Thursday, 17 April 2014

Royal christening at Drottningholm on 8 June

The Swedish royal court has announced that the christening of Princess Leonore will, as expected, take place in the chapel at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm on 8 June, her parents' first wedding anniversary.
Inspired by Rome's Pantheon, this domed chapel in the baroque style from the early eighteenth century, which is the work of the architects Nicodemus Tessin the Younger and Carl Hårleman, is one of the two circular buildings that form the extremes of the long palace façade. It can only seat a limited number of guests, which is the reason why it has been rarely used for royal occasions, although it was the scene for the wedding of Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian on 7 December 1976.
The splendid Drottningholm Palace, located on an island some ten kilometres west of Stockholm, was built for the Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora, the widow of King Carl X Gustaf, who was a great builder, collector and patron of the arts. The current King and Queen made it their home in 1981 and it was there that Princess Madeleine was born the following year and where she grew up. It was also where her and Christopher O'Neill's wedding banquet was held last year. Given Princess Madeleine's attachment to Drottningholm and its association with Queen Hedvig Eleonora and thus the name Leonore it seems a very fitting choice of venue for the christening of the young Princess.
It has not yet been decided if the christening will be televised.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Israeli state visit to Norway

The President of Israel, Shimon Peres, will pay a state visit to Norway on 12 and 13 May. The news has already sparked some controversy in Norway and is likely to lead to further protests related to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. While state visits are undertaken on the invitation of the King it is of course the government which actually makes the decisions about state visits.
It will be the first state visit ever exchanged between Norway and Israel, although there were plans for the King and Queen to pay a state visit to Israel in 2000, a trip which was cancelled due to the outbreak of the second intifada.
It will also be the first incoming state visit to Norway since the visit of President Sauli Niinistö of Finland and his wife Jenni Haukio in October 2012. While there used to be on average two state visits abroad and two incoming state visits per year recent years have for unknown reasons seen a decline in the number of state visits.
The King and Queen will receive another foreign head of state on 30 April, when King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians make a so-called introductory visit to Oslo, but this will not be a state visit.

Monday, 31 March 2014

My latest article: Scotland, Norway and unions

Yesterday I had a short article in the Scottish newspaper Sunday Herald (external link) in reply to a claim made in the same newspaper last Sunday (external link) by seventeen mainly Norwegian authors (Jon Fosse, Jostein Gaarder et al) that the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union in 1905 is an argument for why Scotland should vote for independence from Britain in the referedum on 18 September.
Unfortunately the editor has distorted the first paragraph so that it does not make sense, but the point is that the events of 1905 are a poor argument for a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum, as the arrangement the Scottish government proposes after the referendum is similar to the one between Norway and Sweden before 1905, i.e. a union of crowns between two independent states. However, there may be other lessons to be learned by the Scots from the Norwegian experience which such a loose union.
The Swedish-Norwegian union of crowns will by the way also be the topic of my article in the May issue of Majesty, occasioned both by the bicentenary of Norway's independence as well as the upcoming Scottish referendum.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Saudi king appoints deputy crown prince

I have never heard of a deputy crown prince before, but that was the title given to Prince Muqrin of Saudi Arabia on Friday, thus making him second in line to the throne after his older half-brother, Crown Prince Salman.
There is no fixed succession in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but the King appoints a crown prince with the agreement of a council of princes, called the Allegiance Council. Since the death of King Abdul-Aziz (better known as Ibn Saud), the founder of Saudi Arabia, in 1953, the crown has passed among his many sons. Prince Muqrin is the 35th and youngest surviving son of King Abdul-Aziz, which seems to imply that the shift to the next generation - the many grandsons of King Abdul-Aziz, will occur after his future reign.
The current King, Abdullah, who is believed to turn ninety this year, succeeded his elder brother Fahd in 2005. He has already outlived two crown princes: Sultan, who died in 2011, and Nayef, who died in 2012. His third crown prince, Salman, appointed in 2012, is believed to be 78.
Born on 15 September 1945, Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin is considered to be a close ally of King Abdullah, who appointed him director general of the intelligence agency after his accession in 2005. He stepped down from that post in 2012, but was appointed Second Deputy Prime Minister on 1 February 2013 (the King is Prime Minister, the Crown Prince First Deputy Prime Minister).

Monday, 24 March 2014

At the road’s end: Adolfo Suárez (1932-2014), Spain’s first democratically elected PM

“My grief is great. My gratitude is ever-lasting”, said King Juan Carlos I of Spain in a televised speech last night after the death at the age of 81 of Adolfo Suárez, the country’s first democractically elected Prime Minister, who partnered the King in the transition of Spain into a democracy following the end of the Franco dicatorship.
Born on 25 September 1932, Adolfo Suárez González studied law and came to hold several high posts in the Francoist government and the Francoist party, the National Movement. He came to know Prince Juan Carlos while he worked in the state broadcasting company TVE, whose general director he became in 1969, the same year as the Prince was appointed Franco’s successor.
Following Franco’s death and Juan Carlos’s accession to the throne in November 1975, the King made the bold move of appointing Suárez Prime Minister in July 1976. The appointment of a moderate member of the Francoist party caused anger both to the left and the right of the political spectre, but Suárez managed to find a way that made room for reforms without provoking a military reaction from Francoist hardliners.
A democratic general election in June 1977 was won by his centrist alliance, the Union of the Democratic Centre. The transition continued with the introduction of a democractic Constitution, passed by both houses of parliament in October 1978 and in a referendum the following December.
Suárez won another general election in March 1979, but in the ordinary circumstances that now reigned Suárez distanced himself from everyday politics and rarely appeared in Parliament.
He was, however, present in Parliament on 23 February 1981, a month after his resignation as Prime Minister, when the chamber was stormed by armed soldiers in a military coup that failed, and drew admiration as one of only three MPs who refused to obey the putschists’ order to lie down on the floor and remained in his seat.
The year after his resignation, Suárez formed a new parti, the Democractic and Social Centre, but won only two seats in Parliament in the next election. He retired from politics in 1991. During the past decade he suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was, according to his son, unable to remember that he had been Prime Minister.
King Juan Carlos showered honours over the man who led Spain’s transition to a democracy. He received the Grand Cross of the Order of Carlos III in 1978 and was created Duke of Suárez and a Grandee of Spain upon his resignation in 1981. In 2007 he was made a Knight of the ancient Order of the Golden Fleece and was posthumously awareded the Grand Cross Collar of the Order of Carlos III when King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofía and Princess Elena paid their respects at his lying-in-state in the Parliament building in Madrid earlier today.

Friday, 21 March 2014

My latest article: Fredensborg

The April issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 4) went on sale yesterday and this month I write about the history and architecture of Fredensborg and the changing fortunes of this baroque palace - Frederik IV's Marly, gathering place for European royalty in the reign of Christian IX and now the favourite residence of the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark, but at one stage reduced to army barracks and almost sold as an abandoned palace.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Belgian royal wedding in Rome on 3 July

The Belgian TV channel VTM yesterday reported that the wedding of Prince Amedeo and Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein, who announced their engagement a month ago, will take place in Rome, where the bride was born, on 3 July. However, it was not made clear whether this referred to the actual wedding or the religious blessing of the marriage, or if both will take place at the same time in the same place.
VTM also reported that the groom's grandparents, King Albert and Queen Paola, will go to Rome at the end of next month to represent King Philippe at the canonisation of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII on 27 April. It will be interesting to see if Queen Paola will exercise the privilège du blanc now that she is no longer the wife of a reigning monarch, but as Queen Fabiola has done so in her widowhood I expect Queen Paola to follow suit.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Three deaths in the British royal cousinage

It is quite rare for Queen Elizabeth II of Britain to attend funerals, but on Friday she was present at the funeral of her cousin, Lady Mary Clayton. She was one of three relatives of the British royal family who have died recently.
Lady Mary Cecilia Clayton, who died on 13 February at the age of 96, was the daughter of the late Queen Mother's elder sister, Rose, and her husband William Spencer Leveson-Gower, 4th Earl Granville. She was born on 12 December 1917. In 1956 she married Samuel Clayton, with whom she had a son, Gilbert, and a daughter, Rose. Lady Mary Clayton was one of the trusted relatives who were authorised to give interviews to authors and documentary makers, but had by the time of her death not been seen in several years. Her funeral was held in the Royal Chapel of All Saints in Windsor Great Park, near the Royal Lodge, on Friday 7 March. Among the mourners were Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Countess of Wessex and Princess Beatrice.
Another first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, Katharine Bowes-Lyon, died on 23 February at the age of 87. Born on 4 July 1926, Katharine Juliet Bowes-Lyon was the fifth and youngest daughter of the Queen Mother's elder brother, Hon John Bowes-Lyon, and his wife Fenella, née Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis. Like her sister Nerissa, who died in 1986, Katharine was mentally disabled and was eventually confined to a mental hospital. In 1963 their mother listed both sisters as dead in Burke's Peerage, which caused some headlines when it was revealed that they were still alive. Their sister, Princess Anne of Denmark, would visit them occasionally, but other relatives seem to have genuinely believed that they were indeed dead.
The concert pianist Marion Thorpe, who died on 6 March at the age of 87, was first married to Queen Elizabeth's first cousin, the late 7th Earl of Harewood, and secondly to Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party. Born Maria Donata Nanetta Paulina Gustava Erwina Wilhelmine Stein on 18 October 1926, she was an Austrian Jew who fled to Britain after the German takeover in 1938. In 1949 she married George Lascelles, Earl of Harewood, the eldest son of Princess Mary of Britain and then eleventh in line to the British throne, with whom she had three sons before divorcing in 1967. Lord and Lady Harewood were both lovers of classical music and the Countess was co-founder of the Leeds International Piano Competition, which was first held in 1963, and co-authored a successful series of piano tutor books. In 1973 she married the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe, but rarely appeared in public after the 1979 trial in which Thorpe was charged with, but acquitted of conspiring to murder an alleged lover.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Service of thanksgiving for Princess Leonore

A service of thanksgiving for the birth of Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotlandia was held in the Palace Church in Stockholm this afternoon. This is an old tradition in connection with Swedish royal births, but usually the service is held the day after the birth. However, because the Princess was born abroad and the grandparents were expected to travel to New York at the time of the birth the service was postponed until today.
There was a fairly small family turnout. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia were joined by Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip in the first row, while the second row was occupied by Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg, a grandson of Prince Oscar Bernadotte (the previous Duke of Gotlandia), Queen Silvia's nephew Patrick Sommerlath and his wife Maline Luego, the King's aunt by marriage, Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, and Dagmar von Arbin, who will turn 98 next month and is the granddaughter of Prince Oscar Bernadotte.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

HRH Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotlandia

Her Royal Highness Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotlandia. Those are the names and titles of the newborn daughter of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O'Neill, the King of Sweden just announced in a council meeting with the cabinet held at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. She will be called Leonore.
The choice of name includes some surprises, primarily that the father only a few days ago said that there would be five names. There have been four Swedish queens with another version of the name: Maria Eleonora, the consort of King Gustaf II Adolf and mother of Queen Christina; Hedvig Eleonora, the consort of King Carl X Gustaf, who acted as regent for her son Carl XI, was a great patron of arts and built Drottningholm Palace, where Princess Madeleine was born; Ulrika Eleonora the Elder, the wife of Carl XI; and Ulrika Eleonora the Younger, who in 1719 succeeded her brother Carl XII as Swedish monarch, but abdicated a year later in favour of her husband, Fredrik I.
It is not the first time that the Swedish royal family chooses a foreign version of a name from Swedish royal history; Madeleine is the French version of Magdalena, while the consort of Gustaf III was Queen Sophia Magdalena.
The name Leonor is known from Spanish royal history, including a reigning queen of Navarre and the eldest daughter of the current Prince of Asturias. Princess Eléonore of Belgium is the youngest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, while Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau is the daughter of Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands.
Lilian is obviously in honour of Princess Madeleine's beloved great-aunt and substitute grandmother, Princess Lilian, who died almost exactly a year ago.
Maria is the middle name of the child's paternal grandmother and apparently of other female members of that family. It is also known from Swedish royal history. Maria Eleonora has already been mentioned and in the Bernadotte family it can be found in the person of Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg (1889-1974), a granddaughter of King Oscar II. There might also have been a Bernadotte queen of that name, as only the final illness and death of Carl XV in 1872 prevented him from marrying Countess Maria Krasinska after the death of Queen Lovisa. Maria is probably the most used queenly name in history, and in Catholic mythology the virgin Mary is accorded the status of queen of heaven (the child's father is a Catholic).
Since 1772 Swedish princes with succession rights have been granted dukedoms, a practice which was also extended to princesses when gender-neutral succesion was introduced in 1980. There has been one previous Duke of Gotlandia, namely Prince Oscar, the second son of King Oscar II (and father of the aforementioned Countess Maria). However, Prince Oscar renounced his ducal title along with his succession rights when he married a commoner, the former lady-in-waiting Ebba Munck af Fulkila, in 1888. Another royal connection to Gotland is that Princess Eugénie, the daughter of King Oscar I, had a summer house, Fridhem, on the island, about which Princess Madeleine wrote a paper when in university.
Following the council there was a press conference with the Marshal of the Realm, the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Mistress of Robes. Nothing of particular interest was said there, except that the Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, stated that they have interpreted the Act of Succession's rather vague requirement for royal children to be brought up in Sweden to mean from approximately the age of six. The Princess will be christened in the Church of Sweden, and the christening will take place in Sweden in early summer.
The photo is a press handout by Princess Madeleine/kungahuset.se.

Monday, 24 February 2014

The legal status of Princess Madeleine’s daughter

Following the birth of a daughter to Princess Madeleine of Sweden in New York on Thursday (local time) I have observed that there has been some confusion about the child’s status.
This even involves the acting director of the royal court’s information and press department, Annika Sönnerberg, who told the newspaper Dagens Nyheter (external link) that it was not clear whether the child would be a Swedish citizen and thereby in line to the throne, obviously assuming that the child this far is only a US citizen.
This must be a case of the press department having insufficient information. The Act of Succession of 1810 (revised in 1980) does not say anything about citizenship; in other words there is no constitutional requirement for Swedish citizenship in order to be in line of succession (and this can only be altered by a decision of Parliament, not by the King or the royal court’s information and press department). Consequently, the child is fifth in the order of succession.
Furthermore, there is no doubt that the newborn child is a Swedish citizen. This is made quite clear by the website of the Swedish Migration Board (external link), which says: “The child of a Swedish mother will always become a Swedish citizen”. The Swedish version of the website makes this even clearer by adding: “It does not matter whether the child is born in Sweden or abroad”. Consequently, the newborn child is a Swedish citizen by birth.
Some have also claimed that the child will not or cannot be a princess, some arguing that this is not possible because her father is not a prince or because this would be contrary to Swedish laws. Firstly, there are no such laws; the titles of the members of the royal family are decided by the King. Secondly, the father’s status is irrelevant in this context. Since gender-neutral succession was introduced in Sweden in 1980, princes and princesses have equal rights, but it has not been given how this would influence the titles of King Carl Gustaf’s grandchildren. However, in September Axel Calissendorff, lawyer to the King of Sweden and legal adviser to the royal court, stated in an interview that Princess Madeleine’s children would be princes and princesses of Sweden with the style Royal Highness.
Since Gustaf III reintroduced ducal titles in 1772 all princes in line of succession have been granted a dukedom (except those born as crown prince until 1979, when King Carl Gustaf granted a dukedom to the then Crown Prince Carl Philip). Since the introduction of gender-neutral succession in 1980 this has also been extended to princesses. Thus it seems highly likely that the newborn princess will also receive a dukedom. Her names and titles will be announced by the King in a meeting with the members of the cabinet. This is normally held immediately after the birth, but as King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia have gone to New York to visit their newborn granddaughter the council will not be held until the King has returned to Sweden, although I suppose this delay is not strictly necessary as the Crown Princess could hold the council in her father’s absence abroad.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A Swedish Princess born in the USA

Princess Madeleine of Sweden gave birth to a daughter at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York at 10.41 p.m. local time yesterday, i.e. at 4.41 a.m. today by Swedish time.
The names of the child (and the dukedom she will probably receive) will be announced by the King in a council at the Royal Palace, but this will only take place after the weekend, it has been stated.
King Carl Gustaf has earlier decided that the child will be a Princess of Sweden and a Royal Highness, but, incredibly, it seems the royal court’s press department has not yet managed to figure out whether the newborn Princess is in line of succession. The acting director of the information and press department, Annika Sönnerberg, says to the online edition of Dagens Nyheter (external link) that the child so far is only a US citizen and not a Swedish citizen and that she therefore cannot inherit the throne. However, there is nothing whatsoever about citizenship in the Act of Succession.
A newborn member of the royal family is traditionally viewed by the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister, the Marshal of the Realm and the Mistress of the Robes shortly after its birth, which is a remnant of the older practice that a royal birth took place with witnesses present in the room or, later, in an adjacent room (a tradition abolished in Sweden in the early twentieth century). As this child was born in the USA, two doctors at the hospital where the Princess was born will confirm to King Carl Gustaf that they were present and that the baby is indeed the child of Princess Madeleine.
A 21-gun-salute was fired from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm today, while the service of thanksgiving which normally takes place immediately after a royal birth will only take place on 2 March at 2 p.m.
The child’s father, Christopher O’Neill, will meet the press at the hospital in New York at noon local time today (6 p.m. Swedish time).
UPDATE: While meeting the press, Christopher O’Neill revealed that he and Princess Madeleine have decided on five names for their daughter. However, these will only be announced by the King in council next week. The baby weighed in at 3,150 grams and 50 centimetres and looks like her mother, according to the father.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Book news: A Danish royal book in English

This is not a commercial stunt, but as books on Scandinavian monarchies in English are a rare thing I thought some of my readers might be interested in knowing that a book on the Danish monarchy, namly Amalienborg by Thomas Larsen, Jørgen Larsen and Bjarke Ørsted, has now been published in a smaller, abridged English version. While some of the material from the original book has been left out, the new version includes a new interview with Crown Princess Mary. The book is published by Gyldendal of Copenhagen.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Prince Amedeo of Belgium to marry

The Belgian royal court yesterday announced the engagement of Prince Amedeo to his longtime girlfriend Elisabetta Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein, known as Lili.
Prince Amedeo, a businessman who is also Archduke of Austria-Este, was born on 21 February 1986 and is the eldest son of Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium. He is thus a nephew of King Philippe and the eldest grandchild of former King Albert II. He is currently sixth in line of succession to the Belgian throne.
Elisabetta Rosboch von Wolkenstein was born in Rome on 9 September 1987 and is the only child of Ettore Rosboch von Wolkenstein and Countess Lilia de Smecchia. The Princess-to-be holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature and film from Queen Mary University in London and works as a journalist covering the arts for the American news organisation Bloomberg, using the name Lili Rosboch.
Her father is apparently an illegitimate son of an Italian aristocrat, Filippo Caracciolo, 9th Prince of Castagneto and 3rd Duke of Melito. The name Rosboch von Wolkenstein seems to be a combination of the surname of his mother’s husband and his maternal grandmother, Countess Maria von Wolkenstein.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The best royal books of 2013

I did not have much time for writing book reviews on my blog in the past year, but 2013 saw the publication of several interesting works, so I thought I should at least give a brief survey of some of the best royal books of 2013 (in no particular order).

1. Jonas Nordin, Versailles: Slottet, parken, livet
Versailles, the ultimate royal palace, is done more than justice by the Swedish historian Jonas Nordin in his well-researched, insightful and readable account of the palace, the park and life at the French court. While most of the literature on Versailles focuses on the age of Louis XIV, Nordin takes the story through the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI, making this one of the most complete histories of Versailles.

2. Philip Murphy, Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Post-war Commonwealth
While the accession of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain 62 years ago was hailed by some as the dawn of a new Elizabethan age, the main link between Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II proved to be that while the foundations for the British Empire were laid during Elizabeth I, the Empire came to an end during Elizabeth II. Taking up Peter Hennessy’s and the late Ben Pimlott’s challenge to historians to explore the links between monarchy and politics, Professor Murphy shows how the British Empire has morphed into a Commonwealth of Nations and what has been the role of Elizabeth II and the monarchy in this process. This volume will take its place among the handful of the most important books on the reign of Elizabeth II written in her lifetime.

3. Jes Fabricius Møller, Dynastiet Glücksborg: En danmarkshistorie
While there is no dearth of Danish royal books there has until now been no book covering the history of the reign of the Glücksburg dynasty since it came to the Danish throne in 1863. The historian Jes Fabricius Møller puts this right by what may be called a “political history” of the Danish monarchy since 1863, where he charts the monarchy’s interaction with politics, the public and the media. Unlike many royal books this one approaches the royal family in an analytical rather than anecdotal manner. Yet it does so in an engaging way, so that the result is rewarding reading for general readers as well as for fellow historians.

4. Elena Woodacre, The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics, and Partnership, 1274-1512
While the Kingdom of Navarre is largely forgotten today, it commanded a strategically important position in the Pyrenean region and is also of interest as the kingdom where reigning queens first ceased being an anomaly. Between 1274 and 1512, when the major part of the realm was conquered by Castile, there were five queens regnant (a sixth queen ruled the rump kingdom later in the sixteenth century). In her ground-breaking volume, the historian Elena Woodacre investigates the challenges faced by these five female rulers and their way of governing, including the various modes of power-sharing with their husbands. As such this is a book which ought to be of interest to anyone interested in the issue of female rule in early modern Europe.

5. Poul Grinder-Hansen, Frederik 2.: Danmarks renæssancekonge King Frederik II, who reigned over the Dano-Norwegian realm between 1559 and 1577, has to a great extent been overshadowed by his popular, long-reigning son Christian IV and often been portrayed in a less than flattering manner. In this first biography of Frederik II, the historian Poul Grinder-Hansen sums up recent decades’ re-evaluation of Frederik II, showing how his policies were arguably far more successful than those of his son and demonstrating the cultural role played by Denmark-Norway’s first true renaissance monarch.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

My latest article: Egypt’s last dynasty

In the February issue of the British magazine Majesty (volume 35, number 2), which goes on sale today, I write about the last Egyptian dynasty. During the reign of the Mohammed Ali dynasty, Egypt was modernised and eventually experienced a nascent democratisation. Cairo and Alexandria were the cosmopolitan centres of the Middle East and the khedives, sultans and kings presided over one of the most splendid courts in the world. It was all wiped out by Nasser’s military coup of 1952 and the subsequent dictatorship, which lasted until 2011.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

On this day: Princess Ingrid Alexandra turns ten

Today is the tenth birthday of Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who was born at the National Hospital in Oslo at 9.13 a.m. on 21 January 2004. The birthday will be celebrated privately.
Because of the constitutional change of 1990 which made succession to the throne gender-neutral, Princess Ingrid Alexandra is the first female heiress to the throne in the long history of the Norwegian monarchy. She will become the first female monarch since Queen Dowager Margareta Valdemarsdatter, who reigned from 1387 to 1412 (but was not Queen Regnant).
The Princess does occasionally accompany other family members to official engagements, but naturally she will not become what is sometimes called a working royal until after she has completed her education. However, if her father has ascended to the throne by the time she celebrates her eighteenth birthday, she will, as Crown Princess, take her seat in the State Council and be able to serve as Regent after having signed a written oath to uphold the Constitution. (If her eighteenth birthday occurs in the reign of her grandfather, however, it will only be after his death that she will take her seat in the State Council and be able to serve as Regent).

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Princess Madeleine’s daughter to be born in New York

According to the Swedish royal court it has been decided that Princess Madeleine’s and Christopher O’Neill’s daughter, who is expected at the end of next month, will be born in New York, where the Princess has lived since 2010.
I believe the little Princess will be the first person in line to the Swedish throne to be born abroad (obviously not counting those who were not in line of succession at the time of their birth, such as Oscar I), and I cannot think of many members of reigning royal families to be born in the USA (King Bhumibol of Thailand being one example). I suppose this will also mean that the child will acquire American citizenship by birth, thus creating the unusual situation of a Princess of Sweden also being a citizen of and owing allegiance to another country.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Tearful farewell to Countess Anne Dorte of Rosenborg

Rain poured down and tears flowed outside Lyngby Church in Kongens Lyngby outside Copenhagen today as the coffin of Countess Anne Dorte of Rosenborg, the widow of the former Prince Christian of Denmark, was driven away after her funeral today. The Countess died on 2 January, aged 66, after a long battle with cancer of the throat, an illness which also claimed the life of her husband seven months ago.
Her three daughters and sons-in-law and seven grandchildren led the mourners. They were joined by, among others, the Queen and Prince Consort, the Countess’s sister-in-law, Princess Elisabeth, and her brother-in-law, Count Ingolf of Rosenborg with his wife Sussie.
The eulogy was given by one of the sons-in-law, Mikael Rosanes, while the eldest grandchild, Anastasia af Rosenborg, sang James Blunt’s “You are beautiful”. The Countess’s coffin was carried out of the church to the strains of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender”. The closest family placed red roses on the coffin before it was driven off to the crematorium. Countess Anne Dorte will eventually be laid to rest next to her husband in the cemeterey outside Lyngby Church.

King of Sweden to attend Norwegian jubilee after all

In an almost unprecedented step, the King of Sweden today changed his mind and decided that he and Queen Silvia will after all attend the bicentenary of Norway’s independence. The anniversary will be commemorated at Eidsvoll in the evening of 17 May, 200 years to the date after the signing of the Constitution. NRK’s revelation on Monday that the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark would be attending, but that the King and Queen of Sweden had declined caused many unfavourable reactions (not only in Norway, but also some in Sweden).
The Swedish royal court rather grandly explained that the inviation had been declined as “the King does not visit other countries to commemorate their holidays or national days”. Apparently the King and his advisers did not realise that he and the Queen had been invited to the jubilee, not to the national day celebrations, and today released a press statement that explains that “This year the celebration of Norway’s national day, 17 May, also commemorates that 200 years have passed since the Norwegian constitution was adopted”. In light of this “additional information about the event on 17 May [...] the King has decided that He [sic!], together with the Queen” will after all attend.
The Swedish royal court is to be congratulated on their newfound knowledge. Their next discovery about the neighbouring country and former union partner may perhaps be that Danish is not the official language of Norway and that it is consequently not our “grundlov” that is being celebrated.