Further response concerning Mr Peter Harradine, Mr Donald Edward Goff and the “International Commission on Nobility and Royalty”

A month ago, on 14 August, the Abbey-Principality issued a public response to the recent harassment it has experienced from these individuals, in which we condemned their actions and exposed a number of relevant facts to public view.

In that response, we offered Mr Goff and Mr Harradine terms by which the matter could be brought to a conclusion. These were:

  • A complete and unequivocal retraction and apology from Mr Goff and Mr Harradine for their past comments and actions against us;
  • A legally binding commitment from Mr Goff, Mr Harradine and any past or future organization in which they have a controlling interest to refrain from any such actions in the future.

It is with regret that we must report that these terms have not been accepted. Indeed, the multiple unsolicited emails sent by Mr Harradine to us during the past month show no hint of an apology or retraction for his past actions, and consist in large part of self-justifying and sanctimonious cant. As such they justify a further response, particularly since they have been accompanied by further threats against us.

We find it difficult to know exactly what to make of Mr Harradine. If his published photograph is reliable, he is a young man, and in our view displays a number of the follies of youth. It would appear that he believes not only that he is right and anyone opposing him is wrong, but that if only we would enter into discussion with him he could convince us of his rectitude and persuade us to abandon those elements of our organization that he so objects to. When it becomes clear to him that we have no interest in indulging him in his conceits, he resorts to threats and spite alongside pious lectures on what he understands to be “Christian principles”.

Mr Harradine seems to forget that he, his colleague Mr Goff and their defunct Nevada corporation are the aggressors against us. It is they who have chosen to circulate a “newsletter” attacking us and placed or supported the placing of inaccurate and malicious material on Wikipedia that defames us. It is they who have attempted to tortiously interfere with our treaty arrangements with our Royal Patron. It is they who have attacked a member of our organization for his association with us. It is they who have contacted us through unsolicited email and mail communications, and in their course, made ongoing threats and accusations against us. Now they have published material on their website that likewise attacks us. These actions entail the forfeit of assumptions of good faith or the benefit of the doubt. It is clear beyond any ambiguity what these men stand for, and exactly what they are. We have endured their behaviour for over two years now, and we have had our fill of it.

For our part, we have simply defended our own sovereign position, which has been unchanged for over a century now, against these men and the bile that is their stock-in-trade. It is possible that it may now be slowly dawning on them that we take our nobiliary and chivalric responsibilities extremely seriously, just as our predecessors did, and that we are not about to be bullied or threatened by anyone into any position of compromise.

The study of nobiliary and chivalric traditions draws upon two main academic fields; history and international law. These are highly complex areas, and this complexity constitutes much of the attraction of studying this subject. Much of international law, for example, is theoretical in nature, whereby some rests upon the consent of its subjects, while other aspects are subject to ius cogens. Just as with history, there is much that is subject to interpretation.

An experienced scholar is aware that different authorities may reach widely different conclusions on the same subject, and that there may be extremely subtle distinctions of emphasis and the weighing of particular sources that can produce a variety of possible outcomes, even extending to distinct and competing academic schools of thought. It is with this in mind that scholars generally express themselves in a measured manner, aware that they are contributing to a field of knowledge in which their work both rests upon past sources and forms the groundwork for future scholars in turn.

We do not know whether Mr Harradine has had the benefit of a college education, still less whether he has undertaken any formal study of history or international law. We suspect not, since his writing is full of elementary spelling and grammatical errors. But this can be said: on the evidence of his communications to us, he is no scholar. His writings are polemical; they use sources only when they are convenient to the case being made, and even then with little regard for their relevance; they expound themselves with a certainty that is crudely expressed and leaves no place for subtle distinctions, and they reflect all too clearly the intemperate tone that sadly characterizes much of Internet discussion. In short, they are base attacks upon us and deserve no higher consideration.

The key danger of “commissions” such as that which Mr Goff and Mr Harradine have established is that they seek to reduce a complex subject to a set of more-or-less arbitrary precepts. Because the general public does not understand the complexity of the subject, it is all too easy for “commissions” to offer simple-sounding solutions that seem to be helpful or well-intentioned. However, the precepts employed in the process of simplification are not neutral, but instead serve the agenda of a particular group or establishment. Nobility and chivalry did not come into existence with the aid of a single rule-book, nor was there any common consensus among the crowns of the world that their actions should be subject to any externally-imposed authority, still less one established by private individuals. Intervention on the grounds of “consumer protection”, the sorting of nobiliary sheep from goats, or similar crusades against “false claims” may sound laudable, but the reality is that such actions are rarely based on the kind of evidence that would withstand scrutiny in a court of law and indeed tend to leave the most egregious title-sellers well alone. Rather, they serve as a convenient vehicle for the exposition of prejudices, particular historical theories and aggression against particular groups and individuals who for whatever reason are deemed to be suitable targets. They can also be a convenient mask for groups whose activities behind the scenes would not withstand the kind of examination that they seek to impose upon others.

In his attacks against us, Mr Harradine returns to a particular idée fixe; he believes that the Abbey-Principality was a usurper in the act of its establishment in the Fezzan in 1883, and that usurpation cannot produce sovereignty. This demonstrates his ignorance at its most galling. If Mr Harradine had studied history, he would surely have come across the person of Napoléon I, Emperor of the French, whose sovereignty was gained by an act of usurpation twice over. Mr Harradine may wish firstly to familiarize himself with the coup d’état of 18 Brumaire, whereby Napoléon overthrew the Constitution of year III and established himself as First Consul, five years later crowning himself as Emperor. He may then look to the Hundred Days, when Napoléon regained the throne by deposing the rightful Bourbon King Louis XVIII. Let us now ask the questions: were the legal acts of Napoléon recognized and honoured by the French state, both during his life and subsequently? Were the 2,200 patents of nobility issued by him regarded as authentic and effective, and their holders duly registered in the Annuaire de la noblesse and the Almanach de Gotha? Was the Legion d’honneur created by Napoléon recognized and awarded by his Bourbon successors during their restoration? Is the head of the Imperial House of Bonaparte today recognized as among the pretenders to the throne of France? The answer to all of these questions is yes.

For that matter, we could then direct Mr Harradine’s attention to the manner in which Louis-Philippe became King of France in July 1830, following a revolution which overthrew the rightful Bourbon King Charles X. Were it not for a further act of usurpation, that of William of Orange in 1689 (when he overthrew the rightful King of England and Scotland, James II and VII), the Hanoverians and indeed the present Queen Elizabeth II would never have ascended the British throne. We could cite many more examples, but the point has already been made with sufficient force.

So Mr Harradine’s pleading of this case does little but reveal the weakness of his position. We do not necessarily accept his thesis that the Abbey-Principality was an usurper – there is no evidence of any effective or settled government in the Fezzan as of 1883 that could have been usurped, and Mr Harradine can only produce vague murmurs of Arab tribal structures that he argues were extant a century before that – but even if we were to do so, his complaint falls at the first hurdle.

Moreover, the Abbey-Principality has taken specific action that negates any debate over our origins. It has sought and gained the full recognition of both reigning sovereigns and Heads of ex-regnant Royal and Imperial Houses. The de jure Emperor Kyrill of Russia, King Frederik IX of Denmark, Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the kings of Greece and Bulgaria, and many more of their peers are counted among our past members. It is a list that many might well envy.

In 1885, the then-Prince-Abbot was recognized by the Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, an absolute monarch, who granted him the Bunyoro-Kitara title of Mukungu of the Ancient Abbey-Principality of San Luigi (Fizzan). That title was reconfirmed to the current Prince-Abbot in 2012 by the reigning Omukama of Bunyoro-Kitara, King Solomon Iguru I, now a constitutional monarch within the federal nation of Uganda. Moreover, a full treaty of friendship is in existence between the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom and the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, and His Majesty the Omukama is a Royal Patron of the two chivalric orders of the San Luigi foundation. What has Mr Harradine’s “commission” had to say about His Majesty? In a document issued by them on 1 May 2010 we read,

King Solomon Iguru is a full “de jure” sovereign with all the rights, privileges and royal honours of such, because both he and his ancestors obeyed the international jurisprudence which preserves such rights in perpetuity.”

>>ICNR document on the status of H.M. the Omukama, 2010

In 1962, Prince-Abbot Edmond II of San Luigi was accorded full recognition of the title of Prince de San Luigi by King Peter II of Yugoslavia, in addition to receiving a Royal Yugoslav marquisate from the King. The King had previously accepted the Grand Cross and the High Protectorship of the Order of the Crown of Thorns, with the latter office being left perpetually vacant in his memory after his death. King Peter was a formerly reigning sovereign who had never abdicated and retained his rights in full, including the concession of titles of nobility motu proprio. Titles conceded by King Peter II during his period of exile have been recognized, inter alia, on the diploma of a Spanish national order, on a diploma of the Constantinian Order, and on a Grand Cross diploma of an order of the House of Savoy, and those holding such titles have been admitted to other recognized Orders of Chivalry.

Mr Harradine’s website is devoted in part to the advertisement of a book by Dr Stephen Kerr y Baca. Clearly, Mr Harradine has not yet had the opportunity to discover Dr Kerr y Baca’s illuminating article “King and Constitution in International Law” in Chivalry, vol. IV no. 1, no. 13, 2001, pp. 48-54 (reprinted from The Augustan, vol. XVIII, no. 4, no. 80, 1977, pp. 125-132). This article discusses in full measure the various constitutional and other points concerning King Peter’s acts during his period in exile and concludes fully in favour of the validity and recognition of those acts.

These facts stand upon their merits and the documentation that supports them has been made public by the Abbey-Principality. In consequence, Mr Harradine can only make his case against us through a process of wilful neglect and the contradiction of his own previous statements and associations.

We note with interest Mr Harradine’s statement to us that his “commission” has terminated their connection with the Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom because the Kingdom has ignored the advice of the “commission” and chosen to recognize what the “commission” describes as “false claims”. Nowhere is Mr Harradine’s agenda laid bare more patently than this. He has acknowledged openly that His Majesty the Omukama is a reigning sovereign. But in Mr Harradine’s world, a sovereign is only allowed to do what his “commission” approves of. It seems to have escaped Mr Harradine’s notice that if a sovereign recognizes a claim, whatever the antecedence of that claim, such a claim has ipso facto ceased to be “false” by virtue of its sovereign recognition. That is what sovereignty means in practice.

His Majesty the Omukama does not need to involve himself with the far from impartial agenda of any “commission” against particular groups or individuals. As a reigning monarch, he decides what he will do himself, and his decision is not subject to interference from outside parties. Mr Harradine is interested, it seems, only in having a “tame” monarch at his command – and in this regard we recall our previous comments concerning certain individuals well-known to Mr Harradine who during June 2010 were prevailing upon His Majesty to sell Western-style titles of nobility with themselves as middlemen. Our view is that ending any contact with these people has been a most wise decision for His Majesty.

Mr Harradine perhaps forgets that the power of the sovereign is such that even error can be codified in law if the sovereign decrees it. If he looks to the peerage of the British Isles, he will find that the Earldom of Mar and Kellie, and the baronies of Percy, Strange (1628), Clifford (1628), and Wharton, were all created by mistake, in the light of erroneous conclusions that had been drawn as to the descent of particular dignities, and yet their creations were fully valid nonetheless. He may also look to the case of the Angeli Flavii Grand Masters of the Constantinian Order, whose family was never sovereign but was erroneously recognized as having the historic right to appoint Counts Palatine by two Papal Bulls and several other sovereign instruments. If he looks to France and Italy, the number of titles that had an obscure or even semi-legendary origin but were later recognized by various monarchs is legion. Moreover, there are several very familiar chivalric orders whose origin is likewise legendary rather than establishable as historical fact and that have subsequently acquired Royal Protection. Once the sovereign confers recognition, the matter is regularized and closed, whether Mr Harradine likes it or not.

In the further threats that Mr Harradine has made to us, he seems woefully out of his depth. He claims that our previous response to him, which contains several screen captures of archive copies of his website, violates his rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and thereby United States civil law. We shall leave aside for now the fact that United States civil law does not apply to non-United States entities such as the Abbey-Principality. We shall also leave aside the fact that the ownership of the material in question was until very recently attributed to a Nevada corporation which has as of several months ago been dissolved.

Mr Harradine would do well to educate himself on issues of copyright and he could do no better than to read the guidance provided by our webhost, wordpress.com, and its owners, Automattic. WordPress.com is robust in its defence of fair use under the DMCA, which is a major reason why we have chosen them as our webhost. At http://en.support.wordpress.com/fair-use we read,

“Using content for criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship or research is usually fair.”

Our position is that we have indeed used this content for the purpose of criticism and comment. We do not require Mr Harradine’s permission to use his content in this way. Moreover, his threat to file a DMCA takedown notice against us should be reviewed in the light of  Section 512(f) of the DMCA, whereby any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing is liable for:

“…any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.”

Our webhost, WordPress.com, has a history of filing lawsuits against those who commit such misrepresentation and specifically warns those thinking of filing DMCA takedown notices to consider these consequences in the event that the complaint concerns material that is found to be being used fairly. Mr Harradine advises us that one of his “board members” is “a practising U.S. patent attorney”, and one might hope that if Mr Harradine were to consult such a professional before writing to us, he might receive the advice that he should not issue such ill-considered threats.

Unabashed, Mr Harradine advises us in his email of 11 September that “we have made an official complaint against you with your internet privacy company for violating copyrighted material, which is an abuse of the law”. We have no “internet privacy company” to our knowledge. We do have a webhost, WordPress.com, and they have confirmed to us that they have received no DMCA takedown notice from any party to date. There is little more guaranteed to engender our contempt than a man who issues fake legal threats.

Mr Harradine asserts that he is “offended” by our treatment of him. This is a curious response from one who has previously insulted us, defamed us and falsely accused us of various forms of illegality. The truth is that Mr Harradine and his associates are very happy to play the Internet vigilante, particularly when they believe their activities to be hidden from view, but when their victims show that they can and will fight back, their response is to squeal like little girls. It may come as news to Mr Harradine that we are not interested in his “commission’s” approval or in buying a “certification” from him. We regard his appeal to Christian ethics as laughable given the patent evidence of his past behaviour. Nor are we overly troubled by his threat to publish further inaccurate and defamatory material about us on his website. His readers are not the sort of people who we seek to reach or whose opinions we care about. Our people are quite capable of reading both sides and making up their own mind as to who to believe. And, as Mr Harradine will know by now, we are more than capable of responding robustly to him and defending ourselves.

Indeed, the central problem with Mr Harradine seems to be that he has come to believe his own hyperbole. In his recent correspondence, Mr Harradine continually refers to the position between his party and ours in terms of a war. This perception is telling. He has convinced himself that he is the warrior for truth and justice and that anyone who opposes him is thereby “self-deceived”, fraudulent or otherwise on the side of evil. Seeing the world, and particularly the world of nobility, in terms of black and white is a dangerous delusion, particularly when the subjects at hand are committing no crime other than transgression against the ill-founded opinions of a particular party which is far from unbiased.

If this is, nevertheless, a war, Mr Harradine and his associates seem to have lost. Barely hidden behind the bluster of those recent communications is the truth that we have already struck far more effectively at them than they could ever do at us. It is not our desire to continue to belabour a man once he is down. Perhaps it is time Mr Harradine and Mr Goff reconsidered our offer of terms?

Postscript – A revealing offer

In July 2015, an enquirer made contact with Mr Harradine’s organization and asked about their policy towards the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi. After the expected dismissals and slurs, the conversation took an interesting turn, and the enquirer was instead offered the possibility of acquiring a “genuine” knighthood or other title conferred by the formerly regnant King Kigeli of Rwanda, with a brochure prepared that set out what was on offer to those who were willing to pay the required fees.

During the same year, a correspondent reported that they had received an email from Mr Harradine’s organization that contained the following:

“The opportunity exists to become a true and genuine knight in the Crown Order of the Royal House of Georgia under His Royal Highness Prince Nugzar, the head and chief of the House. Knighthood is one of the greatest honors a man or woman can receive in this life. If interested, let us know and we can direct you to the royal delegate who can assist you: (intlcommission@hotmail.com). The following website might be of interest: http://www.royal-commission.org”

It seems to us that the “Commission” is in fact an association of middlemen trading in titles conferred by ex-regnant Royal Houses and making handsome commissions on their deals. It would also appear that the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi is seen by these individuals as potential competition for what they quite wrongly regard as “their” turf. Moreover, it is clear that those who expose and speak out against the activities of the “Commission” are then seen as fair game to be attacked and insulted. Where is the supposed “honour” in such behaviour?