Publisher: Tumblar House
Publication Date: August 31, 2016
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A Simple Guide to the American Monarchy
For 240 years, most Americans have identified our country with its government as the embodiment of “Freedom” and the nation itself. Take away the Constitution, Congress, and presidential elections, and not only liberty but the United States themselves would vanish.
Or would they? We have a government that imposes social change from above at breakneck speed, while each presidential election seems to offer even more pathetic choices than the one before. Many are scratching their heads and wondering – not just “where are we going?” but “how did we get here?” Is our governmental system itself – the leading symbol of the American way of life – heading for a meltdown? And if it is, what – if anything – shall be left of our country?
Star-Spangled Crown is a book that comes to us from over a century in the future. That feared meltdown has already occurred – but these United States survived the loss of the presidency. Erected on the ruins of our current regime, a Monarchy has emerged; contrary to all of our 21st century notions, it is a thoroughly American institution. How it functions – as and where all governments, including our present one must function – is the subject of the book.
Star-Spangled Crown is not a call for radical change. It is an invitation for serious thought about the realities of civil life that we as a people have spent more than two centuries ignoring or avoiding at our ultimate peril. What values shall our society express? Who makes those decisions? By what right do they do so? What is America really – or, as our 22nd century author might say, what are the United States? Star-Spangled Crown offers one set of answers from a possible future – but above all, it calls on you to ask the questions in the present.
At first glance, yet another book on the way the Monarchy works in these United States might seem redundant. Yes, there are civics textbooks aplenty explaining the mechanics of the system to school children; there have been innumerable histories covering every aspect of the Instauration, from every conceivable point-of-view. Indeed, I myself was only a schoolchild when those stirring events occurred, and so have no new personal insights to add on that score.
But I have gained some renown as a generalist, and I believe that a short account of how our uniquely American Monarchy works and came to be, could be of some interest to non-scholars, and to foreign Monarchists dealing with Restoration issues of their own. In addition, at a time when everyone seems heredity and genealogy mad, I should point out that this sort of thing is in my blood. My great-uncle was Charles A. Coulombe I, who advocated Monarchy long before it was popular; of course he played no part in the events leading up to and culminating in the Instauration, being―as he put it to me in my childhood― “too obscure, too lazy, and too old” ―at the time. My uncle, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Charles A. Coulombe II, was the author of Diary of a Barrio Priest, an essential primary source for the unrest of the early 21st century in Los Angeles. In any case, I hope to have written a guide to our government that both of my collateral forebears would be proud of.
In the course of this book, I have attempted to give a more or less impersonal account of how our American Monarchy functions. While I hope to have shed light on the topic, I am also faced with a basic paradox. As G.K Chesterton said, “There are only two forms of government: the monarchy or personal government, and the republic or impersonal government.” To give a fully accurate account of my topic, I must explain how the Monarchy has affected me in the course of my life―a life which just predates it, and having entered its ninth decade must be coming to its end sooner rather than later.
My earliest memories are of the last days of the republic―which in those memories were a golden time. I was the youngest of a large family, born to a father who likewise had many brothers and sisters―and one great-uncle. He was, of course, Charles A. Coulombe I, just as my uncle was Msgr. Charles A. Coulombe II. Our family had an isolated ranch out in the Antelope Valley, but my parents and I lived in town, as did most of my aunts and uncles. The “compound,” as my elders called it laughingly, was used for family holidays. Little did we know it would become key to our survival.
The December before the Instauration, the heart of the “Troubles,” was very bad. The economy had almost collapsed, street gangs were taking over, and crime was completely out of control. I was ten years old, and my memories of that unseasonably rainy winter are made up primarily of hunger, fear, and cold. One by one the couples with their children who made up my extended family went out to the ranch, and my father and uncles joined our few neighbours in a “neighbourhood watch” that was armed to the teeth. By Christmas Eve, the only family members still in town were my uncle, who would not leave his parish, and my great uncle, would refused to budge from his apartment. The men of the family decided that Uncle Charles would have to look out for himself, but that Great Uncle would have to be compelled. Four of them set off in a big van, shotguns at the ready, to bring him home. The next six hours were filled with tension as my mother and aunts prayed for their safe return. To our intense joy, they came back with a querulous Great Uncle and eight boxes of his “books I can’t live without.” After Uncle Albert did some jury-rigging, we were able to get a television signal the next day, and found out that Great Uncle had been extracted just in time―his entire block had been burned down with great loss of life.
Over the next few weeks and months, we saw events unfold from the relative safety of the ranch. We did not see the Christmas-day occurrence that became an icon of the time. I’m sure you remember it―my uncle, a dumpy little priest in cassock and biretta, his hand raised in benediction over two sets of gangbangers kneeling in the street. Two gangs that had been about to start shooting at each other when uncle took advantage of whatever piety they had, and commanded them to lay down their arms in the name of Almighty God, who would surely burn them all forever in Hell if they did not. The image went viral on the internet, and, as I say, is now an icon of that era―but Uncle’s only reference to it in his diary is― “broke up a little trouble down on Central.” At any rate, those two gangs under Uncle’s guidance united to patrol and protect the neighbourhood, After the Instauration, they were made a regular militia unit―the Cazadores del Rey (“the King’s Huntsmen”), which still exists. Juan “Lil’ Sleepy” Marquez, the leader of the Clantone gang, became their first Colonel Commanding. Afterwards he went to West Point, eventually becoming the celebrated General Sir Juan Pablo Marquez y Guzman, KCB, of the Philippines Pacification, and ended his days as a Field Marshal. If you look very closely at his last official photograph, you will notice that on the hand wrapped tightly around his Marshal’s Baton, the knuckles still have gang tats.
At any rate, the Instauration took place, and we watched on the computer screen the very first Speech from the Throne. Great Uncle declared, “Aragorn has come at last,” and none of us dared to laugh. Troops and food arrived, and life began to return to normal. No one complained about the new government; it was such a relief to be warm, and fed, and safe. Years later it was revealed that about that time the King had exorcisms performed of the Capitol Building, the Supreme Court Building, and the White House―whether there was any truth to the rumours that His Majesty had it done at his residence in response to an apparition of Lincoln, it is certain that James felt our former government had been under some sort of satanic influence.
About a year later, the Coronation was held, and we watched again. Great Uncle literally grinned ear-to-ear throughout the ceremony. We didn’t know it, but he was already dying. The end came about a week later; but just before I was ushered out so that Uncle could give him the Last Rites, he grabbed my hand and whispered to me― “Fear God and honour the King!” I have never forgotten that moment.
Over the next few years, King James was always on television, appearing here and there, inaugurating new public works, reviewing troops, visiting hospitals. He was young, he was energetic, and he was confident―and his theme was always the same: “We have had some horrible times; but we are together again, and whatever happens, that shall not change!” The King came to Los Angeles eventually, and because of the notoriety that gang-blessing picture had brought my Uncle, we were given front row seats at the Plaza, where the King stood in front of the statue of Carlos III. “My people,” he bellowed, and the crowd roared its approbation, “my people! I stand in front of this statue of my ancestor, founder of this City!” More cheers and applause. “I command you, in his name and my own, to join in the redemption of this City we all love so well, of this State, and of this Nation!” Further approbation ensued. “Together, let us mend what has been broken, heal what has been hurt, and bring hope to those who have lost it!” There was much more, of course. And then he left to say similar things elsewhere. But most if not all of us who heard that speech that day came away convinced that together with our King we could do great things―however vague and nebulous those things might be.
I joined the Boy Scouts, who in those days were deeply involved in rebuilding the community. On one occasion, the Chief Scout, the King’s Uncle, Prince Heinrich, came to Los Angeles. I was his ADC for a day, and was amused at how he mangled English―but not so amused I couldn’t see his genuine love for Scouting and the work we were doing. Years later, when I was in College, the grand old man died; his was the first Royal Funeral we had ever had in this country, save that of King Peter II of Yugoslavia―and he was the first to occupy one of the Royal tombs at Arlington, though his Princess followed him within the year. Proud young College man that I was, I could not help the tears that flowed as I watched the funeral on television; it would not be the first time a Royal ceremony did that to me, be they tears of sorrow at deaths, or joy at weddings, baptisms, and jubilees.
In any case, I took my High School exam, and qualified for a Royal Bursary that allowed me to attend Loyola High School; my grades there qualified me for another that paid my way into Stanford. There was, of course, a price: Officers’ Training Course, commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the Militia, and five years active service “at the direction of His Majesty.” Little Crown on my cap and all, I was sent off to the Mexican Border, which in those days was heavily fortified. There I sat for four years, while my favourite cousin, Mark, saw real action fighting the King’s enemies in the Philippines―so real, in fact, that I received word of his death just after being transferred to Washington to serve my final year as a junior staff officer. The same day it was released to the news services that Prince Henry, youngest son of the King, had been killed in Liberia.
His Royal Highness had been universally loved; his older brothers and sisters, including our present King, were respected as earnest young people who were trying their best to fulfil their roles. But Henry had been born here. He was handsome, light-hearted, and had what was called in those days, “a winning way.” But now, like Mark, that youth and ebullience were snuffed out.
Heavy-hearted because of my cousin, the Prince, and all our losses, I was part of the mob that formed to give its condolences to the Royal Family as they stood before us on the White House terrace. By that time, many of the old Jacobite songs had found their way into the national patriotic songbook, alongside such old tunes as God Bless America and recently imported English songs like God Save the King and Land of Hope and Glory. I watched our King and Queen and their surviving children on the terrace, and threw myself with everyone else into the words of It Was All for Our Rightful King:
It was a’ for our rightful king
That we left fair Scotland’s strand;
It was a’ for our rightful king
We e’er saw Irish land, My dear,
We e’er saw Irish land.
Now a’ is done that men can do,
And a’ is done in vain!
My love, and native land, fareweel!
For I maun cross the main, My dear,
For I maun cross the main.
Their pain, and my pain, and that of everyone in the crowd merged as we sang the other three verses. We wept, and they wept. When we finished singing, King James attempted to speak; but all he could get out was “My people, my very dear people!” His Majesty may have won our allegiance when he appeared out of the blue and saved us from ruin; but he won our love that night. As it happened, I was given command of a company of troops that marched in the cortege to Arlington, and as a result was presented to the King afterwards. I bowed stiffly, he was very much abstracted, and as a result, our conversation was limited to “My condolences, Your Majesty,” and “Thank you very much.” It went much the same with Crown Prince Charles and the other members of the Royal Family.
Back in Los Angeles and demobbed, I was out of work and at loose ends. But like the other Royal New Deal-esque projects, The Royal Writers Project was up and running, hiring writers to update the old FWP’s American Guides―by then long over a century old. The new series was to be called The Royal Encyclopaedia of the United States in tribute to the Imperial Encyclopaedia of Austria-Hungary; as that long-ago work had been sponsored by Crown Prince Rudolph, so ours had been by Crown Prince Charles. He visited the Sacramento office while I was there. His Royal Highness claimed to remember me when I mentioned meeting him after the funeral of his brother; whether that was true I do not know―just as I cannot say how deep his interest my work regarding the California Missions was. But he certainly gave the impression of being interested, which I have learned since is one of the skills Royals cultivate.
Eventually, the Encyclopaedia was finished while the RWP was spun off into State bodies. Fortunately, I was able to get a deal to write a book on the rebuilding of the Province House in Boston as a residence for the Governor. While researching it, I met the lady who did me the honour of becoming my wife, and acting as my secretary. We were fortunate; made a bit of money, travelled a lot together, and raised seven children. When the youngest was born, we were able to ask His Majesty via the Court to serve as his Godfather as is customary with a seventh child. He kindly did so, and sent a certificate and $500 in gold. After that, I accepted the post as professor of English with which I was able to eke out my income from writing. When my Mary died, a letter of condolence came from the Court, given my service in the military and RWP, and the military service of four of my sons.
As the Monarchy became ever more rooted in national life, the sort of haranguing one heard during political campaigns changed. Instead of how “we” fought at Lexington against the British, we began to hear how “our ancestors” fought beside his at Culloden. While neither assertion is factually true for most of us, in both cases it spoke accurately of whom we are in the present rather than what was true in the past.
In time, King James died, having established a firm foundation for the new Monarchy. I wept watching the Royal funeral, as I had watching Prince Charles wed the British Princess Sophie months before. The old King was gone! But, as they say, “The King is dead; long live the King.” So far, King Charles has continued upon the path his father set him―and which he seems to have placed Crown Prince James firmly upon. When I look at the Royal Arms on buildings and the King’s face on coin and note, when I hear him prayed for after Mass and toasted at formal dinners, I feel a rush of love and pride. My background is in literature; well do I understand Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Old Tory, for example, who dreamed of “the blessed quietude of Royal sway, with the King’s name in every ordinance, his prayer in the church, his health at the board, and his love in the people’s heart,” or Washington Irving’s poor old Rip Van Winkle, who plaintively declared, “I am a poor quiet man, a native of the place, and a loyal subject of the King, God bless him!” Had I been born 50 years earlier, these sentiments would have been incomprehensible to me.
But I was fortunate enough to have been born when I was. My career, perhaps an undistinguished one, has nevertheless been led in the service of my Sovereign; I have tried all my life, as my Great Uncle directed me, to fear God and honour the King. As I close this account, both honesty and pride force me to make this disclosure. While writing this foreword, it has been made known to me that His Majesty the King has seen fit to create me a Member of the Crown of Stuart for services to literature at the New Year Honours. At my age and in my condition, I cannot possibly travel to Washington or even Sacramento; but if I am spared I shall attend upon His Lordship the Lord Mayor of Los Angeles at his levée. I pray that I live long enough to sign my name Charles A. Coulombe III, MCS. But whether or not that occurs, I have never felt so much love and loyalty for my King as I do now, nor so proud to be an American.
Charles A. Coulombe III
Los Angeles, California
Feast of Christ the King, 21--
 instauration - restoration after decay, lapse, or dilapidation
Charles A. Coulombe is one of North America’s most respected and sought-after commentators on culture, religion, history, and politics. A specialist in the history and government of the Catholic Church, Coulombe’s influence and expertise extend far beyond matters religious. He has written on topics ranging from the history of rum to haunted houses to a history of the United States.
Mr. Coulombe is a social and political commentator of note. In 2005 he provided narration and commentary for ABC News during the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the subsequent election and installation of Pope Benedict XVI. A former journalist, Mr. Coulombe served as a film reviewer and Contributing Editor of the National Catholic Register, during which time he received the Christian Law Institute's Christ King Journalism Award. Coulombe's work has appeared in over than 20 journals, including regular columns in Fidelity (Australia), PRAG (London), Monarchy Canada, and Creole Magazine (Louisiana). He has also been a frequent contributor to such publications as Success, Catholic Twin Circle, Gnosis, FATE, and the New Oxford Review.
As an informed and passionate speaker on a wide variety of religious, social, political, historical, and literary topics, Mr. Coulombe has appeared on lecture circuits throughout the North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1992 he lectured at Oxford University and the following year embarked on a lecture tour of Ireland and Great Britain, returning to Oxford and Cambridge in 1995. Coulombe has also delivered lectures at the University of Southern California on the history of Rock & Roll and at Cleveland's John Carroll University on the history of medieval monarchy. In February 2011, he was invited to take part in a debate on the abolition of the monarchy before the prestigious Oxford Union.
Is it bad that I hear Charles giggling to himself as he writes about the shootout in the White House?
At any rate, this was quite a wonderful fictional non-fiction. The spine of the book is a fictional tale of a future American monarch. The non-fictional aspect is the indepth historical analysis of relations to the monarch, such as monarch & land, monarch & military. Mr. Coulombe extends it then forward and shows how the future monarch resolves our many intractable problems.
Greatest of all was the speech given in which the new monarch masterfully weaves a tale spinning the cultural fabric of America into as having always been monarchical. George Washington, for example, is no longer revered for leading a revolt, but for rejecting a crown he knew belonged to the monarch's ancestors.
Well worth the read. Truly one of a kind.
This work builds on "Puritan's Empire" and synthesizes the author's thought better than any other. Coulombe reminds us that 1492, not 1776, is America's founding year. At long last, we are granted a monarch who is able to bring harmony to our disparate traditions. He is respectful of our freedoms but calls us to greater heights. The Bill of Rights is kept, but bad Supreme Court decisions are overruled and states (notably, Utah) are allowed their own religions again. A balance is kept among powers: the King appoints governors and some mayors, senators are elected by the state legislatures and can appeal directly to His Majesty, and the Congress must approve expenditures beyond those covered by the Crown Lands. This is well detailed. While Coulombe qualifies this all with an admission that he is not an economist and cannot predict the practicality of it, this work remains a remarkable inspiration.
This is a great little read! The only thing I wanted more of was some of the personal history of the Royal Family, and some more character emotional development. I understand the book is less a work of literature and more a treatise, but I think readers who are exploring monarchy want not only to fall in love with the system, but the monarchs themselves.
I look forward to any new endeavors!
Star Spangled Crown is one of those books where you read one chapter at a time, put it down for a bit, and turn over the content you just consumed in your mind. Although it is a work of fiction that certainly has an entertainment aspect to it, it is an excellent "primer" book to read or give to a friend who is interested in the intricacies of a monarchical government. Charles knocks this one out of the park.
This book excels at the thing the Monarchist movement needs most right now - education. These days, when most people find the prospect of a monarchy that has any real relevance to contemporary society impossible to even begin to imagine, Mr. Coulombe paints a picture, or rather shows us a vision of what a real modern monarch could like, and abolishes the myth that the sine qua non of freedom lies in the power to elect your executive. Coulombe's patriotic monarchism gives us a compelling image of a King very much at home in the land of baseball and apple pie, who does not look out of place crowned with regal majesty beneath the splendor of the stars and stripes. A must-read for anyone wondering what is (or ought to be) going on in a monarchist's head when he professes to love his country but not its form of government.
All who love history and are concerned about where the United States is going should read Star Spangled Crown.
The Star Spangled Crown is an excellent read and a good follow on to Puritan's Empire. I never realized how a monarchy could possibly solve our country's problems until I read this book.
This book puts flesh on monarchist arguments. There's an engaging story thrown in with possible ways a monarch could rule in this country. I wish I could have explored much deeper into this world, hopefully Charles will expand on Star-Spangled Crown: A Simple Guide to the American Monarchy.
Coulombe, in this brief monograph written as a history come to us from a century into the future, does a wonderful survey of what the American monarchy would look like and how it would transform into one. Being a monarchist, one thing that is often a challenge is how does one simply transform a democracy into a monarchy? The reality is that democracies don't transform into a monarchy over night. They collapse into one. This is the first chapter of his book. The rest is mostly detail about the function of the monarchy and how the monarchy laid out its claims for legitimacy. It is an hypothetical survey for any one curious about the functions of a monarchy, the role of the monarch, and how a U.S. republic could potentially collapse into a monarchy.
I’m about a third of the way through the book and starting to really settle into it. As a typical American, it’s tough to even imagine a monarchy here as I was taught in school that we are much better off without them. It’s become fun, however, to go along with Mr Coulombe’s imagination and knowledge to try on the possibility; especially now the world has ground almost to a halt with the pandemic who knows what our country will need to recover. I’d love to live in a Catholic Christendom so who knows! If you’re needing a lift and a well-researched fantasy right now, this is a good one.