Friday, February 28, 2014

Western Australia Introduces Royal Succession Legislation

     The process of fully implementing the new royal succession laws took one step closer being completed this week when on Tuesday, February 25th, the Succession to the Crown Bill 2014 was introduced in the State Parliament of Western Australia, where it had its first reading before the legislature.

Parliament House in Perth, Western Australia

     These legal changes were agreed to in principal by the 16 countries in which Queen Elizabeth II is head of state at the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia. Once enacted by all Commonwealth realms, the new laws will replace male preference primogeniture with absolute primogeniture for the descendants of Prince Charles and anyone else in the succession born after October 28, 2011. This means that females will no longer be leap-fogged by their younger brothers (as has happened numerous times over the centuries). In addition, the reformed laws will end the disqualification of members of the royal family who marry Roman Catholics, and limit the need for the monarch's consent for royal marriages to the first six people in the line of succession. However, the prohibition on Catholic's becoming monarchs remains, and monarchs must be in communion with the Church of England.

     The United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, and most of the other realms have already either passed their new laws or have asserted that their constitutions either implicitly or explicitly state that the lawful succession in those countries automatically mirrors the succession laws in the United Kingdom, and that there is therefore no requirement to pass new legislation.

Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Australia
     In Australia, the laws governing succession are embedded at the Federal (national) and State levels, and therefore each State Parliament and the Federal Parliament in Canberra had to act. At a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in April 2013, it was agreed that each of the six Australian States will pass legislation enabling the Federal Parliament to make the necessary changes for Australia and six states. However, Queensland and (apparently) Western Australia have opted to make changes to their own State laws as well as requesting the Federal Parliament to do the same.

     Western Australia and South Australia are currently the only States that have yet to pass the enabling legislation. Once this happens - and the bills receive Royal Assent to become law - the Federal Parliament in Canberra will pass its own legislation to change the royal succession and marriage laws, and upon the passage of this legislation, the process will be complete in Australia. 

     After Australia, the remaining Commonwealth realms that have not officially enacted the new succession laws are: the Bahamas, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 

     Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis have passed succession bills that are currently awaiting Royal Assent.

Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada in Toronto in 2010. Under the current succession laws,
she would not have bee Queen if her parents had had a son after she was born.

     The others have agreed to the reforms in principle, but have not yet taken formal action (though it is believed that they may follow the lead of Jamaica and other realms that have asserted that domestic legislation is not necessary on the grounds that the UK succession automatically mirrors the succession in their countries). 

     However, in anticipation that some realms may take longer than others, the Commonwealth leaders also agreed that the changes would come into force only after being enacted in all of the realms, and that they will retroactively take effect on October 28, 2011 – reflecting the time at which the succession changes were agreed to in principle during the CHOGM in Perth. 

     With the birth of a boy – Prince George – there has now been little impetus to immediately change the law in some realms since the effect will be moot for at least another generation. However, with the Australian process one step closer to completion, hopefully the remaining realms will act as soon as possible.

Photo Credit: Nachoman-au via Wikimedia Commons cc, David (dbking) via Flickr cc

Royal History Today - February 28

1155 – Birth of Henry the Young King

     King Henry was the second of seven children born to Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, but became his father's heir upon the death of his older brother, William. At the age of fifteen, he was crowned as a junior king in the presence of his father (in a move to avoid succession disputes), but was not given real power to exercise in his own right. The result was that he routinely rebelled against his father for more power and income from 1173 to his death in 1183. Upon his son's death, Henry II is said to have exclaimed: "He cost me much, but I wish he had lived to cost me more." 

1261 – Birth of Margaret of Scotland

     Born at Windsor Castle, Margaret was the daughter of Alexander III of Scotland and Margaret (Plantagenet) of England, the daughter of Henry III of England. At the age of 20, Margaret married 13 year old Eric II of Norway as part of a peace process between Scotland and Norway over territorial disputes. She became Queen of Norway in 1281, and gave birth to a daughter also named Margaret, but died soon afterwards. The younger Margaret would become Queen of Scots in 1286 following the death of her grandfather. 

1638 – The Scottish National Covenant is signed in Edinburgh

A replica flag of the Covenanter's at the National Museum of Scotland

     The Covenant bound the signee’s to maintain the Presbyterian doctrine as the sole form of religion in Scotland, and it was in response to Charles I attempting to introduce Anglican liturgy to the Scottish Church. Eventually, an army was raised to resist the King’s religious reforms and defeated him in the Bishop’s Wars. This was the beginning of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (the English Civil Wars, Scottish Civil Wars, and Irish Confederate Wars) of the 1640’s and early 1650’s, which eventually resulted in the execution of Charles I, the abolition of the monarchy, and the imposition of an 11 year republican regime in Britain and Ireland.

Photo Credit: Kim Traynor via Wikimedia Commons cc

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hubert Parry - Composer of Music for the Monarchy and Nation

     Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry was one of Britain's greatest musical composers who wrote some of the most colorful pieces of British music.

Sir Hubert Parry

     He is noted for setting a bucolic tune to the words of the William Blake poem, And did those feet in ancient time, which became the choral song famously known as Jerusalem, which has caught on recently as an national anthem for England (instead of God Save the Queen, which is the UK National Anthem).

     Here is Jerusalem as it was performed at the 2011 Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge... well as at the Last Night of the Proms in 2012.

     Parry also wrote the musical setting for I Was Glad, the coronation anthem whose lyrics come the 122nd Book of Psalms, specifically verses 1–3, 6, and 7.

     This rendition of I Was Glad has been performed at every coronation since that of Edward VII in 1902. It is played at the beginning as the monarch processes down the nave of Westminster Abbey. 

     For the purposes of the coronation, the song incorporates a central section of the chant of "Vivat Rex ... " or "Vivat Regina ... " ("Long live King/Queen ...") with which the King's or Queen's Scholars of Westminster School traditionally greet the entrance of the monarch as he or she pass through the choir and into the Coronation Theater. This section has to be rewritten for every coronation since the monarch's name is included in the chant, and at the coronation of a king (regnant) and queen (consort), the queen is acclaimed before the king.

     Here is being performed at St. Paul's Cathedral for the Golden Jubilee Service of Thanksgiving in 2002...

...and at the 60th anniversary of the Queen's coronation at Westminster Abbey, complete with the King's or Queen's Scholars of Westminster School.

     The performances of Parry's I Was Glad in 2002 and 2013 include the acclamations of "Vivat Regina! Vivat Regina Elizabetha!" which means "Long Live the Queen! Long Live Queen Elizabeth!" (which was performed at the Queen's coronation in 1953).

     I Was Glad has also been played (without its central "Vivat" section) at several other occasions, including the weddings of Charles and Diana in 1981 and of William and Kate in 2011.

     Hubert Parry was made a Knight Bachelor by Queen Victoria in 1898 and a Baronet by Edward VII in 1902.

     A Knight Bachelor is the most basic rank of man who has been knighted, but not as a member of the Orders of Chivalry (Garter, Thistle, British Empire, etc.).

     A Baronet (styled as Sir or Dame) ranks above all knighthoods expect for the Garter and Thistle, and it is the only hereditary honor not in peerage.

     Parry died in 1918 as a result of Spanish flu pandemic and was buried at St. Paul's Cathedral, leaving behind a rich and colorful musical legacy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Senior Royals, Junior Royals: Who's Who in the Family?

     On February 24th, the Telegraph's Gordon Rayner described Zara Tindall as "the most senior member of the Royal family to sell the rights to the first portraits of [her] child" in his article regarding the Queen's eldest granddaughter and her husband controversially selling photos of themselves and their recently-born daughter, Mia, to Hello! magazine.

     The description had to do with Tindall's place in the line of succession (15th), and the fact the nobody above her has ever taken the same action.

     Nevertheless, it does beg the question: Who exactly is a "senior" member of the royal family?

There is no question that these people are "senior" members of the royal family

     This term tends to be used frequently to describe the Queen, Prince Philip, and other members and their spouses (if any) who are in the immediate line of succession - which itself can be defined as the first 5-10 people beginning with Prince Charles.

     However, this definition flawed, for it does not include members such as Princess Anne, the Duke of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and Princess Alexandra, who are among those members of the family who "earn their keep" by carrying out an array of public activities and engagements on the behalf of the Queen and in their own right. Furthermore, it includes people who are not actively involved in royal duties on a regular basis and/or do not have royal titles, such as Prince George, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, and Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor.

     What exactly constitutes a "senior" member of the royal family is largely arbitrary. There are no official press releases from the any of the Palace press offices that refers to members of the royal family as "senior" or "junior", nor are they referred to as such on the official websites. Instead, these terms have been used in the media to distinguish between the members of the family who are higher up on the royal totem pole and members who are lower on it.

HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent carries out many royal engagements
throughout the year on behalf of the Queen, as well as in his own right.

     However, these two categories fail to recognize certain nuances. For example, the Duke of Kent is 33rd in the succession to the 16 Commonwealth thrones. However, he does carry out many royal functions, and is one of the royal colonels (Colonel of the Scots Guards) at the Trooping the Colour in June for the Queen's Official Birthday. He may not be a "senior" royal in terms of his place in the succession, but cannot either be classified as a "junior" member of the family either because of his royal work.

     With that in mind, here are my categories for members of  the royal family: Senior, Mid-Major, Junior, and Non-Royal. They are based on a mix of circumstances - including the type of titles and styles held by individuals (or lack thereof), their relation to the Queen, and whether they currently carry out royal duties on a regular basis (meaning that they appear on the Court Circular, the official record of previous royal engagements).

1) Senior Members

In my categorizations, a senior member of the royal family is a person who:
  • Has the style of Majesty or Royal Highness attached to his or her name
  • Is descended from Elizabeth II or is married to such person
  • Undertakes public royal duties on a regular basis

Under this definition - again, entirely my own - senior members of the royal family include:
  • The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh
  • The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall
  • The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
  • Prince Harry of Wales
  • The Duke of York
  • The Earl and Countess of Wessex
  • The Princess Royal

2) Mid-Major Members

The following are who I call the mid-major members of the royal family, and they:
  • Have the style of Royal Highness affixed to their names
  • Are first cousins of the Queen or married to such person
  • Undertake public royal duties on a regular basis

Mid-major members include:
  • The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
  • The Duke of Kent
  • Princess Alexandra

3) Junior Members

Then there are the junior members of the royal family, who:
  • Have the style of Royal Highness attached to their names
  • Are descended from the Queen, are first cousins of the Queen, or married to such persons
  • Do not carry out public royal duties on a regular basis

Junior members include:
  • Prince George of Cambridge
  • Princess Beatrice of York
  • Princess Eugenie of York
  • The Duchess of Kent
  • Prince and Princess Michael of Kent

4) Non-Royal Members

Finally, there are those members of the royal family who are technically not royal. They are of the blood royal, but: 
  • Do not have the style of Royal Highness affixed to their names
  • Do not carry out any public royal duties (aside from participating in occasional royal events such as the Diamond Jubilee and the annual Trooping the Colour)
In addition, they can be descended from Elizabeth II, her sister Princess Margaret, or her first cousins.

Non-royal members include:

  • James Mountbatten-Windsor, Viscount Severn
  • Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
  • Peter and Autumn Phillips & Family
  • Zara and Michael Tindall & Family
  • Descendants of Princess Margaret (daughter of George VI and sister of the Queen)
  • Descendants of the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Princess Alexandra (all grandchildren of George V and first cousins of the Queen or married to such persons).
The modern royal family descends from George V and Queen Mary, the reigning Queen's grandparents

     These listings end here with the male-line descendants of George V and Queen Mary (from the Queen to Princess Alexandra's children). The line of succession can go on virtually indefinitely, but the public face of the monarchy for the last century has largely been these male-line descendants from the founders of the House of Windsor.

     It is possible for members of the royal family to move up or down these categories.

     When Prince George become old enough to conduct solo public royal engagements and appears on the Court Circular, he will be upgraded to the "senior" category with his parents. Similarly, the daughters of the Duke of York - Beatrice and Eugenie - can also find themselves in the "senior" category if they decide to become working members of the royal family at some point in their lives (and I believe they should as the only "blood" princesses of their generation).

Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice have taken on careers outside of royal life, but have carried out some limited engagements from time to time.

     However, it must be noted that these listings are arbitrary in part because they depends on the existence of the Queen. When Prince Charles ascends to the throne, these categories will have to be re-defined or even eliminated.

     For example, the "mid-major" category was created for the Queen's first cousins and their spouses who regularly conduct royal public duties. With the accession of Charles III (or George VII), I would expect that such members will be pulled off the royal payroll and no longer carry out such duties (assuming they have not already decided to end their public engagements). They would then be shifted down into the category of "junior" member, and the mid-major category would be moot.

     So the reality is that there are no "fixed" definitions of who is a "senior", "junior", or whatever within the royal family, for it is dependent on how one views the individual members, as well as on who is occupying the throne. However, this can be a guide to the current royal family in terms of the present day circumstances, and as time goes on and circumstances change, it will be updated.

Photo Credit: Ben via Flickr cc, Frédéric BISSON via Flickr cc, Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons cc

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Taking Charge of the Message

The monarchy is taking control of its online image

     This week, it was reported by the website Royal Central that Buckingham Palace has taken the step of registering Internet domain names for member of the Royal family.

     In all, over 30 addresses were created for Prince Philip, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, and several others - with names such as '', ‘’, and ‘'.

     According the to website, the bulk registration in early February indicates that these new domain names are being established more so for defensive and protective measures - to prevent impostors and other individuals from creating websites in which they pose as members of the Royal family, or in some way imply that they speak for them.

     This news, combined with the merger of the Palace press offices, and the establishment of companies to protect the intellectual property rights of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, indicates that the Palace is trying to stay ahead of the media and public relations game. In a world where anybody can log onto the web and claim to be somebody they are not, and where virtually everybody has a camera in their pocket, these are prudent moves to ensure that members of the Royal family do not face embarrassment as a result of people who are working opposite of their interests.

     Cynics and anti-monarchists will look at this and say that the monarchy is trying to wrap a tight leash around the press, the Internet, and is trying to control the message that gets out to the public.

     It may very well be that the Palace is trying to take control of the narrative about the monarchy, and individual members of the Royal family. However, the idea of image control is not new to the Palace (it goes back hundreds of years), nor is it an alien concept to other institutions, organizations, and individuals. Besides, it is not as though the Palace can control everything even if it wished to do so. If anything, it is becoming more difficult to control ones image in the age of social media, where a story can have a life of its own.

     There is a bit of image control on this blog, I would argue. From the beginning, I have taken pains to explain that I am not a wild-eyed "royal fanboy", and that I do not advocate for the restoration of the monarchy in America (for why would I write about George Washington in a favorable light or about the relationship between the Queen and the US presidents?). The articles seen here are about the monarchy (as well as people and events surrounding it): past, present, and future, and this blog does not obsess over trivial matters such as the Duchess of Cambridge having a single strand of gray hair (which is the result of something called "aging", which we will all go through).

     Anyway, what the Palace appears to be doing is taking taking steps to mitigate the negative effects that come with our modern and open media landscape. At times, this may mean taking action against over-zealous supporters of the monarchy who take their enthusiasm too far by creating pages and other media that appear to pose for the Royal family.

     This is why the monarchy created a website, and has an established a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other forms of social media. In similar fashion, there are websites and social media pages for Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, and Prince Andrew - who became the first member of the Royal family to send a personal tweet last year. The Duke of York himself explained that the whole Royal Family shares an interest in new technology, and commented that "the palace IT department are continually tested by the 'early adoption gang'" - meaning the family.

     For the Royal family, the new domain names are a preemptive measure at this point, but they may be used in time, especially with the younger generation increasing stepping up to take on more of the royal load. This will call into question the plans for a "slimmed-down" monarchy - a notion that does not sound right for this ancient institution, but I will digress on this point for now.

     The point is that if the monarchy is to survive, it must engage with the new technology to stay on top of the changing media environment, and to connect with younger generations, so that they will be properly informed about the monarchy - before the republicans and unsavory tabloids do it for them.

Photo Credit: Sodacan via Wikimedia Commons cc

George III on George Washington

In honor of Washington's Birthday (2/22), here is a story that probably best describes George III's respect for the leader of the American Revolution. 

George III of Great Britain and Ireland
     When the United States won its independence from Great Britain, King George III asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what George Washington - the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army - would do after winning the Revolutionary War. West replied, “They say he will return to his farm.”

     The King - knowing that the victors usually took charge after a war - said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

Happy Birthday, George Washington

Royal Profile: Robert II of Scotland

Robert II of Scotland

     On this day in 1371, Robert Stewart, Earl of Strathearn ascended to the Scottish throne as King Robert II – the first Stewart monarch of Scotland.

     He was the son of Walter Stewart, 6th High Steward of Scotland and Marjorie Bruce, the daughter of Robert the Bruce, the Scottish king who had decisively defeated Edward II of England and his army at Bannockburn in 1314 as part of Scotland's quest for independence.

     Robert Stewart's early life was mostly occupied by conflict with England. Scotland’s independence was recognized in 1328, but the English – led by Edward III – continued to exert influence on Scottish affairs and backed the claim of Edward Balliol, the son of John Balliol, who was the Scottish king best remembered for his weakness and incompetence against Edward I of England during the Wars of Scottish Independence. At times during this period, Stewart was a Guardian of Scotland during the minority of his uncle, David II (who was eight years his junior), which meant that he was the de facto head of state in Scotland. He was also a Guardian when the King was held captive by the English following the Battle of Neville’s Cross.

     At the time of his accession as King of Scots, Robert II had already begun a program of centralizing power to the Scottish Crown and to end the feudal strife that had stopped Scotland from advancing as a modern state. This aim of consolidation and building up Scotland continued as Robert II had his nobles gradually recapture land still dominated by the English, ended trade with England, and renewed the strategic alliance with France known as the Auld Alliance. However, King Robert wished to avoid all-out war with England, and when the English and French entered into peace negotiations, he wanted to be a party to it. This move was unpopular with the Scottish nobility, and he faced a mutiny that included his own sons, and which resulted in the King having his power stripped away.

     Robert II died in 1390, and was succeeded by his eldest son, John Stewart, Earl of Carrick as Robert III of Scotland.

     One of his lasting legacies is the establishment of the House of Stewart, which continued to preside over Scotland’s transformation from a loose collection of fiefdoms to a unified and modern nation-state. Power was consolidated to Edinburgh as the Scottish Crown gained more authority and influence over the nobility, especially in areas populated by Scandinavians and Gaels.

British Royal Coat of Arms under Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch

     In 1603, the Stuarts extended their dominion with the accession of James VI to the thrones of England and Ireland as James I, thanks to the 1503 marriage between James IV and Margaret Tudor (the eldest daughter of Henry VII of England and sister to Henry VIII), which made King James the closest living Protestant relative of the childless Elizabeth I. The Stuart dynasty would rule the Anglo-Celtic (British) Isles until 1714 upon the death of Queen Anne, during which significant advances in the arts and sciences took place, and institutions such as the Royal Mail and the Royal Society were established.

     Altogether, the House of Stewart/Stuart reigned for 343 years – longer than any other royal house in British history, and it produced fourteen monarchs (though an eleven-year interregnum occurred in the 1650’s, during which monarchy was abolished as a result of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms). By the end of the Stuart period, England and Scotland had been formally and politically united into the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Photo Credit: Sodacan via Wikimedia Commons cc