Friday, March 18, 2016

Etiquette and Lèse Majesté

In feudal Europe, some crimes were classified as “lèse-majesté” even if they were not intentionally directed against the crown. An example is counterfeiting, so classified because coins bore the monarch's effigy and/or coat of arms. With the disappearance of absolute monarchy in Europe, lèse-majesté came to be viewed as less of a crime. However, certain malicious acts that would have once been classified as the crime of lèse-majesté could still be prosecuted as treason. The crime of lèse-majesté is still in affect in some European countries today, but with less severe punishments than in the rest of the world.

All the principal comic papers in Germany were confiscated this week on account of their publication of cartoons ridiculing the Emperor and the police. Some of these papers will be prosecuted on the charge of lèse-majesté

Herr Lieber, the Centrist leader, has started for the United States. While the quarrel between Emperor William and the Regent of Lippe-Detmold is only a storm in a teacup, over a miserable question of court etiquette, it has occupied the press to the exclusion of almost everything else. A high official of the Ministry of the Interior has briefly outlined the facts in the case to the correspondent of the Associated Press. They are as follows:

The Regent was already offended on account of various alleged slights, for which he blamed the Emperor, when the general commanding the troops in the principality ordered his soldiers henceforth not to make the salute prescribed in the case of ruling sovereigns or to show the customary marks of respect to the Regent's family. The Regent, thereupon deeming his rights under the military convention of 1878 to have been slighted, appealed to the Emperor in a personal letter for redress. 

This letter contained several passages which were construed by his Majesty to be purposely offensive, whereupon he sent the Regent a telegram which traversed a dozen hands and thence reached the newspapers substantially verbatim. Then followed the deeply offended Regent's appeal to the sovereigns of Germany and to the Bundesrath. The matter is expected to remain in status quo for some time. 

The correspondent of the Associated Press learns from another source that Emperor William's anger was particularly aroused by certain references in the Regent's letter to the Empress and her family, a parallel being drawn on the question of rank in both cases, and his Majesty's ire was increased by the fact that the Legislature of Lippe-Detmold, at the Regent's behest and without awaiting the direction of the Bundesrath, passed a law in March prejudicing the chances of the succession of Prince Adolph of Schaumburg -Llppe, Emperor William's brother-in-law. — The San Francisco Call, 1898

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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