Super screed, Greg! Really enjoyed this and now have the Stones stuck in my noggin:

I watched with glee

While your kings and queens

Fought for ten decades

For the gods they made

(Hundred years war made famous by Henry V was mostly about who would rule France. Joan of Arc was involved, sadly)

Mad props 👍

Expand full comment

Greg, I am a medieval historian whose area of specialty is the British Isles and Ireland. I so totally agree with you--and ironically got slammed by a bunch of Anglophiles on Heather Cox Richardson's site for saying the British monarchy needs to end. But you missed a few: Monaco, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Spain (kinda) all have monarchies (or the equivalent in the form of Grand Duchies), which were retained either because of their ability to withstand invasion from Napoleon, or because their royals were propped up by Britain, Germany, Austria, or Russia. There are royalists who want to reinstall the kings of France (give me strength!) whose party is connected to the neofascists that Marine le Pen leads. So monarchy is not dead yet in Europe.

You didn't mention that Philip was a "prince" because of the Battenberg family (German-Danish) that was foisted on Greece by Britain and Germany as the price for their support in freeing Greece from Ottoman rule in the 19th century. Although born on Corfu, he never bothered to learn Greek, even though his family had "ruled" Greece for about 70 years. Even the Norman conquerors of England learned English within a century after 1066--and they spent most of their time in France, not England, until John lost most of their territory. Philip has been lauded as a "conservationist" while his racism has been underplayed in the many obits. They were equally generous about his mum, who saved a Greek-Jewish family from the Nazis and has been virtually canonized as a result.

Elizabeth and Philip were execrable parents, even though I would venture that Elizabeth actually had a couple of parents who were more sensitive to their daughters than the usual royals, probably because they never expected to be sitting on the hot seat. Philip terrorized his eldest son while indulging the others. The only ones who managed to make their own way in the world, Ann and Edward, did so by removing themselves from the royal orbit and not capitalizing on their family ties--and refusing titles for their kids. The next generation seems to be equally feckless.

So yes: get rid of the monarchy. Get rid of all the monarchies. We might appreciate that the King of Sweden takes the metro to work every day but he's still a king . . .

And as an historian I have to correct some stuff: Henry V (ruled 1414-1422) was king for a tiny portion of the Hundred Years War, begun by Edward III in 1337--it ended in 1453 (so clearly the historians who named it the Hundred Years War couldn't count). And Joan of Arc was active not in his reign but in that of his schizophrenic (really: another problem of intermarriage among the Capetian royal family branches) son, Henry VI, who became king at the age of about 9 months old, so he was super effective for the first 20 years of his reign . . .

Expand full comment

Okay, well, as a lifelong Anglophile I have to admit to a fascination with everything royal/British... and yet, I see your point. Clearly.

*That clip from Hamilton*!!! It's my favorite scene and never fails to make me laugh out loud. So thank you for making my morning coffee hour pensive + giggle-worthy. :D

Expand full comment

Thank you so much for this unvarnished historical perspective! My sentiments exactly (expletive deleted).

Expand full comment

How does the French Revolution factor into the history of Monarchy?

Expand full comment
Apr 17, 2021Liked by Greg Olear

Late to the party I am, as usual. Loved this diatribe. And agree with every word. You're such a good writer. Really.

Also: The Monarchy is Dead. Long live the Monarchy. Not.

Elagabalus was new to me, though, so I investigated. Among the usual deviant/sex scandal/religious controversy accusations, I found something interesting:


Of course, Matty G. is not interested in upsetting "the gender, cultural and religious norms" of American society. I think deviant, decadent, and sex scandal-monger are good labels for him! I also hope he is just the first in a long, non-hereditary line of traitors who meet their just desserts.

Expand full comment

I just discovered I can post HERE for these mind blowing articles; and hell, if people admire the crown... get all dressed up, but on a hat. Disgusting people assume superiority like this. We need to focus on Jersey Island a lot more and demystify knowing how to use difficult to get products makes people sophisticated and smart.

Expand full comment

I was disgusted to find out Maria Antoinette was a child of Maria Theresa... Hapsburg people....forced into marriage..then beheaded? We humans are so perverted. Wasn’t it the Danes who ate their Prime Minister because they were so angry? 🤮 Greg, are we sure our “insurrection” incompetency didn’t make us the laughing stock of the world....?

Expand full comment

You are mah spirit animal ♥️ This is superb—Worth the subscription all by itself.

There IS, however, exactly one thing i appreciate about the English royal family: its history of lusty women with, let's say, uncommon sexual agency.

Just in the last decade, studies of Tudor DNA have uncovered three or four "infidelity surprises" in the bloodline—each most likely the offspring of a hot-blooded royal woman and a strapping young tradesman. Mmmmm.

The royals can thank all their uninhibited, unfaithful foremothers for saving them from becoming total inbreds.

Expand full comment

i do have one objection: Should be the trash bin of history (or, even better, the incinerators of history).

Not the recycle bin!

Creating new products out of this archaic—and maximally unjust—relic of the bad old days is the last thing we wana do.

Expand full comment