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).