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.

Friday, 7 June 2013

New books: Madeleine on the surface

“This is a book about the world’s most beautiful princess”, states the Swedish journalist Daniel Nyhlén, former royal correspondent of Aftonbladet and Svensk Damtidning, in the preface to his first book, Prinsessan Madeleine, which was published by Lind & Co last week, just in time for the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill tomorrow.
And that is indeed what it is. But the author contradicts himself, for having written a paragraph of how beautiful, glamorous, hot and ravishing she is, he goes on to state that he has never cared much about the royals’ “glamorous and extravagant life style” and that there is something much more interesting about Princess Madeleine: the private person.
We are treated to 233 pages which mostly contain photos of Princess Madeleine since the age of nineteen, accompanied by brief texts about her graduation from high school, her friends, her partying, her family, her holidays, her dogs, her work, her public engagements, the Nobel banquets, her sister’s wedding, her beauty, celebrities she has met, her ex-boyfriends, her ex-fiancé, the media, her fiancé, New York and her engagement to the man she will marry tomorrow.
It can all be read in an afternoon, and occasionally it reads like a cheap novel – after Jonas Bergström proposed, “they kissed each other in the sunset over the beautiful-as-a-fairytale Bay of Naples”, we are assured, although neither of the two people present have ever said that they kissed or what time of the day it was. And the author repeatedly uses the word “literally” when he means practically, although I admit it would have been fun to see Princess Madeleine literally steal the show.
The photos are a mix of official portraits, photos from public engagements and paparazzi snapshots, some of them of very little interest. Focusing on Princess Madeleine’s looks, the author rarely gets beyond the surface, and therefore the book never really gets interesting. But Princess Madeleine is a very private person, and perhaps Nyhlén’s approach is at least better than that of Johan T. Lindwall of Expressen, who, in his so-called biographies of Princess Madeleine and Crown Princess Victoria, wants us to believe that he knows the members of the royal family so well that he can even tell us what they thought and did when alone in a room. And I am sure many “royalty fans” will buy this book, which is probably also the main reason why it has been written and published.

Princess Madeleine will wear Valentino for her wedding

The Swedish royal court has confirmed that Princess Madeleine’s wedding dress is created by Valentino. This comes as no surprise, as the bride is known to be a Valentino fan and as the designer and his partner are on the guest list for the wedding, which has not yet been officially released, but was published by the newspaper Aftonbladet on Tuesday.
Yesterday the Princess and her fiancé attended the celebrations of Sweden’s national day with the other members of the royal family, and tonight King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia will host a dinner at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm.

Princess Madeleine’s wedding on Norwegian TV

Norwegian state broadcaster NRK will of course broadcast the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill tomorrow. The broadcast will begin at NRK1 at 3.30 p.m., that is half an hour before the service begin, and last until 7 p.m. NRK2 will continue until 8 p.m., while highlights will be shown at NRK1 between 9.40 p.m. and 10.40 p.m. The commentators will be the journalist Kjell Pihlstrøm and the historian and author Trond Norén Isaksen (yes, that is me).

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Prince Philip of Britain in hospital again

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip of Britain, has been admitted to the London Clinic to undergo what Buckingham Palace describes as “an exploratory operation following abdominal investigations” tomorrow and is expected to remain in the hospital for up to two weeks. The Prince, who will be 92 on Monday, is generally considered very healthy for his ripe old age, but has had a series of health setbacks recently.
He had to undergo heart surgery during Christmas 2011, missed part of the diamond jubilee celebrations in June 2012 because of a bladder infection and was again admitted to hospital with a bladder infection two months later.
The Duke missed an official engagement on Monday due to health issues, but was able to attend the service of thanksgivings celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, the following day. He also attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace earlier today before being taken to the hospital.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Guests for Princess Madeleine’s wedding

The Swedish royal court has not yet released the official guest list for the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill on Saturday, but the newspaper Aftonbladet has gotten hold of it and released it in its entirety. As expected there will be far fewer royal guests than at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, which is only natural as Princess Madeleine is not the heir to the throne and this is not a state occasion.
Apparently no foreign heads of state have been invited, but the wife of the Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Princess Charlène, will be present. The then Charlene Wittstock also attended the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria in 2010 together with Prince Albert, which was unusual as the couple was at that time not yet engaged (at least not officially).
The Danish royal family will be represented by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, and Princess Benedikte, who is one of Princess Madeleine’s godparents. The Norwegian guests will be Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit as well as Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn.
The British royal family will be represented by the Earl and Countess of Wessex (i.e. Prince Edward and his wife Sophie), who are usually the British representatives at royal weddings these days. Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg will also be in attendance, while the reigning houses of Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Liechtenstein will not be represented at all. Somewhat surprisingly the Japanese imperial house will send a representative, namely Princess Takamado, i.e. Hisako, the widow of the Emperor’s cousin Norihito, a frequent traveller who seems to have rather close relations with the Nordic royal families.
The extended Swedish royal family will naturally be out in force, led by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and Prince Carl Philip. Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend, Sofia Hellqvist, is also on the guest list, but not listed with the Prince, as is the custom as long as there is no engagement.
King Carl Gustaf’s four sisters, Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée and Princess Christina, will also be present. Princess Désirée will be accompanied by her husband, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, who has been seriously ill and thus missed several royal occasions, and Princess Christina by her husband, Tord Magnuson. Princess Birgitta’ husband, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, will not attend.
The three children of Princess Margaretha, Baroness Sybilla von Dincklage, James Ambler and Edward Ambler, and her daughters-in-law Ursula and Helen will also be present, as well as Princess Birgitta’s daughter and son-in-law, Désirée and Eckbert von Bohlen und Halbach, but not Princess Birgitta’s sons. Princess Désirée’s son, Baron Carl Silfverschiöld, will attend without his wife Maria, while his sister Christina will be accompanied by her husband, Baron Hans De Geer, and the youngest sister, Baroness Hélène Silfverschiöld, by her boyfriend Fredrik Diterle. Princess Christina’s three sons will all be there: Gustaf Magnuson with his fiancée Vicky Andrén, Oscar Magnuson with his wife Emma Magnuson, and Victor Magnuson with his girlfriend Frida Bergström.
The widows of King Carl Gustaf’s uncles, Countesses Marianne and Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, will also be in attendance.
As expected only those former royal families with close ties to the Swedish royal family have been invited. Ex-Crown Prince Pavlós of Greece and his wife Marie-Chantal will be accompanied by Prince Nikoláos and his wife Tatiana, Princess Theodora and Prince Philippos. Pavlós, Nikolaós, Theodora and Philippos are all second cousins of the bride.
King Carl Gustaf’s first cousin, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, will come without his wife Carin, but with his son Hubertus and daughter-in-law Kelly. Prince Leopold of Bavaria, who is a close friend of King Carl Gustaf, will be accompanied by his wife Ursula as well as his son Manuel and daughter-in-law Anna.
In the large section listing private friends we can also find the names of some members of former royal families who are apparently invited in their capacity as friends of the groom and his family, who seems to have a vast international network. Among them are Count Giberto and Countess Bianca Arrivabene-Valenti-Gonzaga (née Princess of Savoy), Archduke Philipp and Archduchess Mayasuni of Austria-Hungary, Prince Paolo Constantino Borghese, an unnamed Prince and Princess of Arenberg, the Maharana of Udaipur (Arvind Singh Mewar) and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan.
Queen Silvia’s two surviving brothers, Ralf and Walther Sommerlath, will be there with their wives Charlotte and Ingrid and a host of the Queen’s nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces: Carmita Sommerlath Baudinet and Pierre Baudinet, Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath and Bettina Aussems, Tim de Toledo Sommerlath and Kristina Junghans, Philip de Toledo Sommerlath, Giulia de Toledo Sommerlath, Patrick and Malina Sommerlath, Leopold Lundén Sommerlath, Chloé Sommerlath, Anaïs Sommerlath, Helena Christina Sommerlath and Vivien Nadine Sommerlath (the latter two being the daughters of Queen Silvia’s late brother Jörg). Prince Daniel’s sister, Anna Westling Söderblom, will attend with her husband Mikael.
There is also a large section listing the members of the groom’s family, of whom little is known. His father Paul O’Neill died in 2004, but his mother, Eva Maria O’Neill, will be there. All the groom’s five half-sisters are on the list; Annalisa O’Neill, Karen O’Neill and Stefanie O’Neill are his father’s daughters, while Tatjana d’Abo and Countess Natascha Abensperg und Traun are his mother’s daughters. The latter two will be accompanied by their husbands, Henry d’Abo and Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun. Then there are also several nephews and nieces, among them: Anouska d’Abo, Celina d’Abo, Jasper d’Abo, Countess Milana Abensperg und Traun, Count Moritz Abensperg und Traun, Countess Chiara Abensperg und Traun, and Oliver MacNeely. I am not sure how Richard d’Abo, Maria Sefarian, Rolf Nikel and Olivia Nikel, Wolfgang Schoeller and Heidi Schoeller, Cristopher Ramsay and Lucy Ramsay are related to the groom, while Countes Felicia Abensperg und Traun appears to be the mother of one of his brothers-in-law.
The non-official character of the wedding means that there will be far fewer representatives of Swedish authorities present, but among those who will be there are the Speaker of Parliament, Per Westerberg, and his wife Ylva, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Björklund and his wife Anette Brifalk Björklund, and the county governor of Gävleborg (which is made up of Princess Madeleine’s dukedoms) Barbro Holmberg.

Last royal jubilee exhibition opened

I have just returned from Trondheim, where I on Monday attended the opening of the last of the six jubilee exhibitions based on the Royal Collections which are the government’s present to the King and Queen for their 75th birthdays. The exhibition was opened by the Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik, in the presence of the King and Queen.
The exhibition in Trondheim shows royal vehicles from the years 1905-1945. The pièce de résistance is the coronation coach made for the coronation of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud in Trondheim in 1906 (the King refused to continue the tradition of walking to the Cathedral). In addition to several other carriages the exhibition includes King Haakon’s first car, a Belgian Minerva from 1913; a Baby Cadillac presented to Crown Prince Olav by his grandmother, Queen Alexandra of Britain, in 1912; a Lincoln used during the escape from the invading Germans in 1940; and a Buick in which King Haakon and Crown Princess Märtha made their triumphant entry into Oslo on 7 June 1945, following the liberation, and which was also used by King Olav for his consecration in 1958 and by King Harald and Queen Sonja for their consecration in 1991.
The exhibition, titled “Fra berliner til Buick - Kongelige kjøretøyer 1905-1945” may be seen at Dora Kulturbunker until 29 September.
Following the exhibition opening and the subsequent dinner at Ringve Manor the King and Queen embarked on their annual county tour, which this year will take them to several municipalites in Sør-Trøndelag. It was a beautiful sight to watch, from the balcony of the Rockheim museum, how the Royal Yacht Norge late on Monday night slowly sailed away on the Trondheim fjord with the light blue sky and the pink clouds as backdrop.

Coronation commemorated sixty years on

Yesterday Queen Elizabeth II of Britain was present at a service of thanksgivings at Westminster Abbey in London which, two days late, celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation in that church on 2 June 1953.
To mark the occasion the crown which she was crowned with, St Edward’s Crown, was taken out from the Tower of London for the first time in sixty years and placed on the altar with the ampulla used for anointing the monarch. Together two items symbolised the two most important parts of the coronation ceremony: the crowning and the anointing.
St Edward’s Crown is only used for the crowning, and before the monarch leaves Westminster Abbey it is replaced by the Imperial State Crown, which is also the crown the monarch wears for the State Opening of Parliament. The reason for this is that the original St Edward’s Crown was assumed to have actually belonged to Edward the Confessor and was therefore treated like a relic which should never leave his burial church. This crown was destroyed when England was a republic (1649-1660), while a new St Edward’s Crown was made after the restoration of the monarchy for the coronation of Charles II. Although the current St Edwards’s Crown is not original and even though it is no longer kept in Westminster Abbey, but in the Tower of London, the tradition of two crowns is upheld (the exception being Edward VII, who had just undergone a rather serious operation and was crowned with the lighter Imperial State Crown in 1902).
Queen Elizabeth was joined at the service by her husband Prince Philip, who is apparently suffering from a cold and had missed an engagement the previous night. Also present were the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugnie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and their daughter, Lady Louise Wessex, the Princess Royal with her husband Sir Timothy Laurence, her children Peter Phillips and Zara Phillips and her children-in-law Autumn Phillips and Mike Tindall, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and Prince and Princess Michael. Princess Alexandra is ill and did not attend.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

On this date: Princess Désirée’s 75th birthday

The third of the King of Sweden’s four older sisters, Princess Désirée, Baroness Silfverschiöld, celebrates her 75th birthday today. The anniversary will be celebrated quietly with her husband, three children, children-in-law and four grandchildren.
Princess Désirée Elisabeth Sibylla was born at Haga Palace in Solna on 2 June 1938. The four sisters, collectively known as “the Haga princesses”, and eventually their younger brother, Carl Gustaf, born in 1946, was adored and idolised by the Swedish press. Having grown up with massive media attention, Princess Désirée, like her eldest sister Margaretha, is today a very private person who rarely appears in public.
Princess Désirée was the second of the four sisters to marry, choosing Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld as her partner. They were married in the Cathedral of Stockholm on 5 June 1964 – a busy month for the Swedish royal family, as it also saw the wedding of Princess Margaretha and John Ambler 25 days later.
Princess Désirée, Baroness Silfverschiöld, as she has been styled since her marriage, settled at her husband’s estate Koberg near Trollhättan in western Sweden. The couple had three children: Carl, Christina and Hélène. Princess Désirée is one of Crown Princess Victoria’s godparents.
While Princess Désirée seems most comfortable living a private life, she has occasionally been called upon to take part in public events. For instance she filled in for Queen Silvia when the Queen was unable to attend the Nobel banquet in 1980 and also attended a couple of incoming state visits around 2000. As the couple are close to the King and Queen of Norway she has also been seen at some Norwegian royal events.
Princess Désirée rarely gives interviews, but on the occasion of her 75th birthday Svensk Damtidning (no 23 – 2013) has obtained what they call a “big birthday interview!”, but which is really a brief telephone chat, in which the Princess does not say much of significance. She does however confirm that her husband has been seriously ill recently, but adds that he is now recovering.
The last time Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld was seen at a royal event was the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel in June 2010, but he missed the christening of Princess Estelle in May 2012 as well as the funeral of Princess Lilian in March this year. It remains to be seen if he will be able to accompany his wife to the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill on Saturday.

Today is also the sixtieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain in Westminster Abbey in London on 2 June 1953.