Saturday, April 21, 2018

Yugoslav Princess Attempts to Save Granddaughter from Accused Sex Trafficking Group

Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia and her daughter, actress Catherine Oxenberg
HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia has been called upon by her daughter, actress Catherine Oxenberg, to help save her granddaughter from the influence of accused sex cult NXIVM. NXIVM's leader, Keith Raniere, was recently arrested in Mexico and extradited by US authorities on sex trafficking charges, and one of Raniere's protogees, Smallville actress Allison Mack, also faces criminal charges for helping Raniere operate a "sex cult" within NXIVM. Oxenberg's eldest daughter, 26-year-old India Oxenberg, began her involvement with NXIVM seven years ago and has reportedly severed contact with her mother following multiple attempts to convince her to end her relationship with Raniere's group. Oxenberg has gone public about her daughter's situation and believes NXIVM is a cult which brainwashes its followers. NXIVM garnered attention after former members revealed that they had been branded with cauterized pens and forced to have sexual relations with Raniere. Oxenberg says her attempts to stage an intervention with India have proved unsuccessful, and that she called on Princess Elizabeth as a last-ditch effort to save her daughter from the group's influence. The recent arrests of Keith Raniere and Allison Mack could lead to India Oxenberg facing legal troubles of her own if it is discovered that she has somehow been involved in the alleged sex trafficking. 

Catherine Oxenberg and her daughter, India.
Catherine Oxenberg is best known to audiences for her role as Amanda Carrington on the hit 1980s television series Dynasty. Oxenberg also portrayed the late Princess Diana in the 1982 CBS TV movie The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana; Diana's former husband, Prince Charles, is Oxenberg's second cousin in real life. She was married to actor Casper van Diem (known for his role in the 1997 film Starship Troopers), and has two daughters with him in addition to India from a previous relationship. Oxenberg appeared with Van Diem and her children in the short-lived Lifetime reality series So I Married a Princess (despite her mother's royal title, Oxenberg herself is not actually a princess). 

Jelisaveta Karađorđević, a.k.a.
Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia 
Oxenberg's mother, Princess Elizabeth (Serbian: Jelisaveta), is the only daughter of Prince Paul of Yugoslavia, who ruled the country as regent on behalf of the underage King Peter II from 1934 to 1941. Oxenberg's maternal grandmother, Princess Olga of Greece, was a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Princess Elizabeth was the first member of the deposed Karađorđević dynasty to return to Yugoslavia (which no longer exists and has since been broken up into the countries of Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina) after the Communist government of Josep Tito abolished the monarchy in 1945. Elizabeth's second cousin once removed, Crown Prince Alexander, is the pretender to the Serbian throne and head of the House of Karađorđević. 

Saturday, April 7, 2018

200th Birthday Anniversary of the Father-in-Law of Europe

King Christian IX of Denmark
8 April 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of King Christian IX of Denmark, known to history as "the father-in-law of Europe". Born into an obscure German family and with seemingly little prospects in store for him, it is impressive that Christian not only stumbled upon a lucky hand in life with his appointment as heir to the Danish crown, but the marriages of his children and grandchildren allowed his previously insignificant house to conquer almost every European throne by the start of the twentieth century. Today, every reigning king or queen in Europe except for those of Sweden and the Netherlands is a descendant of King Christian IX. 

The matchmaking powers of Christian's family, though historians have agreed his wife, Louise, actually held the steering wheel in that department, have only been rivaled by the "grandmother of Europe", Queen Victoria. Interestingly enough, Christian at one point attempted to put himself forward as a possible candidate for the young queen's husband. Instead of joining themselves together in matrimony, Christian and Victoria allowed their progeny to populate the thrones of Europe, and indeed many of their descendants intermarried with one another, beginning with the marriage of Christian's eldest daughter, Alexandra, to Victoria's eldest son, the future King Edward VII. 

Members of Christian IX's family at one of their annual summer reunions.
Among the attendees pictured are Christian's grandson
 Tsar Nicholas II of Russia (standing fourth from
left in white uniform), with King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway to his
right, and King George I of Greece standing on far right. Second row: Nicholas
II's wife, Empress Alexandra of Russia, with Grand Duchess Xenia of Russia
next to her, and Alexandra,  Princess of Wales seated to the right. To
Alexandra's right is her father,  King Christian IX, with Dowager Empress
Marie of Russia beside him. 
The man born at Gottorp Castle in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany on 8 April 1818 as His Highness Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Beck, later Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was only the fourth son of the Duke of Glücksburg. The Glücksburgs were a family of little importance and Christian, as a fourth son, possessed even less importance in the web of Europe's royal hierarchy. His attempt to win the hand of the young Queen Victoria proved unsuccessful, and instead he married Louise, a princess of the German house of Hesse-Kassel. His bride proved to be slightly more clever than he and also better connected from a dynastic standpoint to the Danish royal family, as she was a first cousin of the reigning king, Frederick VII. It was her bloodline that helped sway the childless King Frederick VII to nominate Christian, by virtue of his wife's ancestral connections, as heir to the Danish throne. 

Christian and Louise raised six children - Frederick, Alexandra, William, Dagmar, Thyra, and Valdemar - in the Yellow Palace, a deceptively-named manor adjacent to the Danish king's palace in Copenhagen. Living off of Christian's meager pay as an army officer, the family would not receive any significant boost in their financial standing until Christian became king with Frederick VII's death in 1863. 

That year of 1863 proved a landmark one for Christian and his family. In March, the eldest daughter, Alexandra, married Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria and heir to the British throne. At the end of that same month, Christian and Louise's second son, William, was officially bestowed with the vacant throne of Greece, adopting the name George and becoming King George I of the Hellenes. Christian himself became King Christian IX of Denmark in November of that year. 
Four generations of Danish kings. Center: Christian IX, with his great-
grandson, the future King Frederick IX, standing in front of him. To
the left is Christian IX's son, King Frederick VIII, and to the right is
Frederick VIII's son, King Christian X.

King Christian IX and Queen Louise
with their daughter, Alexandra, Princess
of Wales (later Queen Alexandra), Alexandra's
daughter, Princess Louise, and
Louise's child, Alexandra.
The family's impressive dynastic links diversified over the years, with their second daughter, Dagmar, marrying Tsarevich Alexander, heir to the Russian throne, in 1866. She changed her name to Marie Feodorovna upon converting to the Russian Orthodox Church and became Empress of Russia when her husband ascended the throne as Tsar Alexander III in 1881. Christian IX's third daughter, Thyra, married the dispossessed Crown Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover, whose father had been deprived of his throne after Otto von Bismarck's leadership over Prussia forced Hanover's annexation into the German Empire. The youngest of Christian and Louise's children, Valedmar, married Princess Marie of Orleans but, unlike his elder siblings, rejected offers of vacant European thrones. Upon the death of Christian IX in 1906, the eldest son succeeded to the Danish throne as King Frederick VIII.

Among Christian IX's grandchildren who reigned as monarchs were King Christian X of Denmark, King Haakon VII of Norway (he was the second son of King Frederick VIII and was chosen by the Norwegian parliament to found a new dynasty there when the country declared its independence from Sweden in 1905), King George V of Great Britain, King Constantine I of Greece, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and Ernest Augustus, Duke of Brunswick. 

The present European monarchs descended from Christian IX are Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark; King Harald V of Norway; King Philippe of Belgium; King Felipe VI of Spain; and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg. King Albert II of Belgium, who abdicated in 2013, is also his descendant; Queen Sofia of Spain, the wife of the abdicated King Juan Carlos, is descended from Christian as well, and the former King Constantine II of Greece and his wife, Queen Anne-Marie, are both his descendants. 
Members of the Danish and Greek royal families gather in Copenhagen for
Christmas. The current Danish royal family descends from Christian IX's eldest
son, Frederick VIII of Denmark, while the Greek royal family descends from Christian
IX's second son, King George I of Greece.
King Frederick IX, the great-grandson of King Christian IX, had three daughters, and
their children and grandchildren are pictured here.
Seated in the middle from left are Queen Anne-Marie of Greece 

(Frederick IX's youngest daughter), with her husband, King Constantine II of Greece.
Next is Frederick IX's eldest daughter, Queen Margrethe II, with her husband, Prince

Henrik, followed by Frederick IX's middle daughter, Princess Benedikte. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Yikes...royal drama...

A tense moment between Spain’s two queens has garnered widespread attention in the media and even led a member of the Greek royal family to weigh in on social media. 

On Easter Sunday, the Spanish royal family attended their traditional mass in Palma de Mallorca. As usual, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia appeared with their two daughters, Leonor, Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofía, and were accompanied by Felipe’s mother, Queen Sofía. Felipe’s father, the abdicated King Juan Carlos, surprised everyone by also attending, marking the first time in a number of years that he appeared with his family at Easter Mass. Everything seemed to be business as usual- the family posed for photographs outside of the church and all appeared to be well. 

A video that has just gone viral as of yesterday, however, paints a different picture. 

Thanks to an amateur video, Queen Sofía can be seen attempting to pose for a photo with her two granddaughters. The girls’ mother, Queen Letizia, then steps in and after a moment or two it becomes blatantly apparent that she is attempting to block the photo from being taken. A look of bemusement appears on Queen Sofía’s face, and her granddaughter Leonor even appears to be brushing aside her grandmother’s hand as well as her own mother’s hand when the Queen tried to usher her daughters out of the photo. Their grandfather, King Juan Carlos, also appears confused by the scuttle, and King Felipe steps in to apparently diffuse the situation beteeen his mother and wife. 

The release of the video triggered a flurry of reactions from the Spanish media, many of whom are criticizing Queen Letizia for her behavior towards her mother-in-law. It has been an undisguised secret over the years that not many within the Spanish royal family are fans of Letizia, but of all the Spanish royals it does appear that Queen Sofía has made the most effort to put up a good front with her daughter-in-law, and indeed in recent years, as the monarchy has faced public scrutiny which eventually led to the abdication of King Juan Carlos, it seemed as though Sofía and Letizia were strong allies with one another. This recent incident appears to show that perhaps that might not be the case anymore.

Obviously there has been no word from the Spanish royal household on this incident, but it became a full-blown inter-royal drama when a member of the Spanish royal family’s extended clan decided to weigh in on social media.

Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece expressed her opinions on her Twitter account. She is the wife of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, who is the nephew of Queen Sofía (Pavlos’s father, the former King Constantine II, is Sofía’s brother). This makes Marie-Chantal and Letizia’s husbands first cousins; they were even roommates in college at Georgetown University. The crown princess tweeted the following: 

It is also no secret among European royalty that Marie-Chantal herself is less than universally adored by her husband's blue-blooded relations. Despite this, Marie-Chantal has always expressed her admiration publicly for her husband's aunt, and it is understandable that she felt a natural inclination to defend the queen mother. Still, this author cannot help but feel that perhaps she overextended her hand by getting involved. Even though the Greek royal family are no longer a reigning house and therefore are not necessarily subjected to the same standards of publicity as other reigning families, they nevertheless carry on with the same sort of quiet dignity that is expected of royalty. I have no doubt that Marie-Chantal's in-laws, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie, will not be in favor of their daughter-in-law's very public response to this incident. No matter how much they may agree with her, given that Queen Sofia is Constantine's own sister and has always supported her fully, they come from the older generation which believes that royalty never reacts and never responds. 

It will be very interesting to see how this further plays out, and whether Marie-Chantal will be pressured to remove this.  

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Royal news flash: weddings and births

Some royal news updates over the last few weeks:

Sweden’s Newborn Princess
On 9 March 2018, Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland and her husband, Herr Christopher O’Neill, welcomed their third child, a daughter named Adrienne Josephine Alice. The girl was born at Danderyd Hospital in Danderyd, Sweden, and is currently tenth and last in the line of succession to the throne of Sweden. As with the other children of Princess Madeleine, Adrienne holds the rank of a Swedish royal princess along with a ducal title. She is officially Her Royal Highness Princess Adrienne of Sweden, Duchess of Blekinge. A council of state presided over by the infant’s grandfather, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf, confirmed her title and dukedom. Members of Adrienne’s family – her father, her grandparents, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, and her uncles and aunts Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Sofia – then attended a service of thanksgiving in her honor at the chapel of the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

In this author’s opinion, the name Adrienne is certainly keeping in line with what is becoming a tradition of giving less traditional names to females in the younger generation of the Swedish royal family. I can’t say I am particularly enraptured by the name, just as I am not terribly keen on the names Leonore or Estelle, but then these aren’t my children and my opinion is irrelevant anyway. Congratulations nevertheless to the parents and her siblings. 

Queen’s Approval for Upcoming Nuptials
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has granted her formal consent for the impending marriage of her grandson, His Royal Highness Prince Henry (Harry) of Wales, and Miss Meghan Markle. The couple will walk down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle on 19 May.

According to the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which repealed the previous Royal Marriages Act 1772, the first six dynasts in the line of succession to the throne require the formal consent of the sovereign in order to marry. As Prince Harry is currently fifth in line to the throne (though he will move down to sixth in line next month with the birth of his brother’s third child), his grandmother’s consent was necessary to retain his rights of succession as well as the rights of his descendants.

The formal announcement stated that the Queen gave her consent to a “Contract of Matrimony” between her “Most Dearly Beloved Grandson Prince Henry Charles Albert David of Wales and Rachel Meghan Markle”.

Despite a flurry of speculation, there is currently no confirmation on whether Prince Harry is receiving a ducal title, like his brother, on his wedding day, and such an announcement will not be made until that very morning. For years the rumor has floated around that he has been earmarked for the Duke of Sussex, one of the last vacant royal dukedoms. If this proves prescient, then Meghan will become Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex upon marriage. Otherwise, if no additional title is granted to Harry or his bride, the newlyweds will be formally known as Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Henry of Wales.

Hanoverian Royal Wedding
South America seems an unlikely locale these days for a royal wedding, but the Peruvian capital of Lima played host to one yesterday, 16 March, bringing together a glamorous Peruvian former model and a prince of a deposed German royal house. His Royal Highness Prince Christian of Hanover, the second son of Ernest Augustus IV, the Prince of Hanover, celebrated his religious wedding to Alessandra de Osma in Lima. The couple already held their civil wedding in London back in November. This is the second wedding for the House of Hanover in less than a year. In July 2017, Christian’s elder brother, Ernest Augustus, Hereditary Prince of Hanover, married Ekaterina Malysheva in Hanover, Germany. Reports of a family rift between the elder Prince Ernest Augustus and his namesake son overshadowed the celebrations, prompting the Prince of Hanover to absent himself from his son’s nuptials. However, Ernest Augustus Sr. made the trek to Peru for his younger son’s wedding, and the younger Ernest Augustus’s attendance no doubt made for an interesting family reunion.

Prince Christian and his brother are the two sons of Prince Ernest Augustus IV’s first marriage to Chantal Hochuli. They divorced in 1997, and the Prince remarried in 1999 to Princess Caroline of Monaco, eldest daughter of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and American actress Grace Kelly. The German House of Hanover was the reigning dynasty of Great Britain from 1714, following the death of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne, until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. They also reigned over the Kingdom of Hanover in Germany, which was dissolved following its annexation by Prussia into the German Empire in 1866. If Queen Victoria had never inherited the British throne, and the crown had instead passed to her cousin, Prince Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (who was crowned King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover in 1837), then yesterday’s groom, Prince Christian, would be the son of the reigning British monarch.  

The wedding brought forth a number of European royals and high society figures. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie of York both attended (Eugenie will be celebrating her own wedding later this year), along with Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece and his daughter, Princess Maria Olympia (Pavlos is a second cousin of Prince Christian – Christian’s grandfather, another Ernest Augustus, was the brother of Pavlos’s grandmother, Queen Frederica of Greece). Prince Christian’s half-sister, Princess Alexandra of Hanover (the daughter of his father’s marriage to Princess Caroline of Monaco) was on hand to help her new sister-in-law with her train, and Christian’s stepsiblings through Princess Caroline – Andrea Casiraghi, Charlotte Casiraghi, and Pierre Casiraghi – all attended as well. Princess Caroline, who is officially Her Royal Highness The Princess of Hanover, has been separated from her husband for over a decade and did not attend.  

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Bicentennial of Sweden's Bernadotte dynasty

February 2018 marked two hundred years since the House of Bernadotte ascended to the throne of Sweden, and the story of this dynasty's rise is all the more unique as its founder was not of royal birth nor even a Swede. In fact, the first monarch of the House of Bernadotte was an ambitious French soldier who had plenty of luck on his side. 

The origins of Sweden's 200-year-old royal house can be traced to the town of Pau in southwestern France, where Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte was born in January 1763, the son of the town's prosecutor. Bernadotte enlisted in the French army and rose through the ranks to become a general. 

After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor and established the First French Empire, Bernadotte was appointed a Marshal of the Empire. His success in the victorious Battle of Austerlitz came with a princely reward - the Emperor named Bernadotte Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo, a small principality Napoleon had created after invading the Italian peninsula and crowning himself King of Italy.  

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, later King Carl XIV Johan of Sweden
In 1810, Bernadotte came across an opportunity that would elevate him beyond the rank of a French marshal and the ruler of a small Italian principality. In Sweden, the aging King Charles XIII was left without an heir and a royal lineage on the verge of extinction. The king looked abroad to adopt a foreign prince as his successor, but his first attempt at this failed, as his initial choice, the Danish prince Carl August of Augustenburg, had fallen ill and died. The Swedish parliament, the Riskdag, pressured the king to appoint a new heir, and unexpectedly the name of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte appeared as a candidate. Bernadotte had been acquainted with a number of Swedish soldiers, who had remembered him as being a fair and just captor when Bernadotte took them as prisoner in the German city of Lubeck. Furthermore, the Riksdag felt that a soldier would be an ideal candidate for their future king, and a marshal of the French Empire with connections to the most powerful man in Europe made Bernadotte an even more attractive prospect. 

Reluctantly, King Charles XIII agreed in 1810 to appoint Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte as Crown Prince of Sweden. Bernadotte gave up his rights as Sovereign Prince of Pontecorvo and moved his family to Stockholm. His wife, Désirée, was not the least bit impressed with life at the Swedish court and kept herself in southern Europe as often as she could.

Upon the death of Charles XIII, Bernadotte succeeded to the Swedish throne on 5 February 1818 as King Charles XIV Johan of Sweden. What King Charles thought of his position is not always clear; he is reported to have said once "Who would have though that I, who had been a Marshal of France, am now only King of Sweden?" Nevertheless, he reigned until his death at the old age of 81 and was succeeded by his only child, born as Joseph Francois Oscar Bernadotte but crowned as King Oscar I of Sweden. Oscar I married Josephine of Leuchtenberg, a granddaughter of Napoleon's first wife, Josephine de Beauharnais. 

From Charles XIV Johan's accession in 1818, the House of Bernadotte ruled over not only Sweden but also Norway in a personal union. The bond between Sweden and Norway was broken in 1905, when the Norwegian parliament voted for independence and invited a Danish prince to become its first independent modern king as Haakon VII (Haakon himself was the son of a Bernadotte princess, Louisa of Sweden).     

The monarchs of the House of Bernadotte are: 

Carl XIV Johan (Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte)

Oscar I (Francois Oscar Bernadotte) 

Carl XV

Oscar II

Gustaf V 

Gustaf VI Adolf

Carl XVI Gustaf

The present king, Carl XVI Gustaf, has been on the throne since 1973. This year, he will become the longest-reigning Swedish monarch in history, surpassing the forty-five year reign of King Magnus IV in the fourteenth century. King Carl XVI Gustaf came to the throne with his monarchical powers restricted considerably, as the Swedish parliament voted during the reign of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, to reduce the powers of the monarch down to that of a ceremonial figurehead, with virtually no political authority. However, out of respect for the elderly Gustaf VI, it was decided that the monarch's reduced status would not take effect until the reign of his successor. 

The House of Bernadotte is set to continue in the next generation with Crown Princess Victoria, the eldest daughter of King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife, Queen Silvia. In 1980, a new law came into effect that changed the succession to the throne to absolute primogeniture, meaning that the firstborn child of a monarch, regardless of gender, would become heir. The King and Queen already had two children at this point, Victoria and her younger brother, Carl Philip, who had been born as crown prince, but once this law came into effect Victoria usurped Carl Philip, as the second-born child, and became crown princess of Sweden. Second in line to the throne is Victoria's daughter, six-year-old Princess Estelle, followed by her brother, two-year-old Prince Oscar. 

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden with their children and grandchildren.
The popularity of the House of Bernadotte has fluctuated in recent decades. It is believed that the monarchy in Sweden holds about a 70% approval rating, not particularly stellar when compared to its Scandinavian neighbors, Norway and Denmark, whose monarchies are both quite popular. Crown Princess Victoria enjoys a high approval rating, and there have been some calls for the aging King Carl XVI to step down in favor of his daughter. However, the royal court has indicated this is unlikely to occur. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Beauharnais family – unexpected royal conquerors

Joséphine de Beauharnais with her children, Eugène and Hortense.
When Emperor Napoleon dissolved his marriage with Joséphine de Beauharnais over her inability to sire an heir for his newly minted imperial throne, it was sufficient to say that her legacy would probably be a tarnished one. Though her beauty had been renowned and her charm was indisputable, she had been put aside by the most powerful man in all of Europe. She perhaps went to her grave four years later believing she had failed in her duty. Ironically, the lineage that Joséphine had felt such pressure to continue would die out prematurely, while her own descendants from her previous marriage made surprisingly advantageous marital alliances with various royal houses of Europe. As it stands today, Napoleon has no surviving legitimate descendants, while Joséphine’s descendants currently occupy the thrones of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Furthermore, two of her grandchildren were consorts to past monarchs of Brazil and Portugal. One of her grandsons even managed to follow in Napoléon’s footsteps to become Emperor of the French. So who were the Beauharnaises, the unexpected conquerors of royal Europe?

In 1779, a Caribbean-born French aristocrat, Alexandre de Beauharnais, Viscount de Beauharnais, married Rose Joséphine Tascher de la Pagerie, who like her husband had also been born in the Caribbean to a prominent French family. Together they had two children: Eugène de Beauharnais and Hortense de Beauharnais. Alexandre lost his head at the guillotine in the Reign of Terror phase of the French Revolution, and his wife Rose would most likely have been sent to the guillotine herself had Maximilian Robespierre not been executed just five days later, bringing an end to the Terror.
Empress Joséphine

Alive but widowed and destitute, Rose returned to her children and did what she could to navigate the murky waters of the precarious new world that had been created by the Revolution. After cultivating lovers from various corners of high French society, Rose married a young Corsican army officer named Napoleon Bonaparte. She was not particularly bowled over by him, but he was ambitious and helplessly in love with her. They married in 1796, at which point Napoleon insisted that she begin calling herself by her middle name, Joséphine. Though she was not passionately in love with Napoleon, Joséphine was happy to be settled financially and especially appreciated the devotion her new husband felt for her two children. Little could Joséphine have known at this time that this marriage would catapult her to a place she would never have imagined in her wildest dreams. 

By 1799, Joséphine’s husband had become the most powerful man in France as “First Consul”, which he eventually turned into consul for life. Then, in 1804, Napoleon made the audacious move to proclaim the First French Empire and crowned himself as Emperor of the French. Joséphine, in turn, became Empress of the French. Yet Joséphine now faced the pressure of giving her husband an heir to inherit the throne, and her inability to sire any other children led Napoleon to serve her with a divorce. When Joséphine died four years later, Napoleon, by this time forced into his first exile on the island of Elba, fell into a depression after learning of her passing. 
Emperor Napoleon crowning Joséphine at their coronation, 1804.

Even after his divorce from their mother, Napoleon continued to act as a paternal figure to his stepchildren, Eugène and Hortense, and always kept an affectionate relationship with both. Eugène was appointed viceroy of Italy after Napoleon invaded the region and crowned himself King of Italy, and has long been regarded as one of the most politically astute of Napoleon’s relatives. As for Hortense, she not only was Napoleon’s stepdaughter but eventually would be his sister-in-law. Hortense married Napoleon’s brother, Louis Bonaparte, who was created King of Holland after Napoleon’s armies invaded the territory that is nowadays the Netherlands. Louis and Hortense were the parents of Napoleon III, who followed in his uncle’s footsteps to become Emperor of the Second French Empire from 1852 to 1870. Napoleon III's only son died young without having married, and Hortense's royal lineage ends there. 
Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg

Eugène de Beauharnais contracted a successful royal marriage of his own with Princess Augusta of Bavaria, daughter of King Maximilian I of Bavaria. Having received the hereditary title Duke of Leuchtenberg from his father-in-law, Eugène and Princess Augusta had seven children who ingratiated themselves into Europe’s royal menagerie. Their eldest daughter, Joséphine, named for her grandmother, married King Oscar of Sweden; their eldest son, Auguste, married Queen Maria II of Portugal, and their third daughter, Amelie, married Emperor Pedro I of Brazil. Two of their other daughters married minor German princes, while their youngest son, Maximilian, married one of the daughters of Tsar Nicholas I of Russia.

Through the children of Eugène de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg, and Princess Augusta of Bavaria, the Beauharnais line traveled down primarily through Sweden’s royal lineage. In fact, the current royal family of Sweden, the House of Bernadotte, has a Napoleonic connection of its own. The dynasty’s founder was a French general named Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte who later served as one of Napoleon’s marshals and was also married to Desiree Clary, who was briefly Napoleon’s fiancé before he married Joséphine. Bernadotte was later chosen to become crown prince of Sweden and ascended the throne as King Carl XIV John. King Carl and Queen Desiree’s son, King Oscar I, married Eugène’s daughter, Joséphine of Leuchtenberg. Through the Swedish royal line, the current monarchs of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and Luxembourg are descendants of King Oscar I and Joséphine of Leuchtenberg. 
Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland

Ancestry from Eugéne de Beauharnais to the present Queen of Denmark: Eugéne de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg à Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden à King Charles XV of Sweden à Louise of Sweden, Queen of Denmark à King Christian X of Denmark à King Frederick IX of Denmark à Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

Ancestry from Eugéne de Beauharnais to the present King of Sweden: Eugéne de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg à Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden à King Oscar II of Sweden à King Gustaf V of Sweden à King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden à Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden à King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

Ancestry from Eugéne de Beauharnais to the present King of Norway: Eugéne de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg à Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden à King Charles XV of Sweden à Louise of Sweden, Queen of Denmark à King Haakon VII of Norway à King Olav V of Norway à King Harald V of Norway

Ancestry from Eugéne de Beauharnais to the present King of Belgium: Eugéne de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg à Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden à King Oscar II of Sweden à Prince Carl of Sweden à Princess Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians à King Albert II of Belgium à King Philippe of Belgium

Ancestry from Eugéne de Beauharnais to the present Grand Duke of Luxembourg: Eugéne de Beauharnais, Duke of Leuchtenberg à Joséphine of Leuchtenberg, Queen of Sweden à King Oscar II of Sweden à Prince Carl of Sweden à Princess Astrid of Sweden, Queen of the Belgians à Princess Josephine-Charlotte of Belgium, Grand Duchess of Luxembourg à Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Prince consort versus king consort

The recent death of Prince Henrik, consort of Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, has brought attention to an aspect of European royalty that has been addressed several times but often leaves confusion among those unfamiliar with royal protocol. For better or worse, the late Prince Henrik will definitely be known for his well-publicized annoyance with never having been made king consort. “My wife has decided that she would like to be Queen, and I’m very pleased with that,” he declared in a 2017 interview. “But as a person, she must know that if a man and a woman are married, then they are equal.”  

In many ways, it is difficult to argue with the prince's logic. The wife of a king is typically (barring exceptional circumstances) made queen consort, accompanied by holding the feminine equivalent of his title, the privilege of being addressed as "Your Majesty", and sharing equal ranking alongside him. For the husbands of reigning queens, however, this has not usually been the case. An official title such as Prince Consort might be granted, but these men have rarely been elevated to the rank of king, remain as "Your Royal Highness" rather than "Your Majesty", and are expected to walk one step behind their wives and bow to them as all other secondary members of the royal family do.  

Perhaps the best way to explain this is to consider the fact that historically, most monarchs have been male, and a man who holds the title of King has generally been considered to be the reigning monarch and thus in the position of power over all other members of his family. This would include a king's wife, even though she may be his equivalent by rank she nevertheless does not share his power. The argument could be made then that if a woman succeeds as a reigning Queen, and her husband were to be made King, it leaves the assumption that he holds the royal authority over his wife. The specification would have to be made, therefore, that he is King consort and not the reigning King. 

Surprisingly, there have been instances in history where the husband of a reigning queen has been made king. The best examples have taken place in Portugal and Spain. Only one man has ever been a consort to a reigning queen in Spain's history - Francis of Bourbon, Duke of Cadiz. He married Queen Isabella II, at which point he became His Majesty King Francis of Spain. He did not take on any constitutional responsibilities and did not share authority with his wife, but he was nevertheless made king. 

Portugal had two female monarchs in its history (both named Maria), and during the reigns of their wives both of their husbands were regarded as co-monarch alongside their queens. However, there were specifications for a male consort becoming king under Portuguese law. The queen's husband could only become king after his wife gave birth to a male heir. The first queen, Maria I, was in fact married to her uncle, Pedro, a Portuguese prince in his own right. They were already married and had a son before Maria ascended the throne, so he automatically became King Pedro and her co-monarch when she assumed the crown. The second Portuguese queen, Maria II, was already on the throne when she married her two husbands. Her first husband, Auguste de Beauharnais (a grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte's first wife, Josephine), was named prince consort upon their marriage but died before he and his wife could have children, thus never becoming king. Maria II married a second time to Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, who was also created prince consort on marriage but became King Ferdinand upon the birth of their eldest son. 

The scenario of having a king consort actually occurred in English history once before. Queen Mary I, the eldest daughter of King Henry VIII, married King Philip II of Spain. Philip was technically her king consort though he was permitted to be regarded as co-monarch provided that all of his actions as king were performed jointly with the queen. The case of William of Orange, who became King William III and reigned jointly with his wife, Mary II, was an exceptional one in that he had been invited to take the throne by Parliament and continued to reign in his own right after his wife's death. Mary II's sister, Queen Anne, married Prince George of Denmark but he did not become king consort, instead remaining a prince and given the additional title of Duke of Cumberland. The husbands of Britain's next two female monarchs also remained princes during their wives' reigns - Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, was given the title of Prince Consort, while the present royal consort, Prince Philip, holds the additional title of Duke of Edinburgh. In the cases of Prince George, Prince Albert, and Prince Philip, neither of them held any constitutional responsibilities, neither of them could supercede their wives' authority, and neither of them were eligible to inherit the throne for themselves through their wives (though Prince Philip had in fact been very distantly in line for the British throne in his own right, as a descendant of Queen Victoria). 

Is it possible that the husband of a female monarch could be named king in the future? Certainly. The high number of female royal heirs means that, in a few decades, Europe's monarchical landscape will be dominated by reigning queens. Norway will one day have Queen Ingrid Alexandra, Sweden's next monarch will be Queen Victoria, followed by her daughter the future Queen Estelle, Belgium's next monarch will be Queen Elisabeth, Spain's next monarch will be Queen Leonor, and the Netherlands' next monarch will be Queen Catharina-Amalia. Who is to say that the future husbands of these upcoming queens regnant could not be kings consort? It only takes one for other monarchies to base precedent upon.