Cambodia Celebrates 20 Years Since Former King’s Return
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It was a celebratory Sunday for Cambodians as they marked 20 years since their beloved former King returned from exile 20 years ago.
Norodom Sihanouk, who turned 89 Monday, spoke to tens of thousands of Cambodians from the palace in Phnom Penh, vowing to stay in the country despite his failing health.
“I have the great honor to inform our lovely compatriots that from now on, despite still having health problems and needing routine checkups by my Chinese medical team, I and my wife, the queen, have decided to stay forever with our compatriots inside our country,” he said.
The 20th anniversary of his return from exile is really on November 14th, but Cambodia wanted to coincide the celebrations with Sihanouk’s birthday.
Sihanouk originally was placed on the throne at age 18 by French colonialist officials. He stepped down for his father in 1953. Seven years later, Sihanouk became King again.
In 1970, he was removed from the throne in a US-backed coup by one of his generals, Lon Nol. He then sided with a communist guerrilla group, the future Khmer Rouge, which eventually turned against him and placed Sihanouk under house arrest once it came to power.
After the Khmer regime fell, the King fled for China, only to return in 1991. He abdicated in 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni, due to health issues. Sihanouk has dealt with cancer, hypertension and diabetes, and was treated until this past Thursday in China.
Sources: AFP, AP
Princess Marie Gives Out Literature Prize
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This past Wednesday saw Princess Marie of Denmark hand out the Prix Littéraire des Ambassadeurs at the French Embassy in Copenhagen. The award focuses on the country’s writers who also write in French.
This year’s recipient was Danish writer Klaus Rifbjerg, who has written over 170 books, novels and essays.
Marie has been patron of the prize since 2009, after taking over from her father in law, Henrik the Prince Consort. Sounds fitting, since the Princess is French born just like Prince Henrik.
Source: Billed Bladet, Wikipedia
Dutch Royals’ Trip to the Caribbean
The Dutch Caribbean will be getting the royal treatment for ten days. Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima are on tour of the islands that are constituent countries of the Netherlands. They include Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the former Dutch Antilles. The royal trio began their visit Thursday in Aruba.
See more photos here at Daylife.com
Arriving in Oranjestad, the Dutch royals were greeted by Prime Minister Mike Eman. There was a private dinner hosted by Governor Fredis Refunjol before the Queen, her son and her daughter-in-law began their agenda.
That included taking part in the Fiesta Popular held at Linear Park, which showcases the island’s diverse cultures. The royals marched in the parade along with beauty queens and dancers wearing fabulous headgear.
For the rest of their Aruba visit, the Queen, Willem Alexander and Maxima will be shown Arikok National Park, see the“Bo Bario” beautification project in the Juwana Morto section of San Nicolas. The Queen and Maxima then will visit a foundation for battered women while Willem Alexander will meet with the Aruba Green Energy Conference. After that, the royals will head to Bonaire, formerly part of the Dutch Antilles, now a Dutch municipality.
There has been some unhappy sentiment in the former Antilles over its breakup. It is expected there will be protests and flashes of anger towards Queen Beatrix as she tours those islands, which are Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba.
“The Queen is above politics,” says an organizer of a protest. “She can say and do everything, and change the laws.”
Another place where the royals won’t be seeing many joyousness over their visit is Curaçao, where there has been an increase in anti-Dutch sentiment. Some parliamentarians back in the Netherlands suggested the Queen not go to that island, but ever true to their royal roles, Beatrix, Willem-Alexander and Maxima will go to Curaçao.
Sources: Aruba.com, Radio Netherlands
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa Helps Burundi’s Young Delinquents
Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg opened a photo exhibit Friday, along with representatives from a charity in Burundi, a country located in eastern Africa. This exhibition is not just about art; it is about the plight of Burundi’s children who are imprisoned for years over minor acts.
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“Often children end up 12 or 13 years behind bars because they have stolen a goat or a flat iron,” Maria Teresa told reporters.
Once released, those children are left to fend for themselves in a poor country.
The Grand Duchess learned firsthand about this issue during her visit to Burundi in June 2009 as part of her role as a UNICEF ambassador. So affected, she turned the organization called Shalom House which aims mainly to help war orphans. Together with the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de la Grande-Duchesse, Shalom House began to find ways to help the delinquents find hope.
“They learn trades they can use later: auto mechanics, masons, carpenters,” said Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.
So far, 108 young people have benefited from this program. At the same time, good lawyers have successfully helped sentences in 157 cases be reduced.
This project relies on donations, though, and little is done in Burundi about juvenile delinquents. However, the Grand Duchess expressed how please she was with the people of Luxembourg responding positively to this cause.
Commonwealth Agrees to Equal Primogeniture
During Friday’s Commonwealth of Nations summit in Perth, Australia, it was unanimously agreed to give girls equal rights to the British throne. This changes centuries where boys were given preference over their sisters.
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This ruling means that when William and Catherine have a first born daughter, she’ll be the next heir to the monarchy, even if she has a younger brother.
At the same time, monarchs can marry those of the Roman Catholic faith, though they must remain members of the Church of England.
The succession changes are only for Prince Charles’ descendants, however. That means if his nieces, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie marry Catholics, they’ll lose their chance for the throne.
Prime Minister David Cameron hailed this historic move.
“The idea that a younger son should become monarch instead of an elder daughter simply because he is a man, or that a future monarch can marry someone of any faith except a Catholic — this way of thinking is at odds with the modern countries that we have become,” he said.
With this agreement, the procedure to pass this law shall begin. In addition, the United Kingdom becomes the latest European monarchy to allow equal primogeniture. Earlier this year, Luxembourg joined the list. The other countries are Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
The countries that still have male preference are Spain, Monaco and Liechtenstein.
Former Cambodian King Returns Home
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The former King of Cambodia returned to his country Thursday after receiving medical treatment in Beijing for the past three months.
Norodom Sihanouk struggled down the stairs from the plane in Phnom Penh. Behind him was his wife, Monineath Sihanouk, and their son, Cambodia’s current King Norodom Sihamoni.
Sihanouk was greeted by Prime Minister Hun Sen and other Cambodian officials once he reached the bottom of the stairs. He held his hands up, which were pressed together, to all those gathered to welcome him home before entering a waiting car. That car took him to the royal palace.
Sihanouk’s personal secretary Prince Sisowath Thomico told the AFP that the former King intends to stay in Cambodia for “many months”.
He will certainly be present for the massive celebrations this weekend in the country. This Saturday will mark the coronation of King Norodom Sihamoni. Sunday will see Cambodians celebrate the 20th anniversary Sihanouk return from 20 years of exile following civil war, and Monday will mark his 89th birthday.
Although he stepped down from the throne in 2004 due to illness and old age, Sihanouk remains hugely popular in Cambodia. Tens of thousands are expecting to turn out this weekend.
Sihanouk has been suffering from numerous ailments such as cancer and diabetes.