Thursday, 30 June 2016

My latest articles: Empress Marie-Louise & Swedish royal dukedoms

The July issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 7) went on sale in Britain last week and this month I have contributed an article on Empress Marie-Louise of the French, Napoléon I's second wife. In the eyes of posterity she has been overshadowed by her predecessor Joséphine, but she is fondly remembered in Parma, where she reigned as duchess from 1816 until her death in 1847 and where the bicentenary of her arrival is commemorated this year.
Also just out is Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 2 - 2016, in which I write about Swedish royal dukedoms - their origins, history and statistics - which might be of some interest these days, when new dukes and duchesses are born so frequently that many find it hard to keep track.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Guðni Jóhannesson elected President of Iceland

On Saturday the people of Iceland went to the polls to elect the successor to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, who will step down from the post he has held for twenty years on 1 August. The choice fell on the historian Guðni Jóhannesson, who received 39.1 % of the votes.
The incoming President, who turned 48 the day after his election, is an historian and assistant professor at the University of Reykjavik. Among his fields of research is the Icelandic presidency and among his books is one on the presidency of Kristján Eldjárn. He has also translated four Stephen King books into Icelandic.
The president-elect is unaffiliated to any political party, but this is not unusual in Iceland.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

My latest article: Bergen as coronation city

The King and Queen's silver jubilee tour reached Bergen today, two days after their visit to Trondheim, the place of their solemn blessing 25 years ago. While many assume that kings have always been crowned in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, it was in fact only in 1449 that a coronation took place in Trondheim and it was actually in Bergen that most medieval coronations took place, including the first one in 1164, I point out in an article in Bergens Tidende today, which is also available online (external link).

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Silver jubilee celebrated in Trondheim

Today is the 25th anniversary of the King and Queen's solemn blessing in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991. The King and Queen are currently on a silver jubilee tour along the coast, and having visited Tromsø and Bodø during the weekend, they arrived in Trondheim on board the Royal Yacht "Norge" yesterday. Today the celebrations began with a public event in Ravnkloa, the city's old fish market, at 10 a.m. At noon the royal family attended a jubilee service in Nidaros Cathedral and in the afternoon the King and Queen hosted a garden party for 600 guests in the garden behind Stiftsgården, the city's royal residence. I have been attending today's events as press and will do a report which will appear in the August issue of Majesty, which will be out in a month.
At today's service the King and Queen were joined by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus, the Crown Princess's son Marius Borg Høiby, Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn and their daughters Maud, Leah and Emma, Princess Astrid, Princess Ragnhild's widower Erling S. Lorentzen and his new partner Ebba Løvenskiold, as well as Princess Ragnhild's three children, Haakon Lorentzen, Ingeborg Lorentzen Ribeiro and Ragnhild Lorentzen Long, the latter two accompanied by their husbands. Rather surprisingly, none of Princess Astrid's children were present.
Yesterday the King, the Crown Prince and Princess Ingrid Alexandra posed for a photo in front of the crown jewels made for Carl XIV Johan's coronation in 1818, which are now exhibited in the Archbishop's Palace. The photo is by Torgrim Melhuus, TiTT Melhuus as/Nidaros Cathedral Restoration Workshop/the Royal Court.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

My latest articles: "St Haakon" and coronations

Today is the 110th anniversary of the coronation of King Haakon VII - the last in Norwegian history - and I mark the occasion with an article in the newspaper Adresseavisen today, in which I look at the significance of King Haakon and Nidaros Cathedral to each other, how King Haakon achieved an almost superhuman position following the Second World War and is treated almost as a saint in the cathedral. The article (external link) is available online, but might be behind the newspaper's paywall.
Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of King Harald V's and Queen Sonja's solemn blessing, the ritual that replaced coronations. The King and Queen are currently on their silver jubilee tour and earlier today they arrived in Trondheim, where they will attend a service of thanksgiving in Nidaros Cathedral tomorrow. On that occasion, tomorrow's edition of Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, carries an article I have written on the history of coronations in Norway and how King Olav invented the ritual of solemn blessing, thus ensuring that Norway is now the only European kingdom besides Britain that marks a monarch's accession with a religious ritual. The article (external link) is already now available on Aftenposten's website.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

King and Queen embark on silver jubilee tour

The King and Queen are celebrating the silver jubilee of their accession to the throne this year, and yesterday they arrived in Tromsø to embark on their jubilee tour of the country on the Royal Yacht "Norge". The tradition of marking great royal events by extensive tours of this vast kingdom was begun by King Oscar II and Queen Sophie at the time of their coronation in 1873. King Olav undertook a similar journey to mark his silver jubilee in 1982, but his son and daughter-in-law will not start quite as far north as he did and visit fewer places.
The tour began with a garden party for 300 guests at Skansen fortress in Tromsø this morning, followed by a public event in the city's square. This is the pattern that will also be followed on the rest of the tour, as the King and Queen have expressed a desire to meet as many people as possible from all walks of life.
Tomorrow the Royal Yacht will arrive in Bodø for a day of celebrations before continuing south to Trondheim, where it will arrive on 22 June. The following day, Thursday 23 June, is the 25th anniversary of the King and Queen's solemn blessing (the religious ritual that replaced coronations) in Nidaros Cathedral. In the morning of that day, there will be a public event in the old fish market in Ravnkloa at 10 a.m., followed by a service of thanksgivings in Nidaros Cathedral at noon. There the King and Queen will be joined by their children, children-in-law and grandchildren as well as by Princess Astrid and Erling S. Lorentzen, Princess Ragnhild's widower. At 3 p.m. the King and Queen will host a garden party for 600 guests in the garden of Stiftsgården, the Royal Residence. NRK will have a live broadcast from the celebrations in Trondheim from 8 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (and I will do a report for the August issue of Majesty).
The King and Queen will ten visit Bergen on Saturday 25 June, Stavanger on Monday 27 June and Kristiansand on Wednesday 29 June. In Stavanger and Kristiansand the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will also attend the celebrations.
In late August or early September the King and Queen are expected to host a similar jubilee garden party in Oslo.

Friday, 17 June 2016

A radio documentary and three lectures

On Thursday next week, 25 years will have passed since the solemn blessing of the King and Queen in Nidaros Cathedral and to celebrate the silver jubilee they embark on a twelve-day tour of the kingdom by the Royal Yacht "Norge" tomorrow. My "contributions" to the jubilee will, except for my latest book, be a radio documentary and three lectures in Trondheim next week.
In the radio documentary, which will be broadcast by the NRK radio channel P2 as part of the programme "Museum", I tell the story of the struggle over the crown of Norway between the kings Christian I and Karl Knutsson in 1448-1450, how that power struggle made Nidaros Cathedral the coronation church for the first time and how one created a myth, which many still believe in, that this was where Norwegian kings had always been crowned. The programme will be broadcast at 6.03 p.m. on Saturday and 8.03 a.m. on Sunday, but is already now available as a podcast (external link).
On Monday at 6 p.m. I will be the guest of Trondhjems Historiske Forening (Trondheim Historical Society) in the Suhm House at Kalvskinnet to give a lecture on Trondheim as the city of coronations - more information may be found here (external link). On Tuesday at 2 p.m. I will present new knowledge of the crown jewels in a lecture at Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum (the museum of decorative arts and design) in Munkegata, about which you can read here (external link), and on Wedneday at 1 p.m. I will be at the Archbishop's Palace to give a lecture on the history of coronations and how and why they were replaced by solemn blessings - more information about that here (external link). If I have any readers in or near Trondheim I would be happy to see you at the lectures.

King Albert and Queen Paola now living in Rome

The Belgian newspaper Le Soir yesterday reported that King Albert II, who abdicated in July 2013, and his wife Queen Paola no longer live permanently in Belgium. According to the newspaper, Queen Paola, who was born into the Roman noble family of Ruffo di Calabria, has renovated a floor of her family home, Casa Ruffo in the neighbourhood of Parioli in northern Rome, and the couple now live there from September to May, while spending the summer in their house in Chateauneuf in southern France and onboard their private yacht.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Duchess of Cornwall and Duke of Cambridge join Privy Council

Queen Elizabeth II of Britain held a meeting of the Privy Council at Buckingham Palace yesterday afternoon, at which her daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and her grandson Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, were made members of the Privy Council. While this is standard procedure for a future monarch - Prince Charles was made a Privy Councillor in 1977 and the then Princess Elizabeth in 1951 - this is an unusual honour for the Duchess of Cornwall, who becomes the first female member of the royal family to join the Privy Council since Princess Elizabeth in 1951. Indeed, while the consorts of female monarchs - Prince George of Denmark, Prince Albert and Prince Philip - have all been Privy Councillors, no consorts of male monarchs or heirs have been admitted to the council until yesterday,

Sunday, 5 June 2016

My latest articles: The Thai succession and Queen Silvia's 40 years

This month is high season for royal jubilees, and I mark two of them with articles in the June issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 6).
While the official celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain's ninetieth birthday will take place next weekend, the world's longest-reigning monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand, will have been on the throne for seventy years on Thursday. His diamond jubilee in 2006 saw splendid celebrations attended by royals and heads of state from around the world, but Thursday's celebrations will be rather low-key and without the King's presence. Both he and Queen Sirikit are in hospital, and the bulletins published during the last days and weeks give cause for concern. In one article, I investigate the issue of the succession to King Bhumibol, and how this thorny issue has become entangled with the political struggle that has engulfed Thailand in recent years. Indeed, it seems that if the military junta is still in power when King Bhumibol dies, Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn may be passed over.
My second article in this issue deals with Queen Silvia of Sweden, who married King Carl XVI Gustaf on 19 June 1976 and can therefore look back at forty years as Queen this month, while I look back at her life, how she has shaped her role and her contribution to the Swedish monarchy.