Tuesday, 27 October 2015

My latest articles: Princess Esmeralda on her father & Edward VII and Norway

The November issue of Majesty (Vol. 36, No. 11) went on sale in Britain on Thursday and this month I have contributed two articles.
There is the second part of my interview with the writer and climate change activist Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, who this time shares her fond memories of her father, King Léopold III of the Belgians, and talks about how he rebuilt his life after his more or less forced abdication after the Second World War and how she carries on part of his work. While the first part of the interview, which appeared in the October issue, dealt with her grandparents King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, the third and final part, which will appear in the December issue, will be devoted to her controversial mother, Princess Lilian.
As November marks the 110th anniversary of King Haakon VII's arrival in Norway, my second article investigates the role played by King Edward VII of Britain in securing the Norwegian crown for his daughter and son-in-law.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Seraphim Order for Princess Sofia

On Friday night, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden attended an award ceremony and banquet at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, where Princess Sofia wore the Order of the Seraphim for the first time. Unlike her brother-in-law Prince Daniel, Princess Sofia did not receive this order, which is Sweden's highest, at her wedding and it has until now not been known if she had received it. The date on which she received the Order is so far not known.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Princess Sofia is pregnant

The court of Stockholm has just announced that Princess Sofia, who married Prince Carl Philip four months ago, is pregnant. The couple's first child will be born in April 2016. In accordance with King Carl Gustaf's decision to bestow royal titles on all his grandchildren, the child will be a Prince or Princess of Sweden and a Royal Highness and receive a royal dukedom.
The birth will follow shortly after the birth of Crown Princess Victoria's second child, which is expected in March. Thus, Prince Carl Philip's and Princess Sofia's child will at the time of its birth be fifth in line of succession to the Swedish throne.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Prince Nicolas of Sweden christened

At noon today, Prince Nicolas of Sweden, the son of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, was christened in the chapel of Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm. This intimate chapel was also the venue for the christening of his elder sister, Princess Leonore, in June last year.
The sponsors were his maternal uncle, Prince Carl Philip; his father's maternal half-sister, Countess Natascha Abensperg und Traun; his mother's first cousin Gustaf Magnuson (son of Princess Christina); his paternal uncle by marriage Henry d'Abo (whose mother, Lady Ursula d'Abo, who will be 99 next month, is the daughter of the 9th Duke of Rutland and was a maid of honour at the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Britain in 1937); his mother's friend Katarina von Horn; and his father's friend Marco Wajselfisz.
Prince Nicolas wore the christening robe that was made for the baptism of his great-grandfather, Prince Gustaf Adolf, in 1906 and which has been worn by many royal children since then. He was baptised by the Archbishop, Antje Jackelén (who last year became Sweden's first female Archbishop). At the end of the ceremony, he was invested as a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim by his grandfather, King Carl XVI Gustaf. His royal rank was, in keeping with a tradition instituted in 1778, symbolised by a princely crown on a pedestal next to the altar. Until now, one crown has usually been assigned to each prince and princess, but the fact that the royal title now descends through both the male and the female line means that there are not enough crowns to go around, and Prince Nicolas has thus been assigned the same crown as his mother, that of Princess (later Queen) Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta (the distinction between crowns for princes and princesses had already been broken in 2012, when Oscar II's princely crown was assigned to Princess Estelle).
As the chapel at Drottningholm is rather small, the christening was attended by a rather select gathering of family, friends, officials and courtiers. Apart from Prince Nicolas, his parents and his sisters, the members of the extended royal family present were King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia; Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel; Princess Estelle; Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia; Princess Margaretha; Princess Christina's husband Tord Magnuson, their three sons Oscar, Gustaf and Victor Magnuson, Gustaf's wife Vicky Magnuson, Victor's partner Frida Bergström and their infant son Sigvard, who was born on 25 August; Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, who is the widow of the King's late uncle, the former Prince Sigvard; and Dagmar von Arbin, a great-granddaughter of King Oscar II, who will celebrate her 100th birthday in April. The only foreign royal present was Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a first cousin of King Carl Gustaf who is also one of Princess Madeleine's sponsors.
Also present were Chris O'Neill's mother, Eva Maria O'Neill; two of his three paternal half-sisters, Annalisa O'Neill and Karen O'Neill, and his nephew Oliver MacNeely; his maternal half-sister Tatjana d'Abo with her husband Henry and their children Anouska, Celina and Jasper; his maternal half-sister Countess Natascha Abensperg und Traun and her daughters Milana and Chiara; and a man by the name of Wolfgang Seybold, who is apparently in a relationship with Eva Maria O'Neill.
Queen Silvia's brother Walther L. Sommerlath is on the guest list, but was as far as I could tell not present in church. On the other hand two of her nephews were there: Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath and Patrick Sommerlath, the latter with his wife Maline, his son Leopold Lundén Sommerlath and their daughters Anaïs and Chloé Sommerlath.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

My new book is out today - "Norges krone"

I am glad to report that my new book, Norges krone - Kroninger, signinger og maktkamper fra sagatid til nåtid, is on sale from today. The title translates roughly as "The Crown of Norway: Coronations, Solemn Blessings and Power Struggles from the Age of the Sagas to the Present" and the book 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, which amounts to telling the history of the Norwegian monarchy viewed through the coronations.
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. The book also offers the first thorough investigation of the history and symbolism of the crown regalia and shows how the coronations saved Nidaros Cathedral from ruin.
For my readers in Norway the book is of course available in bookshops (ask the staff if you cannot find it and they will order it) and through online bookstores such as Haugen Bok (external link) or Adlibris (external link). Haugen Bok also ships abroad, while my Swedish friends may order it from the Swedish version of Adlibris (external link).

Friday, 2 October 2015

Queen's childhood home to be moved to museum

The news that the villa in which the Queen grew up was to be demolished caused some consternation a while ago, but yesterday it became known that the house has now been saved and will be moved to the open air museum Maihaugen at Lillehammer.
Until her marriage to the then Crown Prince Harald in 1968, Sonja Haraldsen, as she then was, lived in a functionalist villa in Tuengen allé 1B at Vinderen in Oslo, which had been built in 1935, two years before her birth. After her mother Dagny Haraldsen moved to an apartment at Majorstua, the villa was taken over by Dag Swanstrøm, son of the Queen's late sister Gry Henriksen, but because of reconstruction of the area it had now been decided to demolish the house.
However, Maihaugen has since 1993 collected houses in order to documents Norwegian homes of the twentieth century, but has until now lacked houses from the 1930s and 1960s. The Queen's childhood home will thus fill a gap in the museum's collection while preserving a house that is of more than usual historical interest.
The villa has been modernised and altered through the years, but in connection with its move to Maihaugen later additions will be removed and the house restored to its original appearance. The Queen has agreed to assist in this work by making available items, documentation and memories.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

My latest articles: Princess Esmeralda on her grandparents, Queen Charlotte and Ludwig II's bride

I used to post updates here about articles I write, but in the final months of work on my new book there was no time for that, but now that the book is done I will try to resume that habit, starting with the October issue of Majesty, which went on sale in Britain last Thursday and will soon reach other countries too.
In this issue (Vol. 36, No. 10, October 2015) you will find the first part of an interview I recently did with the author and climate change activist Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, the youngest daughter of King Léopold III. This time she speaks about her grandparents, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth, who are the topic of a book she and Christophe Vachaudez co-authored last year. In the second part of the interview, which will appear in the November issue, Princess Esmeralda will talk about her father, his downfall and how he built a new life for himself after his abdication, and in the third and final part, in the December issue, she will share her memories of her controversial mother, Princess Lilian. All three parts will include several unusual photos.
In the October issue I have also written an article on Queen Charlotte of Britain, the long-suffering consort of "mad" King George III, who was often severely tested by misfortune, but who, in spite of everything, managed to maintain her sanity.
I have written no less than three articles in this issue, and the last of them deals with Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, the younger sister of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who was engaged to the legendary, eccentric King Ludwig II of Bavaria, fell in love with a photographer, married a French Prince, was locked away in a mental asylum when she fell in love with her doctor and died a horrible death. Hers was surely one of the most dramatic and tragic of royal life stories.