Sunday, March 30, 2008

Today In History: Royals 'R' Us.

Having fired their previous one, Otto, the Greeks went king shopping and on this day in 1863 they hired 17 year-old Prince Vilhelm of Denmark to be their king.

This must just be one of those European royalty things that doesn't make sense to someone unless they read a lot more British tabloids than I do. I mean, here's Vilhelm, a younger brother of the crown prince anyway, minding his own business and trying to get his feet wet in the Danish Navy, no doubt worried about looking like a complete twink aboard the new-fangled steam frigates, when:

"Vilhelm, sir."

"Huh? I mean, 'Yes?'"

"How would you like to be king?"

"Uh, isn't that kind of treasonous? What with my dad and older brother still being alive and all?"

"Not of Denmark; King of Greece, sir. They sent the job offer only just this morning."

"Greece? But I've never been there. I don't even speak Greek!"

"I'll hunt up a dictionary while you see to your things, sir."


staghounds said...

Sometimes it worked out. Other times not so much.

phlegmfatale said...

I suppose television/radio/20th century didn't invent the soap opera after all?

BobG said...

"Greece? But I've never been there. I don't even speak Greek!"

That sounds like an interesting idea; a king that you can keep in the dark and spoonfeed him information.
Besides, we have a president that has trouble with English...

Don said...

They say Cleopatra was the first (only, I suppose) monarch in the Ptolemaic dynasty who learned to speak Egyptian. Not quite the same situation, but still, there were something like 12 or 13 pharaohs from that family before her, and all but one or two must have been born in Egypt.

Mikael said...

King Richard the Lionhearted could barely speak a few words of english, yet he was one of Englands most popular kings... frenchman that he was.

Our own royal line here in Sweden comes from France as well, one of napolion's marshals, Jean Baptiste Jules Bernadotte.

One of our own princes was once asked to become tsar of russia, though his mother delayed him too long and they picked someone else.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there a move at one point to draft some German (Prussian) prince in as the King of the 13 colonies? As recall it, it was busy and didn't answer his mail in time. "Och! Liebchen! I may already be a King! Verdammt! I missed the deadline to apply!"

Hey, it worked out all right for the english! They have a long tradition of Kings who didn't speak english to any degree, Danes, Normans, "anglo"-Normans, Germans...

The Swedes had a Frenchman, the Russian high nobility was full of Germans and various Scandivanians, the Danes seem to favour Germans. The French took a couple of 100 years to get an actual frenchman on on their Throne. Let;s not even start on the Poles.

In fact at one point the German Kingdoms seem to have had positive export industry of 2nd sons and the like.

Anonymous said...

King Richard , Lionheart was NOT a Frenchman.

He was a Norman, a minor but important distinction that only resulted in an about 500 years of warfare.

You are right though, he didn't speak english per se, but then "English" didn't really exist yet, and wouldn't for another century or two (and you wouldn't recognize THAT as english either), and all the Anglo-Norman aristocracy spoke French, and tried to learn whatever horrific dialect the locals spoke if they could be bothered.

staghounds said...

From 1688 to 1936, no British monarch had English as his first language, or spoke it without a foreign agzendt.

Anonymous said...

When Finland gained its independence a bit over a hundred years ago some people wanted us to become a kingdom instead of a republic. They had even chosen a king, a German prince. That plan was scrapped when Germany lost in the World War I. I guess the idea at that time was that a king should come from a family who already had royal, or at least noble, blood. Or else the idea was to get a good relationship with Germany (hey, we picked on of you for our king). Or both. Go figure.