Friday, 28 November 2008

Vive La Reine

The goings on over the leadership of the French Socialist Party illustrate a profound truth about the French Republic, namely that nobody, deep down, really wants it. France’s history would have been so much less bloody if she had evolved, as Britain did, into a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It is barely fifty years since de Gaulle seriously considered restoring the monarchy on the British model.

But instead, the French obsess over the British and Monegasque Royal Families while prostrating themselves to a succession of absolute monarchs: de Gaulle, Pompidou, Giscard d’Estaing (with his inherited title, and his insistence that he and his wife be served a course ahead of everyone else because they are so much posher), Mitterand (related to our own dear Queen), Chirac, and now Sarkozy.

Queen Martine or Queen Ségolène? Thank God for Queen Elizabeth.


  1. And who would they restore? Some old squire - for that is what the Comte de Paris effectively is.

    The French monarchy:-

    1. Bourbon mark 1 - Refused to reform

    2. Boneparte mark 1 - Annoyed other powers with own Hubris

    3. Bourbon mark 2 - Did not learn the lessons from first time around

    4. Bourbon-Orleans - Did not learn lessons from Bourbon cousins.

    5. Boneparte mark 2 - Got carried away with own Hubris. Decided to go to war over something stupid.

    All things considered, it is not surprising the French went for a Republic. De Gaulle created the office of elected monarch for himself and it has provided stability since.

    The UK constitutional monarchy was helped by two things-

    George I being unable to speak English and being too lazy

    Victoria coming to the throne a mere slip of girl with little if any knowledge in statecraft.

    Both events allowed politicians to take more power from the Crown. Thankfully.

    Under Victoria and since, no PM was officially sacked because they lost royal favour. This had happened under her predecessors.

  2. "And who would they restore?"

    Anyone they liked. As you yourself point out, they have no shortgae of possibilities.

    I'm just saying that they'd have had a happier history if it had been more like ours. And I don't see who could deny that.

    They'd also be a lot more at ease with themselves. They wouldn't feel the need for the sort of politicians that they currently favour. They wouldn't obsess over the Windsors and the Grimaldis in their popular press.

    And, for that matter, they wouldn't have the problems that derive from having to pretend to have begun in 1789 when they are so obviously so much older than that.

    "George I being unable to speak English and being too lazy"

    Schoolboy history, I'm afraid.

    "Under Victoria and since, no PM was officially sacked because they lost royal favour. This had happened under her predecessors."

    And it might be no bad thing in the future, never mind the very recent past.

    Alec Douglas-Home, of course, did become Prime Minister because he had gained Royal favour, whereas Rab Butler had not.

  3. Concerning George I - he barely spoke English and he was lazy. He spent most of his time in Hanover after his succession copulating with his mistresses - the Elephant and Maypole.

    At least George II had the decency to learn (heavily accented) English.

    Vis a vis Doutglas-Home v Butler. Douglas-Home got the job as McMillan recommended a fellow member of the shooting set to the Queen. There was no Salisbury consultation as in 1957 when Salisbury called in every Tory MP and asked simply "Wab or Hawold?" to get soundings.

    Indeed it was the Queen being upset at having to blatantly choose the PM that made Douglas-Home to instigate proper election.

    Concerning PMs being sacked/vetoedd by the crown from Victoria - well Ramsay McDonald would not have got past the palace gates if that was the attitude.

    What the French want for government is their business. They tried with monarchy many times and it did not work out.

    Some countries are actually more stable once they dispatch their monarchies. Ring Athens for details.

    George I of the Hellenes started well enough but less said of his line the better. The only indirect dividend of Constantine II incompetent handling of the military coup was the his brother-in-law Juan Carlos learned the mistakes made and stood firm in 1980.

    Juan Carlos earned his stripes. Less could be said about Constantine. A man who managed to disaffect his own chief supporter Karamalis.