Thursday, May 28, 2009

Prince Philippe at Soyuz Launch

Belgian Crown Prince, HRH Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant, travelled on Wednesday to the Kazach steppes, to Star City Baikonur, where he attended the launch of the Soyuz, on a landmark mission that will double the crew of the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA-15 craft carrying Russian Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne soared into the hot afternoon skies over Kazakhstan's northern steppe on a two-day journey to the orbiting station. The three will join the three crew members already on board the ISS, giving the station six permanent members for the first time.

Prince Philippe attended the very last meeting of the astronauts with the press, family and friends. He told De Winne that the whole of Belgium was with him in thoughts, and his 6-month stay at the ISS would be followed from down below. Frank De Winne, a General in the Belgian Air Force, thanked the Prince, not only for his kind words and his coming to Kazakhstan, but also for his support to space travel in general.

After that, scores of journalists, relatives and Prince Philippe, watched from a viewing stand a mile (1.5 kilometers) away, applauding as the rocket roared into the sky.

"This is very important for Belgium. De Winne represents Europe and he represents Belgium. He represents international collaboration for peaceful application of science", the Prince said.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Prince Albert in a charity football match

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco played on May 19 in a charity football match for AMADE Monaco (Association Mondiale des Amis de l'Enfance, World Association of Children's Friends), a foundation that helps children from around the world by developing infrastructure and has special ties to the Monaco ruling family, as it was first organized by Princess Grace. Princess Caroline currently heads the organization but was unable to attend the event.

The AMADE football match is an annual event that is played against current Formula 1 drivers with the opposition coming from past F1 drivers and other celebrities. The match always occurs in the week of the Monaco Grand Prix and is played at the Stade Louis II in Monaco.

This year, playing on the Formula 1 'Nazionale Piloti team' were Formula 1 drivers such as Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Giancarlo Fisichella, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel and Giorgio Pantano. Some of the players on the Star team were HSH Prince Albert II, Riccardo Patrese, Max Biaggi, Troy Corser, Alex Caffi and Marco Simone. Both teams were cheered on the sidelines by Monaco’s Princess Stephanie.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Advantages of Constitutional Monarchy

Alastair Endersby has twice coached England teams in the World Schools Debating Championships. He currently teaches History and Politics at Bishop Wordsworth's School in Salisbury, England. He is the Editor of Debatabase.

Constitutional monarchy is a very effective political system. A hereditary Head of State acts as an important element of continuity within a democratic system. The real powers (as opposed to purely theoretical ones – no British ruler has actually vetoed an Act of Parliament since c1720) of European monarchs are negligible. But as unelected figures above the political conflicts of the day, they retain an important symbolic role as a focus for national unity (very important in Belgium, for example). In Britain their right “to advise, encourage and warn” the Prime Minister of the day has acted as a check against overly radical policies, in Spain King Juan Carlos actually faced down a military coup in the 1980s.

Monarchy acts as a guardian of a nation’s heritage, a living reminder of the events and personalities that have shaped it. As such it is a powerful focus for loyalty and a source of strength in times of crisis, for example World War II, and a reminder of enduring values and traditions. Separating the positions of Head of State and Head of Government also makes great practical sense; the monarchy undertakes much of the ceremonial work at home and abroad, leaving the Prime Minister free to focus more effectively upon governing.

Monarchy is highly cost-effective when compared to the expense of maintaining a Presidency with a large staff and equally stringent security requirements. Royal residences are held in trust for the nation, and would require the same upkeep costs whether they were inhabited by a monarch or not. Instead monarchy more than pays its way through its generation of tourist revenue as millions visit sites associated with royalty, and through its role in promoting trade and industry abroad on royal visits.

Monarchy is preferable to the alternative; an elected Presidency. It avoids the partisan nature of a Presidency, inevitably associated with one of the political parties, and thus incapable of uniting the nation as monarchy can. In all countries public trust of politicians is sinking to new lows, another reason why an elected Presidency fails to provide a focus for national feeling. Constitutional monarchy is also a more effective system of government, vesting real power clearly in the hands of democratically accountable leaders with a mandate to govern, without all the dangers of political gridlock that can result from conflict between two differently elected bodies (e.g. in the USA or France).

Monarchy can lead public opinion. Although above party politics, modern monarchs have proved able to raise important and sometimes unpopular issues that would otherwise have been ignored. For example, in the U.K. Prince Charles has legitimised discussion of environmental issues and stimulated a lively debate about the purpose of architecture, while Princess Diana’s work with Aids sufferers helped shift public opinion.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Princess Haya attends UN Conference

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched a report on „2009 UN Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction“ on May 17, 2009 in Bahrain’s capital, Manama.

Speaking at the launch of the report was UN Goodwill Ambassador for the World Health Programme, HRH Princess Haya bint al-Hussein of Jordan (wife of Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai) who emphasised that disasters are added to the present challenges faced such as poverty, education, health, and famine. „It’s hard to motivate political leaders to focus on preventive measures to face possible disasters, because politically it’s difficult under the normal circumstances to convince the people of the benefits of such investments to face things which might not take place,” she said.

The report calls for a shift in thinking to reduce disaster risks and to adapt to climate change in order to reduce poverty. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to all nations to bolster efforts to curb disaster risk, stressing that decisive action taken now can be „one of the best investments countries can make.“

Princesses at UNESCO gathering

Her Royal Highness The Princess of Hanover (Princess Caroline of Monaco) was in Paris on May 14 to preside over the annual gathering of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The Annual Meeting, convened by the Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, brings together a large number of international personalities, from the worlds of art, film, music, literature, charity and public affairs.

Princess Caroline has been a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 2003 and uses her role in the forum to promote education and training for young women.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations established on 16 November 1945. Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.

Also participating at the Goodwill Ambassadors gathering were HRH Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco (sister of King Mohammed VI) and HRH Princess Firyal of Jordan (sister-in-law of the late King Hussein). Princess Lalla Meryem seeks to promote the UN body activities in zones stricken by post-conflicts and natural disasters. Speaking at the Annual Meeting she said: “My country’s commitment in this regard is as strong as its attachment to peacekeeping operations, in which it has been actively involved for almost 50 years.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Crown Prince Haakon joins opening of "Hydrogen Highway"

HRH Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway joined the first stage of the EVS Viking Rally, from Oslo to Lier, together with internationally renowned racing car driver Henning Solberg.

The Norwegian "hydrogen highway", HyNor, was officially opened by Norwegian Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete on Monday 11 May, at StatoilHydro's new hydrogen station in Oslo.

The EVS Viking Rally 2009 is an international rally for hydrogen cars, electric cars and plug in-hybrid cars.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Belgrade, Sunday, May 10, 2009

A meeting took place at the Royal Palace in Belgrade between Mr. Dragomir Acović and Mr. Dušan Babac, the members of the Privy Council, and Mr. Veljko Suzić and Mrs. Dobrinka Golubović who informed the Privy Council about the current projects of the Royal Historical Society and Rotary Club Sombor. Also present at the meeting was Mr. Gavrilo Došen, chairman of the Monarchist Initiative. Particular emphasize was put on the project Sombor Salash Cluster, which aims at revitalization of small and medium farms, and is supported by the TAM program of the EBRD. Mr. Acović pointed up the willingness to assist these projects.

Mr. Sima Jančić, member of the Royal Historical Society (RHS), presented the archive of the Royal Palace with copies of his family archive documents related to the Royal Family, and gave HRH Crown Prince Alexander a copy of his book „Window of an Architect“ as a personal gift.

Mr. Branko Milešević, RHS member, took photographs of the Royal Compound in Dedinje, some of which are going to be exhibited during the „Museum Night“ manifestation in Sombor.

Mr. Acović and Mr. Babac were introduced to the members and friends of the RHS and Rotary Club Sombor. Mr. Acović pointed out that Sombor is one of the towns in Serbia and Vojvodina where different cultures and traditions meet, and where the idea that one’s own identity can be preserved within the community that shares the same present and future.

For the Royal Historical Society
Mladen Bulut, spokesperson

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Freedom wears a Crown

Most people would reflexively ridicule the notion that we were freer when kings sat all-powerful on their thrones, but not so Mark Steyn („Regulatory Despotism“, published in his blog):

Two centuries ago, de Tocqueville wrote:
„There was a time in Europe in which the law, as well as the consent of the people, clothed kings with a power almost without limits. But almost never did it happen that they made use of it.“

True. The king was an absolute tyrant — in theory. But in practice he was in his palace hundreds of miles away, and for the most part you got on with your life relatively undisturbed. As de Tocqueville wrote:

„Although the entire government of the empire was concentrated in the hands of the emperor alone, and although he remained, in time of need, the arbiter of all things, the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.“

But what would happen, he wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to make it possible „to subject all of his subjects to the details of a uniform set of regulations“? That moment has now arrived in much of the western world, including America... — and the machinery of bureaucracy barely pauses to scoff: In an age of mass communication and computer records, the screen blips for the merest nano-second, and your gun rights disappear. The remorseless, incremental annexation of „individual existence“ by technologically all-pervasive micro-regulation is a profound threat to free peoples. But do we have the will to resist it?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pope in Jordan

Pope Benedict XVI began his first trip to the Middle East on Friday, expressing his deep respect for Islam and hopes that the Catholic Church would be a force for peace in the region.

The pope was given a red-carpet welcome at the airport by Jordan's King Abdullah II and Queen Rania and praised the moderate Arab country as a leader in efforts to promote peace and dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

„My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam“, Benedict said shortly after landing in Jordan.

He said Jordan was in the forefront of efforts to promote peace, inter-religious dialogue and to curb extremism. Later at a Catholic center for the handicapped, he said his only agenda was to bring hope and prayers „for the precious gift of unity and peace, most specifically for the Middle East.“

Jordan's king praised the pope and said the world must reject „ambitious ideologies of division“. „We welcome your commitment to dispel the misconceptions and divisions that have harmed relations between Christians and Muslims“, said Abdullah.

Christians make up 3 percent of Jordan's 5.8 million people. Benedict's three-day stay in Jordan is his first visit to an Arab country as pope.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The New Prince of Denmark

Balloons and flags bobbed cheerfully over the entrance to Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, as Denmark's newest little prince was presented to the public by his overjoyed parents Princess Marie and her husband Prince Joachim, the younger son of Queen Margrethe II.

Cradled in his mother's arms, the tiny royal - who's seventh in line to the throne - snoozed peacefully through the photocall, blissfully unaware of all the excitement his arrival has generated.

Most of the attention was naturally focused on the little cutie, but onlookers were obviously anxious to know how Marie, a first-time mum, was feeling. She certainly was looking radiant - indeed, some commented that Joachim was looking more exhuasted than she!

The French-born royal waved happily to the crowd and answered questions in Danish, which she's been learning since her wedding last summer. She said that her son's name is a secret for the moment and that he will be bilingual.

Her proud husband Joachim - father to two boys from his previous marriage - then drove mother and child to Amalienborg Palace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Royal memories in the heart of Europe

Adam Zamoyski

When the communists took power in Poland in the wake of the Second World War, they were desperate for any shred of legitimacy. As a result, they reached back to the tenth century and to Poland's first royal dynasty, the Piasts, for a sense of homeland and nationhood around which to build their new People's Republic.

This is hardly surprising. Poland had been created and put on the map of Christendom by the Piasts in the year 966. The kingdom fragmented several times, and might have been sucked into Bohemia or one of the German states had it not been for this energetic dynasty. Under the last Piast, Kazimierz the Great (1333-1370), the country flourished as never before and rarely since.

At this point, Poland became part of a dynastic union under the Lithuanian Jagiellons, which more than doubled the size of the kingdom and extended its power correspondingly. But when the Jagiellon dynasty died out two centuries later, the Poles were obliged to start electing their kings.

This elective monarchy, which lasted from 1572-1795, was in effect a presidential system. It had its advantages, but these were far outweighed by the negative consequences. It did not provide the continuity and stability which were essential in view of Poland's multi-ethnic and multi-religious makeup, as well as its far-reaching civil liberties. Most of the kings did no more than wield power while they had it, and few even thought of investing time and funds in long-term enterprises or improvements. Poland declined into a state of political impotence.

In a last-ditch attempt to save the state, a group of enlightened aristocrats and patriots passed a new liberal constitution in 1791, which was universally hailed as a great fruit of the Enlightenment. This was based on a return to a stronger, constitutionally-framed hereditary monarchy on the English model. Fearing a Polish resurgence, Russia, Prussia and Austria sent in their troops and partitioned Poland's territory amongst themselves.

Had they allowed that constitution to stand, there can be no doubt that in the nineteenth century Poland would have become an outpost of liberalism and economic progress in Central Europe. This would have made it impossible for Tsarist Russia to resist reform, and probably would have meant that Prussia would never have gained the ascendancy in Germany that she did. The history of that whole area, and therefore of the world, would have been entirely different.

Between memory and longing

The Poles are not naturally deferential. They have always shown aggressively egalitarian instincts. Quite apart from the fact that there are no likely candidates, there could be no question of establishing a monarchy in Poland today. But they still think of their country and its past largely in terms of those who reigned over them. Periods and styles are defined by individual rulers, kings and queens figure prominently among national heroes and are used to brand drinks and cigarettes. The royal mausoleum in Krakow is massively visited. And when the old communist currency was finally replaced in the 1990s, only kings appeared on the notes.

More to the point, most Poles realise that the decline in national cohesion and stability which led to the partitions and all the subsequent disasters was the direct result of a lack of strong monarchical power, and not a few look wistfully at the English model.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Arguments for the Kingdom of Serbia (9)

Philip McCray

The statement about the possibility of a sudden dictatorship taking hold is a very valid one. Serbia's political environment is simple too unstable with the nationalist conflicts which simply won't go away. A monarch who is respected by the majority can be a strong aid to democracy. While Monarchs originally stood as the bars against democracy now, more often than not, Western Monarchs are the guardians of democracy.

Take for instance King Juan Carlos of Spain. He is not only credited with making the transition from Francoism to Democracy a smooth one but his speech on the night of the 1981 coup is seen as what truly ended it and restored Spain back to calm. I firmly believe the HRH the Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadordevic would do the same. He is a man of strong, fine character and a very vocal proponent of democracy. His role as Head of State would allow him to act as a Steward of Democracy in Serbia, protecting it from those who would do it harm by unifying his people under one symbol, one Sovereign who would lead his people in the direction of peace and prosperity and away from chaos and its war torn past.

Let him be the beginning of a new era for Serbia. Let Serbia's century of violence come to a close by restoring what was lost when it started. Allow the Karadordevic Dynasty to be the alpha and the omega of Serbian chaos. They were there before the decent into chaos, let them be there to lead them out of it and into a brilliant new future!

God Save Serbia and God Save Her King!

May His Reign Come Soon and Long May He Reign!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Big Question

The Big Question: What is the extent of European royalty, and does it still have a role?

By Paul Vallely

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Why are we asking this now?

Because Holland is seized with rumours that its monarch is about to abdicate. This week Queen Beatrix will celebrate her 71st birthday – which is the age at which her own mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated. The Dutch crown prince Willem-Alexander, who has a day job as an expert in water management, became 42 on Monday, the same age his mother was when she ascended the throne in 1980. Abdication is a well-established tradition among the Dutch royal family.

How many monarchies are left in Europe?

Ten, in Belgium, Britain, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Spain and Sweden, with the principalities of Liechtenstein and Monaco and the Grand Duchy Luxembourg included. Technically speaking the Vatican City is also a monarchy. The official definition of a royal family includes any ruling a sovereign country at the Congress of Vienna of 1815, even if the country is now a republic or ceased to exist. There are 21 royal families without a country to reign over.

Do any of them still exercise power?

Not in the sense that monarchies do in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait where royals routinely hold key government jobs. But not all are purely ceremonial like the King of Sweden whose responsibilities don't go much beyond cutting ribbons and waiving to crowds. Some have a potency, if not a power. The royal family in many countries are seen as intangibly important to national identity.

In Holland the royal family is an important talisman of Dutchness at a time when the Netherlands is struggling with its national identity. It is particularly popular with ethnic minorities who like the wife of the heir to the throne, Princess Máxima. She herself is a recent immigrant and she does public works on issues of integration and the inclusion of women. But some European monarchies still have considerable political influence.

Which is the most powerful?

In Holland the Queen chairs the council of state which scrutinises government legislation before it is put to parliament. She also appoints the formateur, the politician whose job it is to form a coalition government after general elections. She holds weekly meetings with the prime minister. Queen Beatrix wields more power than most of Europe's reigning monarchs, especially in international relations; she once threatened to dismiss a cabinet minister if he turned down her request to open a Dutch embassy in Jordan.

In Belgium the King of the Belgians (he is named for his people not their territory) is a constitutional monarch who accedes to the throne, not upon the death of his predecessor, but on taking a constitutional oath. He too has power in the formation of the government. He meets with the prime minister at least once a week, and regularly summons other ministers and opposition leaders to the palace. He has the right, like the British monarch, to advise on government policies.

The Belgian King is above the law. He cannot be prosecuted, arrested or convicted, nor can he be summoned before a civil court or parliament, though he could be brought to book at the International Criminal Court under European law.

Are these monarchies modernising?

Slowly, in both style and law. The Dutch have had bicycling royals for decades. Queen Juliana routinely left behind her gilded palace to drop in, unannounced, on schools and other institutions near her home. During Holland's worst storm in 500 years, dressed in boots and an old coat, Queen Juliana waded through water and deep mud to bring food and clothing to her devastated subjects. But her daughter, Beatrix, has been more formal in her time as Queen.

Several monarchies – including Norway, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark – have changed their old Salic laws of succession to allow their monarchs' daughters to succeed on equal terms with their sons.

Will they survive?

Quite probably. In Holland, for example, a majority of parliamentarians, on paper, want to limit the power of the royal family. But with the monarchy currently boasting a 85 percent approval few politicians want to take the risk of raising the subject with voters.

There seems little appetite for change elsewhere. But royal families know they are vulnerable to the volatility of public opinion, particularly when scandals rear their head. The present popularity of the Dutch royal family stands in contrast to the position in 1976 when it was revealed that the Queen's husband, Prince Bernhard had accepted a $1m bribe from the aircraft manufacturer Lockheed to influence the government's purchase of fighter aircraft. The prince was forced to resign as an admiral, general and as Inspector General of the Armed Forces. But the monarchy survived.

What are those who have been ejected from power doing now?

Some, like the King of Greece, retain in exile their pretensions of royalty. Constantine II, who fled to Rome when a group of Greek colonels toppled the elected government in 1967 was declared deposed and he did not return even after the junta fell in 1974. He and his wife and children, who now live in London, are still invited to functions by reigning royals many of whom are related to him, thanks to the propensity of his forebears for keeping marriages within the European royal family.

Others keep their head down for different reasons. The Liechtenstein dynasty runs a bank which the US Senate's subcommittee on tax havens has described as "an aider and abettor to clients trying to evade taxes, dodge creditors or defy court orders". The son of the former King of Italy has been working as a hedge fund manager in Geneva.

Could these royals ever return?

The hedge fund manager had lawyers write to the Italian government a couple of years ago seeking damages for his years in exile and demanding the return of the Quirinale palace in Rome. The government threatened a counter-suit for damages arising out of the royal family's collusion with Mussolini. King Michael I of Romania, who was forced by the Communists to abdicate in 1947, became a commercial pilot and worked for an aircraft equipment company. After the fall of Communism he declared: "If the people want me to come back, of course, I will come back".

Three years later, when he returned to the country to celebrate Easter, a million people turned out to see him. The new government promptly banned him again. A poll in 2007 showed that only 14 per cent of Romanians were in favour of the restoration of the monarchy. A year on, however, the figure had risen by two per cent.

It will take a long time before the figure rises to the 85 per cent rating of the royal family in Holland. And, no doubt, the Romanian government will do all it can to restrain the notion. But it shows that, for all its failings, the attraction of royalty is far from dead.

Is monarchy on the Continent on the way out?

* Three-quarters of European countries, 35 in total, have now waved goodbye to their royal families.
* There are 21 royal families without a country to reign over; the rest have died out.
* Many parliamentarians want further curbs on the powers of constitutional monarchs.

* Royal families are still seen as embodying something important about national identity.
* Royals are changing their behaviour, and their laws, to match the changes among their people.
* The monarchy gets approval ratings as high as 85 per cent among many voters fed up with their politicians.