In the Far East, former King Gyanendra Shah of Nepal went on a five-day religious tour visiting several historic Hindu temples in the Himalayan country. Public reactions have been mixed with some welcoming the former monarch while others complain that the King is simply seeking to raise his profile to take advantage of the political problems for a bid to return to power. Of course, the key phrase there is “political problems” which shows that even those who oppose the monarchy know that their current system is not exactly working out well for them. Since the abolition of the monarchy, undertaken by Maoist guerillas, Nepal has been in a state of near-constant crisis as the red radicals clash with more moderate republican elements while each also try to keep the traditional monarchists from reasserting themselves. During his tour of the temples many Nepalese people brought flowers to their King and expressed their wish for him to return to power to “save the country”. The King recently told the press that the people are not happy and want a change, “…the return of the traditional monarchy, or it could be something else”. Not ‘something else’ Your Majesty -the monarchy. Stick to your guns! And, in the lands of the old “Middle Kingdom” a collection of jewelry from the last Emperor and Emperor of China is on display for the first time in Taipei, Republic of China, on loan from the Shenyang Palace Museum on the mainland.
In Middle East royal news, the opposition to limitations on the Parliament is growing in Kuwait. The small state has probably the most robust parliamentary system but recently the body has grown in boldness to frequently challenge the monarchy and the result has been a succession of parliaments dissolved by the Emir. Disputes have been growing as elements have been inspired by events in other parts of the Muslim world, particularly among the Islamists encouraged by the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt as well as among liberal nationalists who have also grown more hostile to the monarchy. Recently as Islamist government passed a bill restoring the death penalty for blasphemy which the Emir vetoed, leading to a great deal of anger from religion quarters and unrest among the more secular segment of society. After the latest row the cabinet offered its resignation. In the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, however, King Abdullah II has called for more political participation on the part of Islamist groups. These and other dissident groups have called for a boycott of elections coming up later this year, something the King hopes to avoid. The King said that “doors and hearts” were open to the Islamic Action Front and the Islamic Brotherhood as components of Jordanian society. These groups have been holding weekly protests for the last year now, among other things calling for an elected premier rather than one appointed by the King. King Abdullah also visited Europe this week and met with French President Francoise Hollande in Paris.
On the European front, Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit appeared on television in the Ukraine to ask young Ukrainians to join her in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Crown Princess is an ambassador for the UNAIDS program. To the south in Belgium King Albert II visited the Tour de France’s second stage while Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde prepare to head to Africa for the celebrations marking 50 years since Belgium granted independence to Rwanda and Burundi. Further to the south, Charlotte Casiraghi competed in the Global Champions Tour in Monaco but the big news on the Monegasque front this week was the engagement of Andrea Casiraghi to his longtime girlfriend Tatiana Santo Domingo. Long rumored, Andrea’s mother, Princess Caroline, officially announced the happy news. The couple were introduced by Andrea’s sister Charlotte and have been more or less an item for most of the last decade. The couple currently live together in Paris. No details on the wedding have been released other than that it is expected to be held next year. Andrea Casiraghi is currently second-in-line to the throne until such time as Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene produce some children of their own. In Spanish royal news, Queen Sofia visited the Philippines this week, her fourth visit to the former Spanish colony. The Queen met with the President and visited several schools and other social projects funded by Spain. Back in Spain, of course, the Royal Family came out to congratulate the Spanish football team on their big win.
And in the British Isles, the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited … Edinburgh! As part of her Diamond Jubilee tour the Queen and Prince consort traveled up to Scotland where there has been a great deal of chattering over the planned referendum on independence organized by the Scottish National Party (endorsed by the Scottish patriot Sean Connery who lives in Bermuda). They have dropped republicanism from their official platform but don’t let them fool you, if the union goes, so does the Scottish monarchy. Anyway, after receiving the keys at Holyrood House, the royal couple visited the portrait gallery, received the keys of Edinburgh and later held a special garden party. The Queen also attended a special service at the Glasgow Cathedral as well as visiting Perth and on Thursday the Queen announced the appointment of HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to the Order of the Thistle, the highest Scottish order of knighthood.
Finally, although I’m sure everyone has heard by now, monarchists had a moment of triumph to celebrate in the tiny Principality of Liechtenstein when the public voted by a very large (around 70%+) margin for the Sovereign Prince (or Prince-Regent in this case) to keep his veto power. HSH Prince Hans-Adam II pulled off a major coup that really upset many in the European community when he revised the Liechtenstein constitution to increase the powers of the monarch while at the same time making himself (and the rest of the government) more accountable to the public. The Prince retained the final word on all laws but the people can vote away the monarchy whenever they please. In this case the opposition (the pro-abortion crowd angry over Prince Alois foiling their efforts to bring the barbaric practice to Liechtenstein) said they did not want to get rid of the monarchy but simply reduce the princely powers. Prince Alois was having none of that and said that if he was refused the powers to do his job as he sees fit, he would prefer not to have that job at all. Not surprisingly, the people of Liechtenstein overwhelming chose to keep things just as they are; a micro-monarchial paradise in a sea of failed European republics.