The Scandinavian royals have been busy this week. Last Friday HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was looking very “GI” in his army fatigues as he visited the Swedish Home Guard at Gothenburg. He could afford some “guy time” as HM Queen Silvia was far from home, in the United States, where she met up with HRH Princess Madeleine in Florida for a gala to benefit the World Childhood Foundation. Princess Madeleine was looking as gorgeous as usual and it is rumored that the Queen will accompany her back to New York to receive the Health and Human Rights Award and to meet her current boyfriend. However, what ended up grabbing attention was when Queen Silvia injured her leg while shopping in the Big Apple when she escaped out a back door while trying to avoid an annoying photographer. Meanwhile, in Norway on Tuesday HM King Harald V welcomed the President of Lithuania for a two-day visit to the Nordic kingdom. The King accompanied the President throughout her visit and some agreements between the two countries were signed by the President and the Norwegian Prime Minister.
On Monday, HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall wrapped up their three nation tour with a visit to the north African Kingdom of Morocco. The royal couple met with the Prime Minister and later visited the Moroccan royal tombs, removing their shoes and the Duchess donning a headscarf in respect of Muslim customs. The Prince placed a wreath at the tomb of King Hassan II which some human-rights groups decided to make an issue of and this started a small wave of criticism that the Prince was sending “the wrong message” at a time of political change in North Africa to honor a past king regarded by many in the human-rights community as a tyrant (which is how I would have to imagine they view most any king or monarch). There were no major protests or security problems though as some feared and the trip ended on an elegant note with a formal dinner hosted by HM King Mohammad VI.
Belgian Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde visited the Russian Federation this week, their third visit to the ‘Land of the Tsars’. Princess Mathilde was given a guided tour of the Kremlin by the Russian First Lady and Crown Prince Philippe met with Russian President Medvedev to discussing increasing economic ties between Russia and Belgium. However, while Crown Prince Philippe is putting a good face on Belgian business abroad, little brother Prince Laurent continues to cause controversy at home. It is now being put out that the Prince was involved in a bad business deal with one of the sons of Qadaffhi and, more recently, that he tried to arrange a meeting between Libyan diplomats that are opposed to the dictator. Caretaker Prime Minister of the non-government, Yves Leterme, launched a harsh condemnation of the Prince in the Belgian parliament and stated that he would effectively be adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ policy regarding Laurent. The Prince has denied any relationship with the Libyan rebels. King Albert II earlier released a statement that he is upset by the actions of his sons but threats that he could be cut-off by the government may be exaggerated as the state would then lose any influence over his actions at all. Does anyone think he would receive no attention at all just because he stopped being given a state allowance?
In the Middle East HM King Abdullah II of Jordan and HRH Crown Prince Hussein met with Al Hweitat tribal leaders. There had previously been some controversy about criticism of Queen Rania allegedly by Jordanian tribal leaders. These natives are now a minority in Jordan due to the large influx of Palestinians over the years. The King praised the leaders for their support of the monarchy in the current period of unrest and he has been working hard to put the monarchy on the side of those calling for reform and greater democracy. The tribal leaders voiced their concerns and their ideas for what they would like to see in Jordan but also reiterated their support for the King and Royal Family saying, “We all want a hereditary monarchy and no one is allowed to violate this.” Good to see.
In the Far East, HRH Princess Chulabhorn, youngest daughter of the King and Queen, visited parts of Thailand recently damaged by massive flooding on Tuesday. The Princess comforted the people affected and told them to look at the compassion and solidarity of the people of Japan in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami in that country. “Look at them,” the Princess said, “and we will have morale to fight and band together to solve the problem”. So far, 51 people have died as the result of the floods in southern Thailand, the worst in over two decades. And, in Japan, Their Imperial Highnesses Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako visited 130 evacuees of the disaster in northern Japan at a refugee center in western Tokyo. It was a rare dual public appearance for the couple as the Crown Princess rarely makes public appearances. The people were glad to see them and spoke of how grateful they are for the attention given to them by the Emperor and the efforts of the Imperial Family to cut back power consumption in order to help the victims of the recent natural disasters.