Charles & Camilla Arrive In Japan
Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have arrived in Japan for the start of their 10 day tour of east Asia.
The visit to Japan was timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Amity and Commerce.
“We are here to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between both our countries,” Charles said in an interview with the public broadcaster NHK at the British embassy here after his arrival.
He said he was particularly interested in “going to some of the more rural areas of Japan which I’ve always wanted to see and never had enough time on previous visits”.
This is Charles’ first visit to Japan in nearly twenty years. The last time he came, he was with the late Princess Diana. The two were in Japan for the coronation of Emperor Akihito.
Charles and Camilla were greeted by Crown Prince Naruhito at the Tokyo International Airport. Later tonight, there will be a dinner for the royal couple with the Emperor and Empress Michiko.
Another reason the Prince of Wales is in Japan, is to discuss enviromental issues. Prince Charles is very active in global warming issues, and voiced his concern as the world faces a credit crunch.
“If we don’t pay very careful attention to the environmental challenges we all face, then it will be even more difficult, I think, to recover in the future our economic well being.”
The Prince is expected to give a speech tomorrow at a science museum about the environment.
In the speech, to an audience of business leaders and politicians, he will reflect on the joint work already being done by Japanese and British scientists, and emphasize the important steps which the big G8 countries need to take in the fight against climate change.
After five days in Japan, Charles and Camilla will move on to Brunei and Indonesia – although the Duchess of Cornwall is not expected to accompany her husband to Indonesia. She is to fly back to the UK because it is said she cannot handle hot weather. Also, she will have to prepare celebrations for Prince Charles’ 60th birthday in the coming weeks.
Prince Harry Hopes To Be Helicopter Pilot
Prince Harry hopes to follow in his older brother and uncle’s footsteps, and become a helicopter pilot in the British military. If he gets the chance, Harry may be able to serve in the military as he did earlier this year when he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Harry is to attend a four-week “grading” next month to determine whether he is suitable for the Army Air Corps helicopter pilot training course, his Clarence House office said.
If Harry is successful and is accepted for the training, it could take up to two-and-a-half years to complete the course and learn to fly Gazelle, Lynx or Apache helicopters.
Harry, 23, already has passed the initial aptitude tests, the statement said.
“I’m impressed by the fact that Prince Harry has put himself forward for this,” defence analyst Paul Beaver said. “This is a difficult job.
“The training is difficult, the rate of failure is between 50 and 60 per cent – so there’s an opportunity here for embarrassment. However, he’s got the guts to say, ‘I’m going to do it.’ “
His older brother, Prince William, already has been trained in flying and landing Apache helicopters. The heir to the British throne will be begin training to be a rescue pilot in the Royal Navy next year.
The princes’ uncle, Andrew, Duke of York, flew a Sea King helicopter during the Falklands War for the Royal Navy.
Their father, Prince Charles, also qualified as a helicopter pilot in 1974, and flew missions from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes.
Clarence House said Harry, third in line to the British throne, chose to try out for the helicopter unit because his tour of duty as a troop leader with the Household Cavalry is finished.
Harry is a second lieutenant with the Blues and Royals Regiment.
Since secretly serving in Afghanistan for 10 weeks earlier this year, Prince Harry has been trying to get redeployed, saying he feels there is still work to be done in Afghanistan. But for security issues, that dream has not come true.
William and Harry Make It To The Finish Line
Royal brothers William and Harry ended their eight day motorcycle trek across South Africa on Sunday. The treacherous journey was all in the name of charity, as well as a good ol’ joyride.
The princes received bumps and bruises along the way, but no doubt enjoyed themselves.
Trip organiser Simon Smith from Global Euro said the two were “outstanding” riders.
“They were both fantastic riders and didn’t run from anything. They asked us to treat them as one of the group and that’s what we did. They mucked in chores and shared a beer and food round the BBQ. They were outstanding companions.”
He said the princes both paid the £5,000 fee but declined to say if senior members of the royals helped out with sponsorship.
During their journey, William and Harry stopped by villages, meeting with the local children. The children are the ones who will be benefitting from the charities the royal duo’s money and work were going towards. William and Harry even took time to play football with local villagers.
During the trip they rode through mountains, gorges, scrubland, dry river beds and coastline in a journey across the Eastern Cape, South Africa’s poorest province. The trip raised money for three charities, Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF and Harry’s Sentebale charity in Lesotho which helps orphaned children. Around £1,500 of the fee was divided between the charities which organiser hoped would amount to £310,000.
The ending of this journey was to be marked with joy for William and Harry, but it is being mired in controversy. First off, some naysayers see the trek as a simple excuse for the brothers to go for joyride, and ignore their royal duties.
But the biggest controversy is being directed towards Sentebale. Reports are coming out that the charity is not funding the needs for disadvantaged children in Lesotho. Lydia Muso, of the Lesotho Child Counselling Unit (LCCU) which caters for 17 sexually and physically abused children, reportedly said that after initial help it had stopped receiving money from the Sentebale charity launched by the prince in 2006.
“They [Sentebale] have promised us 500,000 South African rand [£30,000] for the day-to-day running of this sanctuary for children. But none of the money has arrived,” said Muso.
A spokesman for Sentebale says it gave LCCU funds to help start it.
“This year we still plan to give 38,000 [pounds] to LCCU and spend a further 27,000 [pounds] on management and support training,” says Miguel Head.
He said one reason for Sentebale’s delay was because it was not satisfied with Muso’s initial request for funding to be paid directly into her own bank account.
Nevertheless, William and Harry are definitely proud of themselves for going on this much anticipated journey. And certainly, there will be charities that will benefit from it.
Crown Princess Victoria Wraps India Visit
After a whirlwind tour of India, Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria said good-bye on Friday, fulfilling a long time dream of seeing the subcontinent.
The last days of her tour of India was in Mumbai and Jodhpur. There, Victoria stopped by the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and opened the day’s trade by knocking on the ceremonial gong.
Later, Victoria got a chance to meet one of India’s biggest celebrities, Amir Khan, an actor-director from Bollywood. Before leaving for India, the princess immersed herself in Bollywood films, and came to enjoy Khan’s work. The two met before attending a dinner in Victoria’s honor.
The next and last stop on the princess’ tour was in Jodphur. She got a chance to witness more of India’s lively culture there. But at one point, the crown princess doned a turban. This was seen as rather odd to those familiar with Indian culture, as women in India do not wear turbans; the men do. The Indian media did not make a comment about this, and whatever was the reason for Victoria to wear the turban was not explained. But since no one complained, it probably was not a problem!
Victoria’s visit to India went very well, until the departure. According to Timesnow.tv, the princess was left waiting for officials to escort her to the Jet Airways plane at the airport in New Delhi. The officials then took her to the wrong terminal. When Victoria finally got onto the right plane, she was booed by waiting passengers. Jet Airways issued an apology, saying “The princess was taken to the wrong terminal by the government protocol personnel. The princess was carrying at least ten bags with her, which had delayed the flight. We on our part, have apologised to the princess.”
A good trip up until the last minute, but nonetheless, Victoria had a trip of a lifetime and she clearly enjoyed it!
Doubts About Princess’ Health Arise In Japan
Its been five years since Crown Princess Masako of Japan has been seen doing any official royal duties. She has not accompanied her husband, Naruhito, on any official foreign visits, and she has not taken part in simple royal tasks. Her last outing on Saturday to the photo exhibition, ‘Empress and her children” at Takashimaya department store in Tokyo was the first time Masako was seen in public in months.
This is because the Crown Princess is said to be suffering from depression, due to stress brought on by being a member of the Imperial family.
But, the princess has reportedly been seen shopping and dining at ritzy stores and restaurants. She is doing these, while she should be performing her duties. Stories like that has led to national sympathy for Masako to wane, and increasingly, some are wondering whether the crown princess is really ill at all.
This has led to a crisis of legitimacy for the Imperial family, a family once seen as dieties before World War II.
“Royal families around the world can no longer take for granted their legitimacy,” a palace source said last week. “In the 125th generation [of the present Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko], legitimacy is earned through hard work and humility. But we worry about the 126th generation.”
That worry will highlighted when Japan receives two royal visits towards the end of the year. The first will be from Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, next week. That will be followed by a November visit from the King and Queen of Spain.
Masako is expected to be present for the British visit, but not for the Spanish. “What logical explanation can we give for that?” a palace insider asks. “That the British are healthy but the Spanish make her ill?”
Such growing discontent towards Masako has led to the inevitable yet controversial question: Should the Imperial family divorce Masako, and set her free?
In May a magazine ran an article by Kanji Nishio, a right-wing academic and champion of the Imperial Family. He urged that Princess Masako’s family “take her back” – a euphemism for divorce – because of the damage that she is doing to the Imperial Family. “The members of the Imperial Family are the passengers of the ship named the Imperial System, but not its owners,” he wrote. “If one individual gets seasick and cannot stay on board, then there is no alternative but to disembark.”
“Nishio has started a debate that people with common sense want to participate in,” Tomoko Seo, an editor at the magazine, said. “People are frustrated and angry with Masako for making many private outings, although she cannot carry out official duties.”
This past July, Masako’s husband Crown Prince Naruhito issued a statement, saying his wife was doing all that she can to recover from her illness. This week to mark her 74th birthday, Empress Michiko said she was standing by her daughter-in-law, though she did not go into detail about her sickness.
Prince Of Asturias Awards Given Out
Spain’s version of the Nobel Prizes were handed out today, in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo. The heir to the Spanish throne, Crown Prince Felipe, personally handed the prizes to each recipient. The awards are named after his official title, the Prince of Asturias.
Before giving the awards out, Prince Felipe told the audience the reasons why the recipients were chosen this year. They were picked for their “spirit of sacrifice, for their exceptional qualities, but also, for their human values,” said the Prince.
The recipient for the award for Sports was the number one ranked tennis player in the world, Spain’s very own Rafael Nadal. He was all smiles as he received his award. Prince Felipe called Nadal a ”great tennis player” and “a great human being.”
“Rafa has stated that the important thing is not to be a good athlete, but a good person.”
Other winners include Google, for the Communications prize. Four African organizations were rewarded for their fight against malaria with the Award for International Cooperation, and Bulgarian philosopher Tzetan Todorov received the prize for Social Sciences.
Venezuela’s Youth and Children Orchestra was awarded the Prince of Asturias prize for the Arts, which was picked up by its president Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu. Canadian author Margaret Atwood was rewarded for her work with the Letters Award. The Scientific and Technical Research Award went to one Japanese and four US scientists for their innovative work in nanotechnology.
But the highlight of the ceremony was when the Concord award was given out. That went to former Colombian presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt. Earlier this year, Betancourt was released from the jungles of Colombia after six years being held hostage by rebels.
“For a hostage, Christmas is the worst time of year,” she said. “Some of my friends are calling for everyone around the world to march altogether on one day, before Christmas, on the 28th of November, to call for all of Colombia’s hostages to be freed. From here, a world where we have everything, I am asking for you to reach out to those who have lost everything,” said Betancourt, to loud applause.
The Prince of Asturias awards have been handed out since 1981. A committee chooses the winners based on their qualities as human beings, and their contributions to their fields.