King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (1924-2015)
The death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was not unexpected as the ninety year-old monarch’s health had been in decline for some time. The official government statement said: “With great sadness and mourning His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, and all members of the family and the nation, express condolences for the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.”
President Obama paid a warm tribute to the Saudi monarch: “As a leader, he was always candid and had the courage of his convictions. One of those convictions was his steadfast and passionate belief in the importance of the US-Saudi relationship as a force for stability and security in the Middle East and beyond.” King Abdullah is succeeded by his half-brother Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud.
Beatrice’s big day on hold
Whilst recent speculation has focused on the prospect of Prince Harry marrying, an event that still seems some way off, the most likely marriage candidate from the Royal Family is Princess Beatrice. The Duke and Duchess of York’s twenty-six year-old daughter has been in a long-term relationship with boyfriend Dave Clark, 31, for almost eight years. Dave, who works for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, is thought to have proposed to Beatrice during the couple’s recent holiday in the Caribbean. Whilst a formal announcement seems imminent, the couple’s plans may have to be put on hold due to Beatrice’s father’s current and very high profile difficulties, cited in a Florida sex abuse lawsuit.
Andrew has vehemently denied the allegations but it is a fraught time for HRH who is in Davos for the World Economic Forum to host a reception. Andrew took the opportunity to underline his denial of the allegations: “Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to events that have taken place in the last few weeks. I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.”
Announcing Princess Beatrice’s engagement in the current circumstances would only drag the happy couple into a story that has become a personal quagmire for her father. All of which means that the Yorks will most likely have to weather the storm before their eldest daughter can marry her beau.
Happy Birthday Queen Mathilde!
Queen Mathilde of Belgium celebrated her 42nd birthday on 20 January. Mathilde Marie Christiane Ghislaine d’Udekem d’Acoz married Crown Prince Philippe on 4 December 1999 and the couple have four children: Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant, Prince Gabriel, Prince Emmanuel andPrincess Eléonore. Philippe was sworn in as King of the Belgians on 21 July 2013.
Diana: An English Rose
As I took my £30 press seat for the “Wedding of the Century” I considered the day a yardstick event of my life. Like the moon landing. But cruel fate would make a later procession – in which Diana was again central – even more epoch-making. Still, I will never forget that sunny day in June 1981. London was a rainbow of bunting. Heart-stopping was Diana’s slow walk up the aisle. Endearing was the bride who muffed her vows and almost married “Philip Charles Arthur George”. It seemed there would be a happy ending for what the Archbishop of Canterbury called “the stuff of which fairy tales are made.”
About 750 million people watched as, for the first time in living memory, a Prince and Princess of Wales wed. Charles Spencer saw his mothering sister Diana transformed: “It was the first time in my life I ever thought of Diana as beautiful,” he told Andrew Morton. “She really did look stunning that day . . . although she was slightly pale.” In the royal pew, the Queen Mother dabbed her eyes.
“You look lovely,” Prince Charles whispered as they knelt. “Lovely for you,” replied Diana. It was a wonder Diana looked so heavenly. Billeted on The Mall side of Clarence House, Diana was assailed all night by the crowd’s revelry and had barely slept. Her bulimia was in full force. She had raided the Queen Mother’s kitchen, eaten everything and made herself “sick as a parrot”. Concerned next morning that altar microphones might pick up the rumbling of her stomach, she for once ate breakfast. (Extract from ‘Diana: An English Rose’ published by Leppi Publications. ISBN 095216441. Avaliable in hardback and limited edition leatherbound). 70% off the leather-bound edition
Crown Prince Haakon defeats Norwegian Cod!
To open the skrei (Norwegian cod) fishing season, Crown Prince Haakon joined a fishing trip off the northern island of Senja aboard the fishing vessel Senjaland. After viewing a demonstration of how the fish is processed, Haakon joined the crew of the Senjaland and headed out into the fjord, the party being escorted by some killer whales part of the way. HRH tried his hand at fishing and managed to reel in three cod and one saithe. Upon his return, HRH, who is a keen sailor, was given the wheel and brought the Senjaland safely into dock. Naturally, before leaving the future king met with local chefs to sample some freshly made fish dishes.
The annual cod season off the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago of islands in the northern county of Nordland, dates back farther than recorded history and in recent years has become a tourist attraction. Another little known fact outside the world of angling and fishing is that this year the World Championship Cod Fishing tournament is being held for the 25th time. The event will take place in Svolvær, Nordland, from 20-21 March.