Friday 25 September 2009

Malta's republican "parliamentary coup"

"The 1974 parliamentary coup which transformed Malta from monarchy to republic was another first. Should this be on the candidates list for National Day? It remains memorable for the way it was done more than for its effect. Had anybody started a debate or called a referendum on whether Malta should shed it last remaining shreds of Monarchy a majority would have been found. The PN Opposition would have been outmanoeuvred, too embarrassed to defend a British Queen. Blessed by consensus, the transition may have eluded notice. Instead the new republican constitution, (little more than an amended version of the earlier one) was forced upon the country under threat by the government to seize absolute power on the pretext that Article 6 of the constitution which mere said that the constitution was supreme was not itself entrenched requiring a two thirds majority for its amendment."

"The constitutional amendments including the stopping of this loophole were agreed to by the opposition under apparent duress. No revolution took place on December 13th. There was no break in legal continuity and the Government was allowed its two thirds majority. Instead of consensus granting ownership of the change to all parties, we had coercion and we still have resentment.

Harry Vassallo in Malta: a babe in arms , 23rd September 2009

Thursday 24 September 2009

The Queen will meet Her Victorian Premier in October

On 5th October Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, will receive Her Victorian Premier at Buckingham Palace. Acting Premier, Attorney-General Rob Hulls, could not hide his pride. On Channel 7 he said: “I think it’s a coup for the Premier. I don’t think there has been too many premiers that had a personal audience with the, er, with the Queen.” It must have been difficult to say the Q-word, because he mumbled it and needed two attempts to say it. But he managed, he really managed well to announce that Victorian Premier John Brumby will meet the Sovereign on 5th October.

Channel 9 had this to say: “This is the first time an Australian Premier has been invited to a rare audience with the Queen. Buckingham Palace has contacted the government to request he visit her while in the U.K. next week.

“The Queen has taken great interest in the Black Saturday bush fires.

“She received daily updates throughout February and March and made a personal donation to the bush fire appeal.”

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, was equally praised. Channel 7: “Princess Anne won fans visiting Melbourne for the National Day of Mourning.” And the Victorian Environment Minister Gavin Jennings added: “They were chuffed that in fact she was there. It made quite a big difference at that time of adversity.”

Even The Age printed a short notice on the forthcoming royal audience for the Victorian Premier.

Friday 18 September 2009

Royal Wedding in Athens

"This week the happiness of two young royal children attracted more the attention of many Greeks than the unsolved conflict of Cyprus. Accompanied by the enthusiastic joy of his compatriots young King Constantine II led his 18 year old bride, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, to their wedding in Athens." This is how the German weekly DIE ZEIT began its report on the colourful celebrations in the Greek capital on 18th September 1964, to this day 45 years ago.

More still photos on this joyous day can be see on the website Greek Wedding.

The US magazine Time knew this about the Royal Wedding:
"Weddings are, so to speak, expensive propositions. In Athens, Finance Minister Constantine Mitsotakis announced that the marriage of Greece's King Constantine, 24, to Denmark's Princess Anne-Marie, 18, cost the treasury $303,000, including $183,300 spent on wedding gifts. However, an issue of 2,000,000 commemorative 30-drachma pieces will net a profit of $1,063,000, leaving the wily Greeks with $760,000 to play around with, or possibly use as a dowry for Crown Princess Irene."

Monday 14 September 2009

The Age's research unveils Prince Charles' secret

Paola Totaro, The Age’s Europe correspondent, was the lead story of extra, the paper’s quarterly newsletter, published last Saturday. Since 2008 she enjoys the “job from heaven” and “her reporting successes soon included … Prince Charles (the Man Who Would be, er, King …)”. This is probably the most positive reference the heir to the throne could get in Fairfax Media.

The journalist’s portrait has more to tell about her encounter with the Prince of Wales: “It was via the [Foreign Press Associaten in London] that she met Prince Charles, speaking at an award night. This confirmed what Totaro’s research had shown – even while many lampooned him, he’s been warning about climate change for 20 years.

Wow, what extraordinary piece of investigative journalism do we get here! The Age’s correspondent found out what everybody, who paid just a little respect to Prince Charles, could know. But the Fairfax journalists were too busy “lampooning him”.

Thursday 10 September 2009


Call me naive, but I always thought writers cannot be bought. Journalists may come at a price. I consider it a possibility that you can ask a journalist to write a biased report, and you may get, what you wanted if the price was right. But I find it hard to believe, that you could demand from a writer to fabricate an essay with a fixed tendency. Well, obviously republicans can. And the pric(z)e is the extraordinary sum of $611.99.

In case you wanted to participate in the “Republican Short Story Competition” your entry was “required to portray an Australian republican future in a positive light”.

Brave new world, where criticism will only be allowed if you followed part two of the rules and “demonstrate the absurdity of a hereditary monarch as the Australian Head of State in twenty-first century Australian society”.

And to participate in this “republican fiction” you had to pay the entry fee of $11.99 (incl GST). “Entry fees are to be paid by money order or cheque to Australian Republican Movement.” Boy, they must be desperate for some dollars more.

Ohe iam satis!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Libya lost her Monarchy 40 years ago - and got Qaddafi instead

For every Monarchy overthrown, the sky becomes less brilliant, because it loses a star.” It was Anatole France, first winner of the Nobel prize for literature 1921, who wrote this remark. It is certainly true, when we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the overthrowing of the Libyan Monarchy and the seizure of power of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi. He used King Idris’ absence to declare a Libyan Arab Republic on 1st September 1969, a republic that has changed its name constantly during the past 40 years. Today its master pleases to call his construction “the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya”.

King Idris I, (Arabic: إدريس الأول‎) born Sayyid Muhammad Idris bin Sayyid Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi (12th March 1889 – 25th May 1983) was the reigning King of Libya from 1951 to 1969 and was also the Chief of the Senussi Muslim order.

In 1911, Italy conquered Cyrenaica in the brief Italo-Ottoman War. In 1920 Sayyid Muhammad Idris bin Sayyid Muhammad al-Mahdi as-Senussi was recognized by the British under the new title of Emir of Cyrenaica, a position also confirmed by the Italians. Two years later he was named Emir of neighboring Tripolitania. Idris' efforts to gain the country's independence were suppressed by the Italians, and he was driven into exile in the late 1920s. After struggling for liberation through the 1930s, Idris fought with General Bernard Montgomery and his army and they defeated the Italian and German troops in Libya in 1943.

The Italian colony was dismembered in a British and a French occupation zone. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica belonged to the British zone, Fessan was French. After the Peace of Paris in 1947 the country became a trust territory of the UN. The occupation zones persisted. In 1949 the UN decided to grant Cyrenaica independence under the Senussi-Order and its Emir Mohammed Idris as-Senussi.

From Benghazi, Idris led the team negotiating with the United Kingdom and the United Nations over independence, which was achieved on 24th December 1951. Idris was proclaimed the King of Libya. The flag of the Senussi Emirate was black with silvery half-moon and star in the middle. After Libya gained her independence, she introduced a national flag that was that of the Cyrenaica, however completed by a red stripe above the black and broad middle stripe and by a green stripe below. The three stripes represented the three parts of the country: Fessan, Cyrenaica und Tripolitania.

Following independence Libya faced a number of problems. There were no colleges in the country and just sixteen college graduates. Also the country had just three lawyers with not a single Libyan physician, engineer, surveyor or pharmacist in the Kingdom. It was also estimated that only 250,000 Libyans were literate and that 10% of the population was blind, with eye diseases such as trachoma widespread. In light of these Britain provided a number of civil servants to staff the government.

In April 1955 oil exploration started in the kingdom with its first oil fields being discovered in 1959. The first exports began in 1963 with the discovery of oil helping to transform the Libyan economy.
On April 25, 1963 the federal system of government was abolished and in line with this the name of the country was changed to the Kingdom of Libya to reflect the constitutional changes.

King Idris maintained close relations with the West in spite of increasing tensions between the US, UK, and the Arab world. In 1969, King Idris I had decided to abdicate in favor of his nephew on 2nd September. A coup led by Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi (and with murky support from the Italian government of the day) overthrew the King's government on 1st September, while the King was receiving medical treatment in Turkey. The King's nephew and Crown Prince, Sayyid Hassan as-Senussi, was placed under house arrest, along with most of the rest of the Royal Family. King Idris was placed on trial in absentia in the "Libyan People's Court" and sentenced to death in November 1971.

In 1984 Qaddafi released the Royal Family from house arrest and tossed them onto the street. The family lived for a period in a cabin on a public beach. Crown Prince Sayyid Hassan, suffering from poor health, was allowed to travel with most of the family to London for medical treatment, where they settled. The Crown Prince died in 1992, and was succeeded by his son, Prince Sayyid Muhammad bin Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Senussi.

Today's Libyan Royal Family
Prince Muhammad, the de jure King of Libya, has been active in Libyan exile circles, participating in an anti-Qaddafi rally in London in 2005, when he joined hundreds of Libyan opposition members in London to push for Qaddafi's ouster - their first conference in exile to tell the world, they said, there is an alternative to Qaddafi that is not Islamic extremism, but the Constitutional Monarchy.

Prince Muhammad has made Libyan democracy his public cause and has not renounced the throne. When in December 2007 Qaddafi put up his tent in Paris he was not left alone. From London came the claimant of the Libyan throne and reminded the French and the Libyan dictator that there is an alternative to the North African clown, as Taki calls him. The French newspaper Le Figaro had an extensive interview with Prince Mohammed as-Senoussi. Although he and his supporters were forbidden by the French police to stage a demonstration against Qaddafi, his presence in the Paris was enough to upset Qaddafi and his host Sarkozy.

Muammar al-Qaddafi as a tourist in the Louvre, Paris

Qaddafis' Monarchy
In August 2008, Qaddafi appeared in public wearing a regal crown and carrying a scepter, for the formal signing ceremony of a reconciliation pact with Italy. In tow was his son, Seif al Islam, designated as his dynastic successor to rule the republic or kingdom. All of this followed a meeting in which 200 tribal leaders conferred the title of “King of Kings” upon the once anti-monarchist revolutionary.