"Notes on Cilane".
“La Commission d’information et de liaison associations de noblesse d’Europe” aka Cilane or C.I.L.A.N.E claims to be an organization of European aristocracy federations. Founded in 1959, it makes a point to state it is a “European Commission of the Nobility” not a "European Association of the Nobility" and explains its role is only the exchange of experiences and information about developments in its member associations. Its website at http://www.cilane.eu is password-locked.
Sweden, Belgium and Holland are members through their respective organizations of “Riddarhuset”, “L'Association de la Noblesse du Royaume de Belgique”, “Nederlandse Adelsvereniging”.
Other representations are strange.
Take for instance the representation of the “British Nobility”. - “British Nobility” is a term coined by Europeans but not understood by the British themselves - especially considering the Scots arguably are not British, and the Irish definitely are not British. The Scottish and Irish peerage systems have always operated separately from the British peerage system, and continue to do so today. The Act of Union of 1707 provided that Scotland retained jurisdiction over its own system of heraldry and peerage, separately from the rest of the country (along with its own separate systems of law and education). There are forms of nobility in Britain that are not peerages. These are called the ‘lower nobility’. British presence in CILANE is understandably limited to attendances by armigers, lairds, clan chiefs, lords of the manor, baronets and kings of arms. In any case, a “Commission and Association for the Armigerous Families of Great Britain” was established in 1996 with the agreement of the Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshal of England, and with the support of the English and Scottish Kings of Arms, as a means of enabling the participation of the “British nobility” in CILANE.
Spain too has an unusual representation. It is represented not by the “Real Asociación de Hidalgos de España” but by the “Asociación de Hidalgos a Fuero de España”. Portugal by the “Associação da Nobreza Histórica de Portugal” not by the “Instituto da Nobreza Portuguesa” .
Hungary, flushed with new money, joined in 2006 under the local “Magyar Történelmi Családok Egyesülete”. Italy, where princes are a dime a dozen is a member and has backup from the “Réunion de la Noblesse Pontificale” founded in 1983, something that would never have gained acceptance from Britain.
Austria was a founding member but withdrew in 1987. In that country nobility is illegal, so nothing more can be done about that.
Malta, a former colony of Britain, joined in 2008. Malta's experience in matters of nobility is a strange one. Titles are reckoned from the days of the Knights (the last grant stated as created in 1796, four years before the island passed to Britain) but successions were first ‘recognized’ by Britain in 1878. This mess was finally scrapped in 1975 when the Republic of Malta decided not to recognize anything anymore. The Maltese are represented by the “Committee of Privileges of the Maltese Nobility”, the name being another source of potential embarrassment with their own law-keepers.
What are the advantages of having joined this international organization?
First, it appears to give members a 'legitimacy' or purpose of sorts.
"Nobles need no longer be defensive about past privileges and prejudices. They are gone. In modern societies nobles have no obligations and expectations imposed from outside their own circle. Therefore they can freely ask and decide what their contribution to society may be - for example a sence of civility and obligation, knowing both to serve and to be served, and being a group in which membership is not for sale. Nobles make their contribution to society as citizens, who organize their differences in such way as to promote access to citizenship for all persons involved. Accepting responsibility towards the wider society is not without risk, however, because it may result in being held accountable and being judged on a forum of fellow citizens." ("The responsibility of Nobles towards Modern Society: Challenge or Obligation?" (Theme of Congress); XVII Congress, September 8th -11th 2005 The Hagues, Nederlands.)
This reason quickly wears thin because it is not the purpose of CILANE to endorse internal matters. For example, the Maltese group has three designated offices “Dèlèguè CILANE”, “Supplèant Dèlèguè” and “Prèsident des Jeunes”. Both incumbents’ claims to nobility have recently been under some scrutiny in Malta and Wikipedia but CILANE is not known to have taken any position, for or against.
Second the members network between countries.
“Aux cinq membres d’origine, se sont ensuite adjoints l’Espagne, la Suisse, le Portugal, les Pays-Bas et la Noblesse Pontificale. Puis l’arrivée de la Suède, de la Finlande, de la Grande Bretagne, du Danemark et de Malte rééquilibrent la CILANE au profit de l’Europe du Nord. Avec les changements politiques survenus en Europe depuis 1989, l’ouverture vers les pays de l’Est de l’Europe est un objectif à atteindre. C’est ainsi que l’Association des familles historiques hongroises a été admise en 2005 et que des contacts sont en cours avec des Lituaniens, des Polonais, des Slovaques, des Tchèques, des Géorgiens…”
CILANE has no "President" but a Coordinator elected for three years. His role is to prepare and conduct the spring and autumn sessions of the CILANE. The spring session takes place in Paris, the autumn sessions are held in one of the other countries represented by its members. What is being achieved from one meeting to another is obscure. At the XVIIII Congress in Versailles, the members had forgotten what was said at the XVII and discussed the theme of “Obligations of the nobility in the integration of the European Nations”.
Political correctness appears to have little importance. Luis Alfonso de Borbón, a franco-hispanic junior member of the Spanish Royal family, attended the Versailles Congress as a nobleman of France. He is blood claimant to the Bourbon throne of France. France happens to be a republic and is Spain’s neighbour and fellow member of the European Union. Luis Alfonso’s cousin the crowned King Juan Carlos is known not to approve of the claim. The incumbent President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy has not yet commented.