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Princess Hannah graduates with BA

Princess Hannah in academic robes

Tuesday 5th November saw Princess Hannah graduate from the University of Chester with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Spanish.

The Princess, who is head of state of Wildflower Meadows and the consort and fiancée of Emperor Jonathan I, started her undergraduate degree in 2015.

The degree took four years to complete, the third of which she spent living in Spain with the Emperor whilst working in a Spanish primary school.

Princess Hannah’s degree is classified first class with honours. Her dissertation – which was graded with an impressive 90% mark – was on religion in the works of nineteenth century English poet Christina Rosetti.

The graduation ceremony was held at Chester Cathedral, and was attended by the Emperor and by Princess Hannah’s parents.

The Princess remains in Chester, where she is currently undergoing a year long Master’s degree at the university, specialising in nineteenth century English literature.

Imperial Geographical Society Expedition to Soria

13 April 2018 1 comment

The church built over the 6th century hermitage of St Saturio; one of the most iconic sites of Soria.

The Imperial Geographical Society (IGS) yesterday undertook an expedition exploring sites of interest in the Spanish city of Soria, and following part of the course of the Duero River.

The expedition, the members of which consisted of Emperor Jonathan I and his sister Crown Princess Caroline, is the first of the IGS to have taken place outside of the United Kingdom.

The Emperor has been living in the Spanish city of Soria since September with his fiancée Princess Hannah, and will continue to do so until June.

The Crown Princess visited the imperial couple from Tuesday to Friday this week, and on Thursday 12th it was decided to designate a comprehensive tour of Soria’s sites of interest as an official IGS expedition.

The main sites visited on the tour of the city were:

  • An outdoor refuge for stray cats
  • The ruins of the Convent of St Francis (17th century) and of the church of St Ginés (12th century)
  • The churches of St John of Rabanera (12th century), Our Lady of the Hawthorn (16th century), and the Co-Cathedral of St Peter (16th century)
  • The Hermitages of St Saturio and Our Lady of Miron (both 6th century)
  • A hill behind the Hermitage of Miron from which a view of the ruins of Numantia (2nd century BC) can be seen
  • The high street in central Soria

James von Puchow reports on Catalan referendum

James von Puchow reports on experiences as an accredited international visitor during the Catalan referendum on self-determination; October 1, 2017.

Following an open invitation by the Government of Catalonia – the Generalitat – for members of the international public to observe the planned self-determination referendum in Catalonia on Sunday 1 October 2017, I attended several polling stations on the day of voting across north-eastern Catalonia.

Based in the coastal town of Vilassar de Mar, I was part of a group of people from Scotland who made use of their accreditation to ensure that the vote taking place was conducted according to transparent principles whereby voters were registered, given free access to the ballot box and were not restricted in voting for one of either options available on the ballot paper.

Whilst I am able to confirm that voting took place in the dozen polling places I visited and consulted, and that there were clear contingency plans in place to prevent individuals from having more than one cast vote assigned to their Spanish ID number, I regret the police violence on the day of voting which not only resulted in several hundred voters being injured, but also prevented many others from attending their polling place to vote for fear of being hurt.

It is of course understandable that many on the day will have not turned out due to their principle opposition to the referendum being held, as the Madrid central government did conclude that this poll went against the Spanish constitution and principles of permanent unity of the autonomous communities which make up the state, I did meet voters who turned out to vote against independence – many of whom had decided to camp outside polling places with fellow residents the night before 1 October to make sure there was peaceful resistance to any attempts to shut down the referendum.

Although my sympathies for Catalan independence and a democratic consultation being held are known, my role in Catalonia during the referendum was to act impartially and allow for a vote to take place – be the final result a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an independent Catalonia in the form of a republic.

It was upsetting however to witness the consequences and aftermath of police action, for example, in the town of Sant Julia de Ramis, where the national police had smashed open glass doors, ripped the shirts of those forming human chains, bruising and cutting those who peacefully resisted the seizing of ballot boxes and voting materials. I maintain that if the Spanish state was authentically steadfast in not recognising the result of any referendum on independence, it would have let the referendum in Catalonia take place as planned and ignore the declared result.

It should be underlined that I am most of all in favour of an accorded referendum being organised between the administrations of Barcelona and Madrid, and am highly worried that any declaration of independence based on the events of 1 October in the coming days will make any attempts of talks near impossible.

This being said, Madrid and the conservative Spanish government appear unwilling to allow any consultation, and the Generalitat is clear in its demands for questions of Catalan independence to be addressed. A current stalemate is not healthy for what I hope to be a modern European democracy, and it is highly unfortunate that any actions by either administration from now on will prevent all voices in Catalonia being heard – be they for independence, federalist, or, in support of continued unity within Spain.

I urge the Austenasian Government to watch events closely as either the birth of a new European nation or a crackdown on the pro-Catalan independence movement forms the narrative of this chapter in the history of Catalonia. Questions regarding Catalans’ rights to self-determination, their right to vote and right to express themselves are not just questions to be addressed within the confines of the Spanish constitution as these are rights we all have as citizens of the modern world. It is ultimately heartbreaking to have watched scenes of extremist pro-Spanish protestors in Barcelona use fascist salutes in defiance of this referendum – as police stand by doing nothing – yet at the same time witness members of the public be attacked in broad daylight for simply holding a ballot paper.

Nine years of independence celebrated

17 September 2017 Leave a comment

His Imperial Majesty published a brief video message from Spain.

The Empire of Austenasia yesterday celebrated nine years since its foundation in 2008.

Although the actual anniversary of the Declaration of Independence is on the 20th, Independence Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of September.

Emperor Jonathan I was not in Austenasia itself due to having recently moved to Spain for several months, but published a brief video statement from the newly-claimed Austenasian Consulate-General in Castile and León.

As is customary, an honours list was published by the Emperor, albeit one smaller than previous years due to a large amount of honours having been already granted this year less than four months ago on 4 June, when Imperium Day coincided with the moveable feast of Pentecost.

Furthermore, a parade in celebration of the occasion took place in Jovanovo, and messages of congratulations were received by the imperial government from numerous dignitaries and national leaders from across the world.

Planning has now begun for next year’s Independence Day celebrations, which will see the tenth anniversary of Austenasia’s foundation.

Emperor, Princess Consort and Emperor Father arrive in Soria

13 September 2017 3 comments

The location of Soria within Spain.

Emperor Jonathan I, Princess Consort Hannah and Emperor Father Terry arrived safely in the Spanish city of Soria on Monday evening.

The Princess Consort, as part of her university degree, is spending an academic year abroad in Spain working as a language assistant in a Spanish primary school. Emperor Jonathan I will be living with her for the year, working as a private tutor.

Emperor Father Terry flew out with the imperial couple from London Gatwick airport on Monday 11th, and will be staying with them until Friday.

The Emperor retains full access to the internet, and has stressed that living in Spain for a year will not negatively impact his level of communication with members of government or his ability to exercise his duties as Monarch.

Jonathan I and Princess Hannah will return from Spain for a week around Easter next year, and return permanently in June.

James von Puchow returns from trip to Andorra and Catalonia

Sir James von Puchow – Deputy Chief Ambassador – has returned from a two-week long trip to the Principality of Andorra and to the nearby Spanish city of Girona in Catalonia. Earlier this evening, he delivered this report to the Emperor and other members of the government:

It is my intention to report to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, his Government and the People of this Empire and associated lands on my experience in the Principality of Andorra and the city of Girona which is politically within the Kingdom of Spain, but at the forefront of the cause for independence of Catalonia – itself, culturally and linguistically, a separate nation. It should be at the pleasure of His Imperial Majesty that I have enjoyed two weeks this month in these territories in order to improve my knowledge of the Catalan language which is spoken there and to gain a deeper understanding of the government and current social attitudes.

Stress, first and foremost, should be placed on the reality of how different the Catalan Countries, or ‘els Països Catalans’ are from the culture of mainstream Spain. Both Andorra and Catalonia have existed before the establishment of the current Spanish state, sharing a unique Romance language spoken from coast to mountain.

My time in Andorra has illustrated the efficacy of the transition the state had taken since establishing itself as a constitutional co-principality in the early 1990s. Through guided visits to the ancient parliament, La Casa de la Vall (The House of the Valley) and the newly constructed building which belongs to Andorra’s unicameral parliament, the ‘Consell General’, it became evident that the focus on government established from the local level and the present system of universal suffrage made this small nation as modern as most European states. Furthermore, the investment of public funds into a wide infrastructure of facilities to provide Andorran citizens and residents with opportunities to divulge into cultural activities and sport, without doubt, highlight this state’s focus on the wellbeing of its people as a means to maintain activity within the country. Naturally, the unemployment rate is extremely low and the rates of salary beat many of those in other nearby countries. The natural beauty of this territory and its upkeep also make this country unique; I can assure His Imperial Majesty that the size of this country does not pose limits on its ability to be like modern European nations. Of course, as a landlocked country, it still purchases electricity and gas from nearby countries, but Andorra is not unique in this aspect. I highly recommend that the Emperor visit this country in the future to expose himself to the detail of structure of this nation.

I ask His Imperial Majesty to divert also his attention to the activity within Catalonia, currently an autonomous region of the Kingdom of Spain, but historically a nation and proud centre of historical activity with in western Europe. Varied conversations and discourse with the workers and residents of Girona have only cemented my own personal view that this territory should be granted the legal means to conduct a referendum on independence, as the central government of the Kingdom of Spain, lead by the conservative one-state ‘Popular Party’, wishes not only to refuse Catalans this right, but also to enforce policies which would reverse popular laws on autonomy and the territory’s ability to run its own services and agencies without the political interference of the rest of Spain. As much as I expect His Imperial Majesty’s Government to officially remain impartial on this issue, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all to research the current political situation in this part of the Iberian Peninsula in order that they may understand the history and potential of Catalonia. I am proud that I have been able to converse with the people who live there and I stand by the fact that in my own personal capacity, having attended lectures at the University of Girona and witnessed spectacles of this vibrant culture, I am an ambassador for these people, their language and their way of life.

Thus, I invite all who read this, and His Imperial Majesty most of all, to meet with me to discuss further my time in these territories, to look at the photos I have taken from my visit and to investigate these two different parts of the world.

With best wishes for our Empire and her People, and greetings to the Monarch,

James von Puchow
Sycamore Booker, Community of Landashir
30th July 2014