Saturday, June 26, 2010

Royal News Roundup

The biggest news of course was the royal wedding in Stockholm of Crown Princess Victoria and (now) Prince Daniel of Sweden. All around it seems to have been a resounding success. Everyone who is anyone (save senior members of the House of Windsor) was there, guests had such a good time at the reception they did not want to leave, the police had no problems and wedding-related tourism provided a welcome bump for the economy. Again, we wish the happy couple all the best. Since the wedding the two have reportedly been Honeymooning in French Polynesia. If there was any downside to the festivities it was the unfortunate consequences caused by greedy people. Reuters, AP and AFP boycotted the event after SVT tried to impose a time limit on the coverage purchased from their exclusive video of the event. What was hoped to be an event that draw international attention to Sweden was somewhat dampened by this. Likewise, the mark-up in hotel rooms once the date of the wedding was announced may have discouraged people from coming as hotel bookings were no higher than usual.

The latest from the British royals is that Prince Harry has been following in the footsteps of his famous mother, visiting a minefield in Mozambique during the boys’ African tour. However, Prince Harry is also said to be having romantic problems as his girlfriend Chelsy Davy has been wanting to move back home to Africa and her family. Her family recently left Zimbabwe because of the worsening situation regarding the treatment of those of European descent and have relocated to Zambia. Prince Harry is in New York City this weekend on a trip to strengthen Anglo-American relations and participate in a little training exercise at West Point. Older brother Prince William, who turned 28 on Monday (happy birthday Wills!) has also said to be regretting a prediction he made earlier about getting married when he is 29 or 30 as those eager for another British royal wedding are counting down the days. After keeping company for seven years some are accusing the royals of second-class treatment regarding Kate while others point out that, after living through the ugly divorce of his parents, Prince William may be naturally hesitant to take the marital plunge.

And speaking of being hesitant to marry, probably the second-biggest royal news event of the last week was the announcement that HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco is engaged to marry his longtime girlfriend Charlene Wittstock. In the Low Countries, on Wednesday the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg celebrated its National Day. Showing that little countries can still have big color, the Grand Ducal family attended a torchlight procession, fireworks display, military parades and a mass of thanksgiving at the national Cathedral. Three cheers for the Grand Duchy and long live the Grand Duke!

In Africa the Commission on Gender Equality (South Africa) is being asked to rule on royal succession after Princess NomaXhosa Sigcawu of the AmaGcaleka Kingdom brought a case before them arguing that, as daughter of the senior consort to the late King Zwelidumile, she should have succeeded to the tribal throne instead of her brother, currently King Xolilizwe. The CGE is put in a rather difficult position by this since the laws and constitution of South Africa do tend to go against the spirit of monarchy and royal succession but nonetheless allow these to exist within the framework of the state in an unofficial capacity. The leader of the Congress of Traditional Leaders has said that royal succession is about tradition and the laws of the government have no bearing on them.

In the Middle East the little emirate of Kuwait was stunned by the murder of a popular local prince, Sheikh Basel Salem al-Sabah who was shot eight times by his uncle at the palace on Thursday after the Sheikh refused to reinstate his uncle to the board of a boat racing club. In neighboring Saudi Arabia plans are underway for the upcoming visit of King Abdullah to the White House next Tuesday to meet with President Obama. It will be their first meeting since the media stir caused by Obama bowing to the monarch. The King will also be the foreign guest of honor of the President of France for Bastille Day (Boo! Hiss!).

Sunday, HM Gyanendra Shah, former King of Nepal, returned to Katmandu after a five day tour of the central Terai districts. He visited a number of temples and attended the mass animal sacrifice at the Gadhimai temple. The King was the last reigning Hindu monarch in the world. After returning to Katmandu the King was asked about the current political problems in Nepal but made no comment saying that any words of his would only cause controversy.

On Tuesday HM King Norodom Sihanouk, former monarch and ‘King-Father’ of Cambodia with several other members of the Khmer Royal Family visited the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. King Sihanouk said, “Being retired and no longer doing politics nor diplomacy, my journey and trip to the glorious Socialist Republic of Vietnam will have a strictly private character”. Nonetheless, Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said the visit was a sign of the close solidarity of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The ‘King-Father’ will meet numerous active and retired Communist Party officials and take in a night at the Hanoi Opera House. The two countries have a long history of animosity most recently involving the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia which resulted in the overthrow of the regime of Pol Pot and 10 years of occupation by the Vietnamese.

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