Saturday, August 13, 2011

Royal News Roundup

Starting in the Far East, revered “King-Father” Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia has returned to Communist China for medical care and testing. The former monarch is 88-years old and suffers from an array of health problems yet appeared well and cheerful at his formal sendoff at the Phnom Penh airport by his son King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen. King Norodom Sihanouk has made many such visits in the past, sometimes for quite lengthy periods and no one knows how long this stay will last. The Royalist Party said that it was simply an effort by the “King-Father” to maintain his health so he can live longer amongst his people. The King, however, in the past, has said his longevity is becoming a burden to him and recently posted on his popular website that he can no longer conduct many audiences since he frequently falls asleep. Norodom Sihanouk became King of Cambodia in 1941, presided over its independence from France, was deposed in 1970 by his prime minister, joined the communists but was held captive by Pol Pot after his coming to power, eventually deposed again but restored as a constitutional monarch after a UN referendum in 1993. He abdicated in 2004.

In the Middle East, HM the King of Jordan will be funding a $1.5 billion amusement park in the Gulf of Aqaba with a theme of “Star Trek”, or something of the sort based on the 2009 remake movie. This will be part of a much larger project to develop the area into a major tourism and resort center, which is not without some controversy given the high unemployment and generally poor economy in Jordan at the moment. However, King Abdullah II has long been known as the highest ranking “Trekkie” in the world and famously had a cameo on one of the spin-off series (sorry folks, but if there’s no Kirk, Spock or Scotty it ain’t Star Trek to me). There will, however, be attractions for the non-nerd visitors. Rubicon Group Holdings is overseeing the development of the theme park which is to be called the Red Sea Astrarium. Jordan had some unrest in the spring, not nearly as much as other Arab countries, but I would be a little uneasy about spending the kind of money something like this is going to take. In any event, I hope everything works out for the King -may he live long and prosper.

And turning to Europe, the one royal story that has really bothered me is the continued media harping on the Nazi “connections” of Walter Sommerlath, the father of HM Queen Silvia of Sweden. In the first place, given that her father died in 1990, I consider it a thinly veiled effort to simply attack the Swedish monarchy to bring this story up at all. How is it relevant and who does it affect? What good is accomplished by talking about it no matter what sort of relationship the father of the Queen consort had with the Nazi Party? Anyway, the issue came to a head when a documentary hit Swedish TV which claimed that Mr. Sommerlath took over a Jewish-owned factory during a program called “Aryanization” which gave Jewish businesses to Nazi Party members. Well, with such rumors and accusations continuing to be spread around by the gutless wonders of the modern media, the Queen decided to do something about it and commissioned a special investigation into what exactly her father had to do with the Nazis in World War II.

The results are in and, it should come as no surprise, the answer is a big, fat *nothing*. In fact, far from being a loyal, ideology-driven National Socialist, Mr. Sommerlath was found to have saved a Jew named Efim Wechsler from the Holocaust by trading his factory for a coffee plantation in Brazil, allowing the man to escape from Germany. But, it should also come as no surprise, that those who chose to believe the ridiculous accusations about Mr. Sommerlath in the first place are not about to let the facts get in the way of their prejudices. Nope, they don’t believe a word of the report and said, “What Queen Silvia has produced only raises further troubling questions”. To listen to them one would think little old Mr. Sommerlath was right up there with Hitler, Goebbels and Goering. This, I think, is yet another sign of the times. “Facts” no longer exist. Everything is opinion, everything is relative and it is simply a waste of time and energy to try to deal with these people for whom no evidence will ever be good enough in their ongoing effort to smear a man more than a decade in his grave. It is, in a word, despicable.

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