Friday, 27 May 2016

Prince Oscar of Sweden's christening

At noon today, Prince Oscar of Sweden, Duke of Scania was christened in the Palace Church in Stockholm. He was baptised by Antje Jackelén, the first female Archbishop in the history of the Church of Sweden, and his godparents were Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, his aunt Princess Madeleine, his mother's first cousin Oscar Magnuson (Princess Christina's eldest son) and his father's first cousin Hans Åström. At the end of the ceremony, his grandfather King Carl XVI Gustaf invested him with the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden's highest honour.
Among the guests in the Palace Church were family members, friends of the family, courtiers, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and other members of the cabinet, Speaker Urban Ahlin and other representatives of Parliament, some ambassadors and county governors as well as representatives of organisations and institutions.
Prince Oscar's parents, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, were joined by his sister Princess Estelle, his maternal grandparents King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia and his paternal grandparents Olle and Ewa Westling. Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit also attended. Princess Madeleine was accompanied by her husband Christopher O'Neill and their children, Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas, while Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia did not bring their newborn son, Prince Alexander.
Of the King's four sisters, Princesses Margaretha and Christina attended, the latter accompanied by her husband Tord Magnuson, their three sons Oscar, Gustaf and Victor Magnuson, their daughters-in-law Vicky and Emma Magnuson and Victor's partner Frida Bergström. Princess Désirée's eldest daughter, Baroness Christina De Geer and her husband Hans also attended. Other members of the extended royal family present were Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, the widow of the late former Prince Sigvard, Dagmar von Arbin, the 100-year-old granddaughter of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, and Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg, a grandson of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, with his wife Jill.
Queen Silvia's two surviving brothers, Walther L. Sommerlath and Ralf de Toledo Sommerlath, were also present, the former accompanied by his wife Charlotte. The Queen's nephews Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath and his partner Bettina Aussems and Patrick Sommerlath and his wife Maline Sommerlath were joined by Patrick's three children, Leopold Lundén Sommerlath, Chloé Sommerlath and Anaïs Sommerlath.
Prince Daniel's sister, Anna Westling Söderström, brought her husband Mikael Westling Söderström, her daughters Hedvig and Vera Blom, the former's boyfriend Oliver Dackell, and her step-children Casper and Caisa Söderström. Other relatives of Prince Daniel present were Tommy Henriksson, Hans and Marika Henriksson, Nils and Ann-Catrin Westling, Sara Westling and Jesper Carlsson, Frida and Rickard Westling, Hasse and Anna-Britta Åström, Hans and Helena Åström, Anders Åström, Anna-Karin Åström and Christer Wigren, Erik and Birgitta Westling, Ove and Yvonne Westling, Bo and Carina Westling, and Per and Rose-Marie Westling.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

First great-grandchild for King Albert II

The former Belgian monarch King Albert II, who abdicated in 2013, and his wife Queen Paola became great-grandparents for the first time yesterday, when their grandson Prince Amedeo and his wife Elisabetta "Lilli" became the parents of a girl, who saw the light of day at St Peter's Hospital in Brussels at 3.30 a.m. She was 52 centimetres long and weighed 3.3 kg. Prince Amedeo is the eldest son of Princess Astrid and was, until his uncle Philippe's late marriage in 1999, often thought to be a future Belgian monarch but is now sixth in line to the Belgian throne.
He did not seek royal consent ahead of his marriage to Elisabetta Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein in July 2014, but later received it retroactively. King Philippe's decision to restrict the title Prince(ss) of Belgium to children and grandchildren of the monarch and heir apparent means that the newborn will not be a Princess of Belgium. However, she may use those titles Prince Amedeo has got from his father, a grandson of the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, i.e. Archduchess of Austria-Este and Princess of Austria, Hungary, Bohemia and Modena.
Postscript: It was announced the next day that the newborn's name will be Anna Astrid, the names of her two grandmothers.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Falling support for Dutch monarchy

Yesterday was the 49th birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, which since his accession in 2013 is also the country's national day. On this occasion, broadcaster NOS published an opinion poll conducted by polling institute Ipsos, which shows that support for the Netherlands remaining a monarchy has fallen to 65 percent. In 2008, 80 percent were in favour of the monarchy, while 78 % supported it in 2013, the year of Queen Beatrix's abdication and King Willem-Alexander's accession. However, only 16 percent favour a republic, which obviously means that rather many are undediced.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

My latest article: Crown-wearings

The May issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 5) was published on Thursday, the ninetieth birthday of Europe's only crowned monarch, and contains and article by me about crown-wearings. Nowadays the British State Opening of Parliament, which this year will take place on 18 May, is the only time apart from a coronation when a crown is actually worn and Queen Elizabeth II puts on the crown as if it were a hat, but in the middle ages, crown-wearings were in themselves a solemn ritual. Kings wore crowns on the great religious feast days to stress not only their power and sacred elevation but their likeness to Jesus and crowns were placed on the monarchs' heads by high prelates in a ritual based on coronations. The article explores the roots of crown-wearings, how the ritual fell into abeyance and how the tradition of wearing a crown to Parliament was revived by King George V in 1913.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Service of thanksgiving for Prince Alexander

In keeping with tradition, a Te Deum was sung in the Palace Church in Stockholm at noon today to celebrate the birth of Prince Alexander on Tuesday.
These services of thanksgiving are usually held the day after the birth, but it had now been postponed by two days, apparently to allow Queen Silvia, who was attending a conference in New York when her fifth grandchild was born, to be able to attend.
Princess Madeleine, who lives in London with her family, was, however, still in New York and thus unable to attend, and as usual the newborn and his mother were not present. The new father Prince Carl Philip was joined by his parents, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and his eldest sister, Crown Princess Victoria, and her husband, Prince Daniel. His aunt Princess Christina was also there with her husband Tord Magnuson, as well as his great-aunt, Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, and his grandfather's second cousin Dagmar von Arbin, who celebrated her 100th birthday less than two weeks ago.
Other family members present were Queen Silvia's nephew Patrick Sommerlath, who partly grew up in Sweden and is therefore particularly close to his Swedish cousins, with his wife Maline, the newborn Prince's maternal grandparents Erik and Marie Hellqvist, his great-grandmother Britt Rotman, and his maternal aunts Lina and Sara Hellqvist.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

HRH Prince Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil of Sweden, Duke of Sudermania

In a formal meeting with the cabinet at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has just announced that his newborn grandson will be named Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil and be a Prince of Sweden and Duke of Sudermania (Södermanland). Prince Alexander, the first child of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, was born at Danderyd Hospital on Tuesday evening.
Alexander is of course a very royal name, but has not previously been used by the Swedish royal family, except that Queen Christina after her abdication and conversion to Catholicism added Alexandra to her name in honour of Pope Alexander VII.
Erik is on the other hand a name with a long royal tradition in Sweden, although it has been little used in recent years. The first King Erik was Erik the Victorious, who reigned from about 970 to 995. Very little is known about early medieval Sweden, which was deeply divided between warring factions, but around 1067 there were two rival kings, both named Erik, who were both killed around that year. In the twelfth century, two rival dynasties who have later come to be known as the Sverker and Erik families, fought each other. The latter drew its name from Erik Jedvardsson, who was King of a part of Sweden around 1158 and died a violent death a year or two later. He was subsequently considered a saint, although never officially canonised, and although the cult was for a long time only local, he was eventually promoted into Sweden's national saint. The promotion of St Erik's cult also meant that his name became rather popular among Swedish royals.
The next Erik was his grandson, Erik Knutsson, who reigned from 1208 to 1216 and was the first Swedish King known to have been crowned. His son, uncharitably known as Erik the Lisp and Lame, won back the crown from the rival Sverkers and reigned from 1222 to 1229 and from 1234 to 1250. The next Erik was Erik Magnusson, who challenged his father Magnus Eriksson in 1356 and reigned as joint monarch for a few months before his death in 1359.
His sister-in-law, Margareta Valdemarsdatter, who succeeded in uniting all three Scandinavian realms and being elected monarch, adopted her great-nephew Bugislav of Pomerania and had him made King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway under the name Erik. He was elected King of Sweden in 1396 and crowned in Kalmar the following year, the event which is traditionally held to mark the foundation of the so-called Kalmar Union, but his reign was conflict-filled and he was eventually deposed in 1439.
Thereafter, the name did not reappear until King Gustaf I, the founder of the Vasa dynasty, named his eldest son Erik. Erik succeeded his father upon his death in 1560 and assumed the name Erik XIV (a number of fictional Eriks were inventend to make the line of Swedish kings look longer and more prestigious). He was deposed by his brother, Johan III, in 1568 and poisoned nine years later.
Since then, there seems to have been some sort of stigma related to the name borne by at least two unfortunate monarchs, but the Bernadottes revived it in 1889, when the future King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria became the parents of their third son. However, this prince was another unfortunate Erik. He was mentally challenged and lived most of his life away from his family and the public eye, dying from the Spanish flu at the age of 29 in 1918.
A more recent connection is Prince Alexander's maternal grandfather, Erik Hellqvist. Hubertus derives from his other grandfather, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, who received the name in honour of his mother's brother, Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was killed fighting for Nazi Germany in 1943. Bertil is in honour of the King's late uncle, Prince Bertil, to whom Prince Carl Philip was very close.
As for the dukedom, Sudermania is often seen as one of the more prestigious ducal titles. It was most recently held by Prince Wilhelm, the second son of King Gustaf V. Prince Wilhelm resided at Stenhammar Palace in Flen, which was left to the state by the courtier Robert von Kraemer, who willed that it should be made available to a prince of the royal house, preferably a Duke of Sudermania (the province in which the estate is located). Since Prince Wilhelm's death in 1965 it has been used by King Carl Gustaf, but Prince Carl Philip has been groomed to take it over and it was therefore no surprise that the dukedom connected to it was given to his firstborn.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Princess Christina publishes book on Drottningholm Palace

Today Princess Christina, the youngest of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden's four sisters, makes her literary debut with a book on Drottningholm Palace. Dagar på Drottningholm, which is co-authored by Carl Otto Werkelid and illustrated by the photographer Ralf Turander, is published by Bonnier Fakta and is also available in an English version titled Days at Drottningholm.
Drottningholm Palace, which is situated on an island just west of Stockholm, was built by the great baroque architects Nicodemus Tessin the Elder and the Younger for Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora, the widow of Carl X Gustaf, who was a great patron of the arts. Since 1981 it is the home of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia and since 1991, the domain is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Princess Christina has celebrated all her Christmases there and always loved Drottningholm, which was also where her and Tord Magnuson's wedding dinner and dance was held in 1974. According to the publisher, she has been particularly fascinated by the strong women who have put their mark on Drottningholm and uses historical dates as starting points for bring to life "royal figures, rooms, details and memories".
The photo is a courtesy of Ralf Turander/Bonnier Fakta.

President of Iceland to stand for sixth term

At a press conference on Monday, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland announced that he will after all stand for a sixth term in the presidential election to be held on 25 June. In his New Year's Speech, the President announced that he would retire at the end of his fifth term, but the uncertainty caused by the developments of the last weeks has made him reconsider. Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was felled by the Panama Papers revelations and parliamentary elections will now be held in the autumn of this year rather than next year as previously planned. In this situation, a wish for the experienced president to continue grew into a "wave of pressure". As the formation of a new government may prove difficult, the President wants to ensure that the country is not without leadership, he said.
The office of President of Iceland is largely ceremonial, but unlike his predecessors, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who has led Iceland through difficult times, has repeatedly used the powers vested in the President. In 2010, he vetoed the so-called Icesave deal whereby the government had agreed to compensate Britain and the Netherlands for the financial losses suffered by citizens of those countries when the Icelandic banks collapsed. The President's veto led to a referendum being held, in which the majority endorsed his veto. In February the following year, he vetoed another similar deal, a veto which was again supported by the people in the referendum that followed. Recently he also refused the scandalised Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson's request for a dissolution of Parliament.
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the fifth President of Iceland since the country abolished the monarchy in 1944 and is already the longest-serving. For decades, no incumbent president was challenged for re-election, but in 1988, President Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was challenged when she stood for a third time. Having won a resounding victory, she served until 1996, when she decided to stand down and Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson won the election to succeed her. He was challenged when he stood for re-election in 2000, but was unopposed in 2004 and then again challenged in 2008. In 2012, he announced he would not stand for re-election, but changed his mind after being petitioned by 30,000 citizens and was eventually elected with 52.78 % of the vote against 33.16 % for his closest opponent. This year he seems likely to face at least ten contenders who have already announced their candidacies.
Postscript: A few weeks later, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson again changed his mind and announced that he would after all not stand for a sixth term. This decision came after it was revealed that his wife Dorrit Mousaieff and her family were mentioned in the Panama papers. A spokesperson for the President said that the couple live completely independent lives and that he had no knowledge of her or her family's financial affairs.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Princess Sofia of Sweden gives birth to a son

Earlier tonight, the Swedish royal court announced that Princess Sofia gave birth to a child at Danderyd Hospital in Danderyd outside Stockholm at 6.28 tonight. At a press conference which is right now taking place at the hospital, Prince Carl Philip disclosed that it is a "little guy" who measures 49 centimetres and weighs 3595 grams.
The newborn child is King Carl XVI Gustaf's and Queen Silvia's fifth child and fifth in line of succession to the Swedish throne. The Prince's name and dukedom will be announced by the King in a council meeting with the government at 11.15 a.m. on Thursday. The traditional service of thanksgiving for the birth of a new member of the royal family will be held in the Palace Church at noon on Friday.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Title issues: Prince Henrik renounces Prince Consort title

Yet another chapter was added to the ongoing saga of the title of the husband of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark during yesterday's state banquet for the President of Mexico at Fredensborg Palace. Several television viewers noticed that the Queen in her speech referred to her husband not as "the Prince Consort" but as "Prince Henrik", and today the royal court confirmed that he has renounced the title of Prince Consort. This comes as a consequence of his decision to more or less retire from royal duties, which was announced by the Queen in her New Year's Speech on 31 December last year. The court's head of communication, Lene Balleby, told the tabloid Ekstra Bladet that "It is His Royal Highness's own decision to alter his title to the less formal Prince Henrik. Prince Henrik finds this more fitting for his present situation after his retirement".
When he married the then Heiress to the Throne in 1967, Henri de Laborde de Monpezat received the title "His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark". When his wife succeeded to the throne in 1972, it was considered creating him Duke of Fredensborg, but this idea was dropped and he was thereafter officially referred to as "the Prince" and informally as "Prince Henrik". However, in 2005, the Queen let it be known that he would from now on be known as "the Prince Consort". He subsequently claimed that this was his own decision and that he had taken the new title as being just "Prince Henrik" or "the Prince" obscured the fact that he held a special position and was not just a prince like one of his young grandsons but the monarch's consort. He has, however, on many occassions voiced his opinion that he ought to be King Consort as the wives of kings are always queens. Now he is back where he started as plain "Prince Henrik".
The court has not given any date for when the change of title happened, but the last time he was referred to as "the Prince Consort" on the royal website seems to have been on 22 March in a press release stating that "HM the Queen and HRH the Prince Consort" had sent their condolences to the King and Queen of the Belgians following the terrorist attacks on Brussels (in the Danish version, they are however referred to as "Regentparret", i.e. "the Regent Couple" - which is in itself a very quaint term as Queen Margrethe is not regent but monarch). He was, however, still called "the Prince Consort" on the wreath the Queen and he sent to the funeral of former Prime Minister Anker Jørgensen on 2 April.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

On this date: A Bernadotte turns 100!

The Bernadottes are known for their longevity, but although several of them have lived well into their nineties, so far only one has made it to her centenary. But today another Bernadotte reaches the age of 100.
Dagmar von Arbin, née Countess Dagmar Bernadotte af Wisborg, is a great-granddaughter of King Oscar II of Sweden and of Norway and thus a second cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s father and a stalwart of Swedish royal family events. She is also a second cousin of King Harald V of Norway. Her mind is as sharp as ever and she walks without the aid of a stick, but like most elderly Bernadottes her hearing is somewhat impaired. Five years ago she gave up driving after her old car broke down.
Born on 10 April 1916, Countess Dagmar Ebba Märta Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg was the eldest of the four children born to Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg and his first wife, Baroness Marianne De Geer af Leufsta, who later left him for Marcus Wallenberg of the powerful financier dynasty. (Her mother was also the maternal aunt of Countess Gunnila Bernadotte, the widow of King Carl Gustaf’s and Queen Margrethe’s uncle, Carl Johan).
Her father was the eldest son of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, who was himself the second child of King Oscar II and Queen Sophie but forfeited his rights to the Swedish and Norwegian thrones in 1888 when he married Ebba Munck af Fulkila, a former lady-in-waiting to his sister-in-law, Crown Princess Victoria. In 1892, he received the title Count(ess) of Wisborg for his children from Queen Sophie’s half-brother, Grand Duke Adolphe of Luxembourg.
Dagmar Bernadotte grew up on the estate Frötuna near Norrtälje (not far from Uppsala), which her mother had inherited but which her father continued to run even after their divorce.
Despite an age difference of ten years, Dagmar became a good friend of her second cousin, Prince Gustaf Adolf, the current King’s father, and was a bridesmaid when he married Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in Coburg in 1932.
Because of her friendship with the King’s parents, Dagmar von Arbin has, unlike her siblings, remained close to the current royal family and is a fixture at family events – not only bigger events such as weddings, christenings and funerals but also events for the inner circle, such as the private engagement dinner the King and Queen gave for Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling.
Dagmar herself married, at the age of 20, on 16 October 1936, the naval (later air force) officer Nils-Magnus von Arbin. Ten years later, he was appointed air attaché at the Swedish Embassy in London, a position he held until 1950. He reached the rank of colonel in 1953. Dagmar herself did not have a career, but stayed at home raising their five daughters, Marianne, Louise, Cathrine, Jeanette and Madeleine.
Dagmar von Arbin was widowed in 1987 and lost her eldest daughter, Marianne Flach, to cancer in 2006, but has thirteen grandchildren and sixteen great-grandchildren.
Dagmar von Arbin has never enjoyed being the centre of attention and it was only a few months ago that she gave her first ever interview, to Kungliga Magasinet (later republished in English in Royalty Digest Quarterly), followed by another with Svensk Damtidning. In the latter, she insisted that she did not like all the fuss being made about her 100th birthday, which she will celebrate only with her family.
The only Bernadotte before her to reach 100 was her aunt, Elsa Cedergren, who was born on 3 August 1893 and died on 17 July 1996, just shy of her 103rd birthday. Dagmar von Arbin’s younger brother, Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg, will be 95 in July, while her sister, Catharina Nilert, will turn ninety on Thursday.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Prince Oscar to be christened on 27 May

The Swedish royal court has announced that Prince Oscar, the second child of Crown Princess Victoria, who was born on 2 March, will be christened in the Palace Church in Stockholm on Friday 27 May.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

My latest article: Retired monarchs and King Carl Gustaf at 70

The April issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 4), which is now out, is an unusually large issue of 84 pages, much of it marking the upcoming 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain on 21 April. My contributions are an article looking at how her four European counterparts who have chosen to take things easier in old age, i.e. Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, King Albert of the Belgians and King Juan Carlos of Spain, are faring in their retirement, and a profile of this month's other birthday boy, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, who will turn seventy on 30 April.
While Queen Elizabeth's official birthday celebrations have been postponed until June, King Carl Gustaf will mark his milestone with a series of events at the end of this month, starting with a performance at the Royal Dramatic Theatre on the 25th and a concert by the army's orchestra in the Palace Church the next day. On the 28th and 29th, the King will receive congratulatory deputations and on the 29th King Carl Gustaf will also present scholarships at the Royal Opera and attend a concert at the Nordic Museum.
On his actual birthday, Saturday 30 April, there will be a service of thanksgiving in the Palace Church before the customary military event at the Palace's Outer Courtyard, which is held every year. Thereafter, the King will be serenaded by a multitude of singers on the northern side of the Palace and thereafter travel by carriage to a lunch in the City Hall before receiving well-wishers from Parliament, the government and the county governors at the Palace. In the evening there will be a banquet in the Palace's Hall of State. (Fans of the Swedish court's penchant for "glitter" may perhaps be disappointed to hear that the dresscode for the latter is black tie).

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Parliament votes in favour of monarchy

Norway remains a monarchy. That is the outcome of today's parliamentary vote on a proposal to amend the Constitution to introduce a republic.
The amendment of several articles of the Constitution, subject to approval by a referendum, which had been suggested by Hallgeir H. Langeland and Snorre Serigstad Valen of the Socialist Left Party and Eirin Sund, Truls Wickholm, Marianne Marthinsen and Jette F. Christensen of the Labour Party, received only 26 votes, while 137 MPs voted against it.
Among the 26 republicans, six belong to the Socialist Left Party, three to the Liberal Party, one to the Conservative Party and sixteen to the Labour Party. Most prominent among the latter was Hadia Tajik, the party's deputy leader.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Seraphim honours for Prince Johann Georg

At noon today, the funeral of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, who died on 2 March, took place in the Church of Our Saviour at the Hedingen Monastery in Sigmaringen, his family sepulchre. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden were among the mourners at their brother-in-law’s funeral. Among the guests were also Prince Carl Philip, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, Margrave Maxmilian and Margravine Valerie of Baden, and Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
As I happen to be in Stockholm, I had the chance to watch the ceremonial observed on the day of the funeral of a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden’s highest honour. At 11.55 a.m., his Seraphim coat of arms was carried from the Royal Palace to the former royal burial church at Riddarholmen, escorted by grenadiers.
In the former church, the coat of arm was placed on a table at the entrance to the chancel together with two candles, a bouquet of flowers and a photo of the late Prince. An official of the Order Chancellery gave a short speech (in German) recording the vita of Prince Johann Georg, two pieces of music were performed by an army band and the bells tolled for an hour.
Prince Johann Georg was made a Knight of the Seraphim by King Gustaf VI Adolf on 23 May 1961, two days before his civil marriage to the King’s granddaughter, Princess Birgitta. Although the princely branch of the House of Hohenzollern had not been sovereign since 1849, King Gustaf Adolf chose to treat his granddaughter’s marriage on the same level as if she had married a prince of a reigning house, i.e. making the groom and his nearest male relatives Knights of the Seraphim.
After the order was founded in 1748, there were for a long time very few Swedish princesses. Princess Sophia Albertina, the daughter of King Adolf Fredrik, and Princess Eugénie, the daughter of King Oscar I, remained unmarried, and it was indeed only in 1869 that a princess married, namely Lovisa, the daughter of King Carl XV.
Lovisa married Crown Prince Frederik (VIII) of Denmark, who had already received the Order of the Seraphim in 1862. His father, King Christian IX, was also already a knight since 1848 and his younger brother, King Georgios I of the Hellenes, since the previous year, but King Carl gave the order to his uncle, Prince Hans of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
The next Swedish Princess to marry was Margaretha, who wed Prince Axel of Denmark in May 1919. The groom received the order on the occasion of the engagement, while his father Prince Valdemar had received it in 1875 and his elder brother Prince Aage in 1913.
When Margaretha’s youngest sister, Princess Astrid, became engaged to Prince Léopold, the heir to the Belgian throne in September 1926, he received the Seraphim, while his brother Prince Charles received it two days before the civil wedding on 4 November 1926. Their father, King Albert I of the Belgians, had been made a knight in 1910, but received the collar two days before the civil wedding.
When Princess Märtha married Crown Prince Olav of Norway in March 1929, there was however no presentation of orders. The groom himself had received it when attending the wedding of Princess Astrid and Prince Léopold, while his father, King Haakon VII, had received it back in 1893, when he was still Prince Carl of Denmark and called on his great-uncle Oscar II.
Crown Prince Frederik (IX) of Denmark, who married Princess Ingrid in 1935, was also already a knight (since 1917), while his father had received the Seraphim in 1888 and his younger brother Knud also as a guest at the 1926 wedding. The groom’s maternal uncle, ex-Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was however made a Knight of the Seraphim three days before the wedding.
When Prince Johann Georg married Princess Birgitta, King Gustaf VI Adolf gave the Seraphim not only to him but also to his older brother, Hereditary Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. Their father, Prince (Fürst) Friedrich, had received the Order in 1936, but was given the collar on the same days as his two eldest sons were made knights.s

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Prince Johann Georg to be buried on Saturday

According to an announcement appearing in today's edition of Süddeutsche Zeitung, the requiem mass and funeral of the art historian Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern will take place in the Church of Our Saviour at the Hedingen Monastery on the outskirts of his hometown Sigmaringen at noon on Saturday. The church is the family sepulchre of the princely House of Hohenzollern.
Prince Johann Georg was married to Princess Birgitta of Sweden, and the Swedish royal court has announced that King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, and Princess Christina will attend their brother-in-law's funeral. Princess Margaretha, who is unable to attend, will be represented by her daughter, Baroness Sybilla von Dincklage.
On the occasion of their wedding in 1961, Prince Johann Georg was made a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden's highest honour, by King Gustaf VI Adolf. As tradition dictates, the funeral of a Knight of the Seraphim will be observed in Stockholm by the tolling of the bells of the Riddarholmen Church between noon and 1 p.m. At 11.55 a.m., his Seraphim coat of arms will be carried from the Royal Palace to the church.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

My latest articles: Royal Trieste & Princess Ashraf

I have written two articles in the March issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 3), which went on sale in Britain last week. The first one deals with the Italian city of Trieste, once the Habsburg Empire's thriving, cosmopolitian port on the Adriatic but now something of a backwater.
The article focuses on the many royals who made Trieste their home, more often than not as exiles, among them two of Louis XV's daughters who escaped the Revolution, Napoléon I's youngest brother ex-King Jérôme of Westphalia, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily and the Carlist pretenders to the Spanish throne, several of whom are buried in Trieste's Cathedral. On the other hand, two princes - Archduke Maximilian of Austria and Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta - spent their happiest years in Trieste, where they resided at Miramare Palace, but both these princes would die in captivity on another continent.
The second article is about Princess Ashraf of Iran, the last Shah's powerful twin sister, who died in January at the age of 96.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

HRH Prince Oscar Carl Olof of Sweden, Duke of Scania

In a State Council at the Royal Palace in Stockholm today, King Carl XVI Gustaf informed the government that the son Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to last night will be named Oscar Carl Olof and that his dukedom will be that of Scania (Skåne). The King also notified the government of the death of his brother-in-law, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, which also occurred yesterday.
In keeping with tradition, the newborn was "inspected" by the Speaker of Parliament, Urban Ahlin, the Prime Minister, Urban Ahlin, the Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, and the Mistress of the Robes, Kristine von Blixen-Finecke (who succeeded Countess Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister in that position in November). The Prince's birth was marked by a 21-gun salute and a service of thanksgivings in the Palace Church, which was attended by, among others, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson, the King's aunt by marriage Countess Marianne Bernadotte and two of his father's second cousins, Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg and Dagmar von Arbin (who will celebrate her 100th birthday next month) and Prince Daniel's parents, sister and brother-in-law.
The dukedom of Scania was last held by the future King Gustaf VI Adolf from his birth in 1882 to his accession in 1950, and before that by the future King Carl XV from his birth in 1826 to his accession in 1859.
The name Oscar arrived in Sweden with Oscar Bernadotte, the only child of the imperial French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was elected Crown Prince in 1810. While Jean-Baptiste changed his name to Carl Johan, Oscar kept his foreign name also after he ascended the thrones of Sweden and Norway in 1844 (although his wife wanted him to reign under his two other names, Frans Joseph). His third son was given the same name and eventually came to the thrones in 1872 as Oscar II. Oscar II's second son was another Oscar, while Carl XV's only son, who died in infancy, was named Carl Oscar. It has also been among the names of Kings Gustaf V and Gustaf VI Adolf and of Princes Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard, Bertil, Carl, and Carl Junior. It has, however, not been used in the royal family since 1912, but these days it is one of the most popular boys' names in Sweden.
Unlike his elder sister, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Prince Oscar has thus received a name firmly anchored in Swedish royal history - indeed three names firmly anchored in Swedish royal history. The name Carl is of course borne by his grandfather King Carl XVI Gustaf and his uncle Prince Carl Philip, and has been borne by ten Swedish kings: Karl Sverkersson, Karl II Knutsson, Carl IX, Carl X Gustaf, Carl XI, Carl XII, Carl XIII, Carl XIV Johan, Carl XV and Carl XVI Gustaf. (Some may wonder why the list jumps from Karl II to Carl IX; the answer is that the six first Karls were invented in the sixteenth century). There have also been almost countless Swedish princes named Carl, among them the third son of Oscar II.
Olof is the first name of the newborn's father (Olof Daniel) and of the first Christian Swedish king, known as Olof Skötkonung, who reigned from about 995 to 1022. It is also the Swedish name of the perhaps most popular saint in medieval Sweden, the martyred Norwegian king Olav Haraldsson, who died in the Battle of Stiklestad in or around 1030 and was declared a saint a year later and whose cult was as great in Sweden as in Norway.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A son for Crown Princess Victoria

At a press conference at the Caroline Hospital in Solna, Prince Daniel of Sweden has just announced that Crown Princess Victoria has given birth to a son at 8.28 p.m. The baby is 52 centimetres long and weighs 3,655 grams. The name and dukedom of the newborn prince, who is third in line to the Swedish throne, will be announced by King Carl Gustaf in a state council, which will be held tomorrow.

At the road's end: Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016), art historian

The Swedish royal court today announced that Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, the husband of King Carl Gustaf's second oldest sister, Princess Birgitta, died in a hospital in Munich today. Prince Johann Georg, who was himself a renowned art historian, was 83 and had apparently been suffering from cancer for some years.
Born on 31 July 1932, Johann Georg Carl Leopold Eitel-Friedrich Meinrad Maria Hubertus Michael Prinz von Hohenzollern was the sixth child of Prince (Fürst) Friedrich of Hohenzollern and Princess Margarete of Saxony, a daughter of that country's last King. Prince Johann Georg, who was known as "Hansi", studied art history and gained a doctorate on a dissertation on the royal galleries on the facades of French cathedrals in 1964.
From 1986 to 1991 he served as director general of the Bavarian National Museum before becoming head of the Bavarian State Collection of Paintings, a post he held until his retirement in 1998.
On 25 May 1961, Prince Johann Georg married Princess Birgitta of Sweden in a civil ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. A religious blessing took place in his hometown Sigmaringen five days later. The Vatican had opposed a Protestant ceremony in Stockholm and the bride had to sign a promise to raise the children as Catholics, which she has never ceased resenting.
Three children were born of the marriage - Carl Christian in 1962, Désirée in 1963 and Hubertus in 1966, but when the children moved out, the parents realised they had little in common, and in 1990 Princess Birgitta moved to Majorca, while Prince Johann Georg remained in Munich. However, the couple never formally separated and the Princess used to visit her husband in Munich once a month and vented his anger in public when he appeared in the press with another partner.