Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten Years Later

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of Diana Spencer, the ex-Princess of Wales. When she died I was only 16 and not a monarchist. I do however remember thinking that people were overreacting to her death. When Mother Teresa of Calcutta died shortly thereafter, I was deeply angered how her death was overshadowed by Diana; when people did happen to talk about Mother Teresa, they would compare her to Diana. An ex-princess and adulteress is comparable to a living saint?

Now ten years later and a monarchist, my views of Diana have not changed much. The British people, and indeed the whole world, entered into a kind of mass hysteria at her death. She was supposedly the "people's princess," yet more than any other member of the British royal family--to steal a line from the movie The Queen--seemed bent on destroying what the royal family had; that family gave everything to her and she threw it back in their faces. Diana was always an awkward Princess of Wales; she never knew how to function properly within a thousand-yer-old institution. Would Charles have been better off had he never married Diana? I personally think so.

Diana Spencer was a human being, and her death a tragedy. But she was also not a good Princess of Wales, always seeking the spotlight, always drawing attention away from her Sovereign and mother-in-law the Queen. The royal wedding may have been a fairy tale come true, but the marriage was not. Ten years later it's time to let the dead rest, and leave the past in the past.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ich Habe Es Nicht Gewollt

This month marks the 93rd anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The Great War, as some still call it, was one of unparalleled destruction and led to great changes in the political sphere in Europe as it was known. The borders of countries were re-drawn, monarchs were deposed, and republicanism was figuratively shoved down the throats of millions of citizens.

One of the great lies of the Great War was that it was conjured up by an aggressive Germany with its warmongering and blood-thirsty monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II. While a complex and thorough analysis of the causes of the war is not possible within this medium, suffice it to say that the European community had known for decades before 1914 that war was coming, some thinking it was inevitable; it was only a matter of where and when war would break out. Despite this mentality, the Kaiser was the only leader who sought to keep the peace after Serbia met Austria-Hungary's demands, and once war did break out was the only leader seriously committed to bringing about a peaceful solution.

There is a maxim: history is written by the victors. Great Britain and the United States won the First World War and thus got to write the history of the war. Certain inconvenient truths were left out of popular renderings of the war, especially about the Kaiser. And so I end with the caption of the beautiful painting of the Kaiser posted above: Ich habe es nicht gewollt--I did not want this.