Friday 29 March 2013

Indian Raja dies at the age of 100

Prince Charles, may be the oldest Prince of Wales on record, however, he cannot beat the record of another heir apparant. In what is today the Indian state of Kerala Puthiya Kovilakathu Sree Manavedan Raja, the Zamorin of Calicut, was 90 years old, when he ascended the throne in 2003. On the occassion of his passing way the Indian daily newspaper The Hindu reported, "Kunhianiyan, as he was lovingly referred to, died on Wednesday in a hospital here, barely a week after completing 100 years on March 22". India may have a republican constition, but the numerous royal families in India still play an important role in the cultural, religious and political life of the country.

The Zamorin of Calicut with Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor (Congress Party), former UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information.

"The Zamorins once ruled this port city, which had a prosperous harbour on the medieval Spice Route. Kunhali Marakkars, the admirals of the Zamorin, thwarted attempts by the Portuguese to dominate the region. But during the British period, the Zamorins were reduced to the position of landlords. But they retained their patronage of temples and mosques — and popular esteem.

"A fan of [cricket player] Sachin Tendulkar and a  Kathakali [Malayalam theatre] connossieur, an Ancient British History buff, author and an avid reader of The Hindu, Manavedan Raja was a simple man who took time to listen to all, and promoted communal harmony."

Zamorin of Calicut, P.K.S.Raja

Dr. E.K. Govinda Varma Raja wrote a biography of the Zamorin, titled The King Without A Crown, who as an officer of the Post and Telegraph Department, travelled widely, and had extended postings in the eastern parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, when it was still the British Raj. After retirement as a Deputy General Manager with BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, an Indian state-owned telecommunications company), he spent his years travelling the world till he ascended the throne in 2003.

As Zamorin he had few powers, but he was trustee to 40 temples from Chemanchery to Palakkad. He had a permanent seat on the Guruvayur Sree Krishna Temple’s managing committee. His family managed the Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, where the P.K.S Raja Centenary Research Centre, built at a cost of Rs. 1.5 crore (AU$ 265,000), was scheduled to be inaugurated this month.

Kerala's royal families have a very special succession law: The new rulers are always the sons of the deceased ruler's sister, never his own sons. This matrilinear line of succession is still in use to determine the Maharaja's of Travancore and Kochi. Were this succession law in place in Britain (and therefore in Australia) it would mean that Prince Charles' successor would be Princess Anne's son, Peter Philips.

Saturday 23 March 2013

The Prince of Wales in the Sultanate of Oman

The British Government has asked Their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall, to undertake a 9-day official visit to The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, The Emirate of Qatar, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and The Sultanate of Oman between 11th to 19th March 2013.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Oman on 17th March for the final leg of their overseas tour to the Middle East, having spent the morning in Jeddah.

His Majesty The Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said Al Saidat welcomed the royal couple at the Bayt al Baraka palace in Muscat.

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall witnessed a horse show and toured Nizwa Fort, which is located in the heart of Oman and dates back to the 12th Century. It is the country's most visited national monument.        

The Royal couple also paid a visit to the historic fort of Nizwa in the Governorate of  Dakhiliyah.
Prince Charles viewed the traditional irrigation system of the Sultanate, 'Aflaj', at the Niyabat of Birkat Al Mouz.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Greek King still on a mission for Greece

HM King Constantine II of the Hellenes has no official function in Greece anymore, however, he is still actively working for his home country.

This became obvious in a new documentary Our Queen that was broadcast last Sunday on ITV. The excellent two-hour documentary about the Queen in her Jubilee year received praise from the critics and can be watched on YouTube or in the embedded video below.

Twelve minutes ten seconds into the programme Prime Minister David Cameron appears for his weekly meeting with the Queen. The comment goes on like this:

Every Wednesday at 6 pm the sovereign receives her prime minister.

Prime Minister : There’s a lot going on this week. There’s the Euro zone crisis, the Greek elections, French elections ...

Queen Elizabeth: We were talking about the Euro zone problem. The King did ring me. He is very worried about it.
Greek republicans may not like it, but via the British Monarch the Greek King raised the issue with one of the important leaders in the EU.

On The Greek Royal Familiy's website is another indicator for the King's concern:

His Majesty King Constantine’s message on the occasion of the centennial anniversary of the Liberation of the city of Ioannina 4 March 2013

Asked by journalists about Greece's social and economic crisis, HM King Constantine, stressed, that the politicians and our society can lead our country to better days, only when they act in accord, in unity.

We cannot afford further friction amongst politicians nor our society to be divided.

Citizens and the State must be in concord.

"When the people suffer, we all suffer", HM King Constantine concluded.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

100 years ago: Greek King George I assassinated

King George I (Γεώργιος Αʹ, Βασιλεύς των Ελλήνων, Geórgios Αʹ, Vasiléfs ton Ellínon; *24th December 1845) was elected King of the Hellenes by the Greek National Assembly on 30th March 1863.

Just as he did in Athens, the King went about Thessaloniki without any protection. While out on an afternoon walk near the White Tower on 18th March 1913, he was shot at close range in the back by Alexandros Schinas, who was said to belong to a Socialist organization and declared when arrested that he had killed the King because he refused to give him money. The King died instantly, the bullet having penetrated his heart.

The King's body was taken to Athens on the Amphitrite, escorted by a flotilla of naval vessels. The first King of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty was buried at Tatoi, a royal resort at the foot of Mount Parnitha outside Athens, which King George had bought with his own private money.

The tombs of the Greek Royal Family, lying in a pine wood by a disused chapel, have been vandalised. They include the graves of the Duke of Edinburgh's parents. In 1994 a decree by the viciously anti-royal Socialist Government of the time stripped King Constantine II of Tatoi, its contents, and his Greek citizenship. In November 2002 the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled that the confiscation of the Greek Royal Family's property in their homecountry was an illegal act.

Monday 18 March 2013

30th Anniversary of King Umberto's passing away

After the Italians elected their 630 deputies and 315 senators for the 17th Parliament of the Italian Republic on 24th/25th February 2013, Euronews commented: 
"The results of the Italian general election are threefold, political gridlock, market jitters and a slap in the face for European austerity.
"The numbers mean that the country faces stalemate in the coming weeks as former foes try to put hostilities to bed in order to govern a country in difficulty."
In a couple of weeks the term of president Napolitano will come to an end and the deputies and senators have to find a replacement of the 87-year-old former Communist deputy.

It is rather ironic that at a time, when Italy does not have a functioning government and is looking for a head of state, Italian Monarchists commemorate the late King Umberto II who died 30 years ago on 18th March 1983 in Switzerland.

Proclamation of King Umberto II on 10th May 1946 under the thundering joy of tenths of thousands of Romans at a balcony of the Quirinale Palace.

After the rigged referendum of 2nd June 1946 the Monarch left Italy to avoid a civil war and bloodshed and went into a life-long exile in Portugal, never to be allowed back to Italy, not to die there and not to be buried in his own country. His body was put to rest in the monastery Hautecombe, France. The Radical Royalist commemorated King Umberto’s accession to the Italian throne on 9th May 1946 and called it La grande tragedia d'Italia - Umberto II.

But King Umberto is not forgotten in Italy, as this graffito shows.

The politicial and economic mess Italy is in at the moment is the right time to reflect how Italy could flourish under a Constitutional Monarchy with an impartial King above the parties, above the politicians and overlook an impartial judicial system.

Never did Italy need a King more urgently than now. Viva King Umberto! Viva Italia!

Sunday 17 March 2013

Princess Lilian laid to rest in Sweden

Sweden bid fair well to Princess Lilian who died in her 98th year at her Stockholm home on Sunday, 10th March, surrounded by the royal family with a state funeral. In 2010, the Royal Court announced she was suffering from Alzheimer's and that she would not be participating in Crown Princess Victoria's wedding in June that year. Her late husband Prince Bertil, an uncle of King Carl XVI Gustaf, died in 1997.

She was born Lillian May Davies in Swansea, Wales, on 30th August 1915, the daughter of William Davies and his wife, Gladys Mary Curran. She originally spelt her name with two “l”s, but changed to Lilian when she adopted a career variously described as fashion model, ballerina and singer. In September 1940 she married the Scottish actor Ivan Craig (1912 - 1995), whose career never flourished beyond bit parts such as 2nd policeman in Murder at the Windmill in 1949 and Lord Blackheath in four episodes of Ivanhoe in 1958. He served in Africa during the WWII.

In the early 40s Lilian Davies worked at a factory in London making wirelesses for the Royal Navy, and at a hospital for wounded soldiers. In 1943, she met Prince Bertil of Sweden at the Les Ambassadeurs nightclub in London, some say at a cocktail party to mark her 28th birthday, others at a nightclub called Nuthouse; yet another version placed their meeting on the London Underground. She divorced Ivan Craig in 1945 on amicable terms, her husband having also met someone new while abroad.

During World War II Prince Bertil was stationed at the Royal Swedish embassy as a naval attaché. He was the third son of the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf, later King Gustaf VI Adolf (1882 – 1973) and a great-grandson of Queen Victoria through his late mother, Princess Margaret of Connaught (1882 – 1920).

On 26th January 1947, Prince Bertil's eldest brother and heir presumptive Prince Gustaf Adolf (*22nd April 1906), died in a plane crash in Denmark, leaving behind a nine-month old son who was second in line to the throne and would one day inherit the throne as King Carl Gustaf (*30th April 1946).

Prince Bertil's two other brothers had already renounced their succession rights. Their father ascended the throne as King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1950 and Prince Bertil became heir presumptive and no 2 in the line to the throne. As long as his nephew, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf, was a child, Prince Bertil would have to serve as Regent of the Kingdom until his nephew coming to age.

A big responsibility was put on Prince Bertil’s shoulders and for the future of the Monarchy he followed his father’s advice and did not marry Lilian Craig. Prince Bertil and Lilian Craig had moved to Sweden in 1957, living in Villa Solbacken on Djurgården in Stockholm. She stayed in the shadows, but the couple lived together openly, if discreetly at their homes in southern France and Stockholm. They remained together until Prince Bertil’s death in January 1997.

When Prince Bertil's father died in 1973, his nephew Carl XVI Gustaf ascended the throne. King Carl Gustaf allowed Bertil and Lilian to marry, which they did on 7th December 1976, 33 years after their first meeting.

She was 61, he was 64.

Prince Bertil once said that one of his biggest regrets was that the couple had to sacrifice having children in order to protect the throne.

Hugely popular in Sweden for his romance with Lilian and known as "the prince of cars" for his love of fast vehicles, Bertil died in 1997 aged 84.

"In this life choice of hers, there must have been a lot of pain," he said, referring to how long Lilian had to wait until she was able to marry Bertil.

Princess Lilian was laid to rest next to her husband in the Haga Park royal cemetery on the outskirts of Stockholm.