Royal Flush

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The fifth season of the Netflix show, “The Crown,” depicts the British royal family in the 1990s, a “famously turbulent time” for the late Queen Elizabeth II and her family, wrote People magazine. Three out of four of Elizabeth’s children separated from their spouses in that decade. A fire broke out at Windsor Castle. In 1997, Princess Diana, the current king’s late wife, died in a car accident in Paris as paparazzi were tailing her.

Other royals around the world are not immune to high drama, either.

In Norway, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, who is fourth in the line of succession to the throne, gave up her royal status in order to marry Durek Verrett, who describes himself as a practitioner of shamanistic wellness. As the Washington Post reported, citing his website, he sells a device called a “spirit optimizer” for $222, charges $1,500 for counseling sessions, and has described cancer as a “choice.” Their engagement has stirred controversy in the Scandinavian country.

Royal love is also causing a scandal in Spain, where former King Juan Carlos I, who abdicated in 2014 due to corruption allegations, is battling his former mistress, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, over allegations that he spied on and harassed her after they broke up, the BBC explained. Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein recently said the king couldn’t stand to spend Christmas with his family and held a second celebration with friends.

Still, questions about scandals and the finances of royals have been rising over the years among Europeans, who for the sake of societal cohesion generally favor the retaining of their kings and queens. Recognizing that, some are making preemptive moves to downsize, the Washington Post added.

For example, recently in Denmark, 82-year-old Queen Margrethe II, now the longest-serving monarch in Europe, stripped the royal titles of four of her eight grandchildren, the New York Times reported, converting the three princes and one princess into mere counts and a countess. They will keep their places in the line of succession in case older relatives die. But now they will be involved in fewer public ceremonies, saving money and reducing the profile of elites who possess their wealth based solely on the accident of their births.

The queen, hugely popular among Danes, recently apologized for the move. But she stood her ground, recognizing a public uproar over the growing costs of supporting the family, saying, “It is my duty and my desire as queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times. Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made.”

That followed a move by King Carl XVI Gustaf in neighboring Sweden, who removed five of his grandchildren from the official royal house, meaning they would no longer benefit from taxpayer funds, the BBC added.

Lest readers think European royals are the only ones to cause the raising of eyebrows, the king of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn, is under investigation in Germany for conducting government business from the European country, where he formerly lived, and potentially paying too little in taxes, Deutsche Welle noted.

And critics at the Intercept are raising questions over why American officials want to grant immunity to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who will succeed his father, the 86-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in a court case related to the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018.

There are reasons many favor a continuation of monarchy as a form of government, or at least some remnant of that. But others counter that the example that most royals present today belies the “divine right of kings” argument.

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