Saturday, 21 December 2013

Swedes want King to abdicate

The Swedish broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (external link) today publishes an opinion poll from Ipsos that shows that only 39 % of the 1,162 interviewees want King Carl Gustaf to remain on the throne, while 48 % want to see his stepping aside for Crown Princess Victoria. 14 % are uncertain.
This is a significant change from 2010, when only 17 % wanted to see the King go and 64 % were in favour of his remaining on the throne.
These days 64 % want Sweden to remain a monarchy (down from eighty percent i 2005), while 27 % want a republic (up from 16 % in 2005).

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My latest article: Queen Louise of Sweden

Queen Silvia of Sweden, who will celebrate her seventieth birthday on Monday, has by now been Queen of Sweden for nearly forty years, but her predecessor remains fairly unknown to many. This was her husband’s step-grandmother, Queen Louise (1889-1965), an unassuming, yet very regal lady who was the first really visible Queen of Sweden for nearly a century and proved to be an ideal Queen for the democratic Sweden of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite this and her popularity in her lifetime, Queen Louise is sadly not very well remembered today. In the January 2014 issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 1), which goes on sale in Britain today and soon in other major European cities (and some North American, I believe), I tell her story.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Seraphim honours for Mandela in Stockholm

While Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in Qunu in South Africa yesterday, I happened to be in Stockholm, where I got the chance to observe the ceremonial which accompanies the death of a Knight of the Royal Seraphim Order, Sweden’s highest order, which nowadays is only awarded to royals and heads of state.
While a knight of the order is alive, his or her armorial shield is kept at the Royal Palace, where a selection is displayed in the Seraphim Hall next to the Hall of State. After the death of a knight, the shield is hung in the former royal burial church at Riddarholmen.
At 11.15 a.m. yesterday, Nelson Mandela’s shield was carried from the Royal Palace to the Riddarholmen Church, accompanied by a guard of honour made up of four grenadiers, while the soldiers guarding the Royal Palace paraded in the Outer Courtyard.
In the Riddarholmen Church, the shield was displayed on an easel at the entrance to the chancel, next to a table with a photo of Mandela, two white candles and a bouquet of flowers, guarded by two grenadiers. The bells of the church tolled from noon to 1 p.m.
The so-called Seraphim tolling is done on the day of the funeral of a knight of the order, as long as the Swedish court is aware of the knight’s passing and the date of his or her funeral (it has happened that the tolling has not taken place because the court has not received news of the death of a knight).
As the bells fell silent at the end of the Seraphim tolling, the easel with Mandela’s shield was carried to the northern side nave of the church and placed in front of the wall where it will be hung with the shields of other late knights.
Nelson Mandela received the Seraphim Order when he, as president, hosted King Carl Gustaf’s and Queen Silvia’s state visit to South Africa in 1997. Crown Princess Victoria represented the Swedish royal family (and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt the government) at the memorial service held in Johannesburg on 10 December, while no Swedish representative was present at the actual funeral yesterday.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

My latest article: Frederik II, renaissance king

King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway has often been overshadowed by Christian IV, his son who has been much loved by posterity. Yet Frederik II, who reigned from 1559 to 1577, was himself one of the most interesting Dano-Norwegian monarchs and indeed the realm’s first renaissance king.
He was a significant patron of the arts and sciences, and his reign saw the birth of true royal splendour at court and the advent of gifted professional artists. Such was the fame of his lasting monument, Kronborg Castle in Elsinore (Helsingør), that Shakespeare chose it as the setting for Hamlet.
Nevertheless, the Norwegian city of Fredrikstad is today one of the few places where Frederik II is honoured, as it was he who founded the town in 1567, and in Fredrikstad Museum’s yearbook, Mindre Alv XV, which goes on sale today, I tell the story of the city’s founder’s life and reign.
Since I completed this article this spring Frederik II has for the first time become the subject of a biography, written by the historian Poul Grinder-Hansen, which is also well worth reading.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crown Princess undergoes surgery - and Crown Prince promoted

On Friday the Crown Princess underwent surgery at the National Hospital in Oslo to remove a herniated disc from her neck. The Crown Princess has been on sick leave for a while, but as the pain increased it was decided to go through with this surgery. Her neck problems reportedly date from a fall during a visit to the Ukraine five years ago. The Crown Princess will remain in hospital for a few days and it is not known when she will be able to resume her royal duties.
Meanwhile the Crown Prince was promoted to the highest rank in the armed forces in the State Council held on Friday, thus becoming an admiral of the navy and a general of the army and the air force. The King, the Crown Prince and the Defence Chief are the only generals who are accorded four stars.

Friday, 15 November 2013

On this date: 150 years of the Glücksburgs

Today the House of Glücksburg has been on the Danish throne for 150 years. The former Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg ascended the Danish throne as King Christian IX upon the sudden death of King Frederik VII, which, ironically, happened at Glücksburg Castle on 15 November 1863.
The death of King Frederik VII marked the extinction of the House of Oldenburg, which had ascended the Danish throne with King Christian I in 1448. Two centuries later, in 1660, the Danish crown become hereditary in that dynasty. From the accession of King Frederik I in 1523 to the death of King Frederik VI in 1839 the Oldenburgs boasted an unbroken line of eleven generations where son succeeded father, an unusual long line of direct dynastic descent which could only be rivalled by the Capets of France and the Stuarts of Scotland. Upon the death of Frederik VI in 1839 the crown passed to his half-cousin (at least officially), Christian VIII, whose son, Frederik VII, had no legitimate children.
Prince Christian of Glücksburg belonged to a junior line of the Oldenburgs, descending from one of the 23 children of Duke Hans the Younger, a younger son of King Christian III, but had only a very remote rights of succession to the throne. However, by the semi-Salic law of that time, his wife, née Princess Louise of Hesse-Cassel, was in line to the throne after her mother, a sister of Christian VIII, and elder brother, who both renounced their rights in favour of Louise, who transferred them to her husband, who was the Russian candidate to the Danish throne and won the approval of the other great powers at a conference in London in 1852.
There will be no special celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the royal house, but today has been chosen as the date for the unveiling of a new group portrait of Queen Margrethe II and Prince Consort Henrik with their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren by Thomas Kluge, who has earlier done portraits of Queen Margrethe, Prince Consort Henrik and Crown Prince Frederik.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

On this date: Prince Charles is 65

The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles of Britain, celebrates his 65th birthday today - and, as many have pointed out, the heir to the British throne thus reaches what is the normal age of retirement in Britain.
However, as being a member of a royal family is no job, Prince Charles is far from retiring. Today he and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, are concluding their official visit to India and travelling on to Sri Lanka, where Prince Charles will represent his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, at the biannual meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth countries.
This is the first time in many years that Queen Elizabeth, who is head of the Commonwealth, is not herself present at this summit. As such it is a prime example of how her heir has gradually began to take on more of the aging monarch’s duties.
Prince Charles is the oldest heir apparent in British history and also the one who has held the position as first in line to the throne for the longest time (61 years and nine months so far), but he is not the oldest person ever to be first in line to the throne, a distinction which belongs to the Dowager Electress Sophia of Hanover, who was heiress presumptive to Queen Anne from the latter’s accession in 1702 until the former’s death at the age of 83 in 1714, less than two months before Queen Anne.
The last time the heir apparent to a European throne reached his country’s age of retirement must have been the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden on 11 November 1947. He succeeded his 92-year-old father, King Gustaf V, on 29 October 1950, two weeks before his 68th birthday.
When Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf turned 65 in November 1947 the succession to the Swedish throne had been complicated by the death of his eldest son, Prince Gustaf Adolf, in an airplane accident in January of the same year, leaving his then nine-month-old son, Prince Carl Gustaf (now King Carl XVI Gustaf), as next in line to the throne after his grandfather, thereby creating a 64-year-old-gap in the succession. Luckily no such troubles worry Prince Charles, who saw the succession to the throne secured for yet another generation with the birth of his grandson, Prince George, on 22 July this year. The common denominator between Gustaf VI Adolf and Prince Charles, his great-nephew by marriage, would be that they both have had enough interests and commitment to do something meaningful with their long apprenticeships.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The division of Princess Lilian’s estate

The Swedish newspaper Expressen on Saturday published details about the last will of Princess Lilian, who died in March at the age of 97. Such things are public in Sweden, and the Princess’s will and the inventory of her property drawn up after her death show that, as expected, nothing has been left for her nearest blood relatives, the half-sisters Janice Rees and Sonia Roberts, with whom she had no contact. Instead, the main beneficiaries of her will are the three children of the King of Sweden, the Queen of Sweden, Princess Lilian’s first cousin Jean Beaumond and the latter’s daughter Christine Robinson.
The Princess left assets worth 55,556,182 SEK, which does not include her home, Villa Solbacken at Djurgården in Stockholm, which was the property of her late husband, Prince Bertil, and in his will was left to Prince Carl Philip, but with his widow retaining the right to live there for the rest of her life. Prince Carl Philip also inherits everything in the villa which has not been specifically left to someone else.
The Princess’s second home, an apartment in 101 Chesterfield Gardens in Mayfair in London valued at 15,392,000 SEK is left to Christine Robinson, who has already lived there for fifteen years. All real and personal estate in England not specifically willed to someone else is to be shared equally between Jean Beaumond and Christine Robinson.
Princess Lilian’s collection of jewellery and silver, estimated to be worth 5,311,200 SEK, is divided between several relatives. As announced already in Princess Lilian’s memoirs, published in 2000, Crown Princess Victoria inherits the delicate laurel leaf tiara which was a wedding present to Prince Bertil’s mother, Crown Princess Margareta, in 1905 and which Crown Princess Victoria wore at Princess Madeleine’s wedding earlier this year.
The Crown Princess also inherits what is described as a ‘diadem of steel, white gold and diamonds’, but it is not quite clear to me what diadem this is. Expressen illustrates it with a photo of Princess Lilian wearing the sunray tiara, but this is obviously not the one as this was left to one of the family foundations by Queen Victoria. Crown Princess Victoria has recently worn twice a previously unseen diadem of cut steel, but this does not fit the description and was also worn once before Princess Lilian’s death.
Queen Silvia inherits a rather unusual necklace of five row of pearls adorned with large rubies, emeralds and sapphires as centre stones, also an inheritance from Crown Princess Margareta, as well as a modern necklace with a tennis player, a fur coat and 5,000,000 SEK. Princess Madeleine is left an aquamarine heart and a ring with an aquamarine.
Jean Beaumond, who also receives £ 500,000, is bequeathed a gold necklace with three medallions of rubies and diamonds, while her daughter receives a ring with diamonds and pearls, two boxes of bijouterie and £ 5,000.
Further, there is a watch of gold and diamonds for Princess Désirée’s daughter Hélène Silfverschiöld, who was Princess Lilian’s goddaughter, and a seat of earrings of diamonds and aquamarines as well as 50,000 SEK for another goddaughter, Eva Lilian Nilsson Wrede. A gold watch and 100,000 SEK was left to Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna, Prince Bertil’s and Princess Lilian’s loyal Marshal of the Court, who served the royal family for six decades, retired at the age of 95 and died 27 days after Princess Lilian.
Other members of the staff are also remembered. The sisters Dagmar and Maj-Christin Nilsson, long-serving housekeepers, each receive 50,000 SEK, while the chauffeur, Stig Jurlander, inherits the Mercedes Benz car.
King Carl Gustaf inherits several artworks, including a portrait of his grandmother, Crown Princess Margareta, which hung at Villa Solbacken. A water colour portrait of Princess Lilian, also from Villa Solbacken, is however left to Jean Beaumond, while a portrait of the Princess’s great friend, the actress Kay Kendall, is left to Kendall’s sister, Rolla Campbell.
100,000 SEK are left to SOS Barnbyar in Sweden, while £ 1,000 goes to Anita, an poor child in India Princess Lilian ‘adopted’. The Anglican Church in Stockholm receives 10,000 SEK.
484,828 SEK go towards covering the costs of Princess Lilian’s funeral.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Memorial service held for Prince Friso

On Saturday a memorial service was held in the Old Church in Delft for Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau (by birth Prince of the Netherlands), who died on 12 August after a year and a half in coma following a skiing accident.
The mourners at the memorial service, held in the church where he married in 2004, were led by his widow, Princess Mabel, their daughters, countess Luana and Zaria of Orange-Nassau, and his mother, Princess (former Queen) Beatrix of the Netherlands. Prince Friso’s brothers, King Willem-Alexander and Prince Constantijn, attended with their wives, Queen Máxima and Princess Laurentien, but without their children.
The only foreign royals present seem to have been the Crown Prince of Norway, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her husband Ari Behn, and Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath of Jordan.
The extended Dutch royal family was out in force, including Princess Margriet of the Netherland and Pieter van Vollenhoven, Prince Maurits and Princess Marilène of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven, Prince Pieter-Christiaan and Princess Anita of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven, Prince Floris and Princess Aimée of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven, Princess Irene of the Netherlands, Duke Carlos of Parma, Prince Jaime and Princess Viktoria of Bourbon-Parma, Princess Margarita of Bourbon-Parma and Tjalling ten Cate, Princess Maria Carolina of Bourbon-Parma and Albert Brenninkmeijer, Princess Christina of the Netherlands, Bernardo Guillermo and Juliana Guillermo.
Among the mourners were also Prince (Fürst) Wittekind of Waldeck and Pyrmont, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and the singer Bono of U2.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Norway has a new government

In an extraordinary State Council at 10 a.m. today the King formally released Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and his centre-left coalition government from their duties. In another extraordinary State Council at noon the King appointed Erna Solberg, the leader of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister. She will lead a minority coalition of her own party and the far right wing Progress Party, making her one of the first Conservative party leaders in Europe to welcome a right wing populist party into the government offices.
The new government has eighteen ministers, down from twenty at the end of the Stoltenberg era, which is explained by the merging of the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs with the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development and there, significantly, no longer being a Minister of International Development. The Conservatives have eleven of the posts, leaving seven to the Progress Party.
While Erna Solberg is Prime Minister, the leader of the Progress Party, Siv Jensen, has been appointed Minister of Finance, which promises to be interesting. For the Conservative Party Børge Brende becomes Foreign Minister, Jan Tore Sanner Minister of Local Government and Reform, Vidar Helgesen Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office with responsibility for European affairs (also an interesting choice of priorities), Thorhild Widwey Minister of Culture and Church Affairs (the name Church is, interestingly, retained although the state church has now been abolished), Elisabeth Aspaker Minister of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs (which will now longer be a ministry of its own, but will merge with the Ministry of Commerce), Kristine (Tine) Sundtoft Minister of Climate and Environment, Monica Mæland Minister of Commerce, Bent Høie Minister of Health and Care Services, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide Minister of Defence and Torbjørn Røe Isaksen Minister of Education and Research.
The loudest members of the Progress Party’s right wing have, interestingly, mostly been left out of the cabinet. Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the moderate deputy leader of the party, has been appointed Minister of Transport and Communications, while the other deputy leader, the far from moderate Per Sandberg, claims he has declined a cabinet post as he wants to spend more time with the family. Anders Anundsen becomes Minister of Justice and Public Security, Tord Lien Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Solveig Horne Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Robert Eriksson Minister of Labour and Social Services and Sylvi Listhaug Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Prince Carl Philip not behind “his” design work

Prince Carl Philip of Sweden has in recent years been branded as the new “design prince”, a title often accorded to his late great-uncle, Sigvard Bernadotte, who won international renown as an industrial designer, but it has now been revealed that his claim to be a designer is a dubious one.
In the new issue of the magazine Form (no 5 - 2013) Bo Madestrand claimed (external link) to have proof that the Prince had not actually designed any of the works he is credited with, mentioning in particular the firescreen “The Castle on Fire”, which shows the silhouette of the old royal castle in Stockholm, which burned down in 1697. This was, according to Form, designed by another, anonymous designer.
The topic was picked up by Svenska Dagbladet on Monday (external link), where the journalist Erica Treijs recalled how the Prince obviously struggled at a press conference dedicated to his alleged work.
On Tuesday, the renowned company Svenskt Tenn, which sells the firescreen, decided to delete the Prince’s name from the information about the screen, rather crediting it to the design company CPhB Design AB (CPhB = Carl Philip Bernadotte).
Last night the designer Eric Ericson stepped forward (external link) to admit that he is the actual designer of the firescreen. He was at first asked to supervise the Prince’s work, he says, but soon realised that he was supposed to do all the work. Ericson describes it as an “unserious cooperation” and agrees with the others who in recent days have voiced the opinion that the Prince lacks the drive necessary to do the job, but adds that the Prince may become a designer through hard work.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Prime Minister to tender resignation

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will submit his and thereby his centre-left coalition government’s resignation to the King today. At 10 a.m. the Minister of Finance, Sigbjørn Johnsen, will present the fiscal budget for 2014 to Parliament, after which the Prime Minister will inform Parliament of his intention to resign as a result of the election results.
His resignation will be tendered in an extraordinary State Council at the Royal Palace at 1 p.m. and the King will ask Stoltenberg to lead a caretaker government until the new government takes office. On the advice of the outgoing Prime Minister the King will then ask the leader of the Conservative Party, Erna Solberg, to form a new government. It is expected that the new cabinet, which will be a coalition of the Conservatives and the right wing populist Progress Party, will be appointed in an extraordinary State Council on Wednesday.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

My latest article: Norwegian secundogeniture

Today I have a two-page article in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, about the secundogeniture idea in the second Swedish-Norwegian union, i.e. the idea that the personal union could be dissolved by the Crown Prince inheriting the crown of Sweden while a younger prince became King of Norway.
There are plenty of examples of secundogeniture solutions being used to dissolve unions or keep countries apart (for instance Austria and Tuscany) and it was also through secundogeniture that the first Swedish-Norwegian union was dissolved in 1343.
The idea was mentioned in the 1880s, but gained momentum from 1897 and had supporters in high places, possibly including members of the royal family, but did not come to fruition before the Norwegian Parliament unilaterally declared the union dissolved on 7 June 1905. However, there are certain indications that the idea might have succeeded if the union had been dissolved through bilateral negotiations.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Conservative Speaker in defiance of parliamentary custom

Receiving the King and Queen of the Netherlands yesterday turned out to be one of the last things Dag Terje Andersen did in his role as Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament. It was announced yesterday that the Conservative MP Olaf Michael “Olemic” Thommessen will be elected Speaker when the new Parliament is constituted on 8 October. This is somewhat surprising as Thommessen was widely expected to become Minister of Culture in the new government and because it breaks with tradition whereby the Speaker is normally chosen among MPs from the largest party in Parliament, i.e. the Labour Party.
There are six seats in Parliament’s Presidium and while a parliamentary majority may in theory choose to use their strength to fill all seats with their own there is a “gentlemen’s agreement” that these ought to be distributed between the parties after size.
In the previous term this meant that Labour, which was significantly larger than any other party, had the posts of Speaker and Third Vice Speaker, the Progress Party the First Vice Speaker, the Conservatives the Second Vice Speaker, the Socialist Left Party the Fourth Vice Speaker and the Christian People’s Party the Fifth Vice Speaker. The last position should by right have been held by the Centre Party, but was given to the Christian People’s Party so that there were as many members of the presidium from the parties forming a majority government as from the opposition.
Having won a majority in this year’s general election the four parties to the right of the political centre have apparently decided to dispense with this parliamentary custom. It is, however, not the first time this happens; between 1985 and 1993 the centre-right majority ensured that the Speaker’s chair was filled by the Conservative MP Jo Benkow.
It remains to be decided who will be the other five members of the Presidium.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip awarded Order of the Polar Star

The President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and his wife Maria yesterday began a state visit to Sweden and at the state banquet at the Royal Palace in Stockholm last night Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip wore what appears to be the neck-bagde of the Order of the Polar Star, which I am almost sure they have never worn before.
The royal website does not say anything about when they were awarded this second highest order, but what makes it all more peculiar is that the two princes wore it from the black riband that was exchanged for a blue one with yellow edges (like the Swedish flag) at the time of the order reform in 1975.
King Carl Gustaf habitually wears the Polar Star in its black riband when in civilian dress (and the now defunct Sword Order when in uniform), but this is because he was awarded the order before 1975. Christopher O’Neill, on the other hand, who was given the order on 6 June this year, two days before he married Princess Madeleine, wears it in the modern blue and yellow riband.
The only possible explanation I can think of for why the two princes have been given the old version must be that King Carl Gustaf has decided that members of the royal house (who are, since 1995, excluded from the rule which prohibits the award of Swedish orders to Swedish citizens) shall wear the old version. But if so, that is a new invention, given that the late Princess Lilian always wore the modern version of the grand cross from 1976 until she was given the higher Seraphim Order in 1995. (On the other hand, Princess Lilian received it just before the wedding when she was still a British subject).

Dutch King and Queen in Oslo

Today the new King and Queen of the Netherlands will pay a brief visit to Oslo. This is one of the one-day so-called introductory visits King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima are undertaking after their accession on 30 April. These visits are a new invention and are not state visits, but courtesy calls. Similar visits have already been made to other European heads of state, including the Queens of Denmark and Britain.
The King and Queen will hold a lunch at the Royal Palace in honour of the Dutch guests, which will also be attended by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and by Princess Astrid. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will also meet outgoing Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and go to the Parliament Building to call on the Speaker of Parliament, Dag Terje Andersen (as the new Parliament convened yesterday but has not yet been constituted or opened the Speaker of the previous Parliament is still carrying out the duties of his office).

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Queen Máxima designated Dutch regent

The Dutch Government Information Service yesterday announced that the government has made a proposition to Parliament designating Queen Máxima regent if the Princess of Orange, Princess Catharina-Amalia, should succeed to the throne before reaching her eighteenth birthday. If the Princess comes to the throne as a minor and Queen Máxima should herself be deceased the regency will devolve to Prince Constantijn, King Willem-Alexander’s only brother.
This is in line with Dutch and Orange traditions, whereby the surviving parent rather than the nearest adult in the line of succession has generally been designated regent. This was also the case in the reign of Queen Beatrix, when her consort, Prince Claus, was designated regent ahead of her sister, Princess Margriet.
The last time such a scenario became a reality was in 1890, when King Willem III upon his death was succeeded by his ten-year-old daughter Wilhelmina, whose mother, Queen Emma, served as regent for the next eight years. There are also several examples from before the House of Orange became the Dutch royal family of mothers deputising for their minor sons.

Right wing populists to enter Norwegian government

It was announced yesterday that the talks between the four parties right of the political centre which began after Norway’s general election on 9 September have concluded that the Conservative Party and the right wing populist Progress Party will begin negotiations to form a minority coalition government, while the two centre-right parties, the Liberal Party and the Christian People’s Party, will not enter the coalition. However, the four parties, who together hold a parliamentary majority, have signed an agreement whereby the Liberal Party and the Christian People’s Party have received certain concessions and the incoming government has agreed to seek parliamentary support from them.
If the negotiations succeed and lead to the formation of a government it will be the first time in Norwegian history that the Progress Party enters the government offices and indeed one of the few examples of a Conservative party forming a government with the right wing populists.
The King will open the new Parliament on 9 October. Five days later the outgoing Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, will present the fiscal budget for 2014 and thereafter tender his and his centre-left coalition government’s resignation to the King. The new government will thereafter take office within a few days.
The outcome announced yesterday marks the failure of the preferred strategy of incoming Prime Minister Erna Solberg, leader of the Conservative Party, whose aim was a majority government which included all the four parties right of the political centre. As things stand she will now first have to make compromises to the right with the Progress Party, which on crucial issues have placed itself outside the general political consensus, and when this has been achieved the government will have to make another compromise to the left to find parliamentary support. The next four years will surely not be boring politically.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

My latest article: Empress Farah, art and power

The October issue of Majesty (Vol. 34, No. 10) went on sale on Thursday and this month I write about ex-Empress Farah of Iran, who will celebrate her 75th birthday on 14 October. The third wife of the last Shah, Farah was the only one to receive the title Empress, to be crowned and to be named regent in case the Crown Prince succeeded to the throne before reaching the age of twenty. She came to wield significant influence in the years before the Islamic revolution of 1979, to a certain extent became a liberalising force within the brutal regime and was a notable patron of the arts.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

British royal christening on 23 October

The British royal court has announced that the christening of Prince George will take place in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace in London on Wednesday 23 October. The Prince will be baptised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. The christening will be a private event and will not be televised.
The choice of venue is somewhat surprising. After the chapel at Buckingham Palace was destroyed in World War II, the Palace’s Music Room seem to have been the preferred venue for the christenings of senior royals, i.e. Prince Charles in 1948, Princess Anne in 1950, Prince Andrew in 1960 and Prince William in 1982. The last royal child to be baptisted in the Chapel Royal was Princess Beatrice in 1988. Prince Edward was christened in the private chapel of Windsor Castle in 1964, Prince Henry in St George’s Chapel at Windsor in 1984 and Princess Eugenie at St Mary Magdalene Church near Sandringham in 1990.
The Chapel Royal is fairly small and simple and lies within St James’s Palace. It was the venue for the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840 and for that of the future King George V and Queen Mary in 1893. In 1997 the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales rested there from its repatriation from Paris until the eve of her funeral.
The names of the sponsors (godparents) will be announced closer to the date. These are likely to be close family and friends and not foreign royals, given that Prince William hardly knows any of his foreign counterparts.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Luxembourg has a new princess

Luxembourg got a new princess yesterday (Tuesday 17 September) when Prince Félix, the second son of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, wed his German girlfriend Claire Lademacher. The couple were married in a civil ceremony in Villa Rothschild Kempinski in the bride’s hometown Königstein im Taunus.
The groom had chosen the bride’s brother, Félix Lademacher, as his witness, while the bride’s witness was the groom’s sister, Princess Alexandra.
Only the nearest were present for today’s wedding, but several hundred guests have been invited to the religious blessing of the marriage, which will take place in the Basilica of Saint Mary Magdalene in the small French town of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in the department of Var (some forty kilometres east of Aix-de-Provence) on Saturday.
Interestingly, there are already several links between the bride’s hometown Königstein im Taunus and the royal house into which she married, most notably the Luxembourg Palace in the town centre. According to the newspaper Wort (external link), this building from the late seventeenth century was acquired by Duke Adolph of Nassau, who had lost his duchy to Prussia in the war of 1866, when Nassau had been among the losers. Upon the death of King Willem III of the Netherlands/Grand Duke Guillaume III of Luxembourg in 1890, the union between those two countries was dissolved through the deceased’s daughter Wilhelmina inheriting the Dutch crown while his distant kinsman Adolph succeeded to the throne of Luxembourg. He continued to spend summers in Königstein, and the Luxembourg Palace became the dower house of his widow, Grand Duchess Adéläide-Marie, who died there in 1916. The palace, which had been thoroughly rebuilt and extended by the Belgian architect Gégéon Bordiau in 1873-1876, remained in the possession of the Luxembourgian grand ducal family until 1952. Since 1981 it is the main office of the district court.
Princess Claire of Luxembourg was born in Filderstadt in Germany on 21 March 1985 and was educated in Germany, the USA, Switzerland, France and Italy. She holds as master degree in bioethics (the same degree as Prince Félix is currently studying for) and has earlier worked for Condé Nast in New York and Munich, for IMG World in Berlin and for the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights, and is currently working on a PhD on the topic of organ donation ethics.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

On this date: King Carl Gustaf and Prince Daniel celebrate fortieth anniversaries

Today is the fortieth anniversary of the accession to the Swedish throne of King Carl XVI Gustaf. The then 27-year-old Crown Prince became King the moment his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, died at Helsingborg Hospital at 8.35 p.m. on 15 September 1973. Incidentially, 15 September 1973 was also the day his future son-in-law, now Prince Daniel, was born. (In the September issue of Majesty I write about the accession and Carl XVI Gustaf’s difficult way to the throne).
King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia have earlier this year visited all 21 counties to mark the jubilee and this weekend the main festivities take place in Stockholm. Yesterday the government hosted a dinner at the Nordic Museum, while Parliament hosted a concert in Stockholm’s Concert House. Today there was a service of thanksgiving in the Palace Church, followed by a balcony appearance and a sort of street party with dancing in the Inner Courtyard at the Palace, hosted by the City of Stockholm.
All the members of the Swedish royal family took part in today’s events: King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill, Princess Birgitta of Hohenzollern, Princess Margaretha, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson, Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg (widow of the late former Prince Sigvard), Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg (widow of the late former Prince Carl Johan) and Princess Kristine Bernadotte (widow of the late former Prince Carl Jr).
They were joined by the heads of state from the other Nordic countries and their spouses: Queen Margrethe II and Prince Consort Henrik of Denmark, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland and Dorrit Moussaieff, and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland and Jenni Haukio.
Also several relatives of the King had been invited to the service in the Palace Church. Among those I believe I can recognise in photos are two of Princess Christina’s sons, Gustaf and Oscar Magnuson, with their wives Emma and Vicky, Countess Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg (daughter of the late former Prince Lennart) with her husband Philipp Haug, Dagmar von Arbin (granddaughter of the late former Prince Oscar), her brother, Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg, with his partner Margot Ekelund, their sister, Catharina Nilert, and their half-brother, Count Claes Bernadotte af Wisborg, with his wife Birgitta, and their two cousins, Counts Folke and Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg with their wives Christine and Jill, as well as Madeleine Kogevinas, the daughter of the late former Prince Carl Jr.
The guests attending the jubilee have received a medal struck to commemorate the occasion. This is the third commemorative medal issued in the reign of Carl XVI Gustaf, following those struck for his fiftieth birthday in 1996 and the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel in 2010.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Title issues: Princess Madeleine’s children to be princ(ess)es

This week’s issue of Svensk Damtidning has a short interview with Axel Calissendorff, lawyer to the King of Sweden and legal adviser to the royal court, who states that Princess Madeleine’s children will bear the title Prince or Princess of Sweden and be styled Royal Highness.
It is up to the King to decide about titles for members of the royal family, but this is of particular interest since the child Princess Madeleine and her husband Christopher O’Neill are expecting in March will be the first to be born to a junior prince or princess (i.e. not direct heir) since the introduction of gender neutral succession in 1980. Until then the title of prince or princess was given to all children descending from King Carl XIV Johan in the male line and born of approved marriages. Since 1980 there has been no reason why the children of a princess with succession rights should be treated differently from the children of a prince with succession rights and it has consequently been some anticipation about how the children of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine would be styled.
Calissendorff does not say so, but I suppose that King Carl Gustaf’s decision means that the children of his younger children will also receive dukedoms, as has all princes with succession rights since 1772 and all princesses with succession rights since 1980.
Calissendorff also adds that the child must be raised in the Lutheran faith and be brought up in Sweden to retain his or her succession rights. Article 4 of the Act of Succession is somewhat ambigious about this, stating that princes and princesses of the royal house must be brought up in the Lutheran faith and within the realm, but then adding that those members of the royal family who do not profess that faith are excluded from the succession. However, the consequences of being brought up abroad are not explicitly stated, but it does in my opinion seem a reasonable interpretation that the same “penalty” applies in both cases.
As Princess Madeleine moved to the USA in 2010 this is obviously of great significance in this case, but neither Calissendorff nor the Act of Succession specifies any age by which the child must have settled in Sweden to be able to claim a place in the order of succession.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Norway veers to the right

Yesterday Norway went to the polls and the results of the general election show that the country took a huge step to the right. Having lost his majority, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, leader of the centre-left coalition which has governed for eight years, has informed the King that he will step down, paving the way for a new government, which will most likely be a coalition of the Conservative Party and the far right wing Progress Party, possibly also with one or both of the centre-right parties.
With 99.9 % of the votes counted the results are as follows:

The Labour Party, 30.8 % (-4.6), 55 seats (-9)
The Conservative Party, 26.9 % (+9.6), 48 seats (+18)
The Progress Party, 16.3 % (-6.7), 29 seats (-12)
The Christian People's Party, 5.6 % (no change), 10 seats (no change)
The Centre Party, 5.4 % (-0.8), 10 seats (-1)
The Liberal Party, 5.3 % (+1.4), 9 seats (+7)
The Socialist Left Party, 4.1 % (-2.1), 7 seats (-4)
The Green Party, 2.8 % (+2.5), 1 seat (+1)
The Red Party, 1.1 % (-0.2), no seats (no change).

This means that the governing coalition of Labour, the Socialist Left and the Centre Party have 72 seats out of 169, falling well short of the 85 needed for a majority, while the four parties to the right have 96. The Green Party, which enters Parliament for the first time, does not (yet) belong to either block.
As a consequence of this, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (Labour) announced last night that he will submit his resignation to the King after the new Parliament has been opened on 9 October and the fiscal budget presented five days later. The new Prime Minister will most likely be the leader of the Conservative Party, Erna Solberg. She has throughout the election campaign and beyond been rather unwilling to go into detail about what sort of coalition she envisages, only stating that she would prefer all four of the parties to the right to join the government, which seems unlikely as the centre-right Christian People's Party and the Liberal Party are very reluctant to sit in the same cabinet as the far-right Progress Party. Thus the most likely scenario seems to be a coalition of the Conservatives and the Progress Party, which will be dependent on either the Christian People's Party or the Liberal Party to reach a parliamentary majority. If so, Erna Solberg will be one of the first Conservative leaders in Europe to allow a right wing populist party into the government offices.
Given that she succeeds in forming a government, Erna Solberg will be the second female Prime Minister of Norway after Gro Harlem Brundtland (Labour), who was Prime Minister in 1981, 1986-1989 and 1990-1996.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Princess Christina’s eldest son marries

On Saturday Gustaf Magnuson, the eldest of the three sons of Princess Christina of Sweden and her husband Tord Magnuson, married Vicky Elisabeth Andrén in a ceremony in the chapel of Ulriksdal Palace in Solna, just outside Stockholm and close to Villa Beylon, where the groom grew up.
His brothers, Oscar and Victor Magnuson, were best men and among the other guests were of course the groom’s parents, Oscar’s wife Emma Magnuson, Victor’s girlfriend Frida Bergström, the groom’s uncle and aunt, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, his cousin Crown Princess Victoria with her husband Prince Daniel, his cousin Prince Carl Philip with his girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist, his aunt Princess Désirée and the Queen of Norway, who is the groom’s godmother.
The bride wore a dress by Lars Wallin, which, with its high neck, full skirt and long sleeves was the very opposite of the sleeveless dress with a decolletage down to the navel, which Vicky Andrén wore to her first wedding.
Gustaf Magnuson works as a car salesman, while his wife is a former model with some success. On 31 July 2005, the then 22-year-old Vicky Andrén married the American nightclub owner Mark Baker, twenty years her senior. The couple separated in January 2007 and later divorced.

Princess Madeleine is pregnant

On Tuesday the Swedish royal court announced that Princess Madeleine and her husband, Christopher O’Neill, are expecting their first child. The child is due in early March 2014, exactly nine months after their wedding.
The court has not yet clarified the position of the child, who might be fifth in line to the Swedish throne. It will be up to King Carl Gustaf to decide if the children of Princess Madeleine will have royal titles, which perhaps seems unlikely given that Christopher O’Neill did not accept any title at the time of the marriage, leaving him free to pursue his business career.
It also remains to be seen which church (if any) the child will be baptised into. The Swedish monarch is required to belong to the Lutheran Church of Sweden, while Christopher O’Neill is a Catholic. A child who is raised as a Catholic can therefore not ascend the Swedish throne.
The Act of Succession also indicates that princes and princesses who are not brought up in Sweden forfeit their succession rights, but it is not clear it this should be taken literally, i.e. that it only affects those styled prince or princess, or if it also affects those who have succession rights, but do not carry royal titles. (Princess Madeleine moved to New York in 2010 and seems set on staying there for at least a few more years).

Monday, 26 August 2013

Princess Madeleine’s ex-fiancé has married

Last Saturday, 17 August, Princess Madeleine of Sweden’s former fiancé Jonas Bergström married Stephanie af Klercker in Stora Mellösa Church in the eponymous village southeast of Örebro. The wedding celebrations were held at nearby Hjälmarsnäs Farm, which belongs to the family of the bride’s mother, née von Horn.
Jonas Bergström, a lawyer by profession, became engaged to Princess Madeleine on 11 August 2009, but following much media speculation about the state of their relationship and a kiss and tell interview with a girl who claimed to have had a one night stand with Bergström the engagement was broken off on 24 April 2010.
Bergström announced his engagement to Stephanie af Klercker, who used to be a friend of the Princess’s (apparently this is no longer the case) at the end of October 2012, a few days after the announcement of Princess Madeleine’s engagement to Christopher “Chris” O’Neill, whom she married on 8 June this year.
Victor Magnuson, the youngest son of Princess Christina and thus a first cousin of Princess Madeleine, was among the guests at the Bergström/af Klercker wedding, accompanied by his partner Frida Bergström.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

My latest article(s): Two accessions, 1973 and 2013

For once I did not write anything in the August issue of Majesty, but in the September issue (Vol. 34, No. 9), which goes on sale in Britain today, I return with two articles, both on accessions.
The first article deals with the abdication of King Albert II of the Belgians and the accession of his son Philippe on 21 July this year. Here I outline the reasons for the abdication and Philippe’s road to the throne, including the succession issue of 1993, and chart the challenges facing the new King of the Belgians.
On 15 September forty years have passed since the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and the accession of his 27-year-old grandson, Carl XVI Gustaf. Carl Gustaf’s troubled road to the throne at a time when strong republican currents threatened the existence of the monarchy and led to the introduction of a new constitution which deprived the King of his constitutional functions, is the topic of my second article in this issue, which also looks back at those dramatic days in the early autumn of 1973, when everything seemed to be happening at the same time.
This issue naturally also contains several articles by other authors, including a few related to the birth of Prince George of Britain and one on the last King of Portugal, Manoel II.
In the October issue, which will be out in a month, I will write about the role and influence of ex-Empress Farah of Iran, who will celebrate her 75th birthday on 14 October.

Monday, 19 August 2013

On this date: The Crown Princess is forty

Today is the fortieth birthday of the Crown Princess. She was born as Mette Marit Høiby (later changed to Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby) at St Joseph’s Hospital in Kristiansand on 19 August 1973. The official celebrations of the anniversary took part yesterday.
Ever since her 28th birthday in 2001, six days before she married the Crown Prince, the Crown Princess, who is rather religious, has celebrated her birthday with a church service for family and friends in the Palace Chapel. This year this was moved outdoors and took place in the Queen’s Park yesterday.
Like in previous years the former Bishop of Oslo, Gunnar Stålsett, who married the crown princely couple in 2001, officiated at the service. It is traditionally the Bishop of Oslo who serves as the royal family’s chaplain, but the Crown Princess, who belongs to the liberal part of the Church of Norway, obviously has much less in common with the current Bishop of Oslo, the staunchly conservative Ole Christian Kvarme, than with his liberal predecessor.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Dutch Prince Friso laid to rest

The younger brother of the King of the Netherlands, Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, who died on Monday at the age of 44 after having been in a coma for eighteen months following a skiing accident, was buried in a private ceremony today.
The funeral took place in the small Stulp Church in the village Lage Vuursche in the municipality of Baarn, near Utrecht, at 3 p.m. and was attended by some 100 mourners. The priest Carel ter Linden, who is close to the Dutch royal family, officiated, while King Willem-Alexander read from the bible and their younger brother, Prince Constantijn, gave an address. Following the service the two brothers and four friends carried the simple black coffin to its grave in the churchyard.
The mourners were led by Prince Friso’s wife, Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau, their daughters, countesses Luana and Zaria of Orange-Nassau, and his mother, Princess (former Queen) Beatrix of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima were joined by their three daughters, princesses Catharina-Amalia, Alexia and Ariane, while Prince Constantijn brought his wife, Princess Laurentien, and their children, Countess Eloise, Count Claus-Casimir and Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau. The King of Norway, who was Prince Friso’s godfather, was the only foreign royal present. The King, who is known for his big heart, was seen comforting Princess Laurentien as they left the cemetery after the burial.
Among other relatives present were Prince Friso’s three maternal aunts, princesses Irene, Christina and Margriet and the latter’s husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven, and several of his cousins: Prince Maurits of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven and his wife Marilène, Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven and his wife Annette, Prince Pieter-Christiaan of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven and his wife Anita, Prince Floris of Orange-Nassau van Vollenhoven and his wife Aimée, Juliana Guillermo, Bernardo Guillermo, Nicolas Guillermo, Princess Margarita of Bourbon-Parma and her husband Tjalling ter Cate, Duke Carlos of Parma and his wife Annemarie, and Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma with his fiancée Viktória Cservenyák, who announced their engagement on the very day Prince Friso died.

First grandchild for Prince Michael of Britain

Prince Michael of Britain, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, has become a grandfather for the first time. His son, Lord Frederick Windsor, and daughter-in-law, Sophie Winkleman (Lady Frederick Windsor), yesterday became the parents of a girl, who has received the names Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina. Their daughter was born at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles, where Sophie Winkleman works as an actress.
The child will be fortieth in line to the British throne, although she is incorrectly listed as number 42 on the British royal website, which erroneously includes the sons of Lord Nicholas Windsor, Albert and Leopold Windsor (mistakenly referred to as Honourables, a style they do not hold), who were baptised as Catholics and are therefore not in line for the throne at the time of writing.
Maud Windsor will have no style or title other than Miss. In 1917, King George V restricted the title of Prince(ss) and the style of Royal Highness to children and male-line grandchildren of the monarch, as well as the eldest son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales (in 2012 Queen Elizabeth II changed the last part to include all children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales). However, so that children of a prince should not be born as plain Mr or Miss, it was decided that children of princes should be styled Lord/Lady Firstname Windsor, as are the children of dukes and marquesses. Grandchildren, on the other hand, receive no such titles (except for the eldest son of the eldest son of a prince who also has a peerage, who may use one of the subsidary titles as a courtesy title).

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

King to attend Prince Friso’s funeral

The royal court has confirmed that the King will attend the private funeral of Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, which will be held in the Stulp Church in the village Lage Vuursche at 3 p.m. on Friday. The Prince, who died on Monday after having been in a coma for one and a half year after a skiing accident, was the King’s godson. The King and Queen were among the few foreign royals who attended the wedding of Prince Friso and Mabel Wisse Smit in the Old Church in Delft on 24 April 2004.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Book news: Some books due this autumn

With autumn approaching it seems this year’s book harvest will be a rather rich one. Among the most interesting titles expected in the coming months is Dynastiet Glücksburg - En danmarkshistorie (“The Glücksburg Dynasty: A History of Denmark”) by the historian Jes Fabricius Møller, a political history of the current Danish royal house which is due to be published by Gad at the end of September. The history of the Danish monarchy will also be covered in a new work on the tombs of Danish kings, Danske kongegrave, which is also due this autumn.
The King of Sweden is celebrating his fortieth anniversary on the throne in September, which is the occasion for the book Mina 40 år för Sverige (“My Forty Year for Sweden”), which consists of some 300 photos from the past four decades to which the King has added his comments.
Queen Silvia is probably not looking forward to the publication later this month of Erik Åsard’s book Drottningens hemlighet (“The Queen’s Secret”), which again addresses the issue of her father’s membership of the German Nazi party and his actions during the Second World War.
That war will also be at the centre of the sixth volume of Tor Bomann-Larsen’s biography of King Haakon VII of Norway, which will be published in mid-October and which will take the story from June to September 1940. The events of that crucial year will obviously also be addressed in Halvdan Koht - Veien mot framtiden (“Halvdan Koht: The Road to the Future”), the historian Åsmund Svendsen’s biography of the eminent historian Halvdan Koht, who served as foreign minister in Johan Nygaardsvold’s government and consequently had to accept some of the blame for Norway’s being poorly prepared for the German invasion on 9 April 1940.
The upcoming centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has already led to a number of books. One which seems particularly promising is The War that Ended Peace: How Europe Abandoned Peace for the First World War by the historian Margaret MacMillan, who is perhaps best known for her book on the Paris peace conference of 1919. That book will be out at the middle of October. The military historian Max Hastings will give his version of those events in Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914, to be published in September.
The First World War was unleashed by the assassination in Sarajevo of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian thrones, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg. Their story is told by Greg King and Sue Woolmans in The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World, which is due to be published in September.
The lead-up to the Second World War sets the stage for Peter Conradi’s Hot Dogs and Cocktails: When FDR Met King George VI at Hyde Park on Hudson, which relates the story of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Britain’s visit to the United States and its president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1939. Peter Conradi, a journalist at Sunday Times, is best known as the author of The King’s Speech, the book behind the Academy Award-winning film, but has also written The Great Survivors: How Monarchy Made it into the Twenty-First Century, an interesting book (so far published in English, French, Swedish and Dutch) on the European monarchies of today.
The long-awaited second volume of Philip G. Dwyer’s biography of Emperor Napoléon I of France, Citizen Emperor: Napoleon in Power, 1799-1815, will be published in early November.
This week will see the publication of a new biography of Mary Queen of Scots, Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots, by Linda Porter, who has earlier written acclaimed biographies of Queen Mary I of England and Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six queens.
Also out this week is Axel & Margaretha: A Royal Couple, written by the Danish journalist Randi Buchwaldt and published by Rosvall Royal Books. This richly illustrated book tells the story of Prince Axel and Princess Margaretha of Denmark, who played more significant parts in the lives of the Scandinavian royal families than their fairly remote genealogical positions would suggest.
The life of Queen Christina after her abdication in 1654 is the topic of Drottning utan land - Kristina i Rom by the historian Erik Petersson, which will be published in September. The book, which is the 28-year-old author’s fourth, is the sequel to his earlier book on Queen Christina’s reign, Maktspelerskan (2011).
November will see the publication of a biography of Princess Louise of Britain, Duchess of Argyll, the somewhat unconventional daughter of Queen Victoria of Britain. The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter is written by Lucinda Hawksley.

Private funeral for Prince Friso on Friday

The funeral of Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, the younger brother of the King of the Netherlands who died yesterday at the age of 44, will take place privately in the Stulp Church in the small village Lage Vuursche in the municipality of Baarn on the coming Friday. Carel A. ter Linden, a priest who is close to the royal family, will officiate.
Following the funeral service in the church, the Prince will be buried in the local cemetery, rather than in the New Church in Delft, where members of the royal family have traditionally been laid to rest in the vault. The village is close to Drakesteyn Palace, where the Prince lived during his early childhood and to which his mother, the former Queen Beatrix, is due to return to in the near future.
Although the Prince was no longer a member of the royal house the government has decided that flags shall be flown at half mast on public buildings throughout the realm on the day of the funeral.
A public memorial service will be held at a later date.

Monday, 12 August 2013

At the road’s end: Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau (1968-2013), by birth Prince of the Netherlands

The Dutch court has just announced the death of Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, King Willem-Alexander’s younger brother, at the age of 44. The Prince had been in a coma since he suffered severe brain damage after being buried by an avalanche while skiing off piste in Lech, Austria in February 2012.
Prince Johan Friso Bernhard Christiaan David of the Netherlands, as he then was, was born in Utrecht on 25 September 1968. He was the second of the three sons born to the then Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus within two and a half years. His mother ascended the throne in 1980, but abdicated on 30 April this year.
Prince Johan Friso studied mechanical engineering at Berkeley and in Utrecht, and obtained a MSc in economics from Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He thereafter embarked on a career in business, working for in Amsterdam and London. He did not carry out official engagements on behalf of the royal family.
On 30 June 2003 Prince Johan Friso announced his engagement to Mabel Wisse Smit. They married in Delft on 24 April 2004, which cost the groom the title of Prince of the Netherlands and his rights of succession to the throne as it had emerged that Mabel Wisse Smit had lied to the government about her relationship with a drugs baron. The government therefore decided not to seek Parliament’s approval for the marriage, which was necessary for the groom to maintain his position. However, Queen Beatrix allowed him to retain the subsidary, dynastic title of Prince of Orange-Nassau and he was still ranked as the second son of the monarch. At the same time he dropped the name Johan, choosing to be known as Prince Friso.
Prince Friso and Princess Mabel had two daughters, countesses Luana and Zaria of Orange-Nassau, born in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The family lived in London, and it was to the Wellington Hospital in that city that Prince Friso was flown after his accident. In November of that year it was announced that he was showing signs of minimal awareness and in July this year he was moved to his mother’s home, the Huis ten Bosch Palace in The Hague, as he was no longer needed hospital care. It was there that he passed away this morning.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Majority of Danes want Queen Margrethe to abdicate

With four monarchs stepping down (so far), this has been a year of abdications and an opinion poll conducted by YouGov and published in Søndagsavisen yesterday shows that 51 % of the Danes think that Queen Margrethe should also renounce the crown. Only 30 % think that the Queen should remain on the throne until she dies.
However, it is extremely unlikely that the majority will have their way in this question, as Queen Margrethe has repeatedly made it clear that abdication is out of the question for her. For instance, she stated in the 2009 book Dronningens teater: “Maybe some people think that I may just choose 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 I who should succeed my father. If I then chose to step aside it would really be deserting my place. It would really be a great betrayal”.
The same opinion poll shows that 77 % think Crown Prince Frederik is ready to become king, while 11 % disagree.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

On this date: Princess Christina turns seventy

Today is the seventieth birthday of the unsung heroine of the Swedish royal family, Princess Christina. She is the youngest of the four elder sisters of King Carl XVI Gustaf, who were once collectively known as the “Haga princesses” after the palace outside Stockholm where they lived until 1950.
The princesses grew up amid (for that time) intense media attention and were surrounded by strong feelings of sympathy after the tragic death of their father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, in a plane accident in 1947. Today they live private lives, and Princess Christina is the only of the sisters who continues to carry out public engagements. They are not listed in the calendar on the official royal website, but there are quite a lot of them and the Princess often steps in when extra help is needed, for instance during Crown Princess Victoria’s maternity leave.
Princess Christina is considered the most intellectual and most intelligent of the five siblings (she was the only of the princesses to graduate from senior high school), and many believe that she might have made an excellent monarch. However, women had no succession rights before 1980 and as the fourth daughter Princess Christina’s place in the order of succession would anyway have been remote.
After her three elder sisters married in 1961 and 1964 and her step-grandmother, Queen Louise, died in 1965, Princess Christina took on an increasing amount of public engagements. The early death of her mother, Princess Sibylla, in 1972 made Christina the first lady of the kingdom. She retained that role until her brother married Silvia Sommerlath in 1976 and is believed to have been a great support to Carl XVI Gustaf when he came to the throne as an inexperienced 27-year-old upon the death of their grandfather in 1973.
Princess Christina herself married the businessman Tord Magnuson in 1974. Both the old King and the new had consented to the marriage, but Christina nevertheless gave up the style Royal Highness and has since then been known as Princess Christina, Mrs Magnuson.
The couple had three sons – Gustaf, Oscar and Victor – and have within the past months become the grandparents of Edmund and Albert. For many years the Magnuson family lived in Villa Beylon near Ulriksdal Palace in Solna, just outside Stockholm, but a few years ago the Princess and her husband moved to an apartment in a building just opposite the Royal Palace.
Princess Christina was for many years the President of the Swedish Red Cross, a post closely associated with the royal family since it was held by her great-great-uncle (and godfather), Prince Carl, for more than forty years. She has also been particularly involved with cultural issues and is often seen at the opening nights at the ballet, opera or theatre or attending exhibition openings. She receives no money from the civil list, nor did she accept payment for her work at the Red Cross. As she is also one of those people who do not sing their own praise, much of her work has gone unrecognised.
The past few years have been difficult for Princess Christina, who has fought a successful battle against breast cancer and endured her jewellery being stolen by her husband’s young “friend” and partly sold for crack, partly thrown into the sea. But Princess Christina, who is now well again, has done what she was brought up to: raised her head and carried on.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

King Baudouin commemorated twenty years on

Yesterday a memorial service was held in the Cathedral of Saints Michel and Gudule in Brussels to mark the twentieth anniversary of the sudden death of the much-loved King Baudouin. His widow, Queen Fabiola, was joined by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, King Albert and Queen Paola, Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz, and Prince Laurent and Princess Claire.
King Baudouin died suddenly from a heart attack while staying at his holiday home, Villa Astrida, in Montril, Spain, in the evening of 31 July. He was only 62, but had been in delicate health for some years.
Belgium being the only kingdom in Europe where the heir does not succeed automatically on the death of the monarch, it was only on 2 August that the Belgians got to know that the late King’s brother, Albert, would be their new head of state.
Many outsiders had believed that Prince Albert would renounce his rights to the throne in favour of his son, Philippe, who was being groomed as future monarch by King Baudouin. But Prince Albert himself was unwilling to renounce his rights, and when King Baudouin underwent heart surgery in 1992 an understanding had been reached that Albert would indeed succeed him if the King did not survive.
Prince Philippe was not yet considered ready for the throne, and on the night King Baudouin died the senior members of the cabinet met with the late King’s chief of staff and agreed to encourage Albert to accept the crown. King Albert II was sworn in on 9 August 1993, two days after his brother’s funeral. He abdicated on 21 July this year.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

British prince named George Alexander Louis

The British royal court has announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and his wife Catherine) have named their son, who was born two days ago, George Alexander Louis. He is a Royal Highness and a Prince of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and will thus be styled as Prince George of Cambridge within Britain (the custom is that princes and princesses who are not the children of the sovereign are known by the territorial designation of their father's peerage).
If Britain remains a monarchy (and Prince Charles does indeed reign as Charles III) the child will one day become King George VII. The first British king of that name was the founder of the current royal house, Elector Georg of Hanover, who inherited the British throne in 1714 and reigned as King George I until his death in 1727. He was succeeded by his son, George II, who outlived his eldest son and was therefore succeeded in 1760 by his grandson, George III, who was again succeeded in 1820 by his eldest son, George IV. Thus the King of Britain was named George consecutively from 1714 to 1830. These four "Hanoverian" Georges had a rather bad press (for instance, George III is remembered primarily for going mad and losing America), although their reputations have been somewhat revised in recent decades.
The name appeared again when Edward VII died in 1910 and was succeeded by his second son, George V (who had not been born to be king). George V's death in 1936 was followed by the brief reign and scandalous abdication of his eldest son, Edward VIII, who upon his abdication was succeeded by his younger brother, Prince Albert, Duke of York. As a mark of continuity and carrying on the traditions of his father after the upheaval of the abdication, Prince Albert chose to be known as George VI, George being the last of his four names.
It might be argued that it was George V who ushered in the current style of monarchy, which has been continued by George VI and Elizabeth II. It is sometimes said that Elizabeth II's historical horizon extends no further than her father and grandfather, and some have jokingly referred to her as "George VII". There have on at least two occasions been rumours that Prince Charles, whose full name is Charles Philip Arthur George, may choose to reign as George VII rather than Charles III.
It might be noted that there has also been a previous "Prince George of Cambridge", namely the only son of Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (himself the seventh son of George III). This Prince George, who was a first cousin of Queen Victoria, was born in 1819 and rose to become Commander in Chief of the armed forces. He succeeded his father as the second Duke of Cambridge in 1850, but as he made a morganatic marriage the Cambridge title died with him in 1904.
George is also the name of the patron saint of England, on whose feast day, 23 April, the Order of the Garter is normally awarded.
The name Alexander has been borne by three Scottish kings, and was also the name of the youngest son of the future King Edward VII, who died at birth in 1871. Then there is of course Queen Alexandra, the consort of Edward VII, and Princess Alexandra, a first cousin of the current Queen of Britain and one of Prince William's godparents. Alexander is also the name of the only son of the current Duke of Gloucester.
The name Louis is most closely associated with Louis, the first Earl Mountbatten of Burma, a maternal uncle of Prince Philip and "honorary grandfather" to Prince Charles. Lord Mountbatten, who is known for his military career and for being the last Viceroy of India, was assassinated in 1979, and three years later the name Louis was given to Prince William, whose full name is William Arthur Philip Louis.
There is nothing particularly surprising about the choice of names, perhaps except that there are only three names. All the four children of Queen Elizabeth have four names, as have Prince William and his brother and the children of Prince Edward. However, Queen Elizabeth herself has only three names, as does the children of Princess Anne and of Prince Andrew.

Monday, 22 July 2013

A British prince is born

An hour ago it was announced by the British royal court that the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a son at St Mary's Hospital in London at 4.24 p.m. BST (17.24 CEST). The Prince, whose name has not yet been announced, is third in line to the British throne and it is the first time since 1901 that there are direct heirs to the British throne in three generations. The infant Prince is the first grandchild of the Prince of Wales and the third great-grandchild and first great-grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.

Duchess of Cambridge goes into labour

After much recent speculation the Duchess of Cambridge (Catherine of Britain) has gone into labour and been taken to St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London. Following the recent changes to the succession laws the child will be heir to the throne (or, at the moment, the heir apparent to the heir apparent to the heir apparent) regardless of whether it is a boy or a girl. Thus it seems a future British monarch will be born today (as it is my birthday I naturally think it a good choice of date!)
The child will be a Royal Highness and a Prince(ss) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (and styled Prince(ss) X of Cambridge within Britain). As for names, it would be expected that they would choose one with a British royal history, preferably one already borne by a British monarch (but if the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have as little sense of history as their Swedish counterparts they may of course choose a foreign name without royal roots, but I somehow feel Queen Elizabeth or Prince Charles will put a stop to any such ideas).
For a girl the most likely names are perhaps Elizabeth or Victoria, with Anne and Mary as other options. Personally I also think Charlotte would be a good choice, it being the name of the "lost" Queen of Britain, i.e. the only child of the future George IV, who died in childbirth in 1817, so that the crown eventually passed to her cousin Victoria, who was born in 1819. Charlotte would also commemorate two of the baby's grandparents, Prince Charles and Carole Middleton.
If it is a boy, there is a wider range of choices, as Britain has had more male than female monarchs. George, James, Alexander, Edward, Henry and Richard are some of the options.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A new king for Belgium today

Today is the National Day of Belgium, a day which will also see the country getting a new monarch, following King Albert II's announcement eighteen days ago of his abdication. The events related to the abdication of King Albert and the accession of Prince Philippe will be crammed into the usual schedule for the national day, making it a rather busy day.
The usual service of thanksgivings will take place at the Cathédral des Saints Michel et Gudule at 9 a.m. (rather than the usual hour of 10 a.m.), followed by the abdication ceremony at the Royal Palace at 10.30 a.m.
Belgium is the only European kingdom where the heir does not succeed automatically upon the death or abdication of the sovereign, which means that the country will find itself without a monarch until Prince Philippe swears the oath to the Constitution before the two chambers of Parliament in the Palace of the Nation at noon.
The royal family will thereafter greet the crowds from the palace balcony before King Philippe honours the unknown soldier at the Congress Column, reviews troops and takes the salute at the usual national day parade. The day will end with a firework display at 11 p.m.
Contrary to what Aftenposten has claimed repeatedly in recent days, the Norwegian royal family are not "dropping out" of the celebrations or "making other priorities". Nor are other royal families, as none of them have been invited. There is no tradition for foreign royals to attend the inauguration of Belgian monarchs, the exception being in 1934, when the father-in-law and brothers-in-law of King Léopold III accompanied him to his swearing-in after attending the funeral of King Albert I.
King Albert will, as is the tradition except in the Netherlands and Britain, retain the title of king and will not retire from public life. During the last days he has visited several Belgian cities with Queen Paola and yesterday gave his farewell address to the nation.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

On this day: Crown Prince Haakon is forty

Today is the fortieth birthday of the Crown Prince, who was born at the National Hospital in Oslo at 2.12 p.m. on 20 July 1973. Music is one of his great interest, and in his younger days the Crown Prince was a frequent guest at music festivals - one such festival was also where he met Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby for the first time in the summer of 1996. His birthday celebrations thus take the form of a music festival held in the grounds of his home, Skaugum, in Asker outside Oslo, with the guests sleeping in tents.
Except for his nieces, aunt and uncles the entire royal family will attend. The foreign royals present are the King and Queen of the Netherlands, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark, Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands, the ex-Crown Prince of Greece and his wife, Prince Kyril of Bulgaria with his daughters Mafalda and Olympia and ex-wife Rosario, and Prince Jaime of Bourbon-Parma.
From 8.10 to 9.25 tonight NRK will broadcast an interview with the Crown Prince.

Friday, 19 July 2013

My latest article: Carl Johan’s important choices for Oslo

This week this year’s third issue of Byminner, the journal of Oslo Museum, was published and there I write about the role played by King Carl XIV Johan in the development of Christiania (as the city was named then) as capital in the years after independence in 1814, particularly by making five defining choices. The article contains some new insights into the reasons behind the King’s decisions, and, as it happens, also has some relevance to this summer’s debate about the expensive wardrobe of Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

King Albert II to abdicate on 21 July

In a televised speech at 6 p.m. today King Albert II of the Belgians, standing in front of a portrait of the country’s first king and the dynasty’s founder, Léopold I, announced that he will abdicate in favour of his eldest son, 53-year-old Prince Philippe, on 21 July, the national day.
King Albert observed that he had entered his eightieth year (on 6 June) and is now the eldest monarch in Belgian history, and that he no longer felt wholly able to fulfill his royal duties. He also expressed his full confidence in his son and daughter-in-law, Princess Mathilde.
King Albert succeeded to the throne on 9 August 1993 after the early death of his elder brother, King Baudouin. Prince Philippe had been groomed as his uncle’s successor and it was widely expected that the then Prince Albert would at some stage renounce his rights in favour of his son. However, when King Baudouin died at the age of 62, Prince Philippe was only 33 and his 59-year-old father assumed the kingship.
He came to the throne only weeks after Belgium, a country torn between the French-speaking minority and the Flemish-speaking majority, had become a federation. But the political division did not decrease and twice King Albert found himself unable for months to appoint a viable government; in 2007-2008 for three months, in 2010-2011 for a world-record eighteen months (541 days). The continued political strife is believed to have taken its toll on the King.
This will be the fourth time this year that a monarch abdicates. There is no tradition for voluntarily abdication in Belgium; indeed the concept of abdication is not mentioned in the Constitution. King Albert’s father, King Léopold III, was forced to abdicate in 1951 amid great controversy over his role in the Second World War, when he had refused to follow his government into exile and voluntarily handed himself over to become a German prisoner.
However, the fact that abdication has now become a tradition in both the Netherlands and Luxembourg may have influenced King Albert’s decision and perhaps made it easier. As King Albert is a devout Catholic, he may perhaps also have been influenced by the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI in February this year. Indeed the reasons given for his abdication resemble those given by the former Pope.
As far as I can see it has not yet been announced what title King Albert will have after his abdication. While the three Dutch queens who have abdicated have reverted to the title of princess, following Queen Wilhelmina’s argument that abdication is the same as constitutional death, King Albert’s father retained the title of king following his abdication. The Luxembourgian monarchs who have abdicated, including King Albert’s brother-in-law, Grand Duke Jean, have also retained their titles.
Belgium is the only kingdom in Europe where the accession of the heir does not follow automatically on the death of the monarch. On the demise of the monarch, the government will carry out the functions of the head of state until the heir takes the oath to the Constitution. In 1993 there was an interval of nine days between the death of King Baudouin on 31 July and the inauguration of King Albert on 9 August, but this time Prince Philippe will swear the oath on the same day as his father abdicates.

At the road’s end: Princess Fawzia of Egypt (1921-2013), former Queen of Iran

The former royal family of Egypt has announced the death of Princess Fawzia, the second daughter of the late King Fuad I and sometime Queen of Iran as the first wife of Shah Mohammed Reza. She was 91 and passed away in Alexandria yesterday.
Princess Fawzia was born in Alexandria on 5 November 1921 and was the first child born of the then Sultan Fuad’s second marriage to Nazli Sabri. The following year her father assumed the title of King.
On 16 March 1939 Princess Fawzia was married off to the Crown Prince of Iran, Mohammed Reza, an arranged marriage which soon proved unhappy. In October 1940 the Crown Princess gave birth to a daughter, Princess Shahnaz, and the following year she became Queen of Iran when her husband was brought to the throne through the forced abdication of his father, Reza.
According to Shah Mohammed Reza’s biographer Abbas Milani, Fawzia, whose wealthy Sunni family had ruled Egypt for a one and a half century, was believed to look down on the poor, Shiite parvenus that were the Pahlavis, a dynasty founded by her father-in-law.
Her difficult relationship with her mother-in-law and her husband’s infidelities eventually made her return to Egypt. Her absence from Iran was officially explained by her health being endangered by the Iranian climate.
This was also the reason given for the divorce, which was finalised in 1947. In his memoirs, the Shah would later claim her inability to bear a son as the reason for divorce, but this was obviously nonsense as Fawzia had both a son, Husain, and a daughter, Nadia, by her second husband, the officer and politician Ismail Chirine, whom she married in 1949.
In 1952 Fawzia’s brother, King Farouk I, was overthrown in the revolution which, within a year, also brought an end to the Muhammad Ali dynasty. However, Princess Fawzia remained in Egypt. Her second husband died in 1994 and their daughter in 2009.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Emir of Qatar to abdicate

Qatari television Al Jazeera reports that the Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, will announce his abdication in a televised speech on Tuesday. The Emir, who is 61 years old and has suffered from health problems recently, will hand over power to his fourth son, Crown Prince Tamim, who is 33 years old.
Emir Hamad came to power through a palace revolution which overthrew his father, Emir Khalifa, on 27 June 1995. His reign has seen Qatar undergo a rapid development which has made the small country a key political and financial player in the region, whose 300,000 inhabitants enjoy the highest per capita income in the world.
The outgoing Emir has three wives and 24 children. Crown Prince Tamim is the fourth of his eleven sons, but the second son of his marriage to his second and most high-profile wife, Sheikha Mozah. Tamim replaced his elder (full) brother Jasim as heir apparent in 2003. The incoming Emir was educated in England and has two wives, three sons and three daughters.
Emir Hamad’s renouncing the crown will truly make 2013 a year of abdications, coming as it does after the abdication of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, which was announced on 28 January and carried out on 30 April, and the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, which was announced on 11 February and came into effect on the 28th of that month.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

My latest article: A royal couple for the future

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess will both celebrate their fortieth birthdays this summer, and in the July issue of Majesty (Vol. 34, No. 7) I mark the occasion with an article which looks at how they have carved out a royal role for themselves which is quite untraditional (as the Norwegian monarchy often is) and which seems well suited to bringing the monarchy safely into the future, but has also attracted some controversery when they have gotten too close to politics. The magazine goes on sale in Britain today and will soon be available in other major European cities as well.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Swedish royals on official visit to Northern Norway

Today and tomorrow King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are paying an official visit to Norway, where they are hosted by the King and Queen in the northern cities of Harstad and Tromsø. The official visit ought to be seen in relation with the current government's focus on the Arctic region, which has meant that a number of prominent visitors have been taken to the region in recent years.
The Swedish royal couple arrived in Oslo from Germany (where they and Crown Princess Victoria had been attending the celebrations of the 70th birthday of King Carl Gustaf's cousin, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha) on Sunday and have been staying privately with the King and Queen ahead of the official visit.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Queen opens gallery at Oscarshall Palace

Yesterday the Queen opened a new gallery, named “Gallery Queen Joséphine” in the former kitchen building at Oscarshall Palace in Oslo. The gallery will be the “home” of the scholarship the Queen set up two years ago and which every second year is awarded to a young graphic artist from one of the Nordic countries.
The works of the recipient will be exhibited at the gallery in those years the scholarship is awarded, while other exhibitions will be shown during the years between. The first exhibition, which opened yesterday, is “Tre reiser, tre landskap” (“Three Journeys, Three Landscapes”), which shows graphic prints by the Queen, Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl, which were first exhibited in Helsingborg in 2011.
The gallery is named for Queen Josephine, the consort of King Oscar I, who built Oscarshall as their summer residence in 1847-1852. Of all her predecessors, Queen Josephine is the one the present Queen finds most interesting.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

My latest article: The palaces and capitals of Carl XIV Johan

This year’s first issue of The Court Historian (Volume 18,1), an international academic journal published by the Society for Court Studies, is now out and the cover story is my article “Bernadotte Architecture: The Palaces and Capitals of King Carl XIV Johan of Sweden and of Norway”. For several reasons King Carl Johan got to build relatively little in Sweden, but Norway provided him with the chance to build virtually an entire new capital and Carl Johan personally made several significant choices which put his indelible mark on the Norwegian capital. However, the Swedish aspect of the story of Carl Johan and architecture is far from uninteresting, and I believe it is the first time that his architectural heritage in both kingdoms is seen in relation to each other, thereby providing some new insights – for instance making the much-discussed choice of Hans D. F. Linstow as the architect of the Royal Palace in Christiania seem almost self-evident.
In Aftenposten today I also have a short comment about Oscarshall Palace, correcting the claim made in that newspaper two days ago that this palace was never meant to be inhabited. As I have shown earlier, Oscarshall was intended to be a royal residence and was used as such by King Oscar I.

Foundation stone laid for Berlin palace

Yesterday the President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, laid the foundation stone for the royal palace in Berlin, which is to be rebuilt. The palace, which was the official residence of the electors of Brandenburg, kings of Prussia and German emperors until 1918, was begun in 1443, but was heavily rebuilt in subsequent centuries. Like most of Berlin, it was damaged during World War II, and the German Democratic Republic eventually had it demolished in 1950 and replaced with the Palace of the Republic.
Following the reunification of Germany in 1990 several voices spoke out in favour of reconstructing the former royal palace, and after much debate the Palace of the Republic was demolished in 2006-2008. In 2007 Parliament decided that the royal palace should be rebuilt.
However, it is only the exterior, or rather three of the façades, which will be rebuilt, while the fourt façade and the interior will be in a modern architectural style. The palace, whose official name will be the Humboldt Forum, will exhibit non-European artefacts from the collections of the Berlin museums.
The reconstruction is scheduled to be completed by 2019 and to cost 590 million euro.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

On this date: A century of female suffrage

Today Norway celebrates the centenary of the right to vote being given to all adult women by Parliament on 11 June 1913. Norway was the fourth country in the world to introduce general female suffrage, but as New Zealand and Australia were under British rule and Finland under Russian, Norway was the first independent country to give this right to women.
All men above the age of 25 had been given the right to vote in 1898, while about 40 % of women over the age of 25 were given the right to vote in municipal elections in 1901 and in 1907 a limited number of women were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections, meaning that a woman, Anna Rogstad, took a seat in Parliament for the first time in 1911.
Obviously the emancipation of women did not just come about, but met with fierce opposition from conservatives, and today (and throughout this year) many of those women and men who campaigned for women's right to vote are being honoured for their work.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Royal jewels: Princess Madeleine’s wedding jewellery

There had been some speculation ahead of Saturday’s wedding between Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill about what tiara the bride would wear, with speculation focusing on the cameo tiara which was worn by Crown Princess Victoria, Queen Silvia, Princess Désirée and Princess Birgitta for their weddings and has thereby come to being considered as some sort of tradition for weddings.
However, Princess Madeleine chose to break this “tradition” and rather wear the tiara most closely associated with her. This tiara may be considered a modern interpretation of the classic fringe tiaras, but very little is known about its origins or provenance. It was first seen on Queen Silvia in the late 1980s, but the royal court only describes it as “private” and has never given further information about it, so it is not known if it was purchased by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia or if it was a gift or possibly an inheritance from someone.
Since her coming of age in 2000 Princess Madeleine has frequently worn the tiara, which may also be worn as a necklace, but Queen Silvia has also continued to wear it occasionally.
While the tiara appears to be of a rather young age, the earrings worn by Princess Madeleine for her weddings are very old. Apparently they belonged to Queen Lovisa Ulrika, the Prussian-born consort of King Adolf Fredrik, who died in 1782. They left Sweden when King Gustaf IV Adolf was deposed in 1809, and is known as “the Vasa earrings” as ex-Crown Prince Gustaf received the title Prince of Vasa from the Austrian emperor. His only child, Queen Carola of Saxony, apparently passed the earrings on to a great-granddaughter of Gustaf IV Adolf, Princess Victoria of Baden, who became Queen of Sweden through her marriage to King Gustaf V.
Princess Madeleine also wore a bracelet which seems to have belonged to Princess Lilian, her beloved great-aunt and substitute grandmother, who died in March this year. Crown Princess Victoria also chose to honour their great-aunt by wearing jewellery inherited from her, namely a delicate laurel wreath tiara which Queen Sophia presented to her granddaughter-in-law Margareta when she married the future Gustaf VI Adolf in 1905. She also wore a necklace, originally a stomacher, which is known to have belonged to Queen Josephina and which was frequently worn by Princess Lilian.

Order of the Polar Star for Christopher O’Neill

Surely it will not be necessary for me to write an account of the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill tonight, but one aspect which might be worth commenting on is that the groom was made a Commander of the Order of the Polar Star (second class) by King Carl Gustaf on 6 June.
The Vasa Order and the Sword Order are now dormant, meaning that the Order of the Polar Star is now the second highest ranking Swedish order. Since the introduction of the new Constitution in 1975 the King has been forbidden to give orders to Swedish citizens, while orders may still be given to foreigners.
That meant that King Carl Gustaf in 1976 gave the Order of the Seraphim to his fiancée Silvia Sommerlath before the wedding, when she was still a German citizen, and likewise gave the Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star to Lilian Craig before she married Prince Bertil and thereby relinquished her British citizenship.
It was only in 1995 that an exception was made for members of the royal house, making it possible for the King to invest his three children with the Order of the Seraphim on their eighteenth birthdays in 1995, 1997 and 2000 and to give it to Princess Lilian on her eightieth birthday in 1995.
This exception also meant that it was only on his way out of the Cathedral after having married Crown Princess Victoria and thus become a prince and a member of the royal house that Prince Daniel was given the Order of the Seraphim.
As Christopher O’Neill did not become a member of the royal house and is a foreign citizen no such restrictions applied in his case. But the fact that he did not become a member of the royal house obviously also made it more natural to give him the Order of the Polar Star rather than the highest-ranking order.
This also has a precedence, as three of King Carl Gustaf’s brothers-in-law - John Ambler, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld and Tord Magnuson - were made Commanders of the Vasa Order when they married princesses Margaretha, Désirée and Christina in, respectively, 1964, 1964 and 1974.
On the other hand, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern was, apparently much to his own surprise, given the Order of the Seraphim by King Gustaf VI Adolf when he married Princess Birgitta in 1961. At the same time the Order of the Seraphim was also awarded to his elder brother, Friedrich Wilhelm, while their father, who had been given the Seraphim as early as 1936, received the collar of the order. The reason for this was obviously that Princess Birgitta, unlike her sisters, married a prince and thus herself remained a Royal Highness and a member of the royal house.