Allegiance to the Queen

Arenenberg, Switzerland –  Today my wife Ute and I visited Arenenberg Castle for Advent Sunday brunch.

“Arenenberg is an estate with a small chateau, Schloss Arenenberg, in the municipality of Salenstein at the shore of Lake Constance in Thurgau, Switzerland, that is famous as the final domicile of Hortense de Beauharnais.

Today it houses the Napoleon Museum, a Swiss heritage site of national significance.[

Arenenberg was built in the early 16th century by the mayor of Constance (1546–48) Sebastian Geissberg.

The name of the farm that had been located there before was Narrenberg (“Fools’ Mountain”), perhaps not a suitable name to hold on to, but also the hill towards the lake was named “Arnhalde”.

By the 19th century the current name of Arenenberg was used.

The estate saw a number of owners.

In 1817, Johann Baptist von Streng sold it to the exiled Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of ex-Empress Joséphine, for 30,000 guilders.

As arranged by Napoleon, Hortense had to marry his brother Louis Bonaparte, and the couple were named King and Queen of the Netherlands (1806–10).

The royal couple not only suffered with the demise of the rule of Napoleon, but also had an unhappy marriage leading to a separation.

Hortense initiated reconstructions and renovations in an attempt to recreate the atmosphere of Malmaison.

In 1818 she moved in.

Her brother, Eugène de Beauharnais, bought the nearby Schloss Sandegg and built a villa close by.

Arenenberg, Thurgau Canton, Switzerland

While Hortense initially spent time at her house in Augsburg, Germany, Arenenberg soon became her main domicile.

At her Parisian-styled salon she entertained many luminaries.

Her son Louis Napoléon, the future Emperor Napoléon III, who had attended school in Augsburg, visited Arenenberg as a teenager.

There he was further educated and then attended the Swiss Military Academy at Thun, receiving Swiss citizenship.

In 1837, while he was exiled and living in New York City, Louis Napoleon received notice of his mother’s deteriorating health and returned to Arenenberg.

Hortense died on 5 October 1837.

After mourning, Louis Napoleon had to leave Switzerland, due to French pressure, and moved to London.

In 1843, in need of money to finance his aspirations, he sold the property to Heinrich Keller.

Once he was Emperor, his Empress Eugénie bought it back in 1855.

Further renovations were made between 1855 and 1874.

After Napoleon III’s death, Eugénie visited Arenenberg several times before she donated it in 1906 to the Canton Thurgau.” (Wikipedia)

Brunch was delicious and we feasted like swine till our clothing threatened to burst at their seams, later strolling through the Park to aid digestion.

Seeing the former home of a royal Imperial dynasty reminds me of work at Starbucks Bahnhof St. Gallen.

St. Gallen – The relationship between co-workers differs from person to person.

The jokes and ongoing repartee said between person A and person B will not be the same as between person A and another person.

With co-worker Vanessa of Macedonia, we have an ongoing routine where I call her “Majesty” and she dubs me “Peasant” in scenes that are reminiscient of The Princess Bride.

(A young woman named Buttercup (Robin Wright) lives on a farm in the country of Florin.

Whenever she gives her farm boy Wesley (Cary Elwes) an order, he only answers “As you wish” and happily complies.)(Wikipedia)

I do as Vanessa wishes to show my respect for her and she deigns to play the role of Empress of the Universe as fitting to our impromptu role playing.

She is Empress if I acknowledge her to be so.

Respect is voluntary.

No oath is required.

Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – 28 July 2005 – My wedding day at Freiburg City Hall, the entire ceremony is conducted in German, a language I had only just begun to learn.

The Justice of the Peace, one Frau Appel, rambled on and on in incomprehensible gobbledygook as to what the institution of marriage means and our responsibilities regarding it.

I did not understand one blessed word of the vows and oaths we had to agree to and so I simply waited for my blushing bride to jab me in the ribs with her elbow indicating the correct moments to say the words “Ich will”.

The oaths I understood were those I uttered in my thoughts and they remain the oaths I follow in my allegiance to my wife, my Queen, the Empress of my universe.

Toronto, Canada – A soon-to-be Canadian has served notice that he plans to recant the mandatory Oath of Allegiance to the Queen immediately after he becomes a citizen.

In a letter sent to a citizenship court judge earlier this month, Dror Bar-Natan states his opposition to the oath, which he calls “repulsive,” and he reneged on the pledge following his citizenship ceremony on Monday 30 November.

“The Queen is a symbol of entrenched and outdated privilege and the pledge is tantamount to a “hazing” ritual”, Bar-Natan said in an interview.

“To become a Canadian citizen, I am made to utter phrases which are silly and ridiculous and offensive,” he said.

“I don’t want to be there.”

Bar-Natan, 49, a math professor from Israel who has been in Canada for 13 years, was one of three longtime permanent residents who challenged the constitutionality of making citizenship conditional on promising to be “faithful and bear true allegiance to Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors.”

In upholding the requirement, Ontario’s top court said the Queen remains Canada’s Head of State and the Oath was a “symbolic commitment to be governed as a democratic constitutional monarchy unless and until democratically changed.”

The Court also found that all citizens have the right to espouse anti-monarchist views and new Canadians could “publicly disavow what they consider to be the message conveyed by the oath.”

Bar-Natan said he would follow the Court’s advice.

“I will be following precisely what the judges of the Appeal Court effectively suggested,” Bar-Natan said.

“I am going to tell the citizenship judge, ‘I hereby completely disavow it’.”

To that end, he has prepared a second letter – copied like the first to the Immigration Minister and Attorney General – that he plans to give the judge immediately after the ceremony formally reneging on the part of the pledge that refers to the Queen.

“I find it regrettable that I have to do this.

I have done my best to avoid it,” he writes, according to a draft of the letter seen by The Canadian Press.

Bar-Natan has also set up a website “as a service to others” to allow other new Canadians to publicly disavow their pledge to the Queen.

So far, two others have signed on, including Ashok Charles, who recanted the oath he had made in 1997 in a notarized letter sent to the Immigration Minister in May 2004.

In response, Citizenship and Immigration Canada assured him his status as a Canadian was legally safe.

Peter Rosenthal, a former New Yorker who became a Canadian decades ago and the lawyer in the constitutional battle against the pledge, has also used the website.

“I hereby disavow any implication that I ever affirmed any allegiance to any monarch,” he states.

In the 1990s, former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretien was set to scrap the oath to the Queen but got cold feet at the last minute, then-citizenship minister Sergio Marchi has told The Canadian Press.

Rosenthal said he hoped the current Liberal government would finally take the plunge.

“The rest of the Oath talks about being a good citizen of Canada – that’s relevant – but why put that in the context of the Queen?”

Three permanent residents of Canada who appeared in an Ontario court in July to challenge the Citizenship Oath’s mandatory Declaration of Allegiance to the Queen have lost their case.

The Queen stays.

The trio claimed that the Monarchy represents “inequality, class division and a history of slavery” and sought the option of not swearing fealty to the sovereign.

They wanted Her Majesty cut from the Oath taken when new all Canadians embrace their citizenship.

The Ontario Superior Court ruled otherwise Friday.

A judge found the provision could be justified as a reasonable limit in a free and democratic society.

(Toronto Sun / Globe and Mail)

Many of my fellow Canadians on Facebook have suggested, some more politely than others, that this disavowal is wrong as the Queen is part of Canadian tradition.

I disagree with this argument for there were traditions before the British Conquest of Canada in 1759, such as the French and the Original Peoples.

Are they less worthy of respect?

The Queen is indeed Canada´s Head of State and as such merits respect, but showing respect to a Monarch who resides far away across the Atlantic, whose power is more symbolic than practical and who costs a fortune to maintain, is not everyone´s idea of an appropriate figurehead to rally behind.

I believe having this grand ol´ gal as our Head of State does no harm to Canada and though her critics suggest that she can be rather stiff at times, her actions have not reflected badly on the Commonwealth she represents.

But it is debateable as to whether Canada actually needs a Queen.

Just as I do not need to swear an oath to Vanessa, because she earns my respect.

Just as I did not need to understand the oaths at City Hall, because I knew my responsibilities to my marriage.

New immigrants shouldn´t need to utter allegiance to a far-off monarch to know how to act as responsible citizens.

The Queen represents the former British Empire, now dubbed the British Commonwealth, of which Canada is a part by tradition.

But Canada is no longer governed as one of the Empire´s Dominions.

Canada makes its own decisions and charts its own course without needing the consent or approval of a dynasty whom does not even deign to reside there.

The Queen´s signature is a mere formality.

The Queen is a mere figurehead.

Let us judge immigrants by what they can contribute to the future rather than by the repetition of oaths to a symbolic past.




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