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Of royalty and wildlife

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — observing with interest the slow turning of the tides ]

That was then:

This is now:


To be honest, the best graphic match would have been one between Anup Kaphle‘s imag of George V‘s kill in Nepal:

Nepal George V hunt

and Declan Walsh‘s picture of a Pakistani hunting party’s trove of houbara bustards —

Pakistani Bustard hunt

I just couldn’t resist the BBC’s amazing picture of the bustard in their tweet, though — hence my choice in the DoubleTweet above.


Truoble in paradise for a Saudi prince:

Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the governor of Tabuk province — along with his entourage had killed 2,100 houbara over 21 days during last year’s hunt, according to an official report leaked to the Pakistani news media, or about 20 times more than his allocated quota.

That’s from Walsh’s piece. Also:

Cargo planes fly tents and luxury jeeps into custom-built desert airstrips, followed by private jets carrying the kings and princes of Persian Gulf countries along with their precious charges: expensive hunting falcons that are used to kill the white-plumed houbara.

And in case a tie-in with counterterrorism might be appropriate, given my usual interests, there’s this —

In recent times the hunts have also played a role, albeit unwitting, in the United States’s war against Al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden took refuge at a houbara hunting camp in western Afghanistan in the late 1990s, by several accounts, at a time when the C.I.A. was plotting to assassinate him with a missile strike.

DoubleQuote: “forgoes a headscarf and sparks a backlash”

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — diplomacy and dispute.. ]

One of the simplest uses of the DoubleQuotes format is to take the sting out of an accusation. Michelle Obama was recently criticized for not wearing a headscarf during the Obamas’ recent visit to Saudia Arabia:

SPEC DQ 1st ladies Saudi

Barbara Bush did the same…


But of course, the gander can be cooked as easily as the goose, so a DoubleQuote can also be used to put the sting into the accusation — as when the complaint is made that the First Lady did indeed wear a headscarf in Indonesia — so why not in Saudi Arabia?

SPEC DQ Michelle O x 2

Maybe the fact that she was visiting a mosque in Indonesia has something to do with it?


On the subject of diplomatic protocol, there’s a terrific quote about Queen Elizabeth II and the late Crown Prince Abdullah going the rounds. You’ve probably seen it, but I’m thinking of making it the opening anecdote of my upcoming book on coronation and monarchy — yup, I have an agent nibbling at the idea — so here it is, as I first encountered it in tweet form from Shashank Joshi:



  • White House photograph, Michelle Obama without scarf
  • GW Bush White House archive, Laura Bush
  • USA Today, Michelle Obama with scarf
  • Mother Jones, Badass Feminist Queen Elizabeth II
  • **

    And for extra points, Her Majesty the Badass Feminist in her Range Rover:

    queen over drive

    Sorry, no headscarf — you’ve already seen HM in hijab in my post Birmingham, a little light relief in tough times.

    Sunday surprise 7: HRH Prince Charles

    Sunday, October 6th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — two more short videos in my series of Sunday Suprises, aiming for unexpected delight & continuing Brit-USian amity ]

    Here in a nutshell is a glimpse of why I admire and like HRH:

    And I’ve chosen this example of Leonard Cohen, not for the line “where the light gets in” which has been quoted too often for its own good, but for “the holy dove, she will be caught again”.

    There’s so much more in this song to learn, to take in, to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” as the prayer book says.

    Hoping you’ll take some pleasure in one or both of these clips this Sunday!

    Dajjal and Antichrist: the family resemblance

    Sunday, May 26th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the assignment of archetypal roles to members of the British Royal Family ]

    For those having trouble distinguishing the Dajjal from the Antichrist, I thought I’d post two screen-caps from a video of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, one of whom is identified as the Dajjal:

    together with the cover of a book identifying the Antichrist — by his coat of arms — as Prince Charles:

    In true conspiracist connect-the-dots fashion, then, the Antichrist is the Dajjal’s father.


    Dajjals, Antichrists, Messiahs and Mahdis all function as Rorschach blots on which people project their hopes and fears, associating celebrities and leaders they despise and admire with archetypal instances of the final evil and the final savior.

    By now, we should surely have figured out that this tells us more about those making the attributions than it does about the supposed, dreaded or hoped for end of days…

    A tale of two cities: Rome and Canterbury

    Sunday, March 24th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — on the ceremonial installations of the 266th Pope in Rome, and the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, together with a brief excursus on getting through doors ]

    This particular pairing of photographs is a light-hearted offering, showing the Pope being quietly and graciously assisted down the steps of St Peter’s to the open air altar, while the Archbishop of Canterbury must pretty much force his way into his own cathedral with three strong blows from his pastoral staff… both ceremonies having taken place over the last few days.


    The gesture of beating on the church door, requesting permission to enter, is in fact an old one. Here is video of the same ceremony, as enacted on the death of the Archduke Otto von Hapsburg, when the body of that exalted aristocrat and devout Catholic was brought the Capuchin Cloister to be buried:

    The text of the ceremony proceeds in a beautifully constructed threefold fashion. First, the Archduke begs admission to the church under his hereditary stiles and titles:

    Prior: Who desires entry?

    MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of O?wi?cim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.

    It is not enough:

    Prior: We do not know him.

    On the second occasion, he presents himself in terms of his own accomplishments and honors:

    (The MC knocks thrice)

    Prior: Who desires entry?

    MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.

    And again it is not enough, it is not simple enough:

    Prior: We do not know him.

    (The MC knocks thrice)

    This third and final time, the appeal is simple and all too human:

    Prior: Who desires entry?

    MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.

    Prior: Then let him come in.

    And thus, ceremonially, neither his high position nor his accomplishments suffice the man to enter the church, whose threshold requires humility…


    I am, I suppose, at the antipodes from many of my fellows these days — a futurist who nonetheless glories in ceremonial and tradition, believing that gestures such as the knocking on the door just described carry a symbolic impact which can move us deeply.

    Accordingly, I am going to append here the two booklets containing the respective orders of service in Canterbury and Rome these last few days:

    First in temporal sequence, the Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate of Pope Francis, March 19, 2013. including his installation in the chair of St Peter in Rome.

    Second, the Inauguration of the Ministry of the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Portal Welby, including his enthronement in the seat of his predecessor, St Augustine.


    The entire ceremony of the installation of Pope Francis has been made available on YouTube, and while I do not expect many Zenpundit readers to watch it in its 4-hour entirety, I am first posting here a single excerpt, the Te Deum by Tomás Luis de Victoria sung at the conclusion of the Mass of Inauguration:

    Here, for those who may be interested, and for the record, is the telecast in full:


    I have only been able to find a severely edited BBC version of the enthronement ceremony in Canterbury, which gives little sense of the majesty of the English ritual and choral music —

    There was also some African drumming, as can be seen in this (far shorter) Telegraph video:


    By way of comparison, here is a surviving video of the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II in London, about sixty years ago:

    I would like on some other occasion to walk you through one or more such great rituals as these, exploring the depths and symbolic meanings of such things as the red coloration of a cardinal’s robes, signifying a sworn willingness to die for the faith, and the anointing and robing of a British monarch, symbolizing her (or his) quasi-priestly function as Supreme Governor of the church…

    The details of such rituals — strong statements uttered in a moment of high purpose, such as “Be so merciful that you be not too remiss, so execute justice that you forget not mercy” in the English coronation rite — can shape a lifetime, and a people.

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