Thursday, January 21, 2010

First Things First...Who Still Wears Crowns?

One question that no doubt pops into most peoples' minds when thinking about modern royalty - are there any kings and queens still left in the world (besides Great Britain, of course), and who the hell are they? To begin your introduction to About Royalty, let's discuss the currently reigning monarchs of Europe.

King Albert II (official title, His Majesty The King of the Belgians)
Albert Félix Humbert Théo
dore Christian Eugène Marie, King of the Belgians since 1993, was born in Brussels in 1934, the third child and second son of King Leopold III and his wife, Queen Astrid, born a princess of Sweden. Albert's mother died in a car accident when he was only fourteen months old. Albert became king in 1993 upon the death of his elder brother, Baudouin, who did not have any children. King Albert has been married to Queen Paola, born Paola, Princess Ruffo di Calabria, since 1959. They have three children- Prince Philippe, Princess Astrid, and Prince Laurent.


een Margrethe II (official title: Her Majesty The Queen of Denmark)
Margrethe Alexandrine Þórhildur Ingrid, Queen of Denmark since 1972, was born in Copenhagen in 1940, the eldest of three daughters born to Crown Prince Frederick and Crown Princess Ingrid (formerly Princess Ingrid of Sweden) of Denmark. Her father ascended the throne as King Frederick IX in 1947, and Margrethe was named heiress presumptive in 1953 following a revision of the Act of Succession. Margrethe became Queen of Denmark upon her father's death in 1972. She is married to Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, who is styled His Royal Highness Prince Henrik of Denmark, with whom she has two sons- Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.


ce Hans-Adam II (official title: His Serene Highness The Prince of Liechtenstein, Duke of Troppau, Count of Rietberg)
Johannes (Hans) Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d'Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein, Prince of Lichtenstein since 1989, is the son of Franz Joseph II, Prince of Liechtenstein and Countess Georgina von Wilczek. He has ruled the tiny principality for over twenty years and is also one of the world's wealthiest heads of state, with a fortune estimated at £2 billion. He married Marie Aglaë in 1967 and has four children- Prince Alois, Prince Maximilian, Prince Constantin and Princess Tatjana. In 2004, Hans-Adam II appointed his eldest son, Alois, as regent of Liechtenstein, leaving him in charge of the day-to-day affairs of government.


Grand Duke Henri
(official title: His Royal Highness The Grand Duke of Luxembourg)
Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume, Grand Duke of Luxembourg since 2000, was born in Betzdorf, Luxembourg in 1955, the eldest son of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg. His mother was born a princess of Belgium, the elder sister of the present Belgian king, Albert II. He married Cuban-born Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista-Falla (now Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg) in 1981, and they have five children- Prince Guillaume, Prince Felix, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra and Prince Sebastien. Henri became Grand Duke in 2000 after his father's abdication.


Albert II (official title: His Serene Highness The Sovereign Prince of Monaco, Marquis of Baux)
Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi, Sovereign Prince of Monaco since 2005, was born in the Prince's Palace in 1958, the second child and only son of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the American film actress Grace Kelly. His parents' marriage in 1956 had captured worldwide attention; Grace was a glam
orous, Oscar-winning movie star marrying into one of Europe's oldest dynasties. Princess Grace was killed in a car crash in 1982, and Prince Rainier himself died in 2005, leaving Albert to ascend the Monegasque throne. Albert has never married but has acknowledged that he has fathered both a son and daughter out of wedlock.


Queen B
eatrix (official title: Her Majesty The Queen of the Netherlands)
Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard, Queen of the Netherlands since 1980, was born in Baarn, Netherlands in 1938, the daughter of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. When Beatrix was still an infant, the Dutch royal family fled to Canada as Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands. They returned in 1945, and Beatrix married the late Claus von Amsberg in 1966. The marriage produced three sons- Prince Willem-Alexander, Prince Friso and Prince Constantijn. Beatrix ascended the Dutch throne in 1980 when her mother, Queen Juliana, abdicated, as had Juliana's own mother, Queen Wilhelmina.

King Harald V
(official title: His Majesty The King of Norway)
Harald V, King of Norway since 1991, was born in 1937 at Skaugum, near Oslo. He is the third child and youngest son of King Olav V and Crown Princess M
ärtha of Norway. When Harald was three, the royal family fled Oslo as the Nazis marched into Norway. Harald and his sisters spent five years living in exile in Washington, DC until peace was declared in 1945. He married Sonja Haraldsen, a commoner, in 1968, and has two children with her- Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon. King Olav V died in 1991, and Harald succeeded him as the third modern king of Norway.


King Juan Carlos
(official title: His Majesty The King of Spain)
Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias, King of Spain since 1975, was born in Rome in 1938. At the time of his birth, the monarchy had been abolished and his grandfather, King Alfonso XIII, driven from this throne. The second of four children born to Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona and Princess Maria Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Juan Carlos became king under unusual circumstances, chosen by the military dictator Francisco Franco to rule a revived Spanish monarchy upon Franco's death. Juan Carlos married Princess Sophie of Greece in 1962, and has three children with her- the Infantas Elena and Cristina, and Felipe, Prince of Asturias.


King Carl XVI Gustaf (official title: His Majesty The King of Sweden)
Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, King of Sweden since 1973, was born in Stockholm in 1946. When Carl Gustaf was just nine months old, his father Prince Gustaf Adolf was killed in a plane crash. Carl Gustaf found himself the crown prince of Sweden at the age of nine when his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, became king. Carl Gustaf ascended the throne upon his grandfather's death in 1973. He discontinued the use of the ancient titles "By the Grace of God King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Wends" and instead chose to simply be known as "King of Sweden". He married Silvia Sommerlath, a German-Brazilian language interpreter, in 1976, and they have three children- Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Phillip, and Princess Madeleine.

United Kingdom:

Queen Eliz
abeth II (official title: Her Majesty The Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the British Dominions Beyond the Seas)
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, Queen of the United Kingdom, was born in London in 1926. She is the eldest child of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, formerly Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Elizabeth unexpectedly became heiress-presumptive to the throne in 1936 when her father ascended the throne after the abdication of his brother, King Edward VIII. Elizabeth became queen at the age of 25 in 1952 following her father's death, and is presently the third longest-reigning monarch in British history. She married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philip of Greece) in 1947 and has four children with him- Charles, Prince of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Andrew, Duke of York; and Edward, Earl of Wessex.

And there you have it.

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