Monday, February 24, 2014

Royal News Roundup

It has been an odd week in royal news and no place better to start than the United Kingdom. The anti-hunting, ‘animal life is more precious than human life’ crowd is going hysterical all over the world and some of their manic rage is being deployed against the British royals -and it would be much easier to sympathize with them if they did not also do things to encourage these bizarre priorities. The Prince of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry have all recently been stressing the importance of stopping illegal hunting and saving endangered species in Africa. Then someone thought it outrageous that Prince William went hunting for wild boar in Africa and then someone else dug up a 10-year old photo of Prince Harry with a water buffalo he had just shot. Cries of hypocrisy have been raised and while I’m not fond of encouraging any of this type of hysteria at all, the facts are facts and the facts are that neither wild boar or water buffalo are endangered species (last time I checked) and these were not the sort of animals the princes were speaking out against hunting. No member of the Royal Family has ever killed an animal illegally and that should be made clear and that is what they have been speaking out against, killing animals like elephants and rhinos for their tusks -that sort of thing. Where I do think one royal has gone too far is when Prince William announced this week that he hopes to one day strip all the ivory out of Buckingham Palace, destroying about 1,200 pieces of ivory most of which have been given to British monarchs as gifts over the centuries to ‘set an example’ for world leaders. Please. This is just silly. Destroying a bunch of antiques will not save any animals, it will not bring any back to life. This sort of gesture reminds me of all the fuss made over Pope Francis choosing not to live in the Apostolic Palace. The place still has to be maintained so whether he lives there or not it is not saving any money or anything and if Prince William tosses all those ivory treasures it is not going to help any animals. The ones those pieces came from are all long dead and it’s not as though they were purchased in the first place, thus conceivably adding to the demand for them. It’s just silly. And in other news, the royals hosted celebrities for BAFTA and the Prince of Wales visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other places in the Middle East.

Across the North Sea, King Harald V of Norway opened a special celebration of the Norwegian constitution and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark went skiing in Sochi (very timely) but a busy week for the Swedish Royal Family was drowned out by news of the birth of a new addition as Princess Madeleine and husband Chris welcomed a new baby girl to their family. According to the father, the little one looks like her mother (thank God) and now the speculation turns to what the little girl will be named. So far, Desiree seems to be the popular favorite. The King and Queen had a typical busy week, as mentioned, but it seems not everyone has moved on from some of the less pleasant revelations from the recent past with a new poll showing that half of all Swedes want the King to abdicate in favor of Crown Princess Victoria. It is a good thing that Princess Madeleine had a daughter rather than a son as it seems male royals are just terribly out of fashion these days. Further down on the continent, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands spoke out on helping the poor and announced upcoming visits to Colombia and Peru. In Belgium the royals turned out for a mass in honor of the deceased members of the family and King Philip and Queen Mathilde were welcomed on an official visit to the Italian Republic. The big news in Belgium though was the announcement of the engagement of Prince Amedeo, son of Archduke Lorenz and Princess Astrid, to Miss Elisabetta Rosbach von Wolkenstein. We wish them all the best. In southern Europe, Princess Caroline of Hanover visited Genoa, the Spanish media continues to pour over the leaked details of Infanta Cristina’s testimony and at a consistory in Rome Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict were together again, the first time both have appeared together at a liturgical event.

On the Middle Eastern front, Jordanian Prince Mired and Princess Dina climbed mount Kilimanjaro in Africa to raise money for a cancer center while royals of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE all took their turns hosting visits from the Prince of Wales as mentioned earlier. The Emir of Qatar also held talks with the Emir of Kuwait to discuss regional and international issues of mutual concern. There was also quite a bit of outrage on the part of tourists in the Maldives when their plans were ruined by Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia when he booked three entire island resorts for himself. Many had long-standing reservations cancelled and were naturally quite upset about this. The Saudi government has not commented on it. And, to sprint over to northwest Africa for a moment, King Mohammed VI of Morocco visited Mali last week to support the on-going peace process there and (hopefully) gain greater influence than the reaching republican government of Algeria. Well-wishing people lined the streets shouting “Long live the King!” but, apparently, such a reception is not expected on another upcoming visit for the King of Morocco to the African republic of Guinea. There the governor of the capital warned people that anyone who caused trouble during the visit by the Moroccan King would say goodbye to their loved ones “for good”. This is mostly due to recent riots resulting from power cuts.

In East Asia, the King of Bhutan celebrated his birthday last week, congratulations to the Dragon King, and trouble continues to beset the Kingdom of Thailand. In this area (though far from uncommon) many media reports have given the wrong impression, speaking of people being killed and many people injured in the anti-government protests that have been going on around the country. The important thing to remember, which is not always told, is that in every one of these cases the deaths and injuries have been among the protestors and were caused by pro-government zealots who are afraid that the demonstrations might have an effect.  These protests are being carried out by people loyal to the King, who want a law and order society and for existing laws to be upheld. They have only been forced to take such actions as holding demonstrations and peaceful protests because of the policies of the government in, effectively, buying votes. Hopefully the Prime Minister will step down and life can return to normal in the “Land of Smiles”. And finally, moving north to the “Land of the Rising Sun”, HM the Empress attended a special charity concert in Tokyo last week and HM the Emperor met with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, all in all, a fairly routine week.

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