A proud imperial dynasty dominated an entire continent for half a millennium. Even when forced out of its global role, it remained a huge core kingdom in Europe. Its capital city became mythical for its vibrant culture, unparalleled theater and extraordinary music that entranced the world. In sharp contrast to its imperial past, it gloried in being an example of tolerance and diversity to the entire world.
Yet, suddenly, without apparent warning, it all went wrong. The great empire fell apart leaving only a tiny, isolated rump core dominated by a huge, so-long-proud imperial city that it could not even feed any more, let alone economically sustain. The empire’s proud and dignified royal family got embroiled in generations of sordid, bizarre and ultimately tragic scandals.
Is this the story of the fabled fairytale Hapsburg Empire of Austria-Hungary in the half century up to its dissolution after World War I? Yes of course. But exactly the same remorseless fate is now overwhelming the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom has not been conquered and occupied by any foreign power in 950 years, since 1066. It has suffered no revolution or civil war since the 1640s, more than a third of a millennium ago.
Yet suddenly, as a result of its extremely narrow decision in 2016 (by 52 percent to 48 percent) to exit the European Union, the UK is collapsing on all sides. It suddenly looks like an elegant old Carpenter Gothic wooden house that has been secretly devoured by termites for generations but nobody ever noticed.
Also, the British Royal Family, for hundreds of years the embodiment of public dignity, decorum and restrained good sense (or so they presented themselves) has become tabloid fodder. Its every misstep, embarrassment and scandal is instantaneously relayed to a salacious global audience of billions.
Is the proud Windsor Dynasty of Britain about to go the way of the Hapsburgs of Austria? Indeed it is. Thanks to bungling the Brexit crisis of leaving the EU, the United Kingdom is on the brink of disintegration with Scotland and Northern Ireland going different ways and leaving Little England isolated, confused and in economic crisis – just like Austria in the 1920s.
The British Royals’ parallels with their hapless Hapsburg predecessors are uncanny. The crumbling mess is still presided over by an incredibly ancient monarch raised in an otherwise long forgotten and vanished world universally respected for their probity and dignity but who usually does not seem to have a clue what is going on around them.
For the Hapsburgs, it was the Emperor Franz-Josef – still revered in Vienna today. He ruled for 68 years, still the longest record rule of any monarch in history since Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty of Ancient Egypt.
But today Queen Elizabeth II is in her 68th year of rule too and remains almost universally revered as well.
However, like Franz-Josef, the Queen is no stranger to heartbreak, personal humiliation and scandal. Her daughter-in-law, Princess Diana, became a worldwide romantic charismatic sensation entrancing the globe as no one had since Marilyn Monroe and divorced from her overshadowed husband heir to the throne Prince Charles. Then she died tragically in a car smash in a Paris tunnel. Rumors of conspiracy and secret assassination still swirl around her death.
Crown Prince Rudolph, the liberal, reforming, much adored only son of Franz-Josef died violently too, apparently by suicide at age 30 with his teenage mistress Baroness Mary Vatsera at the hunting lodge of Meyerling in 1889. It was no secret that Franz Josef and Rudolph loathed each other and the deaths were widely suspected as being murder because the son was determined to grant full independence to Hungary in return for ruling it.
Rudolph’s mother, the extraordinarily beautiful and accomplished but also unstable Empress Elizabeth (“Sisi”) came to a violent end too. She was stabbed to death by an anarchist on the lake front at Geneva, Switzerland in 1898.
The dark fates hovering over the Hapsburgs never let up. A later heir to the throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his beloved wife Sophie were gunned down by a Serbian terrorist in the city of Sarajevo in June 1914. The archduke’s last words were “Sophie! Sophie! Don’t die! Live for our children!” It was the assassination that propelled the old empire into starting World War I, in which it was utterly destroyed.
Ironically, Franz Ferdinand had foreseen the war and its outcome. Since 1912, he had fought to prevent the imperial army’s chief of staff, the war-loving and criminally incompetent Field Marshal Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf, from starting it.
If there is a Conrad von Hotzendorf stalking the corridors of Buckingham Palace, the main Seat of the Windsor Dynasty, today, it is new Prime Minister Boris “BoJo” Johnson, another power-hungry, incompetent buffoon with dreams of being England’s second Oliver Cromwell (one was already too many).
On Wednesday, August 28 Johnson prevailed on the ancient Queen Elizabeth to suspend parliament. In effect he killed nearly 360 years of constitutional rule in England since the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 after Cromwell’s death stone cold dead and made the Queen his accomplice.
The End of the Monarchy and the final collapse of the UK are now certain to follow: And soon.