by Jay Nordlinger

In Impromptus today, I have some reflections on Leka of Albania, who died on November 30. In the company of a congressman and some others, I met him in Tirana, in 2005. It was an unusual and perhaps indelible experience. In my journal for this website, I wrote,

Look, it’s easy to snicker at King Leka, or perhaps you’d like quotation marks around that: “King Leka.” Many people scoff at the idea that he is king, a self-proclaimed one. Apparently, the U.S. embassy will have nothing to do with him. But he is as legitimate as anyone in Albania, and he comports himself with a dignity, an understanding, and a disinterestedness that any nation should value.

Surveying Egypt these days, I look with a certain wistfulness on Farouk, that portly, pleasure-loving old king. (No, he was not dignified.) Democracy is best. But a non-tyrannical monarchy is not worst. That much, we can say.

(This note was spurred by Mark Steyn’s note of earlier today, here.) (I wish Naguib Mahfouz were alive to comment — alive and free of restraints, that is. The Egyptian government often curbed him. In his last years, I believe, they wrote their own material — their own propaganda — under his name.)

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