The YWCA Conference Centre
Transcript as released by the Office of Research and Education
MR WILLIAMSON-JONES: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I must thank Kerry and the ACM for inviting me to be here today and I must thank you for attending to listen to what I hope will be of some interest.
“Successful Constitutional Monarchies in Modern Times”
When the word “constitution” is used in regard to states, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “mode in which the state is organised” and “body of fundamental principles according to which the state is governed”.
Usually, when one speaks of a constitutional state, one means that the country has a Western-style, liberal, democratic constitution, and where the citizen has the fundamental rights of free speech: free assemblage: a free press: free, regular elections: freedom from arbitrary arrest, etc., and when we speak of a constitutional monarchy, one implies that the liberal, democratic state has, as the Head of State, an hereditary monarch who is above the everyday politics of that state.
In regard to today’s subject matter, I could stand here and spiel figure after figure that would show that each of the states that is covered by the title has a high GNP, high standards of health, education, general living conditions, and all of the other usual comparative tables, and, therefore, “… that state is successful…”.
Rather than bore you with this type of information, which is only of interest to statisticians, economists, politicians and the like, I would rather talk about less monetary-based and intangible examples of success, that is, where a constitutional monarch conducted his or herself in such a manner that, at a particular moment in his or her kingdom’s history, was crucial to the kingdom’s constitutional survival.
By the end of 1941, a free Europe had all but ceased to exist. To paraphrase the great Sir Winston, from the tip of the Iberian Peninsula in the west to the Urals in the east, from Norway in the north to Naples in the south, the ancient states and monarchies were either under the control of the Nazis, their Axis partners, the co-fascist friends, or under the heel of that other insidious regime, the Soviet Union.
As country after country fell to the seemingly prepotent Nazis, many supporters of the pre-conquest governments fled mainland Europe, mainly to the United Kingdom, where they helped to establish governments-in-exile. These governments were to help to continue the fight for freedom, and, just as importantly for the long term view, to maintain the legality of the corporative nation, the existence of a legitimate, free government, and to have an embryonic ministry from which an expanded government could be formed for the quick re-establishment of normality in the vacuum left when the state was freed from subjugation.
The monarchs who helped to establish and maintain the legitimacy of these governments-in-exile, all played very important parts throughout this period.
Queen Wilhelmina of The Netherlands, King Haakon VII of Norway, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxemburg, all headed governments-in-exile in the United Kingdom, and King George II of The Hellenes established his in Egypt.
Not only were these constitutional monarchs important from the political and legal points of view, they were able to fulfil that mystical “something” that republicans cannot, or will not, comprehend; they allowed their countrymen to discharge one of the basic, emotional feelings of man, they became a figurehead around which one could rally. Members of the remnants of their armed forces and many new volunteers who were able to escape from their captured nations, flooded to them, helping to form vital components of the Allied Services.
The monarchs played crucial parts in keeping their subjects’ morale high: they broadcast regularly over the BBC; their proclamations were smuggled into fortress Europe so that they could be distributed by the loyal underground forces; they visited enclaves of their nationals throughout the free world, imploring for donations to help their less fortunate countrymen, and urging for greater efforts to help the war cause.
By the Dutch, the marguerite daisy was worn at the behest of their Queen, and the eponymous orange blossom was displayed with pride and defiance. In Norway, the people, when confronted by the Nazis and Quislings in such public places as bars and restaurants, surreptitiously tapped out in Morse code the King’s cypher, H7. Also, during the nights, the same symbolic cypher would be painted on the sides of buildings and on to hoardings. As fast as this graffiti was removed by the authorities during daylight, it would reappear at night to defy the enemy.
In Denmark, the old King Christian X, who did not flee but who remained at home to be with his people, showed his contempt of the Nazis and their racial laws by the pinning of a yellow Star of David to his clothes and they were powerless to prevent him. Also every morning the King rode his horse around the streets of Copenhagen so as to be seen by the Danes and to show them that the real Denmark, of which he was the embodiment, was still alive.
As previously mentioned, King George II of The Hellenes re-established his government in Egypt because that country was just across the Mediterranean from the homeland, and because of the historic, large Greek population centred upon Alexandria; the King’s brother and heir, the Diadoch Paul, was his representative in Cairo, whilst he, the King spent most of his time in London because that was the centre of the Allies’ war effort. This poor King, who had been previously exiled, between 1924 and 1935, was hampered by the fact that most of his ministers were pro-republican and they were more concerned with the desire to disseminate republican propaganda throughout the occupied homeland than to the fighting of the enemy. But with the support of the loyal constitutionalists, the King was able to act throughout the war period as a true constitutional monarch, and as a loyal Ally in the war effort. A very good example of where politicians placed their own petty, pre-conceived desires above the needs and ideals of the populace in general.
At the end of the war, these monarchs, except for George of The Hellenes (but more about that later), returned to their homelands to rapturous welcomes and were able to help in the quick re-establishment of constitutional governments.
Before leaving the war period, I must hasten to mention that, contrary to the desires of those revisionalists, both here in Australia and elsewhere, who wish to re-write history so that it confirms with their thinking, that it was a constitutional monarchy, Great Britain, with her five, for want of a better term, her five children, the “old” dominions, who were cast in the same constitutional monarchical mould – Canada, Australia, The Union of South Africa, New Zealand and Newfoundland – with the colonial empire, were the only countries who fought the Nazis and their cohorts of bullies from the very beginning to the very end of the war.
Show me any republic that can make that very proud boast!
In 1943, the anti-Axis guerrilla forces inside Greece split between the Royalists and the leftists which gradually became under the control of the communists. On 4 July 1943, King George II declared in a broadcast to the occupied homeland that, at liberation, the government-in exile would return to Athens and that as soon as an election date had been set, it would resign. Further, the King declared that the 1911 Constitution, which had been in force prior to the Axis occupation, would be restored. This announcement upset both the republicans and the communists because this Constitution was for a constitutional monarchy. The republicans wanted no king, and the communists, under orders from their masters in Moscow, wanted Greece to be another Soviet satellite after the war.
A left-wing delegation flew from a secret airstrip in Greece in a RAF aeroplane to Cairo, and demanded, not requested, demanded that the King should not return to the Kingdom unless a plebiscite, to be organised by the “freedom-loving forces in Greece” was in his favour. One knows what that euphemism “freedom-loving forces” means in the communists’ lexicon.
In March 1944, the leftist guerrillas, now completely controlled by the communists, formed the Political Committee of National Liberation (another communist euphemism) to be in direct opposition to the government-in-exile in Cairo. This was the effectual start of the Civil War. The communists were not only fighting the occupying forces, they started to fight the Royalist guerrillas which they nearly wiped out.
The communists were being supplied by the Soviet Union, so Churchill ordered that the Greek Royalists be supplied with much needed material.
After the liberation of Athens in October 1944, the government returned but the King was prevented from doing so by the republicans and the communists in Greece, and their leftist supporters in Great Britain. The King and his loyal subjects were outraged. He had led his armed forces, in person, into battle against the superior numbers and armaments of the Axis, and he had led the government-in-exile in an exemplary manner, and now the left in Greece and, again, in the United Kingdom, was branding him a traitor. In June 1945, the Archbishop of Athens was appointed Regent to await the election results.
In 1946, the elections were held. To prevent any manipulation, they were held under the supervision of the Allied Commission. The Royalists and their allies won 231 of the 354 seats, and the King was allowed to return to a tumultuous welcome in September 1946.
(As an aside, one wonders what would have been the outcome of the referendum on the Italian Monarchy, held the same year, had it been supervised by the Allies. )
The communists refused to accept the results, so they intensified the Civil War.
By this time, King George was tired, sick and worn out with care. He died on 1st April, 1947..
He was succeeded by King Paul I. The new King was determined to fight the communist menace, as well, to try to weld a lasting, workable government from the ever-changing alliances of the fractious politicians.
The communists were strongest in the northern areas that bordered on the Moscow-controlled Yugoslavia and Albania. By using these countries as their bases, they were able to slip to and fro at their pleasure, knowing that the Royal armed forces could not follow over the borders. The communist aim was to completely demoralise the peasantry and to destroy the local government system. Many priests, mayors and the peasants’ traditional leaders were murdered. They wanted to force the demoralised peasants into the larger towns and cities, and, with their control over the food producing areas, prevent supplies from reaching the overcrowded towns and cities, hoping to eventually starve them into submission. They also carried out an insidious scheme where they kidnapped young children of both sexes from the controlled areas, and then sending them across the borders to behind the Iron Curtain where the children were brainwashed into being little communists and future cadres. These children were never seen by their parents and families again. Gradually the communists appeared to be winning; the peasants were not becoming pro-communist but they were being cowed into being not pro-government.
As soon as he became King, Paul started to reorganise the counter insurgency, the loyal armed forces, with the help of Great Britain, and later the Americans started to take a positive stance. King Paul organised great convoys of trucks so as to transport the children out of the reach of the communists, and settled them in safe areas where they stayed until after the Civil War. Queen Frederika established committees to raise the massive amounts of money that were required to support these children and their families.
Gradually, the Royal armed forces began to clear area after area of the communist bands. The King and Queen visited these “clean” areas, often within hours of being declared free zones. These visits, generally against the advice of the government of the day, proved to be a major stroke towards the Royal Family’s popularity. Many peasants never forgot these visits and never forgot their Monarch’s and Consort’s contributions towards saving their children. Even when the King was diagnosed with pneumonia and was incapacitated for many months, the Queen carried on with the rigorous trips, more often than not in uncomfortable jeeps over semi-destroyed and rocky roads. Meanwhile, the politicians tended to stay within the safety of Athens.
The Civil War was devastating to the unstable Greek economy which was still trying to recover from the ravages of World War II. But, by March 1949, the Civil War was over.
King Paul’s and Queen Frederika’s parts—positive in this ruinous time for the Kingdom—were of the utmost importance, as were their activities afterwards, when they established training camps, financed in the main by monies raised by the Queen to begin the rehabilitation of captured guerrillas who were retrained and then returned to normal civilian life.
I hope that I have shown how these two kings upheld the principles of Constitutional Monarchy during very trying periods of the history of their country: George II during World War II and King Paul I during the communist uprising.
The Greek tragedy did not end there. Since coming to the throne, King Paul had to contend with other troubles, mainly in Athens. There were certain segments of society who, for varying and more often self-seeking reasons, wanted to suspend or abolish the Constitution, or would not serve in governments headed by one or other politician, but that is another story. These anti-democratic, unconstitutional antics came to an eruption during the reign of King Paul’s son, King Constantine II.
Compared to the ancient kingdoms of Europe, the Kingdom of Belgium is verily a newcomer. It became an independent country in 1830 when it seceded from the United Netherlands.
The northern part of the country is known as Flanders. The people, the Flemings, speak a form of Dutch and the province is mainly agriculture, basically conservative politically, and, although nominally Roman Catholic, the people show an indifference to the Church, and, historically, it looked towards Great Britain for external protection.
The southern region is Wallonia, and its French-speaking people are the Walloons who are very active and strong Roman Catholics. The area is more industrially based, is left-of-centre politically, and historically it leant towards France.
Throughout the nineteenth century and up to the 1980s, these inherent problems caused many an impediment for the good governing of the country.
Frequent troubles arose. Which language was to be spoken in each province? Which language was to be the language of the central government? Was education to be under the aegis of the Church, or secularly controlled?
The politicians tended to either vacillate or to champion their own electorate’s fundamental roots; nothing constructive to solve the problems for the benefit of the country as a whole.
The monarchs had to be very diplomatic in their handling of the politicians and in trying to keep governments from disintegrating. The first five Kings have been praiseworthy in fulfilling their constitutional duties.
Time does not permit to detail the pre-War eras. I will explain some of the successes of the late King Baudouin I, who died in 1993.
This King ascended the Throne at 21 in 1951, after his father, King Leopold II, had abdicated.
The Kingdom that he had inherited was still trying to recover from World War II; it was still riven by the traditional problems and it was reeling from the constitutional crises centred upon the former King.
There were strikes, street demonstrations and street fighting: communists and socialists against the moderates, secularists against the pro-church men; socialists demanding nationalisation of everything; Flemings against Walloons. Governments rose and fell as the unstable coalitions ever changed.
The King, who was adamant that he was the King of all the Belgians, with the help and support of advisers, and the less narrow-based politicians, continued to explore all constitutional avenues so as to solve the many problems.
Gradually, King Baudouin prodded the political leaders into forming and the holding together of governments that allowed milestones to be reached.
In 1958, the education imbroglio was solved, after 120-odd years to the satisfaction of all.
In 1970, and again in 1980, the Constitution was amended by referenda to create a more federal system of government where the Kingdom was divided into the three regions of Flanders (speaking the Dutch-based Flemish), Wallonia (speaking French), and Brussels (which became bilingual). These amendments also allowed the regional assemblies to control their own cultural activities.
King Baudouin, in a stolid manner and without fanfare, had gradually encouraged the politicians to solve the major obstacles that had been hurting Belgium since its very founding. And, this was done constitutionally with no manifestos, no government-by-decree, or the over riding of the Constitution.
The late King became so respected by his people and the politicians that when, on two occasions bills that had been passed by the Parliament and were due for Royal Assent, the governments of the day, knowing that the bills’ content matters had been playing heavily on the King’s conscience, did not force him to sign them as was his duty as a constitutional monarch: the King was allowed to abdicate his kingly duties for 24 hours on each occasion and the bills were signed by a Regent.
Today Belgium is a successful, prosperous and a united Kingdom that is very prominent in the affairs of the European Union – a far cry from 1951 when it was being openly stated that the then-young King would topple from his Throne and that the country would fragment.
In the early evening of 23 February, 1981, rebel soldiers invaded the Cortes, the Spanish parliament. The leader of the rebels was Colonel Antonio Tejero Molina, a right-wing fanatic, who declared to the members that he had come to establish a “…military government…”.
To show that the members were his prisoners, he commanded his accompanying guardsman to unleash bursts of submachine-gun fire at the balconies, forcing the legislators to duck for cover.
To the millions of Spaniards who witnessed the scene on television or heard it over the wireless, it represented an all-too-familiar threat. During the previous 200 years, the military had intervened 25 times to become the arbiter of Spain’s governments. Now, only five years after the death of Franco, it seemed that Spain’s new-found democracy was in danger of being strangled in its infancy.
The manifold rumours that circulated on that night did little to allay the people’s fears.
Half and hour before Tejoro Molina had rushed into the Cortes, the 65 year old General Jaime Milano del Bosch, the much decorated commander of the Third Military Region in Valencia, 300 kilometres from Madrid, had ordered his tanks on to the streets and put some 3,500 troops on full alert. Anticipating support from other regional commanders, he then awaited the order to move in forces on the capital.
The man who was expected to give that command was General Alfonso Armada Comyn, 60, a respected officer who was deputy-chief of the army general staff, a former head of the Royal Military Household, and a godson of the late King Alfonso XIII. The rebels had envisaged the General of having sufficient stature to win widespread acceptance of the coup d’etat and, having the close connections to the Royal Family, to be able to persuade King Juan Carlos to proclaim his recognition of a new government.
For hours whilst the Cortes was held hostage, the King, as Commander-in-Chief, spoke over the telephone to the captains-general of Spain’s military regions reminding them of their oaths of allegiance to him as Commander-in-Chief and as King of Spain. Each gave their pledge of loyalty.
The King’s unequivocal stance decided the issue.
Also, during the night the King had appeared on television to address the nation. In a speech that did much to re-assure the public that law and order would prevail, he stated unambiguously: “The Crown, symbol of the permanence and unity of the Nation, cannot tolerate in any form actions or attitude attempting to interrupt the democratic process”. This uncompromising position left the rebels with no choice; as staunch anti-republicans, they could not proceed with a rebellion that risked the destruction of the Monarchy.
Gradually, the coup began to collapse. Within an hour of the rebels’ charge into the Cortes, the building was surrounded and sealed off by hundreds of loyal, armed police. As word leaked that the other captains-general were not backing them, the troops in Valencia were ordered back into barracks.
After eighteen hours of holding the members hostage, Tojera Molina surrendered; the attempted coup was over.
The failure was due largely to the actions of one man, Spain’s young King.
When the liberated Cortes resumed business the next day, the chamber burst into thunderous applause at the first mention of the King’s name. Republicans, as well as monarchists, sustained the fervent ovation. They were recognising the young monarch as the saviour of parliamentary democracy.
All Spain was most surprised by the King’s intransigence; the rebels had blundered, both in anticipating the King’s reaction to the army’s intervention and in assessing the extent of his political acumen.
It was all part of a familiar pattern. For years it had been common practice to underestimate Juan Carlos. Cynics tended to see him as a pleasant, rather undistinguished young man, who had only achieved his position through being malleable and unassertive. General Franco had invited him into the professional power game strictly on the understanding that he would confirm with and maintain the established order. What many Spaniards failed to perceive was that the apprentice had long ago mastered the game and had in the process developed his own strategy.
The background to the history of the collapse of the monarchy in Spain in 1931, the resultant short-lived Second Republic, the cathartic civil war and the Franco regime is too complicated and too lengthy to retell here.
Franco and his totalitarian Falangist regime, were the victors in the civil war. Franco was a monarchist and in 1946 he concluded that a monarchy would be the form of government after he had relinquished supreme power. Whilst he lived, Spain would be a monarchy, but a monarchy with an empty Throne.
In 1947, Franco promulgated the Law of Succession but he did not name who would be the restored King. The legitimate candidate was Don Juan de Borbon y Battenburg, Count of Barcelona, the acknowledged heir of the last King, Alfonso XIII. Franco, for a number of reasons, did not favour Don Juan, but he did not disclaim Don Juan because he did not want to alienate the many legitimist monarchists in Spain. Therefore, Franco adopted delaying tactics. In 1948, Franco persuaded Don Juan to allow his two sons, Don Juan Carlos and Don Alfonso to be educated in Spain.
Franco became the elder Prince’s self-appointed guardian, and he virtually controlled the Prince’s upbringing in the hope of moulding him into a suitable candidate in the true Falangist form for the succession.
In 1969, Don Juan Carlos was officially named as Franco’s successor. When Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos automatically became King.
The King moved very cautiously; he made no attempt to wipe away the Falangist legacy for his thinking was that if he tried to liberalise and reform too quickly, he was at risk to provoking a coup d’etat by the military diehards, and even another civil war. This very prudent action on the part of the King reinforced the popular belief that he would defend Francoism until the bitter end. The politicians and the populace did not know their King. His secret aim was to dismantle Franco’s institutions by weakening them gradually from within.
Eight months after ascending the Throne, the King asserted his authority. He requested the resignation of Franco’s last prime minister and in his place appointed Adolfo Suárez, a long time careerist in service to the Franco regime. Again, this choice dismayed the majority of Spaniards who were now demanding for immediate widespread reforms. The King was being called openly, by the intelligentsia and the members of the then-equivalent of today’s chattering class, “Juan le Breve” (“Juan the Brief”).
For the preceding two or three years, the King had been privately seeking Suárez’s views as Spanish politics; Suárez possessed moderate views and was an adroit politician. This appointment turned out to be the King’s masterstroke.
Suárez was a skilled negotiator and with his intimate understanding of the working of the Francoist power-machine, he was supremely well-equipped to evaluate the best means of its gradual destruction.
Within a year of the appointment, the Administration legalised political parties, including, most controversially, the communists, allowed freedom of the press, permitted demonstrations, granted amnesties to hundreds of political prisoners, and legalised free trade unions.
The King in the meantime was able to muzzle the armed forces’ potential opposition by reminding the forces of the Oaths of Allegiance to him as both King and their Commander-in-Chief.
With the effort of the Prime Minister, seen with the open backing of the King, the Francoist Cortes in November 1976 was persuaded to vote overwhelmingly in favour of abolishing itself. By passing the Law of Political Reform, the old parliament agreed to establish a new bicameral body to be elected by universal sufferage.
In June 1977 Spain had its first general election since the outset of the Civil War in 1936. The result of the election was a victory for moderation; the extreme Right and the extreme Left, between them, only polled 17% of the votes, resulting in 36 seats out of 350.
In December 1978, some eighteen months after the election, Spain’s new constitution – approved by Parliament and by a national referendum – was formally sanctioned by the King. It established a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch as Head of State.
It is not necessary to elaborate here how the parliamentary democracy works on a day-to-day basis. It just needs to be stated that in the three years after the death of Franco, Spain had been transformed from a totalitarian state to a liberal, democratic, constitutional monarchy.
Much of the credit for the acceptance of this new state belonged to the King. He had played a major role in the restoration of democracy by the unequivocal public support to Suárez, by propagating Spain’s growing liberation in his meetings with Western leaders at home and abroad and by maintaining close contact with the military who needed constant reassurances that liberalisation would not automatically lead to disorder and disunity.
The King’s prestige and popular appeal are now so broadly based that political leaders consult him to an extent unknown in other monarchical democracies.
I am now going to recount of how a very young king took his nation from the grasp of one totalitarianism, tried to keep it as a constitutional state, only to see it fall into the hands of another illegal, undemocratic regime, all within three years.
Roumania, at the behest of its fascist-styled government and its Iron Guard “bullyboys” joined the Axis during World War II; Roumania ranked first amongst the junior Axis partners in the magnitude of its war effort. At Stalingrad, fifteen Roumanian divisions shared the German debacle.
But, the Roumanian people were not behind these collaborators.
The fascist government, the Iron Guard, and their Nazi ally, in 1940 forced King Carol II from the Throne and his son, King Michael, ascended it for the second time. The fascists calculated that Michael, then nineteen, would be a perfect figurehead-king. He was thought to be timid and apolitical.
The finest moment in Michael’s life came on 23rd August, 1944, when at the age of 23 he challenged Roumania’s fuhrer, Ion Antonescu. At an audience, the King startled Antonescu by offering his own assessments of the military situation, which he saw as critical, and then ordered Antonescu to negotiate an armistice with the Allies. Antonescu laughed at his King, and told him that he, Antonescu, was the power in Roumania. He also said that the alliance with the Nazis would not be renounced. The King countered that the country would be destroyed; he saw no course of action save suing for peace. When Antonescu again refused, the King told him that he had no choice other than to replace him as head-of-government.
At a pre-arranged signal, an army captain and three guards entered the Audience Chamber and arrested Antonescu. The King then summoned Antonescu’s main supporters to the Palace. One by one they came and one by one they were arrested and detained. Four hours after Antonescu’s arrest, the King addressed the nations over the wireless and the Roumanian troops on the Russian front ceased fire immediately. Enormous crowds danced the hora, Roumania’s national dance, on the streets of Bucharest, shouting “Long Live the King”.
No Roumanian resisted the King’s command for an armistice. The stunningly simple coup d’etat worked, becoming the War’s one decisive switch from the Axis to the Allied side. It was a mighty gamble; the young King caught both friends and enemies by surprise.
The Germans were compelled to retreat out of Roumania and in retaliation bombed Bucharest. Two days later, Roumania declared war on Germany, and the Soviet Union was presented with a fait accompli of an independent Roumania playing its own role in the war against Nazism.
The fascists had ignored, manipulated, almost suppressed the 1923 Constitution; King Michael, on the other hand, had acted within his constitutional rights and prerogatives, and had acted as a constitutional monarch protecting his people against oppressors.
In 1947, abandoned by both the then British socialist government, and a naïve American government, the Roumanian Constitution Monarchy was replaced in a coup d’etat by an illegal, Soviet-backed puppet government, describing itself as a “democratic people’s republic”.
Another young King tried to save his country from an army junta but failed because the army ignored its Oaths of Allegiance and the politicians were too busy and preoccupied arguing amongst themselves and were intent on following their own self-centred activities.
Previously, I had mentioned the many problems that remained at the time of the death of King Paul I of The Hellenes in 1964.
His son, the Diadoch, ascended the Throne as King Constantine II at the age of 24. The new King inherited political problems caused by the republicans (who had never accepted the result of the 1946 pro-Royalist referendum and the subsequent elections), the underground remnants of the communists, the Cypriot question, the fragmentation of the conservatives and the discontent amongst certain senior officers in the Army.
These disparate difficulties all came to a conclusion when, in 1967, elements within the army set up a military regime: the notorious Junta of the Colonels. The Constitution was suspended, but the junta did not abolish the monarchy.
In December of that year, the King activated a plan for a coup d’etat with the objections of overthrowing the dictatorship of Colonel George Papadopolous, and the restoration of the Constitution and parliamentary democracy.
When it became clear that the Army, forgetting its Oaths of Allegiance to him, was not going to support him, and in not wanting Greek blood on his hands, the King called off the attempt and fled to Rome.
The colonels wanted the King to return to Greece to keep a façade of legality but only as a puppet; the King would not stray from his constitutional ideals so the junta appointed a senior army officer as Regent and proceeded to write a new constitution which would have left all power in their hands and with the King reduced to a figurehead with only ceremonial roles. Constantine refused to accept this travesty. By way of a note of interest, I must mention the CIA of America advised the colonels on how to write the new constitution.
Technically, Greece was still a Kingdom but by 1973 after a failed pro-Constantine coup by officers from the very loyal Navy and Air Force, the colonels decided to “organise” a plebiscite on the future of the constitutional monarchy. Of course, they won, but the victory was short-lived as five months later, the colonels were toppled from power.
It has been said that the new Prime Minister Constantine Caramanlis, although the leader of the conservative, that is, Royalist, element did not want the return of the King for three reasons:
i) because he, Constantine Caramanlis, wanted to placate the left and the communists.
ii) because he, Constantine Caramanlis, had never forgiven the Royal Family for King Paul’s dismissing him as Prime Minister two decades earlier; and,
iii) because he, Constantine Caramanlis, wanted no rival to appear to be the saviour of Greek democracy.
ii) because he, Constantine Caramanlis, had never forgiven the Royal Family for King Paul’s dismissing him as Prime Minister two decades earlier; and,
iii) because he, Constantine Caramanlis, wanted no rival to appear to be the saviour of Greek democracy.
In the ensuing referendum, which the Royalists lost, Caramanlis would not allow any member of the government or the civil service to openly support the King. Royalists have compared his role to that of Pontius Pilate.
The difficult path of the Greek Monarchy is not yet terminated. In the light of the many swings of opinion regarding the Monarchy in Greece, the idea of a restoration of the Constitutional Monarchy cannot be eliminated.
The constraints of time have not allowed me to give examples of other successes in other realms. I could have mentioned and elaborated on King Bhumibol of Thailand’s handling of the army juntas from the 1960s to the early 1980s, the transition of Japan from a totalitarian state to that of a constitutional monarchy following the end of World War II, and the roles of the vice-regal Governors-General of Canada during the Partie Quebeçois crises during the past thirty years or so.
I trust that I have not been too verbose or boring and that I have been successful in showing that, contrary to how the biased fourth estate and the ever-chattering Chardonnay sets try to denigrate the institution of Constitutional Monarchy, modern kings and queens are often better guardians of the constitutions and their peoples’ liberties than are those demagogues who are forever mouthing platitudes.
Before finishing, I would like to read a quotation by Robert K. Massie, an American citizen, historian and author:
“Monarchy, once condemned as tyrannical and cruel, today is sometimes disparaged as foolish, wasteful and irrelevant. Those who live in republics have sent away their monarchs and chosen other symbols to look up to – film stars, sports heroes, charismatic presidents… – all seen as something bigger and better than ordinary people. Yet all of these are, to a greater or lesser degree, transitory. Nothing in … republics or in the history of their political institutions, for instance, can match the awesome ring of statement: ‘Queen Elizabeth II is the fortieth monarch since the Norman Conquest’.
“Monarchy has many facets, some boldly clear, others less so. Certainly it consists in a family of people singled out at birth, struggling through the experiences of private and public life to behave themselves and do their duty. But it is also an institution of government which provides a nation with stability and continuity, and which cannot be pressured or bought.”
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your time and patience.