Love is in the air, in the east as well as the west. Last Friday at the state opening of parliament, HM King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck of Bhutan announced that he will be getting married in October to Jetsun Pema, a commoner distantly related to the Royal Family. The King is 31, his bride is 20 and a graduate of Lawrence School in Sanawar, India and Regent’s College in Britain. The soon-to-be Queen is already accompanying the King on his official duties, starting to learn the ropes, but for those expecting a big Buddhist bash -calm down. The King said the ceremony will be traditional but that due to the cost involved and their desire for something intimate and personal the wedding will be a pretty low-key affair. Bhutan has been a long-time favorite of the Mad Monarchist and we send best wishes to the happy couple. Across the continent in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Their Majesties King Abdullah II, Queen Rania and the whole royal clan were out in force on Wednesday to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Jordanian independence, the problems of recent months nowhere to be seen. The long peace and stability of the Kingdom of Jordan should be an example to all their neighbors on this occasion.
In southern Europe congratulations are in order, Prince Aimone of Savoy-Aosta and his wife Princess Olga of Greece, Duke and Duchess of Apulia, welcomed their second child into the world on Tuesday. The new addition, named HRH Prince Amedeo of Savoy-Aosta, is their second child after older brother Prince Umberto of Venice. Princess Marie Gabrielle (daughter of King Umberto II and Queen Maria Jose) is godmother to the new boy. Happy news, but such is not the case across the sea in Spain where the public is growing concerned over the increasingly frail looking King Juan Carlos I. Assurances from the palace that all is well have not been widely accepted and some have speculated that the King will abdicate. Queen Sofia, however, left no ambiguity on that topic saying, “To abdicate? Never!” Of course, we hope His Catholic Majesty maintains his health and lives long to guide the people of Spain. And on a more optimistic note, up in the sunny Principality of Monaco, Charlene Wittstock told German TV that she loves children and can’t wait to have a family of her own. Husband-to-be HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco said, “I agree”.
Moving northward, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has come under criticism again for alleged improper behavior which prompted a Swedish newspaper to take a poll which found that a slight majority (59%) of Swedes would like the King to abdicate in favor of his daughter Crown Princess Victoria. The palace has issued statements defending the King but has said, quite rightly, it is hard to counter accusations that are so vague and have no evidence to back them up. The palace said they were being asked to, “react to something we have not seen”. Of course, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate the very idea of constantly polling the popularity of the monarchy. I want the day to come when every monarchy is so solidly supported and embedded in the national culture that no one would even think of taking a poll on how popular the institution or the current monarch is.
Finally we have the big state visit of U.S. President and First Lady Obama to the United Kingdom. Once again, Obama refused to bow to the Queen (and lest any think I am being unfair you can find the posts on this blog where I defended him for bowing to the Emperor of Japan and King of Saudi Arabia) and there were a number of other gaffes, probably the most memorable being the musical interruption to his speech and Obama signing the guestbook and dating the entry 2008 -perhaps his mind is locked in that year of his triumph when all the world was worshipping the ground he walked on? The Royal Family was gracious and welcoming as can be, there were the customary gun salutes, guards of honor and all of that, even a short meeting with the newly wed Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Of course, I cannot help but think that all the pomp and ceremony of an official state visit was only extended after Michelle Obama threw such a public fit over not being invited to *the* wedding; I thought her numerous mentions of that on TV were in very poor taste. However, at least there were no embarrassing gifts, no grabbing or major breaches of protocol. That, in itself, is rather remarkable given the well known dislike the Obamas have for the British.