Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Royal News Roundup

Starting in the Far East, in Japan TIH Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako visited the city of Kamaishi, Iwate which was particularly hard hit in the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011. This was especially significant in that HIH the Crown Princess accompanied her husband and is her first official trip with an overnight stay since January of 2010. The Imperial couple met with local residents, comforting and encouraging them. HIH the Crown Princess took the hands of a disabled woman in a wheelchair who was moved to tears by the occasion. Moving south, in the Kingdom of Thailand, doctors have reported on the health of TM the King and Queen saying that their health is improving. The revered King has been in a fragile state for some time but it was only recently made known that the Queen has been suffering from numerous ailments as well, downplaying her own problems in order to dutifully attend to her beloved husband. It is good news to hear and we wish them all the best. A Thai royal delegation was also sent to the state of Assam in India to present gifts at the Namphake Buddhist Monastery as part of the Royal Kathina Ceremony, commemorating the migration of the Tai-Phake people. Further south still, in Malaysia, the King called upon the people to embrace a spirit of moderation and respect for the constitution. The Kingdom of Malaysia has been troubled recently by very bitter political disputes. However, he also warned that if such problems as the inability to differentiate right from wrong, insults to religion and the royal institution as well as human rights could prove destructive for the country if not addressed. We fully agree.

In the Middle East, the Arab monarchies continue to be troubled by the on-going civil war in Syria. Not for the first time, King Abdullah II of Jordan has warned that the massive influx of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees is dangerously depleting Jordanian natural resources and asked for international assistance to deal with the humanitarian crisis. Has anyone in the wider world, perhaps, been struck by the observation that whenever problems arise in the neighboring republics it is always to the stable and moderate Kingdom of Jordan that most people invariably flee? Water and energy are in particularly short supply as Jordan has been inundated with more than half a million refugees since the Syrian civil war began. Meanwhile, in Qatar, which has been a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels, the Emir has strongly criticized the call for “unconditional” peace talks in Syria, saying that such talks should, basically, be very conditional and the conditions should be “achieving justice” for the Syrian people.

And, in Europe, more unpleasant news for the Spanish Royal Family came this week. On Monday a court confiscated a villa owned by the King’s son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin (husband of HRH Infanta Cristina) to cover an $8.2 million bond for liability in his case. HRH the Infanta’s finances also continue to be scrutinized by the court prosecutors who seem desperate to find someone in the Royal Family guilty of something. Also, in less than pleasant news, the Royal Palace released a date for HM the King’s hip replacement surgery. Fortunately, there was happier news further north. The new King and Queen of the Belgians met with the new King and Queen of The Netherlands at The Hague, which is a rather historic event considering that the two countries have not both had a king since 1890 when King Willem III was reigning in The Netherlands and King Leopold II was reigning in Belgium -though I doubt either monarch would want to bring up those particular predecessors on such an occasion. In Scandinavian royal news, TM the King and Queen of Norway began a controversial 3-day visit to Turkey last week, controversial because of the Turkish crackdown on protestors last summer and concerns by human rights and free speech activists over repression in Turkey.

(Just as an aside: While Turkey is an illegitimate republic I have no sympathy for whatsoever, some things need to be kept in mind. It is perfectly true that Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country but that phrase should be followed by “that we know of”. Remember, countries like the People’s Maoist Republic of Chinese Oppression or the North Korean Kim Family Slave Labor Camp do not make it known to the world who they arrest, how many people they have in prison or how many people they execute. Turkey may have more journalists in prison than any other country and that’s not buddies but before anyone thinks them the worst in the world, remember that North Korea just shoots them and China makes them disappear and claims they never existed in the first place.)

Finally, in British royal news, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were given a warm and typically colorful reception on their visit to India. The royal couple participated in a Hindu fire ceremony at the sacred Ganges River among numerous other engagements. Back home, while Prince Harry continues to prepare for his polar trek, HM the Queen welcomed a state visit by the President of South Korea with all due pomp and ceremony. The Queen and Prince Philip rode with Madame-President Park Geun-Hye in a horse drawn carriage to Buckingham Palace to the sound of a 41-gun salute by the Royal Artillery. The President later joined Prince William at a ground-breaking ceremony for a memorial to British troops who fought in the Korean War against the communist forces of China and North Korea. The irony of attending such a ceremony, recalling the war in which China and North Korea tried to destroy South Korea by a President who has met with the President of China but refuses to meet with the Prime Minister of Japan was not lost on the BBC which asked the President about it while on her way. President Park said it would be pointless to meet with the Japanese Prime Minister since they refuse to apologize for the period of Japanese colonial rule over Korea from 1910 to 1945. I suppose I missed hearing about when the President of Communist China apologized for invading and trying to destroy South Korea, making it okay to talk to him.

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