Saturday, August 14, 2010

Royal News Roundup

It has been a fairly mixed week for the royals of the world. As most know last weekend King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain met U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and daughter Sasha on the resort island of Mallorca. It was the last day of a lavish vacation by the First Lady and daughter and the only “official” event of the trip. Mrs. Obama has attracted a fair amount of criticism for taking so extravagant a trip to foreign shores during a time when the U.S. is enduring, in the words of her husband, the worst economy since the Great Depression. Her next two shortly upcoming vacations will be restricted to the United States. As parting gifts Queen Sofia presented the First Lady with some local arts & crafts while King Juan Carlos gave some seeds for the First Lady’s much publicized White House garden.

To the north in Luxembourg the former Grand Duke Jean toured an exhibit on Thursday dedicated to the memory of his late mother the Grand Duchess Charlotte. Last Saturday HRH the Prince of Wales was in Scotland to attend the highland games. This Saturday HRH the Princess Royal Anne celebrates her 60th birthday. One of the most unsung heroes of the British monarchy and one of the hardest working royals in Europe the Mad Monarchist wishes the Princess Royal a very happy birthday.

In northern Europe continued excite over the coming royal twins in Denmark is balanced by new royal-bashing in Sweden. The lovely Princess Marie of Denmark was on Funen island where she visited a rose festival and had one flower named in her honor. When asked about the pregnancy of her sister-in-law Crown Princess Mary she was very supportive but when asked when she would be having more children Princess Marie said, though it would be nice, it will not be happening right away. Crown Princess Mary herself said recently that, though more tired lately than usual, she and the Crown Prince have been “unusually happy” with the coming double-birth. Little Prince Christian and Princess Isabella are also very well aware that two more siblings are on their way.

Across the Baltic in Sweden, however, things have been a little rough for the newly wed Crown Princess Victoria who has been accused in the gutter-press of taking bribes after accepting some rather lavish wedding gifts from wealthy friends. A Swedish billionaire (Bertil Hult) lent the use of his plane, yacht and Colorado vacation home for their honeymoon. Controversy-mongers say this was done with some future favors being expected in return. It is, of course, all rather ridiculous and the palace has been visibly annoyed in their response. Considering that the role of the Swedish monarchy is purely ceremonial it seems ridiculous that wedding gifts, no matter how costly or who they are from, could be considered a form of bribery.

Royals across the Middle East have been marking the start of Ramadan. In honor of this the King and Queen of Jordan announced Tuesday that they will be covering the educational expenses for some 200 Jordanian orphans. The expenses covered will include accommodations, books, tuition, stationary and medical insurance. Across the border in Saudi Arabia King Abdullah II has raised some eyebrows, yet again, amongst more conservative Muslims for declaring, in his role as Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, that, temporarily at least, only senior Muslim scholars (part of a council of 20 appointed by the King) will have the right to issue fatwas. All those who violate the order will face stiff penalties. King Abdullah has caused a fair bit of controversy lately for implementing changes many of the “old guard” do not approve of including the recent appointment of a woman to a government post.

In the Far East the Japanese Imperial Family; the Emperor, Empress, Crown Prince and (surprisingly) Crown Princess all attended a memorial concert at Toukagakudo in honor of the late Empress Kojun, mother of the Emperor and consort of the late Emperor Showa (Hirohito) the longest-serving consort in Japanese history. Afterward 130 guests joined the Imperial Family for tea though the Crown Princess did not attend this final event.

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