A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Answer to Monday's JFK Trivia Question: Bouteflika the Inevitable

On Monday, I posted a trivia question relating to the JFK funeral 50 years ago. Though a commenter got the solution within a couple of hours of the posting (first credit to the commenter known as Michal), I've waited till today to let others ponder if they choose to. Now I'll offer the answer, though it's been in the earlier comments thread since Monday night.

This was the original question, referring to the delegations from 90 countries that attended the funeral. First of all, I said I thought that only two were still in public office, and said:
One of these is HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of Queen Elizabeth II, now 92. He is still in the same job and has held it continuously.

The other is an Arab, senior then and now but in a higher-ranking job today. He is not a member of a royal family. Who is he?
Well, first of all, I am obviously not well-informed about some of the smaller European countries' royalty. I then posted an update on two of these: King Harald V of Norway, who was Crown Prince at the time, and ex-Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, who was then Princess Beatrix and reigned as Queen from 1980 until her abdication earlier this year. Whether an abdicated monarch is actually still "in public office" is arguable, but she's still a public figure at least. And if you count Beatrix, my own Managing Editor found me another comparable case: Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who was the heir at the time, ruled 1964-2000, and abdicated in favor of his son, but is still alive. I obviously am not up on European royals. (I wondered if someone might try to argue that Caroline Kennedy, the new US Ambassador to Japan, attended the funeral and is "still in public office," though she wasn't at the time, but I clearly limited this to the foreign delegations.)

Bouteflika in 1964
Now to the actual answer: it is, of course, the Arab leader who keeps going and going and going: Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was Algeria's first Foreign Minister and attended the funeral when Algeria had only been independent for a year.

Still Going, and Going, and Going ...
And he's not merely still in public office, he's indicated that despite his stroke earlier this year, which led to a long recovery, he's planning to run for a fourth term.

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