Monday 27 July 2009

Shahanshah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi
(6th October 1919, Tehran – 27th July 1980, Cairo)

On this day 29 years ago The Shahanshah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, died in Cairo.

To commemorate this great Monarch I recommend the Mad Monarchist's recent posting.

The Shahanshah and the Shahbanu visited Australia on 20th and 21 September 1974. Iranian Monarchists put the documentary of this visit up on YouTube.

Part 2 show Their Imperial Majesty's visit to Melbourne, where they were welcomed by the Lord Mayor, Ron Walker, AC CBE.

Of special interest is the then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam's speech, starting at 9'30'' with: "A great man. There have been many things Your Imperial Majesty has done which have inspired the Australian government ...". And he wasn't even talking about himself, good Gough.

Unfortunately most commentary is in Farsi, but just to see Melbourne in 1974 welcoming the Iranian Shah and His wife, makes this video worth watching.

«In memoriam»
Se souvenir du plus francophile des rois étrangers du XXe siècle:
Sa Majesté le Shah d'Iran ...

Call for a demonstration in Paris on 26th July 2009 to commemorate His Imperial Majesty.

Sunday 19 July 2009

19th July 1890: Birth of King George II of the Hellenes

The biographical data of His Majesty King George II originate from Balkanalysis.

Prince George was born on 19th July 1890, to this day 119 years ago, in the Royal residence of Tatoi near Athens, son of King Konstantinos I and Queen Sophia. The King died as the Greek head of state on April 1st, 1947 in the Royal Palace in Athens.

The young heir to the throne was educated at the Evelpides military academy and pursued higher military studies in the German Military Academy. At that time it was ordinary for the Royal Families in Europe to have their male members educated only in military schools and quite often they took part in wars, as was the case with Prince George . In 1913 during the the Second Balkan War, he served as a captain on the front lines, and accompanied his victorious father - Konstantinos I - who was the King of the Hellenes, and so, commander of the Greek forces.

The alliances and potential alliances for the Greeks in the First World War caused a widening gap between the parliamentary government of Venizelos, who was eager to join forces with the Entente, and the Royal Family, who preferred neutrality and had strong affiliations with the Germans.

The result of the Greek divide ultimately led to victory for Venizelos and the expulsion of the Royal Family in 1917. During his three-year exile abroad, Crown Prince George became engaged to the Romanian Princess Elisabeth and firmly clung to his royal credentials; he also used the period to expand his European high society network.

In 1920, just a few months after the signing of the short-lived Sèvres Treaty that gave Greece control in Asia Minor, Venizelos spectacularly lost the elections and the Royal Family managed after a referendum to return to Greece. Crown Prince George subsequently married Princess Elizabeth in 1921, whilst his sister, Princess Helena, married the heir of the Romanian throne, Crown Prince Carol - thus cementing the good relations between their two states. Moreover, George took part in the fateful Asia Minor military expedition and was made a colonel, responsible for drafting strategy for the troops upfront.

The expedition of the Greek Army in Anatolia resulted in catastrophe; after early gains, an overextension of forces resulted from entering too deep into the Anatolian landmass. This left the Greek army vulnerable and it was finally driven back to the sea by the resurgent Turkish nationalist forces led by Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

The dismaying news created a chaotic situation in Athens. A coup d’état led by Greek officers resulted in the resignation of George’s father, and the elevation of George to the throne on September 27, 1922 (Greek: Γεώργιος Β', Βασιλεύς των Ελλήνων). During his two-year residence as head of state, the young sovereign had to deal with the increasing propaganda against the Royal Family as an institution in Greek society. He also witnessed the execution of six members of the Greek government charged with being responsible for the disastrous Anatolian campaign.

George II as King and the Second Exile
In October 1923, after the Lausanne Treaty that created a new Mediterranean order and permanent boundaries, an attempt was made to overthrow the leaders of the 1922 revolution by several right-wing officers, including Metaxas, the would-be Prime Minister of Greece from 1936-1941. Even though King George was not involved, he was easily accused of being the culprit, and was forced to leave Greece in December 1923. As could be expected, he went to Romania. In April 1924, a Hellenic Republic was proclaimed.

The second period of exile for the Greek King had strong implications that would influence Greek politics for years to come. First of all, King George II divorced his Romanian wife and moved to Britain, where he took up residence in the storied Brown’s Hotel of London. During his stay in London from 1929-1935, George became an adherent of the British way of life and cultivated further his important relations with the English aristocracy, something that would play a major role in his future come-back in Greek public affairs.
Moreover, the exiled monarch travelled abroad regularly throughout the Greek Diaspora, in order to extract support. He managed to build a stern persona, an image as some sort of a firm and wise ruler capable of uniting a Greece so often characterised by fractiousness, instability and corruption. During this time it is highly likely that the king-in-exile managed to win British support through skilfully managing his royal family relations.

The opportunity George was looking for appeared in 1935. An unsuccessful coup d’état by Greek officers led by Colonel Plastiras changed the political climate in Greece, swinging the balance in favour of the monarchy. Meanwhile, the still mighty British Empire, fearing the expansion of the Italian and German powers, wanted to appoint a staunch supporter in one of the most important geo-strategic regions, the Balkans.

Thus, in November 1935 a referendum for the reinstatement of King George passed by a resounding 97 percent. This overwhelming approval initiated his second return to his country of birth. The reinstated King was able to have real popular support because the Greek Republic (1924-1936) was not successful. It collapsed in chaos leaving serious unresolved issues to be dealt with, such as social inequality, failures in foreign policy and general public disappointment and apathy.

Even though King George II was not generally in favour of dictatorship, the unresolved political tensions in Greece, simultaneous with a growing militarisation in Europe, proved to be decisive factors in that direction. On August 4th, 1936, George signed a government paper that declared a state of emergency in Greece; in essence, a dictatorship was being established. It was led by the Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, a longtime military officer well known for his monarchist sentiments.

Despite the fact that Metaxas was also in favour of the Germans, this fondness did not play a significant role in the actual governance of the state. The Greek army was almost completely loyal to the monarchy, and Metaxas was above all an officer loyal to his king.

When the Italian Army attacked Greece on October 28th, 1940, the defiant Greeks were able to claim the first great victory that the Allied forces had won against the Axis since the beginning of the war. It increased the prestige of King George II, who was very active in monitoring the progress of the military campaign against Italy. He also pressed the English in sending help to Greece, managing to redirect large British forces from the major front of North Africa, so vital to the British due to their interests in the Suez Canal.

On April 6th, 1941 Greece denied access to German troops, and a much tougher campaign started. The Greek army, after several weeks of intense fighting, was defeated and German troops occupied Athens on April 27th. At that time the King was determined to continue the resistance, despite lingering pro-German sentiment amongst the Greek political class. He formed a government under Emmanouel Tsouderos (a former opponent of the King’s), who also happened to be from the island of Crete - the place of the latest epic battle between the Greeks and the Germans.

On April 23rd, 1941, King George II and his government left Athens and went to Crete to continue the fight. After fierce skirmishes known collectively as “The Battle of Crete” German paratroopers occupied Crete and King George, along with most of his cabinet, narrowly escaped to Egypt and British protection. From that time onwards, London and Cairo were to play host to the Greek government-in-exile. Meanwhile, King George toured the world - including Great Britain, South Africa, Canada and the USA - trying to win support for Greece from the Allied governments and their peoples. He also declared the end of dictatorship and tried to compromise with his former political opponents.

The occupation by Germany brought major societal changes to the country. Greece saw the emergence of a renewed Communist Party and strong anti-monarchist forces. When Greece was liberated in October 1944, the King didn’t return immediately. In December 1944, the first round of confrontations between the Greek government and the Communists broke out in Athens. The one-month struggle between them signalled just the prelude to a three-year civil war that raged from 1946-1949.

The political strife in Greece resulted in a virtual British occupation of the country. Fearing Soviet expansion and the Communist rise, the Allied powers sought to aid through all means necessary the government in the fight against the rebels.

A coalition dominated by the new People's Party was elected and their leader Constantinos Tsaldaris in the opening session of parliament called for the return of the King and initiated a constitutional plebiscite. Once again in yet another election 68% vote for the return of the King, some of whom may have seen Greece's return to a monarchy as being better then being run by the communists. King George arrived in Greece on September 27th, 1946, and he lived only until April 1st, 1947, when he died of a sudden heart attack. During that short period of time, King George II experienced the beginning of the Greek Civil War, the enacting of the Truman Doctrine - the formal announcement of the Cold War - and the liberation of the Dodecanese after a generation of Italian occupation.

King George II: His Importance and Legacy
George II was a king who lived throughout, and in some periods ruled over, some of the most important events in modern Greek history. In fact, he shaped them in ways that are still being felt in Greek life today. His pro-British stance led Greece to the Allies in WWII, resulting in a devastating German occupation - but an eventual victory in being firmly allied on the ‘right side’ of history in the world’s greatest-ever conflict.
This alliance was cemented, sometimes brutally, by the civil war that followed WWII. Yet King George’s decisiveness against the Communist threat kept Greece firmly in the Western camp - a result that was clearly beneficial of the country, as history has borne out.

On the other hand, the King’s support for dictatorship helped keep alive a violent political climate in Greece, and the association of military power with politics condoned under King George II was a recurrent phenomenon that haunted the nation again during the disastrous Colonel’s Regime of 1967, which led up to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

As a person, King George II was a reserved, aloof character, who never became truly popular, as his father and his grandfather (George I) had been. King George II was more of a statesman, disinterested in the trappings of everyday life. King George would be the only modern royal not to leave an heir, and his successor was King Paul (Greek Παύλος, Βασιλεύς των Ελλήνων, 14th December 1901 – 6th March 1964), his younger brother.

To understand the broader international image and impact of a man who lived and travelled for such lengthy periods abroad, historians will have to examine more intensively King George’s role in helping the Allies win the war, and his deep connections to the British royal family, which invested enough political capital to have George installed on the Greek throne thrice in less than a generation. It is more than certain that a thorough survey will some day unveil many more interesting facts and dimensions of the life and career of King George II, as both a man and a monarch.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Emperor and Empress of Japan at Hawai’ian National Cemetery

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko greet dignitaries at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, 15th July . Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited Punchbowl Cemetery to lay a wreath and pause for moment of silence. The imperial couple's visit to the cemetery is the first since 1994. (Photos by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)

This week Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visited Haiwai’i. In the centre of their stay on a return flight from the Dominion of Canada was laying a ceremonial wreath to honour those who died in World War II.

Governor Linda Lingle and Navy Adm. Timothy Keating, commander, US Pacific Command, greeted the Imperial Couple as a 21-gun salute announced their arrival.

They represent ... the oldest monarchy in the world. And that makes it special," said Gene Castagnetti, National Cemetery Director.

It has been 15 years since Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the national shrine.

In the air, a US plane and one representing Japan flew over, symbolizing the diplomatic bridge, Their Majesties’ hope to preserve between the two nations, with their intentions made known as they etched their signatures in the official guestbook of the final resting place where history has brought Japan and the USA together.

Emperor Akihito of Japan and Retired Marine Col. Gene Castagnetti share a moment of silence at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), 15th July.(Photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)

Emperor Akihito of Japan at a wreath laying ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), 15th July. During their stay, the imperial couple paid tribute to fallen service members. Their July 14 arrival marks their first visit in more than 50 years. Nale is the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, career retention specialist. (Photo by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan bow their heads for a moment of silence at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, 15th July. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Achilles Tsantarliotis)

Thursday 16 July 2009

No Comment

Yesterday's front page of the Murdoch newspaper mX showing the republican politician and musician Peter Garrett presently in charge as the ALP's Federal Environment Minister to supervise the destruction of the environment in Australia.

Sunday 12 July 2009

Australian Recruits start bootcamp with pledging allegiance to Her Majesty

A number of new Australian Defence Force recruits have been sworn-in at a ceremony before departing to commence their initial training.

Before they start recruit training they take the Oath of Allegiance, which is certified with a document that says:

This is to certify that XXXX having pleadged allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, Her Heirs and successors, has undertaken to loyally and faithfully serve Her Majesty as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force ...

Thursday 9 July 2009

Australian World War II Victoria Cross recipient dies

While the Sydney Morning Herald reported: "
Mr Kenna went to London for the Queen's coronation in 1953 and was presented to her when she visited the newly-restored Hall of Memory at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 2000. He appeared on a postage stamp in that year."

... The Age left the Monarchist part of Mr Kenna's biography unmentioned:
"Mr Kenna was born in Hamilton, in Victoria's west, in 1919 and returned there when discharged from service in December 1946.
He worked at the local council and played for the local footy team, was active in army reunions and has led Melbourne's annual Anzac Day march.
Before enlisting in the army in August 1940, he had worked as a plumber in his hometown."

Of course, both Fairfax media failed to mention that he received the Victoria Cross from HRH Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester, during his service as Governor-General of Australia in 1947.

This failure of leaving out what was obviously a big part of his life, makes me wonder, once more, just how much we can trust the Australian media to provide the whole story on any topic let alone the state of our Monarchy.