Saturday, January 26, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Starting in the Far East, HM Queen Jetsun of Bhutan launched a new book titled “Jewel in the Crown” which features paintings of her wedding to the King of the Land of the Thunder Dragon in 2011. Later, on Wednesday, TM the King and Queen of Bhutan started a seven day official state visit to India. Meanwhile this week, in the Kingdom of Thailand, a magazine editor and political activist aligned with the red-shirt movement that caused so much trouble in the past was sentenced to a 10-years in prison for two articles deemed insulting to the monarchy. The man in question has launched a petition drive against the laws protecting the monarchy. Of course, international groups have made a fuss about it but, at least, with other similar cases recently in addition to this one, the mask of the red short movement has clearly come off. The movement is bankrolled by the exiled former PM and business mogul Thaksin Shinawatra who was found guilty of corruption. Also, this weekend, HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will visit Singapore. This week the royals of Brunei turned out to welcome HM Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and other Dutch royals as part of a delegation to strengthen bilateral relations.

In the Middle East, HM the King of Bahrain has invited opposition parties to return to talks on Monday in an effort to end the political deadlock that has plagued the small country which has been beset for some time by “Arab Spring” unrest. In Jordan, Queen Rania has been speaking about “sustainability” and King Abdullah II has promised that after the next elections Jordanians will have their first popularly elected prime minister. However, worries remain as analysts say that most do not expect any real changes. Jordan has been rocked by protests since the start of the “Arab Spring” and these have been growing worse and increasingly hostile to the monarchy as the mostly urban democracy-advocates have been joined by the Islamic Brotherhood and many tribal leaders, formerly the bedrock of support for the monarchy, who are upset with what they perceive as a too lavish and western lifestyle of the Royal Family, particularly the Queen. And, of course, all are upset by the lackluster economic situation.

European royal news was, thankfully, mostly happy this week. At the top of the list of good news was the birth of two new Prussian princes in Germany on Sunday when Princess Sophie, wife of Prince Georg Friedrich, gave birth to twins; Prince Carl Friedrich and Prince Louis Ferdinand. We send our heartfelt congratulations to the Prussian Royal couple on this most happy occasion. In Serbia it was a belated homecoming for HM King Peter II, the last King of Yugoslavia whose remains were returned to his native land on Tuesday after being originally buried in Illinois due to the Royal Family being forced into exile by World War II and the subsequent communist takeover. In the Principality of Monaco the Princely Family was out in force for the annual International Circus festival with HSH Princess Stephanie taking center stage. In Sweden it was a busy week of visits and meetings for the Royal Family with the King meeting the head of the Public Employment Service, visiting the Institute for Evaluation of the Labor Market and meeting with the National Criminal Police. Also this week Prince Daniel officially launched the Prince Daniel’s Fellowship which aims at inspiring young people to become entrepreneurs. And in the United Kingdom it was a happy homecoming for Prince Harry who finished his latest four-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. For some reason I have noticed that his phrase “take a life to save a life” got a great deal of attention with headlines about the prince admitting he had “killed people” and the like. Perhaps British newspaper editors have lived their whole lives in total ignorance of just what it is that soldiers do…

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