Sunday 22 September 2013

King Juan Carlos has to undergo another hip surgery

It was the top news of the Spanish evening news on Friday: King Juan Carlos has to undergo a hip operation on a suspected infection that is hampering his ability to walk.

Miguel Cabanela, a specialist surgeon who flew in from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, will lead the operation on Tuesday at Madrid's Quiron hospital, a palace statement said.

Cabanela said surgery on the left hip is needed to clear up a problem that is causing the monarch considerable discomfort. It will be the 75-year-old's third hip operation in less than two years.

The King was last seen in public on 18th September, when he and Queen Sofía welcomed the new Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima at the Zarzuela Palace outside Madrid.

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherslands and Queen Máxima paid a first visit as monarchs to Spain.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

An Australian republic is not inevitable

Benjamin T. Jones, co-editor of Project Republic, teaches history at the University of Western Sydney. He is pessimistic about his group's efforts to establish a republican regime in Australia. On the ABC's Drum, he explains, why an Australian republic is not inevitable.
"The inevitability of an Australian republic is a myth so often spouted that it is accepted as fact with little scrutiny.

"Set against a Cold War back drop in 1954, when the Queen first visited Australia she was seen as a symbol of freedom and democracy as opposed to slavish communism. Country MP, Hugh Robertson gushed that her presence affirmed 'our faith in our democratic systems'. When she returned in 1988 to open our new parliament house, opposition Liberal leader, John Howard acknowledged her as 'the pinnacle of our democracy'.

"This is precisely why a republic is not inevitable. The British monarchy has a proven record of remarkable adaptability to suit the times. Despite the dictatorial powers afforded to the British monarch in our constitution, through protocol and practice, it is seen as a powerless and inoffensive titular head that is worth preserving. Despite the inherent elitism and privilege, monarchy has somehow morphed into a symbol of Westminster democracy."
Good to see some realism in the republican ranks. Her Majesty has outlived all republicans who one thought while they were in office they could topple her. The transition to King Charles III, whenever it may come, will be a smooth one and his reign will be as successful as his mother's.

Sunday 15 September 2013

King Carl Gustaf 40 years on the throne

The Sunday newspapers reported on the King's death.

On the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf on 15th September 1973 his grandson, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, Duke of Jämtland, became King of Sweden at the age of 27 . As motto for his reign he chose the motto: För Sverige - I tiden (“For Sweden - With the times").

Prince Carl Gustaf was born as heir presumptive on 30th April 1946. He was son of then heir presumptive Prince Gustaf Adolf, who died in a plane crash in Denmark on 26th January 1947, and Princess Sibylla of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha, who died in 1972. 

King Carl XVI Gustaf's proclamation on 19th September 1973.

In 1971 the Riksdag (Parliament) had decided to strip the Monarch of his last powers. The changes did not take place under the old king, but came into force in 1974, one year after King Carl Gustaf ascended to the throne. The (technically) advisory Council of State (Swedish: Statsrådet) was changed into the collegial Government (Swedish: Regeringen) in which all executive power was vested, and thus the Monarch was stripped of all executive powers, while still retained as purely ceremonial figurehead with residual executive authority over only his own court and household. Responsibility for appointing and dismissing the Prime Minister was transferred to the Speaker of the Riksdag. The Prime Minister now appoints and dismisses his ministers at his or her sole discretion. Bills passed in the Riksdag become law without having to acquire royal assent: two Cabinet Ministers in unison sign it "On Behalf of the Government" (Swedish: På regeringens vägnar). Thus, in Sweden, unlike most constitutional monarchies, the Monarch is no longer even the nominal chief executive.
His Majesty opening the Riksdag at the request of the speaker. (here in 2012)

As Swedish Head of State the King has purely ceremonial functions. According to the Swedish Constitution, the King has a number of constitutional duties. The Monarch formally, at the request of the Speaker, opens the annual session of the Riksdag and chairs a special Cabinet Council in a session that establishes the new government following a general election or major cabinet reshuffle. He also chairs this Council approximately four times a year to get information from the Cabinet apart from that given by the Prime Minister. The Monarch also chairs the Advisory Committee for Foreign Affairs (Swedish: Utrikesnämnden), a body which serves to officially inform the head of state and the leaders of the opposition on foreign affairs.

For the past 40 years, The King has received foreign ambassadors who have submitted their credentials, and — together with The Queen — has hosted and carried out many state visits.

Sweden celebrates the anniversary of King Carl Gustaf's accession to the throne.

Sunday 8 September 2013

A staunch Monarchist as the new Prime Minister of Australia

Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party and his allies of the National Party (in Australia they are known as “the coalition”) won at least 89 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives on the back of a 3.6 per cent national swing against the ALP in Saturday's federal election. Her Majesty’s representative in Australia, Governor-General Quentin Bryce will swear him in as the 28th Prime Minister of Australia and he will declare:
"I, Anthony John Abbott, do swear that I will well and truly serve the Commonwealth of Australia, her land and her people, in the office of the Prime Minister, so help me God."
Taking the office of Prime Minister (Executive Councillor) involves swearing an Oath of Allegiance or Affirmation. However, under Section 62 of the Constitution the form of the oath of office is not prescribed for a minister but by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The Oath should not be confused with the Oath of Allegiance or Affirmation under Section 42 of the Constitution required to be made by a Member of Parliament or Senator before taking his or her seat. This involves swearing or affirming to "be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law". This Oath was also used for ministers until the Keating Labor government removed reference to the Sovereign. However, with the election of the Howard Liberal government in 1996 the Oath to the Queen was restored but without any reference to "Her heirs and successors".

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, and Tony Abbott, then Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Australian Opposition.
With Tony Abbott an ardent Monarchist has returned to the office. His immediate predecessors Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd were self-declared republicans.

Julia Gillard: "I obviously am a Republican. I believe that this nation should be a republic. I also believe that this nation has got a deep affection for Queen Elizabeth."

While Kevin Rudd described himself as a "lifelong republican" - "and I won't change" - he said a republic was not a "first order concern" for Australian families right now.

A dedicated monarchist, Tony Abbott predicted in April 2010 that a republic was ''generations'' away.
''The Liberal Party doesn't have a formal position on a republic,'' he said. If a proposal were to come forward, Liberals would have a free vote in Parliament and in any referendum. He could not imagine the circumstances in which he would support change, saying the various models would add uncertainty to Australia's constitutional arrangements. Looking back to Howard government mistakes, Mr Abbott said it should have ratified the Kyoto protocol on climate change and apologised to indigenous people. He said the Rudd government's apology was overdue and gracious and the whole country had felt buoyed by it.

Later that same year, in August 2010, Tony Abbott was quoted by The Age that he believed that Australia probably won't become a republic in his lifetime while Julia Gillard claimed the appropriate time to move from the monarchy would be after the Queen died. Asked whether he thought there would ever be a republic, the Opposition Leader said the republican cause had been with us for a long time, "but the Australian people have demonstrated themselves to be remarkably attached to institutions that work. I think that our existing constitutional arrangements have worked well in the past. I see no reason whatsoever why they can't continue to work well in the future. So while there may very well be further episodes of republicanism in this country, I am far from certain that at least in our lifetimes there is likely to be any significant change."

When the party caucus elected Tony Abbott leader of the opposition he beat Malcolm Turnbull, former head of the Australian Republican Movement. The Sydney Morning Herald described him as Still a monarchist to his bootstraps:
THE chances of Australia becoming a republic any time soon have nosedived with Tony Abbott becoming the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Abbott's predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, the former chairman of the Australian Republican Movement, believed the republic could only be revisited when the Queen's reign ended.

This view is shared by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

It is also accepted wisdom that for a referendum to succeed, it needs the bipartisan support of the Government and Opposition.

But in an interview with the Herald yesterday, Mr Abbott made it plain that he would never contemplate a republic, even after the Queen had left the throne.

''That was Malcolm's position and I have no plans to revisit it, full stop,'' he said.

''I support the monarchy, always have, always will, not because I'm a royal groupie,'' he said. ''It's a terrific system of government and I challenge anyone to come up with a better one.''

Mr Abbott and Senator Nick Minchin, who engineered the dumping of Mr Turnbull this week, were lead players in the monarchist campaign which defeated Mr Turnbull and the republic referendum in 1999.

In his office yesterday, Mr Abbott had a portrait of her majesty and a framed photograph of John Howard introducing him to her when they were in government.

Mr Abbott said that the ''10-second handshake'' was the only time he had met the Queen.

PHILLIP COOREY December 3, 2009

In 2006 Tony Abbott wrote the introduction to David Flint's book, Her Majesty at 80. The Age re-printed Monarchy is the tie that binds us together on 29th November 2006. 

Tony Abbott was the Executive Director of the Australians for Constitutional Monarchy from 1992 to 1994 until we was elected to the federal parliament in March 1994. In 1995 he published his book The Minimal Monarchy and why it still makes sense for Australia.

Tony Abbott's 1995 book: The Minimal Monarchy and why it still makes sense for Australia.
 In his book’s personal prologue he summoned his convictions quite clearly:
I had studied law, politics and history. I was an instinctive believer in Tradition. If someone with my view was not prepared to defend the Crown in Australia, who was? How could I leave others to fight for my believes and keep my self-respect? Even if it was a lost cause, it was surely a good cause, I reasoned, and something which has been a core Australian institution for 200 years should not be sacrificed without a fight.