Thursday, May 31, 2018

When you play pretend ...

On the One Show, BBC

Today's Wall Street Journal has a fascinating and enlightening article on "Thomas J. Mace--Archer Mills, Esq, said to be an expert on the British monarchy.

I have never heard of Mace-Archer-Mills although I discovered he follows me on Twitter.  I apparently had a brief introduction in June 2016 before the Garter ceremony as he was with Victoria Howard.

The Crown Chronicles Blogger, Victoria Howard, with Thomas James Muscatello in June 2016 before the Garter ceremony at Windsor.  @Marlene Eilers Koenig

He caught attention during the recent royal wedding as he appeared as an expert on several networks, including BBC and Norwegian TV.

(In full transparency, I also did several BBC and ITV interviews while in London, as well as an interview with Ukrainian TV and numerous print interviews leading up to the wedding.)

If you click on the link, you learn that Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills is not British.  He tries too hard to speak Received Pronunciation -- the Queen's English -- and the affectations in his speech are noticeable even to my ears.

As it turns out,  Thomas is not British.  Doesn't even have British ancestry.  His real name is Tommy Muscatello and he is from Bolton Landing, New York.  Bolton Landing is on Lake George, named in 1755 in honor of King George II.

Mr. Muscatello runs the British Monarchy Society, which one blogger claims is the  "the UK's premier Monarchist organization."

I have my doubts about this organization as being the premier monarchist organization for a number of reasons, including a lack of support from serious historians.

 The 38-year-old Muscatello also appears to have allegedly spurious contacts.  Why?   Royal historians do not act in such a manner.   Where is the scholarship?

Take a look at the list of Patrons including the Grand Patron.  A true expert on royalty would be keeping their distance from a German reality TV personality.

 Scroll down further to see other patrons, including Nigel Farage.

Spuriouser and spuriouser ... (not a real word, but it works here.)

His biography is padded with references to numerous degrees (he has bachelor's degree from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina.  He is a self-promoter, not a royal historian.   Several directories list Thomas James Muscatello, 38, living in Boynton Beach, Florida.    Thomas' father, Thomas Muscatello, is a registered voter in Palm Beach, Florida.

I am American and I am a royal historian.  One does not become an expert on a particular subject without a lot of studying and reading.  One can be American and an expert on the British monarchy, as there are Britons who are experts on our political system.   I am saddened and disappointed that Muscatello makes use of numerous artifices to claim that he is a royal historian.  True historians do not feel the need to create a triple-barreled name to worm their way into a position for which they are not qualified.

He has parlayed a fraudulent background into a "career," although the WSJ article does not give information on how he pays the bills in the UK.   He states that he is applying for British citizenship.  I wonder how the Home Office will look upon an application that may be based on fraudulent claims.

I only hope that his "colleagues" and partners were unaware that Mace-Archer-Mills was not his real name.   Otherwise. they would be complicit in his duplicity.

Mr. Muscatello gives credence to the term "ugly American."  We do not need to pretend to be anyone but ourselves.

One does not become an expert overnight.  I am nearly 64 years old.  My interest in royalty began as a teenager.  I was already writing in my 20s, but I certainly would never have called myself an expert at that time.  It can be a slog, reading nearly everything, delving into different topics, building a personal library of books, images, and clips. I am a rare historian who has clip files covering British and European royalty that go back to the late 1800s.

You will find my name in the acknowledgments of  numerous books from Hugo Vickers, Greg King, and Philip Ziegler, among other eminent writers, to Kitty Kelley (she attended one of my Smithsonian lectures in the 1990s.)

I am angry that an American pretended to be British to acquire a status as an alleged historian.  I have been doing this royal thing for many years and I have never pretended to be anything but who I am: Marlene Koenig, who uses Marlene A. Eilers Koenig for bylines.   I speak with a mid-Atlantic American accent.

The Guardian has now weighed in with a new report.  This tale reminds me of another American, Harold Brooks-Baker, who shifted a few facts around, too, as an alleged "royal expert."


Matthew Plooster said...

Amen, Marlene! Thomas sought me out years ago (via FB, of all places) to be a part of his following. He had even tried asking me out on dates and trying to form that sort of a relationship (which certainly did NOT happen!!!). No idea that he was a fraud to this degree, but something always felt off – from the way he dressed and his published books (on cocktails, no less) to the sort of people he consorted with (young men claiming to be Mountbattens, relationships with German “royalty,” etc). History and the status quo aren’t all rosy, and I quickly saw that criticism of the monarchy was not something he was capable of accepting and discussing. I’m an academic, I believe in scholarship, evidence-based research, cited facts, a lens that considers multiple perspectives, etc.

I’ve been reading British royal history since I could read. I studied history in college (to supplement my mass comm major), and, while working on my masters in philanthropic studies, took a deeper dive into the world of royal patronage. And to an extent, I continue to engage in the larger conversation about the topic. Am I incredibly knowledgeable about the British, and other, royal families? Absolutely. But am I an expert? Absolutely not, nor would I claim to be. I’m 30 with a career in higher education. I do have have scholarly royal research projects that I’ve planned out (if you're interested in a scholarly collaboration down the road, I'm certainly game!), but they’re all on hold while I finish my EdD in educational leadership and the scholarly research associated with that credential.

(And I'll bring up my hope again that you'll consider podcasting - today's revelation about Thomas is an important reminder of the value in credible researchers and historians like yourself.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Thanks Matthew for this information .. wondering if the faux Mountbattens are Grania's sons. He is certainly involved with the adopted son of a German prince. This adopted son has a career in reality tv.

Matthew Plooster said...

While I don't know, my guess is that they're not. I remember the chap being probably 20 years old and was Thomas's "assistant" during his visits to the United States.

Dennis J. Cunniff said...

I enjoyed your Alice in Wonderland allusion.. :)

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Thanks Dennis and Matthew

Barbara Goss said...

What a wonderful word - spuriouser ! I think it should be added to the dictionary.

Teresa said...

I dub thee Prince Thomas of Spurious!! Go with God. But just GO.

Graham Smith said...

Very good piece. I'm a republican but I certainly respect genuine scholarship on the subject. It also irks me that he uses this dishonest tactic to lecture Britain on our constitution.

In one interview Muscatello is wearing two medals. Does anyone know what they are? Are they genuine medals (which I assume means genuine fraud) or made up ones (which is just a little sad)?

You can see them at 2:26 into the Jon Oliver video:

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Graham, thank you for your kind remarks. I cannot answer the question on the medals, but perhaps someone else can. The John Oliver piece was hilarious.