Saturday, September 7, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Starting, again, in the British Isles, HRH the Prince of Wales attended the installation of Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis as the new chief rabbi of the United Kingdom. Lord and Lady Frederick Windsor introduced the public to their new baby Maud and it was announced that Buckingham Palace will stage its first football match (that means soccer for American readers) in October. Also, on the anniversary of the death of the late Princess of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge took baby Prince George to visit his relatives on Diana’s side of the family. Prince Harry continues to train for his polar trek and scientists continue to study the newly found remains of King Richard III of England, who it seems had roundworms (how newsworthy). However, it seems the remains of the unpopular Yorkist king are also at the center of a legal dispute -who knew that centuries later King Richard would still be causing trouble as a corpse.  The dispute involves where the late King will be buried, where he was found or in York. Finally, Prince Michael of Kent attended a car show and critics were unimpressed with the new “Diana” movie. I doubt I would be either.

On the continent, babies have been in the news a lot this week. The good news first, this week the royal court announced that Princess Madeleine of Sweden and her husband Chris O’Neill are expecting their first child; congratulations to them and in Belgium the artist Delphine Boel has dropped her existing court case against King Philip, Princess Astrid and King Albert II but will be starting a new court action next week in her ongoing effort to prove that the former King of the Belgians is her natural father. The lawyer of King Albert II has said that he refuses to be considered her father and has said that no evidence has been brought forward to prove the case other than photographs. In other news, the King of Spain met with the President of Bolivia (poor man) and the Infanta Cristina has put her home in Barcelona up for sale. Princess Martha Louise of Norway said she had therapy as a teenager to deal with feelings of guilt and sadness, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark was the toast of the town on a recent visit to Morocco and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands made his first budget day speech this week with Queen Maxima beside him. Hereditary Grand Duke and Duchess Guillaume and Stephanie of Luxembourg visited Nassau castle and Princess Charlene of Monaco was a great success in Saint Geours de Maremne teaching children to swim at a charity event organized by the club Inshore Rescue Capbreton called “Live to Swim” day.

In Africa, a spokesman for King Mswati III of Swaziland said that his country has a new system of government that is called “monarchial democracy”. The King was inspired to make the change after having a vision from God during a freak thunderstorm last weekend. Of course, the pro-democracy critics of the King were quick to denounce this new change, calling it “simply crazy” and insisting that there is nothing at all democratic about the Kingdom of Swaziland. They seem unwilling to cooperate at all so long as the monarchy remains, which is a problem for them since most Swazis are greatly attached to it. This new government style might also have something to do with the fact that earlier this year the ANC government of South Africa called for Swaziland to be democratized and the little kingdom is highly dependent on South Africa economically. In the Middle East, of course, the Syrian civil war and threat of U.S. intervention have dominated all the news this week but nothing has really changed. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and most of the gulf monarchies oppose the Ba’athist dictatorship in Syria but do not wish to see the conflict escalated or spill over into neighboring countries. Word did spread that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had offered to fund U.S. missile strikes but no one wanted to make that statement officially. In Rome, Pope Francis called for a peaceful end to the conflict and asked for a day of fasting and prayer for the people in Syria.

In other Asian royal news, last Friday Prince Muhammad Ali of Egypt and Princess Noal Zaher of Afghanistan were married at the Ciragan Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. Congratulations to the happy couple. The Prince is a son of King Fuad II of Egypt and the Princess is the granddaughter of the last King of Afghanistan. In other matrimonial news, this week Prince Rahim Aga Khan, eldest son of HH Aga Khan IV, married 25-year-old model Kendra Spears in a small, private ceremony in Switzerland. Having recently converted to Islam, the Seattle native will now be known as Princess Salwa. The Aga Khan is the hereditary Imam of the Ismaili sect of Islam whose princely status was recognized by the Persian emperor and the British monarch. In southeast Asia, TM the King and Queen of Malaysia arrived for a state visit to the Kingdom of Thailand this week, met upon their arrival by TRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. This is the Malaysian royal couple’s second visit to Thailand. In neighboring Cambodia, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party is calling on HM King Norodom Sihamoni to intervene in politics to solve and on-going dispute with the ruling crypto-communist Cambodian People’s Party led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, former Khmer Rouge official, who was originally put in power by the Vietnamese occupation forces and has remained in power ever since. Naturally, a great deal of vote-rigging is suspected. It would be highly unlikely for the King to get involved in this, even though there is every reason that he should if things were as they should be in Cambodia. However, the constitutional monarchy has largely been cosmetic only, certainly since the death of King Norodom Sihanouk who did have the prestige and political connections with China to have some influence. Hun Sen is effectively the dictator of Cambodia and he is backed up by the red regime in Vietnam and is likely not going anywhere any time soon.

In Japan there has been some concern over the announcement that HIH Princess Hisako, widow of HIH Prince Takamado (a cousin of HM the Emperor) will be attending a general meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires today. The Princess is going to the IOC at the request of the government to formally thank the IOC for their support in reconstruction efforts after the Great East Japan Earthquake. This will be at the start of presentation that hopes to win the prize of hosting the Olympic Games for Tokyo and there is some worry in the Imperial Household Agency and elsewhere that this may be too close to a member of the Imperial Family doing something “political” which is constitutionally forbidden and which the IHA wishes to shelter the Imperial Family from in any event. In any event, the cabinet authorized HIH Princess Hisako and HIH Princess Akiko to make the trip but the IHA says that the two will have nothing to do with any of the efforts to win the games for Tokyo and will not be taking part in the IOC general meeting.

Later Addition: Whatever happened, it seems to have worked; Tokyo will be hosting the 2020 Olympics. Maybe the Princesses won people over, intentionally or not? Sorry President of Turker, HM the Emperor will be opening the 2020 Games. Congratulations to Nihon-koku!

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