mind. He was fond of playing chess and of drilling his soldiers which he did in the Prussian style, being greatly impressed by the stunning victories of Frederick the Great. The serfs on his estate were mostly Finns and Grand Duke Paul took good care of them, tolerating their Lutheran faith, always sharing with them the latest advances in agriculture and lending them money when they were in need. He built a free hospital for them as well as schools for the local peasant children. These facts are often left out of the accounts which like to portray the estates of Paul as nothing more than an armed camp presided over by a militaristic martinet. The army was always important to him but he was far from being no more than a heartless drillmaster as he is often portrayed. His only chance to see battle himself was during the war with Sweden of 1788-90 during which he did come under enemy fire, though the Swedes later apologized for having shot at him.
Far from being a harsh authoritarian, Tsar Paul I made everyone more equal under the law, which not everyone in the nobility appreciated. Under his rule, nobles would pay taxes and if they committed crimes would be subject to the same corporal punishment given to the common people. Which is not to say that Paul I was any sort of revolutionary. Quite the contrary. Because of the spread of revolutionary ideas from France, in 1800 Tsar Paul I cut off all imports of books and music and even forbid the use of such words as “citizen” and “society”, which was to his credit. He believed absolutely in divinely ordained monarchy, legitimate authority and was totally opposed to revolution on principle. It was because of his devotion to these ideals that he joined Great Britain, Naples and Austria in the Second Coalition against revolutionary France. Russia was, at that point, under no threat whatsoever, but Paul I would oppose revolution and defend legitimate monarchs wherever and whenever they were threatened. His goal was to see the lawful monarchs restored to their thrones in Italy and he was particularly outraged by the French occupation of Malta in 1798. The Knights of Malta had fascinated him since he was a boy and in that year he secured his election as their Grand Master. It was his greatest wish to see Russia liberate Malta and restore the island to the Knights.
Through it all, the Tsar never forgot his people and he was meticulous in looking out for their welfare. He wanted to be the accessible Tsar and indeed he was. One of the things he is remembered for was putting in what we would today call a “suggestion box” at the Winter Palace where any Russian could leave him letters, making suggestions, reporting problems or ask for assistance. This was no meaningless charade either as the Tsar collected and read these letters himself every day and answered every single one. He was known to spend whole nights on his knees in prayer and wrote of government that, “The object of every society is the happiness of each and all”. He rose at five o’clock every morning and remained constantly busy until his head touched the pillow at night. Many have described him as being paranoid but this seems an odd accusation to make considering the tragic end of Tsar Paul I. As has often been said, it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you. So it was with Paul I. A plot was hatched with the knowledge of his son and heir Alexander, though Alexander had no idea that the plot included regicide. Count Peter Pahlen, military governor of St Petersburg, was the chief architect of the coup. On the night of March 11-12, 1801 the conspirators infiltrated the Tsar’s residence, Mikhailovsky Zamok, and found Paul I in his bedroom. The Tsar was attacked, fought back, was brutally beaten and finally strangled to death with a sash. The murderers quickly announced that the Tsar had died of an apoplexy but the truth spread quickly.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Monday, June 18, 2012
Queen Maria Luisa of Savoy was consort to the first Bourbon King of Spain and also showed herself to be not only a popular and beloved consort but a talented and confident woman who would have been perfectly capable of ruling a country herself, as she did on occasion when her husband was out of town. She was born in Turin on August 17, 1688, the third daughter of Duke Victor Amadeus II of Savoy and Princess Anne Marie of Orleans (daughter of the Duke of Orleans and Princess Henrietta of England). She was a bright, playful and happy child but it was a childhood that did not last long since, as with so many princesses, she had to grow up quite rapidly for the sake of a political marriage. It was not as much a case of her own parents seeking a match for her but her husband-to-be who sought her out for political reasons. Over in Spain the House of Hapsburg had died out with King Carlos II and the grandson of King Louis XIV of France was set to be imported as the new King of Spain, the first of the dynasty that continues to the present day. Only 16-years-old at the time, the French and Spanish governments came to an agreement and the teenage Duke of Anjou became King Felipe V of Spain.
Happily, when Queen Maria Luisa arrived in Barcelona and met her young husband King Felipe V she was not disappointed. Despite the circumstances of their union the two had a successful marriage and a genuine romance. As she settled in to life in Spain her most constant guide and companion was the formidable Princess des Ursins who became head of the Queen’s household and, unofficially, the most powerful woman in Spain. It had to be a difficult time for her as the War of Spanish Succession broke out which placed her father, the Duke of Savoy, on the side of Great Britain, Austria and others in opposition to France and Spain. As fighting raged from northern France and the Low Countries to the Italian peninsula, King Felipe V had to leave Spain to defend family territory in Naples. This left Queen Maria Luisa in Madrid as regent for her husband for quite some time but she proved herself to be more than up to the challenge. She was extremely thorough in her work, listening to all sides, investigating every complaint and checking all reports herself. She helped to reorganize the government and rallied the Spanish people to unite in support of the war effort. The patriotism she displayed and the care she showed toward the people made her popularity soar and the population adored her, affectionately calling her “La Savoyana”.
The only problem for the Queen was her long-time ‘right arm’ Princess des Ursins who, one year after the King returned, was forced to leave the court because of pressure from King Louis XIV. This was mostly due to the fact that she had strongly advised the King and Queen to keep the French at a distance and surround themselves with Spaniards to make sure there was no mistaking that the new Bourbon monarchy would be Spanish and not simply an extension of France. Queen Maria Luisa was extremely distraught to see the Princess go who she had come to depend on so much. However, it was only temporary and to the great delight of the Queen the princess was able to return in 1705. Two years later the Savoy queen did her duty for the Spanish succession and gave birth to a son and heir, the future King Luis I. Two years later another baby boy followed but, sadly, did not live out the year. In 1712 the Queen gave birth to another son, who greatly resembled his mother. However, like the rest, his health was not robust (usually attributed to the degree of relation between the King and Queen) and he would die at only seven years old. In 1713 the Queen presented her husband with another son, the future King Fernando VI, who would thankfully have a long life and go on to enact many reforms in Spain and across the Spanish empire.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Saturday, June 16, 2012
On the continent, HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark hosted a state visit by President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China to strengthen Sino-Danish ties. Oddly enough I could find no stories about people protesting this visit. Since pro-democracy groups in Britain protested the King of Bahrain and the King of Swaziland having lunch at Windsor Castle a few weeks ago, I was just certain there would be an even bigger uproar of the leader of a single-party dictatorship with nuclear weapons and a million-man army being treated as an honored guest. Oh, wait, that wouldn’t happen because the EU needs money from China. What was I thinking? Also looking to strengthen ties, HM Queen Beatrix began a state visit to Turkey this week. The Netherlands and Turkey have had cordial diplomatic relations dating back to 1611. And, down in sunny Monte Carlo, TSH Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco rubbed elbows with stars of the small screen at the 52nd Monte Carlo Television Festival. Meanwhile, in Sweden, the King was insulted in a novel way; by an inscription on a counterfeit coin (accusing the monarch of having low moral fiber). Republicans in Sweden obviously have too much time on their hands.
In the Far East, TM the Emperor and Empress of Japan as well as TIH the Crown Prince, Crown Princess and other members of the Imperial Family attended the funeral ceremonies for HIH Prince Tomohito of Mikasa on Thursday. Down in the Kingdom of Malaysia the loyal people of Johor came out in droves to show their support for their Sultan who was criticized for spending a substantial amount of money to bid for the WWW1 car registration plate. He announced his victory in the bidding via Twitter. The Sultan used his own money to buy the plate and not a cent from his taxpayer-funded allowance which is used for social welfare projects and his foundations. Sultan Ibrahim was moved by the show of support from his people and addressed those who first criticized him by saying, “Engage your brain before shooting your mouth”. Truer words were never spoken. In the Middle East, 500 college students are set to benefit from a new initiative set up by Sheikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa which will provide financial assistance to Bahraini students short on funds for their education. Finally, in Saudi Arabia, a petition is being circulated to ask King Abdullah to lift the ban on women driving cars. They also thanked the King for all the restrictions he has removed against women so far in his reign (I thought that was nice) but so far, less than 600 have signed the petition.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Because of their drive for the (unobtainable) goal of “equality” socialists have historically been the avowed enemies of monarchy as well as traditional, organized religion. In just about every monarchy that has fallen in the Twentieth Century socialists of one variety or another have been at the forefront of bringing them down. Spain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia were all instances wherein socialists brought down existing, traditional monarchies and not one of those countries improved as a result of it. Of course, some people will point to modern monarchies which are, in Europe and Japan at least, often extremely socialist and yet the monarchy survives. I say, give them time. Even in these countries where monarchy survives it is the socialists that are invariably the ones who wish it were not so and are just waiting for their chance to bring the monarchy down. If there are those who are devoted monarchists, I am certainly glad, but given the history and principles of the socialist movement I don’t think I could ever trust them. It is hard to imagine how one could reconcile being a socialist and a monarchist but if they can, while I would be pleased, it still would not make me accepting of their other policies. Too much ruination has already flowed from those ideals.
This in itself tends to work against monarchies as history and even current events have shown. The state takes from those who have to give to those who have not. Soon those who have no longer have much or have left the country and so money must be borrowed to continue giving to those who have not. Eventually the well of credit runs dry, the bills come due and there is great pain and consternation as those who have come to depend on the state being generous with the property of others fear they may be forced to do without or (God forbid) become responsible for their own welfare. This invariably leads to attacks on the monarchy with all the usual slogans and tired lines of attack. ‘Who are they to get to live in a palace and go to fancy parties while the state only pays me enough to survive without having a job?’ It happened in Russia and it happened in France. Neither the Tsar nor King Louis were causing anyone to go hungry but the royals are always easy targets for those who stir up envy and class hatred. They do not see the lifetime of service, the numerous charities or anything like that; they only see someone living better than themselves and so raise the howl of “social(ist) justice” and “wealth redistribution” and the end of the “class system”. The fact that this has never ended up working out well for the least of those in society seems to make no difference.
Finally though, what really infuriates me the most, what gets under my skin and bugs me half to death is the flagrant hypocrisy of the rich socialists. I’m talking about people like Michael Moore, a multi-millionaire who sides with the union but doesn’t hire union workers on his films, who condemns capitalism but goes to court to keep as much of his own money as possible. I’m talking about Oprah who so supported President Obama (peace be upon him) and his “spread the wealth” campaign while moving around the country from mansion to mansion, staying just long enough to avoid paying the full tax rate on each. I might also point to multi-billionaires like Warren Buffett, who supports raising income taxes on other people which will not effect him in the least because he pays himself no salary and so has no “income” in tax but … I think you get the picture.
Think about it like this: If the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Pope or Franklin Graham went around stealing, murdering and fornicating but still said these things were wrong and the government should make them illegal; would anyone take them seriously or listen to them for a second? Of course they wouldn’t. They would be dismissed as utter, rank hypocrites and rightly so. Why then doesn’t the same principle apply to the socialists? If they believe all the crap they spew about income inequality, why don’t they start writing out checks to everyone in their neighborhoods who have less than they do? They could spread their own wealth around right now. They could start sharing their wealth and lowering the “income gap” this very day! Of course, whenever someone makes this point they always say, ‘well, just me and my friends doing it wouldn’t make a difference’ so they have to have the government force everyone else to do it too (while they stash money overseas and play musical chairs with their mansions). Frankly, that’s a pretty lame excuse. If they really believed what they claim to they would do it just on principle and it would certainly help some people -right? Just take, for example, the greater Los Angeles area where there are many very poor people, many poor “undocumented immigrants” and also many multi-millionaire celebrities (not as many as there used to be for some reason). Why don’t they prove to all what socialism can do and just redistribute the wealth in that area equally?