Monday, September 26, 2011

The Queen and The Duke of Cambridge

The Daily Mail has gotten an extended insider scoop on the royals, thanks to Mail reporter Robert Hardman's research for his book "Our Queen."
While there will surely be many juicy anecdotes from the book, our favorite so far is a tidbit from Prince William talking candidly about his grandmother -- and her taste in clothes.
"I wanted to decide what to wear for the wedding," Prince William said in the excerpt. But the Queen would have none of it.

"I was given a categorical: 'No, you’ll wear this!'"

The "this" was the bright red military uniform. Writes Hardman, "Having just appointed Prince William to the position of Colonel of the Irish Guards, his most senior military appointment — and one of her Guards regiments to boot — the Queen was quite clear that her grandson should be getting married in his Irish Guards uniform."

Apparently the prince is an officer in all three Services of the British military as well as a Royal Air Force member -- we didn't realize there were so many uniform options!

What we did know, however, is that the Queen has plenty of opinions about such things. Although Kate picked out her own dress, Queen Elizabeth II was not a fan of the dress's exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

"Horrid, isn't it? Horrid and dreadful!" the Queen supposedly commented to her new granddaughter, who took in the Royal Wedding exhibit with the Queen in July.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saudi King Allows Women to Vote in Local Elections

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation's women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation's top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom.

"We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia," Abdullah said, referring to the Islamic law that governs many aspects of life in the kingdom.

The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country's de facto ruler in 1995 during the illness of King Fahd. Abdullah formally ascended to the throne upon Fahd's death in August 2005.

The kingdom's great oil wealth and generous handouts to citizens have largely insulated it from the unrest sweeping the Arab world. But the king has taken steps to quiet rumblings of discontent that largely centered on the eastern oil-producing region populated by the country's Shiite Muslim minority.

Continue reading...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Helen of Yugoslavia's Damaging Testimony on Her Estranged Husband's Activities

"My husband went to get cash to Switzerland to hand them over to Nicolas Bazire"

LEMONDE.FR | 24.09.11 | 7:22 • Updated 24.09.11 | 3:18 p.m.
In an interview in the world, Helen of Yugoslavia , the wife of the former adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy, Thierry Gaubert, says that her husband visited many times in the early 1990 seeking money to Geneva the back then Nicolas Bazire , then director of the firm and the presidential campaign of Prime Minister Edouard Balladur .

When did you meet your husband Thierry Gaubert ?
We met in 1987 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, where we lived both. And we were married in 1988. We are separated for five years.
Before 1987, you already know Nicolas Sarkozy ?

No, I met him through my husband. I presented it right away, and he married us.

What was your husband when you met him?
He was project manager for communication for mayor of Neuilly, and also worked in real estate.

At the time, Mr Sarkozy was a close friend?
He was very close, yes, we often invited to dinner , the weekend ... He called my husband all the time. Thierry had become indispensable.

After arriving at the Ministry's budget in 1993, Sarkozy called your husband at her side as Deputy Chief of Staff. What memories do you have of that period?
That of a life much more intense, with constant trips to Bercy. I myself was on my way from time to time to the ministry, especially for dinner.

It is therefore from this period [the presidential campaign of 1995] that your husband would have made ​​trips to Switzerland to find the cash?
Yes. He told me regularly: "I'm going to Switzerland looking for money. " He spent systematically, with the move as a return, in London, so he told me to avoid customs checks at the Franco-Swiss border.

When these trips began and what was the frequency?
It is difficult to date precisely. I'm sure it started in the early 1990s. And he went to Switzerland about once every two months.

But how did he justify these trips?
He did not tell me why, I do not speak the amounts nor showed me the tickets. Generally, it brought them back in small bags.

Continue reading...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Museum of Bavarian Kings opens its doors

The Museum of Bavarian Kings opened in Schwangau on Friday. The new museum traces the history of the Wittelsbach dynasty, which ruled the southern German kingdom until 1918.

The museum is housed in the former Grand Hotel Alpenrose on the shores of the Alpsee, a lake made famous by its proximity to two castles: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, the white palace built by Ludwig II and popularized by Walt Disney’s iconic castle.

With 1,000 square metres of exhibition space the museum will explore the Wittelsbach family, who ruled from 1180 until the 1918 revolution in Bavaria.

Over a million tourists visit the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein every year, and the Wittelsbach Equalization Fund, which manages the property and possessions of the former ruling dynasty, hopes to attract around 200,000 of those visitors to the new museum.

“People are fascinated with Neuschwanstein, but they return from their visits with many unanswered questions,” said Elisabeth von Hagenow, the art historian who coordinated planning, construction and conception of the museum over the last three years.

The 800-year family history will be presented in the two-story space. An exhibition highlight includes the “walk in family tree,” which offers visitors an extensive orientation to the Wittelsbach dynasty. Porcelain, jewellery and portraits also illustrate the family’s influence.

One of the most valuable displays, according to Luitgard Löw, the new museum director is the 90-piece precious carved tableware set – a wedding gift from Ludwig I to his son and heir, Maximilian II.

Continue reading:

A Video of the Maria Pavlovna Exhibition at Contrexeville, France

In French...but for those of you who do not know the language, at least you can see some of Maria Pavlovna's descendants!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Prince William makes Colin Firth joke in Hollywood speech

Seaking at the inaugural “Brits to watch” dinner, hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Prince William praised anglo-american efforts in the entertainment industry saying: “When American and British talent get together, magic happens.”

Watch his speech...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Liechtenstein voters reject plan to legalize abortion after prince threatens to veto change

Liechtenstein voters reject plan to legalize abortion after prince threatens to veto change
September 18, 2011 - 09:46

The Associated Press

GENEVA - Voters in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein on Sunday rejected a plan to legalize abortion, following a bitterly fought campaign that saw the country's prince threaten to veto the proposed change in the law.

Opponents won the referendum with a majority of 514 votes, out of 11,510 ballots cast. The official count put no-votes at 52.3 per cent, ahead of 47.7 per cent who favoured the plan to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if the child is severely disabled.
Under existing law, women who have an abortion risk one year imprisonment, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger or she is under 14 at the time she got pregnant. Doctors who carry out an abortion can go to prison for three years.

Campaigners for the change argued that the threat of prosecution meant women had to go secretly to neighbouring Austria or Switzerland even just to get advice on their options in an unwanted pregnancy.

But opponents in the Catholic majority country warned that the proposal went too far and could lead to late-term abortions of disabled children.

Their concerns were echoed by Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, the country's de facto ruler, who said in a speech last month that he would use his veto power to block decriminalization.

The move prompted backers of the change, as well as democracy campaigners, to accuse him of interfering in the democratic process and of discouraging people from voting.

The outcome of the vote means a counterproposal backed by Liechtenstein's two main political parties is likely to come before the country's parliament and people soon.

Under the alternative proposal, which Alois has yet to comment on, abortion will continue to be a criminal offence in Liechtenstein. But having an abortion abroad wouldn't be punished anymore.