Why are we interested in European royalty?

These people have caused more harm than anyone else in human history

Those avid watchers of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer’s website no doubt caught Queen Elizabeth II’s holiday message. I didn’t bother watching it, but it did remind me of an ongoing concern.

Why are people interested in what European royalty think? I’ve always felt all of the European royal houses could be eliminated and the world would go on just fine (I mean strip their titles, not exterminate them in the way royalty do to their enemies). The European royal houses have probably caused more harm than any other group in human history.

I’ve already written in the past in this very space about the Irish Potato Famine. Those versed in history know the widespread misery and death the famine caused in Ireland between 1845 and 1849; it’s estimated about 1,000,000 Irish died in the famine. Many felt then, and now, the English government, full of noble blue bloods, aristocrats and royalty, caused the famine or allowed it to happen. “The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine,” wrote Irish leader John Mitchel in 1860.

Have you ever read a book called “Heart of Darkness” by Robert Conrad? It’s a fictional account of Belgian colonialism in the African Congo; you probably are more familiar with Francis Ford Coppola’s movie adaption of the book, Apocalypse Now, set during the Vietnam War. The book discusses Belgium’s colonies in the Congo in the first half of the 20th Century mostly created by the greed and jealousy of Belgian King Leopold I in the mid-19th Century. I don’t have space here to discuss what Belgium did in the Congo but, in it’s lust for profit, the nation defined a period rife with slave labour, theft and slaughter on an unimaginable scale. All masterminded by European royalty.

Of course, we have to consider European royalty’s primary hand in the causes and effects of World War I. European nations, led by royalty, were obsessed with empire building throughout the 19th Century. Intense competition between major European royal houses and empires (Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary) set the stage for, at that time, the greatest disaster to ever befall the human race. The European royal houses were on one hand unwilling to concede any part of their colonial empires and on the other were forever lusting after more and more booty. The dizzying web of alliances they created meant that a single match could light the fuse that led to at least 10 million deaths.

It would be difficult to deny European royal houses, by contributing to WWI, also contributed to WWII, which resulted in the deaths of about 50 million people. But that’s a subject for another day.

Finally, there’s a more modern issue I’ve noticed that keeps cropping up in this European family of inbred royalty: a steady series of incidents where British royalty in particular dress up as Nazis. One of the more recent incidents was Prince Harry, Charles and Diana’s son, dressing up in Nazi regalia for a New Years 2005 party. Students of history know the Nazi’s fascist movement (our enemy during WWII by the way) was the European nobility’s last grasp at power in the 20th Century. There is nothing amusing about Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party, what they did during WWII or their legacy today.

And perhaps the fact that European royalty do find the Nazis amusing is the best indication that the blue bloods and aristocrats don’t have a place in the modern community of nations.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the newspaper.

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