Jacobitism on Bastille Day
Today is Duke Franz of Bavaria’s birthday. Doesn’t he look happy? Happier than any member of the British royal family, certainly. He’s eighty three today, just in case anybody was wondering.
For people who really believe in the hereditary principle, Franz here is rightful king of England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and possibly France. He’s the Jacobite Pretender or the King Over The Water. Some, but not all members of The Royal Stuart Society regard him as such. To (eventually) exclude Franz from the crown, the Act of Succession (1701) had to pass over more than fifty people. Allowing for a reasonable rate of procreation over the course of 300 years, this means that, from a Jacobite point of view, there are thousands, yes thousands of people with a better hereditary claim to all those thrones than the present Windsor (Hanover) dynasty.
Recent attempts to detach some aspects of the British royal succession from protestant exclusions only strengthen the arbitrary and inconsistent aspects of the hereditary principle at work. (Of course, nothing is more ludicrous than attempts to create a less discriminatory royal family – discrimination is not some accidental abuse of monarchy but its very essence and a monarchy that pretends to be an equal opportunities employer collapses into an oxymoronic black hole.)
In the nineteenth-century, republican MP Charles Bradlaugh reviewed the performance of the royal family since 1714 and identified a variety of possible grounds of impeachment based on the contractual terms of the 1701 Act. His entertaining book is accessible here: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/36265.
Either hereditary right is sacred and inviolable – in which case the British royals are entitled to no allegiance and King Franz’s eighty third birthday ought to be a national holiday in Britain, or the Hanoverians are royals only according to strict parliamentary terms, royals by contract – a contract which may or may not have been honoured and which deserves to be closely scrutinised.
The other rather more resonant anniversary that’s ponderable today is, of course, Bastille Day. It’s often been regarded as evidence of Louis XVI’s terminal obtuseness that his diary entry for July 14th 1789 was the single word “rien”. The diary in question was, in fact, a hunting diary and refers merely to the fact that he didn’t catch anything on the day in question. However, it would not be unfair to characterise Louis XVI as a royal who was more interested in slaughtering wildlife than engaging with their own people. Not the only royal who can be so characterised.
Perhaps it’s a little ironic that Britain’s “rightful” Jacobite monarch has Bastille Day for a birthday. Jacobitism and Jacobinism confused and conflated by lazy spellings and decapitated ghosts.