Saturday, August 18, 2012
Royal News Roundup
In the Middle East, nineteen U.S. Congressman have sent an appeal to HM the King of Bahrain calling for the release of the now famous human rights activist Nabeel Rajab who was sentenced to three months in jail in the small Gulf state for putting out messages on Twitter against the monarchy and government of Bahrain. Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. It is worth pointing out that Bahrain, under King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has (like many other monarchies in the Islamic world) has been introducing reforms and a deliberate pace. Meanwhile in nearby Kuwait the reigning Emir has been calling for greater national unity against the agitators of the so-called “Arab Spring” and instability in the elected government. In an address to mark the last 10 days of Ramadan HH the Emir said, “We will not tolerate wrong political practices that stall the nation’s development process”. He reaffirmed freedom of opinion and expression but said, “this does not mean that it can be abused to spread incitement or undermine our national unity or tear at our social fabric that has been woven by our fathers and forefathers”. There was also some stir this week when (again) the Reuters news website was hacked and a false story was posted claiming that the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, had died. Like a noted American author, the report of his death was exaggerated.
In southern Europe, HM King Juan Carlos of Spain suffered a minor fall during a military visit in Madrid but the rest of the Royal Family was at the Olympics to cheer on the Spanish athletes. HM Queen Sofia and the Prince and Princess of the Asturias were on hand for the Spanish basketball team which took the silver to the USA’s gold after a very close and hard fought game. Meanwhile the Spanish Prime Minister came to visit the King during some time off on the island of Mallorca. Over in Monaco, HSH Princess Charlene flew back to her native South Africa to surprise her grandmother on her 91st birthday. While back home she also took the opportunity to congratulate South African swimmer, gold medalist and new international star Chad Le Clos. The Princess hosted the South African Olympic swim team (of which she was once a member) in Monaco and was one of their most vocal supporters during the games.
In northern Europe the big news was Prince Carl Philip of Sweden getting into a little scuffle (looked like a lot of slapping to me) at a nightclub in France after one of the patrons made some remarks to his girlfriend. The Prince was not hurt at the court has said they want the incident handled privately. In Norway, HM Queen Sonja opened a new coastal train on the island of Vannoya and in Denmark Princess Marie visited the National Association for Autism, visiting the children there and taking the initiative in asking the staff if she could be the royal patron of the organization. Needless to say, they were only to happy to accept the Princess’ help -and well done for her highness in adopting such a great cause. Finally, in Great Britain, the aftermath of the Olympics is still being felt. 70% of respondents to a recent poll said that their opinion of the Royal Family had gone up because of the games, which is certainly good to see (though I still think the parachute-play was somewhat disrespectful). However, there was bad news this week as HRH the Duke of Edinburgh was taken to hospital for concerns over another bladder infection. Of course we wish His Royal Highness a speedy recovery.