Friday, 30 September 2016

Birth of King Olav's first great-great-grandchild

The first member of the sixth generation of the family founded by King Haakon VII saw the light of day on Wednesday 28 September, when Victoria Ribeiro Falcão gave birth to a boy, who has received the names Frederik Sven Lorentzen Falcão and will be known as Fred.
His parents, Victoria Ragna Lorentzen Ribeiro Falcão and Felipe Sampaio Octaviano Falcão, both born in 1988, married on 9 August 2014. His mother is the only child of Ingeborg Lorentzen Ribeiro, who is herself the eldest daughter of the late Princess Ragnhild. The baby is thus the first-born great-great-grandchild of the late King Olav V.
The newborn has no right of succession to the Norwegian throne, but holds a distant place in the order of succession to the British throne.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My latest article: Crown Princess Märtha and Franklin D. Roosevelt

While a new film on the royal family during the Second World War has just opened in cinemas, the October issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 10), which is now on sale, contains an article I have written about the wartime relationship between Crown Princess Märtha and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Their warm friendship has prompted much speculation about the nature of their relationship, but as I have shown in my biography of the Crown Princess and King Olav it was also a political partnership of mutual value.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Private funeral for Gunnila Bernadotte on 29 September

Swedish media report that according to the royal court, the funeral of Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, who was an aunt by marriage to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, will take place in Stockholm on Thursday 29 September, which is the 28th anniversary of hers and the late Count Carl Johan Bernadotte's wedding.
The exact location has not yet been disclosed and the service will be private. The date has been chosen to allow most members of the royal family to attend. Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia have consequently postponed their official visit to the Princess's hometown Älvdalen, which was planned for the 29th, until the next day.
There is so far no information about her final resting place, but I suppose the fact that the funeral will take place in Stockholm points to her being buried with Carl Johan Bernadotte in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga rather than with her first husband Carl-Herman Bussler and their two eldest daughters at Bärbo Cemetery in Nyköping. The fact that space has been left open for another name on Carl Johan Bernadotte's tombstone also points to her having chosen Haga.

POSTSCRIPT: The agenda on the royal website now says that the funeral will take place in the Palace Church and will be attended by King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

At the road's end: Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg (1923-2016)

The Swedish royal court has just announced that the King's aunt by marriage, Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the late former Prince Carl Johan, died yesterday. She was 93.
She was born Countess Gunnila Märta Louise Wachtmeister af Johannishus on 12 May 1923, the daughter of Count Nils Wachtmeister af Johannishus, who was Master of the Horse at the royal court, and his wife Märtha, née Baroness de Geer af Leufsta. Her paternal grandfather, Count Fredrik Wachtmeister, had a distinguished public career and was Minister of Foreign Affairs in the autumn of 1905, which gave him a crucial role in the dissolution of the personal union between Sweden and Norway. Her mother's sister Marianne was the first wife of Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg, the eldest son of Prince Oscar Bernadotte.
On 31 October 1942, Gunnila married Carl-Herman "Bibo" Bussler, who became managing director of the Swedish branch of British Petroleum. They had four children: Louise (1943-1986), Catharina (1946-1946), Madeleine (born 1948) and Carl-Fredrik, always known as Fred (born 1951). Bussler died on 29 June 1981, but some years later Gunnila found a new love in Count Carl Johan Bernadotte, the youngest son of King Gustaf VI Adolf, who had forfeited his royal rights and titles when he married the journalist Kerstin Wijkmark in 1946. Gunnila and Carl Johan had known each other practically all their lives, he told me when I interviewed him in 2004 and related how he had found his own signature in the guest book at Tistad Palace from 1930, when he was at boarding school with her eldest brother Claes. During their first marriages they moved in the same social circles and the two couples were good friends. He described Gunnila's first husband as "a very charming man".
Gunnila Bussler and Carl Johan Bernadotte married on 29 September 1988 in Copenhagen, a wedding hosted by his sister Queen Ingrid. It was by all accounts a very happy marriage and although they married late in life they almost made it to their silver wedding. In a statement today, King Carl Gustaf says that Gunnila was "much appreciated, [a] close and loyal friend in our family and will be greatly missed by us".
Carl Johan and Gunnila Bernadotte lived in a small villa in the hills above Båstad in Skåne, on Sweden's southwest coast, but after his death on 5 May 2012 she moved to an apartment downtown (as she could not drive a car she found it impossible to keep living outside town). In recent years she had health troubles and lived in a nursing home in Båstad. I believe she was last seen at a royal event when Princess Leonore was christened in June 2014.
On a personal note I found Countess Gunnila Bernadotte a friendly lady with a quiet dignity and discretion. In an undemonstrative way, hers and Carl Johan Bernadotte's love for each other was obvious.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Prince Alexander of Sweden baptised

At a service in the church at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm at noon today, Prince Alexander of Sweden, Duke of Sudermania, the firstborn child of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, was baptised by Archbishop Antje Jackelén. The sponsors were his paternal aunt Crown Princess Victoria, his maternal aunt Lina Frejd, his father's first cousin Victor Magnuson (Princess Christina's youngest son), his father's room mate from boarding school, Jan-Åke Hansson, and his mother's childhood friend Cajsa Larsson. The princely crown made for Prince Fredrik Adolf in 1772 rested on a cushion by the font, and at the end of the ceremony King Carl XVI Gustaf invested his grandson with the Order of the Seraphim.
Among the guests were Prince Alexander's grandparents, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia and Erik and Marie Hellqvist, his great-grandmother Britt Rotman, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel with Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar, Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill with Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas, and Princess Sofia's sister Lina Frejd (without her husband Jonas Frejd) and Sara Hellqvist.
Of King Carl Gustaf's four sister, only Princess Margaretha, who lives in England, attended. Princess Birgitta had prioritised a golf tournament at Mallorca, while Princess Désirée had had to cancel after first accepting her invitation and Princess Christina and her husband Tord Magnuson are travelling. Princess Désirée's son, Baron Carl Silfverschiöld, and her youngerst daughter, Baroness Hélène Silfverschiöld, with her partner Fredrik Dieterle did however attend. From Princess Christina's family the only attendees were her youngest son, Victor Magnuson, and his partner Frida Bergström.
Other members of the extended Bernadotte family present were Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, the King's aunt by marriage, and two of Prince Oscar Bernadotte's grandchildren, 100-year-old Dagmar von Arbin and Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg, the latter accompanied by his wife Jill. Of Prince Carl Philip's four godparents, only Prince Leopold of Bavaria attended with his wife Ursula.
From Queen Silvia's family, her brother Ralf de Toledo Sommerlath and his wife Charlotte attended as well as her nephew Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath with his partner Bettina Aussems, her niece Carmita Sommerlath Baudinet and her nephew Patrick Sommerlath with his wife Maline Sommerlath, his son Leopold Lundén Sommerlath and their daughters Anaïs and Chloé Sommerlath. Princess Sofia's uncles and aunts, Anders Rotman and Laila Rönn Rotman, Lena Rotman and Peter Nygren, and Lars and Irena Hellqvist, also attended.
Among the official representatives were the Speaker of Parliament, Urban Ahlin, with his wife Jenni, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his wife Ulla, Deputy Prime Minister Isabella Lövin, the ambassadors of Norway and Denmark and the county governors of Södermanland (Prince Alexander's dukedom), Värmland (of which Prince Carl Philip is Duke) and Dalarna (where Princess Sofia hails from).

Thursday, 8 September 2016

My latest article: Friedrich August III, the last King of Saxony

The September issue of Majesty (Vol. 37, No. 9) went on sale at the end of August, and this month my contribution is an article on Friedrich August III, the popular King of Saxony, who in 1918 brought the House of Wettin's 829-year rule to its close but who is perhaps best remembered for what was arguably the greatest royal divorce scandal of the twentieth century.