Monday, April 21, 2014
Royal News Roundup
In Scandinavia the Swedish royal court announced that Princess Leonore will be christened on June 8 as her parents, Princess Madeleine and Chris, celebrate their first anniversary. Crown Princess Victoria visited Tensta, King Carl XVI Gustaf handed out the Vega Medal and Gold Wahlberg Medal (presumably not named for Marky Mark), the Queen was awarded Der Friedenstein prize in recognition of her World Childhood Foundation and both hosted the Global Child Forum at the royal palace. The King also visited the City of Stockholm before joining the Queen for a visit to The Netherlands. Nearby in Europe’s oldest monarchy the Danish Royal Family gathered together to celebrate the 74th birthday of Queen Margrethe II (as all should because she’s super). It is great to see the Danish Royal Family, particularly with so many young children nowadays and they seem to get more attention than the Queen with their rambunctiousness on the balcony (little Prince Vincent tried to climb over the rail). Thousands of loyal Danes turned out to cheer for their beloved Queen. Further to the south in Belgium, King Philip granted noble titles to several industrial leaders, making steel wire manufacturer Paul Buysse a count, the president of BNP Paribas Fortis Herman Daems a baronet and Electrabel chief Jean-Pierre Hanssen a baronet. However, always looking for something to criticize, some have taken issue with the King making Belgian-New Zealand industrialist George Forrest a Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown, pointing to UN criticism of his business practices in the Congo. Frankly, the idea that the UN has the nerve to criticize anyone for anything in Africa is astounding given their atrocious record on that continent.
A double birthday was celebrated in Luxembourg with Prince Sebastien turning 22 (he is at university in the United States) and Grand Duke Henri turning 59. In Spain, the Royal Family turned out for Easter mass after King Juan Carlos spent time this week trying to encourage investment in the Kingdom of Spain by assuring officials from the United Arab Emirates that the recession was over. The King also traveled to Kuwait to sign a transportation infrastructure cooperation agreement. In Rome, Pope Francis caused a slight stir on Holy Thursday with the traditional washing of feet, having women and non-Catholics (even non-Christians) included in the line-up being rather not traditional. He did the same thing last year with much the same response; widespread popular approval with some voices from the sidelines pointing out that doing such a thing is against the rules the Pope is supposed to uphold. As usual this is being upheld as a symbol of service to the poor, not exactly the same as was originally intended, a carrying on of the tradition of Christ washing the feet of his apostles who were, of course, all men and all (obviously) Christians. At Easter mass Pope Francis prayed for peace in Syria and Ukraine. Preparations are also underway for an upcoming Papal visit to the Holy Land where the Pontiff will meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
In North Africa, King Mohammed VI of Morocco made a rare visit to the Western Sahara ahead of a UN Security Council vote on the status of the disputed territory. Morocco wishes the UN to make no changes concerning the Western Sahara. The region was formerly a Spanish colony, Spain renounced control of it in favor of a joint administration by Morocco and Mauritania and later Morocco annexed the region but sovereignty over it is disputed by the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic which operates in exile from neighboring Algeria. In the Middle East, the head of Saudi intelligence Prince Bandar bin Sultan stepped down last week and will have a non-royal replacement. He was a prominent backer of the Syrian rebels which drew criticism over accusations of supporting radical fundamentalists in the process. Some have speculated that there was pressure from the United States for him to step down as the Obama administration has opposed providing weapons to the Syrian rebels and because of the close ties between Prince Bandar and former President Bush. Also in Saudi Arabia last week the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council met to reaffirm their shared goals and principles in spite of the actions of member states; an effort to smooth over tensions caused by anger at the support by Qatar for the Muslim Brotherhood.