Queen Elizabeth can breath a sigh of relief. Chances are by the end of this year she is still Queen of Jamaica and Queen of Barbados. It looks like both independent Caribbean island states will not carry out their plans to abolish the monarchy and exchange it for a republic. In both countries the Labour Party has been less than enthusiastic about the proposal, famously questioning in Jamaica's case “how [a Jamaican] Queen would help end poverty.”
Jamaica on Thursday welcomed a new Prime Minister, Labour-leader Andrew Holness who asked that pointed question four years earlier when then Prime Minister Potia Simpon-Miller was preparing the Caribbean nation for a switch to a republican form of government.
“I am the biggest fan of Queen Elizabeth. She is a wonderful woman and I have a lot of love and respect for her, but it is after 50 years of independence time we settle our own affairs”, she said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.
Holness though has different priorities. “The priority of this government is to grow the economy and create meaningful jobs,” he said in his inauguration speech in Kingston. “In so doing we will more rapidly and sustainably reduce debt.”
The new Prime Minister had also a different view of what form of republic Jamaica should become – one with a ceremonial president or an executive president. Simpson-Miller and her People's National Party supported the former option, Holness and Labour the latter: a ceremonial president with limited powers.
Simpson-Miller, who lost her position by the narrowest of margins (JLP 32 seats, PNP 31) never carried out her desired reform, also because she did not have the required two-thirds majority in both houses of Parliament, which means Jamaica will remain one of Her Majesty's realms for the foreseeable future.
Barbados looks to be the same story. Prime Minister Freundel Stuart announced last year March that he envisioned his country becoming a republic before the 50th anniversary of independence on November 30, 2016. “Decolonization has to be finished, and a republican form comes with it”, he told his party's faithful.
With only eight months left till Independence Day Mr Stuart still has not followed up on his plans, as Barbados Today pointed out in an article in January: 'And whither Mr Stuart’s republic plan?'
The paper questioned the Prime Minister's silence: “There are many Barbadians, we are quite sure, who were expecting Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to update the nation on his republic plan when he addressed the launch of an almost year-long celebration of the island’s 50th Independence anniversary. That he did not was obviously a disappointment.” Adding: Given his silence and the fact that there are just 11 months remaining to the 50th Independence anniversary on November 30, a pertinent question does arise. Is the plan still on, or is it off?
The paper continued: “Stuart’s announcement almost a year ago was a statement of intention. However, effecting the change requires the support of a two-thirds parliamentary majority which the incumbent DLP does not have.
The support of the Opposition, therefore, would be necessary. If such support is not forthcoming from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) which has made it clear there are more pressing issues to be addressed, the plan is effectively stalled.”
Which means Barbados too will remain one of Her Majesty's realms for the foreseeable future. A fitting birthday present for a Queen 'long to reign over us'.
© RB Hans Jacobs
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands are awaiting the official announcement by the government of China of their upcoming State Visit to the People's Republic. No dates have been officially released, although The Hague concedes the visit will be at the end of October, right after Chinese President's Xi Jinping's return from a State Visit to the U.K.
President Xi Jinping extended an invitation to the Dutch royal couple during his own State Visit to the Netherlands in March last year. King Willem-Alexander readily accepted. It is not often the head of state of a smaller country like the Netherlands is invited for a return visit so soon. The invitation therefore was a reflection of the warm relations, and how well the Chinese visit – unusually during the weekend – went.
Preparations for the Dutch State Visit are well under way and an itinerary has also been distributed, but not for publication as courtesy requires the Court to wait for the official announcement from Beijing. © RB;
Photos: The Chinese Visit to Holland, and Queen Máxima's 2014 visit to Hangzhou and Jack May.
Queen Elizabeth and no less than 13 other members of the British Royal Family on Friday attended a service commemorating the end of British involvement in the Afghanistan War. The service at St Paul's Cathedral in London was also attended by many veterans of the war, including the Queen's grandson Prince Harry.
The Windsors were in full force Friday, with not only the Queen and Prince Philip at the service, but also Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William and Catherine, Prince Harry, the Dukes of York, Kent and Gloucester, the Princess Royal and her husband, and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
A flypast and a parade by veterans also honoured servicemen and women who fought and died in the 13-year conflict. © RB; Source: British Monarchy, BBC
Dutch Princess Mabel was handed the Champions for Change Award by Crown Princess Mary of Denmark in recognition for her tireless work, innovative and far-reaching work on the prevention of child marriage. The award ceremony was held in Banqueting House in London, where Mary as patron of the Champions for Change Awards also held a speech.
Princess Mabel was not the only one being honoured. William Hague, Leader of the House of Commons and former UK Foreign Secretary received an Award for his global leadership to end sexual violence in conflict and Monique Villa, CEO of Thomas Reuters was rewarded for her vision and tireless advocacy on halting human trafficking and modern day slavery.
The Champions of Change Awards focuses on the possibility of creating a world of gender equality and is organized by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW). © RB
Short video impression, also on YouTube RoyalblogNL
The NATO summit in Wales also has royal guests and participants. Prominent example is Jordan's King Abdullah II. Through the website of the Royal Hashimite Court and on Twitter his every move in Newport was meticulously reported and recorded Thursday, showing the King's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Prince Charles and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte for instance.
It's a way to show that the King and Jordan matter, that country and sovereign are taken seriously. The Crown Prince of Bahrain did the same. He also used social media to show with whom he had spoken, including King Abdullah.
Prince Charles hosted a reception and cultural evening for the participants of the summit. After all the meeting is held in "his" principality.The Prince of Wales drew attention to Welsh food, music and people on the first day of the NATO.
President Obama, the first serving U.S. president to visit Wales, praised the nation and its people. "You can see natural beauty, the wonderful people, great hospitality", Obama said, as he urged people to visit Wales. © RB; Pictures: RHC Jordan
Anguillans of all persuasions had amply opportunity to see or even meet with the Earl and Countess of Wessex as they visited the tiny Caribbean island on Monday as part of their Diamond Jubilee tour on behalf of Prince Edward’s mother and Anguilla’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II.
Edward and Sophie, as they are more commonly known, had a full programme during their one day. A Rally and March Past at the Ronald Webster Park in the capital The Valley started them off. Ironically it was here that only three days ago Anguilla honoured its ‘revolutionary’ leader and ‘Father of the Nation’ after whom the park is named, 86-year old Ronald Webster.
He led Anguilla’s rebellion and revolution in 1967 and 1969 against incorporation in the dependency of St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla, and proclaimed Anguilla an independent republic. The islanders wanted to govern themselves, a sentiment that is still very present today, as shown by the speeches and support for Webster as Anguilla celebrated his 86th birthday – with a March Past no less.
Governor Alistair Harrison on that occasion hailed Webster as a revolutionary leader and paid tribute to him as Anguilla's first Chief Minister. He noted that during the revolution Webster had three important assets: unity, vision and courage. He said that all three remain important today and he congratulated Chief Minister Hubert Hughes and the Executive Council for aiming to live up to Webster's vision, the Daily Herald reported.
The royal guests went from the park to St Mary’s Church for a Commemoration Service, before splitting up. The Prince headed to the Heritage Museum and the Island Harbour, rejoined his wife for lunch with Governor Harrison at Government House. In the afternoon too had separate programmes, before getting together again for a reception at Government House to conclude the visit.
Anguilla, an island approximately 26 km long by 5 km wide at its widest point, is also the closest the United Kingdom gets to both France and The Netherlands, who share the neighbouring island of St Martin/Sint Maarten. Anguilla can easily be seen from there (on horizon in above picture), and is connected by short ferry to Marigot, in French St Martin (photo).
Queen Elizabeth II only visited Anguilla once, on 18 February 1994. In 1966 she snubbed the islanders, by visiting St Kitts, Nevis and the British Virgin Islands, but not Anguilla. © RB
Anguilla is one of 14 British overseas territories, the others being: British Indian Ocean Territory, Gibraltar, Bermuda, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory, St Helena and its dependencies (Ascension and Tristan da Cunha), Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, the Pitcairn Group of Islands, and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus.
Prince William demonstrated his linguistic skills Tuesday, addressing fans in Canada's Northwest Territories in French, English and a few words in two native tongues Dene and Inuvialuktun.
William spoke briefly during the welcoming ceremony at the Somba K'e Civic Plaza in Yellowknife, the capital of the sparsely populated Northwest Territories, the latest stop on his nine-day Canadian tour with Catherine, the Associated Press reported from Canada.
"This place is what Canada is all about - vast, open beauty, tough, resilient, friendly peoples, true nature, true humanity," the prince said with the Duchess of Cambridge beside him. "We've already sensed the extraordinary potential of this region and the irrepressible spirit of adventure that marks the people of the territories and defines the land. We are so excited to be here."
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are flying to Calgary on Wednesday. © RB; Source: AP
Prince Philip celebrated his 90th birthday Friday in good health and good humour but announced plans to cut back his officials duties, the Associated Press reported from London. Instead of acting though as if he can continue the punishing pace of royal engagements, Philip acknowledged that he is losing stamina.
In an interview with the BBC he said he was nearing his "sell-by date." "I reckon I've done my bit. I want to enjoy myself for a bit now. With less responsibility, less rushing about, less preparation, less trying to think of something to say. On top of that your memory's going, I can't remember names. Yes, I'm just sort of winding down."
The Queen gave her husband of nearly 64 years a precious birthday gift by making him Lord High Admiral of the Navy, a centuries-old title she had herself held since 1964. The awarding of the title can be regarded as an acknowledgement by the queen of her husband's sacrifice on her behalf.
The Duke of Edinburgh has made thousands of royal appearances with his wife and his long years of service were hailed by newspapers Friday. The Daily Telegraph wrote that "The reign of Queen Elizabeth II has been one of the most illustrious in our island story, something that would not have been possible without the duke's support."
In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he appointed the prince an honorary admiral and general in the Canadian Armed Forces, the first time an honorary rank has been granted at the highest level of the Canadian Armed Forces. RB; Source: GPD, AP; Photos by © Royal Press Europe
Princess Anne wrapped up her visit to the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuesday. She attended the Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue 2010 Study Tour Group, which brought together 120 mid-career men and women from across the Pacific.
The Princess Royal was welcomed by the Tonga's Princes Royal, Princess Pilolevu, when se arrived at Tonga's Fua'amotu Airport, upon arrival from Auckland, New Zealand, shortly after midnight Saturday.
Princess Anne stayed at Consular House in Nuku'alofa, the former residence of the British High Commissioner on the Nuku'alofa seafront near the Royal Palace. On the first day of her stay she attended a program at the Tonga Defence Services Compound, where she met the Tour Group and heard presentations from Tongans.
The study tour group saw participants from eight Pacific Islands (Samoa, PNG, Niue, Solomon Islands, Australia, New Zeland, Fiji, Nouvelle Caledonie/New Caledonia) - countries visiting government ministries, the Tonga Parliament, the National Reserve Bank of Tonga and private organisations, including the Civil Society Forum of Tonga and Nautilus Minerals Tonga.
Princess Anne also visited the Touliki Naval Base and met with King Siaosi Tupou at the Villa, his private residence, for lunch. © RB