Starting in East Asia, a tense, supposedly royal-related standoff has developed between Malaysian authorities and a group of gunmen from The Philippines. Last Tuesday some 200 people, including ‘dozens’ of armed men from The Philippines landed by boat on the Malaysian coast near the town of Lahad Datu on the island of Borneo claiming to be followers of the heir of the former Muslim sultanate of Sulu, a former monarchy based out of The Philippines that once ruled parts of Borneo. Malaysian army and police forces have moved in and isolated the area and have been in contact with the group. On Saturday the Filipino government called for a peaceful solution to the standoff and the local police chief of Sabah has said that his goal to see the group returned The Philippines. Hopefully this situation will be ended without bloodshed. There has been better news out of Japan where His Majesty the Emperor is reported to be steadily recuperating from his surgery last year. Doctors have said that the Emperor is “largely in good health” on Sunday with no need for any changes to his official duties. We wish the Emperor continued good health and long life. The news is, unfortunately, not so good in the former Kingdom of Nepal where Crown Prince Paras is reportedly in critical but stable condition in Bangkok, Thailand after suffering a cardiac arrest. We wish HRH a speedy recovery. And, lastly, the very popular King and Queen of Bhutan made a visit this week to Bangladesh.
In Europe, starting in the south, the Kingdom of Spain remains in a great deal of trouble due to the ridiculously trumped-up bad press the Royal Family has been enduring in recent months. The Duke of Palma is to be questioned today in a case over millions of euros siphoned off from a charity organization the Duke was connected with. It has become so bad that when HM King Juan Carlos I recently attended a basketball game he was actually heckled from the crowd, something that would have been unheard of in the past when the King was universally adored as the man who brought freedom and democracy to Spain. A poll taken last month showed public approval for the King at an all-time low, down to about 50% which would still be considered good for most public officials but not for the King who was previously so revered. The city of Palma also recently renamed the street previously named after the Duke and Duchess, the Duchess being the King’s daughter the Infanta Cristina. In other Iberian-related royal news, across the Atlantic the corpses of Emperor Pedro I and Empress Leopoldina of Brazil were exhumed for study with permission from the Brazilian Imperial Family. The study showed that the Emperor suffered some broken ribs which may have caused breathing problems that helped bring on his death from tuberculosis and that the Empress had no broken bones at all -putting to rest the rumor that her health was broken by being pushed down some stairs.
Moving north, the Belgian Royal Family were out in full force for a Remembrance Day Mass but this week was also a difficult one for the member of the family who frequently seems to find himself in trouble. Prince Laurent, youngest son of HM King Albert II, evidently collided with someone while skiing in the Austrian Tyrol and had to be air-lifted to the hospital but his matchless wife Princess Claire has said that the Prince is doing “well”. He reportedly suffered a number of injuries but no one is being very specific about it. After being released from the hospital the Prince is scheduled to be returning to Belgium today. Meanwhile, even farther north, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was recently interviewed about his 40 years on the Swedish throne. The King talked about the changes he made to make the monarchy more accessible and transparent but also, perhaps with a little nervous laughter, noted that he has not always done a good job at being careful as to who he associates with. Yeah, no kidding. The first details were also released about the upcoming wedding of Princess Madeleine to playboy financier Chris O’Neill. These included the venue, guests and bridesmaids for the June 8 wedding. Of course, we wish the Princess nothing but the best, though personally I think she could have done better (I usually do).
In Britain this week there was a great deal of chatter about the Duchess of Cambridge (and I really, REALLY wish people would STOP calling her Kate Middleton -I know it’s not because they didn’t hear about the wedding that happened!) being seen in public for the first time with a barely noticeable “baby bump”. However, what really set the presses to humming was a speech by novelist Hilary Mantel, stumping for her book which basically amounts to a feminist tirade against monarchy, in which she demeaned, de-humanized, belittled and insulted the Duchess of Cambridge. Of course the traitor-crowd was quick to come rushing to her defense when a few somewhat loyal types got a little upset at her remarks. “The Guardian” seemed to think Hilary was being brilliant. Thankfully, fellow author Alison Weir, who knows something about the Royal Family and the history of the monarchy, gave a more eloquent defense of the Duchess than the attack Mantel mounted, saying that not only has the Duchess done an excellent job but also rebuking Mantel for her haughty smears at the monarchy and those who consider it important. Mantel also made mention of the tragic Queen Marie Antoinette and Alison Weir also pointed out that while Mantel criticizes Duchess Catherine for being too thin, the fashion rags would condemn her to pieces if she were too heavy and says that, just as Marie Antoinette was ridiculed for her sumptuous gowns and, to quote, “Like Marie Antoinette, criticized for dressing simply like a shepherdess, Kate can’t win.” Before all of this I had never heard of this Mantel woman but, after seeing a picture of her, it seems her outside matches her inside and if she is going to judge the Duchess of Cambridge without knowing her, I feel no hesitation in saying about Hilary Mantel that I suspect she is one of those women who hates any female younger and more attractive than she is because she is shallow through and through and filled with nothing but contempt for everyone and everything around her. Period.