Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January saw another royal visit to Melbourne

Thanks to a francophone website, the RadicalRoyalist learned of a visit of HRH The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO to Melbourne.

The visit was mentioned on Government House's vice regal notes:

Friday, 27th January 2012
HRH The Duke of Kent KG GCMG GCVO, arrived to stay at Government House. The Governor, Alex Chernov AC QC, received HRH The Duke of Kent.

The Governor and Mrs Chernov dined with HRH The Duke of Kent

Monday, 30th January 2012

HRH The Duke of Kent departed Government House.

He came to Melbourne in his capacity as Patron of the Royal Institute of Australia, as President of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, home of the Wimbledon tennis championships, and as President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The Duke has been involved in the development and communication of science and innovation over a long period, both as President of the UK’s oldest centre of science communication The Royal Institution and in supporting innovation in particular its contribution to economic growth. There have been a number of examples of recent joint success in both Great Britain and Victoria, notably in Melbourne.

At a lunch, organised by the Australian British Chamber of Commerce, His Royal Highness gave a talk on his experience in science communication and innovation.

This royal visit escaped our attention since The Age stopped publishing vice-regal notes last April. When questioned on the reasons for the discontinued publication this reply was sent:
In all honesty, I don't know why we no longer publish vice-regal. I would assume it's do with the limited space in the paper, as opposed to the unlimited space available on the internet, but that's just an educated guess. I will, however, ask around, and if anyone can tell me definitively I'll let you know.

A second mail never arrived.
A Portuguese Infanta's 100th birthday

She is living history: Infanta Dona Maria Adelaide de Bragança van Uden was born on 31st January 1912 as the youngest daughter of [King] Miguel (II), Duke of Bragança and Princess Maria Theresa of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, France, and is the last surviving granddaughter of a Portuguese monarch, King Miguel I of Portugal and his wife Princess Adelaide of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. Her godparents were King Manuel II, the last reigning King of Portugal, and his mother, Queen Amélia of Portugal, née Princess of France of the House of Bourbon-Orléans.

Dona Maria Adelaide's siblings were Dona Isabel Maria of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1894–1970) who married Franz Joseph, 9th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, Dona Maria Benedita of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1896–1971), Dona Mafalda of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1898–1918), Dona Maria Anna of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1899–1971) who married Karl August, 10th Prince of Thurn and Taxis, Dona Maria Antónia of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1903–1973), Dona Filippa Maria of Bragança, Infanta of Portugal (1905–1990) and Dom Duarte Nuno, Duke of Bragança (1907–1976), father of the current head of the Portuguese Royal Family, Dom Duarte Pio.

Infanta Maria Adelaide is a cousin (among others) of Princess Elisabeth Amalia of Liechtenstein, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, grandmother of the present King of the Belgians, Albert II, Crown Princess Marie Gabrielle of Bavaria, Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde of Luxembourg, Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg, Crown Princess Antoinette of Bavaria, Duke Xavier of Parma and not to forget: Empress Zita of Austria, crowned Queen of Hungary.

She was educated in the Sacré Coeur College in Riedenburg, Austria, married in Vienna, 13th October 1945, Dr. Nicolaas van Uden (Venlo, 5th March 1921 – Lisbon, 5th February 1991) a medical biochemist and a great scientific authority in the field of yeast development.

Infanta Maria Adelaide lived in Vienna, Austria, working as a nurse and social assistant. During World War II, when there were bombardments, she was travelled at night to the place to provide aid to the victims. She was part of the Nazi resistance movement, caught by the Gestapo and sentenced to death. Portugal's dictator António de Oliveira Salazar intervened with the Germans, claiming that Infanta Maria Adelaide was a "national heritage". The intervention of the Portuguese diplomacy resulted in the release and her immediate deportation, which settled in Switzerland. It was there that her brother Dom Duarte Nuno, Duke of Bragança, and sister-in-law Dona Maria Francisca , Duchess of Bragança, lived. After the war, the family finally returned in Austria. In 1949, Dona Maria Adelaide could return to her ancestors' home country, Portugal.

According to the official succession list Infanta Maria Adelaide is 6th in line to the Portuguese throne.

The blog Família Real Portuguesa, always a valuable source of information, published today’s programme for Her Royal Highness’ birthday celebrations.

Feliz aniversário, Sua Alteza Real!

Monday, 30 January 2012

King Abdullah II of Jordan turns 50 today

His Majesty King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein, The King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, celebrates his 50th birthday this 30th January.

The following biography is from the King's official website and gives the best insight into his life:

The 41st-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), His Majesty King Abdullah II assumed his constitutional powers as monarch on 7th February 1999.

Following the leadership legacy of his father, the late
King Hussein, King Abdullah has made the welfare of Jordan’s people the cornerstone of his policies for national development, regional peace and global coexistence. The King’s special concern for the future of Jordan’s young people has put youth engagement, education and opportunity at the top of his agenda. At home, he has paired economic reforms with political liberalisation and an innovative program of national development. He has overseen sweeping educational reforms, which today are energising Jordan's private sector and preparing Jordan's youth for global competitiveness and leadership.

To provide real solutions to Jordan’s pressing economic needs,
King Abdullah ushered in a new era of structural reform and modernisation, integration with the world economy and globalisation. The King has worked to bring together the public and private sectors – both domestic and global – through large-scale joint initiatives aimed at meeting the urgent challenges of job creation, opportunity for Jordan's young population and poverty alleviation. King Abdullah personally championed Jordan's accession to the World Trade Organisation, presided over Jordan’s becoming the first Arab country to sign a free trade agreement with the United States and has forged new bilateral and multilateral economic alliances with countries from Asia to Latin America.

In diplomatic affairs,
King Abdullah has been the voice of Jordan’s progressive policies to expand global justice and cooperation. Taking up the historical role of the Hashemite Family, he has championed the rights, achievements and values of Muslims worldwide. In 2004, he worked with leading Islamic scholars to release the Amman Message, reaching a global audience with Islam's guiding principles of peace, tolerance and dialogue among faiths.

In the footsteps of the late
King Hussein, King Abdullah renewed a firm commitment to peace in the region on the basis of the two-state solution and the establishment of a viable, independent and geographically contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, living in peace alongside Israel, in accordance with UN resolutions and the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

King Abdullah is the eldest son of His Majesty King Hussein Bin Talal (1935-1999) and Her Royal Highness Princess Muna Al Hussein. Born in Amman on 30th January 1962, he is the namesake of King Abdullah I, his great-grandfather, the founder of modern Jordan.

King Abdullah began his education at the Islamic Educational College in Amman. He later attended St. Edmund's School in Surrey, England, and concluded his high school education at Deerfield Academy in the United States. Later, he pursued advanced studies at Pembroke College, Oxford, and Georgetown University.

The young prince was a man of action on the athletic field and the training ground. In 1980, he enrolled in the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst (UK) and was commissioned as second lieutenant in 1981. He served in the British Army in the 13/18th Royal Hussars Regiment, with duties as a reconnaissance troop leader in the United Kingdom and Germany.

In 1985, then-
Prince Abdullah returned to Jordan to serve in the armed forces (Armoured Corps, 3rd Division). Rising through the ranks to lieutenant-colonel, he attended advanced military courses in both Jordan and the UK. Among other duties, he served on attachment to the Special Forces and qualified as a Cobra attack helicopter pilot. After service as commander of the 2nd Armoured Battalion, 40th Armoured Brigade, he was named deputy commander, Jordanian Special Forces, in January 1993.

In November 1993,
Prince Abdullah became commander of Jordan's Special Forces. In 1996, he was given the task of reorganising the Special Forces and other elite units into the new Special Operations Command (SOCOM). In 1998, as SOCOM commander, he was promoted to the rank of major general.

In his off-duty hours, the Prince became well known for his interest in land, sea and air sports, including free-fall parachuting. He shared his father's passion for cars and motorcycles and became a Jordan National Rally champion. Today, he continues to enjoy aquatic sports, including boating and scuba diving. During his time in the military,
King Abdullah also developed an interest in ancient weapons and today, he maintains a world-class collection of military artefacts.

King Abdullah’s service in the army was always a source of personal pride and his respect for those who serve their nation has been a conspicuous quality of his leadership. Today, the King describes Jordan's armed forces as the “foremost symbol of honour, bravery, sacrifice and belonging."

During his years as an army officer, then-
Prince Abdullah was regularly dispatched on official diplomatic and military missions. He also frequently served his country in the capacity of regent in King Hussein's absence.

In 1993, then-
Prince Abdullah met Rania Al-Yassin. Six months later, the couple were engaged and they married on 10th June 1993. As a princess, Queen Rania began the powerful social work and advocacy which she continues to this day. The Royal Couple's first child, Prince Hussein, the Crown Prince, was born on 28th June 1994. Since then, they have had three more children: Princess Iman (27th September 1996); Princess Salma (26th September 2000); and Prince Hashem (30th January 2005).

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Rob Hulls resigns from politics - and about time, too

The Deputy Opposition Leader in the Victorian Parliament, Rob Hulls, today announced his resignation after more than 15 years in State Parliament. He served in Her Majesty's Victorian governments as attorney-general and has been in the position of Deputy Opposition Leader and education spokesman since Labor lost power in November 2010.

As fierce republican he did everything to damage the position of the Monarchy in Victoria and beyond. See:

- The Crown vs. The DPP

- Creeping republicanism

- "Rabid Monarchists"

- "The proposition by Mr Hulls is an affront in itself"

His retirement (to a lucrative position on a bank board like other ex-politicians?) is more than welcome news.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Portuguese President demands more money despite cuts for everybody else

Ignored by the international media, a scandal has erupted in Portugal caused by the stubborn greed of Anibal Cavaco Silva, the Portuguese republic’s president. He had chosen the first anniversary of his re-election to complain about his impoverished living conditions.

While the debt crisis hit Portugal hard, the country’s governments (a Socialist one until 5th June 2011, after the its election defeat a coalition of Social Democrats [PDS] and Christian Democrats [CDS-PP]) are taking tough austerity measures to minimize the budget deficit. Amongst other measures the Socialist government decided that public servants cannot receive a salary and a pension at the same time. Under the new law Mr. Cavaco Silva renounced his presidential salary of €6523.93. As a former bank manager and university professor he is already entitled to a pension of €10,042.00 a month. On the anniversary of his election he complained that he cannot have a decent life with just €141,000 a year, in his case there is no scrapping of the 13th and 14th monthly holiday and Christmas payments.

A new member of the Occupy Movement: Anibal Cavaco Silva can't live on €10,042 a month.

His public outburst into a TV camera was not well received since the average Portuguese pensioner who lives on €600 a month and does no longer benefit from the once usual 13th and 14th payment. Price hikes on public transport, salary cuts for public servants and other austerity measures do not bother Mr. Cavaco Silva: He insists on a proper pension for himself and his wife, otherwise he would not be able to keep his standard of living.

The outrage is widespread and internet activists not only call for his resignation (Sr. Professor Cavaco, demita-se), but petitions can be signed to force Mr. Cavaco Silva out of office. Petição Pedido de Demissão do Presidente da República . Protesters gathered outside Portugal’s presidential palace to donate money and food to the head of state.

The best comment was already made last year. On 2nd March 2011 Dom Duarte Pio, heir to the Portuguese Crown, commented on the high abstention rate at the presidential elections: 60 percent of the Portuguese no longer care about the presidency. (Jornal de Notícias: O chefe da Casa Real Portuguesa, Duarte Pio de Bragança, defende que a elevada abstenção nas últimas eleições presidenciais significa que a Presidência da República, 'aparentemente, já não merece consideração da parte da maioria dos portugueses'.") But perhaps they do care about how much he is paid.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Beware if you dance with Wulff

The German president Christan Wulff has been in trouble since mid-December 2011. He did not help his cause by sacking his spokesman without naming any reason on 22nd December. Before the sudden disappearance of Olaf Glaeseker, Christian Wulff had called him “my factotum” and even said “we are like Siamese twins” and "he is my alter ego".

How embarrassing this must be for Wulff to be confronted with this news footage, after Olaf Glaeseker’s office was raided last Thursday, 19th January. He is suspected of corruption and bribery. The offices of event manager Manfred Schmidt, who worked closely with the Wulff's office, when he was still Premier of Lower Saxony, were also searched.

Spiegel.de reports:
Both media reports and official investigations have led to suspicions that Glaeseker had improperly funded a series of conferences called "North-South Dialogue," which Schmidt had organized. The series took place between 2007 and 2009 and were sponsored by Wulff and then-Baden Württemberg Premier Günther Oettinger. In December SPIEGEL reported on allegations that Schmidt earned several hundred thousand Euros that had been provided by business sponsors at a single 2009 event.

In return, it is thought that Schmidt made his holiday home available for free to
Glaeseker and his wife for three vacations. At the time, Glaeseker was the government spokesman for Lower Saxony and, as a state official, was not allowed to accept such expensive gifts.
State prosecutors in Lower Saxony say that Wulff is not currently a target of any investigation.

HIH Prince Georg Friedrich at Bellevue Palace
Meanwhile at Bellevue Palace, presently occupied by Christian Wulff, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia had been seen last Monday, 16th January. However, the hope that Wulff was preparing a hand-over of the highest office in Germany to the Hohenzollern Prince, are premature. Wulff isn't ready yet to resign. Instead His Imperial Highness, his wife, HIH Princess Sophie of Prussia and twenty other guests dined at Bellevue Palace. Christian Wulff had invited the heir to the German Crown because after last year's 950 anniversary of the House of Hohenzollern, Germany commemorates this year the 300th anniversary of the birth of King Frederik II of Prussia.

Considering the scandals in which the republican head of Germany is involved, this is certainly a good time to reflect on the advantages of a Monarchy or have read that the Queen had to go to a TV studio to apologise for lies and mistakes? The politicians' president cannot shake of his political past which is plastered with helpful friends and financiers.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Exhibition of the Art of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

On 28th January 2012 Copenhagen's Museum of modern Art - ARKEN - opens the doors to the exhibition THE ESSENCE OF COLOUR – The Art of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. This is the biggest exhibition hitherto of the Queen’s art, where the public can follow her artistic development over the past 35 years. Over 130 acrylic paintings, water-colours and découpages are presented – including a series of brand new works that have never before been shown to the public.

The exhibition offers unique insight into the artist Margrethe II. We meet an open, vulnerable, searching human being who is able to convert her reflections on the fundamental existential conditions of human life into simple, lucid art,” says the director of ARKEN, Christian Gether, of The Essence of Colour.

In 1969 the Danish Queen read Tolkien’s epic fantasy, which inspired among other things the series of water-colours Landscapes for Lost Legends. Since then, nature has been a central theme in the Queen’s art. “It is not only charming, it is also vast and frightening – and most fascinating of all when it is vast and frightening,” explains the Queen in conversation with Christian Gether about her sombre, depopulated landscapes. This is a mythical universe where the intensity, depth and atmosphere of the subject are created by colours. At the same time the tones in the Queen’s water-colours and paintings express emotions beyond the reach of words. The Queen herself says to Christian Gether: “For me it is always the colour, first and foremost.”

Humour as an artistic ploy
The Queen’s works reflect a special relationship with history and the present. This is most clearly seen in the découpages; incredible compositions of cuttings from art periodicals and art sale catalogues, teeming with references to the history of style and architectural details that create a setting for a burlesque sense of humour. The découpages have been used among other ways as scenery in the filming of The Snow Queen and The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen, where they have evoked a fascinating, highly distinctive pictorial universe.

Traces of lived life
In her most recent works the Queen moves from the large landscapes to small natural fragments and ‘zooms in’ on individual elements such as rocks, carcases and bones. The bone series is brand new and has never been exhibited before. The urge to paint bones came irresistibly, just as the urge to paint stones and carcases was something inherent that simply had to come to expression through the brush. The bone pictures are not ‘true to life’ and the Queen describes them as “large, strange pictures of imaginary bones on a yellow ground.” There is something latently eerie about them, and reflections on mortality inevitably spring to mind. There are both humour and seriousness in these raw Vanitas symbols with forms so organic that you feel like reaching out and touching them.

As a viewer one can simply enjoy the insight into the artistic universe that the Queen has so generously chosen to share with the public.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Huhne affair follow-up

As written yesterday by the RadicalRoyalist, the discussion on a possible new Royal Yacht Britannia has a political background, on which The Age wasted not one syllable.

The Daily Telegraph published a follow-up today: Chris Huhne: all the malice of Machiavelli - but sadly none of his skill:

The staff at No 10 were wreathed in smiles as they read yesterday’s papers. Chris Huhne’s attempt to smear the Tories had backfired. The Lib Dem Energy Secretary was named as the person who had leaked a letter from Michael Gove calling for a replacement for the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Huhne had hoped to show that the Conservatives were wasting taxpayers’ money – but was instead, joyously, exposed as being helplessly out of the loop. Gove, in earlier missives that he hadn’t sent to Huhne, stressed that private donations should pay for the yacht.

Hee hee hee: the hateful Huhne was left with egg on his face.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Royal Yacht Britannia: What the "Newspaper of the Year" misses out

Were The Age a good newspaper, one could argue on its articles. But very often they aren’t their own articles, but copy&paste stuff from elsewhere. Take the last two news items on the Royal Yacht Britannia: Pay for your own yacht, PM tells Queen (17th January 2012 by Bloomberg, AAP ) and Royal yacht plan hits choppy seas (18th January 2012, Gregory Katz puzzled it together from agency material [AP] and a New York Times article) ) Funny that The Age’s mast head claims to be "Newspaper of the year". That may be so, but it does not say, that The Age is a serious newspaper – it tells you more about how bad other Australian daily newspapers must be.

So, concerning the Royal Yacht Britannia and a possible replacement to mark the Queen‘s Diamond Jubilee, The Age was only too happy to re-print the negative attitudes of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour Party MP Tom Watson and even Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron whose "spokesman, Steve Field, said it would not be appropriate for public funds to be spent on a new yacht during times of economic hardship. But he said the government would be supportive of private efforts to provide a new ship for the queen".

What The Age did not see – or did not want to see – was that the question of a Royal Yacht has more of a political aspect and does involve the Royal Family only marginally. British Education Secretary Michael Gove had written his letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who is overseeing jubilee celebrations, in December. Why was it leaked to The Guardian this month? And who did leak it? With what purpose? The Daily Telegraph claimed, a source from PM Cameron’s office said it was the “perceived wisdom” that the letter was leaked by Mr Huhne, the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary. The leaked document was used to attack the Conservatives for allegedly planning to "waste taxpayers’ money". It later emerged that the letter was the last in a series of missives between Cabinet colleagues – with the earlier correspondence making it quite clear that no public money was involved.

Mr Huhne was only copied in to the final letter, a copy of which was leaked to The Guardian and appears to have been misinterpreted. The Energy Secretary was previously exposed for leaking information about another Cabinet colleague to the same newspaper. One senior Conservative source said: “The whole leak, and its timing was very odd. This was something that came up in the autumn – ministers are interested in helping to replace the yacht but there will be no public money.

That’s what happens in a coalition government, where two parties try to keep their profile up and to please their supporters. A nice opportunity for publicity searcher Huhne to present himself again in shining light. The BBC wrote on him in May 2011:
No-one could accuse Chris Huhne of lacking ambition.

Within months of arriving in Parliament in 2005, the Lib Dem MP for Eastleigh was challenging for the leadership of his party, after the resignation of Charles Kennedy. ... He shot to the top of the leadership betting after a series of outspoken attacks on the Conservatives in the run-up to the referendum on changing the voting system.
And what about the Labour MP Tom Watson who shot to fame by telling The Guardian: "When school budgets are being slashed, parents will be wondering how Gove came even to suggest this idea"? He had not hesitations to claim taxpayers money for his London flat , which was exposed in what is known at the “expenses scandal” of the British Parliament in 2009. The BBC reported:
Claim: The two Labour ministers have claimed more than £100,000 for a shared London flat since May 2005, according to the Telegraph. The ministers each claimed for their share of the legal costs involved in purchasing the property and then later for the fees to buy the freehold. Neither minister has yet responded.

Response: Neither has yet responded. Tom Watson stood down as a minister on 5 June, saying the the "pressure on my young family has been painful" during his time in office.
It seems, he could leave his "young family" and return to the Commons and give silly press statements.

Most observers agree that it would be a good idea to have a swimming ambassador that could be used not only for the Royal Family, but for other purposes as well, as in 1982, when the Royal Yacht Britannia was used as a hospital ship in the Falklands War.

The British government would be supportive of private efforts to provide a new ship for the queen, was reported from PM Cameron. Certainly, the sum of £60 million ($A89.73 million) necessary to build a Royal Yacht, could be raised by private donations, however, details of who will be approached to provide money is likely to prove controversial within Whitehall amid fears the project may be dominated by wealthy Russian and Middle Eastern backers. These nouveaux riches will certainly be all too helpful to support the idea, if it gives them an entry ticket to the British society.

All these points that give a more complete picture of the matter, cannot be found in The Age. Newspaper of the Year? Which year was that?

Friday, 13 January 2012

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark 40 years on the Throne

This Friday festivities start to celebrate Queen Margrethe II's accession to the Danish throne on 14th January 1972. A timely present was the result of an opinion poll, published on 29th December 2011. The Megafon poll was published in the daily Politiken: "Almost eight out of ten Danes have a high opinion of their royal family and would rather live under a monarchy than a republic."

77 percent of all Danes declared they were in favour of the Monarchy, only 16 percent would prefer a republic. In the last couple of years, those in favour of a republic dropped from 25 to 15.8 percent.

Prime Minister Jens-Otto Krag proclaimed the new Queen from the balcony of Amalienborg Palace on 15th January 1972: "King Frederik IX is dead! Long live Queen Margrethe II!"

In her first address to the people, Queen Margrethe II said: "My beloved father, our King, is dead. The task that my father had carried for nearly 25 years is now resting on my shoulders. I pray to God to give me help and strength to carry the heavy heritage. May the trust that was given to my father also be granted to me."

Her Majesty was born on 16th April 1940, at Amalienborg Palace to then Crown Prince Frederik and Swedish-born Princess Ingrid. When Crown Princess Margrethe Alexandrine Porhildur Ingrid became Queen of Denmark on 14th January she choose the motto: "God's Help, the Love of the People, Denmark Strength."

As Danish Monarch, Queen Margrethe II has a seat on the State Council, a position she has occupied since 1958, when she turned 18. In addition, she is the supreme commander of the Danish Defense Forces, a position she has been prepared for, having performed voluntary service with the Women's Flying Corps in 1958-1970 when she received comprehensive training in the corps.

As Head of State, the Queen signs all Acts of Parliament, participates in the formation of a new government, receives regular reports from the Prime Minister. The Queen receives every Ambassador from foreign countries and also formally appoints and dismisses civil servants.

King Frederik IX's funeral in Roskilde: Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe II, Crown Prince Frederik, Prince Joachim.

King Frederik IX was laid to rest on the 24th January 1972. In the first row Queen Ingrid, the Queen Mother, Queen Margethe II and Prince Henrik. Behind them are King Constantine II of the Hellenes, his wife, Queen-Annemarie, Princess Benedikte of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and her husband, Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg.

Married to His Royal Highness, Prince Henrik, né Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, Queen Magrethe has two sons, Crown Prince Frederik Andre Henrik Christian and Prince Joachim Holger Waldemar Christian.

Beyond her official duties, Queen Margrethe II has been actively engaged in a number of artistic modes of expression: painting, church textiles, watercolors, prints, illustrations, sketches, decoupage works, scenography, and embroidery. She illustrated many books, including the 2002 reissue of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Her semi-abstract paintings have meanwhile become fixtures in museums and art galleries both in Denmark and abroad.

Queen by the people's vote
The Danish Act of Succession of 27th March 1953 was accepted in a referendum on 28th May 1953 and sets the line of succession to the Danish Throne. The 1953 referendum changed the act making it possible for a woman to inherit the throne in the event that she has no older or younger brothers, a system known as male preference primogeniture, similar to the existing British Succession Laws. As the then reigning King Frederick IX (11th March 1899 – 14th January 1972) had three daughters and no sons, this had the effect that Princess Margrethe became the Heiress Presumptive instead of her uncle Prince Knud.

As King Frederick IX's wife, Queen Ingrid (28th March 1910 – 7th November 2000), was not expected to have any more children, this effectively ensured that Princess Margrethe would become Queen of Denmark, which she did.

Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes, youngest daughter of King Frederik IX of Denmark and sister of then Crown Princess Margrethe of Denmark.

Another referendum was held on 7th June 2009 on changing the Act of Succession so that primogeniture no longer puts males over females. In other words, the first-born child would become heir to the throne regardless of gender. The actual line of succession was not changed, because Queen Margarethe's heir is her eldest son, Crown Prince Frederik then follows his first born child, Prince Christian.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

German Protesters shout 'Wulff must go!'

Protesters waved shoes in front of the German president's palace Saturday as the opposition issued fresh attacks against him. President Wulff remains under serious pressure over a private loan scandal.

Deutsche Welle published a report on the scandal in the German republic in English.

It took them a while, but finally German Monarchists published a statement on the president's affair here.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A president in training - no end in sight

The scandal involving German president Christian Wulff has been brewing for a month, The Age published just two articles on the topic, both reprints from The New York Times, both they don't go into the details of this failed republican representative: On 3rd January 2012 Wulff scandal a worry for Merkel and on 7th January 2012 Germany finds openness has its limits, a misleading headline, since it is president Wulff, who finds openness harmful.

The German republican model is frequently cited by Australian republicans as one option Australia could adopt should they manage to find a majority to reject the Australian Monarchy. Yet the German model was never properly investigated by the Australian republicans (see: Germany’s president gets elected - and nobody took notice)

Christian Wulff was state premier of Lower Saxony before he managed - with some difficulties - to be elected German president. In 2010 it took him three rounds to gain a majority in the Federal Convention (Bundesversammlung consisting of all members of the Bundestag, and a corresponding number of representatives from the federal states). Though Christian Democrats and Liberals, who have been in a coalition government since October 2009, had a solid 21-majority in the Federal Convention, in the first round only 600 of the government’s 644 electors chose to cast a vote in favour of Christian Wulff, when an overall majority of 623 was required. In the second round his share improved slightly to 615.

In the third round, when the absolute majority was no longer required, Mr. Wulff got his ticket to the Bellevue Palace by managing 625 votes (see: A president nobody knows - and no one wants) His predecessor, Horst Köhler, left office, “because he felt insulted and refused to face the public debate on his statements on Afghanistan. This discloses: The wooden Köhler did always try – and was not up to the job. ...” as The Süddeutsche Zeitung put it.

A private loan
The scandal swirling around Mr. Wulff arose on 12th December 2011 but goes back a couple of years and dates to the time, when he was still state premier of Lower Saxony. Early 2010 he had to admit to the state parliament, that had acted against the existing “ministerial law” that forbids members of the state government from accepting gifts. Mr. Wulff and his wife had accepted a free upgrade from a German airline from economy to business class. And he had accepted free accommodation in holiday resorts that were owned by his friend Egon Geerkens. In this context the Greens asked Premier Wulff, what other business relations he had with Mr. Geerkens.

In a response to that question, he gave this answer: “Zwischen Ministerpräsident Wulff und den in der Anfrage genannten Personen und Gesellschaften hat es in den letzten zehn Jahren keine geschäftlichen Beziehungen gegeben.“ (“Between Premier Wulff and the persons and companies concerned there had been no business relations in the past ten years.“) This was formally correct, because the private low-interest loan of € 500,000 was granted in October 2008 by Mr. Geerkens’ wife and not by the business man himself. However, in the follow up to this story it came out, that the former shop assistant Edith Geerkens never had the means to provide a loan. It was her husband who had transferred the money to her bank account and to disguise the traces even more he insisted that Mr. Wulff should receive the money via an anonymous Federal Bank cheque.

The Geerkens couple may or may not have gained political or business advantages through their relationship with Mr. Wulff and their loan, it was just one of a couple of "friendship" services Mr. Wulff received. The proximity to power seems to drive controversial entrepreneur Carsten Maschmeyer. He's the founder of the scandal ridden financial services firm AWD, his fortune is estimated at about € 650 million.

That gives him plenty of money for a friendly favour or two. He's alleged to have donated € 330,000 to the election campaigns of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder from the Social Democrats. His generosity wasn't tied, however, to one party or the other. He was apparently also willing to help out Mr. Wulff, who is a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

Mr. Maschmeyer reportedly paid € 43,000 in 2008 to publicize the then-state premier's book titled "Better Tell the Truth, a title that is haunting him today." Mr. Maschmeyer claims, however, that Mr. Wulff was not aware of his financial support for the book.

Financial Times: The sheep in the Wulff's fur.

President threatens newspaper - which he denies, but refuses to publish the transcript
On 12th December 2011 Germany’s biggest tabloid newspaper BILD was about to publish the private loan story. Mr. Wulff, who was on a state visit in the Gulf countries and had given a speech on the freedom of press in Kuwait the previous evening, called the editor-in-chief of BILD and threatened legal action if it published a story on a private home loan he received at cheap interest rates.

BILD confirmed media reports that the president had left a message on its chief editor Kai Diekmann's voicemail, in which he threatened the paper with legal action and expressed outrage about its plans to publish details of a private home loan that has prompted widespread criticism. After not reaching Mr. Dieckmann, he left a voice message. Mr. Wulff said BILD was going too far and had "crossed a red line" it would be a “declaration of war”. He complaint about what he called the "unbelievable story" about his € 500,000 loan. Wulff finally reached BILD’s editor-in-chief one day later, expressing regret over the tone and content of his earlier phone call.

Mr. Wulff‘s office said last Monday, 2nd January 2012, that he greatly values media freedom and doesn't comment on private or telephone conversations.

Headline: "Wulff really feels sorry for himself."

To contain the damage, Mr. Wulff granted an interview to two journalists from the public TV stations ARD and ZDF. He apologised for the message left on the voicemail, saying he had merely wanted BILD to delay the report for a day, which the newspaper actually did, but Mr. Wulff had withdrawn written answers shortly before the newspapers deadline on 12th December. Mr Wulff said in the interview was an effort to be open about what had happened.

But Mr. Diekmann said in an open letter published on Thursday that Mr. Wulff had been less than forthcoming. "In order to prevent misunderstandings regarding the content and motive of your phone call, we view it as necessary to publish a transcript of your message," Mr. Diekmann wrote. He asked Mr. Wulff for permission to do so, in keeping with German laws regarding the privacy of personal communications.

In his own open letter, Mr Wulff said no. "The words that were spoken in an exceptionally emotional situation were intended for you and no one else," he wrote. "I apologised to you shortly afterwards. You accepted this apology. That put an end to the dispute between us, and I believe that it should remain so."
Wulff: "I am still in training"

In his TV interview Mr. Wulff (52) claimed he was still in presidential training ("Ich lerne noch"). Having assumed the post of president in July 2010, he still wants to be treated as an apprentice who is learning on the job – and that after a political life that started at the tender age of 16. He has never done anything else but be a politician. The best representative for a politicians’ republic, you’d think.

In a Monarchy the heir to the throne starts his/her training at a very early age and not only, when they assume office.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

You could have guessed it

The Queen's decision to award former Australian Prime Minister John Howard one of the highest honours in the Commonwealth was not well received by The Age: It's an honour, Mr Howard. Why?

Mr. Howard had been appointed to the Order of Merit. The Order of Merit, founded by 1902 by King Edward VII, is a special mark of honour conferred by the Sovereign on individuals of exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, sciences and other areas such as public service. Appointments to the Order are the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required. The Order is restricted to 24 members as well as additional foreign recipients. It is in the personal gift of The Queen as Sovereign of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom and twelve other countries.

Appointments can only be made when a member dies. John Howard and British artist David Hockney take places left by the death of artist Lucian Michael Freud, OM, CH (8th December 1922 – 20th July 2011) and Dame Joan Alston Sutherland, OM, AC, DBE (7th November 1926 – 10th October 2010).

While in The Age's internet poll 51 percent agreed that John Howard is deserving to become a member of the Order of Merit, 100 percent of the letters to the editor (all in all seven) published today were against John Howard and the Australian Monarchy. The silliest of all came from Lyn Mitchell: "Now it's definitively time to become a republic." Only she and The Age's editor might draw a connection between honouring a retired politician and introducing a politicians' republic.