Friday, 29 January 2010

Book news: More Bernadotte books in 2010

I recently wrote about some of the royalty-related books expected in 2010 and here are some additions to that list.
It seems the upcoming wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in June has caused every tabloid journalist in Sweden to write a book about the bride-to-be. First out was Jenny Alexandersson (then of Svensk Damtidning, now Aftonbladet) with her book on the engagement, followed by Herman Lindqvist’s hagiography. As mentioned Johan T. Lindwall of Expressen will release Victoria – Prinsessan privat in March and now I hear that Catarina Hurtig, author of the gossipy Uppdrag: prinsessa (2006) is writing HKH Victoria – Ett personligt porträtt, due to be published by Norstedts in May.
On a more serious note Norstedts will also mark the bicentenary of the Bernadotte dynasty by publishing the anthology En dynasti blir till – Medier, myter och makt kring Karl XIV Johan och familjen Bernadotte, edited by Mats Ekedahl, which is a result of the research project “The Making of a Dynasty” and which will explore the means whereby the Bernadottes succeeded in establishing their dynasty in Sweden between 1810 and 1860. According to Norstedt’s catalogue the book will be out on 10 June.
As a French Marshal and government administrator Carl XIV Johan spent several years posted in Hamburg and Hanover and a number of biographies of him have been published in Germany over the years. Another is expected in May, when Katz Casimir Verlag will publish Professor Jörg-Peter Findeisen’s Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. Revolutionsgeneral, Marschall Napoleons und Schwedens König.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A Grosch work lost today

Together with Hans D. F. Linstow, Christian Heinrich Grosch (1801-1865) was the most important architect in Norway in the years after the country won independence in 1814 - the two architects, who became bitter rivals, gave the new capital Christiania (Oslo) its shape and were behind many of its most important buildings.
More buildings by Grosch than by Linstow survive, but today one work by Grosch was lost when Hønefoss Church was completely destroyed in a fire. The church was built between 1859 and 1862 and could seat 350 persons.
NRK reports on the fire:
The photo is in the public domain and courtesy of Wikipedia.

Wedding concert on 18 June

Yesterday it was confirmed what has been assumed for a long time, namely that the Swedish Parliament will host a concert in Stockholm’s Concert House on 18 June, the day before the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling. The concert will be broadcast live on SVT. At earlier royal weddings such events have been held at the Royal Opera House rather than at the Concert House.
More in Svenska Dagbladet:

Monday, 25 January 2010

What to see: Prince Oscar Bernadotte’s Family Grave, Solna

Prince Oscar Bernadotte, the second son of King Oscar II and Queen Sophia, lost his status as a member of the Swedish-Norwegian Royal House when he married a commoner, Ebba Munck af Fulkila, in 1888. Therefore he was buried neither in the Bernadotte Mausoleum of the Riddarholmen Church nor at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga, but chose a plot on a hill at the Northern Cemetery in Solna, just outside Stockholm, as the last resting place of himself and his family.
The mausoleum was designed by Gunnar Asplund, one of Sweden’s most famous architects ever and best known for the Woodland Cemetery and the City Library in Stockholm. Above the crypt is a simple “temple” adorned with stone tablets with the names of those who are buried there. Prince Oscar was a month short of his 94th birthday when he died in October 1953, meaning that several other family members were buried there before him, among them his wife, Princess Ebba Bernadotte, who died in 1946.
All their five children are buried in the family grave. Their eldest son, Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg, died in 1977. His son Nils, who died at the age of two in 1920, is also buried there, while his first wife Marianne is buried elsewhere with her second husband Marcus Wallenberg. Carl Bernadotte’s second wife, Gerty, who died in 2004, was also interred elsewhere.
Prince Oscar’s youngest son, Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, was assassinated by Israeli terrorists during a UN peace mission to Jerusalem in 1948. His wife Estelle is buried with him rather than with her second husband Carl-Eric Ekstrand, whose grave is also in the Northern Cemetery. Two of their sons are also in the family grave – Frederick, who died at the age of seven months in 1934, and Gustaf, who died at age six in 1936. Also there is their daughter-in-law Rosemarie, who was only 25 when she died a year after marrying their son Bertil.
The first of Prince Oscar and Princess Ebba Bernadotte’s children to die was Baroness Sofia Fleetwood in 1936, aged 44. Her widower Carl-Mårten Fleetwood later remarried and is not buried with her. Unlike Sofia, her sisters lived to a great age: Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg died at 85 in 1974, while the humanitarian and politician Elsa Cedergren was three weeks short of her 103rd birthday when she died in 1996. She was laid to rest next to her husband Hugo Cedergren, who had died 25 years earlier at the age of 80.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

At the road’s end: Jean Simmons (1929-2010), actress who played Désirée

The British actress Jean Simmons died from lung cancer yesterday, aged 80. She appeared in more than 70 films, among them Désirée in 1954, where she had the lead role as Désirée Clary, the merchant’s daughter from Marseilles who was engaged to the young General Napoléon Bonaparte and through her marriage to Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte became Queen of Norway and Sweden.
The film was based on Annemarie Selinko’s bestselling novel from 1951, which brought Queen Désirée great international fame. But, like NRK’s much-discussed recent Harry & Charles, this was one of those historical films where only the main events are facts and everything else fiction. Elderly ladies in particular seem to believe that what happened in the film was what happened to Désirée in real life, but this is far from true: she did become engaged to Napoléon, she did marry Bernadotte and she did become Queen of Sweden and Norway, but in real life nothing of it happened in the way it happens in the film.
Désirée was anyway not one of Simmons’s greatest roles and in The Guardian Philip French writes more about the life of this British actress:

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New books: A queen’s theatre

If the concept of monarchy, with its ceremonies, traditions and costumes, may be viewed as a performance, Margrethe II is its leading lady. During her 38-year-reign the trappings of the Danish monarchy have become ever more impressive and the taste for ceremonial grandeur, which had to be somewhat downplayed during the reign of her father, is now allowed to blossom freely. One may wonder if the current staging of the Danish monarchy is somehow influenced by Queen Margrethe’s great passion for theatre.
That passion is the subject of Henrik Lyding’s interesting new book Dronningens teater (published by Gyldendal of Copenhagen). The book is written in close cooperation with Queen Margrethe, whose voice is heard through most of the book. This is no disadvantage in itself, but occasionally I felt that it might have been interesting to hear from some of those who have worked with her at the theatre.
The Queen’s love for the theatre began at an early age and was nurtured by her parents, who shared that enthusiasm. The Queen singles out ballet as her preferred form of art and during the last twenty years she has enjoyed a “side career” as an amateur scenographer, starting at her friend Susanne Heering’s ballet school in 1982.
In 1987 she was in charge of the costumes for Danish TV’s “Hyrdinden og skorstensfejeren” and four years later she took on the entire scenography for “Et Folkesagn” at the Royal Theatre. Since then she has been involved in a number of such projects and has since 2001 been in charge of the scenography for four half-hour ballets at the Pantomime Theatre at Copenhagen’s Tivoli.
Lyding looks at the productions one by one and he offers a good insight into how Queen Margrethe works as a scenographer. When seeing how much work she puts into it, one cannot but help wondering how she finds time for it. The Queen shows that she is well aware of her being an amateur and expresses great respect for those who have the technical, professional knowledge she is doing without.
The author does not refrain from quoting even the bad reviews of the Queen’s work and confront her with them. Interestingly it seems the Queen chooses to reject most of the reviewer’s criticism as products of the Law of Jante (“she should not believe herself to be anyone”) in order to point out herself the weaker aspects of her own work.
But I cannot always agree with Queen Margrethe’s reasoning, such as when Lyding brings up the issue of whether her taking on such commissions deprives professional scenographers of employment which they need better than her. This the Queen rejects by saying that she insists on getting paid for all her work (but gives the salary to one of her funds) so that the theatres cannot save money by commissioning her rather than a professional. But of course this does not change the fact that a professional scenographer is passed over when a commission is given to an amateur.
Queen Margrethe makes some interesting reflections on her work as a scenographer seen in relation to her duty as monarch. What she finds particularly attractive is that as an artist she may be compared to other artists, whereby a monarch cannot really be compared to other monarchs, as they reign in different countries and times. What she leaves unsaid is that no other amateur scenographer would have been given the same opportunities as the Queen of Denmark.
Her answer to the question if it might be tempting to become a fulltime artist is also interesting as a clear denial of the recent silly rumours about her imminent abdication: “Maybe some people think that I may just chose to leave my position as Queen, but it is not that simple. And particularly not seen in relation to how I became Queen after the Constitution and the Act of Succession had been changed so that it was me who should succeed my father. If I then chose to step aside it would really be to desert my place. It would really be a great betrayal”.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Obama in trouble – and the end of Camelot

The results from yesterday’s election to fill the US Senate seat from Massachusetts left vacant by the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy last August show that the Republican candidate Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley. Not since 1972 has a Republican won one of the Massachusetts seats (the other is held by John Kerry, the Democrat who unfortunately lost the presidential election to George W. Bush in 2004) and Kennedy himself had held his seat since the 1962 election.
Until very recently it seemed beyond doubt that Kennedy would be succeeded by another Democrat, something which makes Brown’s achievement even more impressive. Edward Kennedy had himself succeeded his brother John F. Kennedy as Senator, but shortly after the former’s death it became clear that no-one from the Kennedy family would run for the seat which some years ago might have been considered theirs by right of inheritance. This as well as Caroline Kennedy’s failed attempt at taking over Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat may well be seen as proof that the Kennedy myth is no longer of any particular political significance.
The election result also means great trouble for President Obama, who on this very day has been in office for a year, as it means that he no longer has a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. 60 votes are needed to raise an issue in the Senate, while 41 Senators may prevent a debate by causing endless procrastinations. Until now 59 Democrats and one independent have been able to prevent such tactic, but those days are now over. The healthcare reform may be the first victim of this new situation.
Healthcare was what Ted Kennedy called “the cause of my life” and although President Obama’s proposal has been watered out, a significant health reform has never been closer. It is one of the ironies of history that Kennedy’s death may be the indirect reason why the reform may now be stopped – like the rest of the Senators from his party, Brown has vowed to oppose it.
Possible options for saving the reform may now be to push it through before Brown takes up his seat, to try to persuade at least one Republican Senator to vote for the reform (which seems highly unlikely) or to persuade the House of Representatives to accept the Senate’s bill as it is, thereby avoiding another Senate vote.
One year after Obama’s inauguration the Republicans are again on the rise. After eight years where President George W. Bush and the Republican Party abused their power to lie, manipulate, torture and start an illegal war, causing a financial collapse along the way, they were deservedly beaten in the 2008 elections. But having lost Ted Kennedy’s seat to a Republican only months after his death, having recently lost the gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia and with Obama’s approval ratings falling, this should be a warning to Obama and the Democrats that they may be in serious trouble ahead of the mid-term elections this coming November.

Monday, 18 January 2010

New books: The glory of the Tessins

Jan Mårtenson is perhaps best known as a crime writer, but he has also written a number of books on cultural history. His latest such title is Tessin – En lysande epok – Arkitektur, konst, makt (published by Bonnier Fakta in September).
The members of the Tessin family have left a distinct mark on Sweden. Nicodemus Tessin the Elder arrived there in 1636 and, alongside Jean de Vallée, became the country’s leading architect. His most famous work is Drottningholm Palace, which was completed by his son, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, an even more significant architect whose major work is the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Nicodemus the Younger’s son, Carl Gustaf Tessin, was formally in charge of completing the Royal Palace, but was more noted as a diplomat and politician than as an architect. As President of the Chancellery he was virtually what one today would call Prime Minister, but his falling-out with Queen Lovisa Ulrika led to his downfall in 1754. He lived out the rest of his life at his manor Åkerö, where he died as the last of his line in 1770.
Jan Mårtenson is neither a historian nor an art historian, but a diplomat (among other positions he has been Chief of Staff to the King of Sweden and Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations) and makes no secret of this. He makes no claim to scholarly pretensions, but states in the preface that the book has been written simply for pleasure.
He chooses to focus on the three Tessins and their major works in the Stockholm area, particularly Drottningholm, the Royal Palace and the Tessin Mansion. The first two are very familiar to Mårtenson, as he has worked at the Royal Palace and lived in a house on the Drottningholm estate. This choice gives the book a somewhat limited scope, but Mårtenson offers a grand tour of these buildings and does so in a way which is well worth a book. There are some mistakes and repetitions, but all in all it is an enjoyable book about a fascinating family and its glorious works.
The photos in this richly illustrated volume are by Ralf Turander. Some of them could have been better.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Dutch state visit to Norway in June

Last April I mentioned that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was expected to pay a state visit to Norway soon. Today the Norwegian Royal Court has announced that the state visit will take place from 1 to 3 June. The first two days will be spent in Oslo, the third day in a location not yet decided.
King Harald and Queen Sonja made a state visit to the Netherlands in 1996, while Queen Beatrix and the late Prince Claus paid a state visit to King Olav in 1986.

Press release:

At the road’s end: Gunnar Brodin (1931-2009), former Marshal of the Realm

A few days ago there was an obituary in Svenska Dagbladet of Gunnar Brodin, former Marshal of the Realm at the Swedish royal court, who died on 24 December after a long illness. Brodin was a civil engineer by education and became a professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholms Tekniska Högskola) in 1970 and served as the school’s chancellor between 1981 and 1986. Thereafter he became University Chancellor from 1986 till 1992 and then County Governor of Norrbotten from 1992 to 1995, when he was appointed Marshal of the Realm (head of the Royal Court). He retired in 2003 and was succeeded by Ingemar Eliasson, who has signed the obituary together with his successor Svante Lindqvist, the current Marshal of the Realm.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

More trash from Herman Lindqvist

The notoriously unreliable journalist Herman Lindqvist, who is for some reason relied on as an an “history expert” by the Swedish royal court, continues to spread his trash. Having recently published two very bad books on King Carl XIV Johan and Crown Princess Victoria, Lindqvists today talks to Aftonbladet about the alledged budding romance between Prince Carl Philip and a former model and reality star. This he compares to the situation when Crown Prince Haakon of Norway married Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, who, according to Lindqvist, was “a single mother and drug addict”. This is a brilliant example of Lindqvist’s ignorance and how little he cares for facts.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Wellington succession secured

Daily Mail today reports that the succession to the dukedom of Wellington (and a whole string of other titles, including Prince of Waterloo) was secured for a third generation when the Earl and Countess of Mornington became the parents of twins last week.
The girl has been named Mae Madeleine, while the boy, who will be styled Viscount Wellesley, received the name Arthur Darcy. Arthur is also among the names of his father the Earl of Mornington, his grandfather the Marquess of Douro and his great-grandfather, the 8th and current Duke of Wellington - and of course of their ancestor, the 1st Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoléon I at Waterloo and later became Prime Minister of Britain.
The newborns also have many other illustrious ancestors. Their mother, née Jemma Kidd, is a great-granddaughter of Lord Beaverbrook, while their paternal grandmother, née Princess Antonia of Prussia, is a great-granddaughter of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. As he was a grandson of Queen Victoria of Britain, the twins also have very remote places on the list of succession to the British throne.
The photo shows Apsley House, the official London residence of the Duke of Wellington.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Cities of the world: St Petersburg in 20 pictures

The Winter Palace

The Church on Spilt Blood, built on the spot where Aleksandr II was assassinated

A sphinx, aged 3,300

Soviet architecture

Where there is a Winter Palace, there is also a Summer Palace

The Smolny Cathedral, Rastrelli’s baroque masterpiece

Perfect proportions – Architect Rossi Street

The river Neva

Art nouveau at the Vitebsky Station

Decembrist Square seen from St Isaac’s Cathedral

By the river Fontanka

The golden spire of Saints Pyotr and Pavel’s Cathedral

Mikhailovsky Palace (Russian Museum)

The Kazan Cathedral

The Singer building on Nevsky Prospekt

Yelagin Palace

The former Stock Exchange and the Rostral Columns at the Spit of Vasilievsky Island

Tauride Palace, presented by Ekaterina II to Potyomkin

St Isaac’s Cathedral

The Palace Square with the Alexander Column and the General Staff Building

Friday, 8 January 2010

Book news: “Harry & Charles”

At the end of December NRK broadcast the drama series “Harry & Charles”, which dealt with Prince Carl and Princess Maud of Denmark and the events of 1905 which brought them to the throne of Norway as King Haakon VII and Queen Maud.
The series was approximately 10 % facts and 90 % fiction and has been the subject of some debate, with some people thinking it went too far in setting actual persons into an almost entirely fictious intrigue. Particularly the portrayal of the relationship between Prince Carl and his wife’s lady-in-waiting Astrid Carstensen has come under attack.
Next week the book version of the series will be published by Piratforlaget. Harry & Charles - En kjærlighetshistorie by Jonas Cornell is clearly marked “roman” (“novel”) on its cover.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New books: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

One may wonder what might be the purpose of yet another book on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Britain. One reason for writing one might be that one had found new material; another that one believed oneself capable of telling the story from a new angle and thereby reaching a new understanding. The latter seems to be the American author Gillian Gill’s incentive for writing We Two: Victoria and Albert: Rulers, Partners, Rivals, published by Ballantine Books of New York last spring and soon out in paperback.
Gill’s main focus is the relations between human beings. Queen Victoria’s and Prince Albert’s marriage was not the romanticised thing often portrayed, but “an extraordinary feat achieved against the odds”, Gill writes. She argues that “their marriage was always a work in progress, not a fait accompli, a drama not a pageant. Theirs was a business partnership as well as a marriage, and they engaged in an impassioned, weirdly public contest over who was the senior partner”.
This is an interesting approach, yet Gills somehow downplays how stormy the marriage in fact was and how Queen Victoria, particularly in later years, often tormented her husband. A closer look at this might have added to our understanding of the Queen’s excessive grief and her idolisation of her husband after his death – a grief to which it seems a certain amount of regret and perhaps sense of guilt was added.
The book is very well written, it is clear that the author is very familiar with her theme and the way she describes the interaction between the Queen and the Prince Consort is interesting. Yet it is a paradox that the best part of the book is the first, titled “The Years Alone”, where she explores the respective backgrounds and upbringings of Victoria and Albert.
Gill seems particularly taken with the tale of the young Victoria and how she, after an unhappy and constrained childhood, at the time of her accession at the age of 18 emerged as a monarch who “understood the business of monarchy better than any of her male ancestors”. In contrast, she argues, Prince Albert was “just an overprotected youth fatally confident of his abilities to rule a kingdom”. To me this seems a bit over the top. As Gill also acknowledges, Queen Victoria was during the first years of her reign closely aligned with one political party and at odds with the other and she put her feet wrong on a number of occasions. It cannot be denied that Prince Albert’s understanding of constitutional monarchy was superior to hers and that his influence on her in that respect was very significant.
The book’s focus on the personal relations means that Victoria’s and Albert’s, and particularly the Prince Consort’s, achievements on the public stage get somewhat lost. It is also obvious that Gillian Gill is more at home when it comes to personal relationships than less domestic historical and political events. This shows both through a number of gross factual mistakes, such as when she ascribes the Brumaire coup to Napoléon III, and through her according individuals too much influence on history.
A notable example of the latter is when she writes that if Prince Albert had lived a year longer he might have persuaded Crown Prince Friedrich of Prussia not to talk his father out of abdicating. If so, Friedrich’s wife, the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, would have become Queen of Prussia in 1862 and Gill tells us: “It is not absurd to argue that, had the prince consort lived even one more year, had his daughter Vicky had a chance to dictate Crown policy and shape society in Prussia, there might not have been a First World War”. This is not only absurd but utter nonsense. Firstly, history shows that Prussian queens consort had very little chance to influence society or dictate policy. Secondly, the reasons for World War I were so complex that no single person would have been able to prevent it no matter the strength of her character.
The author has a slight bias towards Queen Victoria at the expense of Prince Albert and occasionally seems to be a little chauvinistic on behalf of her own sex towards men in general. Nevertheless she is mostly, although not always, quite fair towards both her two subjects. One notable exception is when she persists in arguing that Queen Victoria following her husband’s death rather enjoyed playing what she calls “the tragedy queen”. One might agree with Gill that the way Queen Victoria expressed her grief through four decades might have been a little over the top, yet it seems obvious that her grief was genuine and that she did not view Prince Albert’s death as her own victory in their struggle for power.
It should be added that the book’s design (by Barbara Bachman) is very good.

When it comes to the literature about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert it may be added as a postscript that the upcoming exhibition “Victoria & Albert: Art & Love” at the Queen’s Gallery in London will be accompanied by a catalogue running to 430 pages, edited by Jonathan Marsden.

Monday, 4 January 2010

New books: Nazi Germany’s allies and the question of guilt

In 2006 the Swedish journalist Henrik Arnstad published his biography of Christian Günther, the country’s wartime foreign minister who bears much of the responsibility for the country’s somewhat too friendly attitude towards Nazi Germany during the first years of World War II. This policy has come under debate in Sweden in recent decades, and in his new book, Skyldig till skuld – En europeisk resa i Nazitysklands skugga, Arnstad looks at how the countries which were Nazi Germany’s actual allies have dealt with the question of their own share in the guilt.
He argues that the Axis countries’ collective memories are often very selective and that some of them have chosen to cast themselves in the role as victims rather than facing their own crimes. The fact that Germany has taken on the guilt issue so openly that the collective sense of responsibility is ever present in that country has in Arnstad’s view contributed to making it more difficult for other countries to do so – or easier to avoid doing so.
Finland is the prime example, according to Arnstad. The national hero Marshal Mannerheim was a “war criminal – responsible for concentration camps, ethnic cleansing and mass murder”. The book offers a detailed background for these charges, and Arnstad points out that Finland in cooperation with Germany planned and carried out the attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.
Following the war Finland’s view of its own wartime history has been characterised by concerns for the nation’s honour being put above truth. Rather than taking to task their country’s crimes, the Finns prefer to remember the more glorious Winter War of 1939-1940 and have indulged in debates such as if Finland and Germany were not really allied but just happened to fight a common enemy. Arnstad dismisses such notions and concludes that Finland in reality was Germany’s most important ally.
In Rome Henrik Arnstad found the “Liberation Museum” (Museo Storico della Liberazione) symptomatic of how Italy sees its role in the war. The museum is concerned solely with the allied “liberation” of Italy in 1943 and the German atrocities committed on Italian soil during the next two years. Italy’s own alliance with Nazi Germany before that is simply ignored.
To select only one part of one’s story and thereby being able to cast oneself in the role of victim is something which has also been done in Austria, a country where the denials had to be faced when the old Nazi Kurt Waldheim was elected President in 1986. But the idea that Austria was “Hitler’s first victim” still prevails and as recently as 2008 Otto von Habsburg said that “no country in Europe has a greater right than Austria to call itself a victim”. Arnstad sees these ideas in relation with the growing right-wing extremism in both Italy and Austria.
Henrik Arnstad’s book is thought-provoking and an important contribution to the fight against historical forgetfulness. It might however have been interesting if he had also included Spain and how that country is currently trying to come to terms with its Fascist past.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Exhibition on the Royal Palace and Linstow

The National Museum’s department of architecture will later this year arrange the exhibition “Slottet og Linstow – Den nye hovedstadens grunnstein” (“The Royal Palace and Linstow – The Foundation Stone of the New Capital”). When Norway became independent in 1814 Christiania (now Oslo) became its capital once again and in the following decades underwent a rapid transformation which included the erection of numerous monumental buildings worthy of a royal capital.
The most prestigious of these was the Royal Palace, which, through its location to the west of the then city centre, also came to point out the direction in which the capital developed. The young and comparatively inexperienced Hans D. F. Linstow was chosen by King Carl XIV Johan to be the architect for the Palace and it was also Linstow who drew up the new city plan and sketched out the capital’s main street, which is naturally called Karl Johans gate.
The work on the Royal Palace met with so many difficulties and took a quarter of a century. Work started in 1822, the foundation stone was laid in 1825 and the Palace was completed in 1849. By then Carl XIV Johan had been dead for five years and Linstow himself had only two years left to live. Thus he never had time to build much else, but one of Europe’s most beautiful royal palaces and most stately streets are his lasting legacy.
The exhibition, which will run from 7 May to 10 October, will deal with the history and the interiors of the Palace. Among its highlights will be “the Grand Composition”, i.e. Linstow’s most important drawings for the interiors, executed in connection with his study tour to Denmark and Germany.
The National Museum’s department for decorative arts will by the way host the exhibition “Sakrale skatter fra Kreml” (“Ecclesiastical Treasures from the Kremlin”) from 23 September 2010 to 25 January 2011.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Book news: Some expected books in 2010

A new year has dawned and that offers a good opportunity to take a look at some of the books which can be expected in 2010.
Among them are several which have been postponed from last year, such as Carl-Erik Grimstad’s Dronning Mauds arv (“Queen Maud’s Inheritance”), which is due in March; Jennifer Scott’s The Royal Portrait: Image and Impact (expected in April); Anne Somerset’s Queen Anne: A Biography (also April); and Jane Ridley’s Bertie: A Biography of Edward VII. Rene Brus’s book Crown Jewellery and Regalia of the World, which has already been postponed several times since 2008, was recently postponed yet again and is now expected in October 2010.
For the Swedish royals it will be a momentous year with the bicentenary of the Bernadottes’ arrival and two weddings to be celebrated. As earlier mentioned tabloid journalist Johan T. Lindwall is writing (although he denies it) Victoria – Prinsessan privat (“Victoria: The Princess in Private”) about the Crown Princess (expected in March) and the historian Stig Hadenius will release Drottning Victoria av Sverige – Om kärlek, plikt och politik (“Queen Victoria of Sweden: On Love, Duty and Politics”) about the consort of Gustaf V in April. The weddings will as previously reported also be the occasion for a book on royal weddings, En brud för kung och fosterland – Kungliga svenska bröllop från Gustav Vasa till Carl XVI Gustaf (“A Bride for King and Country: Swedish Royal Weddings from Gustav Vasa to Carl XVI Gustaf”), by Lena Rangström (expected in early March), and an official wedding book by Susanna Popova, due out a month after the Crown Princess’s June wedding.
The Bernadottes came to Sweden after the sudden death of Crown Prince Carl August, the former Prince Christian August of Augustenburg, in 1810. The 200th anniversary of his death will be the occasion for a biography by American historian Lee Sather. The Napoleonic Wars in the Nordic countries will also be covered in the Russian historian Vadim V. Roginskij’s Kampen om Norden – Internationella relationer i Norden 1805-1815 (“The Struggle for Scandinavia: International Relations in the Nordic Region 1805-1815”).
In Sweden we will also see the publication of the second volume on Drottningholm in the series on the Swedish royal palaces; Moa Matthis’s biography of the wife of Gustaf II Adolf and mother of Queen Christina, Maria Eleonora – Drottningen som sa nej (“Maria Eleonora: The Queen Who Said No”); and the book Monarki vs. republik, where Per Svensson argues the case for a republic and P. J. Anders Linder defends the monarchy.
The Danish royal family will also have its share of celebrations in 2010. 28 March is the centenary of the birth of Queen Ingrid, which will be marked by a book by Roger Lundgren which will be published in both Denmark (People’s Press) and Sweden (Fischer) in March. In the same month Rosvall Royal Books will publish Ingrid, 1910-2000 by Randi Buchwaldt and Ted Rosvall (in Danish and English). Queen Ingrid’s gardens will be the subject of Blomsterdronningen - Dronning Ingrids slotshaver by John Henriksen.
Queen Margrethe’s 70th birthday in April will be the occasion for Jesper Laursen’s Dronning Margrethe og arkæologien (“Queen Margrethe and Archaeology”) and Helle Bygum’s Et fantastisk liv – Dronning Margrethe 70 år (“A Wonderful Life: Queen Margrethe at 70”). Her husband, the Prince Consort, will be the subject of the journalist Stéphanie Surrugue’s Prins – Historien om Henrik (“Prince: The Story of Henrik”), to be published by Politikens Bogforlag in April. As Surrugue has been invited to several royal events recently, including Prince Joachim’s wedding, I guess this is a more or less authorised book.
In Norway the fifth volume of Tor Bomann-Larsen’s biography of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud will be published in the autumn, taking the story up to 7 June 1940, the day King Haakon had to leave Norway at the end of the campaign which followed the German invasion.