Starting in the Far East, it has been a rather stressful week for the Imperial Family of Japan, not least because of the recent test-detonation of a nuclear weapon by North Korea. On Sunday Yusuke Katayama was arrested, charged with using a remote computer to send a threat of a mass killing to a comic book event as well as making numerous other threats around the country including one to a kindergarten attended by HM the Emperor’s grandchildren. This has been a very bizarre case which included a search for a cat, computer virus threats and several coerced confessions which were later found to be false and which has caused no small controversy for the police. In Cambodia the funeral services for the late King Norodom Sihanouk were held on Thursday with the ashes of the King being placed in a palace, as per his wishes, next to those of his favorite daughter, Princess Kantha Bopha, who died at the age of three of leukemia in 1952. At the other end of the continent, King Abdullah II of Jordan told newly elected politicians on Sunday that he would seek to reach a “consensus” before naming a new prime minister and hailed the transition of Jordan to a parliamentary democracy. On Wednesday the state news agency of Saudi Arabia reported the death of Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, half-brother of the King and Governor of Riyadh. No cause of death was given.
In Europe, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden has made it known that she will be taking a class on climate change at Stockholm University, both to broaden her horizons and because of her own personal interest in the subject. She will be looking particularly at the effects of “climate change” on Greenland. Presumably the Queen of Denmark has no objections. And speaking of the Danes, TRH Crown Prince Frederick and family were hitting the slopes in Switzerland this week for a little family vacation. Meanwhile, HM Queen Margrethe II has had to cancel a trip to Chile due to osteoarthritis pain in her back. The Crown Princely couple will step in to make the trip in her place. We wish our dear Queen Daisy a swift recovery. And, in Norway, the Royal Family had launched a major complaint against one of the most prominent gossip magazines in the country for numerous unwarranted intrusions into their private lives. It was reportedly the photos of the Crown Prince and his family during their Christmas vacation combined with inaccurate reporting about the trip that finally prompted the palace to speak up.
For the House of Windsor, HRH the Prince of Wales has spoken up in defense of small family-owned fish shops using traditional methods of smoking its own haddock and salmon. The shops have been in danger of closing since at the hands of the local council after a single passerby complained of the smell coming from one such establishment. Good for the Prince we say. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall also spent time this week inspecting several establishments supported by their charities. However, it has not all been happy news as the Royal Family has been quite upset by the first photos of the Duchess of Cambridge showing her “baby bump” have been published by the same Italian rag that lately published the infamous sun-bathing photos of the royal couple. And, across the Channel in The Netherlands, HM Queen Beatrix visited Lech again and the palace released the first details about the future installation of the Prince of Orange as King Willem-Alexander when the Queen officially abdicates. Also, down in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and new Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie have been featured on their own coins. The special 2 euro coins were presented to the royal couple by the Luxembourg Central Bank and commemorates their recent wedding.
The biggest news of course was the surprising announcement by HH Pope Benedict XVI that he will resign at the end of the month and retire from public view to devote his remaining years to prayer. Many world leaders have responded, including Catholic monarchs, to the news that left people around the world stunned. HM King Juan Carlos of Spain reflected on the “special relationship maintained by His Holiness with Spain, reflected in three memorable visits of Benedict XVI to our country” in a message posted on the website of the Spanish monarchy. HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco saluted the Pope for his courage, remembered fondly the recent visit he and Princess Charlene paid to the Pope in Rome and assured the Pontiff of the prayers of the House of Grimaldi. A papal resignation has not occurred since 1415 when Pope Gregory XII did so as part of the effort to end the infamous Western Schism. Vatican officials have said that the Pontiff will revert to being known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, is no longer to be addressed as “His Holiness” but will hold the title of Bishop emeritus of Rome. The process is already underway for convening the conclave to elect the next Bishop of Rome with many wondering what effect the papal resignation will have on the election. Some have guessed that this will be an opportunity to elect a younger man to the position while others have said it might have no effect in terms of the age of candidates if such resignations become commonplace.