In the Middle East, HM Queen Rania of Jordan was at the Naour Health Center in Amman on Tuesday to visit the staff and review a new program aimed at fighting diabetes which has been on the rise in Jordan in recent years with some 30% of Jordanians currently suffering from the disease. The Queen visited with the staff, listened to a lecture on the problem of diabetes and what they are doing in response and met with some of the patients. Meanwhile, HM King Abdullah II went on a working visit to Bahrain, being received at the Palace of Manama by HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, discussing the political situation in the region, still recovering from the period of turmoil and rebellion known as the “Arab Spring”. Queen Rania covered the lighter side, visiting the third city of Jordan, Irbid, to tour a multi-cultural community center.
On the other side of the Mediterranean, the Spanish Royal Family was at Palma de Mallorca for a little relaxation and to take in the 30th Copa del Rey Audi Mapfre Sailing Competition. The King was not able to attend (still recovering from his recent surgery and meeting with the Prime Minister on pressing national issues) but the Queen, the Prince and Princess of the Asturias, their little ones and the Infanta Cristina were all on hand and all smiles. Later the Prince and Princess of the Asturias, the Infantas Leonor and Sofia attended a concert by Jaume Anglada at the yacht club and will finish with a formal dinner with local officials of the Balearic Islands. Things have been increasingly tense in Spain these days due to the looming threat of a major economic crisis caused by the usual government over-spending, exhausted entitlement funds and so forth. The ruling socialist government is trying to work out a policy that will keep Spain from going under while not inciting riots by those who do not want their benefits cut off.
In Germany there has been some controversy over the upcoming wedding of HRH Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Princess Sophie von Isenburg. The controversy arose after a local Berlin television station announced that they will be devoting three hours of coverage to the royal wedding which will include a horse-drawn carriage ride through Sanssouci park, following by a reception and of course the wedding ceremony itself at the Friedenkirche which will have a guest list including many German politicians, German nobility and German and foreign royal guests. So what is the problem? Well, it seems certain members of the political left in Germany do not like the way the Prince and Princess are being treaty as, well, “royalty”. The station, Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg, pointed to the huge ratings drawn by the royal weddings in London and Monaco and wanted to get in on the action. However, a spokesman for the Social Democrat Party protested that these were monarchies and Germany was not and two ‘citizens of the republic’ should not be treated in such a fashion. So far, the RBB is not backing down from their coverage but the Social Democrats are now demanding to know how much money will be spent to cover the event (isn’t that always the way). A spokeswoman for Prince Georg Friedrich said the head of the House of Hohenzollern cannot understand the controversy, the coverage will only be on one local channel and that it will be a huge advertisement for the Potsdam area. I couldn’t agree more.
Finally, last Friday saw another royal wedding, of sorts, with the marriage of Zara Phillips to ‘he of the crooked nose’ Mike Tindall, a noted rugby player in the UK. There was a pre-wedding cocktail party on board the yacht Britannia, followed by the actual wedding at Canongate church in Edinburgh followed by a reception at Holyrood Palace. On hand were the mother-of-the-bride HRH the Princess Royal Anne, son Mark Phillips, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Harry of Wales, the York sisters and most of the rest of the British Royal Family. There is no immediate honeymoon for the newly weds but the Cambridge couple and Prince Harry all made headlines (even on the far side of the pond) for flying back to England via the low budget airlines. The Duke and Duchess took Flybe (which doesn’t even have a “first class” section -gasp!) from Edinburgh to Manchester and Prince Harry flew by easyJet from Edinburgh to London for the estimated bargain-rate price of £21.99 plus a baggage fee. Despite all the republican grumblings about the cost of the monarchy, this is a pretty far cry from Michelle Obama taking Air Force One to Chicago for lunch. Contrary to public perception, the British Royal Family, more often than not, has been more frugal than otherwise.