The far north was ‘Down Under’ this week as Danish Crown Prince Frederick accompanied his wife Crown Princess Mary to a visit to her native Australia. The almost week-long trip, their first since 2008, was to promote Danish-made “green technology” in the Commonwealth of Australia. Their 10-month old twins accompanied them on the visit, starting in Sydney where the couple first met in 2000 during the Olympic games. Australia underwent a Danish craze after it was announced later that one of their own would be marrying the future King of Denmark. There were smiles only at the many events the royals attended, including a meeting with the Prime Minister and leader of the opposition in Canberra. Crown Prince Haakon of Norway was also overseas, visiting Nepal as part of a UN mission and to check on AIDS charity work and the treatment of “sexual minorities”. Yes, the future King of Norway was welcomed by a group of cross-dressing transgender dancers as he inspected the program of a group dedicated to championing the cause of “gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender” persons. He also met with one of the first openly gay politicians in the new republic of Nepal. An honor I’m sure. On Sunday, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway was in Miami, Florida opening a new Seaman’s Church named in her honor. Meanwhile, Princess Madeleine of Sweden was in Communist China, inspecting work done by the World Childhood Foundation in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (where the population is now mostly Chinese, don’t let the name fool you).
In the United Kingdom, HM the Queen and Prince Philip welcomed the President and First Lady of Turkey to the country this week. On Wednesday HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was at Admiralty House in London where, on orders from his wife, he was officially given the rank of Lord High Admiral of the Navy as a special form of recognition on the occasion of his recent 90th birthday in honor of his many years of naval service. He graduated from Dartmouth at the top of his class in 1940 and served throughout World War II, protecting Australian troop ships in the Indian Ocean, serving against the Japanese off Ceylon and then winning distinction in the Mediterranean after being transferred there for the invasion of Greece. He saved his ship from enemy attack during the invasion of Sicily before going on to serve in the Pacific where he witnessed the final surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay. Also on Wednesday, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall met with the newlywed King and Queen of Bhutan on a visit to Britain. The King completed his education at the University of Oxford (after studying in the United States) so this was something of a homecoming for him.
In Low Country royal news, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg visited the United Arab Emirates this week. Aside from the usual economic talks, the heir to the throne was there to open the first Luxembourg embassy in the UAE in Abu Dhabi. Previously Luxembourg diplomatic business was conducted through either the Dutch or Belgian embassies. There were trade talks before the Hereditary Grand Duke moved on to Dubai and then to Ras Al-Khaimah for more of the same. He will also visit Qatar before returning home to Luxembourg. In Belgium, Crown Prince Philip honored Belgian veterans of the Libyan campaign in a special ceremony while King Albert II continues to try to prod the squabbling politicians into forming a government. Flamboyant Walloon socialist Elio Di Rupo had resigned from the task of trying to work out a compromise but the King asked him to keep trying. After thinking it over, he has agreed. As unimpressed as I would be with having a gay Italian socialist as Prime Minister of Belgium, I hope he succeeds for the sake of the survival of the kingdom. And, in the Netherlands, HM Queen Beatrix has been keeping busy, visiting a nuclear reactor, an art exhibition and attending the festivities for the 50th anniversary of the University of Twente.
The Prince and Princess of the Asturias traveled to the South American nation of Chile this week, arriving on Tuesday for a three day visit. They laid a wreath at the monument to Chilean Libertador Don Bernardo O’Higgins before meeting with the President and First Lady for a reception and informal talks at La Moneda Palace, home of the President of Chile and formerly a mint for the colonial government during the glory days of the Spanish empire. They then opened the Forum of Investment and Business Meeting of Chile and Spain before visiting Congress and attending a formal dinner in their honor. There was an art exhibit to be opened (aren’t there always) and an audience for the Chile-Spain Foundation. The couple later visited an observatory and some other areas before returning to Spain. Also in Spain this week was HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco who toured the St Sebastian Aquarium (calling it an “emotional” experience). Before signing the guest book the Sovereign Prince laid a wreath at a special portrait of his great-great grandfather Prince Albert I of Monaco, a famous champion of oceanography.
In Africa, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco presided over a special awards ceremony in Rabat for the National Day Against Cancer. Also this week, HM King Mohammad VI presided over the signing of a special tourism investment agreement on Thursday with the Emir of Qatar, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Foreign Minister of Kuwait. On the other end of the continent in the always controversial Kingdom of Swaziland, royal officials are denying reports that Queen Dube (one of the many wives of King Mswati III) had been evicted from her palace for having an affair and attacking a guard with pepper spray. They said she is simply away visiting her grandmother -that’s their story and they’re sticking to it. For now at least. Unfortunately, this is not the first such story to come out of Swaziland and I doubt it will be the last.
And finally, in the Far East, members of the Imperial Household Agency have met with the Prime Minister of Japan seeking some adjustments to the laws governing the imperial succession. Yes, you read that right. Not to worry, it is nothing so earth-shattering as jumping on the ‘gender equality’ bandwagon though some, of course, cling to the hope that such a change may come out of this. Right now, all the IHA has suggested is allowing Japanese princesses who marry commoners (as most royals around the world do these days) to be able to keep their titles and for their children to have rights of succession. As the law stands now, a princess of the Japanese Imperial Family who marries a commoner becomes a part of the family of her husband and thus becomes a commoner herself, losing her title and any children are not legally part of the Imperial Family and not in the line of succession. Given the scarcity of male heirs recently it is hoped that this change will allow new branches of the Imperial Family to spring up that can provide greater security for the succession as well as provide the Imperial Family with sufficient manpower to fulfill their many duties throughout the country. And to end on a high note, in the Kingdom of Thailand a man who threatened and made particularly reprehensible slurs against HM Queen Sirikit has been sentenced to 20-years in prison. The man is a 61-year old former truck driver who spread the comments via text message. Royal officials say the messages, “indicated intent to harm” which would be enough to get anyone in trouble in almost any country.