Friday, 24 June 2011

Scandinavian guests at Monegasque wedding

The Danish royal court has now announced that Crown Prince Frederik, Crown Princess Mary, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie will all attend the wedding of Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock next weekend.
It has earlier been confirmed that Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will represent Norway, while the Swedish royal family will be out in force: King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine.
It is interesting to note that neither of the three Scandinavian royal websites has managed to give the groom his correct title. On the Norwegian he is called “H.F.H. Prins Albert ll av Monaco”, ignoring the fact that he succeeded to the throne six years ago and is thus now “fyrst Albert II”; on the Danish website he is called “H.K.H. Fyrst Albert II av Monaco”, making him a Royal Highness rather than a Serene Highness; while the Swedish website, which initially referred to him as “H.S.H. Prins Albert II av Monaco” (again it should have been "furst Albert" and the prefix HSH does not exist in Swedish), has since changed that to “H.H. Furst Albert II av Monaco”, promoting him from a Serene Highness to a Highness.


  1. Can you explain the difference between "fyrst Albert II" and Prins Albert lI".
    Any help would be much appreciated.

  2. The short explanation: In Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, German, Dutch and several other languages there are two different words for what in English and French is called "prince".

    "Fyrste" refers to the head of state of a principality (what one may call a "sovereign prince" in English), such as Prince Albert II of Monaco, who in Norwegian should be called "fyrst Albert II".

    "Prins" refers to a junior member of a royal family, such as for instance Prince Joachim of Denmark, "prins Joachim av Danmark" in Norwegian.

    So in the case of Albert II, he went from being "prins Albert" to "fyrst Albert II" when his father died in 2005 and he succeeded him as head of state of Monaco.

    The problem is that the media (and apparently also the royal courts) simply copy things from websites, newspapers etc. in the English language, so if for instance New York Times writes about "Prince Albert of Monaco" the Norwegian journalists will not stop to think long enough to realise that the correct translation is "fyrst Albert" and not the more similar word "prins Albert". His bride will be "fyrstinne Charlene" in Norwegian, but I am sure we will often see her incorrectly referred to as "prinsesse Charlene" because her title will be "Princess Charlene" in English (and "la princess Charlene" in French).

  3. Thank you so much. That was really helpful. PS I love your blog, it is so enlightening and interesting to hear your perspectives

  4. Thank you for that; I am glad to hear you find something of interest here.

  5. "Fyrste" refers to the head of state of a principality (what one may call a "sovereign prince" in English), such as Prince Albert II of Monaco, who in Norwegian should be called "fyrst Albert II".

    May I also add, sir, that "fyrste" also applies to the nominal head of a non-sovereign principality, such as Wales? And that "fyrste" also is used as the meaning of "prince" as a more generic term -- as a synonym for monarch?

  6. As explained, this was only "the short explanation" and in order not to complicate matters unnecessarily I therefore left out those meanings not relevant to the question.

    But we could also add that "fyrste" is also used for the head of a (German) princely family - principalities which were once sovereign, but now have no such status. This has given me some headache when writing about for instance der Fürst von Hohenzollern in English - to refer to him simply as Prince Karl Friedrich of Hohenzollern does not make him stand out as different in status from for instance his uncle Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern. When referring to the current Fürst, one could write "the Prince of Hohenzollern", but that does not solve the problem about what to do about late Fürsten.

    The use of "fyrste" as a term for royalty in general seems to have became somewhat rarer in Norwegian today, which is a pity as it is a very useful general term. Back in 1929 the term "fyrstebryllupet" was widely used in reference to the wedding of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha, while in 2001 the term was "kronprinsbryllupet". Interestingly now uses the heading "Fyrstebryllup" for this weekend's events even though they still have not caught up on the fact that it is not "Prins Albert" but "fyrst Albert" who is getting married.


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