Hooray for democracy!
The Last Tsar Was Michael, Not Nicholas
The 90th anniversary of the massacre of the Romanovs in Yekaterinburg has been raised to a new dimension thanks to the city of Perm. Since 1991, a growing number of Perm residents have argued that the last legitimate ruler of Russia was not Nicholas II, but his younger brother Michael. Recently, their cause got a mighty boost -- from Britain, of all places.
Donald Crawford, the co-author of "Michael and Natasha: The Life and Love of Michael II, the Last of the Romanov Tsars," is adamant that "legally, albeit just for one day, the last Russian tsar was not Nicholas, but Michael." Michael's secret morganatic marriage to Nataliya in 1912, in a Serbian church in Vienna, was a scandal. The tsar forbade him to set foot in Russia, impounded his property and deprived of a chance to succeed.
Monarchy still best, Romanov heiress tells Russians
YEKATERINBURG, Russia - Russians should not rule out the benefits of returning to a monarchical system, a leading descendant of tsar Nicholas II said on Thursday while marking her ancestor's killing 90 years ago.
"Concerning monarchy, it's for the Russian people to decide themselves if this option suits them," said Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna, who on the basis of her ancestral line claims to be Nicholas's heir.
"It gives a nation something eternal they can rely on.... Forgive me, as head of the imperial house I couldn't think otherwise, but it's our people who should choose for themselves," she told reporters.
Belgium: Last hope?
July 21 is usually a day of celebration in Belgium, yet on Monday King Albert II will have to contemplate no less than the disintegration of his kingdom as he addresses his people on their national holiday.
Following Prime Minister Yves Leterme’s resignation last week, after only four months in office, the prospects of a division of Belgium into two separate states along linguistic lines is becoming ever more real. The crisis began with the inconclusive result of the June 2007 general election: nine months later an extremely fragile five-party coalition was finally cobbled together, but only because the decision on the key question of decentralisation was postponed until July 15. When a compromise between the francophone and Flemish parties could not be found, the government collapsed.
Dead dreams of kingship
This is a very strange story: the tale of a dashing young Habsburg archduke who, some thought, was destined to become King of the Ukraine at the end of the First World War. His enthronement would have fulfilled the dreams of many, including the soldiers of the 'Ukrainian Legion' which he had commanded. And for the archduke himself, who had learned fluent Ukrainian and wore an embroidered peasant shirt under his uniform, it would have been the realisation of all his ambitions.