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.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Birthday tribute to Her Majesty The Queen

On September 11, 2015, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Lancaster, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann, surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British sovereign. It was yet another remarkable milestone in a life already filled with remarkable milestones. To add to her list of records, which include being the longest-reigning female monarch in world history and having the longest-lasting marriage of any British monarch, she again notches another feat today, April 21, 2016 –the only crowned ruler of the British Isles who lived to their ninth decade. If she possesses the impressive longevity of her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who soldiered on to the ripe old age of 101, the United Kingdom can expect to have Elizabeth II around for at least a few more years. If she lives to the year 2022, when she will be 96, she would celebrate her platinum jubilee to commemorate seventy years on the throne. This would place her second to King Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch in European history.
On this day ninety years ago, no one expected that the infant princess born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London would even succeed to the throne. She was the daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V; it was still believed that her uncle, the dashing Edward, Prince of Wales, would find himself a bride in due time and sire heirs that would displace the newborn Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the line of succession. It goes without saying that the world in 1926 was far different than the one we know today. Unlike the births of her great-grandchildren in 2013 and 2015, which were met with a barrage of flowery coverage on the news and social media and beaming photographs of the infant royals with their glamorous parents outside the hospital, Princess Elizabeth’s birth was conducted in that old-time, decorous royal manner which we would deem positively archaic. For one, the pregnancy of Elizabeth’s mother, the Duchess of York, was never even formally announced, as public discussions of a royal pregnancy were considered taboo. Instead, the announcement from Buckingham Palace that the Duchess would temporarily step back from public duties was considered sufficient indication of her confinement. Secondly, the princess’s name was not even publicly announced for a number of weeks after the birth. Any information thereafter about Elizabeth was carefully orchestrated and released to the public with the strictest amount of formality. She even appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in the United States in 1929, at the tender age of three. Despite the amount of interest in the young princess, she still only occupied a relatively minor position within the royal family. All that would change in just a few years’ time.
The lives of Princess Elizabeth, her sister, Margaret, and their parents were irrevocably changed in December 1936 with the abdication of Elizabeth’s uncle, King Edward VIII. The bachelor king had been on the throne for less than a year when he gave up his crown for the American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson in the face of a constitutional crisis over his plans to marry her. In his brother’s place came Elizabeth’s nervous, stammering father, who adopted the regnal name King George VI. Aided by his charming, stalwart wife, Queen Elizabeth, George VI led his nation through the dark days of World War II and emerged a deeply respected leader, but in the end sacrificed his health for the cause. The king’s early death in 1952 thrust his elder daughter onto the throne at the age of twenty-five. While the new queen possessed the dutiful qualities of her father, along with his reserved character and touches of his shyness, she also inherited the stamina and longevity of her enormously popular mother. Unlike her father, she had been prepared for her destiny once it became clear the throne stood directly in her path. Her youth did not betray her commitment to duty, and just as she had pledged aged twenty-one during a broadcast to the Commonwealth, that her “whole life, whether it be long or short” would be devoted to her people, she has served the British nation and the other nations of the Commonwealth, that surviving vestige of the former empire which still declare her their queen, with unfailing devotion. True, unlike her predecessors Elizabeth I or Queen Victoria, it cannot be said of Elizabeth II that her reign will come to define an era –her limited political influence (and her desire to maintain her position’s apolitical nature) coupled with the dramatic social changes of the past sixty years, cannot realistically be regarded as a second Elizabethan Age. The one defining characteristic of Elizabeth II’s tenure as queen, however, should be adaptability. She has adapted herself, her family, and the institution she represents with surprising flexibility. The deference of the early years of her reign gave way to growing indifference in the 1970s and 80s, and she adapted accordingly. Even the Queen’s time of troubles during the 1990s – spurred by a fire at Windsor Castle, the collapse of her children’s marriages, and the short-lived though deeply cutting backlash over the Queen’s response to the Princess of Wales’s shocking death – eroded away into the new millennium, replaced with informal but widespread public admiration. The size of the crowds that turned out for her golden jubilee in 2002 and diamond jubilee in 2012 serve as solid testaments to the respect the monarch commands from her people.
No tribute to the Queen’s life and reign would be complete without a word on her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh. Though largely viewed nowadays as a cantankerous old man with an unfortunate propensity for foot-in-mouth syndrome, Prince Philip’s devotion to his wife has been as dedicated as her devotion to her nation. In so many ways, he is the perfect counterbalance. While she grew up cosseted and nurtured as the heiress to Europe’s most secured dynasty, he grew up penurious and nomadic, as a member of the troubled, unstable Greek royal family. She enjoyed the luxury and comforts of homes such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, while he was bounced unpredictably between royal relatives in France, Germany, and England after his parents proved unable to care for him (his mother was sent to a mental hospital and his father retired to southern France with his mistress). Yet they were most likely drawn to each other precisely because of their differences. Marrying Elizabeth would give Philip the stability and family life he had never known, while she was certainly enamored by his tough, independent streak, so different from anything she had ever known in her privileged upbringing among upper-crust aristocrats. Their marriage has lasted sixty-nine years – in 2017, provided they are both living, they will celebrate their seventieth anniversary. Their progeny includes four children, eight grandchildren, and (at present count) five great-grandchildren. The failures of three of their four children’s marriages yielded a gold mine of tabloid fodder and partially called into question their success as parents. Thankfully, the family troubles have largely been smoothed over. Their eldest son is married to the woman he has loved all along, and whatever their views on the Duchess of Cornwall may be, the Queen and the Duke cannot be displeased that Charles’s married life is at least settled and devoid of scandal these days. Given the unique nature of their positions, one can only assume that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did as fine a job as they could with their brood.
Having served long past the accepted age of retirement, and with her heir, Prince Charles, already in his late sixties and still waiting for the top job, a growing discussion has emerged over whether the Queen will seriously consider abdication. Indeed, there have recently been plenty of examples to support this notion. In 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and King Albert II of Belgium both stepped down in favor of their middle-aged heirs, followed in 2014 by Elizabeth II’s third cousin, King Juan Carlos of Spain. But any serious discussion of the Queen abdicating should not seriously be entertained. For one, the Queen regards her monarchical role as a sacred one; the oath she swore at her coronation confirms it as such. She believes it is a role to carry on for life, without retirement, without relinquishing. The Dutch, Belgian, and Spanish monarchs might be able to slip the glove on and off, but they do not oversee the most famous royal house on Earth. How seriously could the idea of the Queen stepping down into glorious retirement be taken, to live in the countryside somewhere as Queen Emeritus, with her shadow looming over the House of Windsor and looming over her son’s throne? It is highly unrealistic. As mentioned earlier, the Queen is certainly one to adapt, and she has done so in delegating a wider breadth of duties and representation to the Prince of Wales as well as her grandsons, William and Harry, preparing them for their future roles as the heads of the House of Windsor and ensuring the monarchy retains a bond with younger generations. In any event, the Queen would never agree to retirement. Service and duty are embedded in her veins, and any notion that she will take a full rest is simply unfathomable. The Queen has spent more than half of her ninety years in full devotion to her country, and in the twilight of her life she will certainly never recede from that.
Happy birthday, Ma’am. Send her victorious, happy and glorious.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

News Round-up - March 2016

The first week of March 2016 has certainly been eventful for royalty news, though unfortunately not all of it has been good.

First, the sad news -

His Majesty King Michael of Romania issued a statement announcing that he is withdrawing altogether from public life. Though the king is no longer a reigning monarch, he has been active in performing various duties on a semi-official basis, such as handing out decorations or meeting with dignitaries. The announcement revealed that the 95-year-old king is suffering from leukemia and epidermoid carcinoma. His eldest daughter, Princess Margareta, whom he deemed as "custodian of the Romanian crown" in 2007, will be taking on his duties.

Statement signed in King Michael's own hand as Mihai R. Courtesy of


His Serene Highness Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern died on March 2 at the age of 83. He was the son of Frederick, Prince of Hohenzollern (and, as head of the dynasty from which King Michael descends, put himself forth at one time as a claimant to the Romanian throne) and Princess Margarete of Saxony, the daughter of the last Saxon king, Frederick Augustus III. Johann Georg had been married to HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden, sister of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf, since 1961, though they have lived separately since 1990. The Swedish royal court announced Prince Johann Georg's death, with a personal statement from King Carl XVI Gustaf stating that "our thoughts are with Princess Birgitta and her family". Prince Johann Georg is survived by his wife, their three children, and three grandchildren.

HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden and HSH Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern on their wedding day, May 1961.

Finally, the good news -

Just as the Swedish court mourns for Princess Birgitta's husband, they also celebrate the arrival of a new royal. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria and His Royal Highness Prince Daniel welcomed their second child, a son, on March 2. The boy is third in line to the Swedish throne behind his mother and his elder sister, Princess Estelle. His name and title were announced the following day - His Royal Highness Prince Oscar Carl Olof of Sweden, Duke of Skane.

It has been a busy year for the Swedish royal family in terms of births. In just about a month or so, Crown Princess Victoria's brother, Prince Carl Philip, and his wife, Princess Sofia, will welcome their first child, while last June their younger sister Princess Madeleine gave birth to a son, Prince Nicolas. 2016 will bring the total of royal grandchildren for the Swedish king and queen to five - Princess Estelle, Prince Oscar (Princess Victoria's children), Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas (Princess Madeleine's children), and Prince Carl Philip's unborn child.
The Council of State where King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden confirmed the name and title of his newborn grandson, Prince Oscar. Seated next to the King is his son, Prince Carl Philip, whose wife is expecting their first child in April.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Romania Lays to Rest Queen Marie's Heart

The heart of Her Majesty Queen Marie of Romania, the British-born wife of King Ferdinand I, was laid to rest for the final time on November 3 in a ceremony that evoked memories of the deposed monarchy's pageantry and pomp.
A casket containing the heart of Queen Marie of Romania is borne through the streets of Bucharest by soldiers. Courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Prior to Queen Marie's death in 1938, she stipulated that her heart should be interred in the chapel of the Pelisor Castle, her favorite residence. However, the queen's wishes could not be fulfilled after Pelisor and its surrounding regions were annexed to Bulgaria in 1940. Her heart was then kept at another of her homes, Bran Castle (which today is popularly advertised to tourists as "Dracula's Castle"), until the communist regime which took over in 1947 seized Bran and moved the heart to the National History Museum in Bucharest.

Queen Marie's grandson, King Michael of Romania, who was deposed in 1947 but has since returned to live part-time in Romania and is the head of the deposed royal house, announced his intentions to fulfill his grandmother's wishes by returning her heart to its final resting place at Pelisor.

Queen Marie of Romania's heart is removed from the National History Museum in Bucharest to prepare for its final burial at Pelisor Castle. Princess Margareta of Romania, eldest daughter of King Michael and heiress to the deposed royal house of Romania, stands behind the casket with her husband, Prince Radu. Margareta's sister, Princess Maria of Romania, stands behind Prince Radu. Courtesy of the Daily Mail.

The ceremony included a formal removal of the heart from the Natural History Museum by Romanian soldiers in the presence of HRH Princess Margareta of Romania, King Michael's eldest daughter and Queen Marie's great-granddaughter, who was accompanied by her husband, HRH Prince Radu, and her youngest sister, HRH Princess Maria. The casket containing the heart was draped in the Romanian and British flags, and both the national anthems of Romania and the United Kingdom were played. A procession took place through the streets of Bucharest before the heart was loaded into a car and driven to Pelisor Castle, 74 miles to the north.

Queen Marie of Romania. Born Princess Marie of Edinburgh, she was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
Queen Marie was a granddaughter of the British Queen Victoria. She was born in Kent, England, the daughter of Queen Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, and Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, daughter of Tsar Alexander II. She married the German-born Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania in 1893, and became queen consort with her husband's accession in 1914. As Queen of Romania, she was an enormously popular and beloved figure. She was a symbol of national unity and strength during World War I, and she arrived at the Paris Peace Conference in 1918 as a representative of Romanian interests. When it was suggested that she go to Paris after the Romanian prime minister failed to obtain concessions for his country, the queen boldly declared "Romania needs a face, and I will be that face." Her great ability to charm the delegates and to stand up for Romania has been credited with the creation of the Greater Romania after World War I, in which Romania gained a significant amount of territory and became a formidable power in southern Europe. Her flamboyant wardrobe and outspoken nature made her an intriguing and exotic figure. A 1926 visit to the United States garnered enormous media attention and attracted thousands of Americans into the streets of New York to catch a glimpse of her. She was also a published author, having written numerous works including two volumes of her autobiography.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

80th Anniversary of King George II’s Restoration to the Greek Throne

November 3 marks the 80th anniversary of a Greek plebiscite in which George II, who had been living in exile for twelve years, was voted by a majority to return as King of the Hellenes.

George II was the eldest son of King Constantine I of Greece and Queen Sophia, the former Princess Sophia of Prussia. He had first come to the Greek throne in September 1922 in the midst of turmoil within his country. King Constantine I had just been restored to the throne two years earlier, but following Greece's humiliating defeat in the Greco-Turkish Wars of 1919-1922 and the devastating massacre at Smyrna, he was forced to step down in favor of George. King George's position was far from secure, as a revolutionary committee had taken control of the government and sought to curtail the role of the monarchy as much as possible. A failed royalist coup aimed at dislodging the committee in October 1923 damaged the monarchy's credibility and led the government to formally ask the King and his wife, Queen Elisabeth, to absent themselves from the country until the mood had settled. The royal couple departed from Greece in December 1923 and the monarchy was abolished three months later.

Initially settling in Romania with Queen Elisabeth's parents, King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, George II gradually spent more time away from his wife, either in London or to visit his mother at her exiled home in Florence. King George and Queen Elisabeth were to have no children and divorced in 1935.

While the Greek royal family settled into a decade of exile, the republican government back home lurched from crisis to crisis. Over twenty-four changes of government, thirteen coups and a dictatorship took place between 1924 and 1935. Finally, in October 1935, General George Kondylis, having lost his patience with the troubled republic, staged a coup d'etat and successfully overthrew the sitting government. In its stead, Kondylis proclaimed his intention to restore the Greek monarchy and to invite the exiled George II back to mount the throne once again. A plebiscite was scheduled for November 3, 1935 to allow the Greek people the chance to vote on restoring the monarchy or maintaining the republic.

It was far from a clean vote, however. While a large number of people were dissatisfied with the unstable republic and many did profess loyalty to the exiled king, there were many cities which reported intimidation at the voting polls against those who intended to vote for the republic. Time Magazine reported in its November 18, 1935 issue that "a voter one could drop into the ballot box a blue vote for George II and please General George Kondylis, or one could cast a red ballot for the Republic and get roughed up."

In the end, an astonishing (and undoubtedly inaccurate) tally showed 98% of the votes were in favor of restoring the monarchy. Despite the methods used to obtain this majority vote, George II accepted the results and return to Greece on November 25. It was not to be the end of his troubles, however. Just six years later, the invasion of Nazi Germany forced George II and other members of the royal family to flee. They would not return to Greece until 1946, and King George II died the following year at his palace in Athens.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Birthday of HM Queen Anne of Romania

Friday, September 18th was the 92nd birthday of Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania. 

She was born as Her Royal Highness Princess Anne Antoinette Françoise Charlotte Zita Marguerite of Bourbon-Parma on September 18, 1923 in Paris, France. She was the second child and only daughter of Prince Rene of Bourbon-Parma and Princess Margrethe of Denmark. Prince Rene was the nineteenth child of Robert I, Duke of Parma, who was dispossessed of his ducal throne in 1859 when Parma was annexed into the unified Kingdom of Italy; he was also the younger brother of Zita, the last Empress of Austria. Anne’s mother, Princess Margrethe, was the daughter of Prince Valedmar of Denmark and a granddaughter of the “father-in-law of Europe”, King Christian IX of Denmark. 

Though Anne and her brothers were reared in France and held titles as princes and princess of the deposed house of Bourbon-Parma, they were erroneously regarded in certain instances as members of the Danish royal family, as Anne’s mother was the cousin of King Christian X of Denmark. Particularly in the lead-up to Anne’s wedding to King Michael, some newspapers mistakenly referred to her as “Princess Anne of Denmark”. 

Anne’s parents were not especially wealthy, despite their close ties to many European royal houses. When the Germans invaded France in World War II, the Bourbon-Parma family fled to the United States. For a time, Anne worked at a Macy’s department store in New York City, but when her brothers returned to Europe to fight, she received her parents’ permission to serve in the war effort. She became an ambulance driver on the front and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government for her efforts.  

The year 1947 would mark a significant change in Princess Anne’s life. Princess Elizabeth, daughter and heiress of King George VI of the United Kingdom, was marrying her third cousin, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark.  Anne had spent time with Prince Philip and his sisters when Philip’s parents, Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, settled their family in Paris after the exile of the Greek royal family in 1922 (Philip’s father was a cousin of Anne’s mother), and was subsequently invited to the wedding. She was reluctant to attend until her cousin, Prince Jean of Luxembourg, convinced her to go. Among the galaxy of European royalty that had assembled in London, Anne met the acquaintance of the young King Michael of Romania, who had arrived from Bucharest with his mother, Queen Helen. Michael was Anne’s second cousin, once removed through their mutual descent from King Christian IX of Denmark – he was the Danish king’s great-great-grandson, while she was his great-granddaughter. Queen Helen had invited Anne and her mother to their London hotel room for a visit. Anne was reportedly unaware that Helen’s handsome son would also be there, and in her embarrassment at unexpectedly meeting the king she clicked her heels in salute rather than curtsied when she first met him. 
Despite this inauspicious first meeting, Anne and Michael spent a great deal of time with each other during their sojourn in London. By the time the couple parted ways, they had become secretly engaged. However, Michael was in an invidious position back home in Romania. The Romanian government had been infiltrated by pro-Soviet factions aimed at undermining the monarchy and usurping any possible authority from him. When Michael returned to Bucharest after the wedding and announced his intention to marry Princess Anne, the government replied that a royal wedding in Romania would be ill-advised at the present time. Just a few weeks later, on December 30, the king was summoned to a meeting with government officials and forced to abdicate in favor of a communist republic. 

When Anne got wind of her fiancée’s abdication, she tried unsuccessfully to go see him in Bucharest. Her family advised her that she ought to wait for more news, and when she did finally communicate with Michael, he and Queen Helen had fled to exile in Switzerland. Distraught over the events taking place in Romania but still very much in love, Anne and Michael forged ahead with planning their wedding. Michael’s uncle, King Paul of Greece (Queen Helen's brother), offered to host the wedding in Athens and to stand in as his nephew’s best man.     
The road to King Michael and Princess Anne’s wedding had already been marred by the king’s abdication and exile, and unfortunately another obstacle – the Vatican – now stood in their way. The Pope had been spurned by King Boris III of Bulgaria, an Eastern Orthodox monarch, and his Catholic wife, Princess Giovanna of Italy, who reneged on the papal dispensation for their marriage when both of their children were baptized Orthodox instead of Catholic as promised. The pontiff was now unwilling to make concessions for another marriage between an Orthodox king and a Catholic princess. Michael and Anne’s mothers, Queen Helen and Princess Margrethe, accompanied by Helen’s sister, Irene, Duchess of Aosta (an Orthodox princess married to a Catholic prince), visited the Pope to plead the young couple’s case. Princess Margrethe reportedly became so enraged during their audience that she pounded her fist on the pope’s table, but he refused to budge – King Michael and Princess Anne’s future children must be Catholic if the princess wanted to marry with the church’s blessing. Though he was no longer a reigning monarch, King Michael was anxious to abide by the rules of the previous Romanian constitution which stipulated that his heirs must be received into the Romanian Orthodox Church. To this end, he could not agree to the conditions set forth by Rome. In the end, Anne risked the enmity of the Vatican by marrying the king without receiving a papal dispensation, while her parents absented themselves from the nuptials after Prince Rene’s brother, Xavier, Duke of Parma, as head of the Bourbon-Parma family, expressed his displeasure at Anne’s defiance of the church. In her parents’ absence, Anne’s uncle Prince Erik of Denmark gave her away at the wedding. 

King Michael of Romania and Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma were married in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Athens on June 10, 1948. After the wedding Anne became known by courtesy as Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania. She would not set foot in Romania, however, for another forty-four years. As a footnote to the debacle with the Catholic Church, in November 1966, King Michael and Queen Anne held a wedding mass at the Church of St. Charles in Monaco and formally received the church’s blessing. 

Settling in Switzerland (with a temporary spell in England where the family lived on a chicken farm), Queen Anne gave birth to five daughters – Princess Margareta, Princess Elena, Princess Irina, Princess Sofia and Princess Maria. After the fall of communist rule across Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, the Romanian royal family began contemplating a return to their homeland. Several attempts were unceremoniously blocked by the Romanian government, but King Michael made his first visit during Easter of 1992. The public reception that accompanied the king’s visit alarmed the government of Ion Iliescu, who subsequently banned Michael from returning for the next five years. Queen Anne herself made her first visit to Romania in 1993 and returned numerous times during the years of her husband’s banishment. Since 1997, however, King Michael, Queen Anne and their family have been allowed to visit Romania without any governmental interference. They were granted use of the Elisabeta Palace as a residence and occupy an unofficial position within the country. 

In 2008, King Michael and Queen Anne celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary in Bucharest with a number of festivities and galas. Members of various European royal houses, most of whom are related to the couple, attended to mark the occasion. In recent years, Queen Anne has made less frequent visits to Romania, ostensibly due to her health. She has been seen walking with a cane for some time now and apparently has difficulty traveling. In 2011, for example, she did not accompany her husband to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton; Princess Margareta joined her father instead.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Golden Wedding Anniversary of King Constantine & Queen Anne-Marie

On September 18, Their Majesties King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece celebrate their fiftieth year of marriage. It has been a long and successful marriage for the couple, who endured the turmoil of Greek politics in the 1960s and spent over four decades in exile. Despite the challenges they faced, they have a large and happy family, and for the last decade or so have enjoyed a peaceful life with the company of their children and grandchildren.

King Constantine II of Greece was 24 and Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark had just turned 18 when they wed fifty years ago, at a time when it was still relatively common for royals to intermarry with other royals. Constantine II had ascended the Greek throne only six months before when his father unexpectedly died, and Anne-Marie, the youngest daughter of King Frederick IX of Denmark, had just completed her schooling. Their wedding saw the largest gathering of royalty Athens had ever witnessed, and the photogenic couple's pictures were splashed across newspapers around the globe.

King Constantine was supported by the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince of Norway, the Crown Prince of Sweden, Prince Michael of Greece and Denmark, and Prince Michael of Kent. Princess Anne-Marie's bridal attendants were Princess Anne of the United Kingdom, Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark, Princess Margareta of Romania, Princess Christina of Sweden, Princess Clarissa of Hesse, and Princess Tatiana Radziwill.

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie have five children - Princess Alexia, Crown Prince Pavlos, Prince Nikolaos, Princess Theodora, and Prince Philippos - and nine grandchildren.

They went into exile following the Colonel's coup of 1967, and following the official abolition of the Greek monarchy in 1974 they set up residence in England. After years of squabbling with successive Greek governments and a successful suit brought to the European Court of Human Rights, the King and Queen have visited Greece often since the early 2000s, including attending the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. As of 2014, the former King and Queen of the Hellenes have returned to live permanently in Greece.