Posts Tagged 'european royals'

The Magic and Charm of the BRITISH MONARCHY

The mystical symbol of the British Monarchy. Samuel Pepys dubbed it as \"The most romantic castle in the world\".

windsor_c

British monarch\'s official London residence

Buckingham Palace:British monarch's official London residence

The survival of the British monarchy into the modern age enthralled the present generation. How they cling from the shadow of the Dark Age and rose to the obscure bank of the Thames River unto the era of fascinating high technologies, remains a phenomenon.

The First World War saw the collapse of Europe’s most powerful royal houses including Russia, Germany and Austria and witnessed the terrifying supremacy of socialism and communism. Watching the painful downfalls of the reign of his cousins, King George V of Great Britain (grandson of Queen Victoria and grandfather of the current British monarch Queen Elizabeth II) quickly moved his magic wand to save what is left for his Kingdom.

He decided to withdraw his warm closeness to German Kaiser, Emperor William II, who was his first cousin through Queen Victoria and stopped addressing him as “Dear Cousin Willy”. England fretted Germany’s oppression that every German citizen leaving in England either humiliated or ostracized. The cordial British King whose ancestors-The Royal houses of Saxe-coburg-Gotha, the Wettins, the Hanovers, and the Glucksburg-Oldenburg-Sonderburg-Becks, rooted in Germany, stood firm to distance himself from his German relatives. When his closest cousin Emperor Nicholas II of Russia (his first cousin through King Christian IX of Denmark) asked for an asylum in England during Russian revolution in 1917 where he was forced to abdicate, George V strongly opposed. Nicholas II (whose wife, Alexandra, was also the first cousin of King George V through Queen Victoria),Empress Alexandra and their 5 children where later on imprisoned and massacred by the Bolshevics in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Hearing the devastating news about his cousins’ horrifying death, George V poured his hatred to his diary and recorded: “It was a foul murder, dear cousin Nicky was a thorough gentleman”. Since then, no member of the British Royal Family ever visited Russia until the early part of the 90’s when the late Czar’s great great niece Queen Elizabeth II made a state visit to President Boris Yeltsin.

Another cousin who suffered the rant of anti-German sentiments was Prince Louis of Battenberg, husband of Princess Victoria of Hesse (older sister of Emperor Nicholas II’s wife Alexandra-they were both grandchildren of Queen Victoria through her third child Princess Alice). Prince Louis was a decorated British Royal Navy officer who rose to power as First Sea lord of England at the outbreak of World War I. When Germany’s tyrannical rule spread to Western Europe English subjects began suspecting all German citizens living in England as spies. Battenberg was forced to give up his position in the Royal Navy and relinquished his Princely title, his cousin George V offered him a Noble title as the First Marquess of Milford Haven, Louis accepted the title because he wanted his children to be of Noble blood. The final humiliation occurred when he was admonished by his monarch cousin to anglicize his family name from Battenberg to Mountbatten (berg in German language means mountain-according to oxford dictionary).

At the end of his life, Louis, cursing his German blood, never set a foot to Germany and turned his back to all his German relatives, except for Queen Eugenie of Spain, who was his niece (note: Queen Eugenie was the former Princess Eugenie of Battenberg, only daughter of Louis’s brother Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice-the youngest child of Queen Victoria. Eugenie married King Alfonso XIII of Spain. The current Spanish king, Juan Carlos, is Queen Eugenie’s grandson). Lord Louis Mountbatten leads a quiet life with his wife at their grace-and-favor-apartment at Kensington Palace. His children would later on leave distinguished marks in European History. His eldest daughter Princess Alice married Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, son of King George I of Greece (they were the parents of Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh-husband of Queen Elizabeth II). His youngest daughter Louise married the King of Sweden Gustav Adolf VI. His youngest child and name sake Lord Louis Mountbatten became a Second World War hero as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces stationed in South East Asia.

George V then announced the changing of his Royal House name from Saxe Coburg Gotha (a German royal house where both his grandparents-Queen Victoria and Prince Albert-descended/note: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are first cousins) to Windsor to effectively bury his German roots. The present royal house in Europe who has Saxe-Coburg-Gotha’s name is the Royal House of Belgium, the current Belgian King Albert II is the great-great-great grandson of King Leopold I, the first Belgian King and Queen Victoria’s maternal uncle. (note: Leopold I married Queen Victoria’s first cousin Princess Charlotte-only child and successor of Queen Victoria’s paternal uncle King George IV, but she died from childbirth. Leopold remarried three years later to a French Princess and bore him 5 children. If Charlotte had lived, Queen Victoria would never become a Queen and British History might have been very different).

The British Empire extended its territories to the West indies, the African continent and islands in the pacific coast. But after the reign of King George V, the empire reduced into merely a Kingdom with shrinking territories forming the British Commonwealth of Nations. The three countries that retained as dominions of the British Empire are Australia, Canada and New Zealand, they are independent countries but remained attached to the mother country- Britain. They recognized the ruling British sovereign as their head of state. The Monarch’s representative to these dominions is known as Governor-General.

The throne struggled to keep its foot after the two world wars that had battered England, it helps survived the cruelest days of the Huns and the fear of communism, it remained strong in the middle of the crisis and controversies that threatened to destabilize the court. They gone through difficult stages and intrigues but in the end, the mystique of the throne prevailed. But the two wars were merely an icing that decorated on the cake of calamities, the real battleground that fought hard by the highest throne on earth was the personal crisis that haunted the lives of each members, the first of these series was the unforgettable abdication of Edward VIII in the snowy month of December 1936.

Eleven months after the death of George V, his eldest son Prince David immediately ascended as King Edward VIII but the first few months of his reign confronted a serious issue, the King poses an uncomfortable situation that could provoke a constitutional crisis. His feckless character insisted marrying his twice divorced American lover Wallis Simpson, whom his family dismissively branded as “Edward’s unholy lover”. Divorce in the royal circle at that time was such a sacrilege that no divorce persons were allowed in the presence of the monarch and in the royal court. Although legally, Edward could marry Mrs. Simpson and remained King, his morally conscious ministers are against the idea of having a divorce woman as Consort whose equally conservative subjects would never accept Wallis as their Queen. The Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, threatened to resign if the love-struck King proceeds in marriage, so Edward, afraid of sacrificing the future of the British government and at the same time determined to keep his lover, proposed that he will be supported by public opinion, the results’ poll was unanimous: either abdicate or abandon Mrs. Simpson.

Edward VIII, who was considered as the most famous Prince of Wales in British history with “shining gold hair and sad blue eyes”, chooses love over tradition and duty. On the cold morning of December 11, 1936, his poignant voice echoed through out the world uttering a statement “it is impossible for me to remain King without the support of the woman I loved”. The embittered Queen Mary (his mother) and his disappointed sickly brother Prince Bertie, who will be forced to carry the weight of the crown and the one who will be mostly affected with the abdication, had less sympathy in his predicament. They condemned the ambitious woman who had two living husbands, as undignified commoner who has no class. They refused to recognize Wallis Simpson as member of their clan and did not bestow her with the “Her Royal Highness” style. The royal family’s hatred for Mrs. Simpson’s lasted for a lifetime. Until her death in 1986, at the age of 90, she did not receive any proprietary gesture from the British royal family for creating acrimonious crisis in 1936. Edward VIII forced to live in Exile with his lover and ostracized in the British court forever.

This was repeated in 1956 through his niece, Princess Margaret, the only sibling of the reigning British sovereign Queen Elizabeth II. As Princess of the blood royal who was 4th in the line of succession at that time, Margaret was not allowed to marry a divorce person. The tension became a heated debate in the royal circle during that time that his boyfriend, Peter Townsend, a favorite equerry of his father King George VI, was sent to Belgium as air attaché by the British government and instructed not to return to England forever. Princess Margaret was forced to renounce her relationship to Townsend in a letter broadcasted worldwide.

The divorce issue that haunted the British royal family for the past centuries later on became a curse that would forever changed the face of the British monarchy. Queen Elizabeth II was the first British monarch in 500 years to allow divorce in her direct family. In 1960 she permitted her first cousin Lord Gerome Lascelles, the 7th Earl of Harewood, to divorce and remarry. In 1978, Princess Margaret obtained a divorce from her husband Tony Armstrong Jones. At the end of the 20th century all marriages of the 3 children of the Queen ended in divorce including the heir to the throne Prince Charles. This crisis questioned the very foundation of the royal family which is morality. They are supposed to symbolize unity and harmony in public and the model of moral and virtues among their subjects. Queen Victoria’s favorite Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Monarchy is represented by the royal family, it is best to represent this symbol with family unity”.

As 1990 approaches, the once obedient parliament started singing different tune, especially when the issue of finances tackled in their sessions. The heated arguments finally made one MP member to thunder: “The Queen is a pain in the neck!”. For the past four decades of Elizabeth II’s reign, it was the first critical comment the monarchy ever heard. MP members who are still loyal to the crown rushed to their feet to defend the sovereign. In 1992, the Windsor castle caught a fire and need huge renovation and some critics once again expressed disgust with the high cost of expenses. The British royal family’s finances largely depended on a civil list drafted by the palace to parliament, it means that all their annual expenses are taken from the public purse with the exemption of Prince Charles because as heir apparent his finances is supported by the income generated from the Duchy of Cornwall. With all the issues that surrounded the throne, British subjects expressed their lamentations in changing of the constitution but so far, the British officials vowed to support the continuation of the House of Windsor.

It was thought possible that the dysfunctional family of the Queens’ children and the controversies generated might be the rallying point of the monarchy’s critics to launch a campaign against the throne, but the royalists dismissed the idea, they argued that the monarchy, tested by time, will survive as long as the cliff of Dover is standing high. Family rift and morality issues alike, the throne had gone with that stage during the Tudor dynasty in the 16th century, after all King Henry VIII was hardly an advertisement for a happy family life, but the throne stood as still.

After the fall of the monarchies in the world, Egyptian King Farouk declared: “by the turn of the 20th century, there will only be 5 kings left in the world, the Kings of heart,diamond, club, spade and the King of England. Farouk I was forced to abdicate during Egyptian revolution in 1952 in favor of his infant son Ahmed Fuad who briefly reigned as King Fuad II. In 1953 the Egyptian parliament declared republic. King Farouk, just like any other “falling monarchs” was aslo impressed with the mystique of the British throne.


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