Saturday, December 3, 2011

Royal News Roundup

It has been a busy week for the Imperial Family of Japan, with proper relief for the Emperor being released from hospital. On Tuesday, Prince Akishino, Princess Kiko and daughter Princess Mako joined in a traditional duck hunt in Chiba prefecture. Don’t worry animal lovers, this is not like western duck hunting -no dogs, no guns, you catch the duck with your bare hands and then let it go. Prince Akishino later, at celebrations for his 46th birthday, set off a minor uproar of speculation by suggesting that Japan should, perhaps, consider having a mandatory retirement age for emperors. And finally there was more happy news on Thursday as HIH Princess Aiko, only child of the Crown Prince and Princess, turned 10 years old. We wish the Princess a happy birthday with many, many more to come.

Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark, after a successful trip to Australia, was in Vietnam this week to mark the forty years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Denmark. He met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan in Hanoi (an heir not being worthy of seeing the President) and the Crown Prince signed some new Danish-Vietnamese agreements on, what else, environmental cooperation and “green” technology. Back in the homeland, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie were on hand to light the town Christmas tree in Møgeltønder -along with Santa Claus of course. In Norway, Crown Princess Mette-Marit has given up the special courses she was taking on management, saying that the demands on her time due to royal duties made it impossible to continue with them. Half a world away the Crown Prince met with the President of Nepal and on Friday, Queen Sonja of Norway gave out the prestigious ‘Queen Sonja Award’ to Malakoff High School in Oslo for their “training and support” programs and multicultural diversity. The school was rather hard hit in the domestic terror rampage this summer, being near the government building that was bombed and losing one student killed and eleven wounded in the tragedy.

In Great Britain, on Thursday, HM the Queen and Prince Philip visited Liverpool. The big British news this week though was the ransacking of the British embassy and residence in Tehran, Iran by an anti-British mob. The whole scene brought back ugly memories of the Iranian Revolution and in response the British expelled all Iranian diplomats from the UK and recalled all British officials from Iran. Norway, the Netherlands and several other European countries have recalled their ambassadors in Iran in response to the attack, carried out undoubtedly with government approval in response to the international effort to stop the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons. Sweden summoned the Iranian ambassador for a scolding but has not closed their embassy. Russia, a staunch ally of Iran, condemned the incident but Red China, another staunch ally and major trading partner, would not. The Federal Republic of Germany has offered to act as the protecting power for British diplomatic efforts in Iran. The United States condemned the attack and has not had an embassy in Iran since the Islamic Revolution and hostage crisis of 1979.

In the Low Countries, HM Queen Beatrix and the Prince and Princess of Orange welcomed the President of the African nation of Mali to the Netherlands on Tuesday, the start of a 3-day visit. The President apologized for the kidnapping of a Dutch citizen in Mali only a few days before, for which the Queen was quite appreciative and both shared the hope that the person would be found and the matter resolved. Over in Belgium, Crown Prince Philippe presented a chemistry award while the public continues to wonder if they should become the first country in the world with no official government at all (okay, just kidding but you do have to wonder).

In southern Europe, HM King Juan Carlos of Spain attended the opening of a special exhibit on the Order of the Golden Fleece on Thursday in Madrid. The day before Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of the Asturias presented awards to Spanish journalists on which occasion the Prince made a short speech addressing the importance of good journalism in a functioning democracy. On the same day HM Queen Sofia was in the Big Apple to hand out awards at the “Queen Sofia Spanish Institute 2011 Gold Medal Gala”. Gold medals were handed out to a number of individuals and the presented Mr. Oscar de la Renta, chairman of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute with the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit. The US Ambassador to Spain was also in attendance.

In Albania, on Wednesday, the former Crown Prince Leka passed away about a week after being hospitalized. The only son of Ahmet Zogu, an Albanian politician-turned-monarch who ruled for about 9 years, Leka was born only days before his parents fled the country due to the arrival of Italian occupation forces. The government declared King Zog I deposed and Crown Prince Leka grew up in exile. Family loyalists proclaimed him King after the death of his father but his efforts to regain the throne of Albania, both violent and democratic, were unsuccessful. He moved back to Albania in 2002 and his son works for the government. The Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, declared Saturday a national day of mourning and said that the Islamic funeral will have “royal attributes”. The President of Albania saluted the Crown Prince for his opposition to the communist government and his promotion of national values. The royalist party is currently allied to the ruling Democratic Party coalition. Prince Leka II (29) is set to marry Elia Zarahia, an actress and singer from Paris sometime in the near future.

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