Friday, 31 May 2013

Foreign guests for Princess Madeleine’s wedding

With eight days to go before Princess Madeleine of Sweden marries Christopher O’Neill in the Palace Church in Stockholm, the Swedish royal court has not yet released a list of guests, but this is expected to appear in a few days. However, some guests are already known.
The Norwegian royal court has confirmed that the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, as well as Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn, will attend the wedding, and the Danish court has announced the presence of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, and Princess Benedikte. The presence of Prince Joachim is quite unusual, as he is normally the one who stays behind in Denmark to act as guardian of the realm when other members of the family attend royal events abroad, but in this case Queen Margrethe herself will remain in Denmark.
According to the British magazine Majesty Prince Edward of Britain and his wife Sophie (aka the Earl and Countess of Wessex) will also attend the wedding, which seems plausible as they are the usual British representatives at foreign weddings.
As this is a much smaller event than the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel in 2010, and not a state occasion like that wedding, fewer guests have been invited and fewer official representatives from Sweden and abroad will be present. There is thus no reason to expect for instance Japanese or Thai royalty or the presidents of Finland and Iceland; the foreign royal guests will probably be restricted to the reigning European royal families and possibly a few members of non-reigning dynasties such as Greece, Hohenzollern and Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and possibly Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Bavaria.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

My latest article: The myths about the union

As part of the jubilee exhibitions based on the Royal Collections which are the government’s present to the King and Queen for their 75th birthdays last year, Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum in Tromsø is currently showing the art collection which was presented by the Norwegian people to their King and Queen, Oscar II and Sophie, on the occasion of their silver wedding in 1882, and today I write in the newspaper Nordlys about how this exhibition disproves some of the common myths about the union between Norway and Sweden.
Many seem to believe that Norway only became independent in 1905 and that the Norwegian monarchy was invented that year, while the so-called “Swedish kings” hardly set foot in Norway. In fact the union was a very loose personal union between two independent countries, and the high quality of the artworks shown in the exhibition reminds us that the age of the union was a golden age for Norwegian art. That the majority of the artworks show Norwegian landscapes and coastal motifs reflects the fact that King Oscar II travelled more widely in Norway than any monarch since Christian IV. (Unfortunately a typo means that the article says that Oscar II was the first king to set foot in Norway since Christian IV in 1599, but that should obviously be in *Northern* Norway).
The exhibition, which was opened by the Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik, in the presence of the Queen on 4 February, lasts until 1 September. On the coming Monday the King and Queen will attend the opening of the last of the six jubilee exhibitions, which will be shown in Trondheim until 29 September.
From today there is also another royal-related exhibition in Trondheim, where the stained glass windows presented by King Oscar II to Nidaros Cathedral to commemorate his and Queen Sophie’s coronation in 1873 (which were later removed during the restoration of the Cathedral) will be shown in the Archbishop’s Palace.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Funeral held for Count Christian of Rosenborg

At 11 a.m. today Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was among the mourners at the funeral of her first cousin, Count Christian of Rosenborg (by birth Prince of Denmark), who died on 21 May. The funeral was held in Lyngby Church in Kongens Lyngby, just outside Copenhagen and near Sorgenfri Palace, where Count Christian was born in 1942 and where he at the time of his death lived in an adjacent building.
The late Count had himself chosen the priest Julie Goldschmidt to officiate at his funeral and the eulogy was given by his son-in-law Mikael Rosanes. The coffin was draped in a Danish flag with the collar and star of the Order of the Elephant and his other decorations placed on a cushion.
The Count’s widow, Countess Anne Dorte, who is herself very ill with cancer, was able to attend, supported by their three daughters, Josephine, Camilla and Feodora, their sons-in-law and most of their grandchildren.
Queen Margrethe was accompanied by the Prince Consort. Princess Marie and Princess Benedikte also attended, as did Count Christian’s brother and sister-in-law, Count Ingolf and Countess Sussie of Rosenborg, and his sister, Princess Elisabeth. Princess Astrid of Norway was the only foreign royal to attend (she also attended the funeral of Count Christian’s mother, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, together with Queen Sonja in 1995).
Although he in an interview as recently as last year expressed a wish to be buried at the cemetery at Søllerød, Count Christian of Rosenborg was in fact laid to rest in Lyngby Cemetery.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

On this date: Danes voted for altered succession sixty years ago

The funeral of Count Christian of Rosenborg (by birth Prince of Denmark) tomorrow will miss by only one day the sixtieth anniversary of the referendum which deprived his branch of the Danish royal family of the crown and bestowed it upon the current Queen Margrethe II. The events of 1953 would drive a wedge between King Frederik IX and his younger brother, Hereditary Prince Knud, who were thereafter not on speaking terms for the remainder of their lives.
Until 1953 only men were eligible to inherit the Danish throne, so the birth of a daughter to Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Ingrid in 1940, after five years of marriage, was of no significance for the succession. On the other hand, the Crown Prince’s younger brother, Prince Knud, had had a son that year, Prince Ingolf, and two years later he fathered another son. This son was named Christian, the name which was “reserved” for the eldest son of Crown Prince Frederik. According to Ingolf, the choice of name caused things to go “completely wrong” between Frederik and Knud.
The succession issue was not resolved by the birth of two more daughters to Crown Prince Frederik, which meant that Prince Knud upon his brother’s succession to the throne in 1947 became heir presumptive.
The Danish Constitution of 1915 had by then become outdated in several ways, but it was a complicating factor that changing it required the consent of 45 % of the entire electorate in a referendum. A new constitution had been defeated in 1939 as turn-out had been too low to bring the approval rate over the required 45 % of the electorate.
But after the Second World War an MP by the name of Poul Thisted Knudsen had the idea of linking a new constitution with a new Act of Succession which would allow a princess to inherit the crown if she had no brothers. This was apparently seen as something which would interest the voters more than lowering the age of suffrage and abolishing the bicameral system and might thus cause enough voters to turn out for the changes to be approved by more than 45 % of the electorate.
Indeed this did interest voters, but the problem for Prince Knud’s family was that the debate soon took the form of a choice between King Frederik’s attractive daughters and Prince Knud and his sons, who were portrayed as ugly and stupid.
In the referendum held on 28 May 1953 the new Constitution and the Act of Succession narrowly received the support of the required 45 %. The Constitution and the Act of Succession were signed into law by King Frederik IX in a State Council on 5 June 1953, Denmark’s national day. At that moment Prince Knud lost everything, and Prime Minister Erik Eriksen later told the historian Tage Kaarsted that Prince Knud had attempted to sabotage the signing of the laws.
Now fourth in line of succession, Prince Knud knew that he would never inherit the throne, yet he was, rather oddly, now given the title of “Hereditary Prince”. According to an interview with Ingolf for his seventieth birthday in 2010, King Frederik IX and Hereditary Prince Knud never spoke again except at official events and when King Frederik came to his brother’s home to confer the Order of the Elephant on Ingolf on his 21st birthday in 1961.
While this might seem irrational, as the changes to the succession had not been instigated by King Frederik and he had at the outset been sceptical, it seems Hereditary Prince Knud, like many others, may have thought that Queen Ingrid was the mind behind the amendment. This she would later firmly deny, as has Queen Margrethe done, but after the referendum Queen Ingrid did write a letter of gratitude to Poul Thisted Knudsen, whose idea it had been.
When King Frederik IX died on 14 January 1972 he was succeeded by his eldest daughter, Queen Margrethe II, who has now reigned successfully for 41 years. Full cognatic succession was introduced in 2009.
Hereditary Prince Knud outlived his brother for four years, dying on 14 June 1976, and according to Ingolf he “would have liked very much to have those years as king”. He died a bitter man and left instructions that his funeral should take place without any public attention.
Much against the will of his mother, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, Ingolf thereafter brokered a reconciliation with his cousin, Queen Margrethe. Eventually Caroline-Mathilde herself, who died in 1995, became reconciled with Queen Ingrid.
As some sort of compensation for losing the crown, Ingolf annually receives 1.5 million DKK from the state. He became a farmer, while his elder sister Princess Elisabeth embarked on a career in the Foreign Office and his younger brother Christian served in the Navy.
As they did not receive King Frederik’s consent, Ingolf and Christian lost their royal titles when they married commoners in 1968 and 1971, respectively, and were both created Count of Rosenborg. Princess Elisabeth lived for 20 years with the filmmaker Claus Hermansen, but the couple never married because, as she has explained in an interview, she had no desire for children and wanted to keep her royal title. As Count Ingolf is unable to have children, Christian would have been heir presumptive to the throne if Ingolf had become king.
Today the relationship between the two branches of the family seems correct, but not particularly warm. The children of Prince Knud are invited to major events, but privately the cousins see little of each other.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

My latest article: Trouble with the Vatican

Princess Madeleine’s marriage to Christopher O’Neill on 8 June will be the third time in a century that a Swedish princess marries a Catholic. In the June issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty (Vol. 34, No. 6), which went on sale in Britain on Thursday and will soon be on sale in other major European cities, I write about the trouble with the Vatican on the two previous occasions.
Both in 1926, when Princess Astrid married the heir to the Belgian throne, Prince Léopold, and in 1961, when Princess Birgitta married Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, there were delicate negotiations between the families and the Catholic Church, which on both occasions forced the families to back down on their plans for the wedding, allowing only a civil ceremony to take place in Stockholm instead of the religious ceremonies wanted by the families. In 1926 the Swedish Archbishop, Nathan Söderblom, apparently thought he had found a way of fooling the Vatican, but this seems to have backfired when the situation next arose, causing some bitterness to Princess Birgitta.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Count Christian to be buried on Wednesday

It has been announced by the Danish royal court that the funeral of Count Christian of Rosenborg, by birth Prince of Denmark, who died on Tuesday at the age of seventy, will take place at Lyngby Church in Kongens Lyngby (outside Copenhagen) on Wednesday 29 May at 11 a.m.
At this time it is not yet known if Queen Margrethe or other senior members of the royal family will attend.
Count Christian was born at Sorgenfri Palace in Lyngby, which was the favourite summer residence of his grandparents, King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine, and later the home of his parents, Hereditary Prince Knud and Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde. Since 1991 Count Christian and his wife Anne Dorte lived in the Ladies’ Pavilion adjacent to the palace, so Kongens Lyngby might rightly be considered the place where he belongs.
I do, however, wonder if it is correct, as one online newspaper reports, that Count Christian will be buried at the cemetery in Lyngby, as he has earlier stated his wish to be buried at the cemetery in Søllerød.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

At the road's end: Count Christian of Rosenborg (1942-2013), by birth Prince of Denmark

Here in Copenhagen, where I am spending a few days, the royal court earlier today announced the death of Count Christian of Rosenborg, by birth Prince of Denmark, a first cousin of Queen Margrethe II. The Count, who was 70 years old, died at Gentofte Hospital in Gentofte (just outside Copenhagen) at 11 p.m. last night. His wife, three daughters and sons-in-law were at his side.
The youngest of the three children of Hereditary Prince Knud and Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, His Highness Prince Christian Frederik Franz Knud Harald Carl Oluf Gustav Georg Erik of Denmark was born at Sorgenfri Palace in Kongens Lyngby on 22 October 1942. His father was the second and youngest son of King Christian X, while his mother was the daughter of Christian X's younger brother, Prince Harald.
As King Frederik IX had no sons and women were not entitled to succeed to the throne, Prince Knud became first in line to the throne when his elder brother succeeded to the throne in 1947. However, a plebiscite in 1953 introduced female succession, making Princess Margrethe heiress presumptive. The events of 1953 caused much bitterness to Prince Knud, who never again spoke to his elder brother except at official events, and the cousins were never particularly close.
Prince Christian did not receive the King's consent to his marriage in 1971 to the Danish commoner Anne Dorte Maltoft-Nielsen. Consequently he lost his position in the order of the succession, was stripped off his royal title and was, like other ex-princes before him, created Count of Rosenborg.
Count Christian and Countess Anne Dorte had three daughters - the twins Camilla and Josephine in 1972 and Feodora in 1975 - and eventually seven grandchildren. Since 1991 they lived in the Ladies' Pavilion at Sorgenfri. Count Christian pursued a career in the Navy, until he retired ten years ago with the rank (I believe) of Commander.
In 2009 Count Christian, who had been a heavy smoker since the age of eight, was diagnosed with throat cancer. He was declared cured after having undergone 33 rounds of chemotherapy, but lost his ability to speak above a whisper.
A few months ago his wife Anne Dorte was diagnosed with the same illness, while the Count's health again deteriorated. The last but one weekend they both missed the confirmation of their eldest grandchild, Anastasia, which was held at Sorgenfri. Their daughter Camilla subsequently told the magazine Se og Hør that things were going the wrong way with both her parents.
Today their daughter Josephine says to the online edition of the tabloid newspaper BT that she does not know what her father died from, but that it might have been the strain of his wife's illness. However, I understand that the Countess was expected to pass away before Count Christian.

Monday, 20 May 2013

At the road’s end: Dorrit Countess of Rosenborg (1926-2013)

Dorrit Countess of Rosenborg, the ex-wife of the former Prince Oluf of Denmark, died on Tuesday 14 May at the age of 86. Born Annie Helene Dorrit Puggaard-Müller in Copenhagen on 8 September 1926, she was the daughter of Gunnar Puggaard-Müller and Gerda Annie Nielsen. On 4 February 1948 she married Prince Oluf of Denmark, the youngest child of Prince Harald (the third son of King Frederik VIII) and Princess Helena.
Oluf was the first prince to marry a commoner in the reign of Frederik IX, who did not consent to the match and showed himself a tad stricter than Christian X, who had allowed princes who married commoners a lesser princely title to which the title Count of Rosenborg was added, by demoting the groom to Count Oluf of Rosenborg. Frederik IX would subsequently apply the same practice to the princes Flemming, Ingolf and Christian.
Count Oluf and Countess Dorrit had two children, Ulrik in 1950 and Charlotte in 1953. However, the Countess eventually embarked on a relationship with the policeman Bent Lund, who had been her daughter’s driving instructor, and the Count and Countess were divorced on 20 January 1977.
Dorrit married Bent Lund on 9 December 1978, but continued to use the title Countess of Rosenborg, a rather unusual practice which was, however, sanctioned by the royal court.
Bent Lund later served as Mayor of Slangerup, a small town north of Copenhagen, and the couple were present at certain royal events, such as the reburial of the Dowager Empress Marya Fyodorovna of Russia in 2006 and the 70th birthday of Queen Margrethe in 2010.
Dorrit Countess of Rosenborg is survived by her second husband, her two children and four grandchildren. Her funeral will take place in Slangerup Church at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

At the road’s end: Jo Benkow (1924-2013), former Speaker of Parliament

Jo Benkow, former Speaker of Parliament and leader of the Conservative party, the first Jew to be elected to Parliament and probably known to some readers of this blog as a royal biographer, died on Saturday at the age of 88.
The grandson of a Russian court photographer who had fled Russia during the 1905 pogroms, Josef Elias Benkow was born in Trondheim on 15 August 1924. He followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a photographer, but his education was interrupted by the Second World War. He managed to escape to Sweden in 1942 and served in the Norwegian air force in Britain and Canada, while all the female members of his family were murdered in Auschwitz.
Jo Benkow joined the Conservative party and was elected to Parliament in 1965, remaining there until 1993. He was leader of the party from 1980 to 1984, but remained outside the cabinet when the party formed a government led by Kåre Willoch in 1981. From 1985 to 1993 he served as Speaker of Parliament, the second most senior position in the country.
Benkow was known for his work against racism, prejudices and intolerance and did much to create awareness of such issues. Many remember his moving speech in support of the law which introduced civilian partnerships for homosexuals in 1993.
Jo Benkow was the author of several books, among which the autobiographical Fra synagogen til Løvebakken became a bestseller. He also authored a biography of King Olav, Olav - Menneske og monark, for which he interviewed the King only hours before the monarch was taken ill and died on 17 January 1991.
Jo Benkow will be buried at the Mosaic section of the Eastern Cemetery in Oslo on Wednesday.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Prince Nikolai of Denmark confirmed

This morning the confirmation of Prince Nikolai of Denmark, the eldest grandchild of Queen Margrethe II, took place in Fredensborg Palace Church, where he was also christened in 1999.
The confirmation was a private event, attended only by some forty family members and godparents, among them Prince Nikolai’s parents, Prince Joachim of Denmark and Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg; his brother Prince Felix; his half-brother Prince Henrik; his step-mother Princess Marie; his step-father Martin Jørgensen; his paternal grandparents the Queen and Prince Consort; his maternal grandmother Christa Manley; his uncle and aunt, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary; his cousins Prince Christian and Princess Isabella; and his maternal aunts Nicola and Martina. The only foreign royals present were the Earl and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward of Britain and his wife Sophie), the Earl being one of Prince Nikolai’s six godparents.
The Prince was confirmed by the court chaplain, retired Bishop Erik Norman Svendsen. After the church ceremony a luncheon was given in the Domed Hall of Fredensborg Palace.
Fredensborg Palace Church, which is adjacent to Fredensborg Palace, was built by the architect Johan Cornelius Krieger in 1724-1726. The children of King Frederik IX and Queen Margrethe II have all been confirmed there.

No royal title for Christopher O’Neill

The Swedish Marshal of the Realm (i.e. Lord Chamberlain), Svante Lindqvist, has announced that Christopher O’Neill, who will marry Princess Madeleine on 8 June, will receive no title by virtue of his marriage and remain simply Mr Christopher O’Neill.
The reason given for this is a policy of the royal house’s that a member of the royal house ought to be a Swedish citizen and ought not occupy a position of responsibility in business.
As Christopher O’Neill intends to remain an American citizen (and I suppose also a British subject) and continue his business career he cannot bear the title of HRH Prince of Sweden or Duke of Helsingia and Gastricia, the royal court states, adding that he has consequently respectfully requested to be allowed to remain a private citizen.
The King of Sweden’s lawyer, Axel Calissendorff, recently stated that Mr O’Neill in order to become duke or prince had to become a Swedish citizen, which Calissendorff thought would be possible while at the same time retaining his American and British passports. Apparently Christopher O’Neill preferred not to pursue such a course.
When Princess Madeleine became engaged to Jonas Bergström, in 2009 it was announced that he would become Duke of Helsinga and Gastricia, the two dukedoms held by Princess Madeleine.
As Princess Madeleine, unlike her aunts, has full succession rights to the throne she will retain her title as Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Duchess of Helsinga and Gastricia.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Monogramme for Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill

The Swedish royal court today published the monogramme for Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill which has been designed by Vladimir A. Sagerlund ahead of their wedding on 8 June. The double monogramme shows their initials M and C surmounted by a ducal crown.
On Sunday the banns of marriage will be read during a service in the Palace Church in Stockholm, followed by a reception at the Royal Palace. In Sweden this is a tradition which is accorded a greater significance than in many other countries (although it is no longer obligatory since 1973) and it is often the occasion for the presentation of the wedding gifts.

On this date: 199 years of independence

Today is the National Day of Norway, commemorating the events of 1814 which led to Norway’s independence and the passing of the Constitution which remains in force today, making it the second oldest exisiting constitution in the world. The bicentenary next year will be marked with a series of events.
Today the schoolchildren paraded as usual in large and small places all over the country. In Oslo the parade passed by the Royal Palace, where it was greeted by the King and Queen, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus from the balcony. As usual Princess Astrid watched from a window, while Princess Märtha Louise this year took part in the celebrations in London, where she lives with her family.
The tradition of the royal family greeting the people on 17 May dates to 1845, when Queen Josephine, Prince Gustaf and Princess Eugénie greeted the celebrators from a window in the then royal residence, the Mansion. The first person to do so from the balcony of the Palace, which was inaugurated in 1849, was Crown Prince Regent Carl in 1858.
The British terror bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807 forced the Danish state, which Norway was part of, into the Napoleonic wars on the French side. King Frederik VI remained Napoléon’s ally until the end, and by the Treaty of Kiel of 14 January 1814 he was forced to cede Norway to the King of Sweden. This was not accepted by the Norwegian, and the King’s cousin and heir, Prince Christian Frederik, who had served as Lieutenant of the Realm since the previous year, headed a rebellion which led to a constituent assembly being convened at Eidsvoll, where the Constitution was passed on 16 May 1814. It was signed the following day and Christian Frederik elected King of independent Norway.
A brief war with Sweden followed in July and August, which ended with an armistice on 14 August. Christian Frederik abdicated on 10 October, and having passed several amendments to the Constitution, an extraordinary Parliament voted in favour of a personal union with Sweden on 4 November, when Carl XIII was elected King of Norway. However, Norway retained its independence and its constitution in the personal union, which came to an end in 1905.