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April 22, 2016

Britain\’s Queen Elizabeth II turns 90 years old

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II turns 90 years old

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Friday, April 22, 2016

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Queen Elizabeth II, Britain‘s longest reigning monarch, turned 90 years old on Thursday.

Queen Elizabeth II marked her birthday with a walkabout in the town of Windsor near London with her husband of 68 years, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. In the evening the Queen, accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, and heir to the throne Prince Charles, lit a beacon, the first in a series of over 900 beacons lit across the United Kingdom and around the world to mark her 90th birthday.

Queen Elizabeth II was born at 17 Bruton Street London on April 21, 1926, and upon the death of her father, King George VI, became Queen at the age of 25.

As Queen she is Head of State of the United Kingdom and fifteen other Commonwealth realms including Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and New Zealand.

During her reign there have been twelve British Prime Ministers, beginning with Winston Churchill, to the present day Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Queen has visited 116 countries ranging from the Cocos Islands to China. Last year she undertook 306 engagements in the United Kingdom and 33 engagements abroad. Her overseas visits included a visit to Malta and to Germany where she visited the site of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.



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January 2, 2016

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people as \’terrorists\’

Saudi Arabia executes 47 people as ‘terrorists’

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

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Yesterday, Saudi Arabian officials said they have executed 47 people whom courts convicted as terrorists.

Officials said the executions were not done in public. Saudi cleric Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh in justifying the executions cited Saudi Arabia’s interpretation of Sharia Law and said the executions prevented the accused from committing further crime, calling it a form of “mercy”.

File photo of Dira Square, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where public executions are carried out under Sharia Law; Saudi officials said the 47 people executed were not executed publicly, but rather within prisons.
Image: Luke Richard Thompson.

Some of those executed were reportedly Al-Qaeda militants behind terrorist attacks. Before the executions, an Al-Qaeda branch from Yemen threatened Saudi authorities with violence if they executed their members.

Among those executed was a Shia Muslim cleric who criticized both the royal family of Saudi Arabia and that of Bahrain; he condemned Bahrain‘s suppression of protests with Saudi aid. He reportedly avoided advocating violence. He was convicted of causing violence against authorities, and a Saudi court rejected his appeal of his conviction this past year. His execution led to condemnation from Iranian officials, who had previously said it “would cost Saudi Arabia dearly”.

When news broke the 47 were to be executed, in November, regional Amnesty International director James Lynch said Saudi Arabia was settling “political scores” under “the guise of counter-terrorism.”

The organization said at least 150 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia in 2015, while only 90 were executed a year ago in 2014.



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September 10, 2015

Elizabeth surpasses Victoria as longest-serving UK sovereign

Elizabeth surpasses Victoria as longest-serving UK sovereign

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

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Queen Elizabeth on August 10.
Image: Mark Owens/Ministry of Defence.

Yesterday, Elizabeth II officially surpassed her great-great-grandmother Victoria, to become the longest-serving monarch of the United Kingdom.

Victoria was queen for much of the 19th century, with a grand total of 23,226 days, 16 hours, and 23 minutes. However, the precise moment in time when Elizabeth reached her milestone remains a mystery because it isn’t known for certain exactly what time the Queen’s father and predecessor, George VI, passed away.

The milestone was the subject of widespread praise from around the world including Kamalesh Sharma, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations, of which Elizabeth is ceremonial head. British Prime Minister David Cameron said that her reign was “truly humbling” and had been a “golden thread” for British society in the post-war era. He was joined by members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The occasion was also marked in London by a flotilla proceeding down the River Thames. Buckingham Palace unveiled photographs taken by Mary McCartney, daughter of musician Sir Paul, in which the Queen was sitting in the room where she meets the Prime Minister on a weekly basis.

However, the Queen was not present in London because she is currently on holiday in Scotland. She appeared to underplay the significance of the day, only briefly mentioning it whilst attending the opening of a restored railway line in the Scottish Borders region.

Accompanied by her husband, Prince Philip, and Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, she met crowds of admirers who had turned out in force to welcome her. The First Minister emphasised the Queen’s “dedication, wisdom and exemplary sense of public service”.



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May 3, 2015

Royal Birth: Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to baby girl

Filed under: Archived,England,London,Royalty,United Kingdom — admin @ 5:00 am

Royal Birth: Duchess of Cambridge gives birth to baby girl

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Sunday, May 3, 2015

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The UK’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge gave birth yesterday to a baby girl, and Kensington Palace announced, “Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a daughter at 8:34 am.”

File photo, Duchess of Cambridge, 2012.
Image: Carfax2.

The announcement also said Catherine and the baby are “doing well.” The daughter of the royal couple was said to weigh 8lbs 3oz.

Earlier in the day Catherine was admitted in labour into the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London.

Kensington Palace released a statement that the Duchess went to the hospital by car and was admitted into Saint Mary’s at 6am local time.

The baby is the fourth in line to the throne. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated, “On behalf of all Australians, Margie and I extend to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge congratulations on the birth of a daughter […] we wish the young Princess a long and happy life.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron sent well wishes earlier via Twitter, saying, “The whole country will wish her well.”

Prince George‘s birth also took place in Saint Mary’s in 2013, and Prince William’s in 1982. Obstetrician Guy Thorpe-Beeston, along with Alan Farthing, surgeon gynaecologist to Queen Elizabeth II, were present for the second royal birth. The announcement of the birth also said, “The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry, and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news.”



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April 27, 2015

Over 10,000 attend Gallipoli dawn service for ANZAC Day centenary

Over 10,000 attend Gallipoli dawn service for ANZAC Day centenary

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Monday, April 27, 2015

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A crowd of over 10,000 people attended the dawn service on Saturday at Gallipoli, Turkey for the 100th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops there in 1915. The solemn remembrance ceremony was held at the site of the original Gallipoli landings, now known as Anzac Cove.

From file, Gallipoli dawn service 2009.
Image: Gnangarra.

The Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War is remembered as a failed attack in which thousands of lives were lost for little to no gain for either side. The campaign killed 45,000 Allied and 86,000 Turkish troops.

Attendees at the dawn service included Prince Charles, the Prime Minister of Australia, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott‘s speech later in the day emphasised the importance of the day to Australians. “Like every generation since, we are here on Gallipoli because we believe the Anzacs represented Australians at their best. Because they rose to their challenges, we believe it is a little easier for us to rise to ours. Their example helps us to be better than we would otherwise be”, he said.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key at dawn described Gallipoli as a symbol of the highest ideals of Australians and New Zealanders “especially when they work side by side in the face of adversity”.

Prince Charles stirred emotions by reading extracts from a serviceman’s diary. The diary entry, by Company Quartermaster Sergeant Benjamin Leane, was addressed to his wife and was written hours before the first Gallipoli landing.

The centenary milestone of Anzac Day also drew a Turkish security force of 3700, both police and paramilitary. Attendees entered past six security checkpoints.

A record 120,000 people also attended services at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to commemorate the centenary.



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March 27, 2015

UK Supreme Court require government to release Prince Charles \’black spider\’ letters

UK Supreme Court require government to release Prince Charles ‘black spider’ letters

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Friday, March 27, 2015

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Image: Dan Marsh.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have concluded yesterday that the government must release a series of 27 letters sent by Prince Charles to government ministers and that attempts to prevent their publication under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been unlawful.

The letters were sent to ministers of the previous Labour government in the years of 2004 and 2005 and contain advocacy that has been described as “particularly frank”. The Guardian newspaper have been attempting to have these letters released using freedom of information legislation for ten years.

Dominic Grieve
Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2012, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve blocked the publication of the letters despite a ruling from the information tribunal that the release of the letters is in the public interest. Grieve’s statement at the time argued Prince Charles’ correspondence was “of very considerable practical benefit” to his “preparations for kingship” as “such correspondence and dialogue will assist him in fulfilling his duties”. Grieve went on to argue correspondence of this nature “must be under conditions of confidentiality” otherwise both the Prince and government ministers “will feel seriously inhibited from exchanging views candidly and frankly”. The statement from Grieve asserts “The Prince of Wales is party-political neutral” and “it is highly important that he is not considered by the public to favour one political party or another”, but that if the letters were released there would be the risk he would be “viewed by others as disagreeing with government policy” and “such perception would be seriously damaging to his role as future Monarch, because if he forfeits his position of political neutrality as heir to the Throne, he cannot easily recover it when he is King.”

Lord Neuberger, who gave the opinion of the majority of the court.
Image: National Assembly for Wales.

Lord Neuberger, in giving the majority decision of the court, stated the Attorney General could not veto the release “merely because he, a member of the executive, considering the same facts and arguments, takes a different view from that taken by the tribunal or court”. Neuberger said the legislation’s veto power did not go so far as to “enable a member of the executive to over-ride a judicial decision” and that the Attorney General “proceeded on the basis of findings which differed radically from those made by the upper tribunal without real or adequate explanation.”

Appeal judges had subsequently ruled this veto on the part of the Attorney General to be unlawful, and the further appeal by the government to the Supreme Court has been unsuccessful. The government is required to release the documents within 30 days, although it is possible some of the contents may be redacted.

A spokeswoman for the Prince of Wales stated the ruling is “a matter for the Government” but that the Prince is “disappointed the principle of privacy has not been upheld.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision was “disappointing”: “This is about the principle that senior members of the Royal Family are able to express their views to government confidentially. I think most people would agree this is fair enough.”

A spokeswoman for Cameron elaborated: “The prime minister has been very clear this morning it is a deeply disappointing judgment. He doesn’t agree with it. He thinks what’s at stake here is an important principle about the ability of senior members of the royal family to express their views to government confidentially. He thinks that’s a principle that we should uphold. So while we have taken steps in this parliament to strengthen the ability to do that through the FOI act, if there needs to be more done to make that clear, then the prime minister is clear those steps should happen in the next parliament.”

The legislation was already amended in 2010 to make it so that correspondence and other matters related to the Royal family are exempt from further freedom of information requests. Graham Smith, from Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, argues there needs to be greater transparency over the Royal Family’s affairs: “The court has defended democratic principles over the interests of the royal family and that needs to be enshrined in law. David Cameron’s response is worrying because he says he wants to tighten up the veto.”

The Labour MP Paul Flynn raised the possibility the ruling might have consequences for Charles’ suitability to be King: “If there are serious questions about the suitability of Prince Charles as a monarch there could be a question in the public mind about whether to skip a generation. The attorney general already said the main justification for keeping the letters secret was they would hinder Charles’s ability to be a successful monarch.”



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September 10, 2014

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012.
Image: Carfax.

Kensington Palace announced on Monday that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with a second child after the onset of acute morning sickness led to her cancelling an engagement at Oxford University, where the couple were due to open a new centre for the study of China.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his congratulations: “Many congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I’m delighted by the happy news that they’re expecting another baby.”

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband also congratulated the couple: “Fantastic to hear that Prince George will soon be a big brother. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their happy news.”

A number of media outlets speculate the announcement of the Royal baby may influence the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum later this month, suggesting it may encourage people to vote to stay in the Union.



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June 17, 2013

Duke of Edinburgh leaves UK hospital following exploratory surgery

Duke of Edinburgh leaves UK hospital following exploratory surgery

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Monday, June 17, 2013

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of the current British monarch, today departed from the London Clinic, located in the centre of the British capital, after eleven days. Prince Philip, who is aged 92, was hospitalised on June 6 to be given exploratory surgery on his abdomen.

According to the BBC, it was thought the Prince would remain in hospital for two weeks. The abdominal surgery was pre-planned, Buckingham Palace previously reported, although the reasons why this surgery was arranged have not been publicised.

The Duke of Edinburgh missed numerous royal occasions while he was in the private building, including the Trooping the Colour on June 15 to celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday. As he was staying in the Clinic, over a thousand cards were sent to the Duke. Also, members of the British Royal Family, including Charles, Prince of Wales; Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex; Prince William, Duke of Cambridge; Prince Harry of Wales; and his wife, Elizabeth II, visited him.

A Buckingham Palace statement said the Duke was in “good condition and good spirits”, adding that he would take a two month time period to recover. “The Duke has expressed his thanks and appreciation to medical staff at the London Clinic and the many members of the public who have sent good wishes”, the statement added. ITV News Royal Correspondent Tim Ewart commented, “for a man of 92, who spent 11 nights in hospital, the Duke looked extraordinarily fit.”



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January 30, 2013

Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne

Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne – Wikinews, the free news source

Queen Beatrix to abdicate throne

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

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Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in Vries
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On Monday at 19:00 local time (1800 UTC), Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands held a speech on radio and television, announcing she will abdicate the throne on April 30. Prince Willem-Alexander is to become King of the Netherlands.

Prior to the Queen’s announcement, local media suggested she would abdicate. Following the Queen’s address, Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte‘s response was broadcast.

In her speech, she stated her main considerations for laying down the Crown were the culmination of several events; among those are her 75th birthday on January 31, and the upcoming celebration of the 200-year anniversary of the Dutch monarchy. She also stated the “time has come for a new generation to take responsibility.”((nl)) The Queen expressed her gratitude toward the people of the Dutch Kingdom for their ongoing support during her reign.



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October 18, 2012

Attorney General vetos release of Prince Charles correspondence

Attorney General vetos release of Prince Charles correspondence

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

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Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General for England and Wales, has vetoed a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release correspondence sent by Prince Charles to government ministers while Tony Blair was Prime Minister from September 2004 to April 2005.

Prince Charles
Image: Dan Marsh.

The decision by the Attorney General overturns a previous decision by the Administrative Appeals Chamber which said there was a public interest in publishing the letters.

In a statement, Grieve made a case for it being in the public interest to not release the documents. He noted that the publication of the Prince’s correspondence would damage his preparation for kingship by damaging the public perception that he is “party-political neutral” by showing the Prince disagreeing with the policies of the government. Grieve then stated “[a]ny such perception would be seriously damaging to his role as future Monarch, because if he forfeits his position of political neutrality as heir to the Throne, he cannot easily recover it when he is King”.

Grieve’s statement did note that the letters from Prince Charles “reflect his personal and deeply held views and convictions” and “are in many cases particularly frank” but notes there is “nothing improper in the nature or content of these letters”.

Cquote1.svg [the] decision is a serious affront to British democracy Cquote2.svg

—Graham Smith

The Freedom of Information Act request was made by Rob Evans, a journalist writing for The Guardian. The Guardian stated they intend to take the government to court to challenge Grieve’s decision.

Graham Smith from the anti-monarchist group Republic said, “[the] decision is a serious affront to British democracy”. Smith argued: “Grieve has said this is about protecting prince Charles’s impartiality, but that impartiality doesn’t exist. Charles has made that clear. This decision is about pretending Charles is impartial while he continues to lobby in favour of his own political agenda. If Grieve believes Charles to be impartial then let him prove it by allowing the release of these documents.”

Prince Charles has been criticised in the past for repeated use of his power and influence. The architect Richard Rogers claimed that the Prince, who has strongly traditionalist views on architecture, repeatedly intervened to have projects cancelled which he was working on. Rogers criticised the decision not to release Charles’ correspondence: “It is not democratic to cover up his interventions.”



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