Monday, March 30, 2009

Crown Princess Mette-Marit at exercise with the Civil Defense

Following in the footsteps of her in-laws, HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway arrived at Vikafjellet to attend the Norwegian Civil Defense’s winter exercise.

She is the latest European Crown Princess to go through training for a military position. Last year, Denmark’s Crown Princess Mary qualified as a lieutenant for the Danish Home Guard. In 2003, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden completed a boot camp course which would help her be a head of the Swedish military when she becomes Queen.

Mette-Marit, dressed in the traditional Civil defence uniform, went through such exercises as movement in difficult terrain and under extreme weather conditions. She also received a briefing about safety and possible evacuation of people.

Other members of the Norwegian royal family have officer position in the military. King Harald is the supreme leader of the military, and a four star general. His wife, Queen Sonja, is a brigadier. Mette-Marit’s husband, Crown Prince Haakon, trained in the navy, and is also an officer.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Prince Emanuele Filiberto wins the national vote

The scion of the House of Savoy has succeeded where his ancestors have failed. Prince Emanuele Filiberto decidedly won a national referendum, taking 75 percent of the vote.

Alas, Emanuele Filiberto did not reclaim the throne his grandfather lost after a national referendum in 1946. He merely claimed first place, along with Russian ballerina Natalia Titova, in the nationally televised "Dancing with the stars" competition.

But victory was sweet for the much maligned Prince of Piedmont and Venice, who decided to take part in the talent show in order that the Italians might better get to know him. "I want to prove that I know how to start from scratch, that I am able to work hard", he said. Emanuele Filiberto, 36, did more than that. He captured the nation, beating out younger stars Andrea Montovolo and Ola Karieva.

The gamble the Prince took, paid off in other ways too. Hardly a week has gone by since the start of the talent show in January without Emanuele Filiberto appearing in some way in the national media. And as a first for the notoriously infighting House of Savoy: most publicity was on a positive note.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sheikha Mozah calls for Protection of Educational Systems

HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad of Qatar, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education has expressed her deep belief in the sacred nature of the right of quality education for everyone, saying „that this right is the perfect path to bridge the gap between different cultures and to reconcile various civilizations.“

Addressing the opening session of the Thematic and Interactive Debate on Education in Emergencies United Nations General Assembly, Sheikha Mozah said: „Education in emergencies signifies that the right to education is being threatened by nature made causes relating to disasters, and unfortunately, by human made causes“.

„The right to quality education for everyone is the perfect way to bridge the gap between different cultures and to reconcile various civilisations. Without such a right, values of liberty, justice and equality will have no meaning,“ Sheikha Mozah said.

Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, president of the UN General Assembly, lauded the efforts of HH Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Misnad in helping Palestinian schoolchildren.

„As you may know, she has been working tirelessly to restore as quickly as possible the scores of UN-sponsored schools that were damaged during the invasion of the Palestinian territory of Gaza two months ago,“ said D’Escoto. „She has made the case and the government of Qatar has been instrumental in raising the funds to rebuild the secure, nurturing learning environment that children and young people so desperately need.“

Friday, March 20, 2009

Three princes join in global water debate

The Fifth World Water Forum was launched in Istanbul in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, HIH Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and HRH Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, Crown Prince of the Netherlands.

Dozens of heads of states and ministers, as well as thousands of activists, entrepreneurs, mayors, parliamentarians and business executives from all around the world have gathered for the weeklong World Water Forum, which is held every three years to promote ideas about conserving, managing and supplying water. Climate change and the impact of the global economic meltdown are key issues on the agenda this year.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


We, participants of the Prague Conference "European Conscience and Communism", call for:

1. reaching an all-European understanding that both the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes each to be judged by their own terrible merits to be destructive in their policies of systematically applying extreme forms of terror, suppressing all civic and human liberties, starting aggressive wars and, as an inseparable part of their ideologies, exterminating and deporting whole nations and groups of population; and that as such they should be considered to be the main disasters, which blighted the 20th century,

2. recognition that many crimes committed in the name of Communism should be assessed as crimes against humanity serving as a warning for future generations, in the same way Nazi crimes were assessed by the Nuremberg Tribunal,

3. formulation of a common approach regarding crimes of totalitarian regimes, inter alia Communist regimes, and raising a Europe-wide awareness of the Communist crimes in order to clearly define a common attitude towards the crimes of the Communist regimes,

4. introduction of legislation that would enable courts of law to judge and sentence perpetrators of Communist crimes and to compensate victims of Communism,

5. ensuring the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination of victims of all the totalitarian regimes,

6. European and international pressure for effective condemnation of the past Communist crimes and for efficient fight against ongoing Communist crimes,

7. recognition of Communism as an integral and horrific part of Europe’s common history

8. acceptance of pan-European responsibility for crimes committed by Communism,

9. establishment of 23rd August, the day of signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as a day of remembrance of the victims of both Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes, in the same way Europe remembers the victims of the Holocaust on January 27th,

10. responsible attitudes of National Parliaments as regards acknowledgement of Communist crimes as crimes against humanity, leading to the appropriate legislation, and to the parliamentary monitoring of such legislation,

11. effective public debate about the commercial and political misuse of Communist symbols,

12. continuation of the European Commission hearings regarding victims of totalitarian regimes, with a view to the compilation of a Commission communication,

13. establishment in European states, which had been ruled by totalitarian Communist regimes, of committees composed of independent experts with the task of collecting and assessing information on violations of human rights under totalitarian Communist regime at national level with a view to collaborating closely with a Council of Europe committee of experts;

14. ensuring a clear international legal framework regarding a free and unrestricted access to the Archives containing the information on the crimes of Communism,

15. establishment of an Institute of European Memory and Conscience which would be both - A) a European research institute for totalitarianism studies, developing scientific and educational projects and providing support to networking of national research institutes specialising in the subject of totalitarian experience, B) and a pan-European museum/memorial of victims of all totalitarian regimes, with an aim to memorialise victims of these regimes and raise awareness of the crimes committed by them,

16. organising of an international conference on the crimes committed by totalitarian Communist regimes with the participation of representatives of governments, parliamentarians, academics, experts and NGOs, with the results to be largely publicised world-wide,

17. adjustment and overhaul of European history textbooks so that children could learn and be warned about Communism and its crimes in the same way as they have been taught to assess the Nazi crimes,

18. the all-European extensive and thorough debate of Communist history and legacy,

19. joint commemoration of next year’s 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the massacre in Tiananmen Square and the killings in Romania.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

British leftist about the United Kingdom in the 21st century

Tony Blair:

A lot of people of my generation have decided, in part because of how important a unifier for the country the Queen has been, that actually this is a better system - rationally, not simply emotionally or as part of tradition - but rationally this is a better system.

Donald Macintyre:

A genuinely republican argument grows in strength every time there is another royal mess: the problem is not the high-maintenance, outer members of the family, but the institution itself. Rupert Murdoch's The Sun recently came its closest yet to suggesting that no amount of cosmetic reform can, or should, in the long term save the monarchy.

This is an argument worth examining ¬ in part for its flaws. For extravagant claims are made for the abolition of monarchy, not least that it would at a stroke make Britain not only a less class-conscious, but also a more democratic society. The danger, rather, is that if republicanism starts to become a fashionable cause on the left, it will distract from the much more important, but necessarily lower profile reforms which would actually have that effect.

A popular starting point among republicans is the royal prerogative, under which Prime Ministers can without consulting parliament ¬ make war in Iraq or the Balkans, sign treaties, appoint judges, fill the House of Lords, or prorogue parliament itself. But this is to misunderstand the nature of those powers. Yes, they were inherited from those deployed by the monarch when the monarch was powerful. Yes, it might be highly desirable to curtail them. But they do not depend on the existence of the monarch. The idea that governments would willingly abandon them simply because there was an elected head of state is to misunderstand the nature of political power.

Not to mention the near-powerlessness of the sovereign herself (other than very briefly in the very rare circumstances of ¬ say ¬ a hung parliament). As Professor Anthony King pointed out in his Hamlyn lectures, „the Monarchy [has] long since to feature significantly in British political life, yet a substantial proportion of the scholarly writings on the UK's constitution is still devoted to discussions of the monarch's role.“ The same fallacy applies to those who elevate abolition of the monarchy to the status of a pivotal constitutional reform.

But it isn't just that her constitutional role doesn't much matter. It's also that her existence can't be blamed for the many flaws in the British constitution, for which governments have a direct responsibility. It isn't the Queen's fault that the House of Lords has been turned from a hereditary chamber into a wholly appointed one. Or that parliamentary select committees cannot even be given the rudimentary independence from the executive that a proper system of elections would afford them. Or that so much real power is vested in non-elected quangos.

These arguments are essentially negative, of course. But unfashionable as it may be to say so, there may be positive ones as well. This goes beyond the possible benefits ¬ psychotherapeutic or political ¬ to a Prime Minister of being able to speak regularly in total discretion to someone who got her job when Churchill was still in office, and has pretty intimately known every one of his nine successors. Or the fact that the monarch remains a potent totem of the union between Scotland, Wales and England. And an honest broker on the very rare occasions one is needed. For there is an argument for the monarchy which, oddly, ought to have an especial appeal to the left. Which is that if you are trying to change society, and particularly if you are trying to change it radically, there is a great deal to be said for preserving the symbols of continuity. Clement Attlee, whose government was arguably the most radical in the 20th century, certainly understood this.

Historian Linda Colley in a brilliant lecture argued in favour of a transformed monarchy. Rightly, however, the most eye-catching part of Ms Colley's lecture was her massive proviso. And this goes a lot further than her correct disdain for the Merrie England flummery with which the Royal Family surrounds itself. Even slimming the family down ¬ though essential ¬ is only part of it.

But how far will go the help for monarchy to truly modernise in the interests of the institution itself? It would mean an end, at least when the Queen finally goes, to the palaces, to the tweediness, to the modes and manners of the 1950s. There are hopeful signs ¬that ¬ so far ¬ Prince William, at least, appears more than capable of getting with the programme. For the question is not whether it would be better to preserve a changed monarchy than go through all the immense, energy-sapping, upheaval abolition would require. In the right circumstances, it certainly would be. The question is whether it is do-able.

Linda Colley:

The symbolism and public culture of the new Citizen Nation would need to acknowledge the essential equality of the people of these islands far more than at present. Does this mean that Britain must become a republic? I don't think so, though it may happen. Monarchs can serve as extremely useful and reassuring symbols of stability, especially in periods of massive cultural, economic and political flux like this one.

But if there is to be a 21st century citizen's monarchy in this country capable of attracting broad, enduring support, it will require far more than a face-lift in image. Its public presentation will have to continue changing, but so must its avowed rationale. The crown jewels, together with the gorgeous robes, the golden coaches and the ermine should be consigned to museums.

At their coronations, future monarchs should not only undertake to protect the faiths of each and all of their subjects, they should also swear a new oath of service to the majesty of the people. Members of all parliaments and assemblies in these islands should also swear oaths of service to the majesty of the people.

If all this sounds excessively radical, I must point out that Denmark implemented similar reforms to the ones I've just outlined after 1848, yet the Danish monarchy remains - as you know - one of the most dignified and popular in Europe. The notion that monarchs must either be surrounded by pomp, circumstance, rank and traditional glitter, or be reduced to riding bicycles, sets up a thoroughly false dichotomy. We need next millennium to move beyond it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Princess Mary ready to defend her country

The Danish Territorial Army has a new royal lieutenant: Crown Princess Mary. She completed her officers training course and was promoted to her new rank: løjtnant. Danish newspaper B.T. put it this way: ‘The Crown Princes is ready to defend God, King and Country’.

Mary can do more than wave and cut ribbons, or wear gala dresses and tiara’s’ the tabloid oozed. "Our future queen can shoot, extinguish fires, provide first aid."
The Crown Princess’s training included first aid, weapons handling and shooting, fire fighting and rescue, and she was also trained in security and surveillance. She went on marches and slept in the open field.
Major General Jan S. Norgaard, head of the Home Guard, said it was both a "honour and a pleasure" to have Crown Prince Mary as member of the Territorial Army, hjemmeværnets.
"Her membership is of great importance for the Home Guard and can help create more interest among prospective members", Norgaard said. Crown Princess Mary follows in the tradition of other members of the royal family, who like her, took military training courses.