Thursday, 16 April 2015

Conference: Constitutional Monarchy in the Commonwealth Realms

The conference on Constitutional Monarchy in the Commonwealth Realms in Wellington, New Zealand, 21st - 23rd May 2015 is open to politicians, government officials, and academics from the Commonwealth Realms to discuss the ways in which the monarchy operates in their nations.

Session 1 – The Value of the Monarchy
8.40 – 9.00 Professor Ann Twomey Constitutional Matters
9.00 – 9.20 Kevin MacLeod Nationalising the Monarchy
9.20 – 9.40 Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment Marketing the Modern Monarchy

Session 2 – Symbols of Sovereignty
10.40 – 11.00 Richard D’Apice Losing National Symbols
11.00 – 11.20 Dr Claire Boudreau The Canadian Heraldic Authority

Session 3 – Distinct Perspectives
1.00 – 1.20 Dr Cynthia Barrow-Giles The Monarchy in the Caribbean
1.20 – 1.40 Professor Jon Fraenkel The Pacific Realms
1.40 – 2.00 Jai Martinkovits Youth Perspective

Session 4 – Honours Systems
2.20 – 2.40 Dr Christopher McCreery Honours Systems
2.40 – 3.00 Professor Stephen Levine Regius Professorships in the Realms
3.00 – 3.20 Dr Karen Fox Looking Forward by Looking Back: Understanding Honours

Session 5 – The Crown’s Relationship with Others
4.10 – 4.30 Professor Janet McLean (via video) The Crown’s Settlements with Māori
4.30 – 4.50 Sir Tipene O’Regan A Māori Perspective on the Crown
4.50 – 5.10 The Cook Islands: A Realm within a Realm

7.30 Guest Speaker – Hon Michael Kirby AM CMG Conference Dinner Parliament House

Session 6 – Concurrent Workshops
9.30 –11.00 Dr Claire Boudreau Modern Heraldry Legislative Council Chamber
9.30 –11.00 Kevin MacLeod Nationalising the Monarchy Grand Hall
9.30 –11.00 Emmanuelle Sajous Honours Systems in the Realms

11.00 – 11.20 Senator Dean Smith Enhancing the Relationship Among the Realms
11.20 – 11.40 Scott Reid MP The Monarchy Going Forward
11.40 – 12.00 Simon O’Connor MP The Realms’ Claim on the Crown
12.00 – 12.20 General Discussion

Conference organisation:

Office of Simon O’Connor, Member of Parliament for Tamaki

Telephone: +64 4 817 8388

60th Birthday of Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg

HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and HRH Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxemburg.

His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri, eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, was born on 16th April 1955 in Betzdorf Castle, Luxembourg. He is the sixth sovereign of the Nassau-Weilburg dynasty after the personal union between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands ended with the death of King/Grand Duke William III in 1890.

After World War I Luxembourg did not follow the unfortunate example of the German neighbours, but retained the Monarchy. In a referendum on 28th September 1919 a vast majority voted in favour of the Monarchy. Since then the grand-ducal family has preserved its legitimacy amongst Luxembourg society because it has been able to gain its trust in the most difficult moments: the resistance movement during the Second World War, of which Grand Duchess Charlotte was a central figure, is one of the most significant examples. Her return 70 years ago on 14th April 1945 set a landmark to the liberation of the country.

In addition to Lëtzebuergesch, Grand Duke Henri speaks French, English, German and has some knowledge of Spanish. He attended secondary school in Luxembourg and France, where he successfully gained his baccalaureate in 1974. He then went on to study at Geneva University (Switzerland), graduating in political science in 1980. HRH the Grand Duke was proclaimed Honorary Doctor (Humane Letters) of the Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut (USA) and Honorary Doctor in Law of Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (USA). Furthermore, he was declared Honorary Doctor in economics of the University of Khon Kaen (Thailand), Honorary Doctor in politics of the University of Trier (Germany) and the University of León (Nicaragua).

In April 2012 Lieutenants Alexander von Österreich-Este and Wenceslas von Nassau graduated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where Grad Duke Henri was the guest of honour.
In 1974, Prince Henri enrolled at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Great Britain, which awarded him his officer’s commission in 1975. Since 1989, he has been an honorary major in the United Kingdom’s Parachute Regiment. The Gand Duke commands the Luxembourg armed forces and holds the title of general.

The grand ducal couple with their children (left to right) Félix, Sébastien, Louis, Alexandra and Guillaume.
On 14th February 1981, he married Cuban-born Maria Teresa Mestre who also graduated in political science from Geneva University in 1980. Their Royal Highnesses have four sons and one daughter: Prince Guillaume (born 11th November 1981), Prince Félix (born 3rd June 1984), Prince Louis (born 3rd August 1986), Princess Alexandra (born 16th February 1991) and Prince Sébastien (born 16th April 1992).

As Honorary President of the Board of Economic Development, founded in 1977, the Prince led many trade missions throughout the world to promote the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg as an investment centre. From 1980 to 1998, in his quality as Hereditary Grand Duke, he was a member of the Council of State, which enabled him to familiarise himself with the legislative machinery of the Grand Duchy.

Accession of HRH Grand Duke Henri on 7th October 2000.
On 4th March 1998, in accordance with Article 42 of the Constitution, he was appointed lieutenant representative of HRH the Grand Duke Jean. On 7th October 2000, he succeeded his father Grand Duke Jean after the latter had abdicated, thus becoming Grand Duke of Luxembourg.

The grand-ducal's youngest son, HRH Prince Sébastien, celebrates his 23rd birthday today.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Bulgarian Crown Prince Kardam has passed away

Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Kardam (2nd December 1962 - 7th April 12015) and Crown Princess Miriam (*2nd September 1963)
 His Royal Highness Crown Prince Kardam of Bulgaria, Prince of Turnovo, has passed away. He died today at 11.30am after a lung infection  in the hospital of Sanchinarro, a suburb of Madrid. He was born on 2nd December 1962 as the eldest child of King Simeon II and Queen Margarita of the Bulgarians.

On 11 July 1996, Crown Prince Kardam married Doña Miriam de Ungría y López
In 1996 he married Doña Miriam Ungria. The couple has two children, Prince Boris (*12th October 1997 in Madrid) and Prince Beltrán (*23th March 1999). Prince Boris is Bulgaria's new Crown Prince.

On 15th August 2008 Crown Prince Kardam and his wife suffered severe injuries in a car accident in a Madrid suburb. The Crown Prince suffered cranial fractures and lost both hands. His accompanying wife, Crown Princess Miriam, suffered several bone fractures, but her life is not in danger. For several months the Crown Prince was in a come and after he finally regained conscience he remained paralysed and was unable to talk.

His parents, his wife and two of his brothers, Prince Kiril and Prince Konstantin were with his, when he passed away.

Our deepest sympathies go to the Bulgarian Royal Family, which suffered another blow.

Bulgaria's Royal Family gathered to celebrate King Simeon II's 70 birthday in 2007

Queen Sofía of Spain rushed to the Bulgarian Royal Family to pay her respect to the deceased Crown Prince.

Queen Sofìa embraces King Simeon II.

Queen's Birthday 2015

While the Queen's grandson, Prince Harry, touched down in Australia and will start serving with the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) from today onwards, this year's Queen's Birthday stamps have been issued.

This year marks the 89th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II and Australia Post celebrates this royal milestone with the release of two stamps depicting the Queen at recent official engagements.

Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Michael Zsolt said: “Australia Post has issued Queen’s birthday stamps since 1980 following a tradition that resonates with many Australians. We trust this stamp issue will be popular with collectors and followers of royal events.”

The 70 cent stamp shows Her Majesty on the occasion of her visit to the Ebony Horse Club and Community Riding Centre in Brixton in October 2013.

The $2.75 stamp depicts the Queen at Windsor Castle in April 2014, when Her Majesty met Irish President Michael D Higgins on his historic first-ever state visit to Britain by a Republic of Ireland’s head of state.

A feature product associated with the Queen’s Birthday stamp issue is a prestige booklet showcasing selected hats from the Queen’s royal hat collection. The Queen’s Hats prestige booklet will be of great interest to collectors, those interested in all things royal and of course to milliners of all ages.

A sheetlet of five $2.75 self-adhesive stamps
Other products associated with this stamp issue include a miniature sheet, first day cover, stamp pack, sheetlet of five $2.75 self-adhesive stamps and a set of two maxicards.

The Queen’s Birthday stamps and associated products are available from 7 April 2015 at participating Post Offices, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at while stocks last.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Prince Harry a hit in Australia - Queen thanks ADF

Despite the rain hundreds of people turned up on Easter Monday morning to welcome Prince Harry back to Australia.

Prince Harry has arrived in Australia ahead of a four-week placement with the Australian Defence Force.

Prince Harry sticks a poppy flower into the Roll of Honour to commemorate the fallen.

He laid a wreath later at the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier in Canberra before beginning his military attachment. At the Australian War Memorial The Governor-General, The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC, and senior Government officials welcomed the Queen's grandson.

During the placement he will patrol with Aboriginal soldiers and train with the country's special forces. Prince Harry has said that he is, "tremendously looking forward" to this month-long attachment. He has trained and served alongside Australian Armed Forces on operational tours to Afghanistan; he has met them during the Invictus Games; and even trekked to the South Pole with a couple of Australian Soldiers. Those experiences reinforced the huge admiration and respect he already had for Australian servicemen and women and has stoked his enthusiasm even more to build on those relationships in the next four weeks.

He knows he will learn a huge amount from his Australian colleagues during this attachment and he is grateful to the ADF for producing such a varied and interesting programme for him.

The Queen has thanked the Australian military for welcoming Prince Harry and said he will "benefit greatly" from the attachment with the "diggers". Her gratitude was expressed in a message delivered by Harry on her behalf to Australia's Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin.

The Queen's message said: "I am delighted that the long and enduring association between the Australian and British armies will be joined by the military secondment of my grandson, Prince Harry.

"Together, our armed forces share skills, resources and resolve in order to uphold and defend our common values.

"In 2015, when together we commemorate the many sacrifices of our countrymen at Gallipoli a century ago, it is fitting that we can also reflect on the strength and persistence today of those common values and our professional military ties.

"I know that Captain Wales will benefit greatly from spending time with the Australian Diggers and I thank you for welcoming him into your ranks.

Elizabeth R.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Greek Independence Day - in 1964 and today

Greek Independence Day, a national holiday that is celebrated annually on 25th March, commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence in 1821. It coincides with the Greek Orthodox Church’s celebration of the Annunciation to the Theotokos, when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would bear the son of God.

Very often it has been celebrated with military parades. In 1964 King Constantine II had been King of the Hellenes for just 19 days following the death of King Paul I, when he presided over the celebrations for the first time as Greece's sovereign. The excellent Greek Royalist blog The Royal Chronicles reminded of the 1964 celebrations with a couple of photos of King Constantine II on horseback and Prince Peter at his side the author also published this video report of the celebrations in Athens:

 On 25th March 2015 Greece was still celebrating her Independence Day, but this time King Constantine II of the Hellenes no longer watched the crowds on horseback, but the  King followed the military parade standing on the balcony of the Hotel Grande Bretagne. Poor Greece!

King Constantine II in Athens on Independence Day 2015

Commonwealth of Australia: New succession laws take effect today

After the Australian Parliament passed the changes to the laws of succession (Succession to the Crown Bill 2015) the new rules come into effect on 26th March 2015. Australia was the last Commonwealth country to finish the legislative process because the federal parliament had to wait for the state parliaments to accept the new succession laws. Constitutional rules in Australia require that each of its six states consent to the changes – and while five have passed or are passing the necessary legislation, Western Australia was holding out.

Four years ago, during the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia, an agreement was made between those 16 countries who recognise The Queen as their Head of State that there would be changes to the royal succession laws. Four years on and despite an Act of Parliament being passed in the UK, the changes only come today into force.

Ironically, the hold-up for these changes was down the very state from which they originated in Australia. Part of the Perth Agreement in 2011 was that each of the 16 Commonwealth realms would, where appropriate, each introduce their own laws with the necessary changes and that these laws would all be brought into effect at the same time.

The Queen in Perth on 27th October 2011 (to her left is WA Premier Colin Barnett), where and when the Perth agreement was made during the Commonwealth Heads of Goverment Meeting (CHOGM).
While every other realm has either asserted that legislation isn't needed or that they have passed any necessary changes, the Western Australia parliament took its time.In February 2015 the WA parliament passed the necessary bills, which gave the federal parliament the green light to act. The Bill was passed with the votes of the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition.

The purpose of the Succession to the Crown Bill 2015 (the Bill) was to assent to three reforms concerning the succession to the Crown consistent with changes enacted in the United Kingdom Succession to Crown Act 2013 (UK) (UK Succession to the Crown Act). Those reforms are:
  • to bring to an end the system of male primogeniture so that the order of succession will be determined by order of birth
  • to remove the statutory provisions under which anyone who marries a person of the Roman Catholic faith loses their place in the line of succession and
  • to limit the requirement that the Sovereign consent to the marriage of a descendant of his late Majesty King George the Second in certain circumstances.


The United Kingdom enacted the UK Succession to the Crown Act on 25 April 2013. Whilst the UK Succession to the Crown Act commenced on that day, its provisions come into force ‘on such day and at such time as the Lord President of the Council may by order made by statutory instrument appoint’. According to an ABC media report in February 2014:

Commonwealth realms rushed to agree to the changes after Prince William, the eldest son of Prince Charles and next in line to the throne after his father, got married in April 2011.

They were agreed in principle by prime ministers of the 16 countries at a Commonwealth summit in Perth on October 28, 2011.

On 3 December 2012, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced that they were expecting their first child, so in a sense the impending birth of Prince George became the catalyst for activity to modernise the laws of succession. The Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Nick Clegg, announced the agreement of the realms on 4 December 2012:

"The new rules will apply to any baby born in the line of succession, taking effect after the Prime Minister made the announcement in Perth, Australia, at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in October 2011. At that meeting, an agreement was reached with all of the realms that the change should take effect immediately, and would be confirmed in legislation at a later date. This comes at the end of a significant period of work by the Government, the realms and Buckingham Palace."

The process of changing Royal succession laws is a lengthy one. As noted in a House of Commons research paper:

The Bill is tied into an international process. The Queen is Head of State of 16 states, including the UK, and her status is entrenched separately in each of these. The decision has been taken to move forward with changes at the same time in each of these “realms”. In October 2011, the political leaders of the realms agreed to change the rules of succession in two ways, to treat men and women equally, differentiating solely on the basis of age, and to remove the bar on the monarch or any person in the line of succession being married to a Roman Catholic (though the bar on the monarch being a Roman Catholic will remain). Work then began to bring all 16 of these states into a position in which the legislation could be introduced.

The ABC media report referred to above noted that British Government Ministers said that Australia was holding up changes to royal succession laws and that ‘all realms that took the view that legislation is required have passed the necessary legislation apart from Australia’.

The Council of Australian Governments agreed to the reforms on 25 July 2012 and at its April 2013 meeting agreed to the process to be undertaken:

COAG agreed to a hybrid model to implement the previously agreed changes to the rules of Royal succession in Australia. Under the hybrid model, States may choose to enact State legislation dealing with the rules of Royal succession. States have agreed that they will request the Commonwealth under s.51(38) of the Constitution to enact legislation, and that any State legislation will be consistent with their requests to the Commonwealth under s.51(38).

Section 51(xxxviii) of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (Constitution) provides that:

The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to:

(xxxviii) the exercise within the Commonwealth, at the request or with the concurrence of the Parliaments of all the States directly concerned, of any power which can at the establishment of this Constitution be exercised only by the Parliament of the United Kingdom or by the Federal Council of Australasia

All the Australian states have now enacted the necessary legislation requesting the Commonwealth to enact legislation for the whole of Australia and this legislation has now commenced, which was required before the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia could enact the Commonwealth legislation.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrated a Requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of King Richard III in Leicester

Requiem Mass is what Richard III would have wanted, says Cardinal Nichols. The Archbishop of Westminster made the comments in his homily during a Requiem Mass for King Richard at Holy Cross Priory in Leicester on Sunday, 22nd March 2015.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols in Leicester Cathedrale
Full text of Cardinal Nichols’ homily:

This evening we fulfil a profound and essential Christian duty: that of praying for the dead, for the repose of their eternal souls. Here we pray for King Richard III, ‘King of England and France and Lord of Ireland’ to use a title he ascribed to himself. This is a remarkable moment.

The prayer we offer for him this evening is the best prayer there is: the offering of the Holy Mass, the prayer of Jesus himself, made complete in the oblation of his body and blood on the altar of the cross, present here for us on this altar. This is the summit of all prayer, for it is made in and through the one person, the eternal Word, through whom all created beings have life. It is a prayer that arises from the very core of creation, the cry of the Word returning to the Father and carrying within it the totality of that creation, marred and broken in its history, yet still longing for the completion for which it has been created. It is, therefore, such an important Catholic tradition to seek the celebration of Mass for the repose of the souls of those who have died, especially for each of our loved ones whose passing we mourn. Let us not forget or neglect this great gift.

During this week, Mass is being offered in many Catholic Churches for the repose of the soul of King Richard III. Rightly so. That is exactly what he would have wished, having himself set up at least one chantry chapel for Masses to be celebrated for the dead of both sides of the Battle of Towton in 1461. This was a most violent conflict, marking the defeat of Henry IV, a single day on which between 10-20,000 Lancastrians were killed and a stark demonstration of the tragedy of civil war. Prayers were indeed needed.

Surely we can be confident that, despite the haste and the violent confusion of the time, this same Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated by the Greyfriars for the repose of the soul of the defeated King at the time of his burial in their church here in Leicester in August 1485.

Indeed we know that Richard was a man of anxious devotion who kept and marked his own book of prayers and who must have attended Mass throughout his life. Remarkably we also know that this vestment that I wear this evening is recorded as belonging to the royal wardrobe of Richard III. We may reasonably speculate that Richard participated in the celebration of Mass at which this same vestment was being worn.

Richard was not a man of peace. The times in which he lived and the role into which he was born did not permit that. But now we pray for his eternal peace.

Richard was a man who sought to offer to his citizens justice through the rule of law. He brought in important changes to the administration of law, including the institution of the Court of Requests at which poor people could bring their grievances to law. He improved the conditions of bail, enabling people to defend their property in the period before trial and he ordered the translation into English of written laws and Statutes again to make them more widely available. His role and arbiter and judge appear strongly in contemporary records and he twice asserted, in one legal dispute, that ‘we intend, nor will none otherwise do at any time, but according to the King’s laws.’ His actions did not always match those words. But this evening we pray that the merciful judgement of our loving God is extended to him in every degree, for we know that it is only the gift of God’s mercy that protects us from the demands of God’s justice.

I am much relieved that this evening we are not required to come to any such judgement ourselves. Indeed the judgement of our fellow human being is only of passing consequence for we know how fickle that judgement can be. This we see most clearly as reflection continues on the dramatic years of the House of Tudor in both fiction and historical research: saints are recast as sinners and sinners can become saints. But that is not our business.

Ours is to beseech of our loving Father the embrace of his mercy for this our brother who lived and died so long ago but who through such strange circumstances is again at the centre of public attention and human judgment. We pray for him as a sinner, like every other person, even if his life was lived on a more spectacular scale and in a more public arena than most. Today then we seek not to assert the greatness of Kings but the greatness of God’s mercy towards them and towards us all.

Richard, we know was not the physically most handsome of men. We know he suffered a brutal death, suffering ten fierce blows to the head. We know that his body was subject to humiliation after death, paraded from the field of battle by being thrown naked over the back of a horse and there receiving further wounds from a hostile sword. But we also know that he had been baptised into the death of Christ and so received the promise that he would rise with Christ to new life.

The words of the Holy Gospel, then, invite our trust, not only for ourselves but for all who have departed this life with a trusting faith in God. We know that the Lord has gone to prepare a place, a home, for us. This promise of a heavenly home was made to Richard. In his day, a ruthless and violent age, especially in the upper reaches of society, a home certainly had to be a castle, strong, well-fortified and easily defended. Otherwise it provided no safety at all. But the home promised to us by the Lord is of a different nature. In it peace comes only through the victory of Jesus over the last of all enemies, death itself. Protection too is ensured by that victory which has dethroned the powers of evil once and for all, even though they are still to be found within the fashioning of every human endeavour. The entry to that heavenly home, its open gates and sweeping drive, the royal road of life, is none other than the person of Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

This evening we pray that this promise of the Lord is indeed fulfilled. We offer this holy Mass that even while his remains are lying in the Cathedral nearby, his soul is united with God in the glory of heaven there to await the final resurrection of all things in Christ.

This was the hope he held in his heart. This is the hope we hold for ourselves and our loved ones too. We share this one hope and the faith and love which accompany it. In this grace we pray for this dead King and we pray that the kingship in Christ, given to us all, may truly guide our lives and make us builders of that eternal Kingdom here in our world today.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Leicester to pay their respect to King Richard III

Monday, 9 March 2015

Happy Commonwealth Day 2015

On the 9th March 1837 Melbourne was officially named Melbourne in honour of then British  Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.

And coincidentally this 9th March is also Commonwealth Day 2015.

Happy Commonwealth Day to everyone


Commonwealth Day Message from Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth

One simple lesson from history is that when people come together to talk, to exchange ideas and to develop common goals, wonderful things can happen. So many of the world's greatest technological and industrial achievements have begun as partnerships between families, countries, and even continents. But, as we are often reminded, the opposite can also be true. When common goals fall apart, so does the exchange of ideas. And if people no longer trust or understand each other, the talking will soon stop too.

In the Commonwealth we are a group of 53 nations of dramatically different sizes and climates. But over the years, drawing on our shared history, we have seen and acted upon the huge advantages of mutual cooperation and understanding, for the benefit of our countries and the people who live in them.

Not only are there tremendous rewards for this cooperation, but through dialogue we protect ourselves against the dangers that can so easily arise from a failure to talk or to see the other person's point of view.

Indeed, it seems to me that now, in the second decade of the twenty first century, what we share through being members of the Commonwealth is more important and worthy of protection than perhaps at any other time in the Commonwealth's existence. We are guardians of a precious flame, and it is our duty not only to keep it burning brightly but to keep it replenished for the decades ahead.

With this in mind, I think it apt that on this day we celebrate ‘A Young Commonwealth’ and all that it has to offer. As a concept that is unique in human history, the Commonwealth can only flourish if its ideas and ideals continue to be young and fresh and relevant to all generations.

Her Majesty addressing the Commonwealth
The youthfulness and vitality that motivate our collective endeavours were seen in abundance last year in Glasgow. They will be seen again in a few months’ time when Young Leaders from islands and continents gather to make new friendships and to work on exciting initiatives that can help to build a safer world for future generations. And last November in India, talented young scientists from universities and research institutes conferred with eminent professors and pioneers of discovery at the Commonwealth Science Conference where together they shared thoughts on insights and inventions that promise a more sustainable future.

These are stirring examples of what is meant by ‘A Young Commonwealth’. It is a globally diverse and inclusive community that opens up new possibilities for development through trust and encouragement. Commonwealth Day provides each of us, as members of this worldwide family, with a chance to recommit ourselves to upholding the values of the Commonwealth Charter.

It has the power to enrich us all, but, just as importantly in an uncertain world, it gives us a good reason to keep talking.

Elizabeth R.

The flags of all realms that recognise The Queen as their sovereign.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Hounding Tony Abbott

On his Twitter account Prof. David Flint wrote
The right wing commentariat's unwise over-reaction to Prince Philip's AK helped trigger the spill motion 
and added this cover photo

Meanwhile Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in New Zealand, where he addressed the Australia-New Zealand leadership forum in Auckland:

"It is great to be here, it is a sign of the strength of the Trans-Tasman relationship that so many people at the summit of business and indeed of government are here today. I’m delighted to acknowledge my friend and colleague the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, the Minister for Trade and Investment, Andrew Robb, has spent much time here today and also with many of you over the last few days. We have Parliamentary Secretary Fletcher here as well and I should also acknowledge a former constituent of mine who left Australia to make good in New Zealand, a fellow called John Key. You have done quite well since you left my electorate, John.

"When you consider the relationship between Australia and New Zealand there are no two juridically separate entities anywhere in the world that are as close as our two countries. Yes, we are legally independent but we don’t feel like separate entities, we feel like family, not just distant cousins, we feel like close siblings. The problem with sibling relationships is that they can sometimes be taken for granted and the challenge for all of us is not to take the Australia-New Zealand relationship for granted just because Australians can get on a plane and come to New Zealand and Kiwis can get on a plane and come to Australia. That’s the challenge.

"I’ve got to say, John, that certainly since the advent of your government there has been a very great interest in New Zealand on the part of Australians. I think it would be fair to say that for the first time in many years – in recent years – the economic performance of New Zealand has been making Australians sit up and take notice. Any sense of superiority that might have been felt on one side of the Tasman certainly has been dispelled by the economic performance and indeed the governmental performance of New Zealand in recent times. I’m very conscious of the fact that over the last few years you have gradually taken the size of government from 35 per cent to 30 per cent of gross domestic product. A magnificent, practical demonstration in how to be a prime minister who doesn’t just believe in smaller government but delivers it and there are some lessons here for us in Australia.

"I’m conscious of the fact that while my Government has made a good start there is a way to go. I don’t want to underestimate just what good a start we have made. We’re releasing an intergenerational report in a week or so’s time and while the intergenerational report that we are releasing will reveal the ongoing budgetary challenge that Australia has, it will also demonstrate the progress that has been made in just 18 months.

"It’s not often that an Australian prime minister needs to stand before a New Zealand audience and trumpet Australia’s economic achievements, but you would allow me for a moment to do so and economic growth in Australia today is 2.7 per cent – not quite as good as yours, John but certainly a lot better than it was a year ago when it was just 1.9 per cent. Over the last 12 months, our export volumes are up seven per cent, our housing approvals are up nine per cent, consumer confidence is up, business formation is up, the number of new business registrations are at an all-time record high in Australia. All of this, in the end, feeds into economic growth which is the key to everyone’s success. ..."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key friendlier with each other than some of their parties colleagues with them.

Monday, 23 February 2015

King and Queen of Norway welcomed by Australia's Prime Minister

Visit by Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway

King Harald V of Norway and Prime Minister Tony Abbott
"I am pleased that Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway will visit Australia from 22 to 27 February 2015 at the invitation of the Governor-General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

"Their Majesties will visit Canberra, Sydney and Perth, accompanied by a high-level delegation of senior government and business leaders.

"Australia and Norway share a warm relationship. Trade between our nations last year was worth over $1.2 billion.

"We both have strong oil, gas and mining sectors. Significant Norwegian companies have invested in Australia’s energy, metals and agriculture sectors.

"More than 23,000 Australians have Norwegian ancestry.

"I look forward to meeting Their Majesties during their visit to Australia and welcome the growing strength of the ties between our nations.

The King and Queen of Norway were welcomed to Australia at the Hyatt Hotel on Sunday night in the company of an acclaimed Norwegian choir, a war hero, and children in traditional dress.

King Harald V, who turned 78 on Saturday, was joined by Queen Sonja as the Norwegian vocals of the touring Kori I choir echoed through the atrium of the Yarralumla hotel.

Norwegian flags were raised on Commonwealth Avenue on Sunday afternoon to mark the arrival of the king and queen on their first official trip to Australia.

Their Majesties met Bill Shorten and Tanya Plibersek, the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.