Wednesday 19 September 2012

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Brisbane

The Duchess of Cambridge set foot on Australian soil for the first time today, to the delight of around 200 locals and travellers who waited in viewing areas at Brisbane Airport to see her.

Her Royal Highness walked down the steps of the plane at 11.45am local time, where she and Prince William the Duke of Cambridge were met by consular officials who had placed a small square of red carpet on the tarmac. The Duchess spent less than three hours on Australian soil during her first visit to the country, but it was still time enough for her to win over its people.

Wearing a powder pink floral dress designed by Dannii Minogue, the Australian singer, the Duchess caused excitement at Brisbane airport as she walked through a public departure lounge waving and smiling. Around 200 local people and travellers gathered on viewing platforms, alongside five television crews and a dozen newspaper photographers.

The future King of Australia and his wife came from their last official duty stop in Tuvalu at  the end of a nine-day tour marking the Queen's Diamond Jubilee which also took them to Singapore, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands.

In Tuvalu they were treated to a traditional Tuvalu feast of pigs, lobster, coconut crabs and local fresh fruit. They also wore the traditional "titi saga" or skirt as they danced with locals in the remote tropical nation, one of the world's smallest countries which is situated near the equator.

In 2008 Tuvalu had shown loyalty to the Crown by refusing a proposal to introduce a republic. In a referendum 64.98% of the voters cast their ballot paper in favour of retaining Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Tuvalu, as their Monarch.

Tuesday 18 September 2012



Tuesday, 18th September 2012

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Australia for six days from Monday 5th to Saturday to 16th November 2012, as Her Majesty The Queen’s personal representatives in the Diamond Jubilee year.

The tour will start in Papua New Guinea from 3rd to 5th November. From Australia Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla will move on to New Zealand for the last part of the tour from November 10 to 16, attending events and celebrations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as making a brief stop in Manawatu. Prince Charles will celebrate his 64th birthday on 14th November in Wellington.

It is expected that the Royal couple will visit Longreach, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Canberra.

Details of the program, and locations where the public will be able to see the Royal couple, will be made publically available closer to the visit.

The last visit to Australia by The Prince of Wales was in 2005 when he visited Perth, Alice Springs, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. This will be the first visit to Australia by The Duchess of Cornwall.

The Royal couple's visit to Melbourne coincides with the Melbourne Cup on 6th November and it is expected that they will attend to yearly Melburnian highlight.

Clarence House said Prince Charles will renew old friendships and form new ties during the trip. He last visited Papua New Guinea in 1984, and Australia and New Zealand in 2005.

Monday 17 September 2012

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in the Solomon Islands

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived at Henderson International Airport in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands to be greeted by a tukuwaka, or welcome ceremony, performed by traditional warriors in grass skirts and body paint, bearing spears, clubs and bows and arrows.

Then the couple boarded a “war canoe”, the traditional method by which important visitors are carried onto the island. Instead of being a hollowed-out log, the 21st century version was a Toyota flat-bed truck decorated like a carnival float to look like a canoe, with the couple standing in the cargo bay under a rickety-looking roof made of rushes.

Their arrival caused such a stir that more than 60,000 people lined the short route from the airport into the centre of Honiara. Local police said an influx of people from neghbouring islands meant the crowd which turned out to greet the couple was larger than the entire population of the main island, Guadalcanal, and the couple were clearly enjoying the raucous welcome, waving and smiling constantly as their “canoe” made its stately progress towards the capital’s cathedral for a Diamond Jubilee service of thanksgiving.

Saturday 15 September 2012

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will soon be in Australia

The previous Victorian government had predicted the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, at the Melbourne Cup: On 2nd February 2010 Victorian Racing Minister Rob Hulls, told the public that the Queen had been invited to attend Australia's premier horse race.

"I know that the Queen is a great racing fan, and I honestly don't know whether or not she has any plans to come here," he told reporters. It was “up to her” if she wanted to attend the 150th Melbourne Cup he stumbled into the TV cameras.

As it turned out, the Queen did not visit Melbourne in 2010, but one year later. However, the Melbourne Cup is on the mind of our Royal Family and in 2012 The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall are expected to be in Australia in early November. Their Royal Highnesses have been deputised to represent The Queen and that their visit will be a continuation of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in Australia.

This week, The Age published the news Charles and Camilla tipped for Melbourne Cup. “Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, may outshine all the other celebrities at this year's Melbourne Cup, if speculation is correct that their Australian visit will include a day at the races.

It would be Prince Charles' second time at the Melbour-ne Cup, after his trip to Fleming-ton with Princess Diana in 1985. If the royal couple do grace Flemington on Tuesday, 6th November, they will certainly be the highest profile guests at the spring racing carnival. So far the sponsors have yet to announce their international celebrity guests but it was already announced that actress Mischa Barton will be a Cup guest. Mischa who?, you may ask. The Royal guests would draw world-wide attention to Australia’s most important race.

The Melbourne Cup has been Australia's major Thoroughbred horse race since it was started in 1861. It is marketed as "the race that stops a nation" and held on the first Tuesday in November, which is a public holiday in Victoria.

The 2012 Melbourne Cup Field will be announced on the Saturday before the race, 3rd November 2012.

The Melbourne Cup 2012 field of 24 horses will feature some of the best staying horses from around the world. 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is already in the running to defend their title in the Melbourne Cup 2012.

For the latest information see 2012 Melbourne Cup Field.

On the first visit of a reigning Australian Monarch the Queen and Prince Philip attended the Melbourne Cup in 1954.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Are republicans masochists?

Kathy Lette has been subject of this blog before: Another ex-pat lectures us (17th April 2011) or Prince Charles marked Australia Day (28th January 2011). This time the RadicalRoyalist has to refer to an opinion piece written by Kathy Lette, that was published by Fairfax media (The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald): Republicans beware: a royal baby will help the monarchy.

There wasn’t really anything new or remotely funny in Kathy Lette’s opinion piece. She knows what the Fairfax editors buy from her and she delivers the required opinion.

The reason for this blog entry were the two final sentences of her ranting:
"In truth, Australians are fond of all kinds of queens, but it doesn't mean we want to be ruled by them. So let's not allow a royal baby to be a PR stealth weapon, flying right under our republican radar."
Isn’t it funny, that she does not want to be ruled by queens, especially not by our present Monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, but when she fled Her Majesty’s Australian realm. It must be a masochistic streak, why did she not seek refuge in one of these too many republics that plaster this world, but settled with husband and children in the United Kingdom – she is now by far closer to her Majesty’s rule than she was in Australia. And still she is happy to teach us, who live quite happily down under, that we should not allow a future royal baby – and heir to the throne – to be accepted by us.

What is she doing in the UK, except living obviously quite happily on the salary paid by the Fairfax media? She was received by HRH Prince Charles and HRH Duchess Camilla and nobody reported any misbehaving from the passionate republican Kathy Lette. Is this another case of preaching water and drinking wine?

But perhaps Ms Lette should look at the horrendous anti feminist policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has been ignored by the Austraian media, before worrying about living under a Queen.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Queen Paola of the Belgians celebrates her 75th birthday

She may be Europe's least known Queen and she celebrates her 75th birthday today "dans l’intimité" - "in private" as the court announced - without public celebrations. But her Italo-Belgian charm can easily match that of the more famous European Queens.

Queen Paola was born Princess Ruffo di Calabria, on 11th September 1937, at Forte del Marmi in Italy. She is the youngest of seven children of Prince Fulco Ruffo di Calabria, a First World War flying ace, and Countess Luisa Gazelli. Her grandmother on her father's side, Laure Mosselman du Chenoy, was Belgian.

The Queen spent her entire youth in Rome, where she completed her classical secondary education in Latin and Greek.

She married Prince Albert of Belgium on 2 July 1959, whom she met at the coronation of HH Pope John XXIII in October 1958. The couple have three children: Prince Philippe, Duke of Brabant (born on 15th April 1960), Princess Astrid (born on 5th June 1962) and Prince Laurent (born on 19th October 1963).

The Constitution did not provide for any particular official role for the Queen. Nevertheless, Belgian queens have always played a role in the public life of the country. So the Queen assists the King in carrying out his functions as Head of State: many visits to institutions, contacts with the population, ceremonies in Belgium and abroad, state visits, audiences with representatives of various groups in society and many cultural and social activities. Towards this end, the Queen pays special attention to her role as hostess.

Apart from her activities in the company of the King, the Queen also devotes time to topics that are close to her heart, mainly in the social and cultural sphere.

Social activities
The Queen deploys the Queen's Charities to offer help to citizens who are struggling to cope with financial hardship in their daily lives and often turn to her as a last resort.

On her own initiative or by invitation, she regularly visits social institutions or medical centres throughout the country. These contacts enable her to keep her finger on the pulse of the people and their needs and requirements and of the many initiatives taken every year in Belgium to help others.

Set up in 1992 the Queen Paola Foundation provides the Queen with an opportunity to focus on the issue of integration and training for young people. The Queen Paola Foundation's activities are primarily based on three themes:
  • Meaningful support offered to agencies providing help to young people struggling to be included in the main social networks.
  • The Queen Paola Prize for Education (launched in 1997) seeks to highlight and reward innovative schemes undertaken by educationalists from all academic levels and networks. 
  • The School of Hope (set up in 1999): this initiative lends support to schools operating in a disadvantaged social and economic environment.
In April 2002, the Queen was made Honorary President of Child Focus, the charity which searches for children who have disappeared, combats sexual abuse and helps the parents concerned. Thanks in particular to her international contacts, the Queen is trying to facilitate the creation of similar operational centres in other countries.

Cultural activities
Having lived a long time in Rome, the Queen soon developed an appreciation of beauty and good taste in all areas:

The Queen takes a keen interest in the protection and preservation of Belgium's heritage as a result of the very many visits she pays to gain "on the ground" experience. These include visits to Beguine convents and industrial facilities from the early 19th century. In this connection, the Queens devotes a lot of her time to facilitating the restoration and maintenance of the Royal estates and residencies.

The Queen is interested in both new and traditional crafts. She takes every opportunity to encourage the exercise and teaching of craft professions.
Contemporary art
The Queen is in constant contact with artistic circles and regularly supports major exhibitions or artistic performances both in Belgium and abroad by her presence or via High Patronage. On the initiative of the Queen, contemporary artists have had the opportunity to design and make original works within the Palace of Brussels.
As a result of organising activities in the Palace, attending concerts, particularly those held against the background of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition, and visits to innovative initiatives, the Queen above all aspires to lend support to training and to emerging young professional musicians.

The Royal Family plays a key role in the Queen's life. In common with all grandmothers, the Queen is delighted to spend time in the company of her grandchildren. She is also keen on going on long walks in the forest with the King, as this offers her the opportunity to enjoy the rich variety of natural resources there and the changing seasons.

The Queen is also passionately fond of books, music and travel, particularly in Europe and Africa.

While in India, she visited the "Holy Family Hansenarium", a leprosy hospital in Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, founded in 1955 and supported by the Belgian Action Damien.

Monday 10 September 2012

Prince Harry from the front pages to the front line

Prince Harry has returned to Afghanistan four years after he was forced to leave the country while serving as a soldier in Helmand, because the Australian magazine New Idea did not respect the news embargo. It was condemned by its readers, who claimed the decision had put his life on the line. Its website was full of criticism.

An Australian soldier called rmpdavid, who serves in the British Army, wrote: "Well done. You broke a world embargo on this and as a result it's most likely that a young officer (who happens to be a Royal) will now have to return from operations due to the increased risk to himself and fellow British soldiers.

"As an Aussie in the British Army I'm disgusted. Poor journalism." well, there are lots of examples for that accusation.

Prince Harry was last seen in public while watching the Paralympic swimming competition. An Australian athlete gave him a present from down under, which he obvioulsy enjoyed.

Saturday 8 September 2012

Iran bars women from universities

In August Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology decided to bar women in 36 universities from 77 fields of study, according to state-run media. Female students learned of the curbs when they received their registration letters in recent weeks. Among the now forbidden subjects are nuclear physics and oil engineering, but also English literature, English translation, hotel management, archaeology, computer science, electrical and industrial engineering or business management.

The Nobel Peace laureate of 2003, Shirin Ebadi, wrote in an open letter to the United Nations dated 17th August that the new rules “demonstrate that the Iranian authorities cannot tolerate women’s presence in the public arena. They are trying to push women back to the private sphere of their homes so they may abandon their opposition and legitimate demands.”

The Daily Telegraph reported: “[The ban] follows years in which Iranian women students have outperformed men, a trend at odds with the traditional male-dominated outlook of the country's religious leaders. Women outnumbered men by three to two in passing this year's university entrance exam.

Senior clerics in Iran's theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.”

Australian media did not take notice of the latest discriminatory act of the Islamic Republic. Not a single line was published in The Age, which claims to be an advocate of equality and feminism. And while politicians find it unacceptable, that private societies like the Melbourne club allow female guests but not women members, the blatant step backwards in Iran caused no stir in Australia’s feminist circles.

Women's rights under the Shah
The Iranian discrimination of women come 33years after the Shah’s reforms were overturned by the newly established Mullah regime. With the Shah Mohammed Reza's departure on 14th January 1979, Iran sank into the darkness of the Middle Ages. A reign of terror, of which the Monarch had presciently warned the nation, set in. The first public act of Ayatollah Khomeini, when he took over the reins of power in February 1979, was to abolish women's right to sit in as a judge in a court of law. He initially dissolved the Ministry of Justice, stating that anyone against him was against Allah and should be killed where they stood - with no need for a trial or other justice system.

The Monarchs of the Pahlavi dynasty had introduced many reforms concerning women's rights. An example of an early reform introduced by HIM Shah Reza I was the “forced unveiling of women” by a special decree on 8th January 1936 which outlawed the hijab. Iranian women increasingly participated in the economy, the educations sector and in the workforce. Levels of literacy were also improved. Examples of women's involvement: women acquired high official positions, such as ministers, artists, judges, scientists, athletes, etc.

Under Shah Mohammed Reza many more significant reforms favouring women were introduced. For example in 1963, the Shah granted female suffrage and soon after women were elected to the Majlis (the parliament) and the upper house, and appointed as judges and ministers in the cabinet. In 1967 Iranian family law was also reformed which improved the position of women in Iranian society. It was included in the civil code and was designed to protect wives, children and female divorcees. The general thrust of the reforms were to promote equality between men and women in society.

Shirin Ebadi (*21 June 1947) was admitted to the law department of the University of Tehran in 1965 and in 1969, upon graduation, passed the qualification exams to become a judge, which she officially became in March of 1969. She continued her studies to pursue a master's degree in law in 1971. In 1975, she was appointed the first woman president of the Tehran city court, and also the first ever woman judge in Iran.

Shirin Ebadi in 1969 after she passed the qualification exams to become a judge.

Following the toppling of the Monarchy Ebadi was demoted to a secretarial position at the branch where she had previously presided. She and other female judges protested and were assigned to the slightly higher position of "law expert." She eventually requested early retirement as the situation remained unchanged. As her applications were repeatedly rejected, Ebadi was not able to practice as a lawyer until 1993, while she already had a law office permit.

Monarchical support from exile
The Iranian Imperial Family offers a whole different concept to the oppressive regime in Tehran. Not only would a Constitutional Monarchy bring a fair and just system to Iran, but the fact, that Shah Reza II has no male off-springs would open the door for a female head of state in Iran.

Empress Farah, the only ever crowned Shahbanu of Iran, said in an interview with the French magazine “Point de Vue” (translated by Diana Mandache and published in her excellent Weblog) Her Imperial Majesty answered the question about her son’s succession:
"In the past we have had several Queens who reigned over Iran. If in the future, ensha-allah (God willing) Iran becomes a free and democratic country, all citizens will have the same rights, our Constitution must be amended in this direction. If the Constitutional Monarchy is restored - which I believe is the best solution for my country- a woman can become Queen or occupy any other situation. It will certainly not be like today where 89 women who were candidates for the presidential elections were refused to present themselves because they were precisely women. The Islamic Republic was not able to banish women from elections or dismiss their right to vote, however many laws that protected their rights have been suspended or modified to their disadvantage. Today an Iranian woman cannot ask for a divorce and if a divorce is pronounced the children are under the father’s responsibility or that of his family. My female compatriots are no more normal citizens. Many jobs or responsibilities are refused to them. Thus a woman cannot be a judge because these gentlemen consider that a woman can never be fair in her judgments. One of our most famous compatriots Shirin Ebadi the Nobel Peace Laureate of 2003, was a judge before the revolution. She was banished from her position by the Islamic Republic, and worst she was forbidden to exercise her job as a lawyer for more than five years."
The Iranian women now not only have the chance to oppose the ruling regime, but to actively promote a female head of state by supporting the Monarchist movement.

Friday 7 September 2012

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said received the Australian Governor-General

At Muscat International Airport, Oman, the Her Ecellency the Governor-General Mrs Quentin Bryce and Mr Michael Bryce, attended a welcome ceremony, hosted by the representative of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said , His Highness Sayyid Assad Tariq Al-Said, to mark the start of their official visit to the Sultanate of Oman on 4th September.

Later, at the Al Bustan Palace, the Governor-General received the Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

The Governor-General and Mr Michael Bryce were invited to view the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque by Habib Mohammed Al-Riyami, President of the Grand Mosque.

Mrs Bryce was taken on a tour of the building, which included the main prayer hall and library.

At Bait Al Barakah Palace, Muscat, the Governor-General and Mr Bryce were received by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on 4th September.  
Her Excellency the Governor-General and the Sultan, accompanied by officials, held a meeting highlighting bilateral educational links and business and investment opportunities. The Sultan provided an overview of Middle East developments.

Later, His Majesty hosted a dinner in honour of the Governor-General and Mr Bryce.

On 5th September the Governor-Geneal and Mr Michael Bryce visited the headquarters of Australian company WorleyParsons Limited, which provides services to Oman’s energy industry.

Meeting with staff and Australian representatives, Mr/s Bryce received a briefing on the company’s operations and links with Australia.

Later, the Governor-General hosted a reception for Australians living in Oman and Omani citizens with links to Australia at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Muscat.

Addressing guests, the Governor-General commended the work and example set by Australians and the strong people-to-people links they foster between both nations.