It seems that President Donald Trump is expected on a brief, golf-oriented visit to Britain this week. Personally, I’m far more engaged by the prospect of the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, who will be on a state visit on July 12-14.
Felipe and Letizia are an attractive couple who have gone about their monarchical business trying to sow peace and harmony. Queen Letizia is a beautiful woman who is frequently compared to Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Letizia is more often seen in the company of her friend, Queen Rania of Jordan, another beauty who pops up around the world advancing good causes.
Now, beauty is skin deep, and, as the nuns in my convent school always taught us, it’s character, not looks, that matter. Yet beauty has always been admired by the great artistic traditions, and upheld as a gift from God by the Christian aesthetes. Those who are beautiful often cheer people up.
While politics seems to be allotted the role of making us feel more crabby, divided and depressed, monarchy nowadays has the task of bringing to us the sunny side of life. In the midst of the tragedies, aggression, attacks on human life and caustic, combative public debate, a pleasing king and queen can help to emphasise the positive.
Good monarchs can do good deeds, and extend comfort to the afflicted, and the popular monarchs of continental Europe carry out these tasks of kindness, comfort and support – notably Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands. These young queens are also well-educated and apparently fulfilled in their lives as wives and mothers.
Monarchies fell all over Europe partly because they were deemed to be outdated by 19th-century progressivism, and partly because the monarchs themselves weren’t up to scratch. The German Kaiser was a warmonger; the king of Italy was useless; Farouk of Egypt was decadent; and the Tsars failed to improve themselves. The Bourbons and Habsburgs of old were, it has to be said, not always lookers, and not always wise. Dynastic marriages reproduced the famed lantern jaw.
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