Philippe & Mathilde Visit New York
This past Wednesday and Thursday saw Belgium’s Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde on an economic mission to New York City. They were in the city to broaden ties between their country and the United States.
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Their first stop was to Ground Zero, where the couple laid a wreath sent by the Belgian King and Queen in remembrance to those who lost their lives on 9/11. Philippe and Mathilde were given a briefing on the reconstruction of the site by Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority.
Next, the royals went to Central Park to pose for the press. After that, they stopped by a food cart to eat Belgian waffles, of course!
Later in the day, Mathilde stopped by the Le Pain Quotidien. Thought to be French bakery by many locals, it is actually Belgian, and it was there that the Princess met with Belgians living and working in the Big Apple.
“It was so convivial! She was interested in how life is here, in how Belgians are doing,” said Sofia Vandaele, a general manager for the W Hotel downtown. “She was very engaged.”
On Thursday came the signing of economic agreements, overseen by Crown Prince Philippe at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.
Source: Wall Street Journal Blog, Royal News Examiner
Crown Prince Naruhito’s Visit to Germany
Last week, Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito paid a three day visit to Germany as part of marking the two countries’ 150 years of diplomacy. Even though that was the main part of the trip, Naruhito used the opportunity to thank Germany for helping Japan which is still recovering from its massive earthquake and tsunami back in March.
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“I offer my gratitude for the various kinds of assistance, including the dispatch of a rescue team, and condolences expressed by Germany,” the Crown Prince was quoted by the Imperial Household Agency as telling German President Christian Wulff.
Naruhito also met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in which the two discussed nuclear energy. Germany is looking to dismantle its nuclear sector following the meltdown of Japan’s nuclear plants following the natural disaster.
“In Japan, too, interest in renewable energy is growing,” he said in response to Merkel’s briefing, according to Japan’s Imperial Household Agency.
As part of his visit, Naruhito also met with Norbert Lammert, president of the German Parliament, toured museums and met with German schoolchildren.
The Crown Prince’s wife, Crown Princess Masako, did not accompany him to Germany, which may come as a disappointment to some royal fans. Many were delighted to see her visit earthquake evacuees and tour damaged sites following the disasters, which was probably the most appearances she had made in years.
But, it likely was not on the agenda for Masako to go to Germany. Perhaps she’ll make more appearances in the future as she recovers more from her stress-induced mental illness.
Source: Japan Times, Mainichi
Princess Madeleine Talks About WCF, Returning to U.S.
The Swedish royal court recently published an interview with Princess Madeleine where she briefly discussed working for World Childhood Foundation in the United States. The Princess has been living in New York City for well over a year, and while the reasons for that are not fully clear, this interview is likely an attempt to ease criticism that Madeleine is wasting tax payers’ money by doing little but shop and have fun.
Read more of Madeleine's interview here
First, she was asked what she does for WCF, which was set up by her mother, Queen Silvia in 1999 to give children better childhoods around the world.
“I am a project administrator at Childhood’s office in New York,” Madeleine began. “Every day is slightly different, but if I were to describe a day at the office it would involve fairly normal office work. I arrive at the office in the morning, go through my e-mails, read reports, communicate with the projects or deal with any other tasks on my desk for the day. I sometimes attend meetings with various companies in order to try to build new corporate contacts so that Childhood can grow in the US.”
Next, Madeleine described project visits, which it has been reported by WCF is something she often does.
“You can always read about a project, but getting out and meeting the children who receive help or hearing directly from the enthusiasts who run the projects is completely different. It’s fantastic being able to hear their stories and to listen to them when they talk about their day-to-day work, their setbacks, but also their many successes and the progress they’ve made. That gives me the energy to want to do more and get involved more.”
The Princess also confirmed that by the fall, she will be returning to New York to continue working and expanding WCF. However, it is unknown when she will return to Sweden and perform any royal engagements as it is expected of any royal of any country.
Source: Swedish Royal Court
Changes to Luxembourg’s Succession Law
On Monday, changes were made to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg’s succession laws that will abolish male preference – as is the current state – and will allow females equal rights to the throne as their male relatives.
This means if, for example, Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume were to have a daughter as a first born child, she could become the next monarch of Luxembourg after her father, even if she has a younger brother. That brother would be second behind the sister.
These changes have been in the works since September and yesterday saw the modifications take place. This makes Luxembourg’s succession laws on par with Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
The United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, Monaco and Spain have yet to get rid of their male preference succession laws.
However, even with these changes in Luxembourg, there is some confusion as to how these changes will go along. According to the newspaper, Wort, the law will be effective with Grand Duke Henri’s descendants. But does that mean that Guillaume’s sister, Princess Alexandra, is ahead of younger brother Prince Sebastien now – or is she still behind?
I will update this entry when any clarification happens.
Princess Nathalie Marries Alexander Johannsmann
This weekend, Princess Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, niece of the Queen of Denmark, married her longtime love, Alexander Johannsmann during a religious ceremony at the castle of Bad Berleburg in Germany.
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The couple had already tied the knot in a civil ceremony in May 2010 and are the proud parents of a son, Konstantin who is nearly a year old.
Their wedding was attended by their friends and family, who included the Danish royal house and the Greek royals. The latter turned up because Princess Nathalie’s other aunt, Anne Marie is the former Queen of Greece. Nathalie herself is the youngest daughter of Princess Benedikte, the middle sister of Queen Margrethe II and Queen Anne Marie.
Wearing a gown designed by Danish couturier Henrik Hviid and the Khedive of Egypt Cartier Tiara, the bride was all smiles as she and Alexander emerged from the church after the hour long ceremony. The wedding party and guests then attended the reception at the castle.
Princess Nathalie competes in horse dressing and has won many awards for her participation. Alexander Johannsmann’s family runs a company that provides horses for such competition. Along the way, Nathalie and Alexander met and fell in love.
Cheers to the couple!
Sources: ¡Hola! The Royal Forums blog
Moroccan King Proposes Changes, Protesters Dissatisfied
On Friday, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI broadcast a speech to his people, saying he will give up some of his absolute political powers. He also told the country he will name a prime minister from the largest political party to serve as head of the executive branch.
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Despite these promises, many of Morocco’s youth are dissatisfied. They wanted to see their King give up his military and religious powers as well, and as a result, its February 20 protest group will hold a demonstration on Sunday.
“The plan as proposed by the king yesterday does not respond to our demands for a true separation of powers,” said the spokesman of February 20.
However, there are some who are pleased with King Mohammed’s vows of change.
“The kingdom of Morocco has joined the list of democratic countries,” said one man out celebrating in Rabat.
“Today as Moroccan youths, we’re all celebrating our new constitution from the city of Tangier to the city of Lagouira.”
A referendum will take place on July 1st to make these changes permanent instead of in September as originally planned.
Among the other constitutional changes will be more freedom of religion, though Islam will remain the state faith. Also, the Berbers and their language will receive better treatment. The Berbers are the original inhabitants of Morocco and make up 60% of the population. But they claim discrimination and their language has not been considered one of the country’s main languages.
That, plus other proposals, will see a difference starting in July.
Sources: BBC News, New York Times