Her Imperial Highness the Right Honourable Most Pious Princess Irene (formerly Her Imperial Highness the Right Honourable the Imperial Chancellor the Most Pious Princess Irene) is the only sister of Emperor Andreus I Capet of Pantocratoria and Prince Basil Capet, and only daughter of the Emperor Isaac V Capet.
As a young princess in the court of the Emperor Isaac V Capet, she showed great promise. Unlike her brother the future Emperor, she was "born to the purple" (porphyrogenita) - which is to say that she was born in the Imperial Court of Christ Pantocrator after her father became Emperor (Constantine XXIII Capet having died earlier that year), regarded to be a great distinction even among the children of emperors. By the time she reached the age of 15, there were already several potential suitors being considered for her. She was attractive, if not beautiful, intelligent, and extremely devout, all desirable attributes in an imperial princess. Her father's favourite, Irene had a good deal more say than many Pantocratorian princesses in the selection of her match. She rejected several suitors, and by the time she reached the age of 20, the process was still on-going.
Marriage Controversy and Exile
Unfortunately, the Emperor Isaac V Capet died shortly after Irene's 20th birthday. Her elder brother was crowned Emperor Andreus I Capet. The new Emperor withheld his consent for several potential matches for Irene over the next few years - while this has never been explained, it is believed that the young Emperor was advised that he should wait until he had a child (and heir) of his own before he allowed either of his siblings the opportunity of producing their own children. When Prince Andreus Capet was born in 1978, Princess Irene had rejected a total of seven suitors, and been denied permission to marry another four by her brother.
In 1979, Emperor Andreus I Capet made arrangements with the Duc de Montmanuel for Irene to marry his son and heir, Henri de Montmanuel. Five years her junior, Irene had little interest in the younger Montmanuel, and flatly refused the Emperor's arrangement and in the ensuing argument, insulted Empress Theodora. The Emperor banished her to New Jerusalem to avenge his wife's reputation. The Empress calmed and convinced her husband to make peace with his sister, but it took her nearly five years to do so.
Return from Exile and Entry into Parliament
The Irene who returned to the Imperial Court of Christ Pantocrator was radically different. She was still only 29, but seemed older. She was bitter, cold and distant. Her relations with the rest of her family would henceforth be frosty at best. She almost never smiled. She told her brother that she intended to never marry, and assumed one of the seats in the Pantocratorian Imperial Parliament which at that time were reserved for members of the Imperial Family, following her younger brother Prince Basil Capet into politics.
Over the 1980s, Princess Irene courted the religious vote, and developed a relationship with the Congregation for the Protection of the Creed. With their Imperial status, she and Prince Basil Capet quickly rose through the ranks of the United Christian Front opposition party. In 1992, the United Christian Front was swept into power, winning every single seat. The Congregation for the Protection of the Creed refused to release the vote tallies. Princess Irene became the Deputy Chancellor, and Minister for Cultural Development, a portfolio of her own creation.
United Christian Front Government (1992 to 2004)
Over the next eleven years, Irene worked hard to make the Ministry of Cultural Development one of Pantocratoria's most powerful institutions. Irene's influence through her ministry grew slowly. At first, the ministry introduced content controls, restricting the amount of foreign content on Pantocratorian television, violence and sex in movies, and the amount of allowed foreign ownership of Pantocratorian newspapers. Then came the restrictions about foreign music. Then all music not made in a certain style. Then certain styles of dress. Then newspapers began to be reviewed by the ministry to correct journalistic bias. More and more restrictions were placed on what appeared in the media, and the Ministry of Cultural Development's powers expanded more and more. By 2002 it had its own police force to enforce Irene's "anti-cultural corruption" laws.
Despite these apparent political successes, Irene was increasingly frustrated with Prince Basil Capet's leadership of the United Christian Front, and Basil was in turn increasingly frustrated with Irene's agenda. Prince Basil brought his nephew Prince Constantine Capet into politics, and Irene perceived him as a threat. She believed that her nephew had been brought into the Pantocratorian Imperial Parliament as a counter-balance to her influence, a rival for the deputy leadership. When Prince Constantine convinced the Emperor to dissolve the parliament and call an election for the first time in years, she felt compelled to act.
With the assistance of the Treasurer, Isaac Comnenus, she gathered her supporters and created a new party, the Pantocratoria First Party, depriving the remnants of the old government of a parliamentary majority. While in caretaker mode, as the new Imperial Chancellor she led the Empire into a war with Espario, which toppled a genocidal regime. The war was immensely popular, and Irene's numbers were considerably bolstered by it. The Pantocratoria First Party won the election, and the remnants of the old government formed the Loyal Christian Front opposition.
The next 8 months would prove to be a mixed success for Irene's government. She led Pantocratoria into an unpopular war in defence of her ally Syskeyia, which many feared would prove to be catastrophic. She also increased Pantocratoria's military commitment to the Excalbian Isles; while Imperial citizens were more sympathetic with this cause, they didn't support sending more troops. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, was the disastrous Knootian Boycott Act.
The Dutch Democratic Republic of Knootoss invaded Tanah Burung in the name of fighting the War on Terror. As the international community generally reacted with outrage and placed sanctions and boycotts on Knootian products, pressure mounted on the Imperial Government to do likewise. The Pantocratoria First Party was paralysed. Many within its own ranks supported such a boycott, but the party leadership was deeply opposed. Still in touch with many of his former colleagues now sitting as members of the Pantocratoria First Party, Prince Basil Capet exploited this internal division by placing a boycott act against Knootian goods on the floor of the Pantocratorian Imperial Parliament. Several dozen government MPs voted with the opposition and the act was passed. The writing was on the wall - the Pantocratoria First Party was crumbling.
The error was compounded when Sir Jacques Antoniou, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, appeared to support Knootian objections to the Boycott Act, contradicting the official policy of the Empire. The opposition caught wind of this and was merciless in the house, demolishing the Foreign Minister and calling on a vote of no confidence in him. More members of the Pantocratoria First Party crossed the floor, and Irene acted before the next vote of no confidence was brought to bear against her chancellorship. She asked the Emperor to dissolve the Parliament.
It may have been the only way to preserve her government, by seeking a new electoral mandate, but for the Emperor's democraticising reforms which allowed free political parties for the first time. The Pantocratoria First Party suddenly looked very extremist, like a political dinosaur begging for extinction. On 21 November 2004, the dinosaur died out. The Pantocratoria First Party lost all but 15 seats in the Pantocratorian Imperial Parliament, and Irene resigned the party leadership in a deplorable public display of political bitterness.
Post-Second 2004 Election
Irene retired into relative political obscurity, although she remained an MP, staying out of public political discourse until mid-2006, when she organised a public speaking tour with Beatrice Wake, Danaan Minister for Justice. The tour initially aroused a lot of interest both because of the profile of each speaker and because the two women belong to parties on the opposite end of the political spectrum, and public interest in Pantocratoria increased even more when Irene appeared on the tour in light coloured clothes, smiling, laughing and generally behaving like a normal person (or at least, a normal princess).
Resignation from Parliament
In 2007 Princess Irene resigned from Parliament. Since her legal heirs were all members of the Imperial Family, Irene suggested that a fresh election be called for the seat to Chancellor Thibault Drapeur. Consultations between Irene, Drapeur, and the Emperor resulted in a general agreement that when members of the Imperial Family resigned from the Parliament, their seats would not be inherited, and so the first ever by-election was held for her seat of the Deanery of Saint Louis (New Rome) on Wednesday 25 April 2007. Irene asked Sir Thierry del Moray, a prominent Pantocratorian businessman and philanthropist, to nominate himself as the United Christian Front's candidate for the seat, and is understood to have campaigned within the party for Sir Thierry's preselection. Sir Thierry went on to win the seat.
|Imperial Chancellor of Pantocratoria
|Leader of the Pantocratoria First Party
Luc de Glas
|Deputy Chancellor of Pantocratoria