Zagreb – As the government faces many challenges, from the German peace talks to Bulgarian rebuilding efforts and security threats in the East, new pictures showing the Empress enjoying herself on the beach have fueled criticism about her extended leave of absence. Pictures taken over several days and leaked by a source inside the Imperial household show the Empress in a very unusual way of mourning.
Empress Athanasia took a leave of absence from all her duties after the death of her second husband, Emperor Consort Giorgos, in the Impact. The stress of the personal loss combined with the loss of tens of millions of citizens in that disaster became too much for the monarch who left the Chief Magistrate in charge as Regent. The Empress initially stayed with her family in the Imperial Palace in Athens, however after being gifted the Brijuni archipelago in Croatia by the Yugoslav President she travelled there instead. Respecting her wish for the press to maintain their distance, these trips were initially not reported.
While every person processes death in their own way, commentators and political opponents have been highly critical of the Empress. Zekeriya Avci, the leader of the newcomer Dissolution Party (which has stated its goal as dissolving the Athenian Federation to return independence to each constituent state), was perhaps most vocal. In a social media post mister Avci stated “It is unthinkable that while 20 million families mourn, 25 million families don’t know if their loved ones will make it and 100 million families are without a loved one. Our Empress. The woman who is supposed to serve the people is partying away in Croatia on taxpayer money. Beyond that her indecent fashion choices are sending the wrong message to women and little girls everywhere. Have some decency!”. While the ferocity of mister Avci’s criticism is mostly contained to Turkish and religious groups, even traditional supporters of the monarchy have stated that it is incredibly unwise for in a time of crisis like this to be absent from the centre of power. And that it is understandable if one truly does not have the strength, but that these recent pictures imply that to not be the case.
In the sea of criticism, there have also been calls of support. The chairwoman of the Athenian Psychological Association stated that “These pictures seem to show a happy woman, however these are only moments frozen in time where they were taken. They do not provide conclusive evidence on how the Empress is truly feeling. Furthermore, mourning is a delicate process that has a lot of stages and will not be the same for two persons. Historically the Empress has shown great responsibility and there is reason to believe her on her word if she says she is not ready to return to power”. Support also came from another angle, Antonia Binici, the Greco-Turkish Governor of the Union of Asia Minor and political opponent of the Empress stated that “I disagree on a lot of things with the Empress. I think the Empress has a lot of faults. I do however know that the Empress loves her people and her country. She would never abandon it to party”.
The Office of the Chief Magistrate refused to comment on the matter stating that the personal life of the Empress is not politically relevant and as such that the Chief Magistrate has no position on it. The Cabinet Press Secretary likewise refused to comment. The Imperial Press Secretary stated that “Her Imperial Majesty is currently taking time off because she believes that in her current state she is not the best person to lead. As soon as she recovers fully she will return and assume her power. How she spends her time recovering and what she does to recover is none of your business”.
The Dissolution Party (10 Seats) has announced a motion of Condemnation against the Empress in the Assembly of the People, so far only the Conservative Party (120 Seats), the Family Values Party (50 Seats) and the Arab People’s Party (220 Seats) have stated their support for the motion. The total of 400 Seats leaves it far short of the 2501 minimum to pass the motion in the 5000 member chamber in which the governing coalition has 3000 Seats and support the Empress fully. Even if the motion somehow passed, it would have no legal power to remove the Empress from her position as the position is for life and hereditary.