Wednesday, 30 September 2015

At the road's end: Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia (1939-2015), historian

A spokeswoman for the former royal house of Prussia has announced that the historian Prince Friedrich Wilhelm died yesterday, following a lengthy illness. The eldest uncle of the head of the dynasty was 76 years old.
The eldest son of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and his wife, née Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia, Louis Ferdinand Friedrich Wilhelm Hubertus Michael Kyrill Prinz von Preussen was born on 9 February 1939. At that time his great-grandfather, ex-Emperor Wilhelm II, was still living in exile in the Netherlands, but the headship of the royal house eventually passed to Friedrich Wilhelm's father. As the eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm was first in line to succeed to the headship, but he forfeited his rights when he made an unapproved marriage with the commoner Waltraut Freydag in 1967. As his next brother, Michael, who died last year, also lost his rights through marriage, the headship of the royal house passed to their nephew Prince Georg Friedrich, son of the third brother, who had been killed in an accident in 1977. The issue of inheritance caused a protracted legal battle.
Prince Friedrich Wilhelm studied at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg and obtained a doctorate in history in 1971. He was however accused of having plagiarised a substantial part of his dissertation and was stripped of the doctorate in 1973. Eventually he obtained a new doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, this time on the topic of the Hohenzollern dynasty's relations to Nazism.
His first marriage was dissolved in 1971, and in 1976 he married Ehrengard von eden. That marraige was also dissolved in 2004, and later that year he married his third wife, Sibylle Kretschmer. He had one son from his first marriage and two sons and a daughter from the second.
For Prince Georg Friedrich, this is the second death in the family in little more than three weeks, following the death of his mother, Duchess Donata of Oldenburg, on 5 September.

Prince Joachim of Denmark appoints cabinet minister

Earlier today Prince Joachim of Denmark appointed Peter Christensen of the Liberal Party Minister of Defence and Nordic Co-operation. Prince Joachim acts as Guardian of the Realm in the absence of Queen Margrethe and Crown Prince Frederik, and it seems this is only the second time that he has appointed a cabinet minister.
The outgoing Minister of Defence, Carl Holst, announced his resignation yesterday, 93 days after his appointment, after accusations of using a public servant for his own party-political purposes while he led the Regional Council of Southern Denmark but was seeking election to Parliament.
If the Queen is abroad or incapacitated, the Crown Prince is first in line to act as Regent, but if he is also unavailable Prince Joachim or Princess Benedikte will act as Guardian of the Realm, carrying out the monarch's constitutional functions. According to the television network DR, the only previous occasion on which Prince Joachim has appointed a cabinet minister was in December 2012, when Marianne Jelved succeeded Uffe Elbæk as Minister of Culture.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Queen Sofía nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

It was reported this week that Queen Sofía of Spain, the mother of King Felipe VI, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The Queen, whose husband King Juan Carlos I abdicated last year, has been nominated by representatives of an undisclosed American university for her commitment to research into Alzheimer's disease and for her work on behalf of the disabled and other marginalised groups.
The nomination was revealed by the head of Spain's Centre of Investigation into Neurological Diseases (CIEN) on World Alzheimer's Day on Monday. However, it was not clear whether the nomination has just been made or if Queen Sofía was nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize before the deadline for nominations expired on 31 January.
The recipient or recipients of this year's Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on 9 October, but there are hundreds of nominees and I would say it is highly unlikely that Queen Sofía would be seriously considered. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has in recent years expanded the peace concept somewhat, which has resulted in the Peace Prize being awarded for for instance environmental work or the promotion of girls' rights to go to school, but supporting medical research seems to be too far-fetched to be covered by any definition of peace (it seems to be a general misunderstanding that all sorts of good deeds can be rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize).
The European royal who is known to have come closest to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize is Prince Carl of Sweden, who was President of the Swedish Red Cross for forty years and was on a number of occasions seriously considered based on his humanitarian work.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

My new book: Coronations and their role in Norwegian history

Today I have the pleasure of announcing the publication of my third book. Norges krone - Kroninger, signinger og maktkamper fra sagatid til nåtid, which translates roughly as "The Crown of Norway: Coronations, Solemn Blessings and Power Struggles from the Age of the Sagas to the Present", deals with the role of coronations (and solemn blessings) in Norwegian history from Magnus Erlingsson's coronation in 1164 to the future solemn blessing of the current crown princely couple.
This might sound like rather dry ceremonial history, but coronations run through Norwegian history as a red thread and many of them have taken place in connection with important events, for instance the bloody civil wars of the twelfth century and the attempt to introduce a new state order based on sacral monarchy, the excommunication of King Sverre in 1194, the unificiation of the Nordic countries in Kalmar in 1397, the final choice between Sweden or Denmark as union partner in 1448-1450, the nation's rebirth in 1814, the conflict between Carl XIV Johan and Parliament and the dissolution of the union in 1905.
Thus the history of the coronations is also the history of the Norwegian monarchy and a prism through which more than 800 years of Norwegian history may be viewed. In addition the book offers the first thorough investigation of the history and symbolism of the crown regalia and shows how the coronations saved Nidaros Cathedral from ruin.
The book will be published by Forlaget Historie & Kultur and go on sale around 8 October. More information about its publication and how to buy it will appear in due course.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Former Princess Alexandra to divorce second husband

A lawyer speaking on behalf of Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg, the former Princess of Denmark, today announced that she and her second husband Martin Jørgensen are set to divorce. In an interview with the news agency Ritzau, the Countess claims that the decision was hers alone. She adds that "When one can see that there is no shared future and that there are some fundamental values we all have in a marriage that become too different, one has to rethink it".
Born in Hong Kong in 1964, the businesswoman Alexandra Manley married Prince Joachim of Denmark, the second son of Queen Margrethe II, in 1995. They had two children, Princes Nikolai and Felix, but announced their separation in September 2004 and divorced in April 2005. At the time of the divorce, Princess Alexandra was given the additional title Countess of Frederiksborg, after the palace where she and Prince Joachim married. When she married the film photographer Martin Jørgensen, who is fourteen years her junior, on 3 March 2007, she forfeited the title of Princess but kept the comital title (which is personal). In spite of having been only briefly married to the monarch's younger son, Countess Alexandra receives 2.1 million DKK from the civil list annually for the rest of her life, an arrangement that has come under criticism in recent years.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Crown Princess Victoria is pregnant

The Swedish royal court this afternoon announced that Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel are expecting their second child. The baby, who will be third in line to the Swedish throne, is expected to be born in March 2016. The couple's first child, Princess Estelle, was born on 23 February 2012.