Saturday, 30 July 2011

Semi-royal wedding in Scotland today

Several members of the British royal family were present in Canongate Kirk in Edinburgh today for the wedding of Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips to rugby player Michael “Mike” Tindall. In addition to the bride’s parents, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips with their spouses Sir Timothy Laurence and Sandy Pflueger, the guests included Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and the bride’s brother Peter Phillips with his wife Autumn. The bride has not taken her husband’s name and will remain known as Zara Phillips.

Royals leading nation in mourning

Since the terrorist attacks on Norway last Friday many have commented on how we have been blessed with leaders who have proven equal to the momentous task suddenly laid on their shoulders – Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who has justly been universally praised for his leadership during these difficult days and for how he has handled the situation; the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, who has shown himself worthy of being Wenche Foss’s son; and not least the royal family, who have taken part in so many events during the past week.
The royal family broke off their holidays as soon as the magnitude of last Friday’s attacks became clear and the King and Queen visited victims and families gathered at a hotel near Utøya the very same evening. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess also came to visit, and the King and Queen have also visited the damaged government buildings in Oslo.
Last Saturday the King addressed the nation, while the Queen and the entire crown princely family lit candles at the Cathedral of Oslo. On Sunday the King and Queen, accompanied by Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn, attended the memorial service in the Cathedral, while the Crown Prince and Crown Princess were present at a similar service at a local church near Utøya. Both the King and Queen were seen drying tears at the end of Nordahl Grieg’s beautiful and on this occasion stunningly appropriate “Til ungdommen” and many have commented on how wonderful it is to have a king who is not afraid to weep with his people.
On Monday the King, the Queen and the Crown Prince stood with other dignitaries in University Square as a minute of silence was observed throughout Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. At the same time the Crown Princess, joined by her mother Marit Tjessem, attended a memorial for her stepbrother Trond Berntsen, who was among the first to be murdered at Utøya. Berntsen, a policeman who was there in a private capacity, will be buried on Friday.
In the evening of the same day the Crown Prince, the Crown Princess and Princess Märtha Louise joined the 150,000 people who gathered in the streets of Oslo carrying roses, an event at which the Crown Prince was among the speakers and spoke beautifully. The next day the Crown Prince attended a memorial held in the largest mosque of Oslo.
As I walked past the Great Square in Oslo this afternoon the Crown Prince and Princess Astrid were warmly applauded as they arrived to attend a memorial concert held in the Cathedral. As they departed after the concert Princess Astrid laid a floral tribute, adding to the ocean of flowers in front of the Cathedral.
On Monday there will be a memorial event at the Parliament, which will also be attended by the King and the Crown Prince. This is highly unusual, as the Constitution forbids the King to be present in the building while Parliament is sitting, which means that he restricts his presence there to the annual State Opening of Parliament and commemorative events held on great national occasions, most recently the centennial of the dissolution of the union with Sweden on 7 June 1905.
All in all I think we all agree that the royals have done a great job during the past week. Some of the justification for having a monarchy is often said to be that the royal family may serve as a national “rallying point”, around whom everyone can unite, and since last Friday they have again, perhaps more strongly than ever, shown that they are capable of doing this with a combination of dignity and humanity.
The newspapers today suggest that the royal family themselves might have been even more personally affected by the terror, as they claim that the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik had also planned to blow up the Royal Palace, a plan which proved logistically impossible to carry out.
The neighbouring royal families have also showed their sympathy for Norway during the past week. The flag was flown at half mast on the Royal Palace in Stockholm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel attended a service in Crown Princess Märtha’s Church, the Norwegian church in Stockholm, last Sunday. On Wednesday there was also a memorial service in the Cathedral of Copenhagen, which was attended by Queen Margrethe, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Karin Sidén to lead Waldemarsudde

Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde, the museum housed in the home of the late artist Prince Eugen of Sweden, has announced that Karin Sidén will succeed Elsebeth Welander-Berggren as head of the museum on 1 February 2012.
Elsebeth Welander-Berggren became the first female head of the museum when she succeeded Hans Henrik Brummer in 2007. She will reach her 67th birthday, the mandatory age of retirement in Sweden, next year. At the age of fifty her successor may on the other hand be set for a long term as leader of the museum.
Karin Sidén is currently assistant professor in art history at the University of Uppsala and Director of Research, Archives and Art Library at National Museum of Sweden.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dignified defiance

Like everyone else I am still at loss for words with which to describe the atrocious crimes committed by the terrorist and traitor Anders Behring Breivik against his nation on Friday. But perhaps it will suffice to post these photos showing how I found Oslo today when I returned from holiday.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A republic buries a crown prince

Yesterday the funeral of Otto von Habsburg, the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, took place in Vienna and for one day it seemed as if the Habsburg empire had returned. Indeed there were only a few things which gave away the fact that Austria is in fact a republic and the deceased was buried as if he were still Crown Prince.
This might seem quite ironic given how uneasy the relations between the republic and the former dynasty have often been, but they have been easened in recent years and the country’s history and heritage are of course highly evident in its capital. The republic also joined in paying the former Crown Prince almost every possible honour on the day of his funeral.
The funeral mass took place in the mighty St Stephan’s Cathedral, where the chief mourners were Archduke Karl, the deceased’s eldest son and now head of the house, his wife Francesca (from whom he is separated), their children Ferdinand Zvonimir, Eleonore and Gloria, Archduke Georg, the deceased’s youngest son, his wife Eilika and their children, Otto von Habsburg’s sisters-in-law Yolande and Anna Gabriele, and his five daughters Andrea, Monika, Michaela, Gabriela and Walburga.
His surviving brother, 95-year-old Archduke Felix, was not strong enough to travel from his home Mexico, but the Habsburgs were nevertheless out in force - indeed it was hard to tell who there were more of, priests or Habsburgs.
President Heinz Fischer and his wife Margit showed their respect by bowing to the coffin as they arrived. Also present were the present Chancellor and other members of the government as well as previous chancellors.
From the reigning royal houses came King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Sovereign Prince Hans Adam II and Princess Marie of Liechtenstein, Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, Princess Cristina of Spain, Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Princess Michael of the United Kingdom, and Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath of Jordan.
They were joined by several members of non-reigning royal families: the ex-King of Romania, the ex-King of the Bulgarians, the Prince of Naples, the Margrave and Margravine of Baden, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Princess Sophie of Isenburg, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, the Duke of Braganza, the Duke and Duchess of Parma, Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma, Princess Maria Teresa of Bourbon-Parma, and probably some more who I missed.
Among the foreign dignitaries present were also President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia, Speaker Jerzy Buszek of the European Parliament, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of Macedonia, and the Czech Foreign Minister, Prince Karel of Schwarzenberg.
The requiem was celebrated by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna (himself a minor “royal”, belonging to the mediatised house of Schönborn), who also represented Pope Benedict XVI.
As one must expect in Vienna there was a lot of well-performed music during the service, most of it composed by Michael Haydn, and there was a moving moment as the imperial standard was lowered at the head of the coffin and the congregation sang the first verse of Joseph Haydn’s imperial hymn:

Gott erhalte, Gott beschütze
Unsern Kaiser, unser Land!
Mächtig durch des Glaubens Stütze,
Führt er uns mit weiser Hand!
Laßt uns seiner Väter Krone
Schirmen wider jeden Feind!
|: Innig bleibt mit Habsburgs Throne
Österreichs Geschick vereint! :|

The Queen of Sweden and the Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein were among those who joined in singing the “Kaiserhymne”, while the President of Austria kept his mouth firmly shut.
The most impressive part of the day was however the funeral procession from St Stephan’s Cathedral to the Capuchin Church, which went by way of Am Graben, through the Hofburg, the Ringstrasse to the Opera and then to Neuer Markt. While the processional route was 2.4 kilometres long, the actual procession was itself 1,200 metres long and it was a spectacle which will probably never be seen again, with its colourful uniforms and banners from all over the former empire. The (republican) Austrian guard led the procession and ahead of the coffin walked the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece, followed by Otto von Habsburg’s grandson Severin Meister carrying his grandfather’s order.
The funeral guests followed and I particularly liked that so many of the younger relatives let their young children take part in the procession. If they have a sense of history they will in the future be proud that they were once part of the funeral procession of the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, who had himself, in 1916, walked in the funeral procession of Emperor Franz Joseph, who came to the throne in 1848.
The glories of Vienna, bathed in sun, provided for a spectacular setting for what seemed like an extra performance of the Habsburg empire 93 years after it came to an end. Another moving moment occured as the coffin crossed Heroes’ Square in front of the Hofburg and a 21-gun salute was fired.
In Neuer Markt (the New Market) the procession formed up in front of the Capuchin Church to watch the so-called knocking ceremony, which easily appears to be an ancient imperial ritual but was in fact introduced as late as 1989 for the funeral of ex-Empress Zita. It was supposedly Otto von Habsburg’s own idea, as he wanted all the titles once held by his mother to be read out.
Ulrich-Walter Lipp, acting as master of ceremonies, knocked three times on the door to the church. At the first knock Father Gottfried, the Capuchin monk who is custodian of the Imperial Vault, called out: “Wer begehrt Einlass?” (“Who requests entry?”)
Mr Lipp responded by giving all the imperial titles once held by the deceased, perhaps yelling a bit too loudly for the occasion: “Otto von Österreich, einst Kronprinz von Österreich-Ungarn, königlicher Prinz von Ungarn und Böhmen, von Dalmatien, Kroatien, Slawonien, Galizien, Lodomerien und Illyrien, Großherzog von Toskana und Krakau, Herzog von Lothringen, von Salzburg, Steyr, Kärnten, Krain und der Bukowina, Großfürst von Siebenbürgen, Markgraf von Mähren, Herzog von Ober- und Niederschlesien, von Modena, Parma, Piacenza und Guastalla, von Auschwitz und Zator, von Teschen, Friaul, Ragusa und Zara, gefürsteter Graf von Habsburg und Tirol, von Kyburg, Görz und Gradisca, Fürst von Trient und Brixen, Markgraf von Ober- und Niederlausitz und in Istrien, Graf von Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg etc., Herr von Triest, von Cattaro und auf der Windischen Mark, Großwojwode der Wojwodschaft Serbien etc., etc.” “Wir kennen ihn nicht” (“We know him not”), the monk replied.
Then Mr Lipp knocked a second time and the monk called again: “Wer begehrt Einlass?” “Dr. Otto von Habsburg, Präsident und Ehrenpräsident der Paneuropa-Union, Mitglied und Alterspräsident des Europäischen Parlamentes, Ehrendoktor zahlreicher Universitäten und Ehrenbürger vieler Gemeinden in Mitteleuropa, Mitglied ehrwürdiger Akademien und Institute, Träger hoher und höchster staatlicher und kirchlicher Auszeichnungen, Orden und Ehrungen, die ihm verliehen wurden in Anerkennung seines jahrzehntelangen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Völker, für Recht und Gerechtigkei”.
“Wir kennen ihn nicht”.
A third knock followed. “Wer begehrt Einlass?” “Otto, ein sterblicher, sündiger Mensch” (“Otto, a mortal, sinful human being”). “So komme er herein” (“So come here in”), the custodian replied and the gates to the church were opened.
With that ended the official part of this final imperial pageantry and Otto von Habsburg was laid to rest in a private ceremony.
It was a magnificent send-off for a great man and Österreichischer Rundfunk (ORF), which broadcast the whole funeral live, should also be complimented for producing an absolutely perfect broadcast, complete with beautiful images from the Cathedral, knowledgeable commentators (who also mostly knew when to be silent) and an excellent mix of historical and live images during the procession.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Watching Otto von Habsburg’s funeral online

Tomorrow (or rather today as we have just passed midnight) Otto von Habsburg will be buried in Vienna. Austrian TV (ORF 2) will broadcast most of the day and it should be possible to watch it all streamed live online at this link: (external link) - hope it works! If not these links might be alternatives: (external link) or (external link).
The live broadcast at ORF 2 will start at 1.10 p.m. (CEST) and be preceeded by related documentaries. The actual funeral mass in St Stephan’s Cathedral will however only begin at 3 p.m. and last for two hours.
Afterwards the funeral procession will go to the Capuchin Church by way of Am Graben, Kohlmarkt, Michaelerplatz, Heldenplatz (i.e. through the Hofburg), Burgtor, Ringstraße, Operngasse, Albertinaplatz, Tegetthoffstraße to Neuen Markt. The procession is scheduled to reach the church around 7 p.m., where the famous ceremony of three knocks on the door will be carried out for the last time before admittance to the Imperial Vault.

Friday, 15 July 2011

My latest article: Obituary of Otto von Habsburg

In the new edition of the weekly newspaper Morgenbladet (no 27, 15-22 July 2011), out today, you may read my obituary of Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011). In addition to being the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, a longtime Member of the European Parliament, a staunch opponent of Nazism and tireless champion of a united Europe, Otto von Habsburg was also a prolific writer and in Norway his articles were published in Morgenbladet, which at that time was a conservative daily newspaper.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

King and Queen of Sweden to attend Otto von Habsburg’s funeral

According to a spokesperson for President Heinz Fischer of Austria the King and Queen of Sweden have made known their intention to attend the funeral of Otto von Habsburg in Vienna on Saturday.
Among the other dignitaries who have announced their presence so far are, according to media reports, the Austrian President and Chancellor as well as several members of the Austrian government, the Sovereign Prince and Princess of Liechtenstein (of course), the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Princess Michael of the United Kingdom, the President of Georgia, the ex-King of Romania and the Speaker of the European Parliament.
While Otto von Habsburg was born in an era when there, according to King Olav, existed some sort of divide between the Catholic and Protestant monarchies of Europe, ties between the Habsburgs and the Bernadottes were rather close. Queen Josephina of Sweden and Norway was a first cousin of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth, making the late ex-Crown Prince Otto a fourth cousin of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden.
King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria, by birth Princess of Baden, paid a state visit to Emperor Franz Joseph shortly after their accession to the Swedish throne in 1907. Otto von Habsburg himself visited Sweden a couple of times when still a young man and at one stage Princess Ingrid (later Queen of Denmark) was considered a possible wife for him.
In recent years Otto von Habsburg’s ties with Sweden were mainly through his daughter Walburga, who married the Swedish Count Archibald Douglas, settled at a manor in Sörmland and became an MP. During his visits to Sweden Otto von Habsburg met privately with King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia on several occasions and they were among the guests at his 90th birthday celebrations in Vienna in 2002.
Otto von Habsburg was also a fourth cousin of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, but although they knew each other during their shared exile in the USA during World War II, they lost contact after the war. Austrian media reports that the King of Norway has sent his condolences to the Habsburg family, but that neither the Norwegian nor the Danish royal family will be represented at the funeral.
The funeral in Vienna will be carried out almost as if Otto von Habsburg was still Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary and the Viennese newspapers now report on closure of tram lines and streets during the funeral procession from the Cathedral of St Stephan to the Capuchin Church. There has been some criticism of the fact that the Guard of the republican army will be on parade. I can understand the argument that Otto von Habsburg held no official position in the Austrian republic, but on the other hand there is nothing banning a republic from honouring the country’s great men and women even if they were once members of the same country’s royal family.
Today the coffins of Otto von Habsburg and his wife Regina, who was temporarily buried in her family vault in Heldburg following her death last year, have been reunited in Mariazell, where a requiem mass will be held in the basilica at 2 p.m.
From there the journey continues to Vienna, one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. Otto and Regina von Habsburg will lie in state in the Capuchin Church on Thursday and Friday (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day) ahead of the funeral mass in the Cathedral of St Stephan on Saturday at 3 p.m.
It has now also been settled that the ceremony of knocking three times on the door of the Imperial Vault will be carried out. At the first knock Father Gottfried, the Capuchin monk who is custodian of the Imperial Vault, will call out “Wer begehrt Einlass?” (“Who requests entry?”)
The master of ceremonies, Ulrich-Walter Lipp, will respond by giving all the imperial titles once held by the deceased: “Otto von Österreich, einst Kronprinz von Österreich-Ungarn, königlicher Prinz von Ungarn und Böhmen, von Dalmatien, Kroatien, Slawonien, Galizien, Lodomerien und Illyrien, Großherzog von Toskana und Krakau, Herzog von Lothringen, von Salzburg, Steyr, Kärnten, Krain und der Bukowina, Großfürst von Siebenbürgen, Markgraf von Mähren, Herzog von Ober- und Niederschlesien, von Modena, Parma, Piacenza und Guastalla, von Auschwitz und Zator, von Teschen, Friaul, Ragusa und Zara, gefürsteter Graf von Habsburg und Tirol, von Kyburg, Görz und Gradisca, Fürst von Trient und Brixen, Markgraf von Ober- und Niederlausitz und in Istrien, Graf von Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg etc., Herr von Triest, von Cattaro und auf der Windischen Mark, Großwojwode der Wojwodschaft Serbien etc., etc.”
“Wir kennen ihn nicht” (“We know him not”), the monk will reply and the master of ceremonies will knock a second time. “Wer begehrt Einlass?” This time the master of ceremonies will reply with the civilian honours acquired by the former Crown Prince during his long post-imperial life:
“Dr. Otto von Habsburg, Präsident und Ehrenpräsident der Paneuropa-Union, Mitglied und Alterspräsident des Europäischen Parlamentes, Ehrendoktor zahlreicher Universitäten und Ehrenbürger vieler Gemeinden in Mitteleuropa, Mitglied ehrwürdiger Akademien und Institute, Träger hoher und höchster staatlicher und kirchlicher Auszeichnungen, Orden und Ehrungen, die ihm verliehen wurden in Anerkennung seines jahrzehntelangen Kampfes für die Freiheit der Völker, für Recht und Gerechtigkei”.
“Wir kennen ihn nicht”.
Then the third knock. “Wer begehrt Einlass?” “Otto, ein sterblicher, sündiger Mensch” (“Otto, a mortal, sinful human being”). “So komme er herein” (“So come here in”), the custodian will answer and the gate will be opened.
When Otto and Regina von Habsburg have been laid to rest, there will only be one available spot left in the Imperial Vault. Apparently this is reserved for Archduchess Yolande, the widow of Otto von Habsburg’s younger brother Karl Ludwig, who was laid to rest there in 2007.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

On this date: Count Oscar Bernadotte’s 90th birthday

The Bernadottes are known for their longevity and today another of them turns ninety. Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg, who was born on 12 July 1921, is the second son of Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg and his first wife, Baroness Marianne De Geer af Leufsta, and a grandson of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, the second son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway.
From his mother’s family Oscar Bernadotte inherited the entailed estate Frötuna, eight kilometres east of Uppsala. Despite his parents’ divorce in 1935, his father looked after the estate until “Oscis” had completed his military education. It was his grandfather, the only admiral in the family, who wanted him to join the navy, but after the end of WWII he switched to the air force and reached the rank of captain.
Oscar Bernadotte has a great interest for family history and was a member of the board of the Carl Johan Association for sixteen years. Last year he was present when Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel visited Pau, the hometown of their ancestor, but otherwise his contacts with the royal family are few these days and unlike his elder sister, Dagmar von Arbin, he was not invited to the royal wedding.
Count Oscar Bernadotte has been married twice, but was widowed in 1999. He is the father of four daughters and one son and now lives in Uppsala.
While researching my MA dissertation several years ago, I discovered documents which showed that Oscar II upon the dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union in 1905 offered the Norwegians his second son, Prince Oscar Bernadotte, as their new king. If the proposal had been accepted by the Norwegians, it might have been King Oscar IV of Norway who celebrated his ninetieth birthday today. When I told Count Oscar that he might theoretically have been King of Norway, he laughed and replied that we should probably be glad that he is not.

Monday, 11 July 2011

At the road’s end: George Lascelles, 7th Earl of Harewood (1923-2011)

The 7th Earl of Harewood, the eldest son of the late Princess Mary of Britain and thus a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, died from a heart attack at his home Harewood House near Leeds this morning at the age of 88, following a long illness.
George Henry Hubert Lascelles was born on 7 February 1923 and was the first grandchild born to King George V and Queen Mary of Britain. His mother Princess Mary (who was created Princess Royal in 1932) had married the then Viscount Lascelles, who succeeded his father as the 6th Earl of Harewood in 1929, in Westminster Abbey on 28 February 1922. At that time he was sixth in line to the throne; at the time of his death he was 46th.
Educated at Eton and Cambridge, George Lascelles joined the Grenadier Guards, where he eventually rose to the rank of Captain, and served in Italy during World War II. In 1944 he was captured by the Germans and was subsequently held prisoner at Colditz, where the Nazis held several relatives of prominent enemies. These hostages eventually included Giles Romilly (a nephew of Clemetine Churchill), John Elphinstone (nephew of Queen Elizabeth of Britain), George Haig (son of Field Marshal Douglas Haig), John Winant Jr (son of the US Ambassador to Britain) and Charles Hope (son of the Viceroy of India) and five Poles. The prisoners were freed on 5 May 1945.
George succeeded to the earldom on the death of his father on 23 May 1947 and took his seat in the House of Lords (which he lost in 1999) on 7 February 1956. At that time he was still high enough in the line of succession to the British throne to act as Councellor of State in the absence of the monarch, which he did in 1947, 1953-1954 and in 1956.
On 29 September 1949 he married the pianist Marion Stein, with whom he had three sons: David (now the 8th Earl of Harewood), James and Jeremy. Their divorce in 1967 was considered quite a scandal because of his genealogical proximity to the British royal family and he was subsequently excluded from a number of family events, including the funeral of his uncle the Duke of Windsor in 1972, which seems quite ironic given what the future had in hold for the royal family when it came to divorces.
While the former Countess of Harewood remarried Jeremy Thorpe, leader of the Liberal Party, the Earl of Harewood married the violinist Patricia Tuckwell on 31 July 1967. They already had a son, Mark, born in 1964.
Lord Harewood had a great passion for opera and was editor of the magazine Opera 1951-1953 and 1969-1972 as well as musical director of the board of the English Nationa Opera 1972-1985 and its chairman of the board 1986-1995. Among the other posts held by Lord Harewood was Governor of the BBC 1985-1987, Chancellor of the University of Leeds 1962-1967 and President of the Football Association 1963-1972. Most of his rather dull autobiography, The Tongs and the Bones (1981), is devoted to opera.
Lord Harewood was last seen in public when he, seated in a wheelchair, attended the memorial service for Dame Joan Sutherland in Westminster Abbey on 15 February this year. He did not return there for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambrige in April.

Update on the Luxembourgian succession: Princess Alexandra IS in line to the throne

Following the rather unclear press statement from the Luxembourgian court about the changes to the succession announced on 21 June I asked the grand ducal court about whether these changes were retroactive. I was informed that the changes are “from 20th June 2011, therefore it is not retroactive” and that the “succession order remains unchanged”, of which the obvious interpretation was that gender-neutral succession would only apply to those of Grand Duke Henri’s descendants born after 2011 and that his daughter Princess Alexandra would remain outside the line of succession.
Having asked the grand ducal court for a clarification of this, I was recently informed that “H.R.H. Princess Alexandra is now in line to succeed to the throne in equal primogeniture”. Today I have also received confirmation that Princess Alexandra is “now ahead of Prince Sebastien”, which must mean that the changes are retroactive as they affect also those born before 2011 and that the line of succession has been changed as Princess Alexandra has been inserted ahead of her younger brother.
Yet the grand ducal court insists that the changes are “obviously not retroactive”, which makes me believe that they have not quite understood what the term means.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

What to see: The Imperial Vault, Vienna

On Saturday Otto von Habsburg will be laid to rest in the Imperial Vault beneath the Capuchin Church in the New Market (Neuer Markt) in Vienna, thus literally joining his forebears.
It was in 1599 that the first Capuchin monks came to Vienna and only eighteen years later Empress Anna, consort of Empress Matthias, granted the Capuchins a church in the New Market and stipulated that she should be buried in its crypt. The Empress died a year later and was followed by her husband three months later. However, it was only in 1633 that work on the church had progressed to the extent that the imperial coffins could be transferred there.
Emperor Ferdinand III soon had to have the crypt enlarged and several expansions have followed throughout the centuries to give room for the coffins of generations of Habsburgs. Joseph II had it closed and walled up, but reopening it was one of the first acts of his brother Leopold II.
The Imperial Vault now consists of nine crypts and nearly 150 people are buried there. Only one of them is not a Habsburg relative: Countess Caroline von Fuchs-Mollard (1675-1754), who was the governess of Maria Theresia, on whose express wish she was interred with the imperial family.
The oldest of the crypts is the Founders or Angel Crypt, which contains the coffins of Emperor Matthias and Empress Anna. It is followed by the Leopold Crypt, built by Leopold I; the Karl Crypt, built by Karl VI; the Maria Theresia Crypt, built by Franz I Stephan and Maria Theresia; the Franz Crypt, built by Franz II/I; the Ferdinand and Tuscany Crypts, built by Ferdinand I; the New Crypt (built 1960-1962); and finally the Franz Joseph Crypt and the adjacent Crypt Chapel (built 1908-1909).
Emperor Matthias (1557-1619) was as mentioned the first Habsburg ruler to be buried there. He has been followed by Ferdinand III (1608-1657), Joseph I (1678-1711), Leopold I (1640-1705), Karl VI (1685-1740), Franz I Stephan (1708-1765), Maria Theresia (1717-1780), Joseph II (1741-1790), Leopold II (1747-1792), Franz II/I (1768-1835), Ferdinand I (1793-1875) and Franz Joseph I (1830-1916). The remains of the last Habsburg emperor, Karl I (1887-1922), are still in Madeira, where he died in exile following the downfall of the Empire. There is, however, a bust to his memory in the Crypt Chapel.
Another notable absentee is Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 unleashed World War I. He and his morganatic wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, is buried in the crypt of Artstetten Palace, but the vault has a plaque commemorating, as it says, “the first victims of World War I 1914-1918”.
The most sumptuous of the memorials is perhaps the double sarcophagus of Franz I Stephan and Maria Theresia (third photo), commissioned from Balthazar Ferdinand Moll long before their deaths. The sarcophagus has reliefs showing great moments of their reigns and their love for each other is symbolised by how their sculptures look each other in the eye.
The last Holy Roman Emperor and first Emperor of Austria, Franz II/I (first and fourth photos) lie in the middle of the Franz Crypt, surrounded by the coffins of his four wives. His grandson the Duke of Reichstad, aka Napoléon II, was also buried there until he was transferred to Paris in 1940.
In the adjacent New Crypt is the coffin of Empress Marie-Louise of the French (fifth photo), the faithless second consort of Napoléon I and mother of Napoléon II. Just across from her is her unfortunate nephew Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, who was executed in 1867 (sixth photo).
Visitors tend to be drawn to the Franz Joseph Crypt (second photo), where several floral tributes are normally to be found at the sarcophagi of Emperor Franz Joseph I, whose 68-year-reign spanned the times from Metternich to World War I, the restless Empress Elisabeth, who was assassinated in 1898, and Crown Prince Rudolph, who committed suicide at Mayerling in 1889.
Burials in the Imperial Vault did not cease altogether with the fall of the Astro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 (Archduke Karl, the current head of the house, actually proposed to his wife during a visit to the vault, asking her how she would like one day to be buried there!).
While the last Emperor, Karl I, is still buried where he died in 1922, his widow Zita was taken to Vienna and buried in the Imperial Vault when she died in the momentous year 1989. Her coffin is to be found in the Crypt Chapel, where her son Otto, the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, will be laid to rest by her side on Saturday, nearly 95 years after he walked between his parents in the funeral procession of his great-great-uncle Franz Joseph in November 1916.
Perhaps this will be the last time that the ceremony of three knocks on the door to the vault will be carried out. This was how it was done for ex-Empress Zita in 1989:
At the first knock at the door, the Capuchin custodian would ask: “Who requests entry?” The master of ceremonies would announce: “Her Majesty Zita, by the Grace of God Empress of Austria, crowned Queen of Hungary, Queen of Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slovenia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria, Queen of Jerusalem etc., Archduchess of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Cracow, Lady of Lorraine and Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Krajina and Bukowina, Grand Duchess of Transylvania, Margravine of Moravia, Duchess of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla, of Auschwitz and Zator, of Teschen, Friaul, Ragusa and Zara, knighted Countess of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Görz and Gradiska, Lady of Trent and Brixen, Margravine of Upper and Lower Lausitz and in Istria, Lady of Hohenembs, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenberg etc., Countess of Trieste, of Catarro and on the Windish March, Great Voyvod and Voyvodship of Serbia etc., etc.”. “We know her not”, the custodian would reply.
A second knock. “Who requests entry?” “Zita, Her Majesty the Empress and Queen”. “We know her not”.
A third knock. “Who requests entry?” the custodian would call again and the master of ceremonies would reply: “Zita, a mortal, sinful human being”. “So come here in”, the Capuchin would say and open the gate.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

My latest article(s): Ingrid of Sweden – and a book review

Royalty Digest Quarterly no 2 – 2011 is just out and in it you may found my article on the first 25 years of the life of Queen Ingrid of Denmark, i.e. those years when she was Princess of Sweden. Drawing on a wide range of sources, the article charts her childhood and youth, her upbringing and education, the marriage projects which came to nothing and the marriage which did happen, to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935.

Also recently out is the Norwegian historical journal, Historisk tidsskrift (no 2 – 2011), to which I have contributed a review of Thomas Lyngby’s, Søren Mentz’s and Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen’s interesting book on the Dano-Norwegian absolute monarchy, Magt og pragt – Enevælde 1660-1848.

Friday, 8 July 2011

At the road’s end: Otto von Habsburg (1912-2011), former Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, MEP and champion of united Europe

As previously mentioned Otto von Habsburg died in his home in Pöcking in Bavaria, Germany on 4 July, aged 98. Several commentators have already doled out the tired cliché that this is “the end of an era”, which is obviously nonsense. Rather, Otto von Habsburg was the last survivor of an era which ended a very long time ago.
Born on 20 November 1912, he was the eldest of the eight children born to the then Archduke Karl of Austria and his wife Zita, Princess of Bourbon-Parma, who had married the previous year. This was in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and in old age Otto would have vague memories of his great-great-uncle Emperor Franz Joseph, who had acceded to the Habsburg thrones as far back as the tumultuous year 1848, when Metternich fled and Emperor Ferdinand abdicated in favour of his young nephew.
The suicide of Franz Joseph’s only son, Crown Prince Rudolph, in 1889, had made his nephew and Otto’s great-uncle Franz Ferdinand heir presumptive to the throne. One could perhaps say that Otto was the last person alive whose life had been personally influenced by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, a crime which unleashed World War One and made Otto’s father first in line to the throne.
Karl succeeded to the thrones when Emperor Franz Joseph died in November 1916 and many will have seen the photos showing the four-year-old Crown Prince Otto, dressed in white, walking behind the hearse of the old Emperor through the streets of Vienna. At least with hindsight the images speak of a doomed empire.
A month later the little Crown Prince also attended his parents’ coronation as King and Queen of Hungary. The above painting, by Guyla Éder, shows him emerging from the coronation carriage.
Centuries of Habsburg rule over Central Europe came to an end two years later. On 11 November 1918 Karl I, the nineteenth Habsburg Emperor, renounced his participation in state affairs (but did not actually abdicate) and subsequently went into exile in Switzerland. Having failed in two attempts to regain the Hungarian crown, the ex-Emperor was exiled to Madeira, where he died in 1922, aged only 35. His widow survived him for 67 years, dying at the age of almost 97 in the momentous year of 1989.
His father’s death made Otto pretender to the thrones and, in the eyes of those with a penchant for denying realities, “Emperor”. If the monarchy had indeed endured to this day, Otto would have had what might well have been the longest reign in history – 89 years. Instead he would spend his life redefining the role of the multinational House of Habsburg.
At least he got a good education, studying in Louvain and Berlin, and would eventually become a prolific writer, whose oeuvre included biographies of some of his ancestors. While in Berlin in 1931-1932 he was twice invited to meet Adolf Hitler, not yet Chancellor of Germany, giving as his reason that he had already read Mein Kampf and thus knew what Hitler was about.
Archduke Otto was a staunch opponent of Hitler’s plans to annex Austria to Germany and in the lead-up to the Anschluss he would even suggest to the pro-monarchist Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg that he should take over as leader of the Austrian government, an offer which was eventually declined.
In 1940 the Habsburgs fled from their home in Belgium as Germany invaded the country and eventually made their way to the USA on the invitation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. While in the USA Otto dedicated himself to advocating the cause of Austria, which, despite the huge enthusiasm with which its people had greeted the annexation into Germany, ought to be considered the first victim of Nazi aggression, Otto argued.
Crown Princess Märtha of Norway was among the other exiled royals who had found shelter in the USA, and Otto von Habsburg would later tell me how he appreciated and respected her for the work she put in not only for her own country, but for the case of Europe in general.
Otto returned to Europe in 1944, but the end of World War II did not pave the way for him to play any role in either of the former Habsburg nations. In order to pay off the huge debts he had incurred through his wartime work, Otto von Habsburg spent the following years lecturing and writing.
He married Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen, with whom he had seven children, in 1951 and three years later the family settled in Pöcking, which became their permanent home. His children would eventually reflect the multinational heritage of the Habsburgs; among them Karl has been an MEP for Austria, while Georg is a Hungarian ambassador-at-large, Walburga a member of the Swedish Parliament and Gabriela Georgia’s ambassador to Germany.
European unity and reconciliation was the cause closest to Otto von Habsburg’s heart and in 1972 he became President of the Pan-European Union. From 1979 to 1999 he represented the German Christian Democrats in the European Parliament. Thus he succeeded in finding a new way for the voice of the Habsburgs to continue to be heard on the European stage.
The man who had once been Crown Prince of much of Central Europe lived to see what must be considered the two major steps in the process of reunifying Europe: the collapse of the Eastern bloc in 1989-1991 and several Eastern European countries joining the EU in 2004.
In 1989 he and Hungarian reformed Communist Imre Pozsgay co-hosted a so-called Pan-European Picnic at Sopron on the border between Hungary and Austria. On the request of the Hungarian Prime Minister, Otto von Habsburg and Imre Pozsgay themselves stayed away from their event, but Otto’s daughter Walburga represented him and cut a symbolic hole in the fence on the border, thus allowing 660 GDR citizens to make their way from Hungary to Austria. Within a month, Hungary opened its border permamently.
Otto himself was banned from Austria until 1961 and was only allowed to enter the country after he had renounced his dynastic claims. His first visit to the country was greeted with protests, but in a gesture of reconciliation he shook the hand of Chancellor Bruno Kreisky in 1972. His 90th birthday in 2002 and his 95th birthday in 2007 were both celebrated at the Hofburg in Vienna, something which for a long time would have been impossible.
Having left the European Parliament in 1999, Otto von Habsburg remained active and enjoyed excellent health well into his tenth decade. He suffered a bad fall two years ago and was naturally also much affected by the death of his wife of nearly sixty years in February 2010. In 2007 he renounced his position as head of the House of Habsburg in favour of his eldest son Karl.
His funeral will be almost pan-European like himself. Since Tuesday he is lying in state in the Church of St Ulrich in Pöcking. Tomorrow afternoon the coffin will be taken to the Church of St Pius, also in Pöcking, for the first requiem mass and thereafter to Munich, where another requiem mass will be celebrated in the Court Church of the Theatines on Monday. On Tuesday the coffins of Otto von Habsburg and his late wife will be reunited for yet another requiem mass in Mariazell in Austria before they will lie in state in the Capuchin Church in Vienna on Thursday and Friday.
Next Saturday Cardinal Christoph Schönborn will celebrate the funeral mass in the Cathedral of St Stefan in Vienna. The coffins of Otto on Habsburg and his wife will thereafter be taken to the Capuchin Church, where only the family (some 100 people all in all) will attend the interment in the Imperial Vault, where generations of Habsburgs have been buried throughout the centuries. Otto von Habsburg will rest between the coffins of his wife and his mother. On the day after the funeral his heart will be laid to rest in a monastery in Pannonhalma and a requiem mass celebrated in Budapest.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Otto von Habsburg has died

Otto von Habsburg, last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, long-time MEP and champion of European unity, died today at his home in Pöcking, Bavaria, Germany. The eldest son of Karl I, the last Austro-Hungarian Emperor, he was born on 20 November 1912 and was thus in his 99th year. I will write more about him when I am back home in a few days.
His funeral will take place in the Stephansdom in Vienna on 16 July, followed by burial in the crypt of the Capuchin Church, where generations of the Habsburgs are buried. The remains of his wife Regina, who died last year and was buried in Germany, will be transferred to Vienna.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

New books: The woman who was king

As there is certainly no dearth of books on Queen Christina of Sweden one may wonder what are the historian Erik Petersson’s reasons for having written yet another one, titled Maktspelerskan – Drottning Kristinas revolt and published by Natur & Kultur a few months ago.
Petersson explains that he believes too many writers have explained Queen Christina’s abdication solely with her conversion to Catholicism. Instead he wants to focus on Christina as a political being and her approach to power and concludes that she abandoned her throne when she found it impossible to reconcile her role as a monarch with the role of a woman.
Christina, her father’s only child, was not yet six years old when King Gustaf II Adolf was killed at the Battle of Lützen in 1632. Thus it was a regency council, whose leading figure was the Chancellor of the Realm, Axel Oxenstierna, who ruled in her name until she reached her majority. The author shows how Christina gradually came to assert her independence from the regency council and even challenge them.
Her father, the “hero king”, had in wartime been replaced by a child, a child who was something so unusual in seventeenth century Europe as a female head of state. Petersson charts Christina’s upbringing, pointing out that she was raised as if she were a boy as she, unlike other girls of her times, had to learn how to be obeyed rather than how to obey. At her coronation she was proclaimed “King of Sweden”.
The author highlights the Queen’s growing discomfort with her position and how she realised that her position as monarch, considered male by nature, could hardly be reconciled with her role as a woman. As a married woman she would have had to subject herself to her husband, which would have been humiliating for her as a monarch. If forced into a marriage she would also have lost what she valued the most, her freedom, Petersson argues, and therefore she had to transform herself into something else than Queen of Sweden.
Already in 1651 she informed the State Council of her intention to abdicate, which she did in 1654, having in the meantime driven through the election of her cousin and rejected suitor Carl Gustaf as heir to the throne.
This is the author’s third book, which is particularly impressive considering that he is still only 26. For a long time Swedish historians tended to lock themselves away in their university offices in Uppsala or Lund and write books which were read by few outside academic circles, thus leaving the general public with an in interest in historical books to unreliable amateurs such as Herman Lindqvist. Erik Petersson takes his place among those modern historians who know how to present history to a wide readership in an accessible manner without relinquishing professional standards.

Friday, 1 July 2011

On this date: Princess Diana might have been 50

Today would have been the fiftieth birthday of Diana, Princess of Wales (or “Princess Diana” as she was colloquially known). The third and youngest daughter of the future 8th Earl Spencer and his first wife Frances, the Hon Diana Frances Spencer was born at Park House on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk on 1 July 1961.
The facts of her short life are certainly well enough known to render it unnecessary to repeat them here, but what has been interesting to note during the last months is how it has somehow again become “acceptable” to mention her in connection with the British monarchy. There were some years where she was something of a “she who is not to be mentioned” and only Richard Kay at the Daily Mail and other such stalwarts kept on grinding their axes on her behalf, but these days her impact on the monarchy has again become an issue.
To a certain extent this is probably due to the anniversary itself, which has attracted quite a lot of media attention, and to the fact that she has now been dead for so long that she may be considered more part of history than of recent memory.
But the most obvious explanation is of course the wedding of her eldest son. From the moment the then Catherine Middleton stepped out in front of the cameras at St James’s Palace wearing her late mother-in-law’s engagement ring and Prince William explained that it was his way of ensuring that his mother did not “miss out” on it all, the name of Diana has again been frequently mentioned.
Although her one-time rival the Duchess of Cornwall played the part of the groom’s mother at the wedding and Diana was barely mentioned by the BBC commentators, the wedding of her son inevitably “provokes” comparisons to his parents.
Prince William’s marrying in itself points towards the future and this is where the mentioning of his mother again becomes natural and indeed almost unavoidable as it is when he comes to the throne that one will see Diana’s impact most clearly.
The photo shows a floral tribute outside Kensington Palace at the time of Princess Diana’s 49th birthday in July last year.

Official guest list for the Monegasque princely wedding

The princely court of Monaco has now released the official list of guests attending the wedding of Sovereign Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock today and tomorrow. Among the guests listed are:
- King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (Queen Silvia will also attend)
- King Juan Carlos I of Spain (who it has earlier been reported has declined his invitation) [did indeed not attend]
- King Albert II of the Belgians [accompanied by Queen Paola]
- King Letsie III of Lesotho
- Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (Grand Duchess Maria Teresa will also attend)
- President Nicolas Sarkozy of France
- President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland [accompanied by his wife Dorrit Moussaieff]
- President Mary McAleese of Ireland
- President Michel Sleiman of Lebanon
- President George Abela of Malta
- President Christian Wulff of Germany
- President Pál Schmitt of Hungary
- Maria Luisa Berti and Filippo Tamagnini, Captains Regent (i.e. heads of state) of San Marino
- Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad of Bahrain
- Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium
- Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands
- Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
- Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein [accompanied by Hereditary Princess Sophie]
- Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway
- Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden
- Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg
- Prince Edward of the United Kingdom, Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie
- Prince Michael of the United Kingdom [accompanied by Princess Michael]
- Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Belgium
- Princess Meriem of Morocco
- Princess Soukaïna of Morocco
- Prince Faisal of Jordan [accompanied by Princess Sarah]
- Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium
- Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark
- Prince Carl Philip of Sweden
- Princess Madeleine of Sweden
- Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana of Thailand
- Prince Henri of France, Count of Paris [accompanied by his wife Micaela]
- Margrave Maximilian of Baden [accompanied by Margravine Valerie]
- Prince Karim Aga Khan IV
- Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, Prince of Naples [accompanied by his wife Marina]
- Ex-Empress Farah of Iran
- Princess Ira of Fürstenberg
- Prince Leopold of Bavaria [accompanied by Princess Ursula]
- Prince Duarte of Portugal, Duke of Braganza [accompanied by his wife Isabel]
- Ex-Crown Prince Aleksandar of ex-Yugoslavia [accompanied by his wife Katherine]
- Princess Margarita of Romania [accompanied by Prince Radu]
- Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
- Prince Carlo of the Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro [accompanied by his wife Camilla]
- Hereditary Prince Bernhard of Baden [accompanied by his wife Stephanie]
- Prince Emanuele Filiberto and Princess Clotilde of Savoy, Prince and Princess of Venice
- Luis Alfonso de Borbón, self-styled Duke of Anjou
- Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia [accompanied by his fiancée Princess Sophie of Isenburg]
- Grand Duke Georgij Mikhailovitsj of Russia
- Bernadotte Chirac, former first lady of France
- King Leuro Molotlegi of Bafokeng