Monday, June 2, 2014
Royal News Roundup
On the continent, the King and Queen of The Netherlands paid a visit to their neighbors in Germany while in Luxembourg, Princess Stephanie threw her support behind a science lab for teenagers (I wonder if they will dissect any?) but some more interesting news came out of Belgium. In spite of his own preferences I am sure, King Philip has been obliged to have Bart De Wever over to the palace to talk about forming a government. De Wever is the leader of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) which is a Flemish nationalist party that advocates for the secession of Flanders and thus the break-up of the Kingdom of Belgium (though their ardently professed Flemish nationalism does not stop them from being very pro-European Union). As the Belgian monarch is bound to keep Belgium together and the N-VA is committed to ending it, this has obviously meant that the King has been extremely reluctant to deal with them. However, their support in Flanders has steadily increased and while the Walloon population remains more politically divided than their Dutch-speaking neighbors, the electoral weight of the N-VA has become increasingly impossible to ignore, forcing King Philip into a rather uncomfortable position. In this anniversary year of the start of the Great War, Belgians would do well to remember how much their ancestors have sacrificed to preserve the Kingdom of Belgium and adamantly oppose those who wish to tear it apart.
Further south, HM King Juan Carlos met with journalists and HRH Infanta Elena cut a colorful figure at the Press Association bullfight at the Las Ventas Bullring in Madrid. Pope Francis made a splash with his visit to the Middle East where he met with the Jordanian Royal Family and later with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. It marked the fiftieth anniversary of the meeting of Pope Paul and Patriarch Athenagoras. In a joint statement the Pope and Patriarch spoke of being on a journey toward reunion and full communion as well as expressing concern for the Christian community in the Middle East. However, the biggest, happiest news from the royals of the Mediterranean area was the official announcement from the Princely Palace that HSH Princess Charlene of Monaco is with child and expected to be delivered by the end of the year. This is the first pregnancy by a Princess consort of Monaco since Princess Grace was carrying Princess Stephanie. The hope for the continuance of the Grimaldi-Polignac line shines anew and it will be very good to hear the guns of Fort Antoine firing again. Congratulations to the Sovereign Prince and expecting Princess.
In Asian royal news, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great of Thailand officially gave his sanction to the military authorities who recently declared martial law and assumed responsibility for running the country. There is now no question as to who is in charge or who should be. Recently, one of the military leaders said that it could take a year to bring the two feuding sides together and that there will be no elections until then. Many, mostly outside of Thailand, have expressed shock at this, but having one year without elections would not seem like the absolute worst thing that could have happened. There was sad news in neighboring Malaysia with the passing of the Sultan of Perak, Azlan Shah, at the age of 86 at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur. The following day, just before the funeral, his son, the Raja Muda Dr. Nazrin Shah (age 58) was proclaimed the new Sultan of Perak. And, in Japan, the Imperial Household Agency officially announced the engagement of HIH Princess Noriko of Takamado. The 25-year-old princess will be married to 40-year-old Kunimaro Senge, one of the chief priests of Izumo Taisha grand shrine in Shimane Prefecture where there future wedding ceremony will be held. That will take place sometime this fall according to the Imperial Household Agency. Of course, as per the rules, the Princess will lose her imperial status because of her marriage to a commoner. We wish Her Imperial Highness every happiness in her married life.