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.