Saturday, 30 April 2011

“Princess Catherine” and more

Upon marriage yesterday Catherine Middleton became a Royal Highness, a Princess of the United Kingdom, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus, but as she is not a princess by birth she will not be styled “Princess Catherine”. If Prince William had not been given a peerage, his wife would officially have been styled “Princess William of Wales”, but now she will be officially styled “the Duchess of Cambridge”. However, according to the Daily Telegraph, the court said last night that it will be “acceptable” for the public to refer to her as “Princess Catherine”.
Prince Charles’s communications secretary, Paddy Harverson, said: “I think it’s absolutely natural that the public might want to call them Prince William and Princess Catherine and no one is going to have any argument with that”.
It is on the other hand pure nonsense when the Daily Mail claims that Prince William will one day “inherit” the title Prince of Wales (the title is not hereditary and he will have to be created Prince of Wales when he becomes first in line to the throne) and that Catherine will then be officially “recognised as Princess Catherine”. Although colloquially known as “Princess Diana”, that was never the title of Prince William’s mother, who was officially “Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales” while married and “Diana, Princess of Wales” after the divorce.
While it took the Swedish court two days to include Prince Daniel on their website following his wedding to Crown Princess Victoria last year, the British royal website was updated with a new section on the Duchess of Cambridge (external link) already last night. They have however forgotten to update the section on her husband, which still says that “Prince William's full title is His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales KG”.
Today Buckingham Palace has also released for editorial use three official wedding photos, taken in the Throne Room yesterday by Hugo Burnand.

Friday, 29 April 2011

My latest article: The history of royal marriage policy

The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet today dedicates no less than 25 pages to the wedding of Prince William of Britain and Catherine Middleton (now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), of which I am responsible for two. More precisely I have written a short historical overview of the development of royal marriage policy, from the days when such marriages were generally decided by dynastic and political concerns until today when marriages based on love have become the norm, thus making it possible for royals to marry non-royals. It was towards the end of World War I that King George V and Queen Mary of Britain decided that their children should be allowed to marry British subjects (which at first in reality meant British aristocrats) and indeed World War I seems to be the watershed, not only because it drove a wedge between the victors and the defeated and dramatically reduced the number of reigning dynasties, but also because the Great War dealt the death blow to the notion that matrimonial alliances between dynasties would be able to help prevent wars. The full version of the article is available at Dagbladet’s website:

Prince William created Duke of Cambridge

Buckingham Palace has announced that Queen Elizabeth II of Britain has created her grandson Prince William Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. This follows what has become something of a tradition of royal peerages being made up of titles from England, Scotland and (Northern) Ireland.
A royal dukedom comes in addition to, not in place of a princely title, so this does not mean that Prince William will cease being a prince and become a duke instead, but he will from now on be officially styled His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge and not His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales.
As a British woman shares all her husband’s titles it also means that the complete titles of Catherine Middleton after the wedding today will be Her Royal Highness, Princess of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus, but that she will be styled Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge.
Cambridge has been one of the dukedoms to appear most frequently in the speculations and it has strong royal connections. It is said that it was the intention that it should be given to Prince Edward upon his marriage in 1999, but that the changed his mind after watching the film Shakespeare in Love and asked to be created Earl of Wessex instead.
The last creation of the dukedom of Cambridge was in 1801 by King George III for his son Adolphus Frederick, the great-geat-grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. That creation became extinct with the death of Adolphus Frederick's son, Prince George, in 1904, but in 1917 the title of Marquess of Cambridge was created for the late Duke's nephew Adolphus, a brother of Queen Mary. This title became extinct with the death of his son in 1981.
The dukedom of Cambridge was also held by the future George II from 1706 until his accession to the throne in 1727 and by no less than four sons of the future James II, who all died in infancy. It has in other words never been a particularly long-lived peerage and in this case it will also merge with the crown once Prince William succeeds to the throne.
Strathearn, now an earldom, has earlier been a royal dukedom, most recently held by George III’s younger brother Henry Frederick, Duke of Cumberland and Strathearn, then by George III’s fourth son Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn, who was Queen Victoria’s father, and finally by Queen Victoria's third son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. It became extinct with the death of the latter’s grandson Alastair in 1943.
It has earlier been an earldom dating back to 1357, when it was created for Robert Stewart, who held the title until he succeeded to the Scottish throne as Robert II in 1371. It was later given to his sixth son.
Carrickfergus has never been a royal peerage before, but is the oldest town in County Antrim.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Title announcement tomorrow morning?

I do not know how reliable this is, but it is rumoured in media circles tonight that Buckingham Palace has indicated that there will be a title announcement tomorrow morning. Traditionally a British prince is given a peerage on the morning of his wedding, like Prince Edward was created Earl of Wessex in 1999 and Prince Andrew Duke of York in 1986.
It has earlier been claimed by some journalists that Prince William has indicated that he does not want to receive any other title than the one he already has, in which case his wife will be officially styled as HRH Princess William of Wales - unless Queen Elizabeth II should allow her to be styled Princess Catherine although not a princess in her own right, which is less likely.
If a new title is forthcoming tomorrow it is most likely a dukedom. Prince Edward is so far the only one who only received an earldom, although it was officially stated at the time that he will become the new Duke of Edinburgh following the deaths of his parents.
Among those dukedoms which have been most frequently mentioned in speculations are Cambridge and Clarence. The latter has some unfortunate associations which might perhaps speak against it, while Cambridge is said to have been the dukedom intended for Prince Edward - there is a story that he changed his mind and asked for the title Earl of Wessex after having watched the film Shakespeare in Love.
Personally I would cast a vote for a Scottish dukedom. Some have suggested St Andrews after the university which Prince William and Kate Middleton both attended, but it should be noted that there is no tradition for granting dukedoms based on personal connections. There is also a problem in that one of the subsidary titles of the Duke of Kent is Earl of St Andrews, a title which is used by his eldest son, but on the other hand there are several examples of multiple peerages with the same name (for instance there are both a Duke of Sutherland and a Countess of Sutherland). But there are also several other places in Scotland which could make suitable dukedoms - perhaps even quite simply Duke of Glasgow, which I think is a title which has never before been used.
After all but ninety hereditary peers were removed from the House of Lords in 1999 it might be argued that creating new dukedoms does not make much sense. One might also argue that Prince William needs no new title as he will nevertheless one day inherit a drove of titles. Indeed he will become Duke of Cornwall the second his grandmother dies and his father succeeds to the throne and is likely to be created Prince of Wales shortly thereafter, but this might yet be quite some years into the future. In any case a peerage held by Prince William will merge with the crown upon his own accession to the throne.
There are at least three previous examples of the eldest grandson of the monarch being granted a dukedom. The future George III was created Duke of Edinburgh by his grandfather George II, Prince Albert Victor was created Duke of Clarence and Avondale by his grandmother Queen Victoria, and following Albert Victor’s death his younger brother George (V) was created Duke of York.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

An opinion poll on the British monarchy

On the occasion of the upcoming royal wedding the April issue of Prospect magazine has several articles dealing with the British monarchy, among them an interesting essay by Simon Jenkins on “What’s the point of the monarchy?”.
There is also an interesting opinion poll about attitudes to the monarchy, conducted by YouGov. The polls fails to ask the direct question of how many support the monarchy and how many want a republic, but when asked who they would “prefer to succeed the Queen as monarch”, 13 % answer “no monarch”, something which at least gives an (imprecise) indication about the level of current republicanism.
To the same question 45 % reply that they want the Prince of Wales to succeed his monarch, whereas 37 % think Prince William should be the next monarch and 5 % do not know. This is an interesting development from the same poll six years ago, when 37 % supported Prince Charles as the next monarch and 41 % Prince William, while 3 % did not know and 19 % wanted no monarch to succeed the current Queen.
That there is no yearning for an immediate change of monarch is clear from the answers to the question about whether Queen Elizabeth II, who turned 85 last week, should “stay on as monarch”. 65 % think she should, 25 % think she should step down and 10 % do not know.
56 % think the monarch should “continue as head of the Church of England”, while 30 % think she should cease and 14 % do not know. 61 % are in favour of the monarch remaining “head of state of Commonwealth countries”, whereas 26 % are opposed and 13 % uncertain. 71 % think the monarch should “be allowed to marry a Catholic”, while 16 % are against the idea and 13 % do not know.
The upcoming wedding has naturally led to concerns about the current laws of succession, which mean that a first-born daughter of Prince William will be bypassed in the succession by a younger brother. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently said that changing this has been discussed and the poll suggests that there is wide support for such a move – indeed 75 % are in favour and only 17 % are opposed.
The problem is however that such a change must be carried out not only in Britain but also in the fifteen other kingdoms of which Elizabeth II is Queen and in some of this such a move might open a can of worms, which even happened in staunchly monarchist Denmark when the succession was changed two years ago.
It is interesting to note that there is a rather distinctive difference between the opinions of men and women on this question. While 83 % of the women are in favour of gender-neutral succession, only 65 % of the men support it. 27 % of the men and 7 % of the women are uncertain, while 8 % of the men and 10 % of the women are opposed.
Equally interesting is the fact that the younger the responders get the more they are opposed to such a change. Among those older than sixty 80 % favour the reform with 14 % opposing and 6 % uncertain; among those between 40 and 59 years of age 78 % are in favour, 15 % opposed and 7 % uncertain; among those between 25 and 39 years of age 72 % are in favour, 18 % are opposed and 10 % do not know; but among those between 18 and 24 years only 60 % support such a change, while 27 % are opposed and 13 % are unsure.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Historian Bo Lidegaard is Politiken’s new editor-in-chief

The Danish broadsheet Politiken, arguably the most interesting newspaper in Scandinavia, today announced that it has hired the historian Bo Lidegaard to the high profile role as its new editor-in-chief in succession to Tøger Seidenfaden, who died in January.
Lidegaard is a somewhat surprising choice, but also an interesting one. At the age of 53 he has little journalistic experience, but is like his predecessors Seidenfaden and Herbert Pundik a well-read intellectual.
An award-winning historian, Lidegaard has in recent years been employed by the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office. Until now he has been leader of the latter’s Climate Secretariat and has by critics been accorded some of the blame for the failure of the Copenhagen climate summit (COP15) in December 2009.
Among his books are a history of Denmark’s foreign policy in the years 1914-45, a highly recommendable volume on Denmark and World War II, a two-volume biography of former Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag, a doctoral dissertation on the life of Henrik Kaufmann (Denmark’s wartime minister in the USA), a pictorial biography of former Prime Minister H. C. Hansen and, most recently, an English overview of modern Danish history, A Short History of Denmark in the 20th Century.

Queen Elizabeth II attends great-granddaughter’s christening

Daily Mail (external link) reports that Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of Britain last Saturday attended the christening of their first great-grandchild, Savannah Phillips, who was born on 30 December 2010 and is twelfth in line to the British throne.
The christening of the daughter of Peter and Autumn Phillips took place quitely and privately in the Church of the Holy Cross in Avening, Gloucestershire and was apparently only brought to public attention through the presence of an amateur photographer.
The child’s grandparents, Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, step-grandfather Timothy Laurence, and aunt Zara Phillips with her fiancé Mike Tindall were also in attendance.
It seems a Phillips christening just before the wedding of an heir has become something of a tradition: Zara Phillips was herself baptised on 27 July 1981, two days before the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Palace façade renovation starts in Stockholm

For two years now parts of the façades of the Royal Palace in Stockholm have been covered by some rather ugly black nets in order to prevent the crumbling sandstone from falling down on people. This month the Property Board will start replacing the sandstone, beginning with the north-eastern wing. The process is expected to be completed in 2032.

Facts and figures from the royal annual report

A while ago the Royal Court kindly sent me their annual report for 2010. As usual the report includes a list of public engagements carried out by the members of the royal family during the year, from which one can deduct that the King was as usual the busiest member of the royal family, managing 169 engagements, as compared to 159 in 2009. The Queen carried out 69 engagements, which is up from 60 the previous year.
Despite being away on a lengthy foreign holiday in the autumn the Crown Prince managed 122 engagements (102 in 2009) and the Crown Princess 74 (up from 67 in 2009). Princess Ingrid Alexandra attended eight engagements (twice as many as the previous year), Prince Sverre Magnus four (up from one in 2009) and Marius Borg Høiby is listed as having been present for one engagement, although he did in fact also attend another one which has not been included in the list. Princess Märtha Louise carried out seven engagements, just above half of the thirteen she undertook in 2009, while Ari Behn was present for four of them. Princess Astrid had seven public engagements, down from ten in 2009. It should be noted that for instance state visits, foreign tours and attendance at the Olympic Games count as only one engagement each, regardless of how many separate events it was made up of.
During the summer opening (20 June-14 August) 27,165 people visited the Royal Palace, whereas 19,359 visited Oscarshall Palace while it was open between 1 May and 26 September. To this could perhaps be added the 27,247 who saw the National Museum’s exhibition “The Palace and Linstow: The Cornerstone of the New Capital”, which was curated by Nina Høye, who is in charge of the guided tours of the Royal Palace.
In 2010 the King awarded one Grand Cross of the Order of St Olav, created one Commander with Star and three Commanders, 23 Knights of the First Class (24 are listed, but one of them is listed twice) and one Knight. The King gave out ten Grand Crosses of the Order of Merit and created six Commanders with Star, nineteen Commanders, thirty Knights of the First Class and two Knights.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

New books: The Duchess of Windsor’s sad end

Many years ago I saw in magazine a photo of an old, crippled woman lying in her bed with tubes up her nose, obviously at a stage where she was beyond living and merely existed. But for the caption it would be impossible to discern that this human wreck was the famous (or infamous) Duchess of Windsor, once known for her elegance and always remembered as the woman for whom King Edward VIII of Britain gave up his throne, thereby plunging the British monarchy into its most serious crisis of modern times.
Today 25 years have passed since the 89-year-old Duchess of Windsor died in her home outside Paris, on 24 April 1986. In time for the anniversary the author Hugo Vickers has written the book Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold Story of the Duchess of Windsor, published by Hutchinson of London on 7 April, which primarily concerns itself with the Duchess’s last years.
Vickers has deservedly succeeded in establishing himself as one of Britain’s leading experts on royal history, and for one who has read many mediocre books on this topic it is a relief to read the works of an author who is both familiar with terminology and manages to get his facts right (I think I spotted only two factual mistakes in this book). Vickers’s biography of Princess Alice of Greece, mother of the Duke of Edinburgh, is by many ranked as one of the best biographies there is about a royal subject, a view which is fully shared by me.
However, I do have ambivalent feelings about this new book. It is somewhat oddly composed; the first part deals with the Duchess’s last years (from the death of her husband in 1972 till her own fourteen years later), while the second, much shorter part deals with the 76 preceding years of her life. It is in the author’s own words in many ways a personal quest and Hugo Vickers himself appears prominently in the text, quoting very frequently from his own diaries and relating his own travels and conversations over the years. Not all of it is equally relevant and some of it comes across as little more than gossip, such as when a lady who would have been in no position to know for sure passes on to Vickers her beliefs about the Duke of Windsor’s sexual abilities (or lack thereof).
Other quotes from various sources can on the other hand be revealing, such as the Duchess of Windsor telling the American ambassador following her infamous meeting with Hitler that the latter talked about his interest in architecture, stating: “Our buildings will make more magnificent ruins than the Greeks”. In passing on the remark to President Roosevelt, Ambassador William Bullitt added that this “seemed to me about as revealing psychologically as anything I ever heard”.
And then there is the story, told by the Dean of the American Cathedral in Paris, who was present at the interment of the Duchess of Windsor at Frogmore in 1986 and observed Queen Elizabeth II, not known for wearing her heart on the sleeve, shed a tear and point to the grave of the Duke of Windsor with the words: “That was the one that I loved”. This story brings to life the huge impact the abdication had on the life of the current British monarch, not only in that she might not have been monarch at all if it had not happened, but how it to a certain extent broke up her family by removing a beloved uncle of her childhood from the family circle. This brings the abdication drama quite close, even three quarters of a century after it reached its climax.
Both Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson have been frequently demonised by many writers since 1936. Vickers’s portrayal of them falls into the more sympathetic category although he is not blind to their faults.
In the second part of the book Vickers presents short chapters on for instance Wallis Simpson’s family connections, her first two husbands and his own take on the abdication. It is his view that “Wallis Simpson was fond of Edward VIII but she was not in love with him. Therefore the Abdication is not one of the great romances of the twentieth century, it is one of the great tragedies”. Mrs Simpson did not want the King do abdicate, but she allowed the situation to get out of hand and “always considered the Abdication a terrible mistake that should have been avoided”. In this Vickers places himself quite close to the Duchess of Windsor’s own version.
Vickers also distances himself from the theory which is sometimes advocated that the Mrs Simpson situation was merely a convenient excuse for “the Establishment” to get rid of a troublesome king. According to Vickers, “nobody wanted the King to abdicate, [...] nobody tried to force him to do so and [...] everyone worked hard to prevent the final tragedy”. He concludes that “[t]he Abdication was brought on by the obstinacy of one man and one man alone – King Edward VIII. He was the only person in Britain who wanted Mrs Simpson to be Queen. Not even Mrs Simpson herself entertained the idea”.
About the allegations that the Duke of Windsor sympathised with the Nazis or behaved in such a way that he, in the words of Queen Mother Elena of Romania and Prince Pavle of Yugoslavia “should be shot as a traitor”, Vickers states that he was no Nazi, but “he was naive, and having been brought up with people to advise him all his life until December 1936 he was hardly competent or equipped to deal with men like Hitler”. While “German plots developed around them and plans were devised which could use them to German ends, the Windsors themselves were not a party to these. The Duke behaved in a manner both difficult and foolish, but he was not disloyal”. Some will consider this a fair assessment; others will find it an apologist interpretation.
But the main story of this book is that of Suzanne Blum, the French lawyer who came to exert great control over the Duchess in her twilight years and in Vickers’s words became her “captor, spokeswoman, keeper of the flame and the keys. She would change the Duchess’s will, altering the disposition of it, lodge what I suspect was a forged letter of authorisation with a tame notary, take the Duchess’s name in vain in respect of what she wanted published, and pronounce herself to be the Duchess’s friend and protector. It is one of the most sinister relationships ever formed between lawyer and client”.
At the time of the Duke of Windsor’s death in 1972 the health of his wife was beginning to fail, but she remained active for some years until illness confined her to her home and reduced her almost to the state of a vegetable for a long time preceding her death in 1986. Vickers shows how Blum gained control over the ailing Duchess, how she gradually restricted the number of visitors, sold some of her client’s possessions, dismissed members of the ducal staff etc.
“Failing to abide by the terms of the Duke of Windsor’s will, exploiting the Duchess, reinterpreting her wishes, selling her furniture and porcelain, keeping her in her room so that she did not notice what had gone, preventing her from seeing her friends, taking away her beloved pugs and denying her flowers in her bedroom – this was Blum’s way of ‘defending’ the Duchess”, Vickers concludes.
Indeed Blum does not come across as very likeable, but Vickers overdoes it to the extent where he seems incapable of finding anything positive to say about Blum and thus paints a portrait which is so one-dimensional that it is hard to believe.
There is also the issue of the author Michael Bloch, who Blum commissioned to write several books on the Windsors based on their papers. What seems to rankle most deeply with Vickers is that he does not believe Blum told the truth when she stated that the Windsors had themselves wanted these books published. This “strikes me and many others who knew the Windsors closely as nonsense”, states Vickers (who momentarily seems to have forgotten that he never met nor talked to either of them). On this point he makes a good case for his viewpoint and he obviously disagrees with much of what Bloch wrote, but the manner in which he states his disagreement seems unnecessary vengeful. It almost makes one believe there must have been some personal falling-out between the two authors.
There are also some frightfully snobbish comments about Vickers’s fellow attendees at the 1998 auction of items from the Windsor villa, so condescending that they simply do not reflect very well on the author himself. This is not Hugo Vickers at his best and only serves to weaken the impression of what is a mostly well-written, sometimes too personally biased, account of the horrid end to the life of the Duchess of Windsor, a woman who was herself a far from unflawed character, but who has been vilified beyond what is reasonable and whose tortured final years can hardly fail to instil sympathy even in the many who are not among her admirers.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The (digested) official guest list for the British royal wedding

Despite earlier statements that no official guest list would be released, Clarence House has today published a list of selected guests for the wedding of Prince William of Britain and Catherine Middleton in Westminster Abbey on Friday.

Members of reigning royal families with partners:
HM Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and HRH Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, Duke of Edinburgh
HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and HM Queen Saleha of Brunei
HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
HM King Mswati III of Swaziland
HM King Harald V of Norway and HM Queen Sonja of Norway
HH Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar and HH Sheikha Mohza bint Nasser Al Missned of Qatar [did after all not attend]
HRH Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg and HRH Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg
HSH Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco and Miss Charlene Wittstock
HM King George Tupou IV of Tonga
HM King Mizan Zainal Abidin of Malaysia, Sultan of Terengganu and HM Queen Nur Zanirah of Malaysia, Sultana of Terengganu
HM Queen Sofía of Spain
HRH Princess Consort Salma of Morocco
HRH Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, Prince of Wales and HRH Camilla, Princess of the United Kingdom, Duchess of Cornwall
HRH Prince Felipe of Spain, Prince of Asturias and HRH Letizia, Princess of Asturias
HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Duchess of Westrogothia and HRH Prince Daniel of Sweden, Duke of Westrogothia
HRH Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Prince of Orange and HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands
HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium, Duke of Brabant and HRH Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Duchess of Brabant
HH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi
HRH Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa of Bahrain [cancelled his attendance on 24 April]
HRH Prince Henry of the United Kingdom (best man)
HRH Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom, Duke of York
HRH Princess Beatrice of the United Kingdom
HRH Princess Eugenie of the United Kingdom
HRH Prince Edward of the United Kingdom, Earl of Wessex and HRH Sophie, Princess of the United Kingdom, Countess of Wessex
HRH Princess Anne of the United Kingdom, Princess Royal and Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence
HRH Prince Richard of the United Kingdom, Duke of Gloucester and HRH Birgitte, Princess of the United Kingdom, Duchess of Gloucester
HRH Prince Edward of the United Kingdom, Duke of Kent and HRH Katharine, Princess of the United Kingdom, Duchess of Kent
HRH Prince Michael of the United Kingdom and HRH Marie-Christine, Princess Michael of the United Kingdom
HRH Princess Alexandra of the United Kingdom, the Hon Lady Ogilvy
HRH Princess Sirindhorn of Thailand
HH Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said of Oman
HRH Prince Seeiso Bereng Seeiso and HRH Princess Mabereng Seeiso of Lesotho
HRH Prince Mohamed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and HRH Princess Fadwa bint Khalid bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman of Saudi Arabia
HH Sheikh Ahmad al-Hamoud al-Sabah of Kuwait

Members of non-reigning royal families with partners:
HM ex-King Konstantinos II of the Hellenes and HM ex-Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes
HM ex-King Mihai I of Romania
HM ex-King Simeon II of the Bulgarians and HM ex-Queen Margarita of the Bulgarians
HRH ex-Crown Prince Pavlós of Greece and HRH ex-Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece
HRH ex-Crown Princess Margarita of Romania
HRH ex-Crown Prince Aleksandar of Yugoslavia and HRH ex-Crown Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia
HRH Prince Konstantinos Alexios of Greece
HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia

Descendants of royals with partners:
Lady Louise Windsor (daughter of the Earl of Wessex) (bridesmaid)
Mr Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne of the UK) and Mrs Autumn Phillips
Miss Zara Phillips (daughter of Princess Anne of the UK) and Mr Mike Tindall
David Armstrong-Jones, Viscount Linley (son of the late Princess Margaret of the UK) and Serena, Viscountess Linley
The Hon Charles Armstrong-Jones (son of Viscount Linley)
The Hon Margarita Armstrong-Jones (daughter of Viscount Linley) (bridesmaid)
Lady Sarah Chatto (daughter of the late Princess Margaret of the UK) and Mr Daniel Chatto
Mr Samuel Chatto (son of Lady Sarah Chatto)
Mr Arthur Chatto (son of Lady Sarah Chatto)
Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster (son of the Duke of Gloucester) and Claire, Countess of Ulster
Lady Davina Lewis (daughter of the Duke of Gloucester) and Mr Gary Lewis
Lady Rose Gilman (daughter of the Duke of Gloucester) and Mr George Gilman
George Windsor, Earl of St Andrews (son of the Duke of Kent) and Sylvana, Countess of St Andrews
Edward Windsor, Baron Downpatrick (son of Earl of St Andrews)
Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor (daughter of Earl of St Andrews)
Lady Amelia Windsor (daughter of Earl of St Andrews)
Lord Nicholas Windsor (son of the Duke of Kent) and Lady Nicholas (Paola) Windsor
Lady Helen Taylor (daughter of the Duke of Kent) and Mr Timothy Taylor
Lord Frederick Windsor (son of Prince Michael) and Lady Frederick (Sophie) Windsor
Lady Gabriella Windsor (daughter of Prince Michael)
Mr James Ogilvy (son of Princess Alexandra) and Mrs Julia Ogilvy
Mrs Marina Ogilvy (daughter of Princess Alexandra) [did not attend after all]
Flora Fraser, 21st Lady Saltoun (widowed daughter-in-law of the late former Princess Patricia of the UK)

Members of the bride’s family:
Mr Michael Middleton and Mrs Carole Middleton (parents of the bride)
Miss Philippa Middleton (sister of the bride) (maid of honour)
Mr James Middleton (brother of the bride)

Members of the late Diana, Princess of Wales’s family:
Charles, 9th Earl Spencer (brother of the late Princess) and Miss Karen Gordon
Lady Sarah McCorquodale (sister of the late Princess) and Mr Neil McCorquodale
Lady Jane Fellowes (sister of the late Princess) and Robert, Baron Fellowes of Shotesham
Lady Anne Wake-Walker (paternal aunt of the late Princess)

Among the other interesting guests are:
- The Governor-Generals of Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, St Christopher and Nevis, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
- The Prime Ministers or Premiers of Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Lucia, Saint Vicent and the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as representatives of the crown colonies Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat and St Helena, and the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and other senior cabinet ministers (William Hague, George Osborne, Kenneth Clarke, Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt).
- Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party.
- The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, and his equivalents from the Scottish Parliament and the assemblies of Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Lord Speaker.
- The Mayor of London, the Lord Mayor and the Lord Mayor of Westminster.
- The Cabinet Secretary.
- The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and several other representatives of various churches and faiths.
- Senior members of the Defence services.
- Ambassadors.
- Lord Lieutenants.
- Representatives of charities and organisations.
- Former Prime Minister Sir John Major.
- Various celebrities such as singer Elton John, film maker Guy Ritchie, footballer David Beckham and singer Victoria Beckham, singer Joss Stone, actor Rowan Atkinson and photographer Mario Testino.

Two relatives of Prince William who are not on this list but who have confirmed their presence to the media are Lady Brabourne, the estranged wife of a second cousin of Prince Charles, and the Hon Mrs (Margaret) Rhodes, a niece of the late Queen Mother.

This lists suggests that the only reigning royal families not to be represented in London on Friday will be Liechtenstein, Japan, Jordan, Bhutan and Cambodia. The court of Tokyo has earlier stated that no member of the Japanese imperial family would be attending due to the natural and nuclear disasters which recently struck the country. British media have reported that the King of Cambodia has not replied to his invitation, whereas the King and Queen of Jordan have been reported to have been invited.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Queen consents to marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton

Buckingham Palace has today published the elaborate document in which Queen Elizabeth II of Britain under the Royal Marriages Act of 1772 has given her consent to the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The Queen’s consent was given at a meeting of the Privy Council on 9 February this year. The Instrument of Consent reads:

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greetings! WHEREAS by an Act of Parliament instituted “An Act for the better regulating the future Marriages of the Royal Family”, it is amongst other things enacted “that no descendant of the body of His late Majesty King George the Second, Male or Female, (other than the issue of Princesses who have married, or may hereafter marry, into Foreign Families), shall be capable of contracting Matrimony without the previous consent of His Majesty, His Heirs or Successors, signified under the Great Seal, and declared in Council”: NOW KNOW YE that We have consented and do by these Presents signify Our Consent to the contracting of Matrimony between Our Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince William Arthur Philip Louis of Wales, K.G., and Our Trusty and Well-beloved Catherine Elizabeth Middleton IN WITNESS whereof We have caused Our Great Seal to be affixed to the Presents GIVEN at Our Court at Buckingham Palace the ninth Day of February Two thousand and Eleven in the Sixtieth Year of Our Reign.
(signed Elizabeth R)

On this date: Queen Elizabeth II turns 85

Today is the 85th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, who has already for several years been the oldest monarch in British history. The actual birthday will as usual not be officially commemorated (the Sovereign’s Birthday Parade taking place in June), but with Prince Philip she will attend the Maundy Thursday service, this year held in Westminster Abbey.
Last week she was forced to cancel her attendance at a service for the Royal Victorian Order due to a heavy nosebleed, which for many people of her age would supposedly mean hospitalisation. Yet she was able to recover fast enough to attend the subsequent reception.
This was the first time in five years or so that the Queen of Britain cancelled an engagement for health reasons and as we know she remains active in her old age. In eight days she will host the wedding of her grandson Prince William and Kate Middleton and she also has several other important engagements awaiting her this year: she will host a state visit from US President Barack Obama and herself make a state visit to Ireland, the first visit by a British monarch to that nation in a century. Furthermore she will visit Australia in the autumn and on 12 June she will attend the belated celebrations of Prince Philip’s ninetieth birthday, which actually falls on 10 June.
On 14 May Queen Elizabeth II will pass another milestone by becoming the second longest reigning monarch in British history, bypassing her great-great-great-grandfather George III by one day. If she lives until 11 September 2015 she will become the longest reigning monarch in British history, having reigned one day longer than her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria.
Meanwhile Prince Charles yesterday passed a similar milestone when he bypassed his great-great-grandfather Edward VII as the person who has been first in line to the British throne for the longest time. Whereas the future Edward VII was heir apparent from his birth on 9 November 1841 until the death of his mother on 22 January 1901, the current Prince of Wales has been first in line to the throne since the accession of his mother on 6 February 1952. (However, as it was only in 1958 that he was created Prince of Wales, he is not yet the longest-serving Prince of Wales, a position still held by Edward VII, followed by George IV).
On a more private note it has been confirmed that Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh yesterday had lunch with Michael and Carole Middleton, which was their first meeting with the parents of the soon-to-be Princess.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

My latest article: Oscar II’s dynastic decoration programme

The cover story of the latest issue of Byminner (no 2 – 2011), the journal of Oslo’s City Museum, which is out since last Friday, is my article on how King Oscar II decorated the Royal Palace in Oslo with artworks commemorating the reign of the Bernadotte dynasty, thus ensuring that his family remains highly evident at the royal residence more than a century after their deposal while at the same time using the arts to legitimise the Bernadottes’ position as the royal house of Norway.
The starting point of the dynastic decoration programme was Brynjulf Bergslien’s equestrian statue of Carl XIV Johan in the Palace Square, which was unveiled in 1875. The initiative for the statue was however taken in the reign of Carl XV, but it was his brother and successor who made it into a more extensive programme.
The programme primarily put its mark on three rooms in the State Apartments. At the centre of the Upper Vestibule he installed a bust of his father Oscar I, who had inaugurated the Palace in 1849. The bust is flanked by reliefs showing respectively Carl XIV Johan laying the foundation stone for the Palace in 1825 and Oscar II unveiling the statue of Carl XIV Johan fifty years later.
Jacob Munch’s painting of Carl XIV Johan’s coronation was moved from the Royal Mansion and installed in the Family Dining Room, for which Oscar II also commissioned paintings of his own coronation and that of his brother Carl XV from Knud Bergslien and Peter Nicolai Arbo respectively.
In the Throne Room next-door Oscar II assembled portraits of the kings and queens of the House of Bernadotte. A portrait of Queen Desideria by Fredric Westin was brought from the Royal Mansion and joined Friedrich Dürck’s portraits of King Oscar I and Queen Josephina. Peter Nicolai Arbo was commissioned to paint the late Carl XV and Kerstin Cardon the late Queen Lovisa.
The Danish artist Cathinca Engelhart was also commissioned to paint a posthumous state portrait of Carl XIV Johan, where Akershus Castle can be seen in the background. Interestingly the Castle has been replaced by Nidaros Cathedral in another version of the portrait commissioned for the Royal Residence Stiftsgården in Trondheim. No buildings held greater national symbolic meaning than these two and their inclusion in the portraits serve to highlight the Bernadottes as a natural part of the ancient line of Norwegian kings.
I am also able to publish for the first time a portrait of Oscar II himself, painted by Wilhelm Peters in 1903, which so to speak summarises the dynastic decoration programme and legitimacy issue as it shows Oscar II, wearing the Norwegian royal regalia, his hand resting on the book of laws, standing on the palace balcony with Karl Johan Street and the Parliament behind him.
At the time of Oscar II’s deposal the royal family debated what should be done with various possessions in Oslo. In the end the dynastic decoration programme was among those things the ex-King donated to the Norwegian state, thus ensuring that his dynasty continued to be commemorated at the Palace.
The sculptural decoration in the Upper Vestibule remains in place to this day, while the Bernadotte portraits were, after the arrival of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud in 1905, moved from the former Throne Room (now the Hall of Mirrors) to the drawing-room of the main guest suite, which was renamed the Bernadotte Drawing Room. In the 1990s the coronation paintings were moved from the Family Dining Room to the Hall of Mirrors. And of course the equestrian statue of Carl XIV Johan still dominates the Palace Square.
The article may be read in its entirety at the City Museum’s website:

Coat of arms granted to the Middleton family

In preparation for the royal wedding next Friday it has been announced (external link) that Kate Middleton and her family have been granted a coat of arms.
More precisely it is her father Michael Middleton who has been granted the coat of arms, but the picture shows Kate Middleton’s arms, which is is her father’s arms suspended from a ribbon to indicate her status as an unmarried daughter.
However, the blue ribbon will disappear once she is married, when her new coat of arms will be placed next to that of Prince William in what is called an impaled Coat of Arms, something which will be decided by a royal warrant from Queen Elizabeth II.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Luxembourgian state visit to Norway next month

The Norwegian royal court yesterday confirmed that the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg will pay a state visit to Norway on 30 May-1 June. They will spend the first two days in Oslo before travelling on to Trondheim for the final day.
The last Luxembourgian state visit to Norway was by Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte in the spring of 1990, while the King and Queen visited Luxembourg in 1996.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Queen Margrethe going to British wedding

The Danish court has now confirmed that Queen Margrethe II will attend the wedding of Prince William of Britain and Kate Middleton in London on 29 April. The Prince Consort will not accompany her.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander and Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda

At 3.30 p.m. today the christening of the twins born to Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark on 8 January took place in Holmen’s Church in Copenhagen and in keeping with Danish royal traditions it was only then that the names given to the children were made publicly known. The Prince’s name is Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander, while his slightly younger sister is named Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda.
While the heirs in direct line are always called either Christian or Frederik the Danes tend to choose less traditional names for younger royals, with Joachim, Felix, Viggo and Flemming as some examples from the current dynasty (which has reigned since 1863). I cannot think of any previous princes named Vincent, but the name might perhaps be seen as a reflection of what Crown Prince Frederik has said about his French roots becoming more and more important to him.
Most Danish princes, unless they are far down the line of succession, mostly have either Frederik or Christian among their names just in case they should succeed to the throne. Minik is a Greenlandic name, while Alexander is a more traditional royal name. The last Danish royal to be named so was Prince Alexander, who in 1905 became Crown Prince of Norway and got the name Olav instead. Prince Nikolai also has Alexander among his names.
Princess Josephine’s nearest family namesake is her father’s second cousin Josephine af Rosenborg, one of the three daughters of Count Christian of Rosenborg. It was also the name of the Princess’s great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Queen Josephina (Joséphine) of Sweden and Norway and of the latter’s grandmother, Empress Joséphine of the French.
Sophia was the name of the Princess’s great-great-great-grandmother, Queen Sophia of Sweden and Norway, and was also among the names of Queen Ingrid (Ingrid Victoria Sofia Louise Margareta). In its more Danish version Sophie it has also been used by several Danish queens: Sophie of Pomerania, the wife of Frederik I; Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow, the consort of Frederik II; Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg, wife of Frederik III; Anna Sophie Reventlow, the third wife and second queen of Frederik IV; Sophie Magdalene of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, consort of Christian VI; and Marie Sophie Frederikke of Hesse-Cassel, wife of Frederik VI. To this could be added Princess Sophie Magdalene, daughter of Frederik V and eventually Queen of Sweden as the consort of Gustaf III; Princess Sophie Hedvig, daughter of Christian V; Princess Anna Sophie, daughter of Frederik III and later Electress of Saxony; and Princess Sophie, daughter of Christian IV.
Ivalo is again a Greenlandic name, while Mathilda might bring assocations to Crown Princess Mary’s native Australia. It is also a name associated with the unfortunate Queen Caroline Mathilde, née Princess Carolina Mathilda of Britain, who was married to the insane Christian VII, had an affair with the royal physician Johann Friedrich Struensee, was divorced and banished to Hanover and died there at the age of 24.
Prince Vincent’s godparents are his uncle John Stuart Donaldson, Prince Felipe of Spain, his father’s first cousin Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, his mother’s lady-in-waiting Caroline Hering, Count Michael Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille and Baroness Helle Reedtz-Thott, the latter two friends of his parents. Princess Josephine’s godparents are her aunts Princess Marie and Patricia Bailey, Prince Charles of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Count Bendt Wedell, Birgitte Handwerk and Josephine Rechner, the latter three friends of the parents.
While the Prince wore the christening gown which has been used for most royal christenings since Christian X in 1870, Princess Josephine wore a previously unused dress which Queen Margrethe found among the belongings of the late Queen Ingrid. Textile conservators have concluded that it dates from around 1940 and it has been suggested that someone may have given it to the then Crown Princess Ingrid when her first child was born.
Except for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their four children the baptism was attended by the following royals and relatives: The Queen and Prince Consort, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, Princes Nikolai, Felix and Henrik, Princess Benedikte of Denmark and Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Carina Axelsson, ex-Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes, Prince Nikolaós and Princess Tatiana of Greece, Prince Charles and Princess Camilla of Bourbon-Two Sicilies and their daughters Maria Carolina and Maria Chiara, John and Susan Donaldson (maternal grandfather and step-grandmother), John Stuart Donaldson (uncle), Patricia Bailey (aunt), Catherine Murray (great-aunt), Guillaume Bardin (cousin of Crown Prince Frederik) and his wife, Count Valdemar of Rosenborg and Countess Marina of Rosenborg.
Following the christening there was a reception at Frederik VIII’s Mansion at Amalienborg, where a private dinner was also scheduled to take place tonight.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Kate Middleton has been confirmed

Hardly had the Monegasque court announced that Charlene Wittstock has converted to Catholicism before the British court today announced that Kate Middleton has now been confirmed. The Anglican ceremony took place at St James’s Palace on 10 March and was attended by Prince William and her family.
It might seem a bit late in the day given that the future Princess is 29 and that most confirmations take place at the age of about fifteen, and it might also seem superfluous given that there is no requirement for the wife of an heir to belong to the Anglican church (she is only forbidden to be Catholic), but going through with a confirmation probably makes things easier as it means that questions will not be asked about her religion.

A Prussian prince on the differences between reigning and non-reigning houses

A reader and I recently had an exchange on the differences between reigning and formerly reigning royal families and it might be interesting to note that Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia addresses some of these issues in a recent interview with Der Spiegel Geschichte.
The 72-year-old eldest grandson of the last German Crown Prince, a historian living in Berlin, was interviewed by Konstantin von Hammerstein and Michael Sontheimer for Der Spiegel Geschichte no 2 – 2011, which is in its entirety dedicated to the history of the House of Hohenzollern, like one of the issues of 2009 was dedicated to the Habsburgs. It is indeed a very interesting magazine, containing articles on many aspects of the history of the former royal family of Brandenburg and Prussia.
The Prince, whom the interviewers address with his legal name as “Mr Prinz von Preußen”, says that he feels just like any other citizen of Germany with the same rights and duties. He describes himself as “fully and completely” a republican. It “happens” that people address him as “Your Royal Highness”, he says, and “I let it happen”, but he points out that there is no such thing as noble titles after 1918 and that his surname is “Prinz von Preußen”. He considers it magnanimous “for a so-called revolution” that the former royal and noble families were allowed to incorporate their titles into their names, given that one could have taken the same road as Austria, which abolished all noble denominations altogether.
When in school after the war Prince Friedrich Wilhelm was not aware of what a family he actually belonged to, something which “mattered not the slightest at home”. He believes his parents had more than enough of other preoccupations than instilling into their children “that we belonged to the former imperial house”. This really only dawned upon him in senior high school, where his history teacher took it for granted that a Prince of Prussia should be especially knowledgeable about history. At this time he began asking his father questions about the family. The family did not mourn its former position, he says, but was “happy to have survived the war”.
When asked about his relations with the currently reigning royal families he points out that the future King Frederik IX of Denmark, the future Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and Princess Sibylla of Sweden were among his godparents and that he remains in touch with Queen Beatrix and Queen Margrethe, the latter being a godmother to his own son Friedrich Wilhelm. The interviewers ask about the House of Windsor and the Prince points out that this name only dates from 1917 and that the Windsors were “a German princely family” before that. “The relations to the Englishmen were naturally from that time always somewhat tense, but I have had several very friendly encounters with Prince Charles”, he says, adding that “I believe that wartime animosities do not matter anymore for Prince William’s generation”.
He speaks English with the Windsors and German with Queen Margrethe, but also French when he has been a guest of her and Prince Henrik. Do royal families separate strictly between reigning and formerly reigning families, the interviewers enquire. “No, the formerly reigning are treated as if they were still reigning”, he says. A reigning king is obviously better placed at table, but “the titles which one hardly knows here anymore are naturally prevalent at such events”. While the ex-King of Bulgaria will be styled “Majesty” on the cards only first names are used when speaking. The Queen of Britain “is Aunt Elizabeth to me”.
Among his own forebears he particularly admires Friedrich Wilhelm, “the Great Elector”, and is most critical of his great-grandfather, Emperor Wilhelm II, who “was a misfortune – for Germany and for our family. […] He did not wish for war and was no militarist, even if he changed uniforms ten times a day. But he made no serious attempts to avoid the war”.
The Prince also addresses topics such as equal or unequal marriages in his family, his relatives’ ties with the Nazis (which, I could add, he has also dealt with in his 1985 book “Gott helfe unserem Vaterland”. Das Haus Hohenzollern 1918-1945) and the current standing of European monarchies.
Among the other topics accorded articles in this interesting issue of Der Spiegel Geschichte are, apart from several Hohenzollern monarchs and of course Queen Luise, the origins of the dynasty, Friedrich II’s relations with Voltaire, the history paintings of Adolph Menzel, the Social Democratic Party and its leader August Bebel, the Hohenzollerns and their “unloved capital” Berlin, the Romanian branch of the dynasty, World War I, the reburial of Friedrich II, the scandalous Prince Ferfried of Hohenzollern, and the Prussian crown regalia, which have recently been the subject of an exhibition at Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin. All in all a highly recommendable issue of this magazine.

Book news: Queen Mother’s niece and lady-in-waiting to publish memoirs

The Daily Telegraph today has an interview (external link) with Margaret Rhodes, a niece and lady-in-waiting of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother of Britain, who talks about her upcoming memoirs. Titled The Final Curtsey, the book will be published by Calder Walker Associates on 30 October.
The Hon Mrs Rhodes is the daughter of the 16th Lord Elphinstone and Mary Bowes-Lyon, the elder sister of the Queen Mother. She was a bridesmaid to her first cousin, the then Princess Elizabeth, in 1947 and will in two weeks attend for the third time the wedding of an heir to the throne. For several years Mrs Rhodes served as a lady-in-waiting to her aunt and was at the Queen Mother’s bedside when she died in 2002.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Royal guests for the British wedding

While Clarence House has made it clear that no guest list for the wedding of Prince William of Britain and Kate Middleton in less than three weeks will be published in advance, Daily Mail yesterday claimed to have the complete guest list. While the media of most other countries would probably have been very interested in which foreign royals would attend, Daily Mail typically does not mention the foreign royals at all, but is more preoccupied with British celebrities and alleged exes of the bride and groom.
Nevertheless it is possible to get a picture of which royals will be there based on what the foreign courts have themselves announced about their royal family’s attendance.
King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway will, as previously mentioned, be there, and the court of Stockholm has also announced that Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel will represent Sweden. From Denmark there has so far been no official confirmation, but the weekly Billed-Bladet – usually well-informed about such matters – has stated that Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik will attend themselves. This also seems natural given that the King of Norway and the Queen of Denmark apparently are the only European monarchs who socialises with the Queen of Britain.
The Dutch court has announced that Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima will represent their country and from Belgium it has been said that Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde will travel to London. The King of Spain never attends foreign royal weddings, but last week the court of Madrid made known that Queen Sofia will represent Spain. She will be accompanied by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, which is only natural as they have just hosted the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for an official visit to Spain.
There seems to be no word yet about who will represent Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Monaco.
Several non-European royal houses have also been invited to send representatives, but from Tokyo it has been stated in the wake of the natural and nuclear disasters that no members of the imperial family will go to London.
Relatives from non-reigning royal families are also among the 1,900 invitees and the ex-King and ex-Queen of the Hellenes as well as the ex-Crown Prince of Serbia (or ex-Yugoslavia) and his wife have confirmed their attendance.

Monday, 11 April 2011

What to see: Alexander III Bridge, Paris

Of the bridges linking the left and right banks of the Seine, the Alexander III Bridge (Pont Alexandre III) might well be considered the most spectacular. At the time of its inauguration it was also a feast of engineering with its single span of 107 metres. The arch itself is six metres high and was constructed so that the view between the Invalides and Champs-Elysées would not be disrupted.
The foundation stone was laid in 1896 by President Félix Faure and Emperor Nikolaj II of Russia. The bridge was named for the latter’s father, the despotic Alexander III, who had died two years previously. Thus it was a symbol of the newly forged alliance between France and Russia, which would come to play such a significant role in 1914. Built for the World Exposition of 1900 and linking the exhibition grounds on either side of the river, the bridge was sometimes also referred to as the “Pont de l’Exposition”.
At either corner of the bridge is an imposing stone column, seventeen metres high, topped by a gilt bronze group of a Pegasus and symbols of glory. On the Left Bank one will find glorifications of commerce and industry above bas-reliefs representing “The Ressurgence of France” (Renaissance France) and “The France of Louis XIV”. On the Right Bank are glorifications of science and the arts as well as bas-reliefs representing modern France and France in the days of Charlemagne.
The figures and the reliefs are by P. Garnet, C. Steiner, J. Coutan, L. Marqueste, E. Frémiet, G. Michel and A. Lenoir, while the bridge itself was constructed by Jean Résal, Amédée Alby, Joseph Cassien-Bernard and Gaston Cousin.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

On this date: Another Bernadotte turns 95

Today is the 95th birthday of Dagmar von Arbin, née Countess Bernadotte af Wisborg. She is the eldest child of Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg, whose father was Prince Oscar Bernadotte, and Baroness Marianne De Geer af Finspång, who later married the financier Marcus Wallenberg. The birthday girl is thus a great-granddaughter of King Oscar II and Queen Sophia of Sweden and Norway.
Although the Bernadottes are known for their longevity few have reached such a great age as 95. The exceptions are Princess Lilian, who turned 95 last August; the former Prince Lennart, who died seven months after his 95th birthday; and Dagmar von Arbin’s aunt Elsa Cedergren, who was within weeks of her 103rd birthday when she died in the summer of 1996. The former Prince Carl Johan is due to celebrate his 95th birthday in October.
At the age of 20 Countess Dagmar Bernadotte af Wisborg married Nils-Magnus von Arbin, an officer whose career would mean that the family moved around following his military postings, but they also enjoyed the family estate Tångestad at Kimstad close to Norrköping.
Between 1937 and 1950 Dagmar von Arbin gave birth to five daughters: Marianne, Louise, Cathrine, Jeanette and Madeleine. She became a widow in 1985 and lost her eldest daughter following a long battle with cancer in 2006, but currently has four daughters, thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Mrs von Arbin now lives in a retirement home at Bromma in Stockholm.
Unlike her younger siblings she has stayed in close touch with the Swedish royal family. She was one of the select few who were invited to the private family dinner following the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in February 2009 and also attended their wedding in June 2010, walking to the Cathedral with Count Carl Johan and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, respectively her second cousin and her first cousin. 78 years earlier she had been a bridesmaid at the wedding of the bride’s grandparents, Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Royal jewels: Queen Maud’s Maltese cross tiara

The Maltese cross tiara, now at the disposal of Queen Sonja of Norway, consists of a circular bandeau of diamonds onto which four diamond Maltese crosses have been mounted. According to what the royal family’s walking encyclopaedia Princess Astrid told me the tiara was made for Queen Alexandra of Britain as a lighter and simpler alternative to the so-called State Diadem (now called simply the Diamond Diadem) which had been made for George IV.
It was thus made to resemble the heavier, more formal piece, but four fleurs-de-lis replaced the national symbols in the originals. In the first photo Queen Alexandra wears the tiara together with Queen Victoria’s small diamond crown.
What complicates the matter is the existence of an 1856 Winterhalter portrait of Queen Victoria of Britain wearing a very similar tiara. This was according to Geoffrey C. Munn’s book Tiaras: A History of Splendour (2001) an 1853 remodelling of the so-called Regal Circlet which had been made for her aunt Queen Adelaide, consort of King William IV.
However, this cannot possibly be the same tiara as is now in Norway, as Queen Victoria’s was dismantled in 1937 and the stones reused for the crown of Queen Elizabeth. The frame is now in the Museum of London.
Upon Queen Alexandra’s death in 1925 the Maltese cross tiara was one of the two tiaras inherited by her youngest daughter, Queen Maud of Norway. She wore it frequently in her later years, but had the fleurs-de-lis removed so that it should not look too similar to the British State Diadem.
Many have wondered why Crown Princess Märtha never wore any of her mother-in-law’s tiaras. According to what Princess Astrid told me the reason is as follows: Queen Maud used to take most of her jewels with her when she went to England every autumn and also did so in 1938. The Queen died during that stay and her jewellery was put in storage at Windsor Castle.
It remained there during the Second World War and it was only in connection with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 that Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha brought the chests back to Norway. As the Crown Princess was by then already mortally ill and died ten months later (57 years ago yesterday) she never came to wear any of Queen Maud’s jewels.
Following Crown Princess Märtha’s death her three children decided not to divide their grandmother’s jewellery until Prince Harald had married, meaning that it was not done until late in the autumn of 1968.
Princess Ragnhild then inherited Queen Maud’s big diamond tiara which had been a wedding present in 1896, while the diamond and pearl tiara which had also been a wedding present (and was stolen in 1995) went to Crown Prince Harald, who also inherited the Maltese cross tiara and the delicate so-called Fan tiara. Princess Astrid got the turquoise crown which had been made for Queen Alexandra and a small diadem which can be worn either with ruby flowers or diamond wings.
Queen Sonja has had the Maltese cross tiara altered and mostly chosen to wear only the bandeau without the crosses. The bandeau has also been shortened and a pair of earrings made out of some of the elements. One of the crosses is often worn as a brooch and occasionally the Queen has chosen to wear the bandeau with three of the crosses placed next to each other in front, which is in my opinion not a very successful solution.
During the state visit of Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik in 1992 and again during the state visit of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia in 1993 the bandeau (without crosses) and the earrings were lent to Princess Märtha Louise – two of only three occasions when she has worn another tiara than the one given to her by King Olav on her eighteenth birthday.

POSTSCRIPT: The information in this blogpost, which was given me by Princess Astrid, is confirmed by Hugh Roberts’s new book The Queen’s Diamonds (London, Royal Collections Publications, 2012), which says (page 168): “In the early months of her widowhood, the Queen [Alexandra] had the stone [Cullinan VI] incorporated (detachably) into a new circlet, made as a substitute for the Diamond Diadem [...], which had passed to Queen Mary on King Edward’s death”. In a footnote on the same page we read: “Garrard RL2, fol. 155, Queen Alexandra, 14 November 1910: ‘1 Marquise brilliant (piece of the Cullinan) 1 round brilliant & 84 brilliants furnished as a Royal Circlet composed of bandeau surmounted by 4 crosses patées & 4 fleur de Lys, the crosses & Fleurs de Lys form separate Brooches & 3 large brilliants can be removed at pleasure £326’. The circlet was bequeathed by Queen Alexandra to her third daughter, Maud, Queen of Norway, minus Cullinan VI and the ‘round brilliant’ (QAJ c.1920, fol. 1)”.

The photo of Queen Alexandra is by W. & D. Downey, the photo of Queen Maud is © Sjøwall.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Princess Astrid unearthens “forgotten” tiara

The President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, today began a two-day state visit to Norway and at the state banquet at the Royal Palace tonight Princess Astrid made a surprising choice of tiara. Photos from the banquet (external link) show the Princess wearing a diamond diadem across her forehead in the style which was fashionable in the 1920s.
This is the tiara which was the wedding present from King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria of Sweden to Princess Astrid’s mother, Crown Princess Märtha, in 1929. The Crown Princess wore it on a couple of smaller occasions in the early years of her marriage and occasionally as a bracelet in later years.
Since Crown Princess Märtha’s death in 1954 it has only been seen once, i.e. when Princess Astrid’s eldest daughter, Cathrine Ferner, wore it across her forehead at the banquet celebrating the then Crown Prince Harald’s 50th birthday in 1987.
When I asked Princess Astrid about this piece of jewellery a few years ago and why she never wore it, she explained that the way it should be worn “is not my style”. At the age of 79, the Princess tonight demonstrated that it is never too late to change one’s style.

Charlene Wittstock joins the Catholic church

In a press release (external link) about the forthcoming wedding of Sovereign Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock the princely court of Monaco yesterday announced that Wittstock has now joined the Catholic church.
Most monarchies have laws which imposes certain religious restrictions on the head of state and those in line of succession. This does normally not extend to consorts (although anyone in line to the British throne will lose his or her succession rights upon marrying a Catholic), but several royal brides have chosen to convert upon marriage, among them the three daughters-in-law of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, who joined the Lutheran church before their weddings. Here in Norway we have on the other hand had three queens in a row which did not belong to the Lutheran church.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

At the road’s end: Élie, 5th Duke of Decazes and Glücksbierg (1914-2011)

When Margrethe II succeeded to the throne of Denmark in 1972 it was seriously considered creating her husband Duke of Fredensborg. However, the idea was dropped, duke not being a very Danish title and mostly associated with the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which were lost to Prussia in 1864.
But there is nevertheless one Danish dukedom in existence and yesterday the funeral of the man who had held that title for very nearly seventy years took place at Bonzac in Gironde. Élie, 5th Duke of Decazes and Glücksbierg died in Morges on 17 March, two months short of his 97th birthday.
The Danish title derives from his great-great-grandfather, Élie de Decazes (1780-1860), a favourite of King Louis XVIII of France, who created him a count in 1815. On 9 July that year, when Louis XVIII returned to Paris after Waterloo, Decazes was appointed Prefect of the Police and 2 ½ months later he succeeded the dreaded Fouché as Minister of Police. He later became Minister of the Interior and was in effect the leading figure of the moderate royalist government long before he actually became Prime Minister in November 1819. His premiership was however a brief one and he was forced to step down in February 1820, following the outbreak of revolution in Spain and the assassination of the Duke of Berry, heir presumptive to the French throne.
The circumstances under which he was created a Danish duke are quite peculiar. A commoner by birth, the royal favourite was due to marry Countess Egidia de Beaupoir de St-Atalaire, whose parents were allegedly keen on his being granted a higher title than that which he already had already been given by Louis XVIII. It has also been said that Decazes being about to be appointed Foreign Minister (which he eventually never was) played a role in this matter.
As the bride-to-be was the niece of the Dowager Duchess Anna Caroline of Braunschweig-Bevern, who in her first marriage had been the wife of Friedrich Wilhelm, the last Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, it was apparently decided to approach King Frederik VI of Denmark with the idea that Decazes might be created Duke of Glücksburg. This was done by way of Duke Wilhelm of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, King Frederik’s brother-in-law, who was in Paris to inspect the Danish troops dispatched to France as part of the peace agreement of 1815.
The Kings of Denmark and Saxony had been the only European monarchs to stick to Napoléon until the bitter end and King Frederik was therefore apparently keen on ingratiating himself with the new French ruler. Thus he agreed to create Decazes a Duke, not of Glücksburg, but of Glücksbierg, a non-existing place. The new Duke was supposed to build himself a manor in Denmark or Schleswig, something which never happened. The family did on the other hand eventually acquire an estate in Gironde.
The most puzzling aspect of this story is to me why Louis XVIII could not himself have created Decazes a duke. In his work Huset Glücksborg i 150 år (1975) the author Bo Bramsen wrote that King Louis did not “dispose over any suitable dukedom”, but this did not prevent him from making his outgoing Prime Minister Duke of Decazes in 1820, so that his favourite ended up with two dukedoms – one Danish and one French.
What complicates matter further is that the extinct dukedom of Glücksburg was eventually revived by Frederik VI in 1825 and given to his brother-in-law Wilhelm of Beck, the same man who had acted as go-between for Louis XVIII and Decazes seven years before. And Wilhelm’s younger son Christian eventually became King of Denmark when the House of Oldenburg became extinct in the male line in 1863, so that the House of Glücksburg now reigns in Denmark. It has supposedly created some consternation for the protocol department when a Duke of Glücksbierg has made known his intention to attend funerals of Danish kings.
The recently deceased 5th Duke, Élie Ludovic Henri-Christian de Glücksbierg et de Decazes, was born in Chantilly on 16 May 1914, the eldest of the five children of Louis, the 4th Duke, and grandson of Isabelle Blanche Singer, heiress to the Singer sewing-machine company.
He succeeded to the dukedom upon the death of his father on 2 June 1941, by which time he had for nearly four years been married to Solange du Temple de Rougemont, who bore him five children: Edith in 1938, who married Count Georges de Montebello, a descendant of Marshal Lannes; Marie Isabelle in 1941, who married Jean, the Count de Sabran-Pontevès; Séverine in 1943, who married Henri-François, the Marquis de Breteuil; Gabrielle in 1945; and Louis in 1946.
Their daughter Séverine died in 2009 and on 2 January this year the old Duke suffered the loss of his wife of 73 years. She was at that time described as “the Dowager Duchess” in the journal of the Danish nobility, which although premature proved prescient as the Duke survived her for only two months. A mass was sung for him in the church of Préverenges on 25 March.
The late Duke was an Officer of the Legion of Honour, a Commander of the Order of Dannebrog and also held the War Cross of 1939-1945 and the Grand Cross of the Sovereign Order of Malta. Supposedly he only visited Denmark twice: firstly for the wedding of the current Queen and Prince Consort in 1967 and secondly for the funeral of King Frederik IX in 1972.
He is succeeded in his dukedoms by his only son, Louis, now the 6th Duke of Glücksbierg and Decazes, who is 64, unmarried and childless. Next in line are the new Duke’s cousins, Jacques-Marie, 66 years, married, but childless, and Jean-Marie, 62, unmarried and childless; their uncle Edouard, who will turn ninety in May; and finally the latter’s only son, Frédéric, who is 52, unmarried and childless. Thus it seems increasingly likely that the only Danish dukedom will become extinct with the death of the current generation.

Friday, 1 April 2011

What to see: Statue of Wenche Foss, Oslo

Few are allowed the experience of having a monument erected in their honour while still alive, but such was the public standing and the popularity of the great actress and humanitarian Wenche Foss that it was only natural that a statue of her was erected outside the National Theatre on the occasion of her ninetieth birthday in 2007.
The statue is done by the sculptor Per Ung and stands in Johanne Dybwad Square behind the National Theatre, where Wenche Foss was the first lady of Norwegian theatre for decades. It forms part of a set of monuments surrounding the National Theatre honouring some of the great names in Norwegian theatre history.
Outside the main entrance are imposing statues of Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, the leading playwrights of the age when the theatre building was inaugurated (1899). The third playwright to have his name carved into the theatre’s façade, Ludvig Holberg, faces the University, while the composer Johan Halvorsen has found his place in front of the Music Pavilion.
The square behind the theatre is named for the actress Johanne Dybwad, who statue there is also by Per Ung but precedes the one of Wenche Foss by five decades. The third statue in that square is of the actor Per Aabel.
The statue of Wenche Foss was unveiled in the presence of the Queen and the actress herself in September 2007, shortly before the actress turned ninety. Per Ung has portrayed her standing on the lowest possible plinth (Wenche Foss herself wanted no plinth at all), beaming and with her arms raised in a gesture like she is acknowledging the ovations of her audience.
Wenche Foss used to say that she wanted to die on stage, but only after the applause as she did not want to cause the audience to miss out on something. She was not granted her wish, but now that the curtain has fallen for the great performance that was her life, her statue has been showered by flowers from her many admirers.
Hardly had her death been announced on Monday this week before the first flowers were placed by the foot of the statue (as the third photo shows) and in the following days the pile of floral tributes has only kept growing and will surely continue to do so at least until the state funeral on the coming Monday.