Starting, for a change, in the far north, pomp and ceremony were all full display this week with the formal opening of parliament in the Kingdom of Norway. HM King Harald V, flanked by HM the Queen and HRH Crown Prince Haakon, opened the 156th parliament on Monday. The King spoke to the assembly, remembering the attacks in Oslo earlier this year and commending the Norwegian people on their response to the tragedy; by coming together, embracing diversity and strengthening their democracy. He noted that some strengthening of security measures and first response teams would be required. In setting the agenda for the new government the King said his ministers would focus on lowering unemployment, fighting global climate change, increasing accountability and making the Norwegian welfare state a model for the world. Oh, joy. At least the pictures were full of royal grandeur. On Tuesday the new parliament opened in neighboring Denmark with the Royal Family in attendance. The Queen was pretty in pink (yes, I love the 80’s!) and as the royals are only spectators at this event in Denmark they all watched and listened to the politicians bloviating with immense boredom. Doing your duty isn’t always fun.
Over in France the flesh parade known as Paris Fashion Week had a large number of the glamorous gals of the royal world coming to view the latest trends and styles. HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco was the first to appear, and she spoke to the press, you can read her interview here. HRH Princess Beatrice of York showed up wearing an outfit to match her flaming red hair. HRH Princess Clotilde of Venice and Piedmont (who has no business looking that good at 42) was also on hand as was HRH Princess Siriwanwaree Nareera of Thailand, daughter of the Crown Prince. She attended more events than any other but there was a bit of unpleasantness when she happened to get “too close” to Princess Beatrice of York and was rather rudely stopped by her security guards, though Princess Siriwanwaree was not even trying to approach Princess Bea at all. The granddaughter of the “Lord of Life” of Thailand was understandably peeved by such treatment, asking, “Is that the sort of Princess you’ve got?” A rather unfortunate moment for a gathering of such attractive princesses. They didn’t seem to get together much, the only ‘buddy shots’ being of Princess Clotilde and Princess Siriwanwaree (I said “buddy shots” -not “body shots”, though I’m sure that would have got tons of attention…)
Moving across the Pyrenees, as we marked here, Wednesday was a doubly historical day for Portugal, marking the day in 1910 that His Most Faithful Majesty King Manuel II was overthrown and a republic declared and also, more happily, the day in 1143 that the Kingdom of Portugal was formally recognized as an independent nation by the Treaty of Zamora. While republicans celebrated their failed system of government, the man who should be king, Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Braganza, led monarchists in a more proper commemoration. The Duke and Duchess went to the Monastery of Santa Cruz to pay their respects at the tombs of King Afonso I and King Sancho I and then heard a mass for the founding kings of Portugal. The Duke of Braganza made a very good speech in which he expressed his consternation at celebrating “Republic Day” if for no other reason than that it was an occasion of strife, conflict and Portuguese killing Portuguese. Even the adherents of democracy would have trouble defending it as it was the result of a military coup rather than the democratic process. The founding of Portugal was a much more appropriate occasion to remember and, as the Duke pointed out, whether a republic or not, Portugal today would not exist were it not for the creation of the kingdom in 1143.
And, last but never least, we have another royal visit to the United States by a member of the House of Windsor. HRH Prince Harry of Wales arrived on Friday in southern California, right on the Mexican border, at the Naval Air Facility at El Centro where he and 19 other British army personnel will undergo training to qualify as pilots for the famed Apache attack helicopter. The Prince and his comrades will be in the area for the next two months, dividing their time between El Centro and the Gila Bend Auxiliary Air Force Base in Arizona. They will be pretty far from civilization and much has been made of what the Prince and his fellow pilots will do in their time off, some mentioning a possible trip to Las Vegas (can’t you see what headlines that could set off). It is a fun city, I can attest, but I think the well-known phrase, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” probably will not apply to Prince Harry. In any event, we wish him all the best in his training and in raising a *reasonable* amount of hell in his time off.