Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Prince of Wales Visits Grandmother's Grave in Israel

While in Israel to represent the Queen at the funeral of former president Shimon Peres, HRH The Prince of Wales made a private pilgrimage to the Church of Mary Magdalene, an Eastern Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, where his paternal grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried.

It is the first time the Prince has visited the gravesite. Prince Charles was twenty-one when his grandmother died at Buckingham Palace in 1969. After laying flowers for Princess Alice, Charles paid tribute to another of his relatives buried at the church, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, who was Princess Alice's aunt and a sister of the Russian empress Alexandra.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Windsor Castle in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Though she was born deaf, Alice learned to lip read in multiple languages, and grew into a strikingly beautiful young woman. Regarding her prospects as a potential bride for a European monarch, her great-uncle, King Edward VII, is reported to have said that "no throne in Europe is too good for her". She would not marry a king, however, but did end up marrying the fourth son of a king. In 1903, she wed Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, one of the younger sons of King George I of Greece. After her marriage, she adopted the title "Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark", which she used for the remainder of her life. She had five children, of which Prince Philip was the youngest, but spent a great deal of time apart from them after she was committed to a mental sanitarium during the 1930s when she suffered a nervous collapse. After her release, she returned to Greece and remained there during the German occupation in World War II, where she secretly hid a Jewish family in her home. She left Greece and came to live at Buckingham Palace at the invitation of her son and daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, following the Greek military coup of 1967.

In 1994, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, recognized Princess Alice as "righteous among nations" for her efforts in hiding the Jewish family while living under enemy occupation in Athens. The ceremony was attended by her two surviving children, Prince Philip and Princess Sophia. Her remains were moved to the Church of Mary Magdalene in 1988.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

70th Birthday of HM Queen Anne-Marie of Greece

Her Majesty Queen Anne-Marie of Greece turns seventy on August 30, 2016. The wife of former
King Constantine II of Greece, she has led a remarkable life, from her beginnings as a princess of Europe's oldest monarchy to becoming the young queen of a politically unstable kingdom before facing nearly fifty years of exile. Despite such misfortunes, the Queen has drawn comfort from a loving marriage, a happy family life with five children and, later on, nine grandchildren, and the privilege of retaining close family ties to the other reigning houses of Europe.

She was born as Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark on August 30, 1946 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, the third and youngest daughter of King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid. Her father was the son of King Christian X, while her mother was the only daughter of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Through her mother, Anne-Marie is a great-great-granddaughter of "the grandmother of Europe", Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and through her father, a great-great-granddaughter of "the father-in-law of Europe", King Christian IX of Denmark. Her eldest sister, Margrethe II, is the reigning Queen of Denmark, and her second elder sister, Princess Benedikte, is married to the German prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. 

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie in the early years of their marriage.
Anne-Marie met Crown Prince Constantine of Greece, her third cousin and a fellow descendant of both Queen Victoria and King Christian IX, when she was thirteen years old and he was nineteen. They met again a few years later, when Anne-Marie was fifteen, and became unofficially engaged. The Danish king and queen asked the couple to wait until their daughter had reached maturity before marrying (King Frederick reportedly locked Crown Prince Constantine in his bathroom after being told of his intentions to propose), but the sudden death of Constantine's father, King Paul, and his ascension to the Greek throne sped up their plans. On September 18, 1964, two weeks after her eighteenth birthday, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark married King Constantine II of Greece at the Mitropolis Cathedral in Athens. Upon marriage, she officially became Her Majesty The Queen of the Hellenes, and also the world's youngest queen consort.

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie at their golden wedding anniversary celebration in 2014 with their children and their spouses. From left: Princess Alexia, her husband Carlos Morales; Crown Princess Marie-Chantal, Crown Prince Pavlos, Queen Anne-Marie, King Constantine, Prince Nikolaos, his wife Princess Tatiana, Princess Theodora, and Prince Philippos.

The new Queen of the Hellenes only spent three years in her new kingdom before a military coup in April 1967 and the King's failed counter-attack in December of that year forced the royal family to flee into exile. They stayed in Rome and with the Queen's family in Denmark before finally settling in a mansion outside of London, where they stayed until 2013. Between 1965 and 1986, Queen Anne-Marie gave birth to five children - Princess Alexia, Crown Prince Pavlos (who were both born in Greece), Prince Nikolaos (born in Rome after the family's exile), Princess Theodora and Prince Philippos (both born in London). King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie visited Greece in 1981 for the funeral of Constantine's mother, Queen Frederica, and again in 1993 on a sailing trip that led to the Greek government buzzing their yacht with warplanes and stripping the family of their citizenship and private property. A lawsuit filed in the European Court of Human Rights led to a cash settlement with King Constantine, who donated the funds to a charity entitled the Anna-Maria Foundation, named in Queen Anne-Marie's honor and with her serving as chairwoman.
Queen Anne-Marie, her sisters Queen Margrethe II and Princess Benedikte, and their mother, Queen Ingrid.

In 2013, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie returned to live in Greece. Though they have been deposed since 1973, they retain close family ties to the other monarchies of Europe. Anne-Marie is still a member of the Danish royal family, often present at events such as her sister Queen Margrethe's birthday and jubilee celebrations, and the wedding of her nephew, Crown Prince Frederik, in 2004. Anne-Marie's sister-in-law is Queen Sofia of Spain, consort of King Juan Carlos until his abdication in 2014. Anne-Marie and her husband attended the 2004 wedding of their son, the current Spanish king Felipe VI, and were also present at his enthronement ceremony in June 2014.

King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie with their son and daughter-in-law, Crown Prince and Crown Princess Pavlos of Greece, and their grandson, Prince Constantine, preparing to attend the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

In true modern fashion, Queen Anne-Marie was celebrated on social media by members of her family. Her daughter Princess Theodora and her son Crown Prince Pavlos took to their respective Instagram accounts to post birthday greetings for their mother. 

Funeral for Queen Anne of Romania

Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania, the late wife of Romania's last monarch, King Michael, was buried on Saturday August 13 in a ceremony described by the international media as the biggest royal funeral since that of Queen Marie of Romania back in 1938.

While it was not a state funeral, the Queen, who died on August 1 in a Swiss hospital, was given a guard of honor by soldiers of the Michael the Brave regiment. Members of Anne's family were in attendance, along with representatives of various European royal houses. A service held in front of the former Royal Palace in Bucharest (now the National Museum of Art) preceded the Queen's burial at the cathedral of Curtea de Arges. Absent from the service were King Michael, who was advised by doctors not to attend as he is currently receiving extensive treatment for cancer, and Anne's daughter, Irina, who lives in the United States but was arrested in 2013 and convicted of engaging in illegal cockfighting.

Below are photographs from the ceremony.

Coffin of Queen Anne arrives at the Cathedral of Curtea de Arges.

From left: Queen Anne's second daughter, Princess Elena; Prince Radu and Princess Margarita, Queen Anne's eldest daughter and her husband.

From left: Queen Anne's youngest daughter, Princess Maria, comforts her sister, Princess Sofia.

Nicholas Medforth-Mills, Queen Anne's grandson. Nicholas, the son of Princess Elena, was previously styled as HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania following his 25th birthday in 2010, as King Michael had designated him to be third in line to head the Romanian royal house, behind his mother and his aunt Margarita. In 2015, however, the King stripped Nicholas of his title and revoked his place in the succession for undisclosed reasons.

Princess Maria, followed by her nephew, Nicholas Medforth-Mills.

Princess Maria weeps as her sister Princess Sofia comforts her.

Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, Duke of Parma; he is the current head of the royal house which Queen Anne was born into.

Various royals in attendance, including Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (second from left), the current head of the deposed Russian imperial house, and next to her Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, current head of the House of Hohenzollern, the deposed imperial house of the German Empire and the dynasty from which the Romanian royal family descends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania, 1923-2016

Queen Anne of Romania, a Franco-Danish princess born from a deposed Italian royal house and married to a deposed Romanian king, has died at the age of 92. The Queen passed away on August 1 at a Swiss hospital with four of her five daughters at her side, while a statement issued by the royal household said her 95-year-old husband, King Michael, had been with her each day of the past week. A second cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Philip’s father and Anne’s mother were first cousins), Queen Anne lived a colorful life buoyed up by her independence and informality. Born as Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1923, she descended from the ruling house of the dissolved Italian duchy of Parma, and through her Danish mother she was closely related to the kings of Denmark. Yet from a young age, she was exposed to a decidedly un-royal life. Escaping the Nazi invasion of France and fleeing to the United States, the Bourbon-Parma family joined the workforce; Anne was even employed for a time at a Macy's department store. When her brothers returned to Europe and joined the Allied armies, she begged her parents for the chance to participate in the effort. She did so as an ambulance driver, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government after the war ended.

Unlike most of her royal relatives, Anne was exposed to something of a "normal" life, having to work for a living and serving with the armed forces. It was this difference that no doubt enhanced her appeal when she was introduced to her future husband, King Michael of Romania, at the royal wedding of England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in November 1947. She agreed to marry him not long after, but by the time the couple saw each other again in 1948 things had dramatically changed. Michael lost his throne on December 30, 1947 when the communist party forced him to abdicate in favor of a socialist republic. Having already had their marriage plans marred by Michael's abdication, the young couple then faced another obstacle when the Pope refused to grant a dispensation for Anne, a Catholic, to marry her Eastern Orthodox king. In the end, Anne defied the church and married King Michael in an Orthodox ceremony held at the Royal Palace in Athens, Greece. Settling in Switzerland, they raised five daughters - Margareta, Elena, Sofia, Irina, and Maria. King Michael worked a number of jobs, Queen Anne took the children to school, and for all intents and purposes the exiled royals looked set on a life of quiet, permanent exile.
The collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime and the end of communist rule over Romania in 1989 scuttled those plans. For the first time since their wedding, the international press came calling on King Michael and Queen Anne. As was the case with other deposed Eastern European monarchs, the idea of a royal restoration in Romania after 1989 seemed not entirely impossible. Unaccustomed to the spotlight, Anne nonetheless undertook the opportunity to offer her services to the Romanian people in any way she could. For a woman who held the title Her Majesty The Queen of Romania out of courtesy for forty-four years, it was not until 1992 that she actually set foot on Romanian soil. Her husband had been banned the previous year after his visit generated a turnout from the citizens of Bucharest that left the sitting government less than thrilled, but Queen Anne’s discreet forays into her “homeland”, along with frequent visits by her daughters, were billed as humanitarian efforts and only served to appeal the long-exiled royals to a population still shattered by brutal communist dictators. By 1997, the restrictions on King Michael’s entries into Romania had been lifted, and the royal couple visited with increasing regularity. Their repeat trips led to the Romanian government taking the unprecedented step of offering the vacant palaces for the family to occupy again; Michael and Anne chose to use Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest as their base when in the country. Since then, they have visited the country for holidays, state occasions, and family celebrations such as their sixtieth wedding anniversary in 2008. Queen Anne’s last publicized visit to Romania was for the king’s 90th birthday in 2011, but her increasingly frail health kept her back in Switzerland.

The author Peter Kurth, in a 1990 profile on King Michael and Queen Anne, wrote about Anne’s appearance at a Geneva church service attended by numerous Romanian émigrés; when a Romanian teenager shot during the 1989 revolution was wheeled to the church, Queen Anne swept over to the young man and held his hand, despite the fact that she spoke not a lick of Romanian. The event is characteristic of her straightforwardness, some might say even feistiness; it is easy to understand why a character as serious and duty-bound as King Michael found his ideal match in this woman. She might not have commanded the unbending love of the Romanian people in the way her husband’s grandmother, the flamboyant and legendary Queen Marie, did back in the darkest days of World War I, but for a country struggling to reclaim its identity, Her Majesty Queen Anne was a quiet symbol of hope and dignity. What effect her death will have upon her husband remains to be seen, but it can be assumed that in his frail health, he may not last much longer with out the support, strength, and assurance he received for the sixty-eight years they lived together. May Her Majesty rest in peace, knowing that whatever the future holds for her husband and children, her devotion to them and to the Romanian people, from whom she was separated for so many decades, shall not be forgotten.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Milestone for the Queen

On May 12, 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the second longest-reigning monarch in British history. Her reign has lasted 59 years and 96 days, overcoming the record previously held by her great-great-great-great-grandfather, King George III. George III reigned from 1760 until his death in 1820. He was king during the American Revolutionary War, and history has given him the nickname "Mad King George", as he spent the last ten years of his reign incapacitated by the blood disease porphyria.

The Queen is presently the longest-lived British monarch, having surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned until the age of 81 (Elizabeth II celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday last month). The Queen is due to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee next year, commemorating sixty years on the throne, which will make her only the second monarch in Britain's history to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The last one was held for Queen Victoria in 1897. Should Elizabeth II continue to reign past September 11, 2015, she will surpass Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch in history.

Birthday of Greece's Princess Irene

May 11 marks the birthday of HRH Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark.

The princess' early life began interestingly enough. She was born on May 11, 1942 in South Africa, where the Greek royal family were living in exile during the German occupation of Greece in World War II. She was the t
hird and youngest child of Crown Prince Paul of Greece and the former Princess Frederica of Hanover; her elder sister was Princess Sophia and her brother Prince Constantine. Princess Irene was named for her father's sister, Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta, and her godfather was the South African prime minister Jan Smuts.Irene returned to her homeland in 1946 after the end of the Nazi occupation. When her brother Constantine ascended the Greek throne in 1964, Irene was heiress presumptive to the crown. She held this status until the birth of her niece, Princess Alexia, in 1965, who in turn was heiress to the throne until the birth of her brother, Pavlos, in 1967.

Princess Irene was an accomplished pianist, and studied under the tutelage of the famous Greek concert pianist Gina Bachauer. As a young woman, she was romantically linked with Prince Michel d'Orleans, and unsubstantiated rumors abounded that a possible engagement was to be arranged between her and Crown Prince Harald (now King Harald V) of Norway. Neither of these romances flourished and Princess Irene has remained unmarried.

In 1967, her brother King Constantine attempted to overthrow a colonels' regime that had seized power in Greece earlier that year. When the counter-coup failed, Irene fled Greece into exile with her mother, Queen Frederica, her brother, his wife and their children. The royal family arrived in Rome and remained there until the early 1970s.

Irene and her mother spent much time abroad in India, where they studied Eastern mysticism. After Queen Frederica's death in 1981, Princess Irene went to live in Madrid with her sister, Sophia, who is now the Queen consort of King Juan Carlos of Spain. Irene continues to reside at the Zarzuela Palace with her sister's family and is reportedly very close to her nieces and nephews in the Spanish and Greek royal families.

Since 1986, Princess Irene has been president of the World In Harmony organization, aimed at providing humanitarian aid. She appears with her brother and
sister at various royal functions. In 1993, she joined King Constantine's family on a sailing trip to Greece, the first time they had visited the country since 1981, when they were permitted to spend just a few hours there to bury their mother, Queen Frederica. Since then, Irene has returned to Greece on occasional visits but retains her principal residence at the palace in Madrid.

Princess Irene (right) with her sister, Queen Sofia of Spain and their first cousin, King Michael of Romania.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HRH Prince Philippos of Greece Turns 30

His Royal Highness Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark celebrates his thirtieth birthday today.

The prince was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London on April 26, 1986, the fifth and youngest child of King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. He was born nineteen years after his family fled Greece into exile, and twelve years after a referendum officially confirmed the abolition of the Greek monarchy.

His paternal grandparents were King Paul of Greece (1901 - 1964) and Queen Frederica (born Princess Frederica of Hanover, 1917 - 1981). His maternal grandparents were King Frederick IX of Denmark (1899 - 1972) and Queen Ingrid (born Princess Ingrid of Sweden, 1910 - 2000). 

The baptism of Prince Philippos; held by his father, King Constantine, and Diana, Princess of Wales, one of his godmothers.
Prince Philippos was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church; among his numerous royal godparents were King Juan Carlos of Spain (Philippos's uncle, the husband of his father's sister, Queen Sofia of Spain), Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Philippos's namesake and a first cousin of his grandfather, King Paul of Greece); and Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry, are Philippos's second cousins).

Raised at his parents' home in Hampstead, Philippos did not set foot on Greek soil until he was seven years old. In 1993, the former royal family undertook a private yachting trip of the Greek islands, with landings in places such as Thessaloniki, Greek Macedonia, and Tatoi, the family's country estate outside of Athens. The last time the royal family had been permitted to visit Greece was for the 1981 funeral of Philippos's grandmother, Queen Frederica. Just as the 1981 visit had aroused controversy, the family's 1993 excursion proved to be a contentious one. The Greek government barred King Constantine and his entourage from visiting certain areas, and at one point even sent warplanes to buzz their yacht while sailing in the Aegean. Sky TV in Britain filmed a television special covering the Greek royal pilgrimage. In the below clip, at around the 27:40 mark, we see seven-year-old Philippos joining his mother and sisters in meeting with monks from the monastery of Mount Athos. While Philippos's father and elder brothers went ashore to the monastery, he had to remain on the ship as women and young children are forbidden from setting foot there. After being presented with sacred icons and joining in prayers, Queen Anne-Marie relays to her son a conversation she had with the monks about whether Philippos would like to become one himself. The young prince's response is anything but enthusiastic.

In recent years, Philippos has joined his family for more visits to their homeland, and as of 2013 his parents have returned to live in Greece permanently.

Prince Philippos graduated from Georgetown University and currently works in New York City with hedge funds. He makes appearances at various royal events, such as the 1995 wedding of his eldest brother, Crown Prince Pavlos, in which he was a pageboy; the 2004 wedding of his cousin, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark; the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010 and that of his second brother, Prince Nikolaos, later that year; and various events and celebrations pertaining to the Danish royal family, which his mother belongs to.
Prince Philippos graduates from Georgetown University and poses with his sisters, Princess Theodora and Princess Alexia, and his parents, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie.
Being a prince of a deposed monarchy, Philippos holds a somewhat ambivalent position. Though the Greek constitution does not recognize his title as a Prince of Greece, he is styled as such out of courtesy by the royal courts of Europe. He is also a prince of Denmark, as all dynastic members of the Greek royal family are princes and princesses of Denmark (the founder of the Greek royal house, King George I of Greece, was originally a Danish prince, the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark. After assuming the Greek throne in 1863, his descendants were allowed to retain their Danish titles in addition to their Greek ones). He does, however, enjoy close family ties to the royal houses of Denmark and Spain. The reigning Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, is his mother's sister; the reigning King of Spain, Felipe VI, is his first cousin - Felipe's mother, Queen Sofia, is the sister of Philippos's father.