Thursday, October 27, 2016
She was a regular at church, an ardent conservative in her politics and she loved monkeys, murder mysteries and Star Trek. She liked listening to Dean Martin, she could cook, she could sew and do all the things that girls used to be taught to do. Her cooking, in fact, made her something of a local celebrity, all the more impressive considering that she came to Texas from a far off country and, in those days, had never even heard of many of the dishes she would one day come to master. At auctions for local scholarships, her baked goods always raised the most money, her cinnamon rolls in particular regularly sold for hundreds of dollars for each pan. She hated rodents, was scared to death of cats and was never comfortable around firearms. Even after so many decades in Texas, there are some things that certain people just never get used to.
Dealing with her loss continues to be very difficult. It is all the worse in that, particularly with her passing, the traditional "comforters" of our family are now all gone. I am beginning to feel like one of the 'last of the Mohicans' here. My grandparents are all gone, on my father's side of the family, out of six boys, only my father and one uncle remain and, from my immediate family, three of five children and now our mother is gone so that only my oldest sister, our father and myself remain though my sister's two daughters have been a great comfort. When so many are gone, and so few are left, it causes a very unsettling feeling I can only label as a sort of despair. It's an uncomfortable feeling like being one of the last attendees at a party, loitering around after most everyone has gone home. When you look around and realize it, you start to feel out of place even in familiar surroundings.
Anyway, I didn't write this just to have a moan. When it comes to the web, 'out of sight' is usually 'out of mind' and I just wanted everyone to know why I have been absent for some time and to ask your indulgence as I may be gone a while longer. I have been trying to get back in the usual routine but it is difficult. This has put a great deal of emotional strain on someone with a mental state that, according to the professionals, was not in perfect working order to begin with. I will try to get things back to normal as soon as I can, I am sure it would be good for me to, but until then I hope you will all understand the reason why and know that I appreciate your patience.
God bless and keep on,
The Mad Monarchist
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Known for his love of music, young King Bhumibol returned to school in Europe and switched his studies to political science and statecraft while the military regime continued to rule. This situation prevailed after his return until a conflict arose against the long-standing strongman Field Marshal Phibun (the man who had ruled throughout World War II). Phibun went to the King who advised him to resign before he was overthrown. Phibun did not listen and soon after was overthrown in a coup at which point the King, acting on his own, declared a state of emergency and took control of the situation himself. Public order was secured, the people were calmed and normalcy prevailed while the government situation was sorted out. For the first time since the end of absolutism, traditional royal customs were revived and the King took on a much more high-profile role in national life. The people were quickly drawn to the young man who traveled throughout the countryside, in simple clothes and dark glasses (worn since he had lost an eye in an automobile accident in Europe), looking into their concerns and coming up with his own solutions through government action or the private activities of his own charities.
It was also during this period, in the 50’s and 60’s, that communism began to sweep Southeast Asia and the Kingdom of Thailand allied itself with the United States in fighting the spread of communist subversion. Most think of Thailand simply providing support to the U.S. forces in Vietnam, rest and recreation facilities, ports and air bases and the like, but Thai forces also joined the fight with Thai soldiers seeing action in Laos against the communist movement. There was a real fear that Communist China would dominate Laos and use it to gain entry to Thailand. The Kingdom of Thailand also sent the hard-fighting “Queen’s Cobra battalion” to South Vietnam where it served alongside American and South Vietnamese forces against the communists from 1965 to 1971. These days, of course, this long struggle is not viewed favorably anywhere but it was certainly not lost on the people at the time in Thailand that the victory of communism and the loss of the Vietnamese emperor and the kings of Laos and Cambodia went hand-in-hand with civil war, misery and tyranny whereas Thailand, for a time alone, remained a free and relatively prosperous country under their beloved King.
Finally, there came the issue of the transition to democracy. Thailand had actually had almost no experience with democracy, despite claims to the contrary, prior to the 1990’s. The end of royal absolutism brought to power a new class of political elites but they were not true democratic representatives of the public will and they were soon replaced by military leaders who had held power ever since. That changed with the military coup of 1991 in which General Suchinda Kraprayoon seized power, making himself dictator. However, this time, there was considerable public opposition and violence broke out as army units fought to suppress anti-government demonstrations. The chaos spread throughout Bangkok and fears began to rise that an all-out civil war was eminent.
Not long after, General Suchinda resigned and after a short time a general election was held and a democratic government came to power in Thailand. Again, a civil war had been averted and the transition from military rule to parliamentary democracy had taken place without a major, nationwide upheaval, thanks to the intervention of the King. The people did not forget, nor the many and on-going charitable works of the King which impacted their lives in a positive way. As the 1990’s passed beyond the year 2000, however, democracy began to take its toll quickly on Thailand. A leftist government, led by the wealthy and unscrupulous Thaksin Shinawatra came to power, basically by buying votes, promising people other people’s money and he held on to power by means of his media empire and intimidation by his bully-boy supporters. In time, accusations of corruption, violation of human rights, even murder were raised against the Thaksin government and people again called on their revered monarch to dismiss him and appoint a new prime minister of his own choosing in 2006.
Yingluck was, as most probably know, removed from power by a military coup in May of 2014, charged and found guilty of abuse of power. This came after much of 2013 had been consumed with anti-government protests against her and her brother’s regime. The King endorsed the military action as the only way that law and order could be restored in the country as the clashes between the pro- and anti-government forces had become violent. He had earlier warned that the situation had been allowed to fester to the point where there were no good options. However, despite what some argued, the situation was secured, peace and order were restored and the military government has remained in place and will certainly remain in place for a while now, if for no other reason that to secure a peaceful transition from one monarch to another. To the very end of his life, he was concerned with the good of the nation, the welfare of the people and preventing them from coming to any harm.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great will always be remembered as one of the most significant and successful and beloved monarchs that Thailand has ever had in her ancient history. He has deserved all of the accolades he has received, will always be missed and will always be remembered. For the time being at least, while people come to grips with his loss, the “Land of Smiles” has become a ‘land of tears’…
Monday, October 10, 2016
Originally, of course, one of the great advantages of a monarchy was that it was above political parties and factions and could be counted on to behave in a dispassionate and impartial way. That, however, first began to change when the monarchy itself became an institution that the revolutionary types wished to do away with and so, naturally, the monarch had no choice but to support the faction that favored his survival and oppose that which wished to see him killed or deposed and his children disinherited. That is where the left-right division in politics, certainly in the English-speaking world, first emerged. The Cavaliers or Tories were for the King and the Roundheads were against him. Later it was the Tories who were for the King and the Whigs who were against him, later still these became Tory and Labour though these days the pattern seems to be shifting as the Tories have drifted very far from where they historically have been. In the same way, the actual terms of “left” and “right” came from the French assembly at the time of the Revolution when those who favored retaining the monarchy sat on the right and those who favored a republic sat on the left.
For a time, the lesson seemed to be well-learned even by people on the right that it would be best to have the monarchy separated from politics so that, with all of the chaos of multi-party political dabbling, if things went wrong, the politicians, rather than the monarch, would get the blame. That has, on the whole, proven to work rather well. More conservative liberals seemed to find a ‘sweet spot’ in which monarchs stayed out of politics and acted instead as moral, almost spiritual leaders of the nation as a whole. They did not make policy but they set a good example, drew attention to areas not covered by the government, championed charitable social causes and embodied the best attributes of a people. Again, it seemed to work quite well and others followed the example. In theory, that is supposed to be the state of affairs which prevails today and yet any honest observer can see that it is not. Royals are not allowed to be actively involved in politics of course, but any reasonable person should be able to see that they are not totally separated from politics and political divisions.
My advice, to conservative Canadians, would be to, of course, not hold anger on the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for such displays but rather to simply use the occasion to highlight the history and culture of Canada. There is a reason why this attractive English couple comes to Canada and matters to Canadians, because Canada, certainly English-speaking Canada, was founded by British colonists, was a major part of the British Empire and, God willing, the Duke of Cambridge and little Prince George in turn will one day be King of Canada. It is an occasion to highlight the important part Canada occupies in the history of the English-speaking world, where Canadian customs, traditions, culture and so on originally came from and grew from. However, that is something that any more traditional Canadian will have to do on their own because the government is certainly never going to do it nor would any royals ever be allowed to do such a thing themselves.
Even to many in the west that might seem rather hard to imagine but it is not so far removed. Can one imagine the King of the Netherlands saying he prefers the ‘Prince’s Flag’ with its orange stripe in reference to his own royal house rather than the red-white-blue version? Can one imagine the Prince of Wales publicly encouraging people in England to fly the St George Cross? To bring it back to an earlier point, can anyone imagine a member of the British Royal Family, part of whose job it is to support Britain and British culture around the world, voicing support in Canada during their national flag debate for the Canadian Red Ensign since it symbolizes the British roots of modern Canada? Once again, I think we all know what sort of accusations would be hurled at the royals who made such statements and that they would never be allowed to make them in the first place.
For years these disgraceful traitors have tried to destroy economies based on private property, destroy Christianity, destroy monarchy, destroy entire countries. In most of the places where it mattered, the most powerful and prosperous parts of the world, they failed. So, rather than giving up, they simply decided to infiltrate and degrade these institutions so that their stalwart defenders would no longer consider them worth fighting for. So, and you can look at the donor list of leftist political candidates to validate this, they undermine economies by making free markets into the plutocratic farce known as “crony capitalism”, they turn the oldest Christian churches into social justice soup kitchens devoid of real doctrine, they corrupt whole countries until people no longer respect their country or consider it worth fighting for. And, they use their royals wherever they can to push causes and make changes that undermine the very concept of monarchy itself even while offending the most loyal and winning over no one.
Take, for example, voting patterns in the United States, where detailed records are kept about what sort of people vote for which political party. By very large margins Muslims vote for Democrats, most of whom are not Muslims and who support policies which are, according to traditional Islamic values, fundamentally immoral. Democrats support secularism, abortion, gay marriage and so on and yet Muslims vote for this party regardless of that because they are not going to abandon their religion, they are not going to have abortions or adopt lifestyles that preclude procreation and no one has yet made an issue about asking Muslim bakers to make any gay wedding cakes, so as far as they are concerned, all of that stuff is only to the detriment of non-Muslims and not themselves. Meanwhile, Democrats support other policies that do benefit them or move things in the direction they want them to go. It is not at all like the Christians saying, “I can’t vote for Trump because he doesn’t reflect my values”. No one else cares if someone ‘reflects their values’ or is exactly like them, they just care about their agenda and who is going to move things in a direction favorable to them.
If the people in the countries of the world where some vestige of traditional authority survives were to do this, adopt the ‘victory at any cost’ mentality, the royals who are currently being used by the political left, would have only two options: either oppose the will of the people and in so doing completely upset the very system they have been trained to uphold, the system that says if the parliament passed a bill calling for their execution they would have to sign it, or else they would have to do what they have done before and get out in front of it. Personally, I think they would do the latter and, perhaps, some might rejoice. We don’t know what they actually think because they are, frankly, not too dissimilar from hostages at this point, in most cases.
I have mentioned before but will mention again the case of the passing of His Majesty Baudouin, King of the Belgians. His death was a shock and he was a much beloved, highly respected and long-reigning monarch but he was also a monarch who took some very unpopular public positions and defied the prevailing political establishment. First, on the occasion of the granting of independence to the Belgian Congo, he made a speech which was complimentary of his relative and predecessor King Leopold II, praising his foresight and taking the first steps towards the development of central Africa. He also warned the new Congolese government that independence would bring with it greater responsibilities and neither of these were things the new government wanted to hear and there was an immediate backlash. Later, and probably most famously, the government had to declare him unfit and remove his as monarch temporarily when he steadfastly refused to sign a bill legalizing abortion in Belgium, despite fears that it would provoke a constitutional crisis. The politicians got their way but it made news all over the world that a supposedly ‘ceremonial’ monarch had defied his government and refused to rubber-stamp the will of the elected representatives.
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
|The submarine Benedetto Brin|
|Longanesi-Cattani meeting the admiral on his return|
|The captain on the Leonardo da Vinci|
By this time, pressure was being placed on Brazil to join the war and with Allied convoys in the North Atlantic so heavily guarded, it was correctly thought that the Brazilian shipping lanes would offer greater opportunities for the larger Axis submarines such as the Italian boats and the German Type-IX’s that had sufficient range to operate in the South Atlantic. Longanesi-Cattani was sent in and patrolled off the coast of Brazil but was later diverted to the African coast. On June 2, 1942 he sank a large schooner with his deck gun, the Reine Marie Stuart, and a few days later sank the British ship Chile with a single torpedo. On June 10 he successfully torpedoed the Dutch ship Alioth (also with gunfire which was not uncommon for Italian submarines since their torpedoes were not as effective as the German magnetic type) and later another steamer, the Clan McQuarrie. Longanesi-Cattani had become an “ace” sub skipper, sinking more than five ships and returned to port to receive another Silver Medal and the Iron Cross first class from his German ally. After a job well done, in August he was ordered back to Italy for a new assignment, his boat to be given to Gianfranco Gazzana-Priaroggia who would gain fame as Italy’s most successful submarine commander.
|Longanesi-Cattani on the bridge|
|Princess Irene and Princess Anne|
Saturday, October 1, 2016
It is also unfortunate that the case of Queen Mary I is often, to this day, seen through a partisan, religious, glass. The truth is that the Tudor period was a time of intense religious zeal in Christendom and neither Catholics nor Protestants were particularly tolerant of each other. Queen Mary herself had been persecuted, not tortured by any means but certainly persecuted, for her adherence to Catholicism and her refusal to change and embrace Protestantism. Yet, her villainous reputation stems entirely from the fact that she had several hundred Protestants burned alive during her rather short reign for heresy. That is true and by modern standards it is horrific but there are a few facts people should keep in mind before being too harsh towards Queen Mary (and that includes many Catholics who blame her for the failure of their cause in England).
Queen Mary I actually began her reign with a very tolerant attitude toward those who had tried to prevent her from taking the throne, those who had persecuted her mother and the most adamant Protestants of the Church of England. It was only after this attitude of reconciliation was not returned that she likewise became more intolerant. Though often blamed, her husband King Philip II of Spain, actually urged against taking repressive measures, for political reasons of his own. It is also true that Queen Mary had fewer Protestants put to death for their religion than either her father before her or her younger sister after her would have Catholics put to death for their faith, the caveat being that Queen Mary I reigned for only a few years while Henry VIII and Elizabeth I reigned for a much longer period of time. All the same, most of those who were put to death would have or could have justly been put to death anyway for treason but the Queen decided to put them to death for heresy, by burning, rather than for treason which called for a slower and more gruesome means of execution.
Most today would certainly regard what she did as unspeakably cruel and this is not the place to argue over that but the point is that the Queen herself certainly did not see it so. The last evidence of that is in the manner of her death. Her final hours show a woman with a clear conscience who did not dread the judgement of the Almighty. In stark contrast to her more beloved sister, Queen Elizabeth I, who died in agony, tormented by terrifying visions, Queen Mary I died calmly, peacefully, with visions of angelic children playing around her. She was a zealous woman but she was not an evil woman or a heartless woman and should not be portrayed as such.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
|One of the order's war galleys|
Monday, September 26, 2016
|Princes Willem & Frederik|
While on a visit to Berlin he met Princess Friederike Luise Wilhelmine of Prussia, his cousin, and the two were married in 1791. After finishing his education, the Hereditary Prince was made a general in the Dutch army by his father and given a seat on the Council of State of the Dutch republic. Not long after, the Dutch republicans were to learn that the kinship they felt with the French revolutionaries was not returned when the French National Convention declared war on the Dutch republic in 1793. Prince Willem was given command of the Dutch ‘mobile army’ to meet the attacking French and he was soon leading his troops alongside the armies of other powers in the Flanders campaign. It was hard fighting and the Prince tasted both victory and defeat such as when he captured Landrecies and was later smashed along with his allies at the Battle of Fleurus in 1794. Still, he made enough of a favorable impression that the Emperor Francis II gave him command of the Austrian forces in the region, to be grouped with his own though, in the end, the huge advantage in numbers possessed by the French revolutionaries with their campaign of mass conscription, proved impossible to overcome.
|Willem, Prince of Orange|
However, in 1806 Napoleon invaded the German states, the same year that Willem V died and his son officially became Prince Willem VI of Orange, and the Prince fought alongside his Prussian relatives against the French as a divisional commander of the Prussian army at the Battle of Jena. However, the Prussians were defeated and the Prince was forced to surrender the next day. He was given his parole, forced to promise not to fight against the French any more and was granted a pension from France as his country was a vassal of the government in Paris. However, he had no intention of keeping his word to the French and when the Austrian Empire went to war with France, he quickly joined their ranks and was wounded at the Battle of Wagram while serving on the staff of the Austrian commander Archduke Charles. Later, he received a great boost from Czar Alexander I of Russia who promised to help restore Dutch independence and make the Prince of Orange king. Prussia and Britain were both expected to agree. After the defeat of Napoleon at Leipzig, an Orange restoration seemed imminent.
|The return of the Prince of Orange|
|King Willem I inspects the army in the 100 Days Campaign|
However, there were problems. The Belgians had hoped to gain their own independence from the wars with France and many were not happy about being subject to a Dutch king. Though his son was popular there, King Willem I was not. The Belgians complained of being underrepresented in the new Dutch government. They resented the King pushing everyone to adopt the Dutch language as, in those days, not only did the Walloon population of Belgium speak only French but the elite, the educated and the businessmen of Flanders spoke French as well. The Belgians were also solidly Catholic and they also resented the special favor shown by their Protestant monarch to the Dutch Reformed Church. This is all, of course, completely understandable just as it is understandable that King Willem I wished to have all parts of his kingdom united, wanting one people, one language, one religion under one monarch. It might not have been so bad if Belgian expectations had not been raised previously. It also did not help that the policies which benefited the Dutch population of traders, bankers and businessmen were often less than helpful to the farmers and laborers of Belgium.
|King Willem I|
This was a particularly bitter pill for King Willem I to swallow as he had been so very proud of his “United Kingdom of the Netherlands” which, after the separation of Belgium, became instead the Kingdom of the Netherlands as it is today though still with the personal union with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Dutch liberals also took advantage of the opportunity that came with amending the constitution to take into account the loss of Belgium to diminish the King’s powers. It was not an immense change but it did mean that the King could no longer do as he pleased entirely and King Willem I was outraged by this. He was also facing mounting anger over his private life as, since the death of his wife in 1837 (after giving him two sons and two daughters) he had taken up with a countess who, to the outrage of the Dutch public, was a Catholic and a Belgian. He wished to marry her but it was clear the Dutch people would not stand for such a thing. So, with King Willem I refusing to accept the constitutional changes, his people refusing to accept his choice of wife and lingering resentment over the loss of Belgium, King Willem I started the tradition of Dutch monarchs abdicating when he gave up his throne on October 7, 1840.