Saturday, February 12, 2011

Royal News Roundup

The Arab world remained dominant in the news this week. In Jordan, AFP reported that native tribal leaders had openly voiced criticism of Queen Rania, portraying her as living a lavish lifestyle during hard times and being more concerned with the approval of the elites of America and Europe than the Jordanian people. After several days of silence the Royal court issued a strong denouncement of the report, saying it was completely false and accusing those who spoke of being frauds. King Abdullah II is reportedly considering suing AFP over the story. It is hard for me to imagine anyone disliking Queen Rania (and it has been speculated whether or not this was simply a way to criticize the monarchy without criticizing the King which is not allowed). However, not all of their complaints are without justification and all royals could learn a lesson from this. I cannot imagine the Bedouins of Jordan being terribly impressed with her many appearances on the “Today” show, Oprah Winfrey or getting awards from Sarah Brown, Arianna Huffington and Microsoft. Similarly, the Dowager Queen Noor recently raised eyebrows in the U.S. by defending the Muslim Brotherhood on CNN. This might be popular with some elements in Jordan but I doubt it will be enough to convince those same elements that such remarks are more important to the Queen than attending the Cannes Film Festival to promote a movie about the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Many royals support causes with are fashionable these days and sound perfectly noble and benevolent but result in very little practical benefit for their own people. If you live in a country where things are generally prosperous that can work out just fine but if things are not going so well (as in Jordan and some other countries) it is not surprising that people begin to question the practical value of what their royals are doing. Nuclear disarmament may be a very noble goal, but honestly, it is not about to happen and whether the US, Russia or China have nuclear weapons does not have an impact on the Jordanian with no work and little money. Queen Rania can exchange praise with everyone at the Clinton Global Initiative but of what real value is that to a Bedouin in the Jordanian desert? That is also not to say that the Queen has not championed causes that have provided real results for Jordan but when hard times hit those that do not tend to out-weigh those that do. People also tend to be rather possessive of their royals and no one I am sure in Jordan wants to feel that they are less important than the celebrities of Europe and America -whether that is actually the case or not.

On a similar note, the Prince of Wales made some eyes roll with a rather rare visit to the European Parliament in Brussels where he urged European officials not to be so distracted by the economic crisis that has been causing such havoc that they neglect to focus on “climate change” and environmental issues. Again, saving the planet sounds quite necessary but all of these environmentalist programs always seem to have quite a hefty price tag attached to them and governments spending more money than they are taking in has been at least one of the major causes of the economic crisis.

There was also a temporary spike in oil prices when rumors began to spread that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia passed away from a heart attack in Morocco after a heated telephone exchange with President Barack Obama over the fate of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Saudi embassy quickly released a statement saying that such rumors were totally false and the reports of the King’s death, like those of Mark Twain, were greatly exaggerated.

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