Tuesday, 2 February 2016

My latest articles: Georg and Anne of Denmark & the Mexican empire

I have forgotten to mention that the February issue of Majesty has been on sale since 21 January, this time containing two articles by me. The first one deals with Prince Georg and Princess Anne of Denmark. A career diplomat, Prince Georg was the eldest son of Prince Axel and Princess Margaretha of Denmark and as such closely related to the royal houses of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Luxembourg and Sweden, while his wife, née Anne Bowes-Lyon, was a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain. Their close relationships with many royal houses made them stalwarts of royal events, but since their early deaths they have been mostly forgotten. Their story is, however, well worth telling.
The second article is about Maximilian of Austria and Charlotte of Belgium and their short-lived Mexican Empire, which ended in death and madness. It will be followed up by an article on Trieste's royal exiles in the March issue, which will be out on 25 February.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My latest articles: Coronations and solemn blessings

My new book on the role of coronations in Norwegian history, Norges krone - Kroninger, signinger og maktkamper fra sagatid til nåtid, is of course of some relevance to the King's Silver Jubilee, and in connection with the jubilee I have had several related articles published.
In this year's first issue of the history magazine Aftenposten Historie, which is on sale from today, I have an eight-page article on the origins of the rites of coronation and anointing. The last Norwegian coronation was that of Haakon VII in 1906, but his son, Olav V, instituted a new tradition to replace coronations, namely a solemn blessing, making Norway the only European monarchy besides Britain that still marks the accession of a new monarch with a solemn religious ritual. On Saturday, I had an article in the newspaper Vårt Land about the transition from coronations to solemn blessings and its significance to King Olav, which is now also available online (external link). On the same day, I also wrote a piece in the newspaper VG on King Olav's struggle to introduce this new ritual, looking in particular at how he clashed with Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen, who wanted at most a much simpler service. This is also available online (external link), but only to subscribers, I am afraid.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

King Harald's silver jubilee celebrated today

Thousands of people came out on a freezing cold day in Oslo today to help celebrate the silver jubilee of King Harald's accession to the throne on 17 January 1991, thereby fulfilling the King and Queen's wish to celebrate the jubilee with their people. The extended royal family were joined by the Queen of Denmark and the King and Queen of Sweden for the celebrations.
The day started with a service of thanksgivings and commemoration in the Palace Chapel. Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien, Primate of the Church of Norway, preached the sermon, while the lessons were read by Princess Märtha Louise, Princess Astrid's grandson Sebastian Ferner Johansen and the late Princess Ragnhild's granddaughter Sophia Anne Lorentzen.
Later, the royal family took part in a very well-attended winter sports event in the Palace Square, and later walked downhill to the University, where the government hosted a gala performance in its great hall. This evening there is a private, black-tie dinner at the Palace. Outside, hundreds of candles burn in the snow, just as they did on the dark winter night 25 years ago when King Olav died.
To mark the jubilee, the King has struck a new medal, King Harald V's Jubilee Medal 1991-2016, which has been given to the Queen and the other members of the royal family, the foreign royal guests, courtiers, equerries and bodyguards, former courtiers, representatives of the authorities and former prime ministers.
This weekend's events were only the first part of the jubilee celebrations, which will continue in June, when the King and Queen embark on an 11-day-long journey along the coast onboard the Royal Yacht, which will include visits to six major towns and a service of thanksgivings in Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June, the 25th anniversary of their solemn blessing. There will also be another large event in Oslo in late August or early September.

Celebrations of King and Queen's silver jubilee kick off

We have now entered 17 January, the 25th anniversary of King Olav V's death and Harald V's accession to the Norwegian throne. The celebrations began on Friday, when the King and Queen received official deputations at the Palace and continued last night with a dinner for family and foreign guests at Skaugum, the crown princely couple's home in Asker outside Oslo.
The Queen of Denmark and the King and Queen of Sweden joined the Norwegian royal family for the black tie event, which was also attended by all King Olav's living descendants and their partners except for Princess Ragnhild's youngest daughter, Ragnhild Lorentzen Long, and her husband and daughters. Princess Ragnhild's widower, Erling S. Lorentzen, who will be 93 in less than two weeks, brought along his new girlfriend, Ebba Løvenskiold, 25 years his junior and daughter of the late Herman Leopold Løvenskiold, who was head of the former noble family Løvenskiold and owner of Fossum Manor, and of the Swedish Countess Catharina De la Gardie.
The other guests were the Queen's nephews Karl-Otto Haraldsen and Dag Swanstrøm with their wives and her niece Ian Swanstrøm with Carl Christian Dahl, and the Crown Princess's mother Marit Tjessem with her partner Magnar Fjeldvær. The Crown Princess's son, Marius Borg Høiby, was away, apparently attending a school ball.
Tomorrow, or rather later today, the celebrations continue with a service in the Palace Chapel at 11 a.m., followed by a large winter sports event in the Palace Square, a performance in the University's great hall and a private dinner at the Royal Palace.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

At the road’s end: Princess Ashraf of Iran (1919-2016)

On Thursday, the funeral of a now mostly forgotten but once highly visible royal took place in Monaco. Princess Ashraf of Iran, who died on 7 January, was the twin sister of the last Shah, is thought to have wielded great influence during his reign, was a prominent advocate of women’s right and made a career at the UN.
Born five hours after her twin brother Mohammed Reza on 26 October 1919, Princess Ashraf considered their bond ‘the strongest sense of family that I would ever know’. The two of them ‘were like faces in a mirror’, she wrote in her autobiography, which was titled just that: Faces in a Mirror: Memoirs from Exile (1980).
When their father, Reza Shah, was forced to abdicate and sent into exile in Johannesburg in 1941, Princess Ashraf was the only family member who stayed behind in Teheran with the new young Shah. The Princess would play an important political role throughout his reign. In 1946, she was sent to Russia to negotiate with Stalin, who allegedly told her that is her brother “had ten like you, he would have no worries at all”. She also played a role in the downfall of one prime minister and the appointment of at least another.
However, she saw an enemy in the charismatic left-wing politician Mohammad Mosaddegh, who ordered her into exile on the very day he became Prime Minister in 1951. Two years later, the Princess was approached by agents of Britain and the USA, who had decided to remove Mosaddegh, and played a key role in convincing her brother to go along with the coup which removed Mosaddegh and restored the Shah’s power.
Princess Ashraf was closely involved in social issues and in particular in women’s rights. She headed the Women’s Organisation of Iran, whose greatest success was a 1975 act which ‘gave Iran’s women the most sweeping civil rights in the Islamic Middle East’. For seven years she headed Iran’s delegation to the UN general assembly and also served on several UN committees, including the preparatory committee for the International Women Year’s Conference in Mexico in 1975.
The Princess’s high profile made her a controversial figure and the subject of many rumours about her financial and romantic affairs. Having been forced by her father at the age of seventeen to marry Ali Qavam, to whom she claimed to have taken an instant dislike, she divorced him after her father’s abdication. They had one son, Shahram. Her second husband was the Egyptian businessman Ahmad Shafiq, with whom she had a son, Shahriar, and a daughter, Azadeh. The marriage was dissolved in 1960, and Princess Ashraf married Mehdi Bushehri. The Princess and her third husband would eventually lead separate lives but it seems they never formally divorced.
In 1977, Princess Ashraf survived an assassination attempt, but the following year the Shah advised her to leave Iran. After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Princess Ashraf was included in the Khomeini regime’s death list and her son Shahriar was assassinated while carrying groceries into his sister’s apartment in Paris in December 1979. Her only daughter died from leukemia in 2001.
Princess Ashraf eventually faded from public view, but always remained fiercely protective of her twin brother’s regime and an apologist for its crimes.
A longer obituary by my hand will appear in the March issue of Majesty, which will be on sale in a month.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Prince Consort Henrik to retire

In her New Year's Speech, delivered live from Fredensborg Palace at 6 p.m., Queen Margrethe II announced that her husband, Prince Consort Henrik, has decided to retire. "In the fture, the Prince Consort will therefore only very rarely take part in the official events which through so many years have been a natural part of his life", she said, adding that it was "his decision; I understand it and I respect it". The Queen expressed her gratitude for "all the support, help and inspiration he has given me through all the years" and added that she still looks forward to continue her work and to have his continued support even though in a less visible way.
The Prince Consort's decision to retire comes at the end of a year in which he caused much comments by absenting himself from the celebrations of his wife's 75th birthday, claiming illness but turning up in Venice the next day. He has also on numerous occasions voiced his dissatisfaction with his role, including repeatedly insisting that he ought to be king consort rather than prince consort. However, the Prince Consort's decision may not necessarily have anything to do with this, as he is after all 81 years, but it is of course very rare for a member of a reigning royal family, and particularly for a sitting monarch's consort, to retire from public life.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

My latest articles: Norwegian silver jubilee and Waterloo bicentenary

It is still 2015, but the January 2016 issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 1), which contains two articles by me, is now on sale. On 17 January, the King and Queen will celebrate their silver jubilee and in the first article I look back at the events of 1991: the death and funeral of King Olav V, the accession of King Harald V, his and Queen Sonja's solemn blessing and the challenges that faced the new King and Queen. In the second article, I report on this year's bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, starting with the death of the 99-year-old 8th Duke of Wellington on the very last day of 2014 and ending with Prince Napoléon receiving the Freedom of the City of London at the end of November.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Celebrations for King Harald's and Queen Sonja's silver jubilee

In a month, 25 years will have passed since King Olav V died and Harald V ascended the throne, and the silver jubilee of the King's accession will naturally be marked in several ways.
The jubilee will be kicked off on 15 January, when the King and Queen will receive congratulatory deputations at the Royal Palace. The following day, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will host a private dinner at their home Skaugum, at which the Queen of Denmark and the King and Queen of Sweden will join the Norwegian royal family. Some may wonder about the other European royal houses, but the custom for Scandinavian jubilees (as opposed to birthdays and weddings) is that only the Nordic royals and heads of state are invited (this was also the case when King Olav celebrated his silver jubilee in 1982 and when Queen Margrethe and King Carl Gustaf celebrated their silver and ruby jubilees).
On 17 January, accession day, the extended royal family and the foreign guests will attend a service in the Palace Chapel at 11 a.m. On the same day, a large winter sports event for children and youngsters will be held in Palace Square, obviously reflecting the King's great interest in winter sports. The royal family will visit this event between 12.45 and 1.35 p.m. At 1 p.m., a gun salute will be fired from Akershus Castle. At 2 p.m., a private lunch for family and foreign guests will be held at the Palace. Thereafter, the royal family will walk from the Palace downhill to the University, where the government will host a jubilee concert featuring various performers and there will be various activities in University Square (details about those events and the concert are yet to be announced). In the evening, the King and Queen will host a private dinner at the Palace.
In June, the King and Queen will mark the 25th anniversary of their solemn blessing, the ritual instituted by King Olav to replace coronation. Back in 1991, the new King and Queen travelled overland to Trondheim and back along the west and south coast, and between 17 and 28 June this year they will embark on a similar journey by the Royal Yacht, visiting Tromsø, Bodø, Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger and Kristiansand. On 23 June, the 25th anniversary of the solemn blessing, they will return to Nidaros Cathedral to attend a service of thanksgivings.
To mark the jubilee, NRK will broadcast a new documentary series in seven parts (which I have been a little bit involved with) about the King and Queen and their 25 years on the throne. The first part will be aired on NRK 1 on Wednesday 30 December at 7.45 p.m., with the remaining six parts to follow the next six Wednesday nights.
There will also be a special stamp to mark the silver jubilee, which will be on sale from 11 January.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

On this date: Prince Mikasa turns 100!

While many royals have reached their nineties, few members of reigning royal families have lived to celebrate their 100th birthday, but today the Emperor of Japan's uncle Takahito, Prince Mikasa reaches this milestone.
Born in Tokyo on 2 December 1915, Prince Takahito is the fourth and youngest son of Emperor Yoshihito and thus a brother of Emperor Hirohito. In 1941, he married Yuriko Takagi, who bore him three sons and two daughters. He was given the title Prince Mikasa on his twentieth birthday in 1935, but sadly the Mikasa branch of the imperial house will become extinct upon his death as all his three sons have died before him without leaving any sons. His two daughters are however still alive, although not members of the imperial house since their marriages, and he is also a grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of four.
During the Second World War, Prince Mikasa served with the Japanese army and was posted to China. He later claimed he had not fully understood he crimes committed by Japan, and in 1945 he urged his brother Hirohito to take responsibility by abdicating in favour of Crown Prince Akihito, but the USA insisted on keeping Hirohito on the throne.
After the war, Prince Mikasa studied archaeology, Middle Eastern studies and Semitic languages at the University of Tokyo and became a scholar of ancient Oriental history. Although he had heart surgery three years ago and is now in a wheelchair, the centenarian is said to be in good health for his age. "Nothing will change just because I turn 100 years old", the Prince says in a statement released by the imperial court today. "I'd like to spend my days pleasantly and peacefully while praying for the happiness of people around the world and thanking my wife, Yuriko, who has been supporting me for more than 70 years".

Thursday, 19 November 2015

My latest article: Mountbatten in Sweden and Princess Esmeralda on her mother

Today the December issue of Majesty (Vol. 36, No. 12) goes on sale in Britain and this month I have contributed two articles. One of them deals with Lord Mountbatten and Sweden. Much has been written about how he tried to position himself as the power behind the British throne, but I look at how he tried to vield influence on the Swedish monarchy, of which his sister Louise was Queen, including how he tried to make Gustaf VI Adolf abdicate and his attempts at match-making for King Carl Gustaf.
In the same issue is the third and final part of my interview with Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, who this time talks about her mother, Princess Lilian, one of the most controversial royals of the twentieth century, whom her biographer Evrard Raskin has called "the woman who brought down Léopold III". That article also includes some rare photographs, including some from her last years, when Princess Lilian never appeared in public.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

My latest article: Kings consort

In a recent interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, the Prince Consort of Denmark once again stated that in his opinion he ought to be King Consort rather than Prince Consort as the wives of kings are always styled Queen. This is far from the first time he has raised this issue, which he apparently considers a matter of principles and gender equality - by Berlingske's count (external link) it is in fact the eighth time - and it usually subjects him to criticism by the Danish media.
It has been claimed that there is hardly any precedence for the husband of a queen regnant being styled King, but in an article in the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad today (external link) I point out that until the mid-nineteenth century it was in fact the norm rather than the exception that the husbands of queens regnant became kings. Examples may be found in Navarre, England, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, Naples and Poland, and in many cases these kings by marriage also excercised power. But although the Prince Consort has historical precendence on his side, I also suggest that it might be wise not to keep insisting on a wish he must know that will never be granted.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My latest articles: Princess Esmeralda on her father & Edward VII and Norway

The November issue of Majesty (Vol. 36, No. 11) went on sale in Britain on Thursday and this month I have contributed two articles.
There is the second part of my interview with the writer and climate change activist Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, who this time shares her fond memories of her father, King Léopold III of the Belgians, and talks about how he rebuilt his life after his more or less forced abdication after the Second World War and how she carries on part of his work. While the first part of the interview, which appeared in the October issue, dealt with her grandparents King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, the third and final part, which will appear in the December issue, will be devoted to her controversial mother, Princess Lilian.
As November marks the 110th anniversary of King Haakon VII's arrival in Norway, my second article investigates the role played by King Edward VII of Britain in securing the Norwegian crown for his daughter and son-in-law.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Seraphim Order for Princess Sofia

On Friday night, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden attended an award ceremony and banquet at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, where Princess Sofia wore the Order of the Seraphim for the first time. Unlike her brother-in-law Prince Daniel, Princess Sofia did not receive this order, which is Sweden's highest, at her wedding and it has until now not been known if she had received it. The date on which she received the Order is so far not known.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Princess Sofia is pregnant

The court of Stockholm has just announced that Princess Sofia, who married Prince Carl Philip four months ago, is pregnant. The couple's first child will be born in April 2016. In accordance with King Carl Gustaf's decision to bestow royal titles on all his grandchildren, the child will be a Prince or Princess of Sweden and a Royal Highness and receive a royal dukedom.
The birth will follow shortly after the birth of Crown Princess Victoria's second child, which is expected in March. Thus, Prince Carl Philip's and Princess Sofia's child will at the time of its birth be fifth in line of succession to the Swedish throne.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Prince Nicolas of Sweden christened

At noon today, Prince Nicolas of Sweden, the son of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, was christened in the chapel of Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm. This intimate chapel was also the venue for the christening of his elder sister, Princess Leonore, in June last year.
The sponsors were his maternal uncle, Prince Carl Philip; his father's maternal half-sister, Countess Natascha Abensperg und Traun; his mother's first cousin Gustaf Magnuson (son of Princess Christina); his paternal uncle by marriage Henry d'Abo (whose mother, Lady Ursula d'Abo, who will be 99 next month, is the daughter of the 9th Duke of Rutland and was a maid of honour at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Britain in 1937); his mother's friend Katarina von Horn; and his father's friend Marco Wajselfisz.
Prince Nicolas wore the christening robe that was made for the baptism of his great-grandfather, Prince Gustaf Adolf, in 1906 and which has been worn by many royal children since then. He was baptised by the Archbishop, Antje Jackelén (who last year became Sweden's first female Archbishop). At the end of the ceremony, he was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim by his grandfather, King Carl XVI Gustaf. His royal rank was, in keeping with a tradition instituted in 1778, symbolised by a princely crown on a pedestal next to the altar. Until now, one crown has usually been assigned to each prince and princess, but the fact that the royal title now descends through both the male and the female line means that there are not enough crowns to go around, and Prince Nicolas has thus been assigned the same crown as his mother, that of Princess (later Queen) Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta (the distinction between crowns for princes and princesses had already been broken in 2012, when Oscar II's princely crown was assigned to Princess Estelle).
As the chapel at Drottningholm is rather small, the christening was attended by a rather select gathering of family, friends, officials and courtiers. Apart from Prince Nicolas, his parents and his sisters, the members of the extended royal family present were King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia; Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel; Princess Estelle; Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia; Princess Margaretha; Princess Christina's husband Tord Magnuson, their three sons Oscar, Gustaf and Victor Magnuson, Gustaf's wife Vicky Magnuson, Victor's partner Frida Bergström and their infant son Sigvard, who was born on 25 August; Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, who is the widow of the King's late uncle, the former Prince Sigvard; and Dagmar von Arbin, a great-granddaughter of King Oscar II, who will celebrate her 100th birthday in April. The only foreign royal present was Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a first cousin of King Carl Gustaf who is also one of Princess Madeleine's sponsors.
Also present were Chris O'Neill's mother, Eva Maria O'Neill; two of his three paternal half-sisters, Annalisa O'Neill and Karen O'Neill, and his nephew Oliver MacNeely; his maternal half-sister Tatjana d'Abo with her husband Henry and their children Anouska, Celina and Jasper; his maternal half-sister Countess Natascha Abensperg und Traun and her daughters Milana and Chiara; and a man by the name of Wolfgang Seybold, who is apparently in a relationship with Eva Maria O'Neill.
Queen Silvia's brother Walther L. Sommerlath is on the guest list, but was as far as I could tell not present in church. On the other hand two of her nephews were there: Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath and Patrick Sommerlath, the latter with his wife Maline, his son Leopold Lundén Sommerlath and their daughters Anaïs and Chloé Sommerlath.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

My new book is out today - "Norges krone"

I am glad to report that my new book, Norges krone - Kroninger, signinger og maktkamper fra sagatid til nåtid, is on sale from today. The title translates roughly as "The Crown of Norway: Coronations, Solemn Blessings and Power Struggles from the Age of the Sagas to the Present" and the book deals with the role of coronations (and solemn blessings) in Norwegian history from Magnus Erlingsson's coronation in 1164 to the future solemn blessing of the current crown princely couple, which amounts to telling the history of the Norwegian monarchy viewed through the coronations.
Coronations run through Norwegian history as a red thread and many of them have taken place in connection with important events, for instance the bloody civil wars of the twelfth century and the attempt to introduce a new state order based on sacral monarchy, the excommunication of King Sverre in 1194, the unificiation of the Nordic countries in Kalmar in 1397, the final choice between Sweden or Denmark as union partner in 1448-1450, the nation's rebirth in 1814, the conflict between Carl XIV Johan and Parliament and the dissolution of the union in 1905. The book also offers the first thorough investigation of the history and symbolism of the crown regalia and shows how the coronations saved Nidaros Cathedral from ruin.
For my readers in Norway the book is of course available in bookshops (ask the staff if you cannot find it and they will order it) and through online bookstores such as Haugen Bok (external link) or Adlibris (external link). Haugen Bok also ships abroad, while my Swedish friends may order it from the Swedish version of Adlibris (external link).

Friday, 2 October 2015

Queen's childhood home to be moved to museum

The news that the villa in which the Queen grew up was to be demolished caused some consternation a while ago, but yesterday it became known that the house has now been saved and will be moved to the open air museum Maihaugen at Lillehammer.
Until her marriage to the then Crown Prince Harald in 1968, Sonja Haraldsen, as she then was, lived in a functionalist villa in Tuengen allé 1B at Vinderen in Oslo, which had been built in 1935, two years before her birth. After her mother Dagny Haraldsen moved to an apartment at Majorstua, the villa was taken over by Dag Swanstrøm, son of the Queen's late sister Gry Henriksen, but because of reconstruction of the area it had now been decided to demolish the house.
However, Maihaugen has since 1993 collected houses in order to documents Norwegian homes of the twentieth century, but has until now lacked houses from the 1930s and 1960s. The Queen's childhood home will thus fill a gap in the museum's collection while preserving a house that is of more than usual historical interest.
The villa has been modernised and altered through the years, but in connection with its move to Maihaugen later additions will be removed and the house restored to its original appearance. The Queen has agreed to assist in this work by making available items, documentation and memories.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My latest articles: Princess Esmeralda on her grandparents, Queen Charlotte and Ludwig II's bride

I used to post updates here about articles I write, but in the final months of work on my new book there was no time for that, but now that the book is done I will try to resume that habit, starting with the October issue of Majesty, which went on sale in Britain last Thursday and will soon reach other countries too.
In this issue (Vol. 36, No. 10, October 2015) you will find the first part of an interview I recently did with the author and climate change activist Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, the youngest daughter of King Léopold III. This time she speaks about her grandparents, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, who are the topic of a book she and Christophe Vachaudez co-authored last year. In the second part of the interview, which will appear in the November issue, Princess Esmeralda will talk about her father, his downfall and how he built a new life for himself after his abdication, and in the third and final part, in the December issue, she will share her memories of her controversial mother, Princess Lilian. All three parts will include several unusual photos.
In the October issue I have also written an article on Queen Charlotte of Britain, the long-suffering consort of "mad" King George III, who was often severely tested by misfortune, but who, in spite of everything, managed to maintain her sanity.
I have written no less than three articles in this issue, and the last of them deals with Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, the younger sister of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was engaged to the legendary, eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria, fell in love with a photographer, married a French Prince, was locked away in a mental asylum when she fell in love with her doctor and died a horrible death. Hers was surely one of the most dramatic and tragic of royal life stories.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

At the road's end: Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (1939-2015), historian

A spokeswoman for the former royal house of Prussia has announced that the historian Prince Friedrich Wilhelm died yesterday, following a lengthy illness. The eldest uncle of the head of the dynasty was 76 years old.
The eldest son of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and his wife, née Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, Louis Ferdinand Friedrich Wilhelm Hubertus Michael Kyrill Prinz von Preussen was born on 9 February 1939. At that time his great-grandfather, ex-Emperor Wilhelm II, was still living in exile in the Netherlands, but the headship of the royal house eventually passed to Friedrich Wilhelm's father. As the eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm was first in line to succeed to the headship, but he forfeited his rights when he made an unapproved marriage with the commoner Waltraut Freydag in 1967. As his next brother, Michael, who died last year, also lost his rights through marriage, the headship of the royal house passed to their nephew Prince Georg Friedrich, son of the third brother, who had been killed in an accident in 1977. The issue of inheritance caused a protracted legal battle.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm studied at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and obtained a doctorate in history in 1971. He was however accused of having plagiarised a substantial part of his dissertation and was stripped of the doctorate in 1973. Eventually he obtained a new doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, this time on the topic of the Hohenzollern dynasty's relations to Nazism.
His first marriage was dissolved in 1971, and in 1976 he married Ehrengard von eden. That marraige was also dissolved in 2004, and later that year he married his third wife, Sibylle Kretschmer. He had one son from his first marriage and two sons and a daughter from the second.
For Prince Georg Friedrich, this is the second death in the family in little more than three weeks, following the death of his mother, Duchess Donata of Oldenburg, on 5 September.

Prince Joachim of Denmark appoints cabinet minister

Earlier today Prince Joachim of Denmark appointed Peter Christensen of the Liberal Party Minister of Defence and Nordic Co-operation. Prince Joachim acts as Guardian of the Realm in the absence of Queen Margrethe and Crown Prince Frederik, and it seems this is only the second time that he has appointed a cabinet minister.
The outgoing Minister of Defence, Carl Holst, announced his resignation yesterday, 93 days after his appointment, after accusations of using a public servant for his own party-political purposes while he led the Regional Council of Southern Denmark but was seeking election to Parliament.
If the Queen is abroad or incapacitated, the Crown Prince is first in line to act as Regent, but if he is also unavailable Prince Joachim or Princess Benedikte will act as Guardian of the Realm, carrying out the monarch's constitutional functions. According to the television network DR, the only previous occasion on which Prince Joachim has appointed a cabinet minister was in December 2012, when Marianne Jelved succeeded Uffe Elbæk as Minister of Culture.