Starting in the Far East, last Friday HM the Emperor of Japan formally appointed Yoshihiko Noda as the new Prime Minister in a ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Japan has gone through a rather rapid succession of prime ministers in recent years and I was surprised to see an American (on CCTV no less) commenting that while other countries would be in a panic over such a rate of government turnover, Japan remained calm in part because of the presence of the Emperor who provides a feeling of stability and reassurance to the public. Tuesday was also a happy occasion for the Japanese Imperial Family as it was the birthday of HIH Prince Hisahito, the future Emperor, who turned five years old. The Mad Monarchist wishes His Imperial Highness a very happy birthday with many more to come. According to the IHA he has very normal interests for a five-year-old boy being fascinated by bugs and fire engines. We hope he will make a fine emperor in his turn, which hopefully will not be for quite some time yet.
Some sad news on the African front. On Sunday HRH Princess Lalla Aicha of Morocco passed away, the aunt of HM King Mohammad VI, sister of the late King Hassan II. Her funeral was held Monday. In 1965 she became the first female ambassador from an Arab country when she was appointed ambassador to the Court of St James by her brother the King, a post she held until 1969. In Morocco she was known for her championing of the rights of women, particularly for the right to vote as well as for greater personal freedoms. She was buried at the Moulay El Hassan Mausoleum at the Royal Palace in Rabat. Of course our condolences go out to the Moroccan Royal Family on this tragic occasion.
Europe also saw some sad royal news this week with the passing of HIRH Archduke Felix of Austria-Hungary who died on Tuesday at the age of 95. The Archduke was the brother of the late Head of the House of Hapsburg, HIRH Archduke Otto and he was the last surviving child of Their Imperial Royal Majesties Blessed Emperor Charles I and Empress Zita of Austria-Hungary. The Archduke never really knew the imperial era being born in 1916 in Vienna and was only three years old when the Austro-Hungarian monarchy was abolished after their defeat in World War I. Although tragic, this was not a complete surprise as, due to his age, the Archduke had been growing increasingly frail for sometime and was unable to attend the funeral of his elder brother in July. Again, our condolences go out to the House of Hapsburg and all the loyal people of Austria, Hungary and the other Hapsburg dominions.
It has been a busy week for the Danish Royal Family. On Monday (Flag Day in Denmark) HM the Queen, Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederick, Crown Princess Mary, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie attended the dedication of a monument to the Danish military personnel who have given their lives on missions abroad. HM the Queen paid tribute to the Danish servicemen and women who have given their lives in areas of conflict around the world. Most would not consider Denmark a military power worthy of note, but once upon a time they were a force to be reckoned with and even to this day the Danish military, though small, is a very professional, well trained and competent fighting force. We salute them. The next day the Queen, Prince consort and Crown Prince left for a formal state visit to the Russian Federation, arriving in Moscow and being greeted at the Kremlin by President Medvedev. There were the usual receptions, banquets, visits and meeting but, what I found most touching was the visit of the Danish royals to the tomb of HIM Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia at the Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg.
Finally, in a special occasion, the princess who (thanks to changes in the succession law) is set to one day become the first Queen of the Belgians gave her first public speech. Accompanied by her parents Princess Elisabeth of Belgium opened a new children’s hospital named in her honor in the Flemish city of Ghent. Before unveiling the plaque to mark the opening of the hospital the Princess, flanked by her parents Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde addressed the assembled crowd saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy that I can give my name to this new children’s hospital today. Together with you, I hope that many children will find help here. I know they can count on your daily commitment. The Princess Elisabeth Children’s Hospital now gets a special place in my heart.” A fine little address, very mature for someone so young. Good for her. I was not in favor of the change in succession law but, it having been done, I only hope Princess Elisabeth has a Kingdom of Belgium to inherit when her time comes.