Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Sir Angus Houston praises Prince Philip: "I am a great admirer of the Duke of Edinburgh."

On yesterday's Australia Day it was announced that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia, had appointed former Defence Force Chief Angus Houston a Knight of the Order of Australia. In an interview with the ABC Sir Angus tells Joe O’Brien how surprised and humbled he feels by the honour.

Sir Angus also praises the other recipient of Australia's highest honour, HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh: "I am a great admirer of the Duke of Edinburgh. I think the Duke of Edinburgh scheme is one that has probably been more successful than any other schemes in recent years in terms of  helping the development of young people. A lot of the things the Duke has been involved in for many many years demonstrate an incredible commitment by him in terms of causes that not only effect the British people, but also effect the people of the Commonwealth. And I hold him in very deep respect for the decades of service that he has given the UK and the Commonwealth."

Monday, 26 January 2015

Australia Day: Sir Angus Houston and Prince Philip awarded Knight of the Order of Australia

Her Majesty The Queen of Australia has accepted the Prime Minister's recommendation that His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston AC (Mil) AFC (Retd) be awarded Australia’s highest honour as Knights of the Order of Australia.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
This honour recognises the contribution of the Duke of Edinburgh to Australia throughout The Queen’s sixty two year reign.

Prince Philip’s long life of service and dedication should be honoured by Australia.

For three quarters of a century, Prince Philip has served the Crown, and the wider Commonwealth. He served originally as an officer in the Royal Navy and then as a member of the Royal family.

In this official portrait HRH Prince Philip is wearing the uniform of the Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force.
He has served Australia with distinction and is patron of over 800 organisations. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Australia has supported the development of young Australians for more than fifty years. The Award has positively influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Australians. There are currently 23,000 young Australians undertaking the Award.

During Australia’s Bicentenary, Prince Philip was appointed a Companion in the Military Division of the Order of Australia for “service to the Australian Defence Force as Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Australian Navy, Field Marshal in the Australian Army and Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force”.

The Duke of Edinburgh joins The Prince of Wales who was appointed a Knight of the Order of Australia in 1981.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK AC (Mil) AFC (Retd)
This honour recognises Air Chief Marshal Houston’s extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia over many years. Sir Angus served in the armed forces for over forty years rising to become Chief of Air Force in 2001 and Chief of the Defence Force in 2005.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2003 and made a Companion of the Order of Australia (Military Division) in 2008. Since Sir Angus retired from the military in 2011, he has continued to serve in significant leadership roles including Chairman of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board, Chairman of Airservices Australia and Chairman of the Council for the Order of Australia.

In the difficult hours after the loss of MH 370 and the loss of MH 17, Australia turned to Sir Angus to lead our response. He headed the Joint Agency Coordination Centre during the search for Flight MH 370 and he was my Special Envoy to Ukraine leading efforts to recover, identify and repatriate Australians killed on Flight MH 17.

Successive governments have relied on Sir Angus’ wisdom, judgment and character. Throughout his life, Sir Angus has put Australia first.

Minor republican grumble on Australia Day
Unlike previous Australia Day holidays, this year saw only little mumbles of republicansm. The Leader of the opposition, William Shorten, held a speech to mark the launch of a new book to re-establish his republican credentials: "Let us rally behind an Australian republic – a model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world." In a subsequent press conference, Mr Shorten said that while he was not yet pushing for a second referendum, because the opinion polls clearly indicate that the number of republicans is declining and Mr. Shorten avoided any indication on what kind of republic he wants to replace the successful Australian Monarchy.

The Age hid Mr Shorten's speech on page 6 and referred to it in its Australia Day editorial without great optimism:
Australians show little inclination to revisit the debate about ties to the monarchy. ...
The Age supports the goal to appoint an Australian head of state, to reflect the country's confident and independent identity in what has been termed the Asian century. But Australians will only support a republic when the model of presidential system is settled and community leaders demonstrate a willingness to advocate for the cause. 
 Happy Australia Day! And long live the Queen of Australia!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Queen's message to the people of South Australia and Victoria

Prince Philip and I send our sincere thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of firefighters and community volunteers who have risked their lives to contain the bushfires in South Australia and Victoria.

Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their homes and personal possessions in the fires.

I commend the courage and fortitude of the men and women who continue to assist with the emergency operations and those who are providing support to the people who are directly affected.

Elizabeth R.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Je suis Charlie

The horrible events in Paris don't need further comments. The cartoons and photos that made Charlie Hebdo famous speak for themselves.

The cartoonists Charb and cabu are among those killed in Paris.
The answer is EVERYWHERE. You have no chance to win. NONE.

The ducks will always fly higher than guns.

Monseigneur le comte de Paris apporte son soutien aux familles des victimes de Charlie Hebdo

Aujourd'hui dès 12h30, le chef de la Maison royale de France, Monseigneur le comte de Paris, a exprimé son soutien aux familles des victimes de Charlie Hebdo et condamné la barbarie intolérable de cette attaque via son compte Twitter.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

« C'est phénoménal »

The sky over Brussels was in mourning. The funeral of Queen Fabiola of Belgium was a sad event for the country, but the rainy, windy and over-all wintry weather added to the « tristesse  » as the French would call it. Only a few thousand Belgians lined the streets and gathered in front of the churches Saints Michel et Gudule and Notre-Dame de Laeken to farewell the Spanish-born noblewoman Doña Fabiola Fernanda Maria de las Victorias Antonia Adelaïda de Mora y Aragón who had been their Queen for 33 years. With her husband, the late King Baudouin of the Belgians, whom she had married on 15th December 1960 in one of the first internationally live broadcast royal weddings, she became a symbol of the Belgian unity. When King Baudouin died of a heart attack on 31st July 1993, she insisted on not wearing black, but white. She stuck out at the funeral procession through the streets of Brussels.

This Friday not only Belgian nationals, Spaniards or other Europeans paid their respect. From all over the world members of royal families flew to Brussels to assist in the religious service. Japan's Empress Michiko, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Prince Moulay Rachid El Alaoui of Morocco, King Mohammed VI's brother, and Sweden's Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, where among the guests. King Harald V and his sister Princess Astrid came from Norway. Princess Sirindhorn flew in from Thailand and sat next to Princess Beatrix, the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia from Spain joined the congregation singing a Spanish hymn. Prince Vittorio Emmanuele, Prince of Naples, whose mother was a sister of King Leopold III of the Belgians, sat next to Dom Duarte of Portugal, Duke of Bragança. France was represented by Prince Eudes of Orléans, the youngest son of the Count of Paris. The Habsburg family were represented by the head of the Imperial House, Archduke Karl, and other members who found refuge in Belgium, first and foremost Archduke Lorenz who is married to Princess Astrid of Belgium, sister of King Philippe I. Luxemburg's Grand Ducal family came from the neighbouring country, including 90 year old Grand Duke Jean in a wheel chair. At some stage Duke Michael of Württemberg was visible, but this wasn't confirmed by the commentator, the well-known French journalist Stéphane Bern who was at RTL-Belgium giving very useful explanations. He knew the members of Kuwait's and Qatar's royal family and could name the members of the important noble families of Belgium, like the Prince de Ligne.

In this list of royal guests one house is missing: Windsor. Her Majesty did not send a member of the British Royal Family, but had asked her ambassador in Brussels, H.E. Alison Rose, to represent her at the funeral service. The Belgians were not amused about being snubbed: L'absence de la famille royale britannique énerve les réseaux sociaux.

None of the members of the Belgian Royal Family were missing. King Philippe and Queen Mathilde led the mourners and were visibly grief stricken. And so were their children, the hereditary Princess Elisabeth, her brother Prince Gabriel and the two youngest, Prince Emmanuel and Princess Eléonore. King Albert II, who had abdicated last year, and his wife Queen Paola looked shaken. And so was Prince Laurent, their youngest son, who had been in hospital for a couple of weeks this year. But even he had to smile, when a Spanish choir, La chorale hispanique de Vilvorde (a suburb of Brussels), sang "Salve Rociera”. Even King Juan Carlos joined in and the members of Queen Fabiola's Spanish family sang this traditional funeral song.

The body of the late Queen Fabiola was interred in the royal crypt at the church Notre-Dame de Laeken. Before she was finally laid to rest, two members of her household paid their respect to their old "patronne" (boss). It was a lovely and moving good-bye from two of her closest collaborators. The congregation had to smile, when the marshal of her household repeated her favourite gesture (raising to joined hands) and her favourite phrase for praise: C'est phénoménal!

This is how Her Majesty always will be remembered: A lovely smiling lady. May she rest in peace!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Prince Charles in a funny Aussie video

Countdown: His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales roasts Molly Meldrum

Do yourself a favour and check out this Countdown 40th birthday sketch in which HRH The Prince of Wales good-naturedly roasts Molly Meldrum.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Prince Edward on a five-day tour through Australia

Prince Edward waving to spectators at Point Piper, Sydney.
On Monday, 3rd November Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex began a five-day tour through Australia, with 17 official stops in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.

The Queen's youngest son arrived from South Korea, where he as Trustee of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation, attended the International Gold Event Korea Emerging Leaders Forum at the National Youth Centre of Korea, Chungham, Seoul.

Prince Edward will perform similar duties in Australia where he will commemorate more than 50 years of the Duke of Edinburgh Award in Australia. After his arrival in Sydney The Earl of Wessex met NSW Premier Mike Baird on Monday, after visiting the Prince Edward Yacht Club at Point Piper. An afternoon reception at Parliament House was also attended by Minister for Sport and Recreation Stuart Ayres.

On Tuesday, the Prince visited the Art Gallery of NSW before meeting Duke of Edinburgh Award participants from eight inner west schools at Ashfield Boys High School. About 22,000 young Australians are enrolled on the scheme, the largest youth development program in the world.

During his stay downunder he will meet more than 1,000 young people and ,1200 volunteers throughout the country.

Having been committed to the award since achieving his gold in 1986, the Prince is the United Kingdom and International Trustee and Chairman of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Council.

The Earl’s visit to Australia begins just after his sister’s had ended. In October The Princess Royal had a four day visit to Australia where she visited numerous charities she supports and is patron of, like the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth (RASC).

Prince Edward met Duke of Edinburgh Award participants.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

"It's an amazing thing for a kid from Western Australia to end up sitting having a cup of tea with His Royal Highness"

Since February 2003 Prince Charles has been President of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. On Monday 27th October Prince Charles invited some of the Commonwealth's bravest war heroes to St James' Palace.

Among the guests were Afghanistan war veterans Ben Roberts-Smith, Corporal Daniel Keighran and Corporal Mark Donaldson from Australia. They were also joined by 20 other Victoria and George cross holder, including Keith Payne VC from Queensland, who saved the lives of soldiers under his command in Vietnam in 1969 and received his VC from the Queen aboard the Royal Yacht, Britannia, in Brisbane. Ben Roberts-Smith commented that the reunion at St James' Palace was made that little bit more special because of their connection with Prince Charles: "It's an amazing thing for a kid from Western Australia to end up sitting having a cup of tea with His Royal Highness."

Corporal Keighran spoke of the event: "It is incredibly humbling to talk to these guys and hear their stories. To be a part of that group as well I don't think I'll get used to it. Every year there are fewer members, so its good to come together."

Australian Army Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith received the Victoria Cross for Australia in January after his efforts during an operation in Afghanistan in June 2010, when he killed three insurgents who were attacking his patrol.