Saturday, June 29, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Starting in the Far East, on Thursday the Imperial Household Agency announced that Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress will be visiting Iwate Prefecture on July 4 & 5 to meet with and encourage the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. It will be the second time the Imperial couple have visited Iwate since the disaster. The schedule released says Their Majesties will visit temporary housing units in Tono on July 4, meet with evacuees, support staff and workers and will then visit the devastated coastal cities of Ofunato and Rikuzentakata on July 5. In Ofunato they will tour a plan which uses debris from the disaster to make cement used in repair work and in Rikuzentakata Their Majesties will meet with Mayor Futoshi Toba to hear his report on the progress of recovery work as well as visiting a temporary housing complex set up on the grounds of the local junior high school. Later in the month the Imperial couple may visit Fukushima Prefecture as well but no definite decision has been made according to the IHA. Further to the south in Malaysia, the King has urged the people to accept the results of the recent thirteenth general election and to support all newly elected members of parliament in working for the greater good of the whole country. The recent election has been marked by quite a few disturbances and complaints that the ruling party used some rather under-handed tactics in the voting process. And, moving west, in India the unofficial King of Manipur, HH LeishembaSanajaoba, has gone on a hunger strike to protest the decision by the state cabinet to take over his royal palace in Imphal. Demonstrators have been guarding the palace and protesting the decision, which is not the first time the government has tried to seize the Manipur royal palace. Of course, we wish the King every success in retaining his palace and salute his defense of the rights of kings and the private property rights of all people.

The biggest royal news this week came out of the Middle East where the Emir of Qatar officially abdicated and handed power over to his son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. It is certainly different from what happened in 1995 when Sheikh Hamad (the now former Emir) overthrew his own father to take the throne which he has held until now. The new Emir of Qatar is British educated, a graduate of Sandhurst (for American readers that’s basically the British version of West Point) and some have pointed to this change of monarch as part of the ongoing “Arab Spring” movement which has swept North Africa and the Middle East. Many monarchies in the region supported the “Arab Spring” in other countries but resisted any outbreak of similar movement in their own countries. Qatar is not expected to turn wildly democratic anytime soon, however, Qatar has been a major supporter of the rebel forces fighting in Syria to overthrow the ruling dictator Bashar al-Assad. Observers are now waiting to see if the new Emir will continue the policies of his father or take Qatar in a new direction. Meanwhile, at a conference on boring things where important people talk excessively, HM King Abdullah II of Jordan took time out from world economics to warn about the danger of the Syrian civil war sparking a wider sectarian war in the Middle East unless outside forces intervened to set up peace talks as well as warning that Palestine could erupt in an “Arab Spring” type revolt if Israel did not make concessions soon. He welcomed the latest call by the Obama administration to resume peace talks but warned that time was running out for Israel to stop building settlements.

In Europe, things were fairly quiet this week. One item that I cannot avoid commenting on though is the recent outrageous behavior directed at HM Queen Sofia of Spain. Queen Sofia, as most probably know, is a big fan of classical music and this week attended the International Music Day concert at the Royal Theatre in Madrid. Unfortunately, when she appeared there were jeers and shouting from hecklers in the crowd and this is not the first time the Queen has had to deal with booing and hissing from a crowd lately. Nor is she the only one as HM King Juan Carlos and TRH the Prince and Princess of the Asturias have received similar treatment. That is what I find most alarming. The anti-royal sentiment that has been aroused (an an intentional effort to draw attention away from the political elite and their policies that have ruined the Spanish economy I am convinced) is now apparently approaching the point of mindless hysteria. After all, not too many years ago any disrespect toward the King would have been unthinkable but that is not the case anymore. The vast majority once had all the respect and sympathy in the world for the Queen, then she started to be criticized for her Orthodox-Catholic values and now she is even being jeered at in public. Still, that being done, we were told not to panic because the Prince and Princess of the Asturias were untouched by all the current unpleasantness and are the popular, beloved face of the future Spanish monarchy. Well, they have not been immune from rude treatment either and it seems that more people are choosing to turn off their brains and be hateful at the most prominent targets available. All monarchists should take care of this change in the wind because such ignorant acting out is one of the unfailing symptoms of a mob mentality.

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