Thursday, 18 December 2014

Book news: The male consorts of female monarchs

While much has been written about female monarchs, there has until now been no study of the roles and challenges of the men who were in the unusual position of consorts to female rulers. Therefore I am glad to be one of the contributors to the new book The Man Behind the Queen: Male Consorts in History, edited by Charles Beem and Miles Taylor, which has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan of New York.
My contribution is a chapter on Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark and his struggle to for recognition of the role has tried to carve out through his more than four decades as the first ever male consort of a Danish monarch. But this is only the last chapter of a book that covers a number of male consorts in Navarre, Spain, England/Britain, Sweden, Russia, Austria, Portugal, Brazil, India, the Netherlands and Denmark from the end of the thirteenth century till today.
The table of contents:

Introduction: The Man Behind the Queen; Charles Beem and Miles Taylor
1. The King Consorts of Navarre, 1284-1512; Elena Crislyn Woodacre
2. Ferdinand the Catholic: King and Consort; David Abufalia
3. "He to be Entitled Kinge": King Philip and the Anglo-Spanish Court; Sarah Duncan
4. Why Prince George of Denmark Did Not Become a King of England; Charles Beem
5. From Ruler in the Shadows to Shadow King: Frederick I of Sweden; Fabian Persson
6. Count Ernst Johann Bühren and the Russian Court of Anna Ioannova; Michael Bitter
7. Francis Stephen: Duke, Regent and Emperor; Derek Beales
8. Prince Albert; The Creative Consort; Karina Urbach
9. Commemorating the Consort in Colonial Bombay; Simin Patel
10. Ferdinand II of Portugal: A Conciliator King in a Turmoil Kingdom; Daniel Alves
11. Gaston d'Orléans, Comte d'Eu: Prince Consort to Princess Isabel of Brazil; Roderick Barman
12. The Rise and Fall of Siddiq Hasan, Male Consort of Shah Jahan of Bhopal; Caroline Keen
13. Royalty, Rank, and Masculinity: Three Dutch Princes Consort in the Twentieth Century; Maria Grever and Jeroen Van Zanten
14. Prince Philip: Sportsman and Youth Leader; Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska
15. The Prince Who Would Be King: Henrik of Denmark's Struggle for Recognition; Trond Norén Isaksen

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My latest article: Churchill and his monarchs

Because of Christmas the January 2015 issue of Majesty (Vol. 36, No. 1) goes on sale already today and to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Winston Churchill's death on 24 January 1965 I have written an article about his relations with the British monarchs throughout his political career, which began when he was elected to Parliament in the reign of Queen Victoria and ended with his second term as Prime Minister in the reign of her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Churchill was, according to his wife, "the last believer in the divine rights of kings", but his relations with the royal family were not always smooth, particularly not with George V.
This issue was sent to the printers a few hours before the death of Queen Fabiola of the Belgians was announced, so my obituary of her will appear in the February issue, which will be out in a month and where I will also write about Hereditary Prince Knud and his loss of the Danish crown.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Foreign guests for Queen Fabiola's funeral

At 10 a.m. tomorrow the funeral of Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, who died last Friday, will take place in the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule in Brussels.
The late Queen had herself wished for a simple funeral in the local parish church in Laeken and did not want to lie in state, therefore asking for "a coffin so ugly that they will not dare show it to the public", but this was apparently deemed incompatible with the dignity of the monarchy and her body has now laid in state at the Royal Palace since it was taken there on Tuesday.
All the members of the Belgian royal family are of course expected to attend, with the exception of Princess Marie-Christine, who has been estranged from the rest of the family for decades and did not even attend the funerals of her parents, and a number of foreign dignitaries will also be present. The Luxembourgian delegation will include the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, Grand Duke Jean and the Hereditary Grand Duke and Hereditary Grand Duchess. The Queen of Denmark and the King and Queen of Sweden will be there, and so will the King of Norway, who rarely leaves the country on Fridays, when he presides in the State Council, but has now appointed the Crown Prince Regent in his stead. King Harald will be accompanied by his sister, Princess Astrid; both being first cousins of the late King Baudouin, to whom they were close.
The Netherlands and Spain will be represented by their former monarchs, Princess Beatrix and King Juan Carlos, respectively, the latter accompanied by Queen Sofía.
The Empress of Japan is flying in from Tokyo, which is only the second time that she leaves Japan without the Emperor, while Thailand will send Princess Sirindhorn. The British royal family, a short train journey away from Brussels, will according to the Belgian media not deign to attend, but be represented by the British ambassador to Belgium.

Two heirs in two minutes for Monaco

At 5.04 p.m. on Wednesday 10 December Princess Charlène of Monaco gave birth to a princess, who will bear the name Gabriella Thérèse Marie. However, as Monaco is one of the monarchies which still have male-preferred succession, Princess Gabriella lost her position as hereditary princess after only two minutes, when Princess Charlène gave birth to a prince, who has received the name Jacques Honoré Rainier.
Princess Gabriella and Prince Jacques, who were born at the Princess Grace Hospital in Monaco, are the first legitimate children of Sovereign Prince Albert II. While Prince Jacques received the traditional title for the heir to the throne, Marquis of Baux, Princess Gabriella was created Countess of Carladès.
The name Jacques has been borne by one previous ruler of Monaco, Jacques I, born Count Jacques Goyon de Matignon of Thorigny in 1689. In 1715 he married Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco, who became the second female Monegasque ruler when her father Antoine I died in April 1731. However, the Sovereign Princess herself died at the end of the year and was succeeded by her husband, who reigned for nearly two years before abdicating in favour of their son Honoré I. Prince Jacques died in 1751 in his Paris residence, Hôtel de Matignon, today a very well-known address as the official residence of the French Prime Minister.
The name Honoré has been borne by five sovereign princes of Monaco, while Rainier was the name of the thirteenth-century founder of the dynasty and his son as well as of the new-born children's paternal grandfather, the late Sovereign Prince Rainier III.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Queen Fabiola's funeral, lying-in-state and inheritance

The funeral of Queen Fabiola of the Belgians, who died on Friday night, will take place in the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule in Brussels at 10 a.m. on Friday 12 December, the Belgian court has announced. Queen Fabiola will be buried next to her husband, King Baudouin, who died in 1993, in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady in Laeken on the outskirts of Brussels.
On Monday morning the late Queen's coffin will be taken from her home, Stuyvenberg House, where she died, to the chapel of the nearby Laeken Palace, her home from the time of her marriage in 1960 until 1999. On Tuesday afternoon her remains will be brought to the Royal Palace in the city centre, where she will lie in state until the funeral. The public will be allowed to file past to pay their respects between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday and between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The royal court has also announced that Queen Fabiola has left all her possessions to the Hulpfonds van de Koningin, a charity she set up at the time of her wedding in 1960. The members of the royal family will therefore inherit nothing, which will probably disappoint those who had hoped to see her jewellery pass to Queen Mathilde.
The funeral will probably see a large number of representatives of foreign royal families, both reigning and deposed. As for the Norwegian royal family the timing means that the King may not be able to attend, as the Council of State is held at 11 a.m. on Fridays, although it is possible that he could leave the Crown Prince to preside as Regent. Princess Astrid, who was close to her cousin King Baudouin, may also attend - although she for unknown reasons missed the funeral of her aunt-by-marriage and dear friend Princess Kristine Bernadotte in Sweden on 15 November she was well enough to travel to Trondheim for an official engagement twelve days later.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

At the road's end: Queen Fabiola of the Belgians (1928-2014)

Queen Fabiola of the Belgians has, as previously mentioned, died in her home in Brussels on Friday evening. The 86-year-old widow of King Baudouin I was known for her diligent work for the benefit of the less fortunate, but recently came under heavy fire for her inheritance arrangements.
Born Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida de Mora y Aragón in Madrid on 11 June 1928, was the sixth of the seven children of Gonzalo de Mora y Fernández, Marquess of Casa Riera and Count of Mora and Blanca de Aragón y Carrillo de Albornoz, who were of fairly recent nobility but owned significant estates and were closely connected to the Spanish court. Indeed Queen Victoria Eugenia was Fabiola's godmother.
Fabiola spent parts of her childhood in exile, as her parents in 1931 chose to follow King Alfonso XIII's example and flee the country after the republican election victory. The family lived in France and Switzerland for two years before returning to Spain, but fled again when the Civil War broke out. It was only after Franco's victory in 1939 that the family settled permanently in Spain.
Fabiola trained as a nurse and worked in a poorhouse in Madrid. She also wrote twelve children's stories, which obviously sold very well in Belgium when they were translated and published there after she became Queen.
That happened on 15 December 1960, when Fabiola wed King Baudouin I in Brussels's Cathedral and put a smile on the face of the man who had until then been known as "the sad king".
As Queen, Fabiola was particularly involved with social issues, physical disabilities, mental health, education and children with learning difficulties. Sadly the couple proved unable to have any children of their own, but the marriage was by all accounts a very happy one.
King Baudouin, whose health was not strong, died suddenly from a heart attack while holidaying in Spain on 31 July 1993, and many will recall the dignity shown by Queen Fabiola as she, dressed entirely in white, followed his coffin to his last resting place.
Queen Fabiola was only 65 when she was widowed and she continued to play an active part for many years and remained a fixture at royal events. In 2013 she was heavily criticised for setting up a private foundation which would allow her to bequeath money to her Spanish relatives and charities without paying inheritance tax. Although this was perfectly legal it did not sit will with the public at a time of financial trouble.
In recent years Queen Fabiola was increasingly weakend by osteoporosis and by the autumn of 2012 she was in a wheelchair. She attended the inauguration of her nephew Philippe as King on 21 July 2013, but the memorial service for King Baudouin on the twentieth anniversary of his death ten days later turned out to be her last public appearance.
In recent months she had suffered from respiratory problems and been confined to her home, Stuyvenberg Palace, where she died on Friday at the age of 86.
A more detailed obituary by me will appear in the February issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty, which will be on sale at the end of January, as the announcement of her death came just after the January issue had been sent to the printers.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Queen Fabiola has died

The Belgian royal court has just announced that Queen Fabiola, the widow of King Baudouin I, died in her home, Stuyvenberg Palace in Brussels, this evening. No further details have yet been given, but the 86-year-old queen dowager had been confined to her home with respiratory problems for some time and had not been seen in public since 31 July 2013, when she attended a mass in memory of her husband on the twentieth anniversary of his death.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Right-wing extremists oust Swedish government

When the King and Queen of Sweden return from their state visit to France on Thursday night they may perhaps wonder if their kingdom has turned into a banana republic in their absence. At least that may seem to be the case after the right-wing extremist party the Sweden Democrats on Wednesday ousted the government which took office two months ago and declared their intention to defeat any government or budget which does not comply with the Sweden Democrats' anti-immigration policy, thus threatening to make Sweden ungovernable. The Prime Minister, Stefan Löfven, will now dissolve the Parliament that was elected in mid-September and an extraordinary election will be held on 22 March next year, something which has not happened since 1958.
The crisis erupted when the Sweden Democrats, who hold the parliamentary balance, broke with the parliamentary custom that a party lays down its votes after its own budget proposal has been defeated in the first round. Rather than doing this the Sweden Democrats voted in favour of the budget proposal of the four centre-right parties who formed the previous government, but lost power in the election in September, which was thereby passed instead of the one proposed by the current government, a coalition of the Social Democrats and the Green Party.
The government are obviously unwilling to govern Sweden according to the opposition's budget and Prime Minister Stefan Löfven was therefore left with three choices: to send the budget back to the financial committee to try to achieve a compromise with the centre-right, to resign and let the Speaker of Parliament try to find someone capable of forming a new cabinet or dissolving Parliament. After it became clear on Tuesday evening that the Sweden Democrats would indeed use their power to defeat the government Löfven invited the leaders of the four centre-right parties for talks to try to reach an agreement across the divide between the two blocks, but all such attempts were rejected by the centre-right, who despite insisting that they would not give the extremists any influence seem to relish this opportunity to humiliate the Social Democrats, who has traditionally been viewed as the natural party of stable government.
This does however seem like a dangerous game to play, as the centre-right seem to have no plans for how to be able to form a cabinet or pass a budget if the extraordinary election leaves them as the largest parliamentary block but the Sweden Democrats still hold the parliamentary balance. After losing their parliamentary majority in the 2010 election the centre-right governed for four years with the tacit support of the Sweden Democrats, but this opportunity has now been blocked by the extremists' vow to defeat any government and budget that will not do their anti-immigration bidding.
Parliament will be formally dissolved on 29 December, but will continue to sit until the date of the extraordinary election on 22 March. In the meantime Prime Minister Stefan Löfven will carry on, but with the opposition's budget having been passed stalemate will reign in Swedish politics until the end of March.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Former journalist to head Danish royal court

Earlier this week the Danish royal court announced that Queen Margrethe II has appointed a new Lord Chamberlain, a position left vacant by Ove Ullerup’s decision to return to the Foreign Service after eleven years at court. The new Lord Chamberlain is rather surprisingly Michael Ehrenreich, a well-known journalist.
Ehrenreich, who is sixty years old, comes from the post of director of the Foreign Policy Society, which he took up only last year, but before that he worked as a journalist for 34 years, 21 of them (1982-2003) at the newspaper then known as Berlingske Tidende. He was that paper’s correspondent in London from 1984 to 1988 and in Washington from 1988 to 1993 and became editor-in-chief in 2001.
Two years later he became co-editor of Kristeligt Dagblad, a position he held until taking up his current job in 2013. In 2007 he published a biography of the then (and possibly future) US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Hillary – En amerikansk historie.
While the Lord Chamberlain’s chair is often filled by diplomats or officers it is not the first time Queen Margrethe recruits someone from the media. In 1976 she hired Hans Sølvhøj, a former Social Democratic politician who was at that time director-general of the public broadcaster DR, as her second Lord Chamberlain. Hiring Sølvhøj was Prince Henrik’s idea and turned out to be an inspired choice, as Sølvhøj has been credited with making the monarchy more accessible and encouraging Queen Margrethe to let the world see her artistic side.
The new Lord Chamberlain will take up his post on 15 February, just in time for the state visit of the King and Queen of the Netherlands in mid-March and a series of grand events to celebrate Queen Margrethe’s 75th birthday in April.

Monday, 24 November 2014

My latest article: Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

The Bavarian royal house of Wittelsbach is in my opinion one of the most interesting dynasties in history, and in the December issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 12), which went on sale in Britain on Thursday, I write about the life of Crown Prince Rupprecht, the eldest son of the last King of Bavaria, who in the words of the historian Golo Mann was more suited to be king than several of his forebears. The revolution of 1918 prevented that, but the life of Rupprecht - a First World War commander who during the Second World War had to go into hiding while his family languished in concentration camps and who might have been not only King of Bavaria, but German Emperor and King of Britain - is nevertheless an interesting one.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Princess Kristine Bernadotte laid to rest

Flags flew at half mast at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm and at the Royal Lodge in Oslo today as Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly on 4 November at the age of 82, was laid to rest. A private funeral service, conducted by the royal chaplain Michael Bjerkhagen, was held in Drottningholm Palace Church west of Stockholm before the late Princess was buried next to her husband, Prince Carl Bernadotte, and parents-in-law, Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga north of Stockholm.
The mourners were led by the Princess's brother, Jan E. Rivelsrud, and his family. Also present were her stepdaughter, Madeleine Kogevinas, the King and Queen of Sweden, the King and Queen of Norway, the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.
Princess Astrid of Norway, who was very close to her aunt-by-marriage, sadly seems to have been unable to attend, but two of her children, Alexander Ferner and Elisabeth Ferner, can be seen in photos published in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet's report (external link).

Friday, 14 November 2014

My latest article(s): Obituaries of Princess Kristine Bernadotte

Following the death of Princess Kristine Bernadotte, the King's aunt, last week I have written two obituaries which have appeared in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday and in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter today. The latter seems not to be available online, while the former may be read here (external link).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Princess Kristine Bernadotte to be buried on Saturday

The funeral of Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly on 4 November at the age of 82, will take place on Saturday in Drottningholm Palace Church outside Stockholm. After the service the Princess will be laid to rest in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in the same grave as her husband, Prince Carl Bernadotte, and her parents-in-law, Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg.
The King and Queen of Sweden, the King and Queen of Norway, the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her husband Ari Behn will be present.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

On this date: Grand Duke Jean's golden jubilee (sort of...)

Today might have been the golden jubilee of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who came to the throne when his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated on 12 November 1964. However, Grand Duke Jean himself abdicated in favour of his son Henri, the current Grand Duke, on 7 October 2000 and has therefore been able to enjoy his retirement for fourteen years. Grand Duke Jean, who will turn 94 in two months, retains the title of Grand Duke and can still be seen at official events from time to time.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

At the road's end: Princess Kristine Bernadotte (1932-2014)

At 3 p.m. today a memorial service will take place in the Norwegian Sailors' Church in Calahonda in Spain for the King's aunt, Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly in her home in Benalmádena on Tuesday, aged 82. The Princess rarely missed out on a family event in Norway and was in Oslo as a guest at the wedding of Princess Astrid's son Carl-Christian Ferner as recently as last month.
Kristine Rivelsrud was born in Eidsfoss in Vestfold, south of Oslo, on 22 April 1932. In 1960 she was hired as a secretary by Prince Carl Bernadotte, who had moved to Spain following his aquittal for his involvement in the so-called Huseby scandal two years previously. After he divorced his second wife in 1962, Kristine Rivelsrud was promoted to life partner, but it was not until 8 June 1978 that the couple married at the Swedish Embassy in Rabat in Morocco.
Prince Carl Bernadotte, né His Royal Highness Prince Carl (Junior) of Sweden, Duke of Ostrogothia was the only son of Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, and as such the younger brother of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, Queen Astrid of the Belgians and Princess Margaretha of Denmark. He forfeited his rights to the Swedish throne when he married a commoner, Countess Elsa von Rosen, in 1937, but received the title Prince Bernadotte (of the Belgian nobility) by his brother-in-law, King Léopold III of the Belgians. Thus Kristine Rivelsrud became a princess by marriage, and she was also listed last among the members of the Swedish royal family on the Swedish royal website.
However, she did not have much contact with the Swedish royal family, although King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia attended Prince Carl Bernadotte's 90th birthday in Oslo in January 2001 and his funeral in Danderyd in July 2003 and she was invited to the opening of an exhibition on the life of her sister-in-law Queen Astrid at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in 2005.
On the other hand she had a very close relationship with the Norwegian royal family, perhaps in particular with Princess Astrid (her exact contemporary). Prince Carl and Princess Kristine Bernadotte always spent Christmas with the Norwegian royal family until Prince Carl's declining health made the journey from Spain impossible, but after his death in June 2003 Princess Kristine returned as an annual Christmas guest. She was also very close to her brother, the hotelier Jan E. Rivelsrud, and his family, and enjoyed a good relationship with her stepdaughter Madeleine Kogevinas.
Princess Kristine Bernadotte looked rather grand, but she was in fact a very nice and likeable down-to-earth lady with a well-developed sense of humour.
Princess Kristine Bernadotte's funeral will take place (the date is yet to be announced) in the small Palace Church at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm, which was recently the venue for Princess Leonore's christening. She will be laid to rest in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in the same grave as her husband and his parents.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

On this date: The bicentenary of the Swedish-Norwegian union

200 years ago today Norway and Sweden formed a union of crowns when the Norwegian Parliament passed a revised Constitution and elected King Carl XIII of Sweden King of Norway. The union was formalised by the Act of Union the following year.
Despite what some people, perhaps particularly foreigners, seem to think, the union did not in any way mean that Norway became part of Sweden (or the other way around) or that the two countries became one state. It was in fact one of the loosest unions in history, the two countries sharing only the King and, as foreign policy was considered a royal prerogative, the foreign service. The relationship between the two countries can perhaps best be compared to the relationship between Britain and Hanover between 1714 and 1837.
The Swedes liked to refer to the two countries as "the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway" (the term seems to have been less popular in Norway), but the plural spells out the difference from "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and (Northern) Ireland".
The union was the brainchild of the Swedish Crown Prince Carl Johan, who hoped eventually to achieve an amalgamation of the two countries. In this he failed, but after his rather turbulent reign there followed what has subsequently been called "the happy days of the union". Clouds began to gather in the reign of Carl XV, and from the 1880s there were numerous conflicts and crisis until the Norwegian Parliament unilaterally deposed Oscar II on 7 June 1905 and Norway thereby withdrew from the union. Following negotiations between the two countries in Karlstad in the autumn, the union was formally dissolved on 26 October 1905 after both parliaments had ratified the Treaty of Karlstad and Oscar II abdicated the crown of Norway.
The union has subsequently had a very bad press in Norway, the bitterness of the political disputes having overshadowed the fact that it was also a time of economic and cultural blossoming.
Commemorations of the bicentenary have been fairly low-key, with conferences taking place yesterday and today and by a speech by the Speaker of Parliament at the start of today's parliamentary sitting.

Friday, 31 October 2014

On this date: Princess Margaretha's 80th birthday

Today is the 80th birthday of Princess Margaretha, Mrs Ambler, the eldest of the once-famous "Haga princesses", i.e. the four elder sisters of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden.
Princess Margaretha Désirée Victoria was born at Haga Palace on 31 October 1934 as the eldest child of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. Under the current Act of Succession she would have succeeded her grandfather as monarch in 1973, but as women were at that time entirely barred from succeeding to the Swedish throne Princess Margaretha's life has been a very private one.
That was not the case in her early years, when the four sisters - Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina - were the focus of intense media interest and were hailed as idols for their generation of girls. Perhaps this unprecedented attention may have been at least part of the reason why Margaretha, like her sister Désirée, has chosen to live the rest of her life away from the eyes of the media and the general public.
Princess Margaretha was twelve years old when her father was killed in a plane crash in 1947 and seems to have struggled to cope with the tragedy, at one stage going to Denmark to live with her aunt Queen Ingrid. She also suffered from dyslexia and therefore left school at an early age, but trained as a seamstress and studied childcare.
After a well-publicised romance with the British socialite Robin Douglas-Home, Princess Margaretha married another Brit, the businessman John Ambler, on 30 June 1964. Her sister Désirée's wedding twenty-five days earlier had been a semi-state occasion held in the Cathedral of Stockholm, but Margaretha chose a simpler wedding in the parish church of Gärdlösa at Öland, near the summer palace Solliden.
Princess Margaretha, Mrs Ambler and John Ambler settled at Chippinghurst Manor in Oxfordshire, England. They rarely attended official events, but Princess Margaretha used to open the Christmas bazaar at the Swedish Church in London and the Amblers represented the King at the weddings of Princess Anne of Britain and Mark Phillips in 1973 and of Prince Andrew of Britain and Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
The couple had three children - Sybilla, Edward and James - but separated in 1994. However, the couple remained formally married until John Ambler's death in 2008.
Princess Margaretha now lives in a cottage in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, but is usually always present for family events in Sweden and will celebrate her eightieth birthday privately in her native land.
On the occasion of the eightieth birthday of the eldest of the "Haga princesses" I have by the way written an article on the lives of the four sisters, which appears in the October issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Swedish royal wedding on 13 June

The Swedish royal court has announced that the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist will as expected take place in the Palace Church in Stockholm on 13 June next year.
Given what was said at the time of the engagement about the wedding taking place in early summer 13 June was really the only option as the previous Saturday (6 June) is the National Day and the following Saturday (20 June) is midsummer's eve, which is a major holiday in Sweden.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Princess Astrid's youngest son marries

Last weekend Princess Astrid's youngest son, Carl-Christian Ferner, married Anna-Stina Slattum Karlsen, to whom he became engaged in January. The wedding was held in Ris Church in Oslo and the reception at Grand Hotel.
According to the magazine Se og Hør the wedding was attended by the King and Queen, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn. Princess Astrid and her husband Johan Martin Ferner, who at 87 is rarely seen in public, were of course also present along with the groom's siblings Cathrine, Benedikte, Alexander and Elisabeth with their partners and children. Also in attendance were Erling S. Lorentzen, Princess Ragnhild's widower, their three children Haakon, Ingeborg and Ragnhild, and the groom's great-aunt, Princess Kristine Bernadotte.
Carl-Christian Ferner, who will turn 42 this month, works for the family business Ferner Jacobsen, a men's clothing store of which he owns 46 % of the shares. Anna-Stina Slattum Ferner is born in 1984 and is a digital editor in the company Orkla.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Norwegian state visit to Burma

Interestingly, the King and Queen will pay a state visit to Burma from 1 to 3 December. This would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, but should be seen as part of the normalisation of relations with Burma after the retirement of the military junta and the slight improvements in the country's human rights situation. State visits are decided by the government, and the King and Queen will as always be accompanied by the Foreign Minister.
President Thein Sein of Burma paid an official visit to Norway at the end of February 2013. The visit was hosted by then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, but the President was also received by the King and the royal Palace.
Before packing their bags for Burma the King and Queen will play hosts to President Pranab Mukherjee of India, who will pay a state visit to Norway on 13 and 14 October. This will be the first state visit ever between Norway and India, and will also be the fourth incoming state visit this year, compared to none in 2013 and only one in 2012.