Monday, August 8, 2011

Goodbye...

As my readers have probably realized, I have found it impossible to update Sword and Sea on a regular basis during recent months. As a result, I am sorry to say, I will no longer be posting here for the foreseeable future, although I plan to keep the existing articles online.

Many thanks again to all who have visited, read and commented on Sword and Sea.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Condolences

I've been terribly absent from this blog, but I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the people and royal family of Norway in the wake of last week's horrific massacre. Trond Berntsen, step-brother of Crown Princess Mette-Marit, bravely saved the life of his 10-year-old son before being killed. May he and all the other victims rest in peace.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Speeches of the Finnish Presidents

Here are some readings of inaugural addresses and other speeches of the Presidents of the Finnish Republic, in English translation. Below is the inaugural address of the first man to hold the office, liberal nationalist Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg. The speech was delivered in the Finnish Parliament on July 26, 1919. Keep in mind that Finland had recently suffered a series of tumultuous events: separation from Russia, then in the throes of the Communist revolution, a short but bloody civil war, sparked by a socialist insurrection, a brief flirtation with monarchy, and, finally, public debates over the drafting of a republican constitution. Already a seasoned academic, jurist and statesman, who had played a leading role in the development of Finland's new constitution, Ståhlberg won the first presidential election, trouncing rival candidate General Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, the civil war victor and former regent. In contrast to later Finnish presidents, who would be indirectly chosen by the people through an electoral college, Ståhlberg was appointed by Parliament.

Representatives of the Finnish People:-


I must obey the decision which the Finnish Parliament has made according to the Constitution. I must assume the responsible office of the President of the Republic of Finland. I do it, knowing deeply that the trust which the Parliament, on behalf of the Finnish People, has shown towards me obliges me, and I will try to fulfill my task according to my strength, having as my guidelines, the Finnish law and the well-being of the country and people of Finland. Our country's position is dangerous. Both the external security and the internal conditions need defense and stabilization. By the recently ratified Constitution, the solid base has been created, for the existence of Finland, which became independent, through historical world events and the renowned acts of Finnish citizens, and for its totally unique political and social life. Their condition of life is, however, that all attacks against the country's external security and internal legal order and legal government are repelled, and that the necessary means for doing so are cared for. But, at the same time, it must be demanded that the people in public offices do their duties so that every citizen feels that he enjoys the lawful, legal security, and with the State's measures, through the cooperation of Parliament and government, and through free, civic activity, must be built the political and social cohesion which will also bring outward solidity. If this succeeds, and if, in addition to it, the strong, serious work of peace is fully undertaken, which is now needed in all areas of public and private life, then our country, that I surely trust, can, by living at peace, and by fruitful interaction with other States, feel its place as a State of laws, and our nation, as a civilized nation, raising our living conditions so as to satisfy the present generation, and for the good of the future generations.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Idyll of Leopold & Astrid

At The Cross of Laeken, there is an account of the happy young love of Princess Astrid of Sweden and Prince Leopold of Belgium, taken from the memoirs of a Russian sculptress, Catherine Barjansky, who was a member of the artistic circle of Astrid's mother-in-law, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians.

Crown Princess Victoria

Royal Wedding Stockholm 2010-Slottsbacken-05 edit


The Royal Universe has an interesting article on Crown Princess Victoria, the only female royal heir apparent in the world, who is set to become Sweden's fourth queen regnant, following an amendment of the 1810 Act of Succession which places her ahead of her younger brother in the line to the throne. To quote:
Princess Victoria has received an impressive amount of education in preparation for her role as Head of State. She initially attended state schools, where she said she was bullied as a young child because she was dyslexic. She transferred to an exclusive private school, Enskilda Gymnasiet, at the age of 13. After graduating from school, she spent a year in France, studying at the Catholic University of the West in Angers. She returned to Sweden in summer 1997 and undertook a training course for several months in the workings of Parliament and the government. This was followed by a course of study at Yale University in Connecticut; an overseas university was chosen because the Princess was suffering from anorexia and it was felt that she needed to be away from the Swedish press and living somewhere where she could be relatively anonymous as well as receive the best possible therapy. After leaving Yale she spent some time working in the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC, returning to Sweden in 2000. Since then she has undertaken various courses of study in topics such as international relations, conflict resolution, and political science. She has also done internships at the United Nations, the European Union, and the Swedish Trade Council, and completed her military basic training. In 2006 she took part in the year-long Diplomat Programme of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2009 she graduated from Uppsala University, the university she would have attended in the late 1990s if not for the need to study abroad. She is also involved in the Crown Princess Victoria Fund, a charity focused on providing recreational opportunities for disabled children. She is patron of several organisations, mainly in the fields of health, sports, and culture.
Although I wish Victoria all the best, I find it unfair that her brother was retroactively deprived of the status of Crown Prince which he had held at birth. If a change to the succession laws was to be made, I think it would have been more just if it had taken effect only in the next generation. (Nevertheless, I have the impression that the Princess, as it turns out, is a finer character than her brother, so the change may be for the best). I also find it inconsistent to complain that the old rules, giving precedence to male children, had to be amended in the light of contemporary Sweden's egalitarian culture. At that rate, why have a monarchy at all, since the whole system of inherited rights to thrones is anti-egalitarian in the first place?

Photo by Prolineserver 2010, Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Mannerheim Movie

Will Renny Harlin's endlessly discussed, projected biopic of the revered Finnish soldier and statesman ever see the light of day? Here are some articles from Helsingin Sanomat.