Friday, January 30, 2009

An American Coronation

An American Coronation, writes the Los Angeles Times, and who can disagree with them given the lavish ceremony that took place in Washington. Words can be deceiving, but appearances generally are not.

It was a century ago when Theodore Roosevelt explained that an American President is "an elective King", making the implausible point that the United States was essentially a monarchical country within a republican framework. Contrast the power of His Mightiness with the limitations of our own Monarch, and you see increasingly the reverse in Commonwealth countries; that is, republican governments camouflaged within a monarchical framework, to the point where they effectively become "crowned republics" completely sapped of their royalist spirit.

As David Flint points out in President Obama: the elective King inaugurated, "The considerable British jurist, Lord Hailsham explained that the American system centres on ‘an elective monarchy with a king who rules with a splendid court and even...a royal family, but does not reign.’ He contrasted this with the Westminster system which he said involves ‘a republic with an hereditary life president, who being a queen, reigns but does not rule’."

But the important fact here is that both trends run contrary to the conservative impulse, as both are marked by a distinct lack of constitutional deference. American republicans are weary of their countrymen swooning over Princess Obama and becoming a monarchy in all but name, and Commonwealth monarchists are concerned about the increasing emasculation of their own constitutions, with the creeping regicide of Her Majesty.

The BBC's Katty Kay, for her part, is somewhat appalled at "the coronation of King Obama":

„So this is why you booted us out a couple of centuries ago. You simply replaced the pomp and ceremony of hereditary monarchy and with the pomp and ceremony of elected monarchy. OK, you didn't opt for the dynastic duo of Bush and Clinton, which really had us scratching our crowned European heads, but the fanfare with which Caroline Kennedy has entered the political picture suggests your infatuation with royal families is still not over.

This week Washington feels like London in the run up to one of our own grand royal events. Hostesses twitter on the phone, or just Twitter, to woo A-list guests to pre- and post-inauguration parties. A-list guests measure their piles of invites in feet, not inches...

Still, there is a more serious problem with treating Barack Obama as an elected monarch; one that affects us journalists, in particular. Put a man on a pedestal and suddenly it's hard for the press to drag him through the political wringer. It happened in 2003 in the run up to the invasion of Iraq and risks happening again.

In Britain, we invest the Queen with our ceremonial hopes which leaves us free to treat our prime minister as exactly what he is—an elected official, paid for by the taxpayers, and serving at the people's will. While George W. Bush was being asked patsy questions by a subdued White House press corps, Tony Blair was being drubbed by un-cowed political hacks. It is far easier to do when you don't stand the moment the man walks into the room.“

Certainly it is no secret that the political ambition of the British Left is to abolish the British Monarchy, but how does one square that with the Kennedyesque tendency of the American Left to institute its own national dynasty? Probably because the Left wants untrammeled democracy, equality and "progress", and the Right wants limited democracy, liberty and constitutionalism.

That is why an elective monarchy is intuitively fine for an American Democrat, whereas hereditary monarchy is an insufferable anachronism for the British, Canadian and Anzac lib-laboury. What right does a hereditary monarch have to say no to an elected government, they chime.

And there is reason to believe that this contradiction at the heart of the American soul, which has in recent years led several congressman, including Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Harry Reid, to introduce legislation to repeal the Twenty-second Amendment, may continue to evolve towards monarchy USA. In each of 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, Rep. Jose Serrano introduced a joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to repeal the 22nd Amendment, thereby removing the limitation on the number of terms an individual may serve as president. Each resolution, with the exception of the current one, died without ever getting past the committee.

But with Congress going formidably Democrat, and President Obama assuming Office, one has to believe they now have a fighting chance.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Hymn to Saint Sava

Let us exclaim love

to Saint Sava!
Serbian churches and schools –

exclaim to the saint’s wisdom.

Thither wreath, thither glory

whereat our Serbian shepherd Sava.

Sing, Serbs,

and make the song threefold!

Grateful Serbia,
you’re so full of love

towards your shepherd

Saint Sava.

All of Serbdom celebrates

its father Saint Sava.
Sing, Serbs,
and make the song threefold!

From heavens comes the blessings

from the Holy Father Sava.
Serbs, from all sides –

from the seaside and the Danube,

raise your heads to the skies

and look for Sava there:

Sava, the Serbs’ patron

in front of the Creator’s Throne!

May all Serbian hearts

unite with you!

May the sun of peace and love
shine on all of us!

Help us all live
in harmony, Saint Sava!
Hear the voice of your kin,
the Serbian people!

For five centuries the Serbs
have languished in slavery,

yet they celebrated

the name of Saint Sava.

Saint Sava loves the Serbs

and prays to God for them.

Sing, Serbs,

and make the song threefold!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Kings of Morocco and Jordan urge Obama to help

King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent a message of congratulations to U.S. President Barack Obama on his own behalf and on behalf of the Moroccan people.

The monarch called on President Obama to take an active role in the Middle East, where „intensified efforts“ are called for „to reach a final, peaceful, comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the conflict in this region, that will end the tragedy of the Palestinian people and guarantee the right to create a viable independent state living in peace and harmony, with Israel.“

King Abdullah II of Jordan congratulated President Obama on the takeover of his responsibilities, telling him that he looked forward to working with him in addressing the region's issues.
The monarch stressed the need for resolving the Palestinian- Israeli conflict on the basis of the „two-state formula which provides the best way for achieving security and stability in the region“. He also „underscored the importance of an early involvement by the US administration in serious and effective negotiations“ that leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as the earliest possible time, the Jordanian court statement said.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Monarchy and tolerance

King of Bahrain donates plot of land to build a Catholic church

А new Catholic church is going to be built in the country’s capital Manama. The decision by King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa comes in response to a request Pope Benedict XVI made to the Gulf State when its new ambassador presented its credentials to the Holy See.

“Everyone is aware today that because of the rising number of Catholics, it would be desirable for them to have more places of worship,” the Pope said during the audience with Naser Muhamed Youssef Al-Belooshi, first representative of the Arab kingdom to the Vatican.

About 80 per cent of the 800,000 people living in the country are Muslim (60 per cent Sunni and 20 per cent Shia). Catholics represent about 10 per cent, mostly foreign workers from Asian nations.

Bahrain became the first country in the Persian Gulf to build a Catholic church, the Sacred Heart Church, which will celebrate its 70th anniversary this year, since it was inaugurated with a Christmas Midnight Mass in 1939.

Relations between the Holy See and the Gulf kingdom saw significant progress in 2008. Not only did the Vatican receive the first ambassador from Bahrain, but King Hamad met Pope Benedict XVI as well. After the meeting on 9 July the sovereign issued an official communiqué inviting the Holy Father to visit the country.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I am a monarchist (9)

I am a monarchist by tradition. It is the tradition of my country, Canada, to have a monarchy. Historically monarchies have been more stable and humane institutions than their republican competitors, the only really successful republics in history are the Roman, the Swiss, the Dutch (which is today a monarchy) and the American. Most republics have been disasters. The French Republic - now on version 5.0 - survived into the second half of the twentieth century largely because of the efforts of one man, Charles de Gaulle, whom many called an uncrowned king in his dozen years as President. Why are most republics such spectacular failures? The modern world affords many examples of stable democratic republics, South Korean, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Greece and most of the states of Eastern Europe. Notice, however, that none of these republics have strong liberal democratic traditions dating before 1945, most were dictatorships of one variety or another as late as the 1970s or 1980s. None, importantly, have faced a grave military or economic crisis and should - forbid the thought - the world undergo another Great Depression I cannot see many standing for very long.

The period between 1929 and 1932 signalled the end of what has been called the first era of globalization, it was also the end of the first era of global liberalism, in the broad and original understanding of that word. Poverty and crisis overwhelmed the feeble republics of Europe and Latin America. Among the republican states only Switzerland, France - barely - and America survived. The stability of the House of Windsor, and the houses of Scandinavia, were never questioned.

An inherited position, especially of great wealth, mitigates corruption or ambition. A politician has the perspective of a few years between elections, and he is always fund raising. A monarch, or one in waiting as Prince Charles, must take the perspective of centuries. Unlike private wealth, which may come without responsibility, the wealth and glory of a monarch in a modern liberal democracy does not. The Queen and the Prince of Wales are among the hardest working people in the United Kingdom, enduring a schedule as brutal as that of many cabinet ministers or top executives. To whom much is given, much is expected.

It instills a sense of duty and public service, in the older meanings of those words. Today duty is seen as a thankless task performed with reluctance. Public service a code word for subservience to an over mighty state. No sane man would wish to be King, but having been placed in that line of fate, awesome even in a constitutional state, the opportunity to make an impact on the world is still great. It is this perspective, the wrinkles of centuries, that gives a monarchy its flavour and grandeur. To have lasted so long does not guarantee goodness, but it suggests that an institution has spoken to some deep desire and need of the human race. We ignore this truth at our peril. Those eager to replace the House of Windsor, and the personal union of Her Majesty's 16 Commonwealth realms, with some kind of crowned republic are pursuing, at best, a foolish, and often dishonest strategy.

We too, in Canada, Australia and New Zealand can have some bloodless head of state like Italy or Israel, a nonentity plucked from obscurity to shake hands with foreign diplomats, a figure too weak and irrelevant to challenge an overly ambitious minister of state. A monarch like our current sovereign is not crossed lightly. She has seen too much and been enough away from the fray of politics, a detached and largely impartial observer, not to have learned much. We do not know what she thinks. We are fairly certain she was no fan of Mrs Thatcher, but very much liked Mr Wilson and Mr Major. Yet government worked as smoothly as ever. It was headlines when the Queen was alleged to have reprimanded Mrs Thatcher for being "uncaring," yet Thatcher could not - whatever the rightness of her cause - ignore the crown with impunity. А constitutional monarch who reigns more than rules, provides a valuable check on the power of her ministers. Crown is something not to be trifled with.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Queen and I

Empress Farah, the widow of the Shah of Iran, is set to be an unlikely star of the Sundance Film Festival as the subject of a new documentary, „The Queen and I“.

When Nahid Persson Sarvestani, an Iranian exile, set out to make a documentary about her, she expected to encounter her opposite. As a child, Persson Sarvestani had lived in dire poverty, watching Farrah’s wedding as if it were a fairy tale. As a teenager, she joined the Communist faction of Khomeini’s revolution that deposed the shah, sending him and his family volleying from country to country. When Khomeini betrayed his promise for democracy, imposing more violent measures than the shah had, Persson Sarvestani was also forced to flee. Thirty years later, she needs key questions answered and goes directly to the source. Surprisingly, Queen Farrah welcomes her as a fellow refugee from their beloved homeland, granting unprecedented access.

Over the next year and a half, Persson Sarvestani enters the queen’s world, planning to challenge the shah’s ideology; instead, she must rethink her own. In the struggle to understand each other’s experiences, an unlikely friendship has blossomed. Confronting Farrah about the shah’s repression has become not only a political conflict but a personal one, and Persson Sarvestani’s objectivity is shaken. In this gripping, poignant consideration of subjectivity as truth, we learn that people write history. And can also heal it. „The Queen and I“ couldn’t be more relevant as we reach across our own political aisles.

„Although I knew that she (Nahid Persson) held a different political opinion, I thought at some point we had to have a dialogue and that we should not keep our animosity and bitterness forever. That is why I accepted,“ the Empress says to explain her decision to take part in the documentary.

Since leaving Iran in 1979 with the Shah, who died in 1980, the Empress has had plentiful experience in the glare of Western media. To many, she is a symbol of a regime guilty of human rights abuses and the suppression of free speech. To her supporters, she is a link with an old order that they hope will one day be restored.

At times, Persson's documentary makes the deposed queen seem like a modern-day Marie Antoinette. With its archive footage of the Empress in her crown at her coronation ceremony shown next to old newsreel material of her forced into exile after the revolution as street protesters burned her image, it highlights the extreme contrasts in her life. One moment, she is living an existence of fairy tale-style opulence. The next, she's a pariah. Old friends melted away as she and her husband looked for sanctuary after the revolution.
The Empress knew that once she agreed to participate in Persson's film, she would have little control over how she was portrayed. „At one point, as you saw in the film, I was tired and I was not sure I was doing the right thing. But then I decided I should continue. After all, I have been the queen of my country for 20 years. Even if I have been outside the country for 30 years, I still have feelings for my country.“

She knew Persson was bitterly opposed to the Shah's regime but says that the film-maker was only a teenager at the time of the revolution. „She came from a very poor family. At that age, they believe communism can give them happiness and equality. That's why I still have a feeling for the young people in Iran.“

What makes „The Queen and I“ moving and disorienting is the unlikely friendship that springs up between the two women. The film-maker is clearly wary about being seduced by the charm of the Empress. The Empress, for her part, knew that the documentary could easily turn into a hatchet job. However, both the director and her subject eventually rise above their suspicions of one another. When they come face to face, they can't help but like one another.

„I guess some will like the documentary and some will dislike it. It's like anything else. The supporters who know me and who understand me will agree with what I have done. But as I say, you can't please everyone“, says the Empress.

She is unlikely to be going on the festival circuit to accompany screenings of „The Queen and I“ at Sundance and elsewhere. „It is Nahid's film. I frankly don't think that I could go to attend these festivals ... but I wish Nahid success.“

The Sundance Film Festival runs from 15 to 25 January at Park City, Utah (

Friday, January 9, 2009

The proper role of tradition in Civil Society

John Fox

Studying for a Masters in English at the University of Auckland. He studied at the University of Canterbury, graduating with a conjoint Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in English, History and Biological Sciences. He completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in English Literature in 2005.

  • A proper appreciation of tradition, heritage and historical institutions is a vital part of the foundations and maintenance of Civil Society. Recognising the role of tradition in the creation of institutions that maintain social order is tremendously important. Civil Society plays an important role in the preservation of heritage; by heritage virtue; and by virtue, true progress. I shall briefly examine the importance of tradition to Civil Society: as a source of experience, as a creator of institutions, and as a source of inspiration.
  • Civil Society has always recognized a life well-lived when it saw one; it has been left to the cynicism of our modern age to turn from praising exemplars of faith, courage and fortitude to cynicism and sniping.
  • It is the business of a Civil Society to transmit virtue to its citizens, to encourage them to conform their conduct to the moral law. This is done in all three spheres of traditional institution—namely, in the civil government through the law and education; in the family through the transmission of values and modelling of standards of conduct; and in the religious sphere. When all three institutions work in harmony, the moral law is tied into a coherent values system. The weak are protected. The strong are restrained. When they are in competition, the moral fabric of Civil Society begins to unravel.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009



His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II extended the following Christmas and New Year’s message to the citizens of Serbia who celebrate Christmas according to the Julian calendar.

Dear Citizens of Serbia,

We will face very important responsibilities and issues in the New Year. Even though experts claim that the global economic crisis didn’t effect Serbia that much, our country still needs to develop a well founded strategy on how are we going to face challenges with financial issues and resolve our budget deficit. We can do that only if we work very hard through planning and to increase our manufacturing production. We must try very strongly to catch the attention of foreign investment, which will be not be easy because of the crisis with foreign Funds and Banks and we must try to draw to a close the privatization contracts.

It is very important to firmly continue with European integration and obligations with the aim for membership as soon as possible of the European Union. All these issues are vital for the future of Serbia and all citizens. The need is for the unity is vital for all who take part in the negotiations. I also call for the unity of all participants on our political scene when undisputable national interests are at stake. Unity will give the needed credibility in our own eyes and in the eyes of the world.

We must strongly contribute to the stability and development of the region, Europe and the world. Of course, we must do that so that each and every one of our citizens regardless of religion or ethnic origin has a better and a nicer life. We must continue to reinforce in Serbia human rights and democratic principles. We must respect the rule of law. We must work for a better future and for the future of our youth.

My family joins me in wish you all the best for the New Year, peace, good health, happiness and success always.

Merry Christmas!



The Julian calendar was in general use in Europe and Northern Africa from the times of the Roman Empire until 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII promulgated the Gregorian Calendar. Reform was required because too many leap days are added with respect to the astronomical seasons on the Julian scheme. On average, the astronomical solstices and the equinoxes advance by about 11 minutes per year against the Julian year. As a result, the calculated date of Easter gradually moved out of phase with the March equinox. While Hipparchus and presumably Sosigenes were aware of the discrepancy, although not of its correct value, it was evidently felt to be of little importance at the time of the Julian reform. However, it accumulated significantly over time: the Julian calendar gained a day about every 134 years. By 1582, it was ten days out of alignment from where it supposedly was in 325 during the Council of Nicaea.

The Gregorian Calendar was soon adopted by most Catholic countries (e.g. Spain, Portugal, Poland, most of Italy). Protestant countries followed later, and the countries of Eastern Europe even later. In the British Empire (including the American colonies), Wednesday 2 September 1752 was followed by Thursday 14 September 1752. For 12 years from 1700 Sweden used a modified Julian Calendar, and adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1753, but Russia remained on the Julian calendar until 1917, after the Russian Revolution (which is thus called the "October Revolution" though it occurred in Gregorian November), while Greece continued to use it until 1923. During this time the Julian calendar continued to diverge from the Gregorian. In 1700 the difference became 11 days; in 1800, 12; and in 1900, 13, where it will stay till 2100

Although all Eastern Orthodox countries (most of them in Eastern or Southeastern Europe) had adopted the Gregorian calendar by 1927, their national churches had not. Serbian astronomer Milutin Milanković proposed a revised Julian calendar during a synod in Constantinople in May 1923, consisting of a solar part which was and will be identical to the Gregorian calendar until the year 2800, and a lunar part which calculated Easter astronomically at Jerusalem. All Orthodox churches refused to accept the lunar part, so almost all Orthodox churches continue to celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar (the Finnish Orthodox Church uses the Gregorian Easter)

The solar part of the revised Julian calendar was accepted by only some Orthodox churches. Those that did accept it, with hope for improved dialogue and negotiations with the Western denominations, were the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the Patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, the Orthodox Churches of Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria (the last in 1963), and the Orthodox Church in America (although some OCA parishes are permitted to use the Julian calendar). Thus these churches celebrate the Nativity on the same day that Western Christians do, 25 December Gregorian until 2800. The Orthodox Churches of Jerusalem, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the Greek Old Calendarists continue to use the Julian calendar for their fixed dates, thus they celebrate the Nativity on 25 December Julian (which is 7 January Gregorian until 2100).

The so called Serbian New Year, also known as the Orthodox New Year, i.e. 1 January according to Julian calendar (14 January according to new calendar) is celebrated in Serbia and among the Serbs in former Yugoslavia and in the world.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Scandinavian heirs to the throne friendship

Princess Victoria of Sweden doesn't have older brothers, but Frederik of Denmark and Haakon of Norway are like brothers to her. Because of the distance and busy schedules, the three heirs are prevented to see each other as often as they'd like, so they communicate often via text messages by mobile phone or e-mails, said the Princess Victoria, who admitted that when they are together, one of their usual topics of conversation is what happens when one day they inherit the throne.

They understand well the commitment of the crown and know its inconveniences. What most bothers Victoria about being a princess is the lack of privacy. „Sometimes I feel as if I don’t have a private life, but on the whole, the real issue is that I have had a role since I was a child and I'm familiar with it.“

In the moments when she feels down, she can always count on the support of her „older half-brothers“.