Tuesday 28 October 2014

"It's an amazing thing for a kid from Western Australia to end up sitting having a cup of tea with His Royal Highness"

Since February 2003 Prince Charles has been President of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. On Monday 27th October Prince Charles invited some of the Commonwealth's bravest war heroes to St James' Palace.

Among the guests were Afghanistan war veterans Ben Roberts-Smith, Corporal Daniel Keighran and Corporal Mark Donaldson from Australia. They were also joined by 20 other Victoria and George cross holder, including Keith Payne VC from Queensland, who saved the lives of soldiers under his command in Vietnam in 1969 and received his VC from the Queen aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Brisbane. Ben Roberts-Smith commented that the reunion at St James' Palace was made that little bit more special because of their connection with Prince Charles: "It's an amazing thing for a kid from Western Australia to end up sitting having a cup of tea with His Royal Highness."

Corporal Keighran spoke of the event: "It is incredibly humbling to talk to these guys and hear their stories. To be a part of that group as well I don't think I'll get used to it. Every year there are fewer members, so its good to come together."

Australian Army Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith received the Victoria Cross for Australia in January after his efforts during an operation in Afghanistan in June 2010, when he killed three insurgents who were attacking his patrol.

Monday 27 October 2014

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 35 years an independent Dominion

On 27th October 1979 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a territory that had been a British colony since 1783, gained independence as a Dominion. Since then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been head of state as Queen of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In 2009 politicians tried to replace the Monarchy with as republic, but this proposal was defeated in a popular referendum. 29,019 votes (55.64 per cent) voted for the Monarchy, while 22,493 (43.13 per cent) gave preference to a politicians' republic.

Congratulations to the people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on their independence day and on their wise decision to remain a Constitutional Monarchy. 

Sunday 26 October 2014

95th Birthday of Mohammad Reza Shah

This post is not only dedicated to His Imperial Majesty Shah-an-Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi who was born 95 years ago on 26th October 1919, but also to Reyhaneh Jabbari. The twenty-six-year-old Reyhaneh Jabbari was hanged by the terrorist Islamic Republic in a Tehran prison yesterday at dawn. RI.P.

Mohammad Reza Shah (26th October 1919 – 27th July 1980)
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (Persian: Mohamad Rezā Ŝāh Pahlawi; [mohæmˈmæd reˈzɒː ˈʃɒːhe pæhlæˈviː]‎; 26th October 1919 – 27th July 1980) was Iran's Monarch (Shah of Iran) from 16th September 1941 after his father abdicated in his favour. He took the title Ŝāhanŝāh ("Emperor" or "King of Kings") on 26th October 1967.

Although Iran, also called Persia, was the world’s oldest empire, dating back 2,500 years, by 1900 it was floundering. Bandits dominated the land; literacy was one percent; and women, under archaic Islamic dictates, had no rights.

The Shah changed all this. Primarily by using oil-generated wealth, he modernized the nation. He built rural roads, postal services, libraries, and electrical installations. He constructed dams to irrigate Iran’s arid land, making the country 90-percent self-sufficient in food production. He established colleges and universities, and at his own expense, set up an educational foundation to train students for Iran’s future.

The Shah was one of the first heads of state who visited Germany after WW II (here signing the guest book of Hamburg in 1955)
To encourage independent cultivation, the Shah donated 500,000 Crown acres to 25,000 farmers. In 1978, his last full year in power, the average Iranian earned $2,540, compared to $160 25 years earlier. Iran had full employment, requiring foreign workers. The national currency was stable for 15 years, inspiring French economist André Piettre to call Iran a country of “growth without inflation.” Although Iran was the world’s second largest oil exporter, the Shah planned construction of 18 nuclear power plants. He built an Olympic sports complex and applied to host the 1988 Olympics (an honour eventually assigned Seoul), an achievement unthinkable for other Middle East nations.

The Shah protected minorities and permitted non-Muslims to practice their faiths. “All faith,” he wrote, “imposes respect upon the beholder.” The Shah also brought Iran into the 20th century by granting women equal rights. This was not to accommodate feminism, but to end archaic brutalization.

Commemorating the late Shah, his wife, Her Imperial Majesty Shahbanu Farah wrote:

"Mohammad Reza Shah ascended the throne during the perilous and turbulent years of WWII, during which armed forces of Britain and the Soviet Union entered Iran’s soil and forced Reza Shah to abdicate the throne and leave the country, while both powers seemed to desire to see someone other than his eldest son become king. Since his early years on the throne, Mohammad Reza Shah had believed, and so stated, that the following five elements were a part of the fundamental rights of the Iranian people: Food, clothing, housing, education, and healthcare. However, the first 12 years of his reign were consumed by efforts to defend and maintain Iran’s independence and territorial integrity, including forcing the Soviet Union to vacate Iran’s soil, liberate Azerbaijan from the hands of a Soviet puppet regime, stand up to the ever-increasing power of the Tudeh Party, and secure Iran’s rights over its oil resources in the country’s southern regions.

Farah Diba married Mohammed Reza Shah on 20th December 1959, aged 21.

"Contrary to claims made by Mohammad Reza Shah’s opponents, it was he who encouraged Dr. Mossadegh to accept the post of prime minister, helping him gain Parliament’s vote of confidence. He never wavered from supporting Mossadegh against domestic and foreign enemies opponents? He felt obligated by the constitutional demands and powers of his office to dismiss Mossadegh, because Mossadegh had clearly failed to resolve the oil crisis, brought the country close to bankruptcy, and allowed the Tudeh Party, backed by Moscow, to achieve extraordinary power. Even then, had Mossadegh not forced the parliament that no longer supported him to dissolve by staging an illegal referendum, and had he still enjoyed parliamentary support, he would not have dismissed him.

"Unlike the Islamic Republic that, knowingly or otherwise, has endangered Iran and the Iranians and has made them face threats of destruction and ruin, Mohammad Reza Shah considered guarding the nation from danger and harm to be the main duty of the government. For this reason, the Shah’s foreign policy was based on having friendly relations with the international community, while he considered a strong and modern military to be the guarantor of Iran’s protection from foreign invasion.

"To truly appreciate Mohammad Reza Shah’s achievements for Iran, we must place them in context: the chaos of the war and oil nationalization years, and the social, economic, cultural and geostrategic evolution of Iran between 1954 and 1978. Within the short time-span of 24 years, Iran, still one of the most underdeveloped nations of the world in the 1940s, became an outstanding example of a rapidly developing economy and society during the 1960s and 70s, boasting one of the world’s highest rates of economic growth, as well as a rare record in the area of social welfare and cultural change. A few examples of Iran’s progress and development are as follows:

"Iranian women were granted the right to vote, as well as the right to be appointed or elected to any position, including those of judges, lawmakers, and ministers. With the passage of laws concerning 'family welfare,' women were given equal rights with men, particularly in the areas of marriage and child custody. The number of women enrolled in universities rose steadily. The passage of the 'National Action' law, allowed women to participate and have a role in all governmental decisions that affected women’s status, freedom, equality, and other social issues. The basic principle of this action, long before it was adopted in other countries, was that women played a role in all events and aspects of the society, and were involved in its affairs.

"Education and educational institutions spread across the country to towns and villages. In 1975, education and daily meals for every child, from kindergarten to eighth grade became free. A number of Iranian universities, including Aryamehr Technological University (now Sharif) and Pahlavi University in Shiraz were able to compete with the best institutions in developed countries. Nearly 60 thousand Iranian students were studying in some of the best universities in the West. By 1976, Iran had become the first nation among the countries of the “South” to reverse the brain-drain, providing what was necessary to make a qualitative leap in science and technology.

"-Iran’s economy and society became outstanding models of development, with its income per capita that was less than $100 back in the 40′s, jumping to $2400 in 1978.

"-Land Reform freed the farmers from the yoke of landowners; every farmer became a land-owner, able to farm and join cooperatives.

"-In 1963, Sepah-e-Danesh (Education Corps) was established, and in 1964 and 1965 respectively, Sepah-e-Behdasht (Health Corps) and Sepah-e-Tarvij-va-Abadani (Reconstruction and Development Corps) were created to serve in small towns and villages.

"-In 1965, the citizens themselves established Arbitration Councils and Houses of Justice to adjudicate problems.

"-According to a newly passed law in 1975, the Iranian government was mandated to provide every Iranian social security benefits. The same year, workers gained the right to buy shares in large industrial plants.

"-In 1975, pregnant women and children under the age of two received qualified to receive food and nutritional assistance.

"-Unlike the Consortium Agreement of 1954, when Iran’s oil had not yet become truly nationalized, in 1973, the nationalization of oil became a reality. With Mohammad Reza Shah’s direct involvement, Iran’s government annulled the 1954 agreement and signed a new one to buy and sell oil with the Consortium’s individual members. The National Iranian Oil Company took complete control of the country’s production, exploration, exports, and marketing of oil. Iran also gained total ownership of its oil reserves. Member countries of the Consortium became Iran’s premier oil customers. In reality, with the signing of the new agreement, Iran attained its goal of nationalization of oil.

"-Iran began to export natural gas to Europe by completing a pipeline and developing its natural gas industry. Had Iran been able to complete its petrochemical industry, it would have become one of the world’s major petrochemical centers a long time ago.

"-In 1974, Iran launched its peaceful nuclear program to produce nuclear energy. Had the project continued, Iran could have had three German and French-built nuclear power plants by 1980-81.

"-New industries, including steel-mills, machine-tool factories, and tractor manufacturing plants were built during that period by taking advantage of prudent and balanced relationships with the Eastern Bloc as well as the West.

"-In the areas of environmental preservation, from water resources and forests to plants and animals, Iran had become on par with advanced nations.

"-With its important strategic situation, Iran was striving to act as a bridge that would bring diverse cultures and nationalities together. Along the same lines, Iran pursued a series of cultural programs that included Shiraz Art Festival, Isfahan Folklore Festival, Toos Festival, as well as the establishment of new museums, and the promotion of music, cinema, and other visual arts. New theaters and cultural centers, government-run or private, were opening with increasing frequency. The first seminar on the “Dialogue of Civilizations” got underway in Tehran in 1978."

In 1971 Iran celebrated 2,500 years of Monarchy.
On the Shah's human rights record Alan Peters wrote:

"No mass graves trailed the Shah when he finally quit the country in January, 1979. No 'death caravans' haunted his memory. Tehran produced no equivalent of Buenos Aires' Plaza de Mayo where 'grandmas' gather every Sunday to reclaim news of their missing children. To be sure the military courts were quick to mete out death sentences. But the practice of royal pardon was abundantly resorted to. The sentences were systematically commuted or annulled.

"Some viewed this practice as a gimmick to earn political capital but be it as it may, few now dispute the fact that the Shah was averse to cruelty or execution. He even stayed Khomeini's execution in 1964.

"The overall number of executions by the military tribunals, including those occasioned by drug related offenses, after drug smuggling and distribution became a capital offense, were estimated at around 350 cases in a 25-year period. The USA has more than this and Iran currently has close to 200 a year, including teen-agers of both genders, which contravenes all laws and even Iran's own.

"Figured among them were a few prisoners of conscience including some twenty-five ring-leaders of the military wing of the Communist party of Iran. Their crime, leading to execution, was to have been mesmerized by Stalinist Russia. The rest of the six hundred communist officers arrested in nineteen fifties - as indeed the bulk of other political prisoners - were rehabilitated, many were co-opted into the Shah's administration."

Iran's future: It will be bright and Monarchical.

Saturday 25 October 2014

The Queen's message to Her Canadian people

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo (l.) standing Guards moments before the shooting.

The Queen's message to the Governor-General of Canada

Prince Philip and I were shocked and saddened by the events in Ottawa earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.


Message de Sa Majesté la Reine à la suite de la tragédie survenue à Ottawa

Le prince Philip et moi avons été choqués et attristés par les évènements qui ont eu lieu à Ottawa hier. Nos pensées et prières accompagnent toutes les personnes touchées.


Cpl Nathan Cirillo's dogs. Such a sad sight.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, a reserve infantry regiment based at the James Street Armoury in Hamilton, Ontario. Their Colonel-in-Chief is of course, Her Majesty.

Friday 24 October 2014

Harvard Professor Nelson: The Royalist Revolution - Monarchy and the American Founding

Eric Nelson is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Government at Harvard University. His research focuses on the history of political thought in early-modern Europe and America, and on the implications of that history for debates in contemporary political theory. Particular interests include the history of republican political theory, the relationship between the history of political thought and the history of scholarship, theories of property, and the phenomenon of secularisation. Nelson is the author, most recently, of The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (Harvard/Belknap, 2014).

Generations of students have been taught that the American Revolution was a revolt against "royal tyranny". In this revisionist account, Eric Nelson argues that a great many of the US-American “founding fathers” saw themselves as rebels against the British Parliament, not the Crown. The Royalist Revolution interprets the patriot campaign of the 1770s as an insurrection in favour of royal power - driven by the conviction that the Lords and Commons had usurped the just prerogatives of the monarch.

Leading patriots believed that the colonies were the king’s own to govern, and they urged King George III to defy Parliament and rule directly. These theorists were proposing to turn back the clock on the English constitution, rejecting the Whig settlement that had secured the supremacy of Parliament after the Glorious Revolution. Instead, they embraced the political theory of those who had waged the last great campaign against Parliament’s “usurpations”: the reviled Stuart monarchs of the seventeenth century.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Princess Anne visiting Queensland

On 21st October HRH Princess Anne arrived in Brisbane to attend the 26th Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) at the Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland (RNA) showgrounds.

The RASC conference aims to share ideas about agriculture, food, and the natural environments of Commonwealth members and is the body that unites agricultural show societies from all over the Commonwealth in order to share ideas, knowledge and skills.

Princess Anne took over as president from her father Prince Philip, who founded the society in 1957.

Princess Anne greeted a man on a horse at the Brisbane Royal Show Grounds, on her first of four days attending the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC) conference
The Princess Royal praised the conference venue - the redeveloped Royal National Association's facilities at Bowen Hills, which had been "dangling in front of us" for several years.

"So it is a pleasure to be here and to see it in the flesh. And, a big thank you to Queensland and to Brisbane for their hospitality and for being the host society for this the 26th agricultural conference."

She said she was surprised it was the first time that Brisbane had been the host city: "I am actually quite surprised that it is the first time that it has been here given the extraordinary history of Queensland as one of the greatest primary producing areas in the world," she said.

HRH praised Queenslanders' resilience against floods and its record as a world leader in beef and livestock production. "Those of us who live in slightly wetter places on a normal basis I don't think can really quite understand just what drought truly means," she said. "And for that you have huge sympathy."

She acknowledged the state's ability to bounce back after the 2011 floods. "In previous years, there was extraordinary devastation caused by flooding and 2011 was the most recent floods," she said.

RNA President David Thomas is the current vice-president of the RASC, which means he's met with the Princess Royal several times in recent years.

"I think Princess Anne has always been a popular royal, she's very hard-working," he said. "I think she's one of those people who are very approachable; my dealings with her have been completely delightful."

230 delegates from countries including the UK, Canada, Singapore, Zambia, Kenya and Uganda attend the event, as well as interstate show societies and some of the 128 local show societies in Queensland.

Mr Thomas said Brisbane organisers had added in speakers who were experts in areas besides agriculture, such as entertainment programming, social media and volunteer management. "It's a lovely combination of the traditional agriculture with strategic and operational aspects of shows," he said. "Certainly the show movement has been really happy that we've included all those things."

While the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent just six hours in Brisbane when they visited in April, the Princess Anne will be in town for all four days of the conference.

Her Royal Highness will also spend some time visiting charities and other groups. "She wants to meet everyone who's at this conference," Mr Thomas said. "There's no particular protocol around that, we'll just be walking around and guiding her to different groups so by the end hopefully everyone's met her once. She's a very nice person to talk to, very down-to-earth... she'll be very interested in what people have to say."

Princess Anne is the third royal to visit the RNA showgrounds, after Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in 1920, and Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, in 1954.