William & Catherine Get Militant During Two Engagements
On Thursday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had two royal engagements – both related to the British military to some degree. In the morning, William and Catherine met with British soldiers who re-enacted the Scott-Amundsen expedition to the North Pole. Later in the day, they were at a reception to help launch the Imperial War Museum Foundations’ First World War Galleries: Centenary Campaign.
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At Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, Their Royal Highnesses met with the soldiers and their families who completed the expedition back in January. William was the patron of their cause.
The expedition raised funds for the Royal British Legion’s £30 million commitment to help wounded, injured and sick British troops recover.
Robert Lee, a spokesman for the Legion, highlighted the importance of William supporting the expedition: “It was first of all really great for the personnel taking part in the race to know they had the Duke’s backing, it was a huge morale boost.
“The fact he’s here today with the Duchess of Cambridge is a great recognition of the contribution these Army personnel have made to the charity and a great boost to the fundraising effort.”
Although William and Catherine were mainly at this event to congratulate the troops, the media went wild when both took turns cooing over three-week-old Hugo Eric Scott, the son Sgt Paul ‘Vic’ Vicary who took part in trek. Ever since the couple married a year ago, the media has been waiting anxiously for a pregnancy announcement, and this little act fueled speculation that the Duke and Duchess may be planning for a child of their own soon.
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The couple’s next engagement received little fanfare, since there were no babies to hold and there was little glamor to it, as akin to a movie premiere. At the Imperial War Museum in London, the couple focused on drawing attention to create new First World War galleries for the centenary of the pinnacle war in 2014.
Prince William delivered a speech for the campaign, which he is patron of.
“Every exhibit, every display, every tank, aircraft and medal in its case, speaks to us of sacrifice, of the facing down of evil, of freedom bought and preserved – for us – at unimaginable cost in human lives and suffering.
“It’s a message of reflection and remembrance, but it is also one of pride. In the course of the 20th century our nation, with our stalwart friends and allies from the Commonwealth and elsewhere, safeguarded the freedom of the world. It is as simple as that.
“The Imperial War Museum is here to remind us of this unassailable truth.”
Sunday marks William and Catherine’s first wedding anniversary. They are said to planning a quiet, private celebration.
Sources: Huffington Post UK, STV
Duchess of Cambridge Delivers Shamrocks to Irish Guards
As Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day, it is customary for the members of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards of the United Kingdom to be presented with shamrocks. This year, it was the Duchess of Cambridge who gave them out. This was also Catherine’s first solo military engagement.
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Arriving at the Aldershot Barracks in Aldershot, England, Her Royal Highness was greeted by the former Commanding Officer, Major General William Cubbitt. God Save the Queen was played and the 450 soldiers marched in their uniform of scarlet tunics and bearskins.
Then Catherine personally gave sprigs of shamrocks to the 40 officers and warrant officers. She even gave one to Conmael, the regimental mascot. The dog is a Irish Wolfhound who had been shampooed and blow-dried for this event.
After that, the soldiers finally removed their bearskins and gave three cheers to the Duchess and to St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Their band played some traditional Irish songs, such as “Carrickfergus”. The Duchess then posed for photos with the regiment.
Finally, Catherine went to their mess hall where the soldiers cheered for her. She even had two sips of Harvey’s Bristol Cream with the regiment to mark St. Patrick’s Day.
The Irish Guards were first formed in 1900 by Queen Victoria as her gratitude for their service in the British Army in the second Boer War in South Africa.
The following year, Queen Alexandra, the wife of Edward VII, began the tradition of handing out the shamrocks. For years, the Queen Mother did this until her death in 2002.
Catherine’s husband, Prince William, is an honorary colonel of the Irish Guards and wore their uniform at his wedding last April.
Sources: Telegraph, BBC
Queen Beatrix Makes First Public Engagement Since Johan Friso’s Accident
The Queen of the Netherlands performed her first public royal duty since her second son, Prince Johan Friso’s accident on February 17th. Although this was the first time Queen Beatrix was officially out in public, she had returned to her duties on Monday, having had attended a meeting with the Prime Minister.
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Today, she opened new Explosives Ordnance Barracks in Soesterberg. Her Majesty did this by operating a robot which revealed a plaque by use of explosives.
The station is named after the first Dutch explosives scavenger who died during his work. Sargent Major Scheick commanded a section that cleaned up mines in 1945 in Bergen op Zoom.
The students at the barracks will learn to dismantle mines and explosives by use of robots.
During the opening, Colonel Mark Kathmann, commander of the EOD, expressed his condolences to the Queen and expressed support for the “alarming state of health of Prince Friso”.
Source: BNR Nieuwsradio, De Telegraaf
Belgium’s Prince Joachim Sworn in as Navy Guard Officer
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During a rainy day in Belgium, the second son of Princess Astrid and Archduke Lorenz swore to the Belgian flag to serve his country as a Navy guard officer at the naval base at Zeebrugge.
Prince Joachim, age 20, did this in front of his proud parents and grandmother, Queen Paola aboard the ship Godetia.
Also in attendance were Minister of Defense Pieter De Crem and General Charles-Henri Delcour, the Chief of Defense.
After the swearing in ceremony, Joachim and his family were invited on board the ship for a reception.
Born in 1991, the Prince is the third of Astrid and Lorenz’s five children. He also bears the title Archduke of Austria-Este due to his father being part of that royal house. Joachim is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.
Source: De Standaard
Prince Harry Completes Helicopter Training, May Return to Afghanistan
Prince Harry has a lot to be excited about. On Wednesday, he officially completed his 18-month training in flying Apache helicopters and won the prize for best co-gunner pilot.
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At the same time, there is a strong possibility he may return to the front lines of Afghanistan. The Prince served in Helmand province for 10 weeks, from late 2007 to early 2008.
If he serves again in the war-torn country, he will be in more danger than before. The Taliban have shot down British aircraft at times, and who’s to say the global media would agree on a blackout during his deployment, as they initially did the first time around?
Last April, His Royal Highness said in an interview that he wouldn’t learn to fly helicopters if he couldn’t serve in the RAF.
“I’d just be taking up a spare place for somebody else if they didn’t have me going out on the job, ” he said.
During a celebratory dinner at RAF Wattisham, Apache Force Commander Col Neale Moss congratulated the new pilots – Prince Harry being one of 20 – describing the training as “extremely challenging”.
“They are assessed continually to ensure that they are up to the challenge of operating one of the most sophisticated attack helicopters in the world,” he said of the graduates.
“This requires composure, dedication and hard work.”
If the Prince does go back to Afghanistan, it won’t be until later this year.
Sources: BBC, Sky News
Prince William Begins Falklands Deployment Amidst Diplomatic Row
His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge has begun a six week deployment to the Falkland Islands’ military base off the coast of Argentina. This has sparked diplomatic tensions between the South American county and the United Kingdom as they both went to war over these chains of islands in 1982. The Argentinians are calling Prince William a “conquistador”.
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The Prince, who is a search and rescue pilot with the RAF, “will arrive on our soil in the uniform of a conquistador, and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works for peace and dialogue between nations,” the country’s foreign ministry said.
Since the announcement that William will be deployed on the Islands, both countries have been trading a war of words. Argentina accuses Britain of trying to divert attention away from its economic troubles.
“The governments should avoid the temptation of inciting debates that transform patriotism into bullying with the aim of distracting public attention from political decisions to reduce spending in the context of structural crisis and high unemployment,” the foreign ministry’s statement said.
It added, “Britain insists on ignoring U.N. resolutions, weakening diplomatic efforts and increasing the risk of more wars.”
At the same time, the U.K. is accusing Argentina of colonialism since the country also claims the Falklands.
“The key point is we support the Falkland Islanders’ right to self-determination, and what the Argentinians have been saying recently, I would argue is actually far more like colonialism because these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else,” he said.
In response, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner accused Mr Cameron of “mediocrity bordering on stupidity”.
Prince William is of course, not expected to do any diplomatic tasks while stationed on the Falklands. He will be leaving the Islands sometime in March, right before the 30th anniversary of the war that killed more than 600 Argentine soldiers killed and 200 Britons.
His uncle, Prince Andrew, served in the war.
Sources: AP, Telegraph