Saturday, December 1, 2012

Royal News Roundup

Starting, for a change, in the far north, Chris O’Neill, husband-to-be to HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden, has come under fire from Swedish papers over his business background. Why in the Swedish papers? Because American papers or anyone familiar with the New York City society circles O’Neill has been part of would consider this “news”. The company he works for maintains some false “fronts” in Delaware and the Cayman Islands to (sit down for this) avoid paying taxes. Shocking I know. They have also cleaned up quite well during the recent financial downturn by “selling short” and cashing in on bank failures. Again, to anyone familiar with O’Neill and his crowd, this is pretty much business as usual but in Sweden it is causing a minor fuss, sufficient to prompt a response from O’Neill’s lawyers and for him to drop his planned appearance with the Royal Family at the Nobel Prize ceremony. The response was basically that O’Neill nor his company has broken any laws, which of course is not the point for those egalitarians who think there should be a law against being wealthy in the first place. Meanwhile, HM King Carl XVI Gustaf attended the Scouts’ “Democracy Jamboree” (yawn) and the Queen visited a special exhibition on the christening of little Princess Estelle. And, across the border, the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway left Europe behind for a visit this week to Indonesia.

In Great Britain, HM the Queen met members of the Household Cavalry Regiment, all dressed for combat and armed to the teeth. In other news, HRH the Prince of Wales met with celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to show support for his school dinners campaign. Oliver called the heir to the throne a “hippy” for suggesting that every family should keep a pet pig which the Prince took with his usual good humor. Also this week, the Queen, Prince consort and Prince of Wales hosted a state visit by HH the Emir of Kuwait (whose country is still undergoing some unrest over election law changes). And, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited, appropriately enough, Cambridge. With World AIDS Day coming up, Princes William and Harry have been working to continue the campaign of their late mother in removing the stigma of those afflicted with the disease and, down in sunny Monaco, HSH Princess Stephanie had been going non-stop throughout the week on a number of projects to raise awareness, spread prevention and raise money for charities that treat those with the disease. And, down in Spain, HM King Juan Carlos is recovering from hip-replacement surgery and on Sunday was given moral support from the rest of the Royal Family as HM Queen Sofia, TRH Prince Felipe, Princess Letizia, Princess Leonor and Princess Sofia all came to visit him. The Duke and Duchess of Palma also stopped by, despite the Duke’s continued legal troubles and bad press.

Over in the Middle East, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is extremely unhappy and calling for legal action about a very popular Turkish soap opera set in the Ottoman Empire during the time of the famous Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning sultan in Turkish history. The show, called, “Magnificent Century” does not stop at the doors to the harem and leaves little to the imagination. The PM has basically complained that the show portrays Sultan Suleiman as an indulgent party animal rather than as a conqueror who spent most of his reign on the march and camping on the field of battle. The show attracts about 150 million viewers from across Turkey, the Balkans and the Middle East but conservative elements are calling for it to be banned because of scenes set in the harem (and we all know what went on there) but fans of the show are accusing the PM of “artistic tyranny”. Some also view it as a reaction to criticism and worry over the increasing role Turkey has been taking in the region lately. There has also been worry (mostly on the oil markets) over the King of Saudi Arabia who underwent surgery on his back ten days ago. However, Saudi Crown Prince Salman issued a statement Tuesday saying that the King was “well and in good health” and the following day the King himself appeared on television just to reassure everyone that he is okay.

In the Far East, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand visited his royal project and a museum at the Chitralada Palace on Monday. The wheelchair-bound monarch inspected the dairy farm project at the palace, helping feed some of the cows, and then inspected the Royal Elephant Museum inside the compound. In the neighboring Kingdom of Malaysia, HM the Sultan of Johor, Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, celebrated his fifty-fourth birthday last Thursday with a special tea party while over in Brunei, the Sultan hosted an official visit by President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam and first lady Mai Thi Hanh on Tuesday. The visit featured the signing of a new agreement between the Monetary Authority of Brunei Darussalam and the State Bank of Vietnam over oil and gas ventures by Petroleum Brunei and Petrovietnam.

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