Going strong after 70 years: UK’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate platinum anniversary

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh stand next to a display of Spanish items from the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace, London, Britain July 12, 2017. (Reuters/Neil Hall)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Going strong after 70 years: UK’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip celebrate platinum anniversary

LONDON: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth will add another landmark to her record-breaking reign on Monday when she and Prince Philip celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
Princess Elizabeth, as she was at the time, married dashing naval officer Lt. Philip Mountbatten at London’s Westminster Abbey on Nov. 20, 1947, just two years after the end of World War Two, in a lavish ceremony attended by statesmen and royalty from around the world.
Seventy years on, Elizabeth, 91, and her 96-year-old husband will mark their platinum anniversary with a small family party at Windsor Castle, the monarch’s home to the west of London.
A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said there would be no public event to mark the occasion.
Greek-born Philip, a descendant of Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria in his own right, has been at his wife’s side throughout her 65-year reign, the longest in British history. He was the person who broke the news to her in 1952 that her father, George VI, had died and that she was now queen.
“One of the secrets of this very, very long marriage, and it’s an incredibly impressive anniversary, is the fact Prince Philip has always seen it as his main duty to support the queen, to help her in whatever way he can,” royal historian Hugo Vickers told Reuters.
“He is the only person who can actually tell the queen absolutely straight what he thinks, and if he thinks some idea is ridiculous he will say so in whatever language he chooses to use.”
The couple first met when they attended the wedding of Prince Philip’s cousin, Princess Marina of Greece, to Elizabeth’s uncle, the Duke of Kent, in 1934.
Philip then gained the attention of his future wife when the then-13-year-old princess made a visit with her parents to Britain’s Royal Naval College at Dartmouth in southern England where he was a cadet.

“Truly in love“
“She was truly in love from the very beginning,” the queen’s cousin Margaret Rhodes, a life-long friend and one of her bridesmaids who died last year, wrote in her memoir.
Their engagement was announced in July 1947 and they married four months later. With Britain still recovering from the war, the wedding offered a rare burst of color and pageantry against an austere background of rationing and shortages.
The 21-year-old princess, who wore an ivory silk Norman Hartnell gown decorated with 10,000 seed pearls, had to collect coupons for her dress like other post-war brides and the couple spent their honeymoon in southern England and Scotland.
While some two billion people were estimated to have watched the couple’s grandson Prince William marry his wife Kate in 2011, their own wedding was only broadcast live to some 200 million radio listeners, although highlights of the day were captured on grainy black and white film footage.
“I can see that you are sublimely happy with Philip which is right, but don’t forget us is the wish of your ever loving & devoted Papa,” King George wrote to his daughter after the wedding.
While royal watchers say Elizabeth and Philip have had their ups and downs like any married couple, they have avoided the travails of three of their four children whose marriages have ended in divorce, most notably heir Prince Charles’s ill-fated union with his late first wife Princess Diana.
It was at the couple’s 50th wedding anniversary in 1997 that the queen paid a rare personal tribute to her husband.
“He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years,” Elizabeth said.
No other British monarch has celebrated such a landmark, and indeed Elizabeth was the first to mark a diamond wedding anniversary in 2007.
Philip, who has suffered health issues in recent years and was hospitalized in June, retired from active public life in August. They both attended a memorial service on Remembrance Sunday on Nov. 12, although a royal source said the monarch had decided not to lay a wreath so she could watch from a nearby balcony alongside her husband.
“Without Prince Philip the queen would have had a very tough and lonely life. He’s been a complete support to her, a rock to her, from the moment she was on the throne,” royal biographer Claudia Joseph told Reuters.


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 52 min 31 sec ago
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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.