When we now think about kings of kings we generally think about Europe before the 20th century. European history from the fall of Rome to the 20th century is often viewed, rightly or wrongly, trough the study of the rise and fall of royal dynasties. The royals, of course, have not disappeared even in the 21st century. The modern royals, however, have very different life styles from their precessors who kept themselves and their children apart from their subjects.
The idea of people having a position in the state through heredity, the idea of the very medieval coronation, the idea that people should
defer to them, bow to them, because of their ancestry--all of these are very strange to modern people. This is, however, a very modern concept. A hundred years ago it wasn't strange at all. Except for the United States, Latin America and France (after 1870), most of the world was ruled by royalty. But royal ranks were thinned by modern politics that placed power in the hands of the common man. One reason many monarchs fell from favor was a penchant for high living that distanced them from that common man. That's why most modern monarchs live more modestly today. Many European monarchies, such as those in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, are known as "bicycling monarchies" because pomp and protocol is minimal. These monarchs lead fairly normal lives, dining at restaurants, attending the theater, driving their own cars with only a minimum of fuss.
European royalty has of course long since cease to rule. The modern role for monarchy is a constitutional democracy is a ceremonial head of state. Royal houses have been retained in many European countries, primarily the smaller countries--with the exception of Britain. All the other major countries (France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) have become republics.
The experience of growing up royal has canged significantly in recent years. It was not that long ago that royal princes grew up behind palace walls, carefully insulated from contact with the public. While this varied from princpality to principality, it was the case in te larger more important monarchies (Britain, France, Germany, and Russia). It was not until the 20th century that Europeans royals were generally even allowed to go to school, with very few exceptions--such as Louis Philippe allow his grand sons to attend state schools. They were educated by nannies, governesses, and tutors. Britain's Prince Charles was, for example. the first British royal to attend a primary school. His grandfather, Gorge VI was the first to attend secondary school--a military academy. The royals were then expected to marry within their own class. As late as the 1930s, Edward VIII caused an enormous sacandal when he attempted to marry a commoner--albeit a divorced America.
The British House of Windsor has for years dominated the handlines of the tabloid press and been cloesly followed in America. Europeans follow many other European royals. In fact, a new generation of royals has in recent months stolen the headlines from teir English colleagues. The modern royals have not been brougt up in isolation from other boys. They have attended schools and had experiences like many other boys. With their broadening experiences and increasing contacts with the public, it is only to be expected that they would find mairrage partners among their subjects. Many are now marrying commoners--albeit well-heeled commoners.
Crown Prince Willem-Alexander is engaged to a 29-year old Argenine, Maxima Zorreguieta. The engafgement caused an uproart in the Netherlands, altough not because she is a commoner, but because her father was a Government minister during Argentina's "Dirty War" From 1976-83, an estimated 30,000 At\rgentines disappeared as the military fought a Communist insurgency.
Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon, noted a a flamboyant free-speaking individual wit ideas of os own, raised eyebrowns with his engagement anouncement. He chose a part-time waitress, model and anthropology student at Oslo University, Marit Tjessem Hoiby with a 4-year old son frrom an earlier mairrage. Then the relevations came with shocked the staid Norwegian Luheren Church. It was found the couple was already living together. Then it was revealed tat te father of Hoiby's boy as a drug conviction and was once a fixture on Oslo's drug-ridden party scene,
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