Thursday, October 30, 2008

Arguments for the Kingdom of Serbia (8)

Quentin Langley

European monarchies have excellent records of democracy and preserving freedom. When Americans think of monarchy they are most likely to think first of Britain and Queen Elizabeth II. But Holland, Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and the Scandinavian countries are all successful constitutional monarchies. Heredity is а common method for choosing a head of state in the European Union or NATO. And, of course, there are other successful parliamentary democracies which share Britain’s house of Windsor: Canada, New Zealand and Australia being the most prominent.

Virtually all the democracies of Western Europe are built on the parliamentary model. Republics such as Germany and Ireland have pseudo-monarchies where the President is constitutionally restricted to a purely ceremonial role. The French President has some additional powers, but is helpless in the face of parliament controlled by a different party. The US model of a strong executive president is not popular among democracies. Most countries which have switched from a parliamentary to a presidential system, including most former British territories in Africa, have gone on to severely restrict political freedoms soon afterwards.

The switch the other way, on the most notable occasion that it happened, was tremendously successful. Spain is a stable parliamentary democracy in no small measure because of the unifying effect of its popular King. He systematically dismantled the engines of Franco’s dictatorship and handed power to democratic civilian rulers. He stood firmly against an attempt by the military to restore fascist rule. When the military held parliament hostage, it was the King, as the symbol of Spain’s unity, who took charge and commanded the soldiers to lay down their arms.

The USA is a striking exception to a global rule: parliamentary systems are more stable, more effective, and better able to preserve freedom than executive presidencies, and some of the best examples of effective parliamentary democracies are constitutional monarchies.

Better governance is only one advantage of restoring the monarchy. If I were asked my advice as an experienced international public relations consultant I would recommend any of the new countries in Central and Eastern Europe seriously consider the option. As a host of new countries compete for the attention of international investors and tourists each will need a unique selling point. Perhaps in this sense Serbia, with its familiar name, would not benefit as much from a restored monarchy as would, say, Slovenia or Lithuania. But what better way for a newly liberated country to attract tourists than to advertise to Americans its long history, its museums and its palaces? Countries with names that the Soviets wiped from the map can make much of their links to the past by establishing monarchies once again. Monarchy establishes that these new states are being built by old nations.

The link with the distant past is reinforced my making a clear break with the immediate past. Monarchy separates politics from government: in that sense it is the opposite of totalitarianism which deliberately pretends that the interests of the ruling elite are those of the country. In a monarchy it is clear that you can be loyal to the state without being loyal to the government: a distinction which Communism does not recognize.

And what better ambassador could there be to garner foreign investment than a King or Queen? Would American investors rush to meet the President of country they could not place on a map? Would the networks report such a visit to American shores? But the Queen of some exotic European domain would attract far more interest.

Serbia is lucky. Like post-Franco Spain, it has a living royal family. Crown Prince Alexander, the heir of the pre-war Kings lives in Belgrade since 2001. Not all the emerging states of the former Communist empire have an obvious claimant if they should decide to take the monarchist route.

King Farouk once predicted that one day there would be only five Kings: England, Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds. But he might just have been wrong.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Queen Rania UNICEF’s Advocate for Children

Named Eminent Advocate for Children at the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in 2007, HM Queen Rania of Jordan plays an important part in calling the attention of the international community and of the media to the challenges that children and adolescents face, especially with regard to education.

Last week the Queen was accompanying her husband, King Abdullah II of Jordan, during his first official visit to Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

Visiting (October 21 2008) the Escuela Bisica El Salitre School which serves one of the most underprivileged communities in Santiago, Queen Rania was eager to hear about how the government has committed itself to education reform across the country. Her Majesty was briefed on the ENLACES program, which concentrates on providing schools with technology so that it becomes part of the curriculum and teaching tools.

The program, which focuses on language, science and math, aims to motivate students to learn in a more interactive style and to give teachers multiple resources to address the learning styles of different students.

Speaking about similar experiences in Jordan with the Jordan Educational Initiative, the Queen noted that “the challenge isn’t just putting technology in the classroom but using that technology to transform the learning experience of students“.

Children at a UNICEF-supported school in Buenos Aires, Argentina received a royal visitor on October 23, when Queen Rania dropped by at the Paula Albarracín de Sarmiento school. There she learned about a new programme that allows teachers, administrators and families to self-evaluate educational practices, and make quick changes when improvements are needed.

„The job of reforming education is one that never ends,“ said Queen Rania. „It is one that involves all partners. Teachers, students, families, communities, the government – even the private sector has to be involved in the process.

Queen Rania also visited Vila Madalena neighbourhood, in São Paulo, on October 24. The queen learnt about the activities developed by the program, which proposes a „school for life“ and works to fulfil the needs of children, of the family and of the community, recognising that education is more than knowing how to read and write.

„Children do not only have the right to learn. They have the right to be prepared to become active and productive citizens.


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Queen Elizabeth visits Slovenia

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived in Ljubljana Tuesday for a two day State Visit to Slovenia.

The Queen complimented Slovenia for its striking achievements since gaining independence 17 years ago, in leaving communism behind and becoming a reliable European Union and NATO member. This is her first visit to this country „on the sunny side of the Alps“.

„Slovenia's transformation since 1991 is a remarkable tribute to the country's energy, vision and determination“, the Queen said in her toast to President Danilo Turk at an evening banquet at the Brdo Castle. The visit should „demonstrate the importance the United Kingdom attaches to our relations with Slovenia, as a partner in Europe and an ally in NATO“, the Queen said.

The castle was once owned by the Yugoslav royal family and later served as a retreat for Communist dictator Josip Broz Tito, whom the Queen met in the 1970s.

Slovenia swiftly adopted Western standards and joined the EU and NATO in 2004. In 2007, it introduced the euro and this year it headed the EU for six months and joined the bloc's borderless zone. Yet its smooth, scandal-free existence, coupled with being one of the smallest EU nations, often leaves it out of the spotlight - and the country welcomes the opportunity to be recognized.

During her visit to this Alpine nation, which Slovenian media called „historic“, Queen Elizabeth II was given a prized Lipizzaner stallion - but she decided to leave him in the care of the Lipica stud farm in western Slovenia. The queen took instant pride in ownership though.

„Let me see the stable, she told the stud farm's director, Matjaz Pust, before marching away toward the stall. He explained that the stallion's stall had just been renovated, „so he has a royal room now.“ The queen beamed.

The tour of the 428-year-old stud farm in Lipica was a high point of the queen's trip to the former Yugoslav republic, which is squeezed between Italy, Austria and Croatia.

Later Wednesday, the queen had a lunch with prominent Slovenians at the Castle on a hill overlooking the capital, Ljubljana. She and Prince Philip then took a walk downtown, waving to several hundred people gathered in a central square to see her. The queen planned to leave Thursday morning for Slovakia, another small EU and NATO-member.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Serbian Royal foundation raises money for students

Money was raised for Crown Prince Alexander’s Foundation for Education at a charity dinner at Belgrade’s White Palace on Friday. The evening was hosted by Serbia’s Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown Princess Katherine.

The royal Foundation enables promising students from Serbia to continue their education at prestigious academic institutions of the world, so that they will return to Serbia and apply their training for the benefit of the country. It is part of nationwide efforts aimed at supporting development of a stable, democratic and economically advanced society in Serbia.

My Foundation for Education has done much already, but we can do so much more. We want to create permanent scholarship endowments that will be funded year after year. We need your help, Alexander said in a speech at the dinner.

Friday, October 17, 2008



She was the first monarch to send an e-mail. She has her own Web site. And on Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II uploaded video to YouTube during a visit to Google's British headquarters.

The company celebrated the queen's visit by creating a special version of its home page, which featured a silhouette of her head as the second G and a regal crown atop the E in their logo.

During the visit, the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, saw a demonstration of the company's technology and met schoolchildren who won a competition to design their own Google doodles – what the Mountain View, California-based company calls special editions of their blue, red, yellow and green logo.

The royal couple met users of the Google-owned YouTube video Web site, including Peter Oakley, an 81-year-old known as Geriatric1927. Oakley's videos on the site earned him a nomination for a YouTube award in 2006.

The queen herself has a presence on YouTube – she launched the Royal Channel in December. There are 54 videos on the channel, which range from the Queen's 1957 Christmas message to a day in the life of Prince Charles. On Thursday, she uploaded archive footage to the channel of a 1969 reception at Buckingham Palace for British Olympians.


Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle led a delegation to the Denver Mint on Tuesday for the striking of the first of that state's commemorative quarters — and the last in a 10-year series commemorating the 50 states.

Hawaii's coin features monarch King Kamehameha I stretching a hand toward the eight major Hawaiian Islands. Inscribed is the state motto, „The Life of the Land is Perpetuated in Righteousness,“ in the Hawaiian language. It will go into circulation Nov. 3.

„It's our vision for Hawaii's future, and it shows our respect for all the land,“ Lingle said of the quarter's design and motto. „And it also shows that although there are many islands, we're united as a state.“

Kamehameha ruled from 1782 to 1819 and unified the islands. The Kingdom of Hawaii that he established in 1810 retained its independence, except for a five-month British occupation in 1843, until it was annexed by the United States in 1898. It was this legacy that earned Kamehameha the epithet „Napoleon of the Pacific.“

Mint officials expect about 520 million Hawaii quarters to be produced.


Celebrating Dashain, the main festival of Nepali Hindus, the former royal couple, King Gyanendra and Queen Komal offered ‘tika’ (a mixture of rice, vermillion, and curd) to citizens in the capital, on October 9.

Around 5,000 of people had gathered at the king’s private residence in Kathmandu and waited for several hours to get the blessings from the former royal couple.

Earlier, the kings used to formally offer Dashain blessings to ministers, officials and the general public; but now that monarchy is abolished in the country, the ex-royal couple organised the programme at their private residence.

Kamal Thapa, former Home Minister and now chairperson of Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, after receiving the blessings, told journalists that although there is no technical and constituional existence of monarchy in Nepal, it is still alive in the hearts of Nepalese people.

„At Dashain it's traditional to get blessings from your guardians and I still think of the king and queen as my guardians,“ said Ram Bahadur Bishworkarma, 45, a jeweller, who waited more than an hour and a half to see the former royals.

„I still have immense respect for them and think of them as my king and queen.“
Gyanendra has been living as a virtual recluse in a former hunting lodge on the outskirts of the capital since his reign was ended by a Maoist-dominated assembly in May.

But last Thursday he looked relaxed and happy as he placed tika, blessings in the form of red paste, on the foreheads of hundreds of supporters.

Earlier in the day, Nepal's republican president held a similar event at his residence on the outskirts of Kathmandu, where he offered tika to about eight hundred people.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fascists, communists and monarchists

Ivan Janković

There is no doubt that the Nazis are abusing patriotism in a loathsome and obvious way. But what is the „anti-fascists“ answer to that? Not rejecting Milošević’s criminal politics by relying on the ideas of capitalism, liberal democracy, Serbia’s inclusion in the West etc, but by returning under the wing of titoist communism. Marching under the red star flag and signing on with the continuity of a totalitarian communist regime as a paradigm of „resistance to fascism“ are their only responses to the Nazi challenge. This represents a total moral and political bankruptcy of Serbian „liberal“ elite. It did not go bankrupt, as the „velvet nationalists“ claim, because it was globalist, anti-nationalist, and too pro-western, but because it was not pro-western enough; because it allowed itself to use the symbolic continuity of a criminal regime as the foundation of belonging to the progressive and normal world.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

CP Alexander gives Novi Sad career centre

Serbian Crown Prince Alexander opened on Friday a new Centre for Career Development at the University of Novi Sad. The centre is meant to link students and recent graduates in Serbia with the business community, and help them with the intricacies of the application process.

Centres are open to all students in order to help them to develop practical skills such as interviewing and writing resumes, and get work experience during their studies. Not only do they help students about the business community, they also assist them to think proactively about opportunities.

Novi Sad has the fourth such centre, which is supported by the Crown Prince Alexander Foundation for Culture and Education. The other three centres are in Belgrade, Kragujevac and Niš.

„My Foundation, over the past few years, has accomplished many things that I’m proud of. We have enabled dozens of talented students to continue their educations. We have trained college counsellors for secondary schools, and sent students to educational camps“, the prince said.

„Career centres are a particularly meaningful project for me. Properly utilized, they can do truly wonderful things. I hope that the students of this great university will take full advantage of this resource.“

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Better Democracy

Theodore Harvey

Monarchists need to defend the monarchy as a better system in itself, rather than merely arguing from tradition. After all, if „tradition,“ much as I love it, were my only argument, I could hardly argue for the restoration of relatively recently created monarchies such as those of the Balkans, nor could I despise the 137-year-old French Republic, which arguably has become a tradition in itself.

As a monarchist who has lived in the United States my entire life, I am always baffled by the claim that republicanism gives ordinary people like me „a say in who should represent our nation.“ I never voted for George W. Bush, yet he is my head of state. I have no intention of voting for either John McCain or Barack Obama, since as an antiwar right-winger I find the policies of both repugnant, yet one of them will be my head of state whether I like it or not, every bit as much as the Queen is Kris's head of state whether he likes it or not. Why should the fact that other people do support these men be any comfort to those of us who do not? What kind of „choice“ is this? I would much rather have a head of state who no one chose, like Queen Elizabeth, than a head of state chosen and supported by others but not by me. Which is more truly fair? Which is more truly representative? An elected president is inevitably more representative of those who voted for him than of those who did not. It is precisely because the Queen represents no one faction (unless the 80% of British people who still support the monarchy are counted as a „faction,“ in which case that is still a far larger portion of the „electorate“ than any one politician could command) that she is more representative of the whole country than a president could possibly be.

Republicans claim it is unfair to be unable to hold a „bad“ king or prince accountable. But it is far more difficult to hold a „bad“ electorate accountable! And I have more confidence that the genetic lottery might produce decent leadership than in the wisdom of the majority of voters. As the great French monarchist Charles Maurras (an atheist) put it, „For monarchy to work, one man must be wise. For democracy to work, a majority of the people must be wise. Which is more likely?“

In anticipation of the objection that Maurras's argument could also be a defense of dictatorship, it is a crucial ingredient that the monarch did not choose his or her position. For if power tends to corrupt, than surely it is more dangerous to entrust it to the sort of person who has spent most of his life seeking it than to someone who has not sought it at all. Republicans who offer monarchists the opportunity to vote for „Liz“ if that is what we want miss the point entirely. While I think that the Queen is an admirable woman, this is not fundamentally why I, or any other serious monarchist, support the monarchy. I would support the monarchy even if I were, for example, a Belgian living under King Leopold II (probably one of the least likable monarchs of modern times). We do not want to vote for Elizabeth or Charles or William or anyone else. We support the Queen not only precisely because we did not vote for her, but because she did not run. It is not necessarily „Elizabeth Windsor“ and her descendants per se that we want, but a head of state who has not come to power through the inherently divisive, controversial, and fallible process of elections; a head of state who has never chosen to seek that office, who has never campaigned, who has never made us promises unlikely to be kept in exchange for votes. And no republic can ever offer us that, and no monarchist will ever be able to regard a republic built on the ashes of a monarchy with anything other than loathing and alienation.

Republicans, when addressing those of us familiar with actual republics, waste their time when dangling the allegedly tantalizing prospect of a vote for head of state in front of us, for I have had such a „right“ since turning 18 twelve years ago and it means nothing to me. It is not elections and presidents that fascinate and attract me, but the gloriously complex and delightfully capricious web of royal genealogy and history. One of the many things I love about hereditary monarchy is the way it opens up the „field“ to men (and women!) whose temperaments and personalities are such that they would never win an election, but when the highest office of the land is thrust upon them by Fate nevertheless are able to make valuable contributions to their countries. Think, for example, of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. It's impossible to imagine such an eccentric individual rising to power in any kind of republic, even before he (allegedly) began to show signs of mental illness. But what is his legacy? The operas of Wagner (which probably could never have been completed without his assistance), and some of Germany's most popular and enchanting tourist attractions. Between the relatively bland and colourless politicians of modern Europe and romantic, intriguing figures that leap off the pages of history like King Ludwig, there is no comparison. How can anyone be content with the former? Give me a Ludwig II, with all his foibles, over whichever boring faceless commoner is running Bavaria these days any day.

So no, I do not want this alleged „benefit“ of republicanism, I do not want this vastly overrated „right to vote“ for my head of state, for the mere existence of this „right“ denies leadership to anyone not suited to victory in the democratic process, and as such a person myself, it is this kind of discrimination, this kind of exclusion, that I find intolerable! Only in a hereditary monarchy can people like me, who cannot imagine themselves winning an election, let alone seizing power in a coup, but can certainly relate to simply being born, be truly represented. Seen in this light, it is ironically monarchy that is the fairest and most truly „equal“ system of all!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The age of chivalry

Edmund Burke (12 January 1729 9 July 1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist, and philosopher who is often regarded as the philosophical founder of Anglo-American conservatism. Although Burke had supported the American War for Independence, which he saw as an appropriate response to the situation regarding the American colonists, he condemned the French Revolution in his Reflections on the Revolution in France in November 1790. He saw it, not as movement towards a representative, constitutional democracy, but rather as a violent rebellion against tradition and proper authority and as an experiment disconnected from the complex realities of human society. Burke argued that the new doctrines of France were simple and abstract, that since they did not recognize the nature and orders of people, it could never replace the present ones. As such, he predicted, it would end in disaster. He professed that a civilized people could not naturally be made up of people with the same distinctions, positions and interests. An attempt by the multitude of a country to govern each other's affairs would inevitably move the country away from personal merit and distinction towards an unprincipled, enervating mediocrity. Moreover, he asserted that the French doctrines fundamentally worked against the interests of the people and endangered their most prized and cherished treasures themselves.

From Reflections on the Revolution in France:

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles, and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in – glittering like the morning star, full of life and splendor and joy. Oh! what a revolution! and what a heart must I have to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall! Little did I dream when she added titles of veneration to those of enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation of gallant men, in a nation of men of honor and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is gone.

That of sophisters, economists; and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defense of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise, is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honor which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.