Today is one of the few American holidays to honor royalty. (Don’t forget January 8th’s Birthday of the King!) June 11th is King Kamehameha Day, honoring King Kamehameha the Great, who united and ruled the Hawaiian island chain in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Kamehameha was a grandson of a chief who ruled much of the big island of Hawaii, but Kamehameha’s succession was not forthcoming. Instead Kamehameha was appointed the guardian of Kuaka`ilimoku, the local god of war, in 1782.
In the 1880’s, Kamehameha battled against his cousin Kiwala’o for control of the big island, and eventually emerged victorious. In 1795 he had captured the islands of Oahu and Maui as well. Attempts to capture Kauai and Ni’ihau eluded the great king for years, due to epidemics and rebellions at home. In 1810 Kamehameha negotiated control of the last two islands, uniting the chain with himself as ruler. For his military expertise, Kamehameha is sometimes called the “Napoleon of the Pacific.”
As ruler, Kamehameha codified the legal system and set in place a legacy of stability that would prevent foreign occupation up until the end of the 19th century.
King Kamehameha died on May 8, 1819. Kamehameha Day was proclaimed in his honor by his great grandson, also King Kamehameha, in 1871. It’s been a Hawaiian holiday for nearly 140 years.
Anniversary of the Ascension of King Abdullah II – June 9;
Army Day / Anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt – June 10
King Abdullah II of Jordan was not selected as Crown Prince until January 24, 1999, just two weeks before the death of his father. Previously the king’s brother had been heir apparent (and it was speculated that had the king lived longer, Abdullah’s younger half-brother would have been made heir). As it was, upon the king’s death from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Adbullah became the king of Jordan on February 7, 1999. A separate enthronement ceremony was held on June 9 so that…
Jordan is known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The Hashemites descend from Hashim ibn Abd Manaf, the great grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad, through the Prophet’s daughter Fatimah. Hashim means “cuts into pieces. It sounds like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with, but Hashim earned his nickname benevolently…
King Abdullah II’s father, King Hussein (1935-1999), once said of the Hashemites…
“We are the family of the prophet and we are the oldest tribe in the Arab world.” (Hussein CNN obit.)
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King Abdullah II studied in England and the United States as well as Jordan. In fact he recently established King’s Academy in Jordan in the spirit of his alma mater, Massachusetts’ Deerfield Academy, even hiring the boarding school’s headmaster to lead it.
He served in several capacities in the Jordanian military, including as Commander of Special Operations, and had attained the rank of Major General when he assumed responsibilities as monarch.
Jordan’s geography and history places it in a unique place in Middle Eastern and Western diplomacy. Like his predecessor, King Abdullah has played a key role in the Palestinian-Israeli relations. In a recent speech commemorating the dual anniversaries of the Great Arab Revolt (Army Day) and his 1999 inauguration, the King responded to military personnel who criticized naturalization of Palestinians for fear doing so could weaken plans for a Palestinian state.
“You should be sure that we will not accept, under whatever circumstances, a solution for the Palestinian question at the expense of Jordan. Also, Jordan will not have any role in the West Bank. At the same time, we will not give up our historical role and duty in supporting our Palestinian brethren until they set up their independent state on their national soil.” — King Abdullah II
The West Bank was part of Jordan until the Six Day War in 1967. Over half of Jordan’s population are of Palestinian extraction, including the King’s wife, Queen Rania, who was born in Kuwait to Palestinian parents.
The King’s mother is Princess Muna al-Hussein, born Antoinette Gardiner in Suffolk, England. She met King Hussein on the set of Lawrence of Arabia and converted to Islam; the two were married from 1961 to 1971 and had four children.
On April 9, 1940 Nazi Germany overran the virtually defenseless nation of Denmark on its way to invading Norway that same day. Germany’s reason was strategic. Germany was dependent on Norway’s natural resources for arms and materials. Its official justification was more altruistic: to “protect” Denmark from potential Franco-British invasion.
Danish King Christian X was told that, if Denmark didn’t capitulate, the German Luftwaffe would decimate the capital. The King reluctantly agreed.
Denmark’s cooperation with Germany had its advantages. Only a hundred Danish Jews perished at Nazi hands during World War II. When Hitler ordered Denmark’s Jews rounded up and sent to concentration camps, Danes smuggled 8000 to safety in Sweden. The King was once quoted as saying that if Denmark’s Jews were forced to wear yellow stars (for identification), then he and the Danes would all wear yellow stars. (The Nazis never enforced the policy.)
A week after the invasion, the King’s son, Crown-Prince Frederik and his wife gave birth to baby girl. Though the birth brought a ray of hope to one of Denmark’s darkest hours, no one imagined she might be queen, and that one day the country would celebrate her birthday as a holiday. For the Danish throne always passed to a male. Even if the king had no sons, the crown would go to a male relative.
But eight years after the war, when Princess Margrethe was 13, the Constitutional Act of 1953 amended the rule of royal primogeniture, allowing the first-born daughter to inherit the throne if the king had no son. Even then no one could be sure Margrethe would be queen, or that King Frederik IX wouldn’t have a son.
On January 15, 1972, the day after the death of her father, the 31 year-old princess became the Queen of Denmark, the first Queen Regent since 1412.
Queen Margaret I had ruled first on behalf of her underage son Oluf back in the 1370’s. When Oluf died unexpectedly in 1387 at age 17, Margaret became Queen Regent. During her 25 year reign, Margaret unified Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Apparently this made the men-folk look bad, so they didn’t allow another woman to take the helm for 550 years.
Though not quite as powerful as her namesake—the power of the Danish monarch waned significantly in the 19th and 20th centuries—Queen Margrethe II is the undisputed head of the oldest consecutive royal line of monarchs in Europe. Consisting of 50 kings and 2 queens, the Danish royal line dates back to Gorm the Old and the Viking days over 1000 years ago.