Saturday 26 February 2011

Commemorating King Mohammed V of Morocco
10th August 1909 – 26th February 1961

While the world’s attention today focusses on the civil war in Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco commemorates the 50th anniversary of the passing away of the “pater patriae”, the father of the fatherland, His Majesty King Mohammed V.

King Mohammed V (10th August 1909 – 26th February 1961) (Arabic: محمد الخامس‎) was Sultan of Morocco from 1927-53, exiled from 1953–55, but he was again recognized as Sultan upon his return, and King from 1957 to 1961. His full name was Sidi Mohammed ben Youssef, or Son of Sultan Youssef, upon whose death he succeeded to the throne.

A well documented biography can be found here.
Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef was only the third son of Moulay Youssef, the brother of the ruling sultan, Moulay Hafid. But in 1912, when the French occupied Morocco, Moulay Youssef replaced his brother as sultan. Sidi Mohammed Ben Youssef grew up in the royal palaces of Fez and Meknes, where an Algerian teacher tutored him.

On 18th November 1927, at the age of 16 Sidi Mohammed was chosen by the college of ulemas (religious scholars) to succeed his father. This choice was influenced by the French protectorate authorities, who hoped that this timid and docile youth would remain removed from the affairs of state. Isolated in his palace, Sultan Mohammed V, during the initial years of his reign, seemed to accept his unimportant role. During this same period the first nationalists organized a movement which led to the formation of the Istiqlal, or Independence party, in 1944. Already by the late 1930s the Sultan (who assumed the title of king in 1956) had secretly collaborated with some of these nationalists.

During World War II, however, Sultan Mohammed remained loyal to France, but in January 1943 at the Conference of Anfa, a suburb of Casablanca, the Sultan dined with U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt, who opened up the perspective of an independent Morocco if the Sultan would aid the Allies in recruiting Moroccan troops for action on the European front. In 1947, during a speech at Tangiers, Mohammed Ben Youssef departed from the written text which the French authorities had approved and openly sided with the nationalist cause.

The crisis in Franco-Moroccan relations intensified after the war. It was aggravated by the attitude of conservative resident generals who repressed the nationalist party. Stripped of real power, Mohammed V was often forced to condemn the Istiqlal officially while secretly he encouraged its leaders. Beginning in 1947 the situation deteriorated. Encouraged, even pushed, by the preponderant colonialist groups, the French authorities in Rabat tightened their direct control over the administration, an act which further diminished the Sultan's authority. The latter resisted by the only legal means at his disposal and refused as often as he could to countersign laws and decrees. He also attempted to bring the growing abuse of his powers to the attention of the French government, but all of his attempts to change the protectorate status failed.

Deposition and Exile
Tension mounted in Morocco during the 1950s. As the French in Morocco attacked the Sultan, his popularity grew. The French, allied with an important feudal chief of the south, the Glaoui of Marrakesh, and other traditionalist leaders hostile to the reformist and nationalistic elites of the Istiqlal, tried to play off one side against the other. Riots in Casablanca at the end of 1952 ushered in the era of mass politics, and the Sultan was accused of being one of the main causes for the deteriorating situation. By 20th August 1953, despite the opposition of Paris, the French in Morocco deposed the Sultan, who refused to abdicate his throne. He and his family were exiled to Madagascar, where they remained for three years.

April 1954 : Mohammed V is in exile on Madagascar. The Sultan poses with his children. From left to right: Aïcha, Hassan (the futur King Hassan II), Malika, Abdellah, and Nezha. On the sultan's knees: The youngest princess, Amina, who was born in exile.

In Morocco the failure of the royal deposition became quickly clear. The Moroccans considered the new puppet sultan, Moulay Arafa, a usurper. Acts of terrorism multiplied, and insecurity spread throughout the country. The French in Morocco retaliated with repression and violence, while liberal politicians in Paris actively worked for a solution. When the Glaoui rallied to the cause of Mohammed V, all opposition to the exile's return melted away, and on 16th November 1955, the Sultan regained Morocco and was greeted by delirious crowds. On 2nd March 1956, Morocco received its independence. Mohammed V became the chief of state, and his son Moulay Hassan took command of the army.

Independent King
When Morocco became independent, Mohammed V was 45 years old. He had two sons and four daughters, all of whom had received a modern education. His poor health gave him a fragile appearance, accentuated by a natural pallor. But his gaze was attentive, and he possessed an ironic sense of humour that he revealed to friends and relatives. The early rigidity which characterized his personality as sultan gradually gave way to self-confidence as king. But he never lost the reserve and dignity which characterized his dynasty's style. Through courteous manners and down-to-earth simplicity, when he so chose, he charmed his opponents into working for him.

Mohammed's legendary exile, during which time the Moroccan nation took form, gained enormous prestige for him, and he used this to full advantage. He combined in his person the religious authority of a sharif (descendant of the prophet Mohammed) and the martyrdom of an exile, and in his presence both modernists and traditionalists, Berbers and Arabs, found unity.

Although a theocratic king who was endowed with absolute authority, Mohammed exercised his powers more as an arbiter than as a despot, which fact added to his prestige. His character and his studies of Moroccan dynastic history aided him to maneuver his opponents rather than confront them. He was a master at balancing forces, speaking to all sides and giving everyone the impression that he heeded advice; but in the end he did what was best for the palace and his dynasty. By weakening the opponents to the throne, he strengthened royal institutions and became the indispensable symbol of national unity.

Without schooling in political science, Mohammed V nevertheless had a flair for politics. He was fully aware of the contradictory realities of his country, which had to undergo the profound transformation from a medieval kingdom to a modern nation-state. His aim throughout his last years was to help the traditional society adjust to this new, modern state. He died unexpectedly of heart failure after a minor operation on 26th February 1961. His son Hassan II succeeded him as king.

He succeeded in conciliating divided forces of Moroccan nationalism and helped to forge national unity around the throne.

Recently Salim Mansur published an anecdote in The Toronto Sun that underlined King Mohammed V’s reconciling attitude.
“Everyone here is familiar with Mohammed V’s reply to Vichy (pro-Nazi) French officers and their German colleagues when they demanded Moroccan authorities hand over Jews in the country: ‘There are no Jews in Morocco, only Moroccans.’”

Three Kings: The present ruler of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, his father, King Hassan II, and his grandfather, King Mohammed V.

Friday 25 February 2011

The Royal Flag is Freedom's Flag

Unlike the English speaking media, the French take a much closer look to the Eastern part of Libya, the Cyreneica, that is the centre of the people's uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. Le Figaro reports today :

"... the Cyreneica never really accepted the toppling of King Idris in 1969 by the young lieutenant [Qaddafi], who came from the Syrte region. Attached to the Senoussi [order and dynasty], the first and only sovereign of Libya remained a popular figure in this part of the country. His flag, once replaced by Qaddafi's green flag, was waved in the last couple of days by the insurgents. The repeated accusations of the Libyan dictator of manipulations by al-Qaida echo an old refrain of his propaganda, that portrays the Senoussis as a fundamentalist islamist movement."

Mais malgré les tentatives de récupération de la révolte de la province par
Kadhafi, la Cyrénaïque n'a jamais vraiment accepté le renversement du roi Idris par le jeune lieutenant venu de la région de Syrte en 1969. Affilié aux Senousis, le premier et seul souverain libyen reste une figure populaire dans cette partie du pays. Son drapeau, remplacé depuis par le drapeau vert de Kadhafi, était brandi par les insurgés ces derniers jours. Les accusations répétées du dictateur libyen de manipulation des insurgés par al-Qaida font écho à une vieille antienne de sa propagande, qui présente depuis longtemps les Senousis comme un mouvement fondamentaliste islamique.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Her Majesty's Message of condolence following the earthquake in New Zealand

Following the earthquake in New Zealand on 22nd February 2011 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of New Zealand sent the following message to Her New Zealand Prime Minister, The Rt. Hon. John Key:

I have been utterly shocked by the news of another earthquake in Christchurch. Please convey my deep sympathy to the families and friends of those who have been killed; my thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this dreadful event. My thoughts are also with the emergency services and everyone who is assisting in the rescue efforts.


Wednesday 16 February 2011

The Prince of Wales pays tribute to Dame Joan Sutherland

The Prince of Wales was among 2,000 guests filling Westminster Abbey today, to pay tribute to opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland during a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate her life and work.

"La Stupenda", as Dame Joan became known, was one of the towering figures of 20th Century opera and a stalwart of the Royal Opera House.

She died at her home in Switzerland in October last year, aged 83.

The Australian-born soprano made her name in the UK after travelling to London to study at the Royal College of Music and then joining the Royal Opera House, of which The Prince has been Patron since 2009.

The service, incorporating music, prayers and readings, was conducted by the Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster.

He told the congregation: "La Stupenda, with the voice of the century, a voice like heaven, Joan Sutherland was a prima donna, a star for over 50 years."

Two recordings made by Dame Joan were played in the Abbey - Let The Bright Seraphim from Samson and Casta Diva from Norma.

Giving the address, Sir John Tooley, general director of the Royal Opera House from 1970-88, said: "The impact Joan made on her audiences, whether in the theatre, concert hall or on disc, was profound, never to be forgotten. And all of this from an engaging and supremely modest human being."

Tuesday 8 February 2011

Is Qaddafi willing to give the Libyan people the Monarchy back?

Australian political and defense analyst, Greg Copley, president of the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) in Washington, DC, says the Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi is quietly preparing to leave the scene and return the country to a monarchy.

"What Qaddafi is now starting to do, and he started this last year, he recognized that all of his sons, but particularly the one he designated as his heir, Saif al-Islam, was not going to cut it either with the Libyan people or with Qaddafi's own ideas for Libya," Copley explains according to

"He's started to return property, which belonged to the late King Idris, back to the designated heirs of the king," the ISSA president reports. "And basically, I think he's setting himself up to do what Franco did in Spain, which was to return the country to a constitutional monarch."

Muammar al-Qaddafi has led a putsch against King Idris es-Senussi I on 1st September 1969.

Libyan Crown Prince Mohammed es-Senoussi (47) has been living in London since 1988. He led demonstrations against Qaddafi's visits in Paris and Rome.

Monday 7 February 2011

"Drowning in Royalism"

In August 2008 Fairfax media, owner of The Age, announced the sacking of 550 people – 390 in Australia, 160 in New Zealand, among them 90 journalists. The loss of staff has forced the editors to fill their columns with bought opinion pieces or with articles published overseas. The latest example is Ben Chu’s glossy view on “the hereditary principle”, which was first published on 19th January 2011 in The Independent, a British daily with an unashamedly pro-republican tendency. The Sunday Age’s supplement “Sunday Life” reprinted Ben Chu’s article on 6th February 2011 (nothing better to publish on Her Majesty's 59th Accession Day?) with minor alterations under the title “The born supremacy”:
We are drowning in royalism. First came the gush of national enthusiasm at the announcement of the impending nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Then we were drenched in critical acclaim and publicity for The King's Speech. By the time the royal wedding comes around in April, our heads will be well and truly under monarchist water.
On the first look, it has its charm, to write an article on royalism, but I am afraid Ben Chu’s problem was, he could not find an explanation for “royalism” in Wikipedia. Because had he found a proper explanation of royalism he would never have ended with “celebrity dynasties”. The French term “royalisme” is quite straight forward:
“Royalism” is a political idea that praises or supports the kingdom, which means a political regime in which the head of the nation bears the title of king or queen, very often hereditary. It is often mixed up with “monarchism”, because there are monarchies that are not royal (i.e. imperial, princely, grand ducal etc. See also the opposite of democracy, and there exist also constitutional monarchies, especially in Europe (UK and Spain etc.). [“Royalism”] opposes republicanism.

Le royalisme est une idée politique qui prône ou soutient la royauté, c’est-à-dire un régime politique dans lequel le chef d'une nation porte le titre de roi ou de reine, le plus souvent héréditaire. Il est souvent confondu avec le monarchisme, alors qu'il existe des monarchies non royales (impériales, princières, grand-ducales...), voire entendu comme le contraire de la démocratie, alors qu'il existe des monarchies constitutionnelles, notamment en Europe (Espagne, Royaume-Uni...). Elle s'oppose au républicanisme.

From this explanation it is quite obvious that Ben Chu could not have been drowning in royalism. He may have suffered from an overdose of royalist memorabilia, newspaper articles and TV coverage, but that is in relation to our Royal Family, which Royalists may channel into royalism.

On the other hand, why is a Fairfax publication unable to find an Australian author to contemplate royalism, hereditary rules and – above all – family dynasties? Ben Chu’s opinion piece was published three weeks ago in The Independent, which may explain, why he did not give a thought on the Murdoch dynasty, whose grip on the Australian media is tighter than ever. Australia is flooded with Murdochism or Packerism and there is no rescue in sight.

Saturday 5 February 2011

His Majesty King Fouad II of Egypt has released a statement
In the name of Allah the benevolent and the merciful.

"We Ahmed Fouad II of Egypt, deeply saddened by the tragic events experienced by our beloved country, wish wholeheartedly for a swift solution to the present crisis.

"Our prayers accompany families who have suffered losses of dear ones.

"Our best wishes for a prompt recovery are extended to those who have been injured.

"We hope most sincerely that these unfortunate victims will be truly the last and that there will be no more bloodshed.

"Let us hope that the whole Nation and its people will recover peace and well being and take the path of democracy. Social and economic development can only come through peaceful dialogue.

"May Allah protect my beloved Egypt and the Egyptian people."

His Majesty, Fu'ād II, King of Egypt and the Sudan – Aḥmad Fu'ād (Arabic: الملك أحمد فؤاد الثاني Aḥmad Fu'ād) – was born on 16th January 1952. He ascended the throne on 26th July 1952 upon the abdication of his father, His Majesty King Fārūq I, who was forced by the putsch of army officers to leave the country. His Majesty, King Fu'ad II reigned for less than a year until 18th June 1953, when Egypt was declared a republic and he joined the rest of his family in exile in Switzerland, where he has continued to live to this day.

Tuesday 1 February 2011

"William will be king of Australia - I certainly wouldn't bet against it"

Boris Johnson was given the honour to be reprinted by The Age today: Even Aussies love the Queen, it’s in the blood. It caused a stir in the comments section here and in the UK, where the Mayor of London’s article was first published in The Daily Telegraph on 30th January 2011.

Just read it for yourself and enjoy the slightly polemic language. About 20 years ago Boris Johnson had a bet with “a vaguely Left-wing Aussie professor“ that the Queen would still be the Australian head of state in – “and I paused, trying to think of a date so far in the future as to make the bet seem fair - the year 2000”. As we all know, the Australian Monarchy was re-affirmed in the 1999 referendum and Boris Johnson looks for the $100 the “vaguely Left-wing Aussie professor“ owes him. Does he claim interest?

Boris Johnson: "As for whether William will be king of Australia - I certainly wouldn't bet against it."
The Prince and A Gentleman

Here's a letter to the editor of The Age in response to yesterdays' attack on Prince Charles:
Prince of a man
IT WAS interesting to read
Michael Shmith's gently ironic comment on Prince Charles's Australia Day remarks to an audience at Australia House in London (MelbourneLife, 31/1). It may be that there is a certain whimsy about the image that the Prince of Wales presents, but anyone who watched (as I did) his masterly delivery of the David Dimbleby lecture in 2009, could not fail to be impressed with his grasp of his subject (climate change) and with the wit and erudition he brought to such a vexed question. In any event, is it not some comfort to have, as our putative head of state, a man of humility and self-deprecating humour? A brief glimpse at the murderous regimes around the world reminds us of our good fortune in having a robust democracy supported and informed by a benign titular head.

David Morgan, Ivanhoe