Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Prince Richard, son of former Australian Governor-General, turns 70

HRH Prince Richard, 2nd Duke of Gloucester
Born Prince Richard of Gloucester on 26th August 1944 at Northampton, he was christened Richard Alexander Walter George. When he was four months old he was taken by his parents to Australia, where his father, Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester, was Governor-General from 30th January 1945 to 11th March 1947. The Duke of Gloucester is the second son of the late Duke of Gloucester and the late Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester (third daughter of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch). His elder brother, Prince William, died in a tragic flying accident on 28 August 1972. Prince Richard inherited the title Duke of Gloucester on his father's death on 10th June 1974.

The Duke is 23rd in line to the throne, and is the first person in line who is not a direct descendent of King George VI; his father was Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester, younger brother to King Edward VIII and King George VI; this also makes him the youngest grandchild of King George V, the eldest being Queen Elizabeth.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester opened the Linburn Centre for Scottish War Blinded in 2011
After spending his childhood years in Australia, The Duke of Gloucester has constantly returned to Australia. In 2012 he attended the Grand Council Meeting at the Shangri-La Sydney, the Rocks, Sydney, as the Grand Prior of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem.

His Royal Highness, who is Patron  of the Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust, met Nuffield Australia Farming Scholars in Sydney. The charity organisation provides a scholarship scheme for the benefit of the Australian farming community.

On 26th May 2012 The Duke of Gloucester presented the Duke of Gloucester Cup to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment at Victoria Barracks, Oxford Street, Sydney, New South Wales.

The Duke of Gloucester Cup

The Duke of Gloucester Cup, the three awards are presented to the most efficient infantry battalion of the Australian Army, ship of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), and squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) during the previous year. The awards were created by HRH Prince Henry, The Duke of Gloucester in 1946, while he was serving as the Governor-General of Australia, and were first presented in 1947. The RAAF's Gloucester Cup recognises the most proficient flying squadron during a calendar year.

In January 2009 The Duke of Gloucester paid a visit to Melbourne,Victoria, and attended a Lecture at the Royal Society of Victoria  followed by a Reception to commemorate the Centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s Expedition’s location of the South Magnetic Pole. The Duke of Gloucester crossed the South Magnetic Pole, Antarctica, to commemorate the Centenary of the first location of the South Magnetic Pole by the Northern Party of Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1907-1909.

The Royal Society of Victoria had offered the flyover of the South Magnetic Pole, Antarctica, 100 years after it was first positioned by a party of Australians, Edgeworth David and Douglas Mawson and Scotsman Alistair Mackay, members of Shackleton’s British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909.

Royal Duties
Prince Richard is President of Cancer Research UK, as well as The National Association of Clubs for Young People, and is a patron of British Association of Friends of Museums, Richard III Society and Normandy Veterans Association.

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester represented Her Majesty The Queen at the Mass for the Inauguration of Pope Francis’ Pontificate on 19th March 2013. They also attended the Beatification Mass for Pope John Paul II on 1st May 2011.

At the inauguration of Pope Francis I The Duke and the Duchess of Gloucester represented The Queen.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Serbian Crown Prince Alexander II patron of the Album in Memory of our Ancestors in the Great War

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Alexander II accepted with great pleasure to be the patron of the project “Album in Memory of our Ancestors in the Great War,” that has been realised by the Association of the Descendants of Serbian Warriors 1912 – 1920.

I am very happy that the Association of descendants of Serbian Warriors 1912 – 1920 initiated such a project during year when we mark beginning of the war that was remembered as the Great War, as a first war that was titled a World War, and that left tragic marks all around the world. History obliges us not to forget this cathartic experience, but to come to sense and start the restitution of general values: love, honour, of historic culture, creativity and above all – humanity. History calls upon us to take personal responsibility for the future of our ancestors, and this project is a great step forward on that path. As the great grandson of His Majesty King Peter I who went through Golgotha of the Great War together with his sons and his people, as my grandfather of HRH Regent Alexander (later His Majesty King Alexander I) who was supreme commander of Serbian Army in World War I, I had the obligation and pleasure to accept to be patron of this very important project”, Crown Prince Alexander emphasised.

French postcard in support of her Serbian ally.
The project “Album in Memory of our Ancestors in the Great War” has the main goal to increase visibility and sustainability of Serbian cultural heritage as an important part of the cultural heritage of European nations at the time of First World War. One of the primary goals is to empower citizens who chose to take part in it to give their personal touch by providing relevant documents and historic sources in marking the Centenary of the First World War.

The creation of this Album will give an opportunity for all to submit online scans of photographs of their ancestors, biographic texts, diaries, medals, letters of soldiers and other materials of importance for Serbian and world history. At the end of the project, 100 chosen photographs will be printed and exhibited at places of historic importance of this period.

Photos and other documents could be submitted via web site http://slavnim-precima.rs where all material collected so far could be seen.

A web portal and data base of materials will be put at the disposal of historians and other professionals for research and other purposes, and we will all have a lasting memory of our ancestors who fought honourably for their freedom.

General goal:

Promotion of European idea of conciliation, remembrance and devotion in the context of commemoration of the First World War. Preservation of Serbian culture and identity as part of European and World cultural heritage. Sustainability of historic and cultural heritage.

Specific goals:

Marking the centenary of the First World War through promotion of Serbian history, development of positive international image, promotion of freedom loving characteristics of Serbian people, and emphasising membership within the European family of nations;

Conciliation through trust building and cooperation with European Union accession process;

Raising awareness on national identity, tradition and Serbian cultural identity;

Encouraging interest among young people in Serbian history;

Promotion of family values;

Strengthening moral values in Serbia society;

Networking between young people in Serbia and their peers in the Diaspora;

Building an Internet data base of photos from the First World War;

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Adress on television: King Willem-Alexander shared national frustration over the handling of the plane desaster

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands during his television address to the nation.
Statement by His Majesty the King after the gathering of next of kin of the air disaster victims on Monday, 21st July 2014. The video is available here.

Today a large gathering took place of families of the victims of the air disaster in eastern Ukraine. My wife and I were among those present. We were deeply touched by the moving, personal accounts of those who have lost loved ones. People whose lives are in ruins. Their sorrow, their feeling of powerlessness and their despair are heartrending. Many people said to us, 'We at least want to take dignified leave of our loved ones'.

We understand their frustration and their pain. And we share their heartfelt wish for clarity on the cause of this disaster.

We know that their loss can never be made good. Their grief is immense. The only thing we could do today was to be with them, and listen to what they had to say.

In the last few days, people have gathered together all over the Netherlands, and they will go on doing so. In offices, schools, sports clubs and living rooms across the country. People are there for one another.

And that is especially important now, at a time of great trial for our country, when so many people are overwhelmed by grief. It is important that we hold onto one another, that we support each other and do what we can to help. And that we open our hearts to anyone who wants to share their story. Not only now, but also in the months and years to come.

I would like to express my appreciation for all the people who are rallying around those affected by the disaster. Relatives, friends, neighbours and colleagues: you are all very much needed now.

I would also like to say how much I value the work being done by the hundreds of professionals involved in carrying out the many sad and difficult tasks that need to be done.

My wife and I sympathise deeply with all those who have been bereaved. We are with them in our thoughts. These sentiments are shared by my mother and by the other members of my family, who feel a particularly close bond with our country in these dark days.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The solution for Russia

Yekaterinburg, Russia, 18th July, 2014.

80,000 people gathered to commemorate the murder of the Imperial Family.

Как это было: Крестный ход в Екатеринбурге

Prince William unveiled Captain Matthew Flinders’ statute at Australia House

Prince William and Mark Richards.

The Duke of Cambridge has unveiled a statue in honour of the first man to identify Australia as a continent.

The Duke, who visited the Commonwealth of Australia with The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George in April, said he was honoured to celebrate a man who "did far more than anyone to place Australia - quite literally - on the map".

Captain Matthew Flinders, the first person to circumnavigate Australia at the age of just 27, is a household name Down Under but little known in his native Britain.

The Duke with a table-top version of the statue of Captain Matthew Flinders.
The 6ft (1.8m) bronze memorial of the cartographer, designed by sculptor Mark Richards, was unveiled by The Duke at Australia House today.

The government of South Australia hopes to bolster Captain Flinders' profile among British people by permanently erecting the statue at Euston station in central London, the site where it is believed Captain Flinders was buried on his death at the age of 40.

The statue shows him kneeling over a map of Australia with a compass and his companion Trim, a cat, who travelled with him on his explorations.

The Duke, who said Australia is a "very dear place to me and Catherine", was presented with a table-top version of the statue, which he was initially a little hesitant to lift. He described Captain Flinders as a man of "action,strength, and determination".

Bill Murrihead, the Agent General for South Australia, said: "Knowing that The Duke of Cambridge is so fond of Australia, we were delighted to have him here today to honour Matthew Flinders, a young, inspirational man like himself. I talked with him about his recent trip to Australia. He is very pro-all things Australian so we feel he is one of us."

He added that Captain Flinders was a "remarkable man who accomplished a huge deal" and deserved to be recognised in his homeland as he is in Australia.

At the beginning of his speech Prince William paid respect to the victime's of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17.

A speech by HRH The Duke of Cambridge at Australia House

High Commissioner, Agent General, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your very warm welcome.

I know that I speak for all of us here when I acknowledge our deep sadness following yesterday's disaster in the Ukraine. For all of us who have lost fellow countrymen and women in the tragedy, words cannot do justice to our sense of loss. For Australians, and for our Malaysian brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth, the crash is a particularly cruel tragedy coming so soon after the loss of MH370. Please be assured of my family's thoughts and prayers at this time.

Earlier this year, you will know that Catherine and I had the great pleasure of spending time, with George, in Australia. In South Australia, we visited an organisation that will long live in our memory called the Northern Sound System. There, we met young people – some from very difficult backgrounds – who were turning their lives around through the power of music. The place was Australia at its very best: young, innovative, caring, cool … it was a truly uplifting place. Australia is a very dear country to me and Catherine, and so I am particularly honoured to have been invited today to celebrate a man who did far more than anyone to place Australia – quite literally – on the map. I am aware that this statue, and its eventual placement at Euston station, involved a lot of hard work by a committed group of supporters, but there are some who deserve a particular mention.

First, I should like to congratulate the sculptor, Mark Richards, for producing a beautiful statue and for telling the story of Captain Flinders with such elegance.

I should also like to acknowledge and thank the many people and organisations who have contributed financially to the project. Although backed by the Government of South Australia, this has been a privately funded initiative.

Finally, I should like to congratulate the Steering Committee for achieving so much. You have truly honoured the memory of Captain Flinders in London.

In closing, I would like to make two brief observations about the figure…I should say figures….not to forget Trim the cat, who apprently isn't bolted down.

First, I appreciate the way this work communicates Captain Flinders as a man of action, strength and determination.

Second, I very much appreciate the sensitivity of the inscription around the base of the statue.

Some of you may know that Matthew Flinders had an indigenous Australian on board HM Sloop Investigator…an indigenous Australian with whom he clearly had a close rapport. His name was Bungaree, a person Flinders described as “worthy and brave”. "Worthy and brave" is a description that is just as apt for Captain Flinders himself.

Thank you for inviting me to commemorate this great man with you all.

Thank you.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

King Felipe VI reaches out to Catalonia

His Majesty shakes hands with the President of the Generalitat de Cataluña, Artur Mas (local leader of the separatist party which forms a minority government in Catalonia).
The autonomous region Catalonia was the destination for King Felipe VI’s first domestic trip as the country's new Monarch. At an award ceremony for young entrepreneurs in Girona on 26th June, the newly proclaimed King sent out a conciliatory message to the Catalans.
"Sincere and generous collaboration is the best way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of each person and achieve great collective goals for the common good. Just hours before his visit, the Catalan regional assembly approved a motion calling for a popular referendum on the monarchy. The same parties behind the motion also called a protest against the king’s presence in the city. Around 500 people turned out for the demonstration As the crown prince, and from now on as the king, I have used these visits to make the Crown even more present in this land, and to convey a message of respect, mutual understanding and coexistence, which as I said in my proclamation address, are inherent values of our parliamentary democracy,” he said, speaking in Catalan.
His message of reconcilliation did not find open ears among a majority of the region's assembly. Just hours before his visit, the Catalan regional assembly approved a motion calling for a popular referendum on the monarchy. 81 voted in favour, 26 against and 18 abstained. The same parties behind the motion - the Catalan secessionist part CiU, the republican left ERC and smaller marxist parties - also called a protest against the King’s presence in the city. Around 500 people turned out for the demonstration.

Among the nasty comments below an English language report on the day's events was this remarkable comment:
I have been victim of the catalonian nationalists, they have discriminate me because I do not share their tought. I am not the only one that have suffered their intolerance, the catalonian nationalists behave like nazis, they can not cope with persons that not share their ideas. The truth that is happening in Catalonia is very different from the catalonian nationalists´version, they have done a business with the victimism. The catalonian nationalists behave like nazis, they can not cope with persons that not share their ideas. The idea of a referendum in Catalonia it is not healthy because in Catalonia there is no democracy, you need informed citizens and the truth is that in Catalonia since the nationalists run the education system they have created many generations of zombies that only stand for their fascists ideas. In Catalonia there is not education, there is indoctrination in the hatred of the nationalists.

Portuguese celebrates its 800th anniversary

Outside Portugal this anniversary is hardly noticed. The first document in the Portuguese language was signed on 27th June 1214 by King Afonso II - it was his testament.

Afonso became King of Portugal in 1212, succeeding his father King Sancho I. Born on 23rd April 1185 King Afonso did not pursue territory enlargement policies of his father and grandfather, the first King of Portugal of the Burgundy dynasty that established the country's independence, managed to ensure peace with Castile during his reign. 

The first official use of Portuguese: The Testament of King Afonso II.
The transcript of this important European document is available here.

In the last decade of the thirteenth century, King Dinis The Farmer - (1279–1325) legalised Portuguese as the official language of the Kingdom of Portugal, following the example of his grandfather, King Alfonso X of Castile and Leon, who established Castilian as the official language of his kingdom during his reign, which started in 1252.

Although the Portuguese was only formalised this in Dom Dinis, as of 1255, the chancery of King Afonso III of Portugal, the Portuguese used it alongside the Latin in official documents.

A report (in Portuguese, of course) can be watched on RTP's website: Língua portuguesa é usada em documentos oficiais desde há oito séculos.

PS. Accidentally (or intentionally?) the two sons of the heir to the Portuguese throne, HRH Dom Duarte Pio, Duke of Bragança, bear the names of the two important champions of the Portuguese language: Dom Afonso de Santa Maria, Prince of Beira, Duke of Barcelo and Infante Dinis, Duke of Porto.

Royal Finances and Royal Duties

This week the annual Sovereign Grant report - the report on the Monarchy's public finances in the last year - was published. For details see Royal Family cost each taxpayer 56p last year.

Regularly the anti-monarchist splinter group Republic, run by Graham Smith, occasionally a Fairfax columnist, was quoted by The New York Times:
“They cost much more than they say, and they don’t actually do anything,” said Graham Smith, one of the activists, as he stared up at the palace walls. “People keep pushing for more from the royals, but they give it only grudgingly. We ought to be a republic.”
The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall published their annual review in an impressive graphic:

Activities of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall in 2013/2014

The Prince of Wales funds himself, his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s activities as royals from the Duchy of Cornwall. Prince Charles, however, incurred £1m travel costs in the last year due to an increased number of engagements performed representing the UK and The Queen overseas.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Proclamation of the new King of Spain: A Royal Day in Madrid

¡Viva el rey Felipe!

Oath on the Constitution

Speech by H.M. the King at his Proclamation before the Senate and the Congress of Deputies

Madrid, 19th June 2014

I appear today before Parliament to take the oath provided for in our Constitution and to be proclaimed King of Spain. Having fulfilled this constitutional duty, I wish to convey the Crown’s appreciation and respect for the Senate and the Congress of Deputies, in which national sovereignty is deposited, and here, on this day, to address the Honourable Members and all the people of Spain.

I begin my reign with profound emotion at the honour of accepting the Crown, aware of the responsibility it entails and with the greatest hope for the future of Spain.

It is a nation forged over centuries of history by the shared endeavours of millions of people from all corners of our country and without whose participation the course of Humanity cannot be properly understood.

A great nation, Honourable Members, in which I believe and which I love and admire; a nation whose destiny has been bound to my own for all of my life, as Crown Prince and, from today, as King of Spain.

Before the Honourable Members and before all the people of Spain – and in this respect, too, with profound emotion – I wish to pay a tribute of gratitude to and respect for my father, King Juan Carlos I. From today, an exceptional reign becomes part of our history, one that has left an extraordinary political legacy. Almost 40 years ago, from this same rostrum, my father stated that he intended to be King for all the Spanish people. And this he has been. He invoked the values defended by my grandfather, the Count of Barcelona, and called for a great project of national consensus, one that gave rise to the best years of our modern history.

Today we render to the person of King Juan Carlos the appreciation he deserves, from a generation of citizens who paved the way for democracy, for understanding among Spaniards and for their coexistence in a climate of freedom. That generation, under his leadership and with the very prominent contribution of the Spanish people, laid the foundations of a political construct that overcame apparently insurmountable differences, achieved reconciliation among Spaniards, acknowledged the plural nature of Spain and restored our nation to its place in the world.

Honourable Members, let me also thank my mother, Queen Sofía, for her impeccable, lifetime’s work on behalf of the Spanish people. Her dedication and loyalty to King Juan Carlos, her dignity and her sense of responsibility are exemplary and merit the heartfelt tribute of gratitude that, as her son and as King, I extend to her today. Together, for over 50 years, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía have devoted themselves to Spain. I trust that for many more years we shall continue to enjoy their support, their experience and their affection.

Throughout my life – as Prince of Asturias, Prince of Girona and Prince of Viana – my loyalty to the Constitution has been unswerving and irrevocable, as has, and will continue to be, my commitment to the values on which our democratic society rests. From my earliest childhood, I was brought up in these beliefs, by my family and my teachers. For this, I am deeply indebted to them all and I am thankful, now and always. The Queen and I shall educate our daughters, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía, in those same values of freedom, responsibility, solidarity and tolerance.

Honourable Deputies and Senators,

Today I can affirm before this Chamber – and I welcome the opportunity – that the reign of a constitutional King has begun.

A King taking possession of the highest office of the State, in accordance with a Constitution that was ratified by the Spanish people and which has been our supreme law for over 35 years.

A King who must adhere to the exercise of the functions entrusted to him by the Constitution and who, therefore, symbolises the unity and permanence of the State, undertaking its highest representation and arbitrating and assuring the normal functioning of the institutions.

In short, a King who must also respect the principle of separation of powers and, therefore, abide by the laws passed by Parliament and collaborate with the Government of Spain – which is responsible for determining the direction of national policies – and respect at all times the independence of the judiciary.

Have no doubt, Honourable Members, I shall honour the oath I have just taken; in discharging my responsibilities, I shall be a Head of State who is loyal and willing to listen; ready to understand, to warn and to advise; and always vigilant to defend the general interest.

Let me add, that in performing this act of such historical significance, but which is also of constitutional normality, it is my personal conviction that the Parliamentary Monarchy can and should continue to render a vital service to Spain.

The independence of the Crown, its political neutrality and its wish to embrace and reconcile the different ideological standpoints enable it to contribute to the stability of our political system, facilitating a balance with the other constitutional and territorial bodies, promoting the orderly functioning of the State and providing a channel for cohesion among Spaniards. These political values are essential for our coexistence, and for the organisation and development of our life in common.

But the demands made of the Crown are not limited to the necessary compliance with its constitutional functions. I have always been aware that the Parliamentary Monarchy must be open to and engaged with the society it serves; it must be a faithful and loyal interpreter of citizens’ aspirations and hopes, and must share – and feel as its own – their successes and their failures.

The Crown must remain close to the citizens, acquiring and maintaining their appreciation, their respect and their trust; to do so, the Crown must safeguard the dignity of the institution, maintain its prestige and conduct itself straightforwardly, honestly and transparently, in accordance with its institutional role and its social responsibility. Because only thus will it possess the necessary moral authority for the exercise of its functions. Today, more than ever, and quite rightly, citizens are calling for moral and ethical principles to inspire our public life and for behaviour to be exemplary in this respect. And the King, as Head of State, must not only lead but also be at the service of this just and legitimate demand made by the citizens.

Honourable Members, these are my convictions about the Crown, which from today I shall embody: a renewed Monarchy for new times. And I undertake my task with energy, with enthusiasm and with the open and innovative spirit that has inspired the men and women of my generation.

Honourable Deputies and Senators,

Today, if we were to look to the past, I hope it would be not with nostalgia, but with great respect for our history; with the will to overcome whatever may have separated or divided us; and thus remember and appreciate everything that unites and gives us strength and solidity for the future.

In this remembrance, too, we should always hold dear and recall, with immense respect, all those who as victims of terrorist violence lost their lives or suffered in the defence of our freedom. They will remain in our memories and in our hearts. And the victory of the rule of law, together with our warmest affection, will be the best acknowledgement of the dignity they deserve.

Turning to address our present situation, Honourable Members, let me also express my sympathy and solidarity with all those who have suffered the harsh impact of the economic crisis, and whose very dignity as persons has been affronted. It is our moral duty to do all in our power to reverse this situation, and our public duty to offer protection to the most vulnerable individuals and families. Moreover, it is our obligation to transmit a message of hope, especially to the young, that solving their problems and, in particular, enabling them to find jobs is a matter of priority for society and the State. I know all of the Honourable Members share these concerns and these goals.

But, above all, Honourable Members, today I should like us to look forward, to the future; toward the renewed Spain that, in unison, we must continue to build, from the beginning of this new reign.

Over the recent years, and not without difficulties, we have lived together in a democracy, having finally overcome past eras of tragedy, silence and darkness. Preserving the principles and ideals on which this coexistence is based, and to which I referred earlier, is not only an act of justice to the generations that have preceded us, but a source of inspiration and example at all times in our public life. And assuring the continued coexistence, in peace and freedom, of the Spanish people is and always will be an inescapable responsibility of all public authorities.

The men and women of my generation are heirs to that great collective success which has been admired worldwide and of which we are so proud. It is now up to us to pass it on to the coming generations.

But we also owe the duty to them, and to ourselves, to enhance that valuable legacy and to enrich the collective heritage of freedoms and rights that took such hard work to acquire. Because every political time has its own challenges; and because all political projects – like all human projects – inevitably remain unfinished.

Honourable Members, the Spanish people, and especially the men and women of my generation, wish to revitalise our institutions. In our actions, we seek to reaffirm the supremacy of the public interest and to strengthen our democratic culture.

We wish to see a Spain in which the political forces can come to agreement on the issues and at the times when this is called for by the public interest.

Our aim is that citizens and their concerns should be at the focus of political action because, with their efforts, their work and their sacrifice, it is they who drive our State forward and give meaning to the institutions of which it is comprised.

We hope for a Spain in which citizens regain and retain confidence in their institutions, and for a society based on civic values, tolerance, honesty and rigour, one that is open minded and constructive and acts in a spirit of solidarity.

And we hope, finally, for a Spain in which the ties of understanding are never broken, for this is one of the guiding principles of our constitutional spirit.

In this setting of hope, I wish to reaffirm, as King, my faith in the unity of Spain, symbolised by the Crown. Unity does not mean uniformity, Honourable Members. In 1978, the Constitution recognised our diversity as a defining characteristic of our very identity, in proclaiming the intention to protect all the people of Spain, their cultures and traditions, their languages and institutions. This diversity stems from our history, exalting us and giving strength.

Historically, Spain has been home to diverse traditions and cultures, which have enriched all its peoples throughout the ages. And that assembly, the relationship among cultures and traditions, is most clearly expressed in the concert of languages. Together with Castilian, the official language of the State, the other languages of Spain form a common heritage that, under our Constitution, must be given special respect and protection; this is so because languages are the natural channels for accessing the knowledge of peoples, and at the same time they represent bridges for dialogue among all Spaniards, a view held and defended by landmark writers including Antonio Machado, Espriu, Aresti and Castelao.

In such a Spain, united and diverse, based on the equality of all Spaniards, on solidarity among its peoples and on respect for the law, there is room for us all; for all our feelings and views, for all the different ways of being Spanish. Because feelings, and all the more so in these times of European integration, should never confront, divide or exclude, but should promote understanding and respect, coexistence and sharing.

And we must revitalise this coexistence every day, through the individual and collective exercise of mutual respect and appreciation of each other’s achievements. We must do so with sincere affection, with friendship and bonds of brotherhood and fraternity, which are essential to nourish our collective dreams and ambitions.

Honourable Members, let us all work together, each with their own personality, enriching the whole; let us do so with loyalty, to achieve the new goals before us all in the twenty-first century. Because a nation is not only its history, it is an all-encompassing project, one that is felt and shared by all, one that looks to the future.

A new century, Honourable Members, one that arrived under the sign of change and transformation and in which we live a reality that is quite distinct from that of the twentieth century.

As we are all aware, profound changes are taking place in our lives, bearing us away from traditional ways of seeing the world and our place within it. And while this may provoke disquiet, uncertainty or fear, it also opens up new opportunities for progress.

If we are to rise to the occasion and meet the new challenges to our coexistence, we must all play a part: the public authorities must give the lead and define our great national objectives; but society, too, must provide enthusiasm, convictions and active participation. This task calls for a profound change in the mentalities and attitudes of many people and, of course, great determination and courage, vision and responsibility.

History has shown us that all the great advances have taken place in Spain when we have evolved and adapted to the reality of our times; when we have rejected acquiescence or resignation and when we have raised our sights, to look beyond – and above – ourselves; when we have reached a fresh, shared understanding of our common interests and goals.

Honourable Members, the wellbeing of the men and women of our society requires us to position Spain in the twenty-first century, in the rapidly-emerging new world; in the century of knowledge, culture and education.

We now face the great challenge of promoting new technologies, science and research, which are the real energisers of wealth today; the challenge is to promote and encourage innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, as essential attitudes for development and growth. In my view, these are all vital to the progress and modernisation of Spain, and I have no doubt they will help us win the battle to create new employment, which is the major concern among Spanish people today.

The twenty-first century, which is also the century of the environment, must be one in which humanistic and ethical values – which we must recover and maintain – are exercised, to help eliminate discrimination, secure the role of women and further promote peace and international cooperation.

Honourable Members, at this point I wish to consider the question of international relations, in which Spain occupies a privileged position due to its place in the geography and the history of the world.

Europe used to be an ideal to which Spain aspired. Today, Spain is part of Europe and it is our obligation to help build a strong, united, selfless Europe, in which social cohesion is preserved, which confidently asserts its position in the world and which consolidates its leadership in the democratic values we all share. Doing so is in our own interest, because it will strengthen us, too. Europe is not a foreign policy issue, it is one of the major projects for the Kingdom of Spain itself, for the State and for society.

We are united with the countries of Ibero-America by history and by close ties of affection and brotherhood. In recent decades, we have also shared increasingly strong economic interests and converging views on global questions. But above all, we are united by our shared language and culture, which form an asset of immense value that we must cultivate with resolve and generosity.

And finally, our ancient ties of culture and shared viewpoints with the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and Arab countries offer us the capability to engage in privileged dialogue, based on respect and willingness to cooperate in areas of mutual and international interest, in a region that is of such strategic, political and economic importance.

In an ever-more globalised world, in which new stakeholders are emerging, together with new risks and challenges, the only attitude possible is to adopt an increasingly resolute stance, actively defending the rights of our citizens and promoting our interests, seeking greater participation and influence in the major issues on the global agenda, and doing so with particular reference to the framework of the United Nations.

Honourable Deputies and Senators,

King Felipe VI adressing the nation.
In my remarks today, I have sought to fulfil the duty I feel to convey to you and to the Spanish people, sincerely and honestly, my feelings, convictions and commitments regarding the Spain with which I identify, which I love and to which I aspire; and also regarding the Parliamentary Monarchy in which I believe: as I said before and as I wish to repeat now, my belief in a renewed monarchy for new times.

To conclude my message, I wish to thank the Spanish people for the support and affection I have received on so many occasions. My belief in our future is based on my faith in Spanish society; it is mature and vigorous, responsible and caring, a society that is showing great fortitude and one that has a laudable spirit to prevail over its difficulties.

Honourable Members, we have a great country; we are a great nation, let us believe and trust in her.

Cervantes, speaking through Don Quixote, said, “One man is no more than another if he does no more than another.”

I am proud of the Spanish people and nothing would honour me more than if, through my work and my effort, day by day, I could make the people of Spain proud of their new King.

Thank you very much.

Add caption

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, Princess Leonor, Infanta Sofía greeted Spaniards from the balcony of the Royal Palace

Tens of thousands of Spaniards welcomed King Felipe VI

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Australia Post honours King George V with new stamps

The Centenary of King George V mini sheet first day cover.
Australia Post is marking the centenary of King George V stamps with the release of four domestic base-rate (70c) stamps. These new stamps are modified designs of the original 1914 stamps.

"This issue of George V-based designs marks an important era in Australian stamp production. The stamp issue also brings a new and exciting philatelic product to the range which we trust will spark interest amongst collectors," said Australia Post Philatelic Manager, Mr Michael Zsolt.

A century ago, Australia's stamp designs were political topics and there was much public discussion about their designs. Postmaster-General, Charles Frazer, had developed the Kangaroo and Map design as 'an effective advertisement' for Australia. However, the absence of the traditional British monarch was believed by conservatives to be an insulting slight to Britain. Consequently, in mid-1913 plans were made to scrap the kangaroo in favour of stamps featuring the Australian monarch, King George V.

The incoming Postmaster-General, Agar Wynne was quoted in the press as saying the George V design "would make a very good stamp, being emblematic of Australia, and also of our loyalty to the empire".

For nearly a quarter of a century the King George V design served for the basic letter postage stamp, and for many commonly used postal rates. During this period, a total of 11.8 billion King George V stamps were issued.

On 20 January 1936, King George V died and eventually new stamps featuring King George VI were developed.

The designer of the Centenary of King George V Stamps is John White of the Australia Post Design Studio.

In a first for Australia Post, this stamp issue includes a specimen pack in a new format. This collectable item uses a fold out design and houses four 10 x 70c sheetlets and one multicolour 10 x 70c sheetlet featuring a "specimen" overprint on four of the stamps.

Also available is a stamp coin - a legal tender coin in the shape of a stamp - with a limited edition of only 2,500. The stamp coin comes with a certificate of authenticity and is housed in a quality presentation box.

Other products associated with this stamp issue include a miniature sheet, first day cover, maxicards, prestige booklet, sheetlet pack, stamp pack, booklet of 10 x 70c self-adhesive stamps and a medallion cover.

The Centenary of King George V Stamps issue is available from 17th June 2014 at participating Australia Post retail outlets, via mail order on 1800 331 794 and online at auspost.com.au/stamps while stocks last.

The Centenary of King George V Stamp 70c sheetlets.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Prince Zeid elected new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The UN General Assembly has appointed Prince Zeid, former ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the international body, as its human rights chief based in Geneva on 16th June, making him the first Muslim and Arab to hold the job.

Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
His predecessor as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was the South African lawyer Navi Pillay who held the position since 1st September 2008. Her mandate has been renewed for two years beginning on 1st September 2012.

Prince Zeid bin Ra'ad al-Hussein  was born on 26th January 1964 in Amman, Jordan, to Prince Ra'ad bin Zeid,  present head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria and pretender to the Iraqi throne, and his Swedish-born wife Margaretha Inga Elisabeth Lind, henceforward known as Princess Majda Ra'ad.

Prince Ra'ad was born in Berlin 18th February 1936 where his father Prince Zeid was ambassador of The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq. Prince Ra'ad's mother was Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid (Fakhr un-nisa), a Turkish noblewoman. Upon the death of his father on 18th October 1970, Prince Ra'ad inherited the position as head of the Royal Houses of Iraq and Syria.

Both Prince Ra'ad and his son, Prince Zeid, held diplomatic positions for The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and did not publicly press any claims to the thrones of Iraq or Syria, though they are recognised as the head and heir of the royal dynasty of Iraq and Syria.

In April King Abdullah accepted the resignation of HRH Prince Raad bin Zeid from the presidency of the Higher Council for the Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD).