Six and a half years on…

Hugo

Today marks 6 and a half years since you were abducted to Japan so I thought I’d post a short note to you today with some bits of news for you.

Yesterday saw Prince Harry get married to Meghan Markle. The Prince is a few years younger than me and I remember watching him and his brother grow up when I was growing up so that shows how quickly time passes. I watched part of the television coverage from Windsor. It was reported that a billion people watched the proceedings around the world and it struck me that you might well have been one of them. I well remember the time when Prince Andrew married in 1986 when I was about the age you are now.

Tomorrow I have again been roped in to walk the 10 km London legal walk. According to my professional magazine, over 12,000 people are to participate this year. Because of the numbers, there are two routes again this year – one going down and then back up the other side of the Thames and the other through the parks. Not sure which route the team that I am going with is to take this year – we took the park route last year which also took in a bit of the River as well. I will try and take some photos for you again as I did last year, particularly if we take the river route this time.

On a much sadder note, on 28 May 2018, it will be exactly 10 years since Grandad, the Great grandfather you never met, passed away. As I’ve said before you were born 6 months to the day after he died. Along with you, he is the person I think about a lot. He achieved a lot in his life; he obtained a PhD from Cambridge University and went on to become the deputy head of a Ministry of Defence research facility.  He was involved in the design in the 1960s of the satellite dishes that adorned the BT Tower until quite recently; at the time they were state-of-the art and stood the test of time (the article that this link goes to is written by someone with the same name as me).  His ashes are interred in west London and I will go and visit him again later this month.

Hope you are keeping well.

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Message for Hugo – 6 years on…

Hello Hugo
In London it has just turned midnight on 20 November 2017.
We last saw each other at an airport 6 years ago today.  I, of course, don’t expect you to remember – how could I as you were still a toddler.  The date, however, shall remain with me, as your loving father, forever.
The date coincides with two very different anniversaries.  In the UK the Queen and Prince Philip celebrate their wedding anniversary today (their 70th).  November 20 also marks the anniversary of the signing in New York in 1989 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (itself signed on the 30th anniversary of adopting of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1959).  The 1989 Convention came into force the following year and included the following provisions:
A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. 
Article 10, sub section 2. 
States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
Article 11, sub section 1.
These are but two provisions that can be said to relate to us but, as our experience has shown these 6 years, the reality that meets these words is very different.
Earlier this year also saw the passing, on 12 May 2017, of exactly 2,000 days from when I last saw you.
As I did last year, I will leave work early later today to visit the spot at the airport where I last saw you at the time when I last saw you. Also today, as it’s your 9th birthday in 8 days’ time, I will go to the Post Office to send you your birthday package.  I will post here again on your birthday, as I always do, and also later today with a more general update about the blog.
I hope and pray that in a year’s time this will all have changed.  For now, though, please remember that there is not a moment when I am not thinking about you, my beloved and now not so little boy.  May God bless, protect and watch over you this day and all days.
Daddy

End of summer 2017 message

Hello Hugo

Another summer ends.  Your 6th in Japan in a row.  It’ll soon start cooling down again so no more sweltering walks to the station/school until 2018.

Here is a short UK update for you.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales; it made news around the world at the time and there has been a lot in the media over it this summer.  I clearly remember when I found out; I was back home in Everton for the summer after the end of my first year at university.  My mum told me in the kitchen when I went down to make coffee.

As I posted yesterday, our Prime Minister is currently on a trade mission to Japan.  My repeated requests to the Foreign Office in the UK to lobby the Japanese government much harder and more publicly on the issue of parental child abduction have not to date been heeded and I fear that such issues will not be on Mrs May’s delegation’s visit.  As such I yesterday put in a freedom of information request to find out why this continues to be the case and when this will change.  I will update the blog in the coming weeks as soon as I receive a response.

I spent a couple of days with Dad up in Edinburgh, Scotland, over the late August national holiday. It is a fantastically beautiful city also with much on offer around it in the surrounding, mountainous countryside.  We concentrated mainly on the city centre but did manage to get the bus out to the Royal Yacht Britannia now moored in Leith, a coastal suburb of Edinburgh.

Dad celebrates his 89th birthday next month and everyone is meeting up, as we did last year, at the Boathouse down in Hythe to mark the occasion.  Plans are also being tentatively developed for his 90th birthday in 2018.

Less positively, both my aunt Diana and your Great Grandma have recently been diagnosed with cancers.  Diana is responding very well to treatment as it was caught early – she is expected to make a full recovery – but Grandma is still waiting for a full medical assessment.

Your UK cousin, Olly, is doing well.  He celebrated his first birthday in April and my sister returned to work at about the same time.

I have mailed you the items below in two tranches, one today and one on 24 August.  These include a genuine Edinburgh/Cashmere scarf – I tried it on before sending it to you and it is very soft and fluffy and will, I trust, help keep you warm this winter.

Happy Easter 2017

Maundy Thursday 

Hello Hugo

This is just a short note to wish you a very happy Easter in Japan; I sent you some items (below) on Tuesday 4 April so I hope that you have them by now.  These included a commemorative coin marking the Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee, about which I posted here earlier in the year.

Easter 2017 2

Easter 2017 1

Easter 2017 3

Your Easter card and presents 

Easter 2017 4 - receipt

Mailing receipt 

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee

BBC

Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee: Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne

  • 6 February 2017

A 41-gun salute has been fired in London’s Green Park to mark the Queen’s 65 years on the throne.

Gun salutes also took place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and York.

The Queen has become the first British monarch to reach a sapphire jubilee, after becoming the UK’s longest-reigning monarch in 2015, aged 89.

A portrait of the Queen by British photographer David Bailey has been reissued for the anniversary.

In the photo, the Queen wears sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding gift in 1947.

The portrait was among a series taken by Bailey in 2014, with one released for the Queen’s 88th birthday that year.

Portrait of the Queen by David BaileyImage copyrightDAVID BAILEY© 2017
Image captionThe Queen has become the first British monarch to reach their Sapphire Jubilee

In the portrait, the Queen, who is now 90, wears a necklace made of 16 large, oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds, with a matching pair of drop earrings.

Over the years, she has added to the gifts from her father with a tiara and a bracelet to complement the original jewellery.

The world’s longest-reigning monarchs

It is tradition for the Queen to spend the Accession Day – as the anniversary of the day she became monarch is officially known – in private at her Sandringham Estate, in Norfolk, and return to Buckingham Palace a few days later.


Other monarchs to pass the sapphire milestone:

  • King Sobhuza II of Swaziland reigned for 82 years – the longest verifiable reign of any monarch in recorded history. He led Swaziland through independence until his death in 1982.
  • King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand had ruled for 70 years when he died last October. He began his reign aged just 18 years old.
  • Franz Joseph I was Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia for 67 years until his death in 1916. His nephew was Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was assassinated in 1914.
  • King Louis XIV of France reigned for 72 years before his death in 1715. He became king, aged four, after his father’s death.

Prime Minister Theresa May offered her congratulations, hailing the Queen as “truly an inspiration to all of us”.

The prime minister said: “I know the nation will join with me today in celebrating and giving thanks for the lifetime of service Her Majesty the Queen has given to our country and to the Commonwealth.”

Mrs May said it was “a testament to her selfless devotion to the nation” that the Queen had made clear she did not want official celebrations to mark the historic milestone.


Another first for Queen Elizabeth II

The Queen after her coronationImage copyrightPA
Image captionThe monarch, pictured in 1953, leaving Westminster Abbey after the Coronation

By Peter Hunt, BBC diplomatic and royal correspondent

Longevity for a hereditary head of state has brought many milestones.

She is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, having overtaken her great great grandmother, Victoria, in 2015.

Today, after 23,742 days on the throne, it’s the start of the first sapphire jubilee in British history.

For the Queen, it’s a moment for contemplation rather than celebration – as it is also the anniversary of her father’s death.

In the coming months and years, she will, inevitably, do less and other royals will take on more – most notably Prince William, once he finishes his job as an air ambulance pilot in the summer.

The 90-year-old working monarch has another significant moment on the horizon.

In November, she and Prince Philip will mark 70 years of marriage.

Read more from Peter Hunt here


In London, royal gun salutes commemorated the occasion across the capital.

A 41-gun salute was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at midday and a 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 13:00 GMT.

Larger-scale jubilee celebrations are expected to be reserved for the Platinum Jubilee in 2022, when the monarch will mark 70 years.

Members of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionMembers of the 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery fire a 21-gun salute at Edinburgh Castle
Members of C Troop 211 Battery fire a 21-gun salute in the grounds of Cardiff CastleImage copyrightPA
Image captionA 21-gun salute was fired in the grounds of Cardiff Castle
Members of the 4th Regiment Royal Artillery, fire a 21-gun salute in York's Museum GardensImage copyrightPA
Image captionIn York, a 21-gun salute was fired in Museum Gardens
Source:  “Queen’s Sapphire Jubilee:  Gun salutes mark 65 years on the throne”, BBC News, 6 February 2017 

Further Reading:  “Queen Elizabeth II marks record 65 years on throne”, The Japan Times, 27 February 2017 (added 28 February 2017)