Friday, 28 November 2014

Former journalist to head Danish royal court

Earlier this week the Danish royal court announced that Queen Margrethe II has appointed a new Lord Chamberlain, a position left vacant by Ove Ullerup’s decision to return to the Foreign Service after eleven years at court. The new Lord Chamberlain is rather surprisingly Michael Ehrenreich, a well-known journalist.
Ehrenreich, who is sixty years old, comes from the post of director of the Foreign Policy Society, which he took up only last year, but before that he worked as a journalist for 34 years, 21 of them (1982-2003) at the newspaper then known as Berlingske Tidende. He was that paper’s correspondent in London from 1984 to 1988 and in Washington from 1988 to 1993 and became editor-in-chief in 2001.
Two years later he became co-editor of Kristeligt Dagblad, a position he held until taking up his current job in 2013. In 2007 he published a biography of the then (and possibly future) US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Hillary – En amerikansk historie.
While the Lord Chamberlain’s chair is often filled by diplomats or officers it is not the first time Queen Margrethe recruits someone from the media. In 1976 she hired Hans Sølvhøj, a former Social Democratic politician who was at that time director-general of the public broadcaster DR, as her second Lord Chamberlain. Hiring Sølvhøj was Prince Henrik’s idea and turned out to be an inspired choice, as Sølvhøj has been credited with making the monarchy more accessible and encouraging Queen Margrethe to let the world see her artistic side.
The new Lord Chamberlain will take up his post on 15 February, just in time for the state visit of the King and Queen of the Netherlands in mid-March and a series of grand events to celebrate Queen Margrethe’s 75th birthday in April.

Monday, 24 November 2014

My latest article: Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria

The Bavarian royal house of Wittelsbach is in my opinion one of the most interesting dynasties in history, and in the December issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 12), which went on sale in Britain on Thursday, I write about the life of Crown Prince Rupprecht, the eldest son of the last King of Bavaria, who in the words of the historian Golo Mann was more suited to be king than several of his forebears. The revolution of 1918 prevented that, but the life of Rupprecht - a First World War commander who during the Second World War had to go into hiding while his family languished in concentration camps and who might have been not only King of Bavaria, but German Emperor and King of Britain - is nevertheless an interesting one.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Princess Kristine Bernadotte laid to rest

Flags flew at half mast at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm and at the Royal Lodge in Oslo today as Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly on 4 November at the age of 82, was laid to rest. A private funeral service, conducted by the royal chaplain Michael Bjerkhagen, was held in Drottningholm Palace Church west of Stockholm before the late Princess was buried next to her husband, Prince Carl Bernadotte, and parents-in-law, Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga north of Stockholm.
The mourners were led by the Princess's brother, Jan E. Rivelsrud, and his family. Also present were her stepdaughter, Madeleine Kogevinas, the King and Queen of Sweden, the King and Queen of Norway, the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.
Princess Astrid of Norway, who was very close to her aunt-by-marriage, sadly seems to have been unable to attend, but two of her children, Alexander Ferner and Elisabeth Ferner, can be seen in photos published in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet's report (external link).

Friday, 14 November 2014

My latest article(s): Obituaries of Princess Kristine Bernadotte

Following the death of Princess Kristine Bernadotte, the King's aunt, last week I have written two obituaries which have appeared in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on Tuesday and in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter today. The latter seems not to be available online, while the former may be read here (external link).

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Princess Kristine Bernadotte to be buried on Saturday

The funeral of Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly on 4 November at the age of 82, will take place on Saturday in Drottningholm Palace Church outside Stockholm. After the service the Princess will be laid to rest in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in the same grave as her husband, Prince Carl Bernadotte, and her parents-in-law, Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg.
The King and Queen of Sweden, the King and Queen of Norway, the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her husband Ari Behn will be present.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

On this date: Grand Duke Jean's golden jubilee (sort of...)

Today might have been the golden jubilee of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who came to the throne when his mother, Grand Duchess Charlotte, abdicated on 12 November 1964. However, Grand Duke Jean himself abdicated in favour of his son Henri, the current Grand Duke, on 7 October 2000 and has therefore been able to enjoy his retirement for fourteen years. Grand Duke Jean, who will turn 94 in two months, retains the title of Grand Duke and can still be seen at official events from time to time.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

At the road's end: Princess Kristine Bernadotte (1932-2014)

At 3 p.m. today a memorial service will take place in the Norwegian Sailors' Church in Calahonda in Spain for the King's aunt, Princess Kristine Bernadotte, who died suddenly in her home in Benalmádena on Tuesday, aged 82. The Princess rarely missed out on a family event in Norway and was in Oslo as a guest at the wedding of Princess Astrid's son Carl-Christian Ferner as recently as last month.
Kristine Rivelsrud was born in Eidsfoss in Vestfold, south of Oslo, on 22 April 1932. In 1960 she was hired as a secretary by Prince Carl Bernadotte, who had moved to Spain following his aquittal for his involvement in the so-called Huseby scandal two years previously. After he divorced his second wife in 1962, Kristine Rivelsrud was promoted to life partner, but it was not until 8 June 1978 that the couple married at the Swedish Embassy in Rabat in Morocco.
Prince Carl Bernadotte, né His Royal Highness Prince Carl (Junior) of Sweden, Duke of Ostrogothia was the only son of Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, and as such the younger brother of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, Queen Astrid of the Belgians and Princess Margaretha of Denmark. He forfeited his rights to the Swedish throne when he married a commoner, Countess Elsa von Rosen, in 1937, but received the title Prince Bernadotte (of the Belgian nobility) by his brother-in-law, King Léopold III of the Belgians. Thus Kristine Rivelsrud became a princess by marriage, and she was also listed last among the members of the Swedish royal family on the Swedish royal website.
However, she did not have much contact with the Swedish royal family, although King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia attended Prince Carl Bernadotte's 90th birthday in Oslo in January 2001 and his funeral in Danderyd in July 2003 and she was invited to the opening of an exhibition on the life of her sister-in-law Queen Astrid at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in 2005.
On the other hand she had a very close relationship with the Norwegian royal family, perhaps in particular with Princess Astrid (her exact contemporary). Prince Carl and Princess Kristine Bernadotte always spent Christmas with the Norwegian royal family until Prince Carl's declining health made the journey from Spain impossible, but after his death in June 2003 Princess Kristine returned as an annual Christmas guest. She was also very close to her brother, the hotelier Jan E. Rivelsrud, and his family, and enjoyed a good relationship with her stepdaughter Madeleine Kogevinas.
Princess Kristine Bernadotte looked rather grand, but she was in fact a very nice and likeable down-to-earth lady with a well-developed sense of humour.
Princess Kristine Bernadotte's funeral will take place (the date is yet to be announced) in the small Palace Church at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm, which was recently the venue for Princess Leonore's christening. She will be laid to rest in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in the same grave as her husband and his parents.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

On this date: The bicentenary of the Swedish-Norwegian union

200 years ago today Norway and Sweden formed a union of crowns when the Norwegian Parliament passed a revised Constitution and elected King Carl XIII of Sweden King of Norway. The union was formalised by the Act of Union the following year.
Despite what some people, perhaps particularly foreigners, seem to think, the union did not in any way mean that Norway became part of Sweden (or the other way around) or that the two countries became one state. It was in fact one of the loosest unions in history, the two countries sharing only the King and, as foreign policy was considered a royal prerogative, the foreign service. The relationship between the two countries can perhaps best be compared to the relationship between Britain and Hanover between 1714 and 1837.
The Swedes liked to refer to the two countries as "the United Kingdoms of Sweden and Norway" (the term seems to have been less popular in Norway), but the plural spells out the difference from "the United Kingdom of Great Britain and (Northern) Ireland".
The union was the brainchild of the Swedish Crown Prince Carl Johan, who hoped eventually to achieve an amalgamation of the two countries. In this he failed, but after his rather turbulent reign there followed what has subsequently been called "the happy days of the union". Clouds began to gather in the reign of Carl XV, and from the 1880s there were numerous conflicts and crisis until the Norwegian Parliament unilaterally deposed Oscar II on 7 June 1905 and Norway thereby withdrew from the union. Following negotiations between the two countries in Karlstad in the autumn, the union was formally dissolved on 26 October 1905 after both parliaments had ratified the Treaty of Karlstad and Oscar II abdicated the crown of Norway.
The union has subsequently had a very bad press in Norway, the bitterness of the political disputes having overshadowed the fact that it was also a time of economic and cultural blossoming.
Commemorations of the bicentenary have been fairly low-key, with conferences taking place yesterday and today and by a speech by the Speaker of Parliament at the start of today's parliamentary sitting.