Friday, 31 October 2014

On this date: Princess Margaretha's 80th birthday

Today is the 80th birthday of Princess Margaretha, Mrs Ambler, the eldest of the once-famous "Haga princesses", i.e. the four elder sisters of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden.
Princess Margaretha Désirée Victoria was born at Haga Palace on 31 October 1934 as the eldest child of Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. Under the current Act of Succession she would have succeeded her grandfather as monarch in 1973, but as women were at that time entirely barred from succeeding to the Swedish throne Princess Margaretha's life has been a very private one.
That was not the case in her early years, when the four sisters - Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina - were the focus of intense media interest and were hailed as idols for their generation of girls. Perhaps this unprecedented attention may have been at least part of the reason why Margaretha, like her sister Désirée, has chosen to live the rest of her life away from the eyes of the media and the general public.
Princess Margaretha was twelve years old when her father was killed in a plane crash in 1947 and seems to have struggled to cope with the tragedy, at one stage going to Denmark to live with her aunt Queen Ingrid. She also suffered from dyslexia and therefore left school at an early age, but trained as a seamstress and studied childcare.
After a well-publicised romance with the British socialite Robin Douglas-Home, Princess Margaretha married another Brit, the businessman John Ambler, on 30 June 1964. Her sister Désirée's wedding twenty-five days earlier had been a semi-state occasion held in the Cathedral of Stockholm, but Margaretha chose a simpler wedding in the parish church of Gärdlösa at Öland, near the summer palace Solliden.
Princess Margaretha, Mrs Ambler and John Ambler settled at Chippinghurst Manor in Oxfordshire, England. They rarely attended official events, but Princess Margaretha used to open the Christmas bazaar at the Swedish Church in London and the Amblers represented the King at the weddings of Princess Anne of Britain and Mark Phillips in 1973 and of Prince Andrew of Britain and Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
The couple had three children - Sybilla, Edward and James - but separated in 1994. However, the couple remained formally married until John Ambler's death in 2008.
Princess Margaretha now lives in a cottage in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, but is usually always present for family events in Sweden and will celebrate her eightieth birthday privately in her native land.
On the occasion of the eightieth birthday of the eldest of the "Haga princesses" I have by the way written an article on the lives of the four sisters, which appears in the October issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Swedish royal wedding on 13 June

The Swedish royal court has announced that the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist will as expected take place in the Palace Church in Stockholm on 13 June next year.
Given what was said at the time of the engagement about the wedding taking place in early summer 13 June was really the only option as the previous Saturday (6 June) is the National Day and the following Saturday (20 June) is midsummer's eve, which is a major holiday in Sweden.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Princess Astrid's youngest son marries

Last weekend Princess Astrid's youngest son, Carl-Christian Ferner, married Anna-Stina Slattum Karlsen, to whom he became engaged in January. The wedding was held in Ris Church in Oslo and the reception at Grand Hotel.
According to the magazine Se og Hør the wedding was attended by the King and Queen, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn. Princess Astrid and her husband Johan Martin Ferner, who at 87 is rarely seen in public, were of course also present along with the groom's siblings Cathrine, Benedikte, Alexander and Elisabeth with their partners and children. Also in attendance were Erling S. Lorentzen, Princess Ragnhild's widower, their three children Haakon, Ingeborg and Ragnhild, and the groom's great-aunt, Princess Kristine Bernadotte.
Carl-Christian Ferner, who will turn 42 this month, works for the family business Ferner Jacobsen, a men's clothing store of which he owns 46 % of the shares. Anna-Stina Slattum Ferner is born in 1984 and is a digital editor in the company Orkla.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Norwegian state visit to Burma

Interestingly, the King and Queen will pay a state visit to Burma from 1 to 3 December. This would have been unthinkable only a few years ago, but should be seen as part of the normalisation of relations with Burma after the retirement of the military junta and the slight improvements in the country's human rights situation. State visits are decided by the government, and the King and Queen will as always be accompanied by the Foreign Minister.
President Thein Sein of Burma paid an official visit to Norway at the end of February 2013. The visit was hosted by then Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, but the President was also received by the King and the royal Palace.
Before packing their bags for Burma the King and Queen will play hosts to President Pranab Mukherjee of India, who will pay a state visit to Norway on 13 and 14 October. This will be the first state visit ever between Norway and India, and will also be the fourth incoming state visit this year, compared to none in 2013 and only one in 2012.