As parties go, this was about the most exclusive there has ever been in history. Even if you were the most highly-paid Hollywood movie star or the world's richest internet billionaire or even the most powerful man in the world, you just could not get an invitation to it. It was the Diamond Jubilee Sovereign Monarchs Lunch held at Buckingham Palace and hosted by Queen Elizabeth II and her family on 18 May 2012. The above official photograph shows just who was there. Oh, the Queen Of Spain refused to go because of the dispute about Gibraltar (I would have thought that Spain had rather more important matters to worry about at present) but almost all the other monarchs of the world (or their representative) were there although I'm not quite sure what happened to the King Of Bhutan and The Sultan of Oman (I hope they didn't forget to invite them). For anyone interested the photograph features (front row, left to right) The Emperor of Japan, The Queen of The Netherlands, The Queen of Denmark, The King of The Hellenes, The King of Romania, Queen Elizabeth, The King of The Bulgarians, The Sultan of Brunei, The King of Sweden, The King of Swaziland and The Prince of Liechtenstein, (middle row, left to right) The Prince of Monaco, The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, The King of Lesotho, The King of The Belgians, The King of Norway, The Emir of Qatar, The King of Jordan, The King of Bahrain and The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, (back row, left to right) The Emir of Kuwait's representative, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, The King of Tonga, the Crown Prince of Thailand, The Princess of Morocco and the representative of The King of Saudi Arabia. Thus apart from Queen Elizabeth herself, five Commonwealth monarchs were present at this memorable occasion. The King, or Yang di-Pertuan Agong, of Malaysia is a post to which the incumbant is elected for a period of 5 years by the Council of Rulers which is comprised of the various sultans and rajahs of the Malay states. The present king, Tuanku Abdul Halim, the Sultan of Kedah, is the only monarch to have occupied the Malaysian throne twice - firstly from 1970 to 1975 and again from 13 December 2011. His second installation as king took place on 11 April 2012 but I have not yet seen the stamps which would have been issued to commemorate the occasion. The set issued to mark his first installation in the royal post is illustrated below and was issued on 20 February 1971.
The Sultan of Brunei, Sir Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzadin Waddaulah, succeeded to the throne of Brunei on the death of his father, Sultan Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin Wasa'adul Kairi Wadin in 1967. His 65th birthday which occurred on 15 July 2011 was celebrated philatelically by a se-tenant strip of 6 stamps, a miniature sheet of the same 6 stamps and a 2nd miniature sheet sold for the astonishingly high price of $65 though, as the illustrations below show, you did get an equally astonishingly big stamp for your money.
While Brunei is one of the richest countries in the world, King Letsie III of Lesotho comes from one of the poorest. Lesotho has issued very few stamps in recent years. The King himself was depicted on a sheetlet of 4 stamps issued on 18 February 2000 to commemorate his wedding to Karabo Anne Motsoeneng (depicted below).
King Mswati III of Swaziland succeeded his father, King Sobhuza II, when he was a boy and since has been depicted on a number of stamps which have been issued by Swaziland. The two stamps depicted below are from a set of 9 stamps issued on 28 October 2008 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Swaziland's independence and the 40th birthday of King Mswati. The E1.05 value depicts King Mswati in traditional Swazi dress and the E3.95 value shows King Sobhuza II, also in traditional dress, at the independence celebrations.
The final Commonwealth monarch to attend the banquet was King Tupou VI of Tonga about whom I wrote in the last blog. We await stamps from Tonga and Niuafo'ou which depict that monarch.
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