Starting in the Far East, in Japan HM the Emperor was released from the University of Tokyo Hospital on Sunday after going through heart surgery to repair some hardening arteries and subsequently going through a period of rehabilitation. As he left the hospital the staff bowed low and presented the Emperor with a farewell bouquet of flowers. The Emperor, along with a noticeably relieved Empress Michiko, thanked the staff for all their care and kindness. A crowd of about a hundred patients and visitors gathered in the lobby to cheer the 78-year-old Emperor as he departed who effusively waved his thanks to the crowd of well-wishing subjects. Upon returning to the Imperial Palace Their Majesties were greeted by TIH Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko and little Prince Hisahito. The Emperor spent the rest of the week resting up for the anniversary services of the earthquake and tsunami disaster to be held tomorrow. The head doctor of the Imperial Household, Ichiro Kanazawa, said that the Emperor will likely spend the rest of the month taking it easy after the anniversary services are concluded. Of course, we wish His Imperial Majesty a speedy recovery.
In communist-occupied Tibet police-state tactics have been beefed up to combat and suppress news of a recent wave of protests, including dozens of suicides including the self-immolation of a young mother and several students over continued communist tyranny in Tibet. Recently, another group of Tibetans launched a hunger-strike at the UN calling for them to intervene by sending a fact-finding mission to Tibet, allowing foreign journalists into the region to report on the situation and so on. Their stated long-term goal is “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet and the return of HH the Dalai Lama. The strikers say they too are willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary. The UN says they have received their letter and are “looking into” the matter. The exiled Dalai Lama has tried to encourage Tibetans that the number of Chinese sympathetic to their plight is growing and that they must respond to any brutality with patience and compassion. While addressing a group of Chinese disciples at a recent audience the Dalai Lama said that China had the ability to do great service to all humanity if they would embracing the teachings of the Buddha. Communist authorities have described the unrest as being orchestrated by the Dalai Lama and have claimed that all those who have killed themselves have been separatists, enemies of state unity and long-time criminals. You buy that? Didn’t think so…
In the Middle East, HM King Abdullah II of Jordan remains greatly concerned over the violence in nearby Syria which has been causing growing alarm in the international community. The Arab League has joined the U.S. and E.U. in putting sanctions on the regime in Syria and Saudi Arabia and Qatar have voiced support for an intervention to force the al-Assad regime to relinquish power. Russia and Communist China recently vetoed a UN resolution calling on the Syrian dictator to step down. China is now sending its own emissary and ‘plan for peace’ to Syria. King Abdullah II said as early as November of last year that it would be in the best interests of Syria for al-Assad to step down. On a much lighter subject, HRH Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan was in Britain this week for an IFA Board meeting (the Prince is vice-president of FIFA) in which he proposed that the ban on hijabs be lifted for Muslim women playing football (soccer to Americans). FIFA has banned the hijab since 2007 as a possible safety hazard but Prince Ali has pointed to new designs which would pose no danger of strangulation, which was the fear when the ban was put in place. Some female teams from Muslim countries have passed up the opportunity to advance because they would not be allowed to wear the hijab.
Royal events in Europe this week had a military tone to them. In Belgium, HRH Prince Joachim, son of HRH Princess Astrid and HIRH Archduke Lorenz of Austria-Este, was formally sworn-in as a guard officer in the Belgian royal navy. At the Belgian naval base at Zeebrugge the Prince held one hand on the flag and held two fingers aloft as he swore to serve his country as a navy guard officer. The 20-year-old had an illustrious audience with his parents and HM Queen Paola in attendance aboard the ship Godetia. The Minister of Defense and Chief of Defense General Charles-Henri Delcour were also on hand. Following the ceremony there was a special reception for the guests. Meanwhile, across the border in The Netherlands, HM Queen Beatrix attended her first official public function since the terrible accident involving her son Prince Friso last month. The Queen opened a new Explosives Ordinance Barracks in Soesterberg with the help of some explosives and a state-of-the-art robot to unveil the plaque. The commander of the installation, Colonel Mark Kathmann, expressed his condolences to the Queen and his support for what she and the rest of the Dutch Royal Family are enduring at this difficult time. The new barracks will instruct students in the dismantling and proper disposal of mines and explosive devises using remote-operated robots.
For the British Royal Family this week it was HRH Prince Harry who grabbed all the headlines with his smashingly successful Caribbean tour in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee Year. The fun-loving prince seemed the perfect choice to represent the Crown amongst the more laid-back realms of the region. The Prince started with a visited to the country formerly known as British Honduras where he checked out a Mayan temple and danced with the locals and then went on The Bahamas where he cut a fine figure in his summer whites at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau. Amidst all the attention, quite a share went to the brash beauty queen, Miss Bahamas, Anastagia Pierre who said she would happily marry Prince Harry in a heartbeat. From all the headlines one would think that was something outrageous or humorous though I can’t imagine why. She’s no more ‘common’ than the Duchess of Cambridge was before her marriage, and as far as I know she’s not Catholic so, why not? Beauty queens aside, large crowds cheered him every step of the way. He visited a large number of the myriad islands in the Bahamas chain before going on to the island-nation of Jamaica which is currently plagued by a republican prime minister. However, her disloyal antics aside, crowds of Jamaicans happily turned out to greet their prince who met with the widow of the late Bob Marley and again took a turn dancing with the locals. The tour has been a resounding success by all accounts with Prince Harry hitting all the right notes and HRH is next off to visit beautiful Brazil.