Britain’s senior royals help UK prepare for life after Brexit

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visit Jamestown Cafe in old British Accra, Ghana November 3, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 04 November 2018
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Britain’s senior royals help UK prepare for life after Brexit

  • Charles and his second wife, Camilla, began their tour of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday
  • The countries chosen are no accident and closely mirror the wider political and economic agenda, according to royal watchers and analysts

KUMASI: making tea with Osei Tutu II, the Asantahene or king of Ghana’s Asante people, and a reception with paramount rulers is all in a day’s work for the Prince of Wales.
As heir to a throne occupied by his mother Queen Elizabeth II for almost as long as he has been alive, Prince Charles, who turns 70 this month, has spent his life at such occasions.
But while his more recent overseas trips have attracted little interest at home, his latest — and those of other senior royals — are being watched more closely as Britain’s departure from the European Union looms.
London is scrambling for a deal before March 29 and Britain’s most recognizable and trusted brand — the House of Windsor — is helping to prepare for life after Brexit.
Charles and his second wife, Camilla, began their tour of The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria on Wednesday, just as youngest son Harry and new wife Meghan returned from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga.
Not long after the referendum on EU membership in 2016, Charles’ eldest son, William, toured Canada, then Europe, in what was seen as a bridge-building exercise.

The countries chosen are no accident and closely mirror the wider political and economic agenda, according to royal watchers and analysts.
“The choice of place will be because that’s what the Foreign Office has requested,” Penny Junor, who has written several biographies on the prince, told AFP.
The royals’ closely choreographed movements at home and abroad are mainly prestigious photo opportunities, where invitations are highly sought after.
The prince, as the most senior traveling royal and representative of his 92-year-old mother, has diplomatic obligations meeting all three countries’ presidents.
There are ceremonies to attend, notably paying tribute to West African soldiers killed in two world wars before the annual Armistice Day on November 11.
Sunday’s spectacular “durbar” with traditional chiefs in Ghana’s second city celebrate cultural links within the Commonwealth that Charles will one day lead.
But it’s hard not to join the dots with politics and see the royals being used as a steady hand to help steer Britannia through turbulent waters.
Even the Asantahene recognized it, telling Charles: “To make sense of our history and the bonds that tie us together, we must have the courage to develop our economies, even more so when we have Brexit in front of us.”
Elizabeth Donnelly, from the Chatham House international affairs think-tank, said Charles’ current tour was the “soft-power follow-up” to Prime Minister Theresa’s May’s visit to South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya in August.
“This is about post-Brexit ‘Global Britain’ and strengthening Commonwealth ties and bolstering influence,” she added.
The prince, who is well known for his strong views on subjects from the environment to architecture, “will be aware of the wider context,” added Junor.
The Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria are Commonwealth members, just like South Africa and Kenya, the countries visited “Down Under” by Harry, and William’s trip to Canada.
Boosting trade with the 52 other Commonwealth countries has been seen as a way of offsetting losses from Britain’s largest trading partner, the EU.
The Commonwealth is potentially a huge market, with 2.4 billion people on nearly a quarter of the world’s land mass on all five continents.
Nineteen of those countries are in Africa, where Prime Minister May wants Britain to be the G7’s largest foreign direct investor by 2022.
In Ghana, British support has meant £2.0 billion in development funding in the last 20 years.
As in Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — there has been a push for more trade and investment, support for job creation and promotion economic development.
At the same time there is an emphasis on Britain’s strong cultural and social links, particularly the sizeable diaspora, with the obvious hope of economic payback.
Isaac Arthur, an international trade policy analyst in Ghana, said the economic backdrop made sense given President Nana Akufo-Addo’s “trade not aid” policy.
Pushing the two countries’ “shared history” alone may not be enough in a place like Ghana, whose economy is predicted to grow at a rate of more than 8.0 percent next year.
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are among a growing list of potential suitors to have visited recently.
But in countries where traditional royalty play a huge part in life, “this is where a royal visit can differentiate,” said Donnelly.


At least one dead in multiple shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht

Updated 4 min 13 sec ago
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At least one dead in multiple shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht

  • Police are not ruling out terrorism as a possible motive
  • ‘Threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province’

DUBAI: At least one person is dead and multiple others injured in a shooting incident in Utrecht, in The Netherlands.

Police have not ruled out terrorism as a possible motive in the shooting that left several people “heavily injured” - the shooter remains at large. Police have erected a white tent over an area where a body appears to be lying next to a tram where the shooting happened, AP reported.

Utrecht Police tweeted an image of a man named Gökman Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the  National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

Counter-terrorism forces have surrounded a building where the gunman may be located, local broadcaster NOS News reported.

There was gunfire at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said.

“Shooting took place this morning at several locations in Utrecht,” Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference in The Hague. “A major police operation is under way to arrest the gunman.”

The Dutch anti-terror coordinator has raised the threat alert to its highest level around the central Dutch town of Utrecht following the shooting incident on a tram in the city, with the shooter still on the run.

Paramilitary police have increased security at airports, mosques and other vital public infrastructure. Police have also advised schools in the area to keep their doors closed.
Anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 
“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 
Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.

Spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 
“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

A hotline to address queries about the situation. The Netherlands has one of the strictest gun laws and ownership is limited to law enforcement, hunters and target shooters.

 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that the government is currently holding crisis talks.

Aalbersberg earlier said on Twitter that he was having “crisis consultations”, adding: “Terrorist motive not excluded. Information not yet full.”

 

Local media reports have said counter-terrorism police were seen at the scene.

“Shooting incident... Several injured people reported. Assistance started,” the Utrecht police Twitter account said. “It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help.”

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop. Tram traffic was temporarily stopped due to the incident, but the trams are currently running again between Zuilenstein, Nieuwegein and IJsselstein.

(With AFP and Reuters)