Saturday, November 17, 2012

Royal News Roundup

Far away in Oceania, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall continued their tour for the Diamond Jubilee, visiting New Zealand. There was a traditional Maori greeting for the royal couple after which they visited Auckland where the Prince of Wales was in his usual good humor. When visiting Australia and being asked about being named as a fashion icon by GQ the Prince said, “Every 25 years I seem to come back in fashion”. The couple visited Wellington and the Prince met with one of the dwarves from the popular “Lord of the Rings” spin-off movie coming out soon. The Prince of Wales celebrated his birthday during the trip along with the wife of the PM who shares a birthday with the Prince. He was given 64 small cakes to mark the occasion and the dwarf, played by Mark Hadlow, dropped to one knee and said director Peter Jackson had released him to Prince Charles “to command as you see fit”. The Prince of Wales jokingly said, “This is the best birthday present I’ve had for a long time”. The royal couple went on to visit Feilding and Palmerston North, talked to some animal lovers and the Prince offered his condolences to the family of a recently slain New Zealand soldier. Before leaving they also visited Christchurch which is still recovering from the massive earthquake that devastated the area last year.

The most critical news this week has all been out of the Middle East where existing monarchies are trembling and Israel and Palestine are on the brink of war, a conflict which could certainly spread to include many others. In Kuwait tens of thousands of protestors packed Parliament square to protest voting law changes enacted by the Emir to protect national unity. “Arab Spring” slogans were chanted which does not bode well for the monarchy considering that the movement has led to the downfall of four national leaders so far. The opposition consists mainly of Islamists, tribal groups and liberal lawyers and students. These protests have been common for some time but have been becoming more broadly based and more defiant towards the monarchy itself in recent days. Onlookers have said that events in Kuwait could set a trend for radical change in the other Gulf State monarchies.

Perhaps even more seriously, the usually orderly Kingdom of Jordan has been subject to similar protests and after the announcement of a recent increase in fuel prices (later rescinded) these erupted into violent riots which threaten the very existence of the Hashemite monarchy. Leftist parties joined with the Islamic Action Front (a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) last month and protests which were once directed solely at the government have more and more been directed at the monarchy itself with protestors chanting, “Freedom is from God, in spite of you, Abdullah”. This in a country were criticizing the King is a criminal offense, yet this is how far things have fallen. King Abdullah II and Queen Rania were once the beloved faces of a modern, moderate Islamic country with a friendly face to the world and well known in America with the King appearing on “The Daily Show” and the Queen a frequent guest of Oprah. Now angry mobs are burning their portraits in the streets. When whipped up, people will criticize anything and the King has been slandered for something as simple as his blue eyes and accent and the Queen for being featured in glamour magazines, hobnobbing with western celebrities and for being Palestinian in a country where some natives resent the large Palestinian presence. In 2010 a group of prominent generals actually published a letter denouncing the Queen. She began to take on a lower-profile but unfair criticism only shifted toward the King instead.

Other monarchies in the region have cut back on their support for Jordan (a resource poor country) and this has forced the King to depend more on the United States which, in recent years, pushed for more liberal reforms and greater democracy, particularly as the Obama administration embraced the “Arab Spring” as a positive development. The King tried to walk a fine line between maintaining his authority and increasing democracy but the public seems to have developed un-realistic expectations and when these were not fulfilled, discontent has grown. Much of it, however, would not exist were it not for the worsening economic situation, with loans from the International Monetary Fund increasingly hard to come by. This was worsened by the outbreak of civil war in Syria which has caused Jordan to be flooded by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees. There are also now increasing worries about a war between Israel and Palestine and whether countries like Jordan or Egypt will intervene. Speaking of the potential war in Israel, ailing King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called for “reason” and “wisdom” in the unfolding crisis in a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Morsi whose comments have been rather more strident to the point of making thinly veiled threats of Egyptian intervention.

In Europe, the week started off with royals from the former Allied nations paying their respects to veterans on the anniversary of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. King Albert II of the Belgians visited the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior while over in London Queen Elizabeth II joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Cenotaph to honor British war dead and veterans. In Norway, the Royal Palace announced, after some controversy, that they would be revoking the king’s service medal given to Trond Ali Linstad, a Norwegian Muslim convert who had been given the award for his work in integrating Muslim immigrants into Norwegian society but who had also made numerous anti-Semitic remarks as well as remarks viewed by some as homophobic and anti-democratic particularly in his support for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Palace chief of staff apologized to Linstad for putting him into this position which has brought to light his previous controversial statements. And, after more than half a century on foreign soil, the late Ahmed Zogu, President-turned-King of Albania have been sent home. Ahmed Zogu became President of Albania and declared himself king in 1928. In 1939 he fled the country when Italian forces occupied Albania and with the communist takeover after World War II he was never able to return and died in France in 1961. His grandson and heir to the Zog royal legacy, Prince Leka, works as a political advisor for President Bujar Faik Nishani and some have been critical of the return of King Zog, claiming that the President is trying to gain political points by doing so. However, Albania is currently celebrating the centenary of its independence from the Turkish Ottoman Empire and so reconciling with the past is a completely appropriate thing at this time. King Zog will be laid to rest in a new mausoleum built by the royal family with those ceremonies taking place this weekend.


  1. I hope that the tide of idiocy flooding Transjordan doesn't take King Abdullah with it. HM is one of the few enlightened and sane rulers left in the Arab world, and it is down to the Hashemite leadership that Jordan hasn't gone down the same route as Syria or Iraq, that of tyranny and collapse. Monarchists around the world are praying for him.

  2. Im worried about Jordan's King Abdullah . If he falls it will be a disaster for the region

  3. I have a feeling that all the disorders in Jordan are being instigated by the Muslim Brotherhood. It was founded way back in 1928 and has not been particularly successful until recent years. If the Jordanian monarchy should crumble, Jordan would likely collapse into chaos and be consumed by civil war. If this happens, another full-scale war between Palestinians and Israel will likely break out. All these riots have to be stopped if peace is to last and it is now the time for other Arab monarchs to help Jordan. May fortune favor us all.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...