Britain’s Prince Charles steps up as Queen steps back

Prince Charles will lay Queen Elizabeth II’s wreath honoring Britain’s war dead on Remembrance Sunday as she watches on, a rare public symbol of the 91-year-old gradually scaling back her duties. (Reuters)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Britain’s Prince Charles steps up as Queen steps back

LONDON: On Remembrance Sunday, Prince Charles will lay Queen Elizabeth II’s wreath honoring Britain’s war dead as she watches on — a rare public symbol of the 91-year-old gradually scaling back her duties.
It will be a milestone moment in the otherwise imperceptibly slow-motion process, as her eldest son, now 69, increasingly steps up on her behalf.
Experts said Britain’s oldest-ever monarch would never consider abdication or even a regency by her son, having sworn to serve her people for life.
But Charles, the heir to the throne, will steadily take on more duties outside the core constitutional obligations of her job.
“A very great deal can be done to scale back her public roles progressively and informally,” Bob Morris of the Constitution Unit at University College London told AFP.
“There are ways of handling a lot of the public functions which don’t necessarily require the queen personally to undertake them,” he said.
“Remembrance Sunday is a very good example.”
The ceremony is one of the core annual occasions when Britons expect to see their monarch center-stage.
She has missed it only six times in her 65-year reign: twice when pregnant and four times when overseas.
Sunday’s service at the Cenotaph memorial in London involves walking backwards down steps and standing still for a long time in often chilly and damp weather.
Queen Elizabeth will be looking on from a Foreign Office balcony, alongside her 96-year-old husband Prince Philip, who retired from public duties in August.
“The queen wishes to be alongside the Duke of Edinburgh and he will be in the balcony,” a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.
A palace source suggested this would set the pattern for future Remembrance Sundays.


By joining her retired husband in this way, the queen opens the door to doing likewise at other events — and has set a precedent as to what she herself might do as she ages.
Some reports suggest she could eventually retreat into seclusion in Scotland, like her great-great-grandmother queen Victoria did after her husband Prince Albert died.
Queen Elizabeth’s official engagements have already dropped 22 percent from the 425 in her 2012 diamond jubilee year to 332 in 2016.
She has not made any long-distance trips since 2011.
Charles and his wife Camilla now do the bulk of such visits, such as their 11-day tour of four Asian Commonwealth countries which ended Thursday.
As the heir, Charles has for years been reading the red boxes of official state papers that are also examined by his mother, shadowing her work in preparation.
As Prince of Wales, Charles is outspoken on topics such as the environment, architecture, farming and youth skills.
His activism is partly fueled by knowing that his time is limited and he will be unable to do so as king.
Royal author Penny Junor, an expert on Charles and Camilla who recently wrote “The Duchess: The Untold Story,” said the prince was in no rush to become king.
“I don’t think Charles is itching to get his hands on his mother’s duties. He has a very full life already,” she said.
“He really enjoys what he does. When he becomes king, he can’t be so hands-on.”
Junor said it was the queen, not Charles, who was driving the process of handing over duties, and would progressively be “more and more realistic about what it is that she can do.”


Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Updated 21 June 2018
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Recent appointments in Egypt show rise of women to high political office in Mideast

  • Recent appointments in Egypt are the latest example of the rise of women to high political office in the region
  • “The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position”

CAIRO, LONDON: The appointment of two more female ministers this month to the new Egyptian Cabinet means women now fill eight out of 34 positions, the highest number in the modern history of Egypt.

Hala Zayed is the new health minister while Yasmine Fouad takes over as environment minister. Both women replaced men and join culture minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, tourism minister Rania Al-Mashat, Nabila Makram (immigration minister) Ghada Wali (social solidarity minister), Hala El-Saeed (planning minister) and Sahar Nasr (minister of investment and international cooperation).
The appointments by Egypt’s new Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly have been welcomed as forward thinking by social and political commentators.
Dr. Magda Bagnied, a writer and professor of communication, told Arab News: “I believe whoever planned for those eight effective ministries was looking forward for the future of Egypt since they are all interconnected in some way, and having females leading them is a leap forward.
“A country’s rank and status is measured by the role of women. The higher the number of leadership roles for women, the further the country is considered to be on the road to development.”
Four out of 15 new deputy ministers are also women and women now hold 15 percent of the seats in Parliament.
The rise of women to high political office in the Arab world is by no means restricted to Egypt.
Jordan also has a record number of women ministers after Prime Minister-designate Omar Razzaz appointed seven women to the 29-member Cabinet sworn in last week.
“The men’s monopoly has been broken,” the Jordanian National Commission for Women declared in a celebratory statement which also praised the prime minister’s “clear position.”
The appointment of the women ministers may help to assuage disappointment about the make-up of the rest of the — all male — Cabinet.
Twenty-three members of the new Jordanian Cabinet have been ministers before and 13 were members of the outgoing government that was brought down by popular protest.
Rawan Joyoussi, whose posters became one of the defining images of the protests, said: “I was hoping that women would be empowered and I am happy with that. But as far as the composition of the rest of the government is concerned, I think we have to play our part to create the mechanisms that will hold the government accountable.”
In the UAE, women hold nine out of 31 ministerial positions, and one of them, Minister for Youth Shamma Al-Mazrui, is also the world’s youngest minister, appointed in 2016 when she was only 22.
This makes the UAE Cabinet nearly 30 percent female, which is higher than India, almost equal to the UK and far ahead of the US, where Donald Trump has just four women in his Cabinet.
The general election in Morocco in October 2016 produced 81 women members of Parliament, accounting for 21 percent of the total 395 seats. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), which won the most votes, also ended up with the highest number of women MPs, 18.
Though elections in Saudi Arabia were open to women only in 2015, it ranks 100th out of 193rd in the world league table of women in national governing bodies, slightly above the US at 102nd place.
A policy briefing from the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington says that one of the best ways for a country to ease economic pressure and boost productivity is to increase female participation in the workplace and in political life.
“Introducing diversity through gender parity will benefit economic growth and can help Arab countries to generate prosperity as well as the normative and social imperative of change,” wrote analyst Bessma Momani.
Yet in some parts of the Middle East, female representation seems to be going backward.
In 2009, four of Kuwait’s 65 MPs were women. In 2012 there were three and in 2013 only one. In 2016, 15 women stood for election to the 50 open parliamentary seats (the other 15 are appointed). Only one, Safa Al-Hashem, who was already an MP, was successful.
Qatar has no women MPs or ministers at all.
Egypt’s appointment of two more women ministers does not have the appearance of tokenism. The new Health Minister, Hala Zayed, 51, has a solid background in the field as a former president of the Academy of Health Sciences, a hospital specializing in cancer treatment for children.
She was also government adviser on health, chairwoman of a committee for combating corruption at the ministry she now heads and also has a Ph.d. in project management.
Similarly, Yasmeen Fouad, 43, the new environment minister, has four years’ experience as a former assistant minister in the same department, where she was known as “the lady for difficult missions,” and liaised with the UN. She is also an assistant professor of economics and political science at Cairo University.
Egypt’s first female minister was Hikmat Abu Zaid, appointed minister of social affairs in 1962 by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who dubbed her “the merciful heart of revolution.”
Now there are eight like her, demonstrating that in the Middle East, “girl power” is on the rise.