Archive for the ‘Monarchs’ Category
The world has known, for centuries, extremism where the norms are breached by those who wish to carry on with their un-adjustable approach in the society. It flourishes where there is no acceptance to the national political system or the existence of suppressive local customs. As the human civilization progresses and develops complexities in terms of territory, race, linguistic, tribe, culture, religion and many such things which were created and formed by man to make his own world of creations and justice.
Extremism has existed in each and every corner of this world since ages. No matter which religion you follow or believe, you will come across a stream of generation which believes in going beyond the defined norms of that sect. Earlier when the world was witnessing revolutions headed by the numerous prophets in every age of the angelic era the extremism was defined on the religious terms and was being termed as the religious extremism whose motive was to just spread their religion on to others. Then as the world moves and various distinct religions established their sphere this divided the entire generations of the human race into world of racism and discrimination. The new forms of once a single meaning word of extremism whose definition used to be just one and on one ground now was on the path of the transformation where the differences in the ideology which the various religions brought with them started to create the fault line between the personal norms and the norms of others who do not follow your norms. The most long serving example of this divide which goes beyond the lines of every norm set by the human society is between the Jews and the other global religions which has given rise to countless forms of extremism along with their own senseless and inhuman reasons. In today’s world which has survived the worst wars, genocides and natural disasters has now come to a point where it faces the threat of extremism in various forms and it kinds.
Modern and Historical forms of Extremism as defined by many scholars:
1.) Racial / Ethnical: This form is one of the forms of extremism which was developed in the era of imperialism when powers from around the world were fighting wars to establish their foothold and when they started to indulge in the slave trade. This form over the years has developed into a much common and wide spread form of extremism where it too has developed many sub categories of its own like: racial extremism against foreign immigrants / developing of gethos or restricted neighborhoods for specific community / organized racial or ethical gangs like Skin Heads of UK specifically in London, Nazis of Russia specifically in Moscow.
2.) Cultural Extremism: Cultural extremism happens when a community / state or a person forces others to accept its culture and its norms without giving or recognizing targeted community / society / group/ person its culture and values. The laws related to Blasphemy sometimes shows and present the picture of forcible and unacceptable behavior of one’s culture and acceptance to it which are mostly designed to curtail it and suppress the rise of others other than the state. Just like the laws related to Blasphemy in Pakistan.
3.) Religious Extremism: When a religious group of fundamentalists supports an ideology which goes beyond the set and accepted norms of religion and when other religions and neutrals within their own society start to feel their unwanted enforcement the modern examples where it has existed throughout in the countries are: Arab Jewish conflict, Pakistan Republic and Fundamentalists, Taliban etc.
4.) Theological Extremism: When a particular religious faction imposes its belief or tries to suppress another of its kind with a different theological setup nevertheless this kind of large scale wide spread extreme perceptions and unaccepted suppression can be seen in the more organized political and recognizable framework of a new political distinction of extremism which is fascism.
The countries where one can witness these kinds of extremities of distinct theologies. Shiaite Iran suppressing Sunni minority, Alawite Minority regime suppressing and enforcing norms on Sunni majority and Kurds in Syria, Kurds and Shia minorities being suppressed by Sunni majority in Iraq, various ideological factions in Pakistan and Afghanistan suppressing each other’s and enforcing their ideologies in forcible manner by implementing extreme measures to spread their cause and mindsets.
Theological differences in Hinduism and Sikhism in India, Various existing ideologies among Buddhism and Buddhist majority countries like the one among Chinese Han and Tibetans, Mongoloids and Chinese, Differences between and un-acceptance in Indian – Chinese.
5.) Political extremism: It belongs mostly to a much more advanced form of extremism known as fascism where the leader and his regime has national interests at large for the entire country instead of self-satisfying public interests as in democracies. This kind of extremism exists in the societies and flourishes where public is upset with the national form of governmental setup and policies, extreme national isolation in the state, high level of suppression and discrimination among various communities in the state and enforcement of unacceptable laws which hinders and endangers their communal or linguistic or religious identities. The best real life examples of it can be seen in history as well as in today’s world like Nazism in Germany which gone against the existence of Jewish community which faced a horrible holocaust at the hands of state. Syrian Alawite regime of Assad and his son Bashar, Late Col; Gaddafi and his rule of fist in Libya over other tribes and communities, Iranian Shiaite regime in Iran suppressing other minorities like Sunni, Bahai, Zoroastrian. Burmese Military Junta headed government, China’s communist government and its suppressive policies over its people and other communities living in autonomous regions and even sometimes goes beyond the national boundaries of it like affecting Taiwan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Japan, India, Russian far east, Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang. Serbia – Bosnia crisis, Kosovo crisis, Belarus, Saudi Arabia’s monarchy famous for its beheading convictions and other extreme judicial measures. Suppressive policies of North Korean regime and its Kim family.
6.) Militancy / Terrorism / Revolutionaries: This is the most modern form of extremism which has now evolved as one of the most sophisticated forms of extremism challenging the entire global political, economic, bureaucratic setup of the global community. These kinds of extreme existence and buildup works like a parallel government and system to the national framework where the national domain exists within the purview of the state but has no control and jurisdiction over the social setup and accessibility to the affected region sometimes even the government too gets involved in taking the extreme measures like by implementing draconian laws which provides much larger role to the defense forces and its paramilitaries.
This has now become the most visible and practicable form of extremism which has lured and is attracting millions across the globe to carry out its revolution through destructive means. The examples of this kind can be easily seen and monitored in various countries which too includes some of the most prosperous and developed countries like: Chechnya in Russian Federation, Naxalities / Maoists / North – East Separatist Groups / Khalistanis / Kashmir freedom movement in India, Maoist movement in Nepal, erstwhile LTTE in Sri-Lanka, Separatist movements in Indonesia, Baluchistan freedom movement, Waziristan – FATA regions, Gilgit – Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, Sind freedom movement in Pakistan, Kurdistan freedom movement in Iraq, Separatist movement in Yemen, IRA in Northern Ireland – UK, PLO movement in Palestine and Israel, Turkistan freedom movement – Xinjiang, Tibetan movement in China, Militancy affected Northern Burma, Somalia – terrorist ruled state, DRC and ROC in twin Congo’s affected by prolonged civil war, militancy and revolutionaries movements and their buildup can be seen in throughout African continent the countries which are affected are: Liberia, Somalia, DOC, ROC, Central African Republic, Chad, Western Sahara – Morocco, Angola, Uganda, Rwanda who witnessed history’s worst genocide, Sudan – South Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast. ETA armed campaign in Basque province of Spain. FARC, ELN, Para military in Columbia, Chechnya crisis in Russia, Hindu – Sikh – Muslim terror outfits and organization activities in India.
7.) Lingual extremism: This basically reflects the un-identification of other spoken languages in the state over the national lingua-franca chosen or decided by the state. It is also one of the most ancient form of extremism where state forcibly implements the policy of on other lingual communities and their stream of dialects spoken by them are denied the national recognition and importance as an accepted workable script. The state imposes and forces the alien communities to learn and accept officially the national language or other as chosen official by it on the specific community or tribe. The examples of its kind are: republics or communities of central Asian and eastern Europe under Soviet control were forced to adopt Russian as their mother tongue while their local dialects or even practicing of it or studying were banned or in some areas restricted to a confined quarters. Autonomous regions and communities living in these regions in China face the same, many tribal areas and the communities living in these regions in India also witness the extreme enforcement policies or authoritarian behavior by the local authorities to accept Hindi as their language. Most of South Asian Pacific countries too witnessing the same kind of extreme measures taken by their respective governments sometimes in the shape of judicial framework, sometimes through research policies in the national or local language in the name of making it more compatible to outside world. The most extreme behavior was seen during the imperial era or the age of colonialism when European powers took some extreme measures and gone beyond the human norms to force the acceptance of their national languages like English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish etc to be accepted by their slave and the communities living in their captured / invaded colonies as their mother language. The example of European colonial era’s lingual extremism can be seen in the countries of Africa where French is the most widely spoken language of many countries as their national language, Some countries of Asia like India and other South Asian countries where English has become the second official language after their national language, Oceania – Australia and New Zealand where English is treated as the mother tongue even of the natives who have lived there since the early years of human civilization, South and Latin Americas where on one hand Brazil has become the largest country outside Portugal to speak Portuguese as the national language and with the rest of countries in the continent adopted Spanish as their mother tongue hence; shredding their national and cultural identities defined by their extinct lingual patterns, North America where English has become their mother tongue and in some quarters being a French exception like Quebec in Canada.
India, the country ruled by a number of colonial powers has seen it happening in its own boundary where in one part Portuguese is still widely spoken and is an official language of many states ruled by Portugal, French also has an official status in some states which were once ruled by and got independence from France and it is the second most widely spoken European language in India after English.
As discussed in these points Fascism also reflects the organized form of self-styled governance by the state where nationalism is of the outmost importance and personal priorities has no space in the national agenda.
These kinds of regimes and ideologies are popular and exist where national spirit is very high and parties gains the support by large national majorities. Its major and sole aim is to live up to its nation and increase the level of national identity in the international arena against the more democratic and public favored policies.
Fascism can never stand against the regimes which support democracy and where demand for values of human rights is more important for the public. Fascist regimes practice the single party form of government where only the ruling party has vested powers for its interest prioritizing the national interests of the country while being expansionist in nature. Fascism introduced no systematic exposition of its ideology or purpose other than a negative reaction against socialist and democratic egalitarianism.
Many says mostly Europeans that Fascism was born during the pre-world War II era but my point is to bring to the notice of all those who have shrunken its definition and its origins. Fascism does not belong or was born during Hitler’s time even though the term got originated by then but if we have look at the history the old form of fascism has always remained in the kingdoms or sometimes we call it more popularly monarchies. Both the systems have many similarities in functioning, in terms of nationalism, rulings, suppression and even in its authoritarian nature like in absolute monarchies there is only a family who rules the nation and its people, which has the vast interests of the supreme national priorities going beyond even the borders of its own kingdom.
Fascism became advanced during WWII when Hitler and Mussolini came to power and gave the new definition of a rule which, though, was directly controlled by a leader and single party but has the reference towards the kind of royal functioning just like in many existing absolute monarchies for example of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain where people have no say or control over their rights and their choice but have the acceptance of the suppressive policies formulated by their direct rulers or the dictators. In the same manner Fascism is a term which gives an organized and sophisticated meaning to its older version of monarchy.
The major difference between the two is that in fascist regimes people are from general background or are revolutionaries who have large national agendas for their people and nations but has no values for human rights as if the people has their rights then the nation cannot be united at one front to serve the common interest of the country for which the leader who is leading a fascist state has much larger role to play for building the nationalism. Fascism though is an umbrella word for most of the direct single party regimes which though have the characteristics of fascism but also differentiate on many grounds with each other as these regimes are mostly based on self-styled rule of their respective leaders where the difference lies in terms of the kind of ideology being followed and the nature of their national interests. However these regimes no matter how much they differentiate with each other’s similar format they have at least some characteristics in them always and these are:
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Gender bias-nous – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.
6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often is the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police is given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.
Overall when we say and have a look extremism and fascism no matter how differentiated they look but both these terms are just the two faces of one coin which has only hurt and wounded the human civilization since the time unknown sometimes in the name of religion, sometimes in the name of culture / community and sometimes just for their own personal interests. These terms are not and nothing to do with any religion or community or culture it exists everywhere and in every community or religion no matter whether it is Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists or anyone.
The media and the responsible agencies must take the responsibility to come out of their stereotyping nature and vision. & stop propaganda about which has nothing to do with humanity and justice. I request on the behalf of The Oslo Times team and network that media should stop making the villains heroes and the heroes into villain. Media is an eye of the public and ear of its nerve so, if it plays the irresponsible role then who the public would trust and believe.
Independent from British colonial rule in 1966, the kingdom of Lesotho was used to be trouble state where just like rest of Africa the power struggle leads into the greed of politicians & affects innocent citizens. Gripped in the variety of law codes which decides the fate of the people of Lesotho who are by origin are from Buntu descent results of the early Buntu migrations who got settled down in this hilly country. Lesotho is the highest ground level in the world making it the only country who’s even the lowest point from the sea level is 1455mtrs above. It is sovereign state with constitutional Monarchy or parliamentary monarchy system where King has no public role with its capital at Maseru. Surrounded on all sides by South Africa; It has the healthiest sex ration in Africa where for 100 women there are 95 men. After the introduction of a proper constitution & democratic system in 1998 the condition of women has been lifted on a very wide scale. The involvement has reached at such a stage that now women shares equal number of ministries, public servants positions, Army ranks, in Lesotho political & public structure. The literacy rate of 95% among women & 75% literacy rate among men which is the highest in Africa & one of the highest in the world makes women more advantageous & opportunistic. This situation has now completely transformed the family per capita tally where in Lesotho there are more women earning members than men now. Now women are serving in every field where in early years men used to dominate.
Concerns: As per UNAID 2009 report Lesotho has the world’s highest number of HIV/AIDS infected people where in every 4 women are infected out of 5 & the same of men as well. With the non availability of hygienic & proper medical facilities in the kingdom & poor sanitation & high poverty levels make Lesotho more vulnerable to the highest infant mortality rate in the world & the lowest life expectancy due to highest number of HIV/AIDS infected people which counts for Men 45 years & same for Women 45years too. The ration of doctors / physicians is 5: 10000
It is among the poorest countries in the world & majority of population lives below poverty line. 75% of the population is rural & 25% is Urban. Population growth rate is 0.13% with a total GDP of 2.13billion USD.
It is estimated that at least 55% of British Pakistanis are married to first cousins and the tradition is also common among some other South Asian communities and in some Middle Eastern countries. But there is a problem: marrying someone who is themselves a close family member carries a risk for children, a risk that lies within the code of life, inside our genes. Communities that practice cousin marriage experience higher levels of some very rare but very serious illnesses known as recessive genetic disorders.
Such unions are seen as strong because they build on tight family networks and family events gets better because the in-laws are already related to each other and have the same family history. But the statistics for recessive genetic illness in cousin marriages is serious as British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population.
Cousin marriage is marriage between two cousins. This kind of marriage is highly stigmatized today in the West, but it does account for over 10% of marriages worldwide as it is common in the Middle East, where in some nations they account for over half of all marriages.
According to Professor Robin Fox of Rutgers University, it is likely that 80% of all marriages in history have been between second cousins or closer. It is generally accepted that the founding population of Homo sapiens was small, anywhere from 700 to 10,000 individuals. Rates of first-cousin marriage in the United States, Europe, and other Western countries like Brazil have declined since the 19th century, though even during that period they were not more than 3.63% of all unions in Europe. But in many other world regions cousin marriage is still strongly favoured: in the Middle East some countries have seen the rate rise over previous generations, and one study finds quite stable rates among Indian Muslims over the past four decades.
Cousin marriage has often been chosen to keep cultural values and ensure the compatibility of spouses, preserve familial wealth, sometimes via advantages relating to dowry or bride price. Other reasons may include geographic proximity, tradition, strengthening of family ties, maintenance of family structure, a closer relationship between the wife and her in-laws, greater marital stability and durability, ease of prenuptial negotiations, enhanced female autonomy, the desire to avoid hidden health problems and other undesirable traits in a lesser-known spouse, and romantic love.
The United States has the only bans on cousin marriage in the Western world. As of February 2010[update], 30 U.S. states prohibit most or all marriage between first cousins together with other 6 states.
Cousin marriage was legal in all US states in the Union prior to the Civil War. However, according to Kansas sociology professor Martin Ottenheimer, after the Civil War the main purpose of marriage prohibitions was increasingly seen as less maintaining the social order and upholding religious morality and more as safeguarding the creation of fit offspring. By the 1870s, Lewis Henry Morgan was writing about “the advantages of marriages between unrelated persons” and the necessity of avoiding “the evils of consanguine marriage.” Cousin marriage to Morgan, and more specifically parallel-cousin marriage, was a remnant of a more primitive stage of human social organization. Morgan himself had married his mother’s brother’s daughter in 1851.
In 1846 the Governor of Massachusetts appointed a commission to study “idiots” in the state which implicated cousin marriage as being responsible for idiocy. Within the next two decades numerous reports appeared coming to similar conclusions, including for example by the Kentucky Deaf and Dumb Asylum, which concluded that cousin marriage resulted in deafness, blindness, and idiocy. Perhaps most important was the report of physician S.M. Bemiss for the American Medical Association, which concluded “that multiplication of the same blood by in-and-in marrying does incontestably lead in the aggregate to the physical and mental depravation of the offspring.”
These developments led to thirteen states and territories passing cousin marriage prohibitions by the 1880s. Though contemporaneous, the eugenics movement did not play much direct role in the bans, and indeed George Louis Arner in 1908 considered them a clumsy and ineffective method of eugenics, which he thought would eventually be replaced by more refined techniques. Ottenheimer considers both the bans and eugenics to be “one of several reactions to the fear that American society might degenerate.” In any case, by the period up until the mid-1920s the number of bans had more than doubled. Since that time, the only three states to successfully add this prohibition are Kentucky in 1943, Maine in 1985, and Texas in 2005. The NCCUSL unanimously recommended in 1970 that all such laws should be repealed, but no state has dropped its prohibition since the mid-1920s.
Only Austria, Hungary, and Spain banned cousin marriage throughout the 19th century, with dispensations being available from the government in the last two countries. Protestant, the Church of Sweden didn’t ban first-cousin marriage until 1680 and required dispensation until 1844. England maintained a small but stable proportion of cousin marriages for centuries, with proportions in 1875 estimated by George Darwin at 3.5% for the middle classes and 4.5 % for the nobility, though this has declined to under 1 % in the 20th century. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were a preeminent example.
The 19th century academic debate on cousin marriage evolved differently in Europe than it did in America. The first-cousin marriage was legal in ancient Rome from at least the Second Punic War (218–201 BC) to its ban by the Christian emperor Theodosius I in 381 AD in the west and until after Justinian (d. 565 AD) in the east.
Early Catholic marriage rules forced a sharp change from earlier norms in order to deny heirs to the wealthy and therefore increase the chance they would will their property to the Church.
The Middle East has uniquely high rates of cousin marriage among the world’s regions. Saudi Arabia, have rates of marriage to first or second cousins that may exceed 50%, Iraq was estimated in one study to have a rate of 33%, and figures for Iran and Afghanistan have been estimated in the range of 30–40%. Though on the lower end, Egypt and Turkey nevertheless have rates above 20%.
All states in the Persian Gulf currently require advance genetic screening for all prospective married couples. Qatar was the last Gulf nation to institute mandatory screening in 2009, mainly to warn related couples who are planning marriage about any genetic risks they may face. The current rate of cousin marriage there is 54%, an increase of 12–18% over the previous generation. A report by the Dubai-based Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) in September 2009 found that Arabs have one of the world’s highest rates of genetic disorders, nearly two-thirds of which are linked to consanguinity. Research from CAGS and others suggests consanguinity is declining in Lebanon and Egypt and among Palestinians, but is increasing in Morocco, Mauritania and Sudan.
Dr. Ahmad Teebi, a genetics and pediatrics professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, links the increase in cousin marriage in Qatar and other Gulf states to tribal tradition and the region’s expanding economies. “Rich families tend to marry rich families, and from their own – and the rich like to protect their wealth,” he said. “So it’s partly economic, and it’s also partly cultural.” In regard to the higher rates of genetic disease in these societies, he says: “It’s certainly a problem,” but also that “The issue here is not the cousin marriage, the issue here is to avoid the disease.”
Cousin marriage rates from most African nations outside the Middle East are unknown. It is however estimated that 35–50% of all sub-Saharan African populations either prefers or accept cousin marriages. In Nigeria, the most populous country of Africa, the three largest tribes in order of size are the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo. Muslim Hausa practice cousin marriage preferentially, and polygamy is allowed if the husband can support multiple wives. Divorce can be accomplished easily by either the male or the female, but females must then remarry. Even for a man, lacking a spouse is looked down upon. Baba of Karo’s first of four marriages was to her second cousin. She recounts in the book that her good friend married the friend’s first cross cousin.
The Yoruba people are split between Islam and Christianity. A 1974 study analyzed Yoruba marriages in the town Oka Akoko, finding that among a sample of marriages having an average of about three wives. These included not only cousin marriages but also uncle-niece unions. Reportedly it is a custom that in such marriages at least one spouse must be a relative, and generally such spouses were the preferred or favourite wives in the marriage and gave birth to more children. Finally, the Igbo people of southern Nigeria specifically prohibit both parallel- and cross-cousin marriage, though polygamy is common. Men are forbidden to marry within their own patrilineage or those of their mother or father’s mother and must marry outside their own village. Igbo are almost entirely Christian, having converted heavily under colonialism
In Ethiopia the ruling Christian Amhara people were historically rigidly opposed to cousin marriage, and could consider up to third cousins the equivalent of brother and sister, with marriage at least ostensibly prohibited out to sixth cousins. A man marrying a former wife’s “sister” was seen as incest, and conversely for a woman and her former husband’s “brother.” Though Muslims make up over a third of the Ethiopian population, and Islam has been present in the country since the time of Muhammad, cross-cousin marriage is very rare among most Ethiopian Muslims.
Attitudes in India on cousin marriage vary by region and culture. For Muslims it is acceptable and legal to marry a first cousin but for Hindus it may be illegal under the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act, though the specific situation is more complex. The Hindu Marriage Act makes cousin marriage illegal for Hindus with the exception of marriages permitted by regional custom. Cousin marriage is proscribed and seen as incest for Hindus in north India. In fact it may even be unacceptable to marry within one’s village or for two siblings to marry partners from the same village but in south India it is common for Hindu’s to marry cross cousins, with matrilateral cross-cousin (mother’s brother’s daughter) marriages being especially favoured. In Mumbai, studies done in 1956 showed 7.7% of Hindus married to a second cousin or closer in contrast to the northern city of New Delhi where only 0.1% of Hindus were married to a first cousin during the 1980s.
India’s Muslim minority represents about 12% of its population (excluding Jammu and Kashmir) and has an overall rate of cousin marriage of 22% according to a 2000 report. Most Muslim cousin marriages were between first cousins with a rate of 20%.
There has been a great deal of debate in the past few years in the United Kingdom about whether to discourage cousin marriages through government public relations campaigns or ban them entirely. The debate has been prompted by a Pakistani immigrant population making up 1.5% of the British population, of whom about 55% marry a first cousin. There is evidence that the rate of cousin marriage has increased among British Pakistanis from rates in their parents’ generation. Most British Pakistani marriages are arranged, but these can be of two types: conventionally arranged marriages where the bride and groom have little or no say, and what some British Pakistanis describe as “arranged love marriages” where the bride and groom play an important role.
In the East, South Korea is especially restrictive with bans on marriage out to third cousins, with all couples having the same surname and region of origin having been prohibited from marrying until 1997. Taiwan, North Korea, and the Philippines also prohibit first-cousin marriage. It is allowed in Japan, though the incidence has declined in recent years. China has banned it since passing its 1981 Marriage Law, yet there is a conspicuous lack of data on actual cousin marriage rates there.
Recent 2001 data for Brazil indicates a rate of cousin marriage of 1.1%, down from 4.8% in 1957. For example, in São Paulo in the mid-19th century the rate of cousin marriage apparently was 16%, but a century later it was merely 1.9%.
Social aspects of cousin marriages
People may think that cousin marriages are more common among those of low socioeconomic status, among the illiterate and uneducated, and in rural areas due to the dowries and bridewealths that exist, but some societies also report a high prevalence among land-owning families and the ruling elite: here the relevant consideration is thought to be keeping the family estate intact over generations.
In South Asia, rising demands for dowry payments have caused economic hardship and have been linked to “dowry deaths” in a number of North Indian states. The increasing number of cousin marriages in the West may also occur as a result of immigration from Asia and Africa and some observers have concluded that the only new forces that could discourage such unions are government bans like the one China enacted in 1981.
In April 2002, the Journal of Genetic Counseling released a report which estimated the average risk of birth defects in a child born of first cousins at 1.7–2.8% over an average base risk for non-cousin couples of 3%, or about the same as that of any woman over age 40. In terms of mortality, a 1994 study found a mean excess pre-reproductive mortality rate of 4.4%, while another study published in 2009 suggests the rate may be closer to 3.5%. Put differently, first-cousin marriage entails a similar increased risk of birth defects and mortality as a woman faces when she gives birth at age 41 rather than at 30. Critics argue that banning first-cousin marriages would make as much sense as trying to ban childbearing by older women.
In Pakistan, where there has been cousin marriage for generations and the current rate may exceed 50%, one study estimated infant mortality at 12.7 % for married double first cousins, 7.9 % for first cousins, 9.2 % for first cousins once removed/double second cousins, 6.9 % for second cousins, and 5.1 percent among nonconsanguineous progeny. Among double first cousin progeny, 41.2 % of prereproductive deaths were associated with the expression of detrimental recessive genes, with equivalent values of 26.0, 14.9, and 8.1 % for first cousins, first cousins once removed/double second cousins, and second cousins respectively.
For example because the entire Amish population is descended from only a few hundred 18th century German-Swiss settlers, the average coefficient of inbreeding between two random Amish is higher than between two non-Amish second cousins. First-cousin marriage is taboo among Amish but they still suffer from several rare genetic disorders. In Ohio’s Geagua County, Amish make up only about 10 % of the population but represent half the special needs cases. Similar disorders have been found in the highly polygamous FLDS, who do allow first-cousin marriage and of whom 75 to 80 % are related to two 1930s founders.
A BBC report reported about Pakistanis in Britain where 55% of whom had married a first cousin and many children come from repeat generations of first-cousin marriages. The report stated that these children were 13 times more likely than the general population to produce children with genetic disorders, and one in ten children of first-cousin marriages in Birmingham either died in infancy or would develop a serious disability. The BBC story contained an interview with Myra Ali, whose parents and grandparents were all first cousins. She has a very rare recessive genetic condition, known as Epidermolysis bullosa which will cause her to lead a life of extreme physical suffering, limited human contact and probably an early death from skin cancer. Knowing that cousin marriages increase the probability of recessive genetic conditions, she is against the practice. Finally, in 2010 the Telegraph reported that cousin marriage among the British Pakistani community resulted in 700 children being born every year with genetic disabilities.
The increased mortality and birth defects observed among British Pakistanis may, however, have another source besides current consanguinity. Genetic effects from cousin marriage in Britain are more obvious than in a developing country like Pakistan because the number of confounding environmental diseases is lower. Increased focus on genetic disease in developing countries may eventually result from progress in eliminating environmental diseases there as well.
Public Health in Norway published in March 2007 a research on intermarriage in Norway. The report identifies both the prevalence of intermarriage and the medical consequences for the children. The analysis was done on the basis of data from the Medical Birth Registry, Statistics Norway, Population Register and the Cause of Death Register of data for all persons born in Norway from 1967 to 2005 because Norway is the only country in the world that keeps the statistic numbers between the parents of all born babies. These were the key findings:
Prevalence of intermarriage:
- In Norway, the most widespread intermarriage can be found among people of Pakistani origin. In first-generation immigrants from Pakistan intermarriage is 43.9% of all children born of parents who are cousins, and the total intermarriage ratio is 54.4%.
- Among the descendants of first generation immigrants from Pakistan, the proportion of cousin pairs 35.1%, and the total intermarriage ratio 46.5%. Interbreeding units are therefore somewhat lower than in the parental generation.
- Intermarriage-shares seem to be heading down in the Norwegian-Pakistani population, both first generation immigrants and descendants.
- Intermarriage is relatively common also among people with origins from Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Somalia.
- For people of Norwegian origin, intermarriage is very rare, but it used to be more common a few decades back. This particularly applies to second cousin marriages. In those of Norwegian origin is 0.1% of parental pairs cousins and second cousins 0.4% (in the period from 1967 to 2005).
Medical risks of intermarriage
Intermarriage leads to increased risk of stillbirth, infant death and congenital malformations. In addition, there is an increased risk of death right up to adulthood among children of intermarried parents.
For children of cousin marriage is the increase of risk in the following order:
- Stillbirth: 60%
- Deaths during the first year: 150%
- Congenital malformations: 100%
- Deaths from the age of one year and up to adulthood: 75%
These findings are statistically reliable, and not the result of random variation.
The significance of intermarriage for public health
Since intermarriage is rare in the population as a whole, intermarriage does little for public health in Norway, however, it is a major cause of illness and death among children in the country groups where intermarriage is common.
One must always bear in mind that most children of intermarriage, marriage is healthy and completely normal. Illness and death affects only a small minority of them.
Jewish communities affected by Tay-Sachs
Tay–Sachs disease (TSD, also known as GM2 gangliosidosis or Hexosaminidase A deficiency) is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder. In its most common variant, known as infantile Tay–Sachs disease, it causes a relentless deterioration of mental and physical abilities that commences around 6 months of age and usually results in death by the age of 4. Tay-Sachs is caused by a genetic defect in a single gene with one defective copy of that gene inherited from each parent. The disease occurs when harmful quantities of gangliosides accumulate in the nerve cells of the brain, eventually leading to the premature death of those cells. There is currently no cure or treatment but the Tay–Sachs disease is rare.
Tay-Sachs disease was named after British ophthalmologist Warren Tay, who first described the red spot on the retina of the eye in 1881, and the American neurologist Bernard Sachs of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York who described the cellular changes of Tay-Sachs and noted an increased prevalence in the Eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi) population in 1887. Research in the late 20th century demonstrated that Tay–Sachs disease is caused by a genetic mutation on the HEXA gene on chromosome 15. These mutations reach significant frequencies in several populations. French Canadians of southeastern Quebec have a carrier frequency similar to Ashkenazi Jews, but they carry a different mutation. Many Cajuns of southern Louisiana carry the same mutation that is most common in Ashkenazi Jews. Most HEXA mutations are rare, and do not occur in genetically isolated populations. The disease can potentially occur from the inheritance of two unrelated mutations in the HEXA gene.
Millions of Ashkenazi Jews have been screened as Tay-Sachs carriers since carrier testing began in 1971. Jewish communities, both in and outside of Israel, embraced the cause of genetic screening from the 1970s on and the increasing number of Tay–Sachs disease led Israel to become the first country to offer free genetic screening and counseling for all couples making Israel a leading center for research on genetic disease. Both the Jewish and Arab/Palestinian populations in Israel contain many ethnic and religious minority groups, and Israel’s initial success with Tay–Sachs disease has led to the development of screening programs for other diseases.
Tay-Sachs has sometimes created an impression that Jews are more susceptible to genetic disease than other populations. Sheila Rothman and Sherry Brandt-Rauf, of Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Society and Medicine, have criticized this emphasis on ethnic identity in the study of disease. When several breast cancer mutations were discovered in the 1990s, the TSD model was applied, both consciously and inadvertently. Researchers had initially focused on breast cancer cluster families, not on ethnic groups. But because thousands of stored DNA samples were available from Tay-Sachs screening, researchers were quickly able to estimate the frequency of newly discovered mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish populations.
Inbreeding in the Royal and Nobel families
The family relationships of royalty are usually well known to be highly inbreeded. Royal intermarriage was mostly practised to protect property, wealth, and position.
- In ancient Egypt, royal women carried the bloodlines and so it was advantageous for a pharaoh to marry his sister or half-sister. Normally the old ruler’s eldest son and daughter (who could be either siblings or half-siblings) became the new rulers. All rulers of the Ptolemaic dynasty from Ptolemy II were married to their brothers and sisters, to keep the Ptolemaic blood “pure” and to strengthen the line of succession. Cleopatra VII (also called Cleopatra VI) and Ptolemy XIII, who married and became co-rulers of ancient Egypt following their father’s death, are the most widely known example of brother and sister marriage.
The family-tree of Charles II of Spain shows an extraordinary number of uncle-niece and cousin unions of varying degrees that can be seen on the picture.
- Among European monarchies Jean V of Armagnac formed a rare brother-sister relationship. Also other royal houses, such as the Wittelsbachs had marriages among aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. The British royal family had several marriages as close as the first cousin, but none closer.
- The most famous example of a genetic disorder aggravated by royal family intermarriage was the House of Habsburg, which inmarried particularly often. Famous in this case is the Habsburg jaw/Habsburg lip/Austrian lip typical for many Habsburg relatives over a period of 6 centuries. The condition progressed through the generations to the point that the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II of Spain, could not properly chew his food.
- Besides the jaw deformity, Charles II also had a huge number of other genetic physical, intellectual, sexual, and emotional problems. It is speculated that the simultaneous occurrence in Charles II of two different genetic disorders: combined pituitary hormone deficiency and distal renal tubular acidosis could explain most of the complex clinical profile of this king, including his impotence/infertility which in the last instance led to the extinction of the dynasty.
- The most famous genetic disease that circulated among European royalty was haemophilia. Because the progenitor, Queen Victoria, was in a first cousin marriage, it is often mistakenly believed that the cause was consanguinity, however, this disease is generally not aggravated by cousin marriages, although rare cases of haemophilia in girls (though not including Victoria) are thought to result from the union of haemophilic men and their cousins.
- Intermarriage within European royal families has declined in relation to the past. Inter-nobility marriage was used as a method of forming political alliances among elite power-brokers and these ties were often sealed only upon the birth of progeny within the arranged marriage. Marriage was seen as a union of lines of nobility, not of a contract between individuals as it is seen today.
- Some Peruvian Sapa Incas married their sisters. The Inca had an unwritten rule that the new ruler must be a son of the Inca and his wife and sister. He then had to marry his sister (not half-sister), which ultimately led to the catastrophic Huáscar’s reign, culminating in a civil war and then fall of the empire.
When we look at the Norwegian history, marriage between cousins was rare and attempted to be prohibited in 1687 but the exception was the royals. They married relatives to build alliances, and ensure values and positions. It is not different from the today’s cousin marriages except the only difference was that the royal house had a stronger fundamental superstructure that was at the family’s superiority. Monarchical thinking assumes that your place in society is God-given and that your family is predetermined.
King Olav V and Queen Maud of Norway
To keep the heritage in their own hands, the Spanish Habsburgs started to marry more and more within the family. The result was that the lethal inbreeding within a few generations brought the male succession to destruction with 11 royal marriages in 200 years. 9 of these were intermarriages including two marriages between uncles and nieces and four between cousins. As a consequence of this, the Habsburgs suffered stillbirths and deaths of babies. Between 1527 and 1661 there was born 34 children and of these, 10 died before the age of 1 year. Another 17 died before the age of 10.
The Habsburgs last king, Carlos II, was born in 1661 and the Spaniards called him El hechizado, the enchanted. He had a large head and was relatively weak as a baby. He did not learn to speak before he turned four, and learned to walk when he was eight years old and stayed weak and very thin. His first and second wife claimed he was impotent and he would vomit and suffer from diarrhea. As a 30-year-old, King Carlos looked like he was an old man. He also couldn’t manage to bring an heir so the Halsburg Dynasty died with him in 1700.
Scientists have calculated that 25.4% of his gene variants were inherited in double dose and they believe he was hit by two genetic diseases that today are known as CPHD and distal renal tubular acidos (dRTA).
The Danish royal house was struggling with similar problems. Early in the 1800s did not King. Several diseases spread in the European royal houses of the 1800s and the British Queen Victoria’s descendants were affected by haemophilia resulting in her son Leopold death of the disease as 30-year-old. Her daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Alice brought the disease to the European royal houses.
Porphyria is another “royal disease” and the British king George III (1760 to 1820) was known as “Mad George” for his madness. Two professors of molecular genetics, Martin Warren and David Hunt of the University of London, examined in the book Purple Secret (1998) a thesis that George III’s illness was porphyria. They followed “Mad George” s genes down to today’s royals, and estimated that the Queen’s cousin William, who died in 1972, suffered from the disease. Also porphyria was brought further into the European royal families.
Norwegian Princess Astrid has been open to and told how she has experienced it to be dyslexic, like King Olaf was and the Princess’ five children also struggling with this problem.
In contrast, Swedish King Carl Gustaf, the Crown Princess Victoria and her brother Prince Carl Philip has been open with the disorder.
Camilla Stoltenberg of Public Health in Norway explains:
“If you inherit the gene from one parent, you may get a slight degree of the condition. Inherit it from both mother and father, the stronger the disposition, and then you can get a more serious disorder.” What then is the relationship between intermarriage and dyslexia?
“The chance that you get two identical copies of a gene is higher. This is also true for genes that predispose to dyslexia. And since dyslexia is probably conditioned by many genes, it is also a greater chance that you may have received two copies of several of the dysleksidisponerende genes,” she says.
In the summer of 1887 as Queen Victoria approached the Golden Jubilee of her reign, she was overcome with feelings of loneliness. She had never stopped mourning for her beloved husband, Prince Albert, who had died in 1861, and had chosen to wear widow’s black all her life. As she looked ahead to the special occasion and the celebrations that loomed before her, the lonely Queen missed his presence more than ever.
The government was doing everything they could to make a unique show to celebrate the Jubilee and suggested to Queen Victoria that they should invite some Indian princes, who with their colorful clothes and expensive jewelers provide the necessary glamour to the occasion. The Queen liked the idea and at her Jubilee, her Empire would sparkle before the world. She also suggested that it would be good to have some Indian servants around her, to help when the Indian princes as well.
He arrived in England in June 1887, just three days before the start of the Jubilee celebrations. The Queen, then aged 68, had been a widow for 26 years. For a while, the empty space in her life left by the death of her beloved Albert in 1861, had been filled by John Brown who became her trusted companion. Their relationship was so close that there were rumours that they were lovers or had even secretly married and the Queen was dubbed ‘Mrs Brown’. But Brown died in 1883, leaving the Queen devastated and lonely once more. “I sat alone! Oh! Without my beloved husband,” she wrote mournfully of the Jubilee thanksgiving service. On the 3rd day of the celebrations, the Queen was introduced to her present from India-the well dressed young servants, one stout and smiley, the other one tall and handsome. The two immediately began to wait at the Queen’s table and Karim became the favourite as he impressed her with his dignified bearing and assisting her with everything.
The tall 24-year-old Karim was a clerk in Agra Jail and the smiling and portly Buksh was a seasoned table-hand who had worked for the Maharana of Dholpore. They arrived for the Jubilee, not knowing what to expect but from the day they kissed the Queen’s feet and began waiting on her, it was the young Karim who caught the Queen’s eye. In his diary, Karim wrote following on meeting Queen Victoria for the first time; “I was somewhat nervous at the approach of the Great Empress… I presented nazars (gifts) by exposing, in the palms of my hands, a gold mohar (coin) which Her Majesty touched and remitted as is the Indian custom.”
He was to become her closest companion for the last 13 years of her life, filling the void left by the death of her husband and, later, of her close friend, John Brown.
The curry King
One day Abdul Karim walked into the kitchen in Osborne House with the spice box that he had carried from India. He had decided to cook for the Queen. As the cooks stood amazed and watched, Karim was chopping, churning and grinding the masalas. The aroma of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin and nutmeg covered the room. Karim had prepared chicken curry, daal and a fragrant pilau. Soon after, Karim was stirring up exotic biryanis and dum pukht, dishes from the Mughal kitchen while Korma’s would simmer in the cast iron pots and ground almonds and cream laced the rich curries. For the first time in her life, Queen Victoria was introduced to the taste and smell of India. She described it as “excellent” and ordered the curries to be made regularly.
The rise of Abdul Karim
11th August 1888, the Queen noted in her journal: “I am making arrangements to appoint Abdul as munshi (teacher) as I think it was a mistake to bring him over as a servant to wait at table, a thing he had never done, having been a clerk or munshi in his own country and being of a rather different class then others. Karim had also told her that he was unhappy with his position as a table hand and that he wanted to return to India since it was a demanding job. The Queen immidiatly decided to raise his rank and make him stay: “He (Abdul) was anxious to return to India, not feeling happy under the existing circumstances. On the other hand, I particularly wish to retain his services, as he helps me studying Hindustani which interests me very much and he is very intelligent and useful.”
Karim from Agra charmed the Queen with his stories of India and even served the Queen her first curry. Always fascinated by India, her “Jewel in the Crown” and the country she ruled from thousands of miles away, the Queen chose Karim to learn about India. Soon he became her Urdu teacher, giving her lessons every evening. He read to her the poetry of Ghalib and she used to walk around with a phrase-book of Hindustani words. While Buksh remained waiting at tables, Karim was promoted and soon became noticeably close to the Queen. She tended to him personally if he fell ill and fussed about his comfort and well-being.Within a year, Karim was promoted as the Queen’s Indian Secretary and given the grand title of Munshi Hafiz Abdul Karim. She commissioned portraits of him to be painted by Rudolph Swoboda and Von Angeli, and all photos of him waiting at table was destroyed. He was also given houses in Balmoral, Windsor and Osborne and allowed to use the billiard’s room with the other gentlemen of the Household. He accompanied her on her European holidays and soon the pair was inseparable.
At every step the Queen honoured him with titles and medals and gave him the CIE and the MVO, one step away from a Knighthood. Even Karim’s father, Haji Wuzeeruddin, was given the title of Khan Bahadur and he became the first person to be allowed to smoke a hukkah (water-pipe) in Windsor Castle.
The Queen as student
The Queen wanted to kearn Hindustani and asked Karim to teach her and he proved to be a serious teacher and a hard task master. He began with teaching her a few words every day. He also made a phrase book for her and soon the Queen would carry this red and golden book with her everywhere. Karim would write a line in Urdu, followed by a line in English and then a line in Urdu in roman script and the Queen would copy these. A few weeks later an exited Queen noted in her journal: “I am learning a few words of Hindustani to speak with my servants. It is great interest to me for both the language and the people. I have naturally never come into real contact with before.”
Karim as clever as he was, helped the Queen with her correspondence and advised her on Indian politics. The Queen would often write to the Viceroy of India and demanding answers of some issues that were raised by Karim but it became more than the Household could bear. Once the Household threatened to resign collectively if the Queen took Karim on her European vacations, but the Queen in an instant rage swept everything she had on her desk on to the floor. Photos, files, ink-pots and boxes, everything fell on to the floor when the Queen heard about the threat. The Queen won the argument and Karim was accompanying the Queen to Europe and the Household did not resign but they didn’t stop plotting against Karim as they involved the Prince of Wales. No matter what the Queen heard about Karim, she would not accept anything and stood by him like a rock defending him to the last.
The Queens death – An end of the fairy tale
The close friendship created much rumours at the castle among the Household who would now gossip. When they continued to maligning Karim, the Queen announced them as racists and sent them message on how to behave. In frustration, the Household declared that the Queen wasn’t sane and threatened that the Prince of Wales would step in as people believed that she was losing her sanity. While the world watched the Jubilee with all its glory in 1897, the Palace was torn apart by intrigue, jealousy and threats to resign because of Karim.
The 81 year old Victoria had died peacefully in her sleep in the year of 1901. She was now dressed according to her wishes for the final journey to Windsor. The procession filed past her son and heir Edward VII and his wife Queen Alexandra together with the Queen’s children, grand children and with a collection of her most trusted servants and Household members. Each stood for a few minutes before the coffin to pay their respects. The King then allowed Karim to enter the Queen’s bedroom making him the last person to see her body alone as he knew about his mothers wishes. Karim entered the room with his head bowed dressed in a dark Indian tunic and turban. As he looked at the Queen’s face that was glowing from the lights of the candles, thoughts raced through his mind. Their first meeting in the summer of 1887, the lazy days they spent together as he taught her his language and described his country, the gossips they shared, her generosity towards him and her loneliness that he understood. He stood silently as he was fighting back the tears; his lips moved saying a silent prayer to Allah to rest her soul. After a final look at her, he left the room silently.
Early one cold, February morning in 1901, the inhabitants of a cottage on the Windsor Castle estate were startled by a loud banging at the door. Tired and dazed, the head of the household, Abdul Karim, opened the front door to find a group of guards standing outside. They were accompanied by Queen Alexandra, wife of the new king, Edward VII, and by Princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of the late Queen Victoria. It was on King Edward’s orders that the house was raided only days before, Abdul Karim had been given a prominent place in Queen Victoria’s funeral procession which aroused the disgust of her family.
Now, much to his astonishment, the guards were ordering him to hand over every letter, note and memo that the late Queen had sent him over the 13 years he had served her. She had written him many letters, sometimes several a day and often signing them ‘Your affectionate Mother and Karim had treasured them. Now the new King wanted to destroy them. A bonfire was started outside the cottage and Karim watched in horror as the drawers were turned upside down.
Abdul Karim, the man that the Queen had called her “dearest Munshi” (teacher) stood and watched in silence as every piece of paper bearing the Queens handwriting was thrown into the fire. All the answers lay in the letters that was cracking in the fire telling the story of a young man who had arrived to Britain 13 years ago as a waiter and had risen t become the Queen’s closest companion and was treated like a son rather than a servant. The Munshi and his family were then ordered to pack their bags and leave for India immediately. The fairy-tale had ended and 8 years later, Karim died heart-broken in Agra. He was only 46.
Abdul Karim’s descendants left for Pakistan when the country was partitioned in 1947, leaving behind all the land and exquisite gifts given to Abdul Karim by Queen Victoria and other European royalty. Only a diary and a few memorabilia survived. A lonely grave in Agra, some portraits in Osborne House, the Hindustani journals they wrote for 13 years, and a house that bears his name in Balmoral, are all that remain today of the Queen’s closes confidant. Yet the story would not manage to be erased from the history books.
It’s in the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep, so I thought for myself, why not write? Sitting in front of my window and looking out on the clear sky with the moon illuminating the snow outside. Sitting alone made me think about loneliness. Then I remembered the story about a little boy who was hidden away from public eyes because of his illness. How difficult it must have been for a child in this age to be isolated to prison life when his father was King of England. What did he think? Did he at all understand why he was placed at the farm with only the staff as friends?
When Prince John died in 1919 only 13 years old, many British people didn’t remember that he had ever existed even if he was the son of the royal couple, King John and Queen Mary. He lived such a mysterious life that, after his death, very few people could tell his story. The reason was that the royal couple’s son suffered from epilepsy which in those days was considered as shameful. When King John was crowned as King George V in 1911, John was about 6 years old and did not participate in the ceremony.
Prince John was born at York Cottage, on the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk, England. His father was then Prince George, Prince of Wales (later King George V), the eldest living son of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. His mother was The Princess of Wales (later Queen Mary), the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Teck. At the time of his birth, he was sixth in the line of succession.
As the years past, the little Prince got more and more ill. He was so ill at one point that his mother, Queen Mary considered to send him to a mental institution, but was persuaded by the Prince’s old nanny, Charlotte “Lalla” Bill to let her take care of him.
Prince John had his first epileptic seizure at age four and at age 12, his condition was deteriorated. He was looked after by his nanny, Charlotte Bill, known in the family as “Lalla”, Thomas Haverly, a coachman from Windsor Castle, chosen to drive John because he was known to be reliable and would take the Prince on outings in the country or to the sea and to the “big house” at Sandringham when any members of the family were in residence. Wood Farm also had its own cook and a live-in maid. John had a tutor, Henry Peter Hansell (1863–1935), as well. An area of the garden was set aside for him with a plaque, “Prince John’s garden”, and gardeners who helped him tend it. Indoors, he had his books, a pedal car and a ride-on train. Family photos show him riding a bicycle and a horse without assistance.
In 1916 he was moved to Wood Farm on the Sandringham estate. Some say he lived a lonely and isolated life there, and that Queen Mary kept a cool distance. Other sources tell of experiences and journeys to the sea, and that he had company in Winifred Thomas, niece of coachman at Sandringham. Winifred was the same age as Prince John, and was sent to live with her uncle and aunt in the country because of her asthma problems. Soon after Winifred’s arrival, the Strattons received a visit from Queen Mary and the nanny (a role Victorians referred to as a nurse), who were looking for a friend for John. Winifred’s delicacy probably recommended her to them and after the visit she played with the Prince almost every day. When he was ill, she sat by his bed while the nanny read to them. They went on nature walks together and worked in the garden. No date is given for Winifred’s arrival but it must have happened long before the move to Wood Farm in 1917.
Winifred Thomas remembered John’s mother, Queen Mary, as a loving and interested parent who spent a lot of time with her son. A passage of the Queen’s diary, written some days after John’s death reads: “Miss the dear child very much indeed.”
The Prince’s death
Neither of John’s parents was present at the Wood Farm when the little Prince passed away suddenly January 18th, 1919 only 13 years old. He got a powerful attack and never woke up again.
Later Queen Mary wrote:
Lalla Bill called from Wood Farm and said that our poor darling Johnnie had died suddenly after one of his seizures. The news came as a shock, but for that poor little boy, death came as a relief.
The Queen wrote that she told the news to George, and that they were then driven by car to Wood Farm. Little Johnnie looked very peaceful out there he lay, Mary writes, adding that she believes it was a relief for her son, who had experienced getting increasingly powerful attacks the older he became. He was spared much suffering.
Prince John was buried in a private ceremony at the church at Sandringham January 21, 1919. Queen Mary wrote; Tuesday, January 21st 1919. Canon Dalton & Dr Brownhill conducted the service, which was awfully sad and touching. Many of our own people and the villagers were present. We thanked all Johnnie’s servants, who have been so good and faithful to him. She was genuinely moved by their loyalty and went further than thanking them. Thomas Haverly’s daughter was given John’s blackboard, which in time passed on through her own family, and Winifred was given a number of his books with Queen Mary’s own hand-written inscription, “In memory of our dear little Prince.” The Queen also treasured photographs of him, her own diary notes of their time together, and letters. One of these, written by John to Winifred’s uncle who had broken his arm in a riding accident, reads: “Dear Mr. Stratton, I hope your arm is better. Are you going to church? With my love from John.”
In 1935 the celebrated King George had spent 25 years on the throne but he was killed by his own doctor later.
The British filmmaker Stephen Poliakoff made a few years back of interest for Prince John’s story, and completed in 2003 toepisoders television series – “The Lost Prince.” Poliakoff has said that he almost gave up the project. “There really is very little source material, and much of what is written is incorrect. I had to puzzle together the pieces I found,” he said. The film received three Emmy awards, and Poliakoff gained praise from various quarters for his portrayal of the prince, who in addition to epilepsy, suffered from learning disabilities, speech difficulties and possibly autistic traits.
The name John
The name “John” has been considered unlucky by the royal family and its use avoided since the death of the prince. The popularly negative historical view of the only English monarch to bear the name — King John (reigned 1199–1216) — especially his fictionalization as the villainous Prince John in the Robin Hood stories has no doubt compounded concerns about the name. It was reported that Diana, Princess of Wales, wished to name her elder son John after her own father, but was prevented from doing so by royal tradition.
Born on May 24 1819 Alexandrina Victoria was the only child of the fourth son of King George III: Edward, duke of Kent. Her mother was Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of King Leopold of the Belgians.
Victoria became heiress-apparent of the British crown on the death of her uncle George IV, and when her uncle William IV died childless in 1837, she became Queen of Great Britain. She was crowned the next year. Her Era was the longest of all in the Royal History of Great Britain. She tested the limits of her royal powers when the government of Lord Melbourne, the Whig who had been her mentor, fell the next year. She refused to follow precedent and dismiss her ladies of the bedchamber so that the Tory government could replace them. Her refusal brought back the Whigs until 1841. The Queen’s first language was German. German was the language of her mother and governess. She also spoke English, French and Hindustani.
Marriage: She’d met her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, when they were both seventeen. When they were twenty, he returned to England, and Victoria, in love with him, proposed marriage. They were married on February 10, 1840.Their first child, a daughter, was born in November 1840, and the Prince of Wales, Edward, in 1841. Three more sons and four more daughters followed. Victoria had traditional views on the role of the wife and mother, and though she was Queen and Albert was Prince Consort, he shared government responsibilities at least equally.
Indian Attraction: After the victory of British East India Company in the Revolt of 1857, She got the title of Empress of India which later on became the most popular title of Victorian Era. She was the first to use the title Empress of India. Queen Victoria had an affinity with India and all things Indian. This was probably why she took an instant liking to an Indian manservant Munshi Hafiz Abdul Karim. Abdul Karim was from the Taj Mahal city Agra and had come to Victoria as a gift on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee of her reign in 1887. He was to serve the queen as a waiter but soon this personable young man of 24. with suave manners became her special favorite. Victoria and Abdul Karim often talked in Urdu, foiling the attempts of those who would very much have liked to eavesdrop on what was going on between them. With the change in his status, came the change in Abdul Karim’s residence. The Queen moved him from the servants quarters, giving him cottages in the ground of royal palaces at Balmoral, Windsor and Osborne House. She assisted him in bringing his family to Britain where they lived at the royal expense. In 1878 Victoria had founded the Order of Indian Empire to honor people of outstanding merit who had served in India.
Widowhood: Death of Prince Albert in 1861 devastated her; her prolonged mourning lost her much popularity. Eventually coming out of seclusion, she maintained an active role in government until her death in 1901. Her reign was marked by waxing and waning popularity — and suspicions that she preferred the Germans a bit too much always diminished her popularity somewhat. By the time she had assumed the throne, the British monarchy was more figurehead and influence than it was a direct power in the government, and her long reign did little to change that.
Death: It was a winter time in Great Britain & every one was enjoying the first month of the New Year of 1901 when the entire British Empire was fallen into mourning & was paying homage to the Great Queen Victoria. On Tuesday 22nd January 1901 at 6:30pm at the age of 81 when the dusk was falling on the sky The angels of death were busy taking the soul of the Empress of India leading to an end of a Victorian Era & the rule of House of Hanover in the UK.The Queen was suffering from Rheumatism in her legs which had rendered her lame and her eyesight was bearing the shades of cataract. She was laid to rest in peace near the grave of her beloved husband Price Albert in Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park . Her Funeral was the only White Funeral where everyone was dressed in whites as requested by her.
Assassination Attempts: Five attempts were made to assassinate Queen Victoria during here lifetime which she survived with no serious injuries.
Legacy: Herself written Letters, Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands and More Leaves. Biographies of Victoria: Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria, are now considered out of date.The biographies written by Elizabeth Longford and Cecil Woodham-Smith, in 1964 and 1972 respectively, are still widely admired. Victoria Memorial in Calcutta – India, Victoria Memorial – London, State of Victoria in Australia & Victoria Waterfalls in Africa are named after her.
- Victoria: Princess Royal, married Frederick III of Germany and mother to Kaiser Wilhelm
- Albert Edward: Prince of Wales, later king as Edward VII
- Alice: married the Duke of Hesse
- Alfred: Duke of Edinburgh and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
- Helena: married Prince Kristian of Schleswig-Holstein
- Louise: married the Marquis of Lorne
- Arthur: Duke of Connaught
- Leopold: Duke of Albany
- Beatrice: married Prince Henry of Battenber
Also read about Victoria’s Life with Prince Albert in our blog on Prince Albert