Thursday, 31 March 2016

Parliament votes in favour of monarchy

Norway remains a monarchy. That is the outcome of today's parliamentary vote on a proposal to amend the Constitution to introduce a republic.
The amendment of several articles of the Constitution, subject to approval by a referendum, which had been suggested by Hallgeir H. Langeland and Snorre Serigstad Valen of the Socialist Left Party and Eirin Sund, Truls Wickholm, Marianne Marthinsen and Jette F. Christensen of the Labour Party, received only 26 votes, while 137 MPs voted against it.
Among the 26 republicans, six belong to the Socialist Left Party, three to the Liberal Party, one to the Conservative Party and sixteen to the Labour Party. Most prominent among the latter was Hadia Tajik, the party's deputy leader.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Seraphim honours for Prince Johann Georg

At noon today, the funeral of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, who died on 2 March, took place in the Church of Our Saviour at the Hedingen Monastery in Sigmaringen, his family sepulchre. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden were among the mourners at their brother-in-law’s funeral. Among the guests were also Prince Carl Philip, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, Margrave Maxmilian and Margravine Valerie of Baden, and Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
As I happen to be in Stockholm, I had the chance to watch the ceremonial observed on the day of the funeral of a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden’s highest honour. At 11.55 a.m., his Seraphim coat of arms was carried from the Royal Palace to the former royal burial church at Riddarholmen, escorted by grenadiers.
In the former church, the coat of arm was placed on a table at the entrance to the chancel together with two candles, a bouquet of flowers and a photo of the late Prince. An official of the Order Chancellery gave a short speech (in German) recording the vita of Prince Johann Georg, two pieces of music were performed by an army band and the bells tolled for an hour.
Prince Johann Georg was made a Knight of the Seraphim by King Gustaf VI Adolf on 23 May 1961, two days before his civil marriage to the King’s granddaughter, Princess Birgitta. Although the princely branch of the House of Hohenzollern had not been sovereign since 1849, King Gustaf Adolf chose to treat his granddaughter’s marriage on the same level as if she had married a prince of a reigning house, i.e. making the groom and his nearest male relatives Knights of the Seraphim.
After the order was founded in 1748, there were for a long time very few Swedish princesses. Princess Sophia Albertina, the daughter of King Adolf Fredrik, and Princess Eugénie, the daughter of King Oscar I, remained unmarried, and it was indeed only in 1869 that a princess married, namely Lovisa, the daughter of King Carl XV.
Lovisa married Crown Prince Frederik (VIII) of Denmark, who had already received the Order of the Seraphim in 1862. His father, King Christian IX, was also already a knight since 1848 and his younger brother, King Georgios I of the Hellenes, since the previous year, but King Carl gave the order to his uncle, Prince Hans of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
The next Swedish Princess to marry was Margaretha, who wed Prince Axel of Denmark in May 1919. The groom received the order on the occasion of the engagement, while his father Prince Valdemar had received it in 1875 and his elder brother Prince Aage in 1913.
When Margaretha’s youngest sister, Princess Astrid, became engaged to Prince Léopold, the heir to the Belgian throne in September 1926, he received the Seraphim, while his brother Prince Charles received it two days before the civil wedding on 4 November 1926. Their father, King Albert I of the Belgians, had been made a knight in 1910, but received the collar two days before the civil wedding.
When Princess Märtha married Crown Prince Olav of Norway in March 1929, there was however no presentation of orders. The groom himself had received it when attending the wedding of Princess Astrid and Prince Léopold, while his father, King Haakon VII, had received it back in 1893, when he was still Prince Carl of Denmark and called on his great-uncle Oscar II.
Crown Prince Frederik (IX) of Denmark, who married Princess Ingrid in 1935, was also already a knight (since 1917), while his father had received the Seraphim in 1888 and his younger brother Knud also as a guest at the 1926 wedding. The groom’s maternal uncle, ex-Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was however made a Knight of the Seraphim three days before the wedding.
When Prince Johann Georg married Princess Birgitta, King Gustaf VI Adolf gave the Seraphim not only to him but also to his older brother, Hereditary Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. Their father, Prince (Fürst) Friedrich, had received the Order in 1936, but was given the collar on the same days as his two eldest sons were made knights.s

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Prince Johann Georg to be buried on Saturday

According to an announcement appearing in today's edition of Süddeutsche Zeitung, the requiem mass and funeral of the art historian Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern will take place in the Church of Our Saviour at the Hedingen Monastery on the outskirts of his hometown Sigmaringen at noon on Saturday. The church is the family sepulchre of the princely House of Hohenzollern.
Prince Johann Georg was married to Princess Birgitta of Sweden, and the Swedish royal court has announced that King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, and Princess Christina will attend their brother-in-law's funeral. Princess Margaretha, who is unable to attend, will be represented by her daughter, Baroness Sybilla von Dincklage.
On the occasion of their wedding in 1961, Prince Johann Georg was made a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden's highest honour, by King Gustaf VI Adolf. As tradition dictates, the funeral of a Knight of the Seraphim will be observed in Stockholm by the tolling of the bells of the Riddarholmen Church between noon and 1 p.m. At 11.55 a.m., his Seraphim coat of arms will be carried from the Royal Palace to the church.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

My latest articles: Royal Trieste & Princess Ashraf

I have written two articles in the March issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 3), which went on sale in Britain last week. The first one deals with the Italian city of Trieste, once the Habsburg Empire's thriving, cosmopolitian port on the Adriatic but now something of a backwater.
The article focuses on the many royals who made Trieste their home, more often than not as exiles, among them two of Louis XV's daughters who escaped the Revolution, Napoléon I's youngest brother ex-King Jérôme of Westphalia, Queen Maria Carolina of Naples and Sicily and the Carlist pretenders to the Spanish throne, several of whom are buried in Trieste's Cathedral. On the other hand, two princes - Archduke Maximilian of Austria and Prince Amedeo of Savoy, Duke of Aosta - spent their happiest years in Trieste, where they resided at Miramare Palace, but both these princes would die in captivity on another continent.
The second article is about Princess Ashraf of Iran, the last Shah's powerful twin sister, who died in January at the age of 96.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

HRH Prince Oscar Carl Olof of Sweden, Duke of Scania

In a State Council at the Royal Palace in Stockholm today, King Carl XVI Gustaf informed the government that the son Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to last night will be named Oscar Carl Olof and that his dukedom will be that of Scania (Skåne). The King also notified the government of the death of his brother-in-law, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, which also occurred yesterday.
In keeping with tradition, the newborn was "inspected" by the Speaker of Parliament, Urban Ahlin, the Prime Minister, Urban Ahlin, the Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, and the Mistress of the Robes, Kristine von Blixen-Finecke (who succeeded Countess Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister in that position in November). The Prince's birth was marked by a 21-gun salute and a service of thanksgivings in the Palace Church, which was attended by, among others, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson, the King's aunt by marriage Countess Marianne Bernadotte and two of his father's second cousins, Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg and Dagmar von Arbin (who will celebrate her 100th birthday next month) and Prince Daniel's parents, sister and brother-in-law.
The dukedom of Scania was last held by the future King Gustaf VI Adolf from his birth in 1882 to his accession in 1950, and before that by the future King Carl XV from his birth in 1826 to his accession in 1859.
The name Oscar arrived in Sweden with Oscar Bernadotte, the only child of the imperial French Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who was elected Crown Prince in 1810. While Jean-Baptiste changed his name to Carl Johan, Oscar kept his foreign name also after he ascended the thrones of Sweden and Norway in 1844 (although his wife wanted him to reign under his two other names, Frans Joseph). His third son was given the same name and eventually came to the thrones in 1872 as Oscar II. Oscar II's second son was another Oscar, while Carl XV's only son, who died in infancy, was named Carl Oscar. It has also been among the names of Kings Gustaf V and Gustaf VI Adolf and of Princes Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard, Bertil, Carl, and Carl Junior. It has, however, not been used in the royal family since 1912, but these days it is one of the most popular boys' names in Sweden.
Unlike his elder sister, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Prince Oscar has thus received a name firmly anchored in Swedish royal history - indeed three names firmly anchored in Swedish royal history. The name Carl is of course borne by his grandfather King Carl XVI Gustaf and his uncle Prince Carl Philip, and has been borne by ten Swedish kings: Karl Sverkersson, Karl II Knutsson, Carl IX, Carl X Gustaf, Carl XI, Carl XII, Carl XIII, Carl XIV Johan, Carl XV and Carl XVI Gustaf. (Some may wonder why the list jumps from Karl II to Carl IX; the answer is that the six first Karls were invented in the sixteenth century). There have also been almost countless Swedish princes named Carl, among them the third son of Oscar II.
Olof is the first name of the newborn's father (Olof Daniel) and of the first Christian Swedish king, known as Olof Skötkonung, who reigned from about 995 to 1022. It is also the Swedish name of the perhaps most popular saint in medieval Sweden, the martyred Norwegian king Olav Haraldsson, who died in the Battle of Stiklestad in or around 1030 and was declared a saint a year later and whose cult was as great in Sweden as in Norway.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A son for Crown Princess Victoria

At a press conference at the Caroline Hospital in Solna, Prince Daniel of Sweden has just announced that Crown Princess Victoria has given birth to a son at 8.28 p.m. The baby is 52 centimetres long and weighs 3,655 grams. The name and dukedom of the newborn prince, who is third in line to the Swedish throne, will be announced by King Carl Gustaf in a state council, which will be held tomorrow.

At the road's end: Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016), art historian

The Swedish royal court today announced that Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, the husband of King Carl Gustaf's second oldest sister, Princess Birgitta, died in a hospital in Munich today. Prince Johann Georg, who was himself a renowned art historian, was 83 and had apparently been suffering from cancer for some years.
Born on 31 July 1932, Johann Georg Carl Leopold Eitel-Friedrich Meinrad Maria Hubertus Michael Prinz von Hohenzollern was the sixth child of Prince (Fürst) Friedrich of Hohenzollern and Princess Margarete of Saxony, a daughter of that country's last King. Prince Johann Georg, who was known as "Hansi", studied art history and gained a doctorate on a dissertation on the royal galleries on the facades of French cathedrals in 1964.
From 1986 to 1991 he served as director general of the Bavarian National Museum before becoming head of the Bavarian State Collection of Paintings, a post he held until his retirement in 1998.
On 25 May 1961, Prince Johann Georg married Princess Birgitta of Sweden in a civil ceremony at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. A religious blessing took place in his hometown Sigmaringen five days later. The Vatican had opposed a Protestant ceremony in Stockholm and the bride had to sign a promise to raise the children as Catholics, which she has never ceased resenting.
Three children were born of the marriage - Carl Christian in 1962, Désirée in 1963 and Hubertus in 1966, but when the children moved out, the parents realised they had little in common, and in 1990 Princess Birgitta moved to Majorca, while Prince Johann Georg remained in Munich. However, the couple never formally separated and the Princess used to visit her husband in Munich once a month and vented his anger in public when he appeared in the press with another partner.