11 April 2021

Philip Mountbatten Prince of Greece and Denmark

I heard a condescending French Canadian admit on the Wireless that he had once complimented Prince Philip on how well ... for an Englishman ... he spoke French. 

In the sweetest and most richly deserved put-down one can possibly imagine, the Prince replied "I'm not an Englishman and I was speaking French before you were born".

I wonder what the Canadian-French is for Pipsqueak. What in Latin? Parviloquax? What might Aristophanes have coined? At least something twice as long as mikropompsologos. For that matter, does anybody know what the Court Language was in the House of Gluecksburg? (Or -borg.)

I am not a 'Royal Watcher', but I think HRH's response is the most splendid bon mot  to emerge from the great blether of fatuous verbiage which is floating around like 'untreated' sewage in our dreadful Meejah as unmemorable people compete to think of appropriate platitudes for a man they did not like and who most certainly did not like them.

His death really is the end of an era; of an age when a member of a royal or aristocratic family could be stateless ... a Greek prince without a drop of Greek blood, negotiating border controls with a Danish passport in his school holidays; whose address was No Fixed Abode; whose sisters married Germans and who was addressed as Uncle by the King's Majesty of Spain..

I am reminded of Waugh's Dr Antonic: 

"'I have seven children ... all without nationality. If we are sent back to my unhappy country they would hang us all without doubt.'

"'Jugoslavia?'

"'I am a Croat, born under the Habsburg Empire. That was a true League of Nations. As a young man I studied in Zagreb, Budapest, Prague, Vienna -- one was free, one moved where one would; one was a citizen of Europe. Then we were liberated and put under the Serbs. Now we are liberated again and put under the Russians.  And always more police, more prisons, more hanging ...'"

Damn the Modern Nation State. And damn the lies of the tricksters who primed little old ladies to repeat like parrots "We want our country back".

"One was free, one moved where one would, one was a citizen of Europe".

"I'm not an Englishman." 

May God rest his soul and give him a place in the Byzantine section of Paradise.

11 comments:

  1. Thank for your both your thoughtful remarks. Some readers of your blog may not have read The Daily Mail, which gives an account of his poor mother Princess Alice of Battenberg a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She believed that Jesus had appeared to her and gave her directions. Sigmund Freud decided that she was suffering from sexual frustration and ordered that her uterus be blasted. She later founded the Christian Sisterhood of Martha and Mary, a Christian (Greek Orthodox) order of nuns to care for the poor of Athens.

    The story of his remark about speaking French reminds of an incident. I was directing thousands of pilgrims who were approaching the Basilica at Lourdes, along with a number of French stewards. If I saw Spanish, Italian or other foreign (meaning non-French) pilgrims, I would slow down and enunciate my vowels and syllables slowly and clearly so that, if they did not know French, they could perhaps understand my directions.

    Later I was speaking to an English family. They must have seen me giving directions to the pilgrims in French, because the father of the family said: "You speak very good English ... for a Frenchman".

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  2. Hm... except that that great monarchy was a Christian, light-touch regime that was respectful of its various constituent local cultures and ultimately didn't take itself too seriously; whereas the EU is an essentially modernist-technocratic-eutopic, arrogant, overbearing, pettifogging experiment run self-servingly from two truly horrible buildings, father. Do you reckon Prince Philip liked the European Commission? Catholics don't have to be snide about Britain on principle, you know. That kind of thing can safely be left for people who are overcompensating for not being in full communion...
    Peace be with you.

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    1. An interesting take on the Hapsburg Empire. As an aside on its respectfulness for local culture, all languages were recognised as "official" languages, but no interpretation or translation was offered in public meetings or in official documents. So German was the only official language used.

      I am sorry that you have such a jaundiced view of the EU. I agree on the buildings, but it only does what its members agree to do, and does so with a light touch. The Commission's entire staff (including 20-something way interpretation etc) is a tenth of the size of the UK Home Office. But don't let facts get in the way of your adjectives!

      Catholics can have a wide range of political views, and I hope we can all agree to disagree amicably.

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  3. The story is gold of the old man in Lviv who said “ I have been in Austria Hungary, Poland , Russia , Ukraine”. “So you have travelled a lot?” “No, I have never left Lviv”.

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    1. He never left Lviv or Lvov or Lemberg. I am not sure if any city equals Bratislava, which has been the capital of Hungary and the Slovak Republic.....though not at the same time. My 28 year old guide in Llubjana in 2012 had spent his childhood in Yugoslavia, his teenage years in independent Slovenia and his young adult years in the European Union.

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  4. Father, that "condescending French Canadian" of whom you write is the Right Honourable Jean Chretien PC, OM, CC, QC, former Prime Minister of Canada. He won three majority governments and served 1993-2003. He is one of twenty living members of the Order of Merit.

    As a Canadian Conservative I do not share a party affiliation with Mr. Chretien, but to be fair he is not a condescending person. He is pretty down to earth. He concludes the exchange with Prince Philip with the words, "So I had to shut up." Chretien portrayed himself as the butt of the joke. Not very condescending. Chretien also spoke very highly and movingly in the interview of HMQ and HRH Prince Philip.

    And now that I have written favorably of a Liberal PM I shall no doubt have to spend extra time in Purgatory. Sacrifices, however, must be made in the pursuit of truth. Sigh.

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  5. Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia tells a story of a summer when he was doing his duty as a monk of Patmos by showing parties of tourists around the monastery. A lady from, as it might be, a Swans Hellenic cruise complimented him on his English: "Where did you learn it, Father ?" "My mother taught me", he replied.

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  6. Father
    It was not just “little old ladies” but, it seems, your confrere Fr Ray Blake who voted for Brexit:
    https://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2016/06/i-voted.html
    I suspect that you would have reservations about some EU policies:
    https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20210219IPR98207/attacks-on-abortion-rights-and-breaches-of-the-rule-of-law-in-poland
    God bless

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  7. Blessed repose and eternal memory. Christ is Risen!

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  8. Oddly, I feel a little sad at Prince Phillip's passing. Possibly because I knew some people who knew him, and one very nice lady who was related to him. But mostly because he led an interesting and difficult life, and had to depend on the kindness of relatives, and actually lived in Germany, where his sister's family ran a school founded by her father in law, the famous Prince Max of Baden. He had so many trials during his young life. These continued, when he had to change his name to Mountbatten, in order to marry the Princess Elizabeth, because it sounded less German than the Danish name he really had, and he had to practically pretend that he did not speak German for most of his life, when he actually spoke it very well. A good war record, and endless hard work, over many years, complimented by a wonderful sense of humor, and I can't help feeling as I do. So, prayers for his soul, and for his family. May he rest in peace.

    PS: The EU is a soulless tyranny, not to be compared to the somewhat befuddled and much maligned Austria-Hungary, which was both neccessary, and well loved by many.

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  9. Re Commenter, from a former Monarchy land: A small correction, but as you now, the devil and the details... Full time EU translators/interpreters are but a tiny-winy part of people doing such work for the EU. German was a lingua franca for the Monarchy, English is for the EU irrespective of translations. In the Monarchy people became actually poliglott like Prince Philip! And not only the aristocrats!

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