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Post Will Europe's Monarchies Survive?
Created by John Eipper on 09/20/22 8:11 AM

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Will Europe's Monarchies Survive? (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary, 09/20/22 8:11 am)

Regarding Eugenio Battaglia's latest post on the European monarchies, I would dare to say that evidently none of the reigning royal houses in Europe are going through their best moment.

This is due either to political issues, or to the little sympathy for monarchies in general, as many see the Crown as an archaic, medieval institution, out of place in the 21st century. Add to this the scandals that its members are involved in.

In the case of Spain, the monarchy that King Philip VI of Bourbon and Greece embodies today is neither that of Charles I, nor that of Philip II (the so-called Austrian Majors), nor that of the Bourbon Charles III. All of them were absolute monarchs.  They reigned and ruled in Spain, as well as in the rest of the dominions and territories that Spain possessed in the world. Their word was law.

Thus were conceived the reigns of the most outstanding Spanish monarchs, belonging to both the Habsburg and Bourbon dynasties. These reigns were assumed by the people with the firm belief that the monarchs in turn had been appointed directly by the Divinity, and their work was unquestionable. However, it should be noted that the aforementioned sovereigns made Spain and its Empire a universal power.

Nowadays, the monarchs reign but do not govern, and the consorts, such as Letizia of Spain, Maxima of Holland, Camilla of the UK, Silvia of Sweden, and Sonia of Denmark, are the hand that rocks the cradle of the heirs, if the political circumstances do not change.

Today, all the sovereigns of the old continent see their role as very limited in their function as mere moderators. They are always subordinated to the civil power embodied by their different governments, freely and democratically elected at the ballot box.

This is the only way to understand European parliamentary monarchies, including Spain's, in these turbulent and ever-changing times, despite the excellent and undervalued military and university training of monarchs such as Spain's Philip VI.

"We live in turbulent times. Soon there will be only five kings left: the four kings of the deck of cards and the king of England." The famous quote, uttered in the mid-20th century by the deposed king Farouk, has yet to be fulfilled, although some European royal houses seem bent on making the prophecy of Egypt's last king a reality.

Will the numerous scandals bring down the old European monarchies?  The institution is in ill health.

At present, on the old continent, the same number of monarchies are still in force as in Farouk's time. The Greek monarchy of King Constantine fell, but the Spanish one was restored in the figure of King Juan Carlos, and there are still those of the United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Sweden and Norway.

Some of the continent's most prosperous countries are monarchies, and they have shown that they are capable of surviving all the annus horribilis that may be thrown at them, as is the case in Britain.

Finally, in a global poll conducted in 2018 by Ipsos, only 15% were in favor of abolishing the monarchy in the United Kingdom. In Belgium, it was 17% and in Sweden, 23%.

At this point it is not far-fetched to argue that a Spain in chronic crisis punishes marital infidelity less than larceny.

In the last two centuries, the Bourbons, already deposed up to three times, have shown a resilience that has led them to be restored four times on the throne. No one in Europe can say the same.

Undoubtedly, the political situation, and the fear of a worse alternative, are, for the moment, the main assets that many of the royal houses in Europe, including the Spanish one, have to stay on the throne.

JE comments:  The monarchy is a medieval institution, yet in certain countries it somehow survives--due, I would argue, to the celebrity value of the institution.  Here in the US we have no royalty, so we've had to create it in the way we fetishize the rich and famous.

A quick question for you, Consoly:  why shouldn't royal larceny be punished more severely than marital infidelity?  After all, the latter is a private matter, and has existed, well, since medieval times.


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  • Monarchies Have No Place in the 21st Century (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/21/22 3:39 AM)
    Hello everyone!

    I congratulate my dear friend Consoly León Arias on her dispassionate analysis of the European monarchies. As usual, well written and said.


    Nevertheless, and JE knows that I am a fervent believer in the values of the Republic, I believe that the monarchy as a political system is completely outdated and out of place in the Western world in the 21st century. No head of state should lead without having been chosen by the people. Anywhere.


    I recall something said by Thomas Paine in 1775: "Why do we have to obey someone just for the only reason of being someone's son?"


    I cannot see any reason or issue where the present king of Spain had done anything for the sake of his country. What has he done to justify his position? And the same can be said regarding most monarchs. They are privileged people living on their subjects as parasites. And no matter what, they are there to stay forever. They even enjoy total immunity (e.g. the former king Juan Carlos), so they are above the law.


    Honestly, I cannot understand, again going back to Spain, why a left-wing government--bad or good--which declares itself in favor of a republic, doesn't call the Spanish people to a referendum asking them what they want. And let's not forget that the present Spanish monarchy was never restored. It was set up by none other than General Francisco Franco, stating clearly that it was a new monarchy, and that his successor will carry the title of King! Even Juan Carlos' father, Infante Don Juan, was against such a decision and didn't want to recognize his son as king (it took him two years to finally accept it).


    Therefore, where are we? I think that monarchies will continue on and on, and as uneducated and ignorant as the people are, monarchs will thrive better.


    Consoly also mentioned the "undervalued and excellent military and university training of Philip VI." Well, I am not going to dispute such an irrelevant issue but I can harbor many doubts. Did Philip undergo any admission tests to enter either the military academies or universities? Do we know anything about his qualifications or grades? Did he complete the whole curriculum for his studies? The answer to all that is probably not. And someone might even say it's unnecessary, well, let's not even talk about that. His father, Juan Carlos, was a very bad student and I mentioned what one of his teachers said about him in my book El Golpe del Rey.


    In any case, I think monarchies, shame on them, will last. Because the people are ignorant.


    By the way, a couple of weeks ago Michael Smerconish asked his audience, which will last longer, the British monarchy or US democracy? I defer to you all his question.


    JE comments:  Let's discuss Smerconish's question.  We may have some clarity on American democracy by this November, or at least in 2024.  The survival of Britain's democracy depends on how well Charles III fills the very big shoes of his late mother.


    Anthony Candil reports that he is on his way to Costa Rica for a month.  Safe travels, and please send a report or two!


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  • Monarchies and Marital Fidelity (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary 09/21/22 4:20 AM)
    The Crown is a symbol of the unity and permanence of the State.

    Their multiple privileges are accompanied by sacrifices.  Among them, monarchs must show an exemplary and ideal image in all aspects of their lives.


    Based on this, their "mistakes" must be punished when, how and where appropriate.


    Tax matters should be settled in court, insofar as private matters are regularly questioned by public opinion and the mass media, in such a way that the image of a monarch, or a member of the Royal Family, can be discredited.


    If disloyalty is as old as the origin of the world, the women and men of the 21st century, of any social class, condition, ethnicity, or religion, according to the new times, must assert their rights, and above all their human dignity.


    If the Middle Ages were ten centuries of male dominance in Europe, currently gender equality prevails more and more.


    JE comments:  Historically, royal marriages were political alliances first and foremost.  Sentimentality rarely entered into the equation.  Are we expecting too much morality from today's monarchs?  In the old days royal dalliances were understood as completely normal.  Look no further than Catherine the Great. Her equally Great contemporary, Prussia's Frederick, allegedly preferred men and saw his wife only at Christmas.  Etc.


    What about taxes?  Britain's monarchs are exempt from income tax, but the Queen paid hers voluntarily.  She still made out extremely well.  I presume Charles III will follow suit.  Consoly, is Spain's Felipe VI tax-exempt?  We know his inner circle has been very skilled at tax...evasion.

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    • Monarchies are Nothing But Drains on the State (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/22/22 3:51 AM)
      I cannot refrain from answering our dear friend Consoly León Arias.

      Yes, everything she mentions is true, but it's also pure theory.


      Monarchies are neither a symbol of unity nor of the permanence of the State. There are many other ways to represent unity and permanence. A republic is a perfect example.  See our own case in the US, or France, Italy, or Germany. Does anyone dare to say that unity and permanence are not well represented?


      True, monarchs must exhibit exemplary conduct. They should be the best citizens in their own countries. The reality is they are not.


      Consoly mentions the "sacrifices" the monarchs make to compensate their privileges. What? Can Consoly mention one and only one sacrifice Philip VI has made? And Juan Carlos?  Again, this is pure theory.


      Taxes? It is a very laughable question. They cheat, evade, have funds out of reach in tax havens and so on. And sometimes they even steal from their subjects, or create Ponzi schemes to do it, for example Philip VI's sister Infanta Cristina.  And where is she? Totally free and happy living under her great privileges in Switzerland. What sacrifice has she made?  Living in Switzerland?


      And Mr Juan Carlos? He is not allowed to live in Spain and his sacrifice has been exile in Abu Dhabi, surrounded by luxury and other privileges not worthy of speaking about instead of being in jail. And who pays for his luxurious life abroad? The Spanish taxpayers.


      Who pays for Prince Andrew's life and style? The British taxpayers.



      Amazing.


      Certainly one of their privileges is immunity against the law. A president of the Republic is not, and I hope we are going to prove this here by jailing the "Donald."


      Sincerely, monarchies are not worth all the trouble.


      JE comments:  Juan Carlos recently returned for a visit to Spain, to see his son the King for the first time in over two years.  I am not clear on whether his legal troubles have been dropped.  Can someone clarify?  At the very least he did not fear arrest in his homeland.


      As for royal "sacrifices," I believe Consoly León Arias means the absolute loss of privacy and the requirement to constantly be on display.  Many would gladly make this particular sacrifice.  The great Mel Brooks said it best:  It's good to be the King.



      So how much does a monarchy cost?  The short answer:  a lot.  Paul Levine (next) has details.


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      • Today's "Validos": Monarchy and Corruption (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/23/22 3:59 AM)

        I forgot to mention in yesterday's post that monarchies in the 21st century, as always, bring even more corruption to their societies.


        The way they bestow titles and privileges (dukedoms, count entitlements, marquisates, peers, and equivalents, knighthoods, and so forth) are no different from the practice of favoritism from the 17th century (the infamous "validos" in Spain) and are given for a reason. Kings surround themselves with a court of advisors and influencers, who, in exchange, obtain privileges and sustain the monarchs.


        Today's "validos" are businessmen, judges, politicians, anyone who can provide support and "loyalty" to the monarch. Of course, this loyalty usually entails a fee that goes to the monarch's off-shore banks.


        This happens within republics as well, but at least in a republic we can replace the head of state when it is required. A monarch lasts forever, in principle.


        JE comments:  "Valido" in this context translates as "favorite," but it literally means a (male) person of worth (from the verb valer).  The notion of "favorite" itself, when used as a noun to refer to a person, implies all sorts of shenanigans.


        Anthony Candil inspires a question:  are monarchies more corrupt by nature?  The national rankings (WAISers know I'm addicted to national rankings) do not support this thesis.  Among the least corrupt nations we have the "developed" constitutional monarchies of Norway, Denmark, and Sweden.  Conversely, there are no monarchies among the top 10 or even 20 Usual Corrupt Suspects.


        Click and reflect:


        https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/most-corrupt-countries


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    • A "Gold Filling in the Mouth of Decay": Britain's Monarchy (Paul Levine, Denmark 09/22/22 4:22 AM)

      Thinking about monarchies, I remember John Osborne's immortal description
      of the British Royal Family: "The gold filling in the mouth of decay."


      Recalling
      recent revelations about suitcases stuffed with Pounds Sterling being delivered
      to the former Prince Charles for his "charities," Osborne's old description
      still seems prescient in post-Brexit Britain.


      In a time of economic decline it is estimated that Elizabeth II's funeral cost £9
      million. I hope the British public thinks it got its money's worth.


      Two recent articles in the UK press bring home Osborne's point. Happy reading!


      https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-wealthy-is-the-royal-family-king-charles-prince-william-net-worth-explained-9p9jm8zbs#:~:text=The%20main%20Crown%20Estate%20wraps,adds%20another%20%C2%A3494.3%20million .


      https://newrepublic.com/article/167730/king-charles-englands-biggest-moocher


      JE comments:  Look no further than King Charles' exemption from Britain's 40% tax on estates over $380,000.  This alone saves him a cool $200 million from the Queen's personal treasury.  But this $500 million of Elizabeth II's "private" wealth pales in comparison to the market cap of Britain's Royals, Inc., which Forbes puts at $28 billion.  The New Republic article (second link) puts a refreshing twist on royal-watching:  they are actually a very modern institution, insofar as they do nothing but sit on their throne and watch their wealth grow. Advanced Western societies used to get rich by making stuff.  Now they let their capital do the work.


      Paul, what is your take on Denmark's Queen Margrethe?  We never hear about her, over here.  Upon the death of Elizabeth, Margrethe inherited the title of Europe's longest-serving monarch.  This year she is celebrating her golden jubilee (50 years on the throne).

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    • Royal Marriages are No Longer State Alliances (Consoly Leon Arias, Spain / Canary 09/23/22 3:23 AM)
      Although monarchies are almost exclusively the "heritage" of the Old Continent, America bequeathed us one of the most beautiful and glamorous princesses of all times. Naturally, I am referring to the legendary Oscar-winning Grace Kelly, who passed away almost exactly 40 years ago, on September 18, 1982, in the Principality of Monaco.

      It is true that for centuries, royal marriages served political and state interests. This ensured dynastic continuity, generation after generation, for centuries. However, state alliances through royal marriage are no longer the case in today's Europe.  Consider, for example, the marriage of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden to the German flight attendant Silvia Sommerlath, or King Harald of Norway to the seamstress Sonia Haraldsen, or King Felipe VI of Spain to the journalist Letizia Ortiz, as well as Prince Albert of Monaco to Zimbabwean swimmer Charlene Wittstock.  This also applies to the heirs to the British, Swedish and Norwegian thrones.


      We could add to this list Prince Rainier of Monaco, who married American actress Grace Kelly, or even the late Elizabeth II, who married her childhood sweetheart, Philip of Greece.


      In each and every one of these examples, the different members of "blue blood" have entered into morganatic marriages, attending only to the dictates of the heart, or what is the same thing, they have married for love. Which does not necessarily ensure marital success, or maybe it does. One never knows.


      You asked me if we expect too much morality from today's monarchs. My answer is that what is expected of a sovereign is to act with integrity, and to show the principles with which he or she is supposed to have been educated from the cradle.


      As to whether a monarch owes allegiance to his wife, whether she is of royal blood or commoner, is a matter strictly within the purview of their marital intimacy.


      With respect to the tax authorities, Spain's Royal Family pays taxes to the State, for which they annually present and settle their personal income tax returns. In addition, the Crown is subject to the Transparency Law (Law 19/2013, of December 9), which aims to strengthen the transparency of public activity, as well as to establish the obligations to be fulfilled by public servants.


      I agree with you, John, that it was the tax scandals of people close to Juan Carlos, which led the government to take action, with the creation of the aforementioned Transparency Law.


      Yet in Spain, laws seem to be applied at times with different standards. Evidently, the Crown is permanently in the spotlight, and its movements, especially economic ones, are analyzed in detail, while on the other hand, a former public official, a socialist at the time sentenced to prison by the Supreme Court for prevarication and embezzlement of public funds (680 million euros), is about to be pardoned... for larceny.


      JE comments:  The 680 million of unemployment relief funds, known as the ERE case, were embezzled by the Regional Government of Andalusía, under the leadership of Manuel Chaves and José Antonio Griñán.  Egads, that's not just petty cash.  It couldn't have been stolen without many people knowing about it.


      On this massive corruption scandal, see below:


      https://www.thelocal.es/20191119/ere-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-latest-political-corruption-scandal-in-spain/


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