Royalty mourned the passing of Shimon Peres. His funeral was attended by Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, King Felipe of Spain, and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. King Harald of Norway recognized his “important role in the struggle for peace.” Queen Margrethe of Denmark said she was “deeply saddened to learn of his passing.”
Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, where the monarchy was abolished in 1973, took to Twitter to express his condolences while Reza Pahlavi, Crown Prince of Iran, which became the Islamic Republic in 1979, took to Facebook to note that Shimon Peres’s “leadership and vision will be felt throughout the world and greatly missed.”
And I spoke to a younger generation of royals — preparing to inherit a legacy of leadership, responsibility, and service that stretches back centuries — which isn’t merely mourning what was lost with the president’s passing, but also celebrating what can be gained by following his example.
“Shimon Peres was known for saying that his greatest achievements are not what he has done, but what he will do tomorrow,” His Highness Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma told me. “He was also a strong believer in the youth and the future. These qualities are things that we all should be inspired by.”
Currently studying business in France, Prince Michel is a member of the Bourbon Dynasty, one of Europe’s oldest and largest royal houses. Perhaps best known for having ruled France until the French Revolution, Bourbon monarchs still rule in Spain and Luxembourg.
In 1748, a branch of the House of Bourbon was granted sovereignty over the Duchy of Parma, located in what is today northern Italy, creating the House of Bourbon-Parma, from which Prince Michel descends.
“[Shimon Peres]’s memory and his achievements will be remembered for many years to come and his example should be followed by leaders all over the world,” Prince Michel said.
For His Highness Duke Michael of Mecklenburg(-Strelitz), the younger son of the reigning, though not ruling, Borwin, Duke of Mecklenburg, it is President Peres’s efforts to bring peace to the region that are primarily to be admired. This isn’t particularly surprising, as Duke Michael’s family suffered greatly in times of conflict and knows the benefits of peace.
A century ago, his family was heavily integrated with Russian royalty, as two of his great-great-grandfathers had married Russian princesses. During the Russian Revolution, Duke Michael’s ancestors were forced to flee, escaping the purges that occurred as the Bolsheviks seized power.
For the next four decades, they were technically stateless, denied citizenship by both the Soviets and the republican governments that ruled Germany after the abolition of the German Empire. When the Nazis came to power, the family suffered a list of calamities not unfamiliar to the Jewish community — their lands were confiscated, one of their residences was burned, and Duke George, Duke Michael’s great-grandfather, was held captive in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
Despite the hardships, the family survives. Though they don’t live in Mecklenburg anymore, but rather in a different area of Germany, the Grand Ducal family stays connected by being involved in charities, historical renovation projects, and working with local museums.
Duke Michael, second in line to the headship of the House of Mecklenburg, recently received his BA in international relations and will soon begin pursuing an MA in crisis and security management in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
“It was great to see that President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke to each other at the funeral of Shimon Peres,” Duke Michael said, expressing the happiness many people felt at this example of President Peres making a contribution — however small — to togetherness even at his own funeral. “It would be even better to see this communication between the two bring about a better and more peaceful future for both.”
And Prince Michel expressed his hope that President Peres’s legacy of peace and unity can help solve the crises currently plaguing Europe as well.
“In Europe, we face an immigrant crisis that has torn the European Union apart, and more countries who are slamming their doors at the immigrants who have fled war and cruelty,” Prince Michel said. “These problems would be better addressed if the example of Shimon Peres was followed by all individuals.”
Shimon Peres was Israel’s quintessential public servant, choosing to devote his entire life to serving the State of Israel and the Jewish people, working to bring people together to move toward a better future for all. It only makes sense that royals, who are born into such a life, would find something in him to admire.