Saturday, November 5, 2011

Royal News Roundup - Asia Special

This week, the news will focus exclusively on the lands of Eternal Asia. We start in the Land of the Rising Sun where Japanese fans of Princess Aiko, only child of Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, were given cause for concern when the 9-year-old Princess was admitted to the hospital on Monday due to a persistent cough and fever according to a report released by the Imperial Household Agency. Opinion remains rather divided on the family of the Crown Prince. The Crown Princess has been extremely reclusive and has taken on few to know official duties due to stress and anxiety. Some have been a little upset about this, seeing it as a dereliction of the duties she knew to expect marrying into the Imperial Family while others place the blame on the Imperial Household Agency, accusing them of being too rigid and controlling. In the same way, many instantly fell in love with little Princess Aiko and began calling for an end to the tradition and law preventing women from ascending to the Chrysanthemum throne so that she could someday become Empress. Some continue to do so. However, when the Princess was pulled out of school after being traumatized by what has only been described as the behavior of “rowdy boys” and only later returned to school in the constant company of her mother, a few have begun to believe that the seeming ultra-fragility of the Crown Princess may have been inherited by her daughter. This latest report will probably not help in that regard. However, there has been happier news as well. On Thursday 5-year-old Prince Hisahito (son of Prince Akishino) marked his official transition from infancy to childhood in a traditional Shinto ceremony. The Mad Monarchist sends the little Prince congratulations and also wishes Princess Aiko a very speedy recovery.

Japan was also visited by TRH Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark who came to Tokyo to attend the Wild Swans Exhibition. The exhibition features some artwork done by HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark herself and was also attended by TIH Prince Hitachi and Princess Hanako of Japan (the younger brother and sister-in-law of HM the Emperor). Down in southeast Asia there were large celebrations and huge crowds of people to mark the 89th birthday (on Monday) of “King-Father” Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. He only recently returned from an extended stay in China for medical treatment concerning his many and worsening ailments. The “King-Father” who has been the one constant face in Cambodian national life since World War II, addressed his people and said that he would be staying in Cambodia for the rest of his life though he would need regular attention by a Chinese medical team. Although he still showed the same sparkle he has always had when addressing a crowd, some observers have taken this as a sign that King Norodom Sihanouk does not expect to live much longer. The occasion was also taken to celebrate his return from exile 20 years ago following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia that overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime of Pol Pot.

In other royal-related Southeast Asian news, Viet Nam New Agency reports that HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg will pay an official visit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam from November 7th to the 10th. According to the Foreign Ministry the monarch of Luxembourg will be visiting at the invitation of Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. VNN also reports that work has begun in Hue, former imperial capital of Vietnam during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) on the Ta Tung Pagoda, part of the tomb complex of the second Nguyen Emperor Minh Mang (1821-44). The Emperor built the pagoda to venerate the memory of meritorious courtiers. The work will cost $336,500 and is set to finish in July of next year. Many if not most of the tombs, temples and monuments around Hue have fallen into dire disrepair since the communist takeover of Vietnam. It is worth noting that when the last Emperor abdicated, a prominent part of the agreement was the promise by the government, then led by Ho Chi Minh, to care for the tombs and temples of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors -a promise obviously not kept. Funding for the restoration is coming almost exclusively from private and foreign donations.

In Malaysia this week HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, had an audience with HRH Sultan Ibrahim of Johor at the Grand Palace Johor Bahru. The Prince and the Sultan spent about half an hour talking. The Duke of York is in Malaysia on a 3-day official visit in order to attend the opening of the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia which will offer medical courses in Iskandar.

On Wednesday a 35-year old Buddhist nun committed suicide in a ritual self-immolation in protest against the Communist Chinese persecution of religion and continued occupation of Tibet. Communist officials have blamed the exiled XIV Dalai Lama for inciting people to suicide, something the Dalai Lama vehemently denies. The Dalai Lama has said it is the oppression of the Chinese authorities that are driving people to desperate acts. This is the 11th Tibetan Buddhist to commit self-immolation this year. According to a UN report some 2,000 Buddhist monks have disappeared from monasteries in the Sichuan province of China. Most of this, it is believed, stems from the 2008 mass protests in Tibet which called for an end to the Chinese occupation and the return of the Dalai Lama to his homeland. Chinese authorities continue to accuse the exiled Tibetan monk-monarch of fomenting rebellion and a desire for independence. However, the Dalai Lama continues to assert that he wishes for nothing more than “meaningful autonomy” within China.

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