Quotulatiousness

May 5, 2017

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh calls it a career

Filed under: Australia, Britain, Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, presenting the 3rd Battalion with their Regimental Colours, 17 April 2013. (via Wikipedia)

Mark Steyn on the announcement yesterday that His Royal Highness will be retiring from public appearances this fall:

Buckingham Palace announced today that the Duke of Edinburgh will retire from Royal engagements this autumn. He’ll be 96 next month, which is a quarter-century past the average retirement age – or four decades past it, if you’re a French or Greek civil servant.

His Royal Highness is the Queen’s consort. That’s an ill-defined role prone to an accumulation of frustrations: for Americans, think First Lady or Vice President for life. A lot of consorts are unpopular with their spouse’s subjects (for example, Queen Rania, Jordan’s current Hashemite hottie). Prince Philip has been doing it longer than anyone in the history of the Royal Family, since the day in 1952 when he and Princess Elizabeth were at Treetops in Kenya and received the news that George VI (the King’s Speech guy) had died. Harry Truman was in the White House; Stalin was in the Kremlin; some guy called Mao had just taken over in China. That’s a long time.

I last saw him five years ago in Glasgow with my daughter, who was impressed by how cool he was, and how spry for a nonagenarian. Elsewhere, opinions differ. He’s worshiped as a god in outlying parts of Vanuatu, but in Canberra the ruling Liberal Party went bananas and ended Tony Abbott’s premiership for giving the guy an Australian knighthood. Still and all, he’s kept the show on the road in an age hostile to the monarchical principle, and one which has seen the crowns of almost all his cousins come tumbling throughout Europe.

Steyn also recounts discussing the respective Australian and Canadian constitutions with Prince Philip during the Australian referendum on becoming a republic:

As a Canadian, I was somewhat distracted by the referendum Down Under, which I kept trying to slip into the conversation. But the Duke was inscrutable on that front – or perhaps, as I now think of it, quietly confident about victory. Toward the end, as he walked us to the door before my carriage turned back into a pumpkin, I made an offhand remark contrasting the 1901 Aussie constitution with the 1867 Canadian one, and the subject evidently engaged him, because he launched into a very well informed disquisition on the differences between the two. There were a half-dozen or so of us at dinner that night – an earl, a viscount, a baron, a knight, etc, plus a plain old mister (me). I’d assumed upon acceptance of my invitation that we guests would be there as unpaid jesters to amuse our Royal hosts. But, in fact, HRH was a quickwitted chap, and we were hard put to keep up with him.

One of my fellow diners, bemoaning the lack of agricultural workers in Britain, explained that his farm now brought in young Australians and South Africans, who were able to make ninety-to-a-hundred quid a day (about £60,000 a year) picking onions.

“Crying all the way to the bank?” said the Duke.

I thought that was a rather good line. Happy retirement.

The Battle of Arleux – Robert Nivelle Gets Fired I THE GREAT WAR Week 145

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, Europe, France, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 4 May 2017

The Battle of Arras continued in smaller scale attacks this week 100 years ago. Fighting focused on Arleux and the Scarpe river. Neither of these battles was able to repeat the success of the early Arras offensive. The casualties of the Nivelle Offensive were now costing Robert Nivelle his job as he was still blaming everyone but himself.

Back from the brink of extinction … the Scottish Tory

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In The Spectator, Alex Massie discusses one of the most unexpected political revivals of this century:

Twenty years ago, Conservatism all but died in Scotland. Tony Blair’s landslide victory made Scotland, at least in terms of its Westminster representation, a Tory-free zone. At no point since has the party won more than a single Scottish seat, and the last time the party won more than a quarter of the Scottish vote, in 1983, its current leader, Ruth Davidson, was four years old. Two years ago, the Tories won just 14 per cent of the vote, an even worse result than 1997. This seemed to fit a broader narrative: Toryism had been beaten back into England, a sign of the union’s exhaustion and a Scotland moving inexorably towards independence.

How different it all looks now. The most recent opinion polls in Scotland suggest the Tories could win as many as one in three ballots cast on 8 June. One opinion poll even suggested that, albeit on a uniform swing, the party could win as many as a dozen Scottish seats — including Moray, seat of the SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson. In an era where elections are delivering extra-ordinary results, one might just be a stronger union and a strange rebirth of Scottish Conservatism.

Massie credits the leader of Scotland’s Conservatives for much of the turnaround:

Just as it remains hard to imagine how the SNP could have risen to its current state of supremacy without Alex Salmond, so it is difficult to underestimate Ruth Davidson’s importance to the Scottish Tory revival. Her personal background — working-class, lesbian, BBC journalist — is often used to explain her ability to reach a wider audience than previous Tory leaders, but there is more to it than that. Viewed from one angle, she is every inch the modernising Tory — her influence played a large part in persuading Theresa May to maintain the commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on international aid. But seen from a different perspective, she is also a traditional Conservative: a god-fearing Christian and former army reservist. She believes in gay marriage because she is a Conservative, not despite it.

Most of all, she offers an alternative to SNP orthodoxy. Sturgeon warns that only a vote for the SNP can ‘protect’ Scotland against an ‘unfettered’ Tory govern-ment whose values are alien and inimical to those of Scotland. Davidson observes that ‘the SNP is not Scotland’. Unionists are Scots too. Labour, not so long ago the party of Scotland, might even finish fourth in this election, at least in terms of seats won. If Ian Murray retains Edinburgh South, he will be Scotland’s only red panda.

Political anthropologists are already asking why the Scottish Tory party, previously thought close to extinction, has made such a remarkable recovery. For more than a generation on the left, the idea of the Tories being an invasive species in Scotland has been the foundation of first Labour and then SNP politics — but it no longer holds. If at least one in four Scots are prepared to endorse Tory candidates, can one really maintain the fiction there is something grubbily disreputable or even unpatriotic about voting for a Conservative candidate?

H/T to Colby Cosh for the link.

Jeremy Clarkson on Bad Drivers

Filed under: Humour — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Uploaded on 15 Mar 2010

A discussion with a lot of truth in it.

QotD: The British Army before WW1

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When the Duke of Wellington described the British army as “the scum of the earth, enlisted for drink,” he was probably speaking no more than the truth. But what is significant is that his opinion would have been echoed by any non-military Englishman for nearly a hundred years subsequently.

The French Revolution and the new conception of “national” war changed the character of most Continental armies, but England was in the exceptional position of being immune from invasion and of being governed during most of the nineteenth century by non-military bourgeoisie. Consequently its army remained, as before, a small profession force more or less cut off from the rest of the nation. The war-scare of the [eighteen-]sixties produced the Volunteers, later to develop into the Territorials, but it was not till a few years before the Great War that there was serious talk of universal service. Until the late nineteenth century the total number of white troops, even in war-time never reached a quarter of a million men, and it is probable that every great British land battle between Blenheim and Loos was fought mainly by foreign soldiers.

George Orwell, “Democracy in the British Army”, Left, 1939-09.

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