Friday, 22 August 2014

My latest article(s): Emeralds and Reims

I have two articles in the September issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 9), which went on sale on Thursday. The first one deals with the emerald parure that is the pièce de résistance of the Norwegian jewellery collection and often worn by the Queen.
When writing my biography of Princess Astrid, which was published in 2007, I started doing some research into the history of this magnificent parure and in this article I sum up the research done in the intervening years, thereby rejecting some of the myths about this parure that are frequently repeated in the media, and following its provenance, its sometimes dramatic history and the changes made to it through the year, including the dispersal of the necklace's pendants and the unfortunate removal of some of the main stones from the tiara.
In the second I article I write about the Cathedral of Reims, the French coronation church whose significance was so great that French kings could not really be crowned anywhere else. This beautiful cathedral held a special place in French minds, but sadly became one of the first and most important cultural heritage victims of the First World War when German bombs left it in ruins in September 1914. However, it was lovingly rebuilt in the interwar years and now takes its rightful place as part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Widespread indifference to royal choice of private schools

The recent announcement that Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus would switch to private schools caused something of an outcry in Norway, where most children go to public schools, but on the eve of the first day of the new school year an opinion poll conducted by Norstat for state broadcaster NRK (external link) finds that the Norwegians do not have as strong opinions about this as one would perhaps think.
30 % of the 1,000 respondees have a negative opinion about the royal children attending private schools, while 25 % view it positively. The largest group, 41 %, finds it neither positive nor negative. 4 % have no opinion.
The opinion poll also finds that 41 % have great confidence in the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, while 20 % have very great confidence. Only 9 % have little confidence in the crown princely couple, while 26 % have neither great nor little confidence in them.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Book news: Princess Esmeralda on her grandparents

In two weeks Princess Esmeralda of Belgium will release her third book on her family history. While her previous books have dealt with her father, King Léopold III, and her mother, Princess Lilian, this volume will tell the story of her grandparents, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth. The book is co-authored by Christophe de Vachaudez, who is perhaps best known for his book on the Belgian royal jewels, and will be published by Lannoo (in Dutch).
58-year-old Princess Esmeralda is the third and youngest child of Léopold III's second marriage and thus an aunt of King Philippe. She lives in London with her husband, the renowned cardiologist Sir Salvador Moncada.

Friday, 1 August 2014

On this date: 300 years of the Hanoverians/Windsors

300 years ago today, at around 7.30 a.m. on 1 August 1714, Queen Anne of Great Britain and Ireland died at the age. As the Queen had lost eighteen children and Catholics had been disinherited by the Act of Settlement of 1701, Queen Anne was succeeded by her second cousin, Elector Georg Ludwig of Hanover, who became King George I.
Thus today also marks the tercentenary of the current British royal house. Although the Hanoverians are frequently viewed as separate from the Windsors it is the same dynasty despite the name having been changed and the crown having passed to junior lines within the dynasty in 1830, 1837 and 1936.