Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spanish royal wedding

Less than a month before the wedding of the Danish crown prince, the heir to the Spanish throne also celebrated his nuptials. Here is a video showing the arrivals of various royal guests at the wedding of Felipe, Prince of Asturias to Letizia Ortiz.

1:00 - Prince Carl-Phillip of Sweden (in naval uniform) with his sister, Princess Madeleine.

2:09 - Former King Constantine II of Greece with his wife, Queen Anne-Marie, their son, Crown Prince Pavlos and his wife, Crown Princess Marie, and King Constantine's sister Princess Irene of Greece. King Constantine and Princess Irene are the uncle and aunt of the groom.

2:16 - Charles, Prince of Wales.

2:31 - Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, with his wife, Princess Maxima.

2:40 - Prince Albert II of Monaco (center)

2:50 - Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg with their children.

3:02 - Queen Rania of Jordan.

3:21 - Queen Noor, widow of King Hussein of Jordan.

3:34 - Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark.

3:49 - King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

4:07 - King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium.

4:29 - King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway.

4:50 - Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Danish royal wedding

This video shows the arrival of the Danish royal family at the 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson.

:15 - Arrival of Their Royal Highnesses Prince Frederik and his brother, Prince Joachim.

2:12 - Arrival of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra, then-wife of Prince Joachim. They would divorce in 2005, and Alexandra is now known as "Her Excellency Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg".

4:37 - Arrival of Her Majesty Queen Margethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Henrik, the Prince Consort.

7:28 - Directly behind Queen Margrethe II stands Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and to her right is Queen Sofia of Spain, who is seated beside King Albert II of Belgium.

9:22 - The bride emerges from her limousine, accompanied by her father.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prince Philip impersonation

An interesting and rather humorous impersonation of Prince Philip by actor George Telfer. It's just a mini biographical piece with information that anyone could pick out in any book on Philip, but Telfer does a good impression and it is an amusing seven and a half minutes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Deaths of some British royals lose their broadcasting significance

The BBC announced that five senior members of the British royal family have been "downgraded" in terms of how their deaths should affect normal broadcasting with the media giant's various television outlets in the UK. Prince Harry of Wales; Anne, Princess Royal; Andrew, Duke of York; Edward, Earl of Wessex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex have been moved from what was originally considered "Category 2" into a list known as "Other notables". Other high-profile personalities in this list include the the Duchess of Cornwall, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Muhammad Ali, the Pope, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, and the Dalai Lama, among others.

The category "Other notables" means that the deaths of any persons in this category will be regarded as "major breaking news stories with coverage on merit."

The members of the Royal Family still considered as "Category 1" are the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, and Prince William of Wales. The deaths of any of these "Category 1" figures means that the BBC will automatically interrupt an
y and all broadcasting with an official announcement from Buckingham Palace.

Source: BBC via

Friday, February 19, 2010

Swedish royal weddings in 2010

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden will no doubt have an exciting year on their hands - their two daughters, the stunningly beautiful princesses Victoria and Madeleine, will both be getting married in 2010.

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, Duchess of
Västergötland will marry fitness trainer Daniel Westling in June 2010. The Swedish court announced that after the wedding, Westling will be known as His Royal Highness Prince Daniel of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland.

Princess Ma
deleine of Sweden, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland, Princess Victoria's younger sister, also announced that she will be marrying in 2010 to lawyer Jonas Bergström. No official date has been set but the palace has indicated it will take place sometime this autumn. Unlike her sister's future husband, Madeleine's betrothed will not become a prince of Sweden after their marriage. He will assume the male form of his wife's ducal title and will thereby be known as Jonas, Duke of Hälsingland and Gästrikland.

Though no official explanation was announced for the reason behind Jonas
Bergström's denial of becoming a royal prince, it can be assumed that because Daniel Westling is marrying the future queen, it should only be seen as proper to elevate him to the style of prince. The fact that he would potentially father future heirs to the Swedish throne may also be seen as acceptable to make him a royal prince.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Family Profile: Family of King George I of Greece

In this segment of Family Profile, we will be highlighting the family of King George I of Greece.

George I (Greek: Giorgios), born as Prince Vilhelm of Denmark, was elected King of the Hellenes in 1863 by the Great Powers. He married Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia, daughter of Grand Duke Constantine and a niece of Tsar Alexander II, in 1867.

Children of King George and Queen Olga (note: The Greek variations of their names appears in parentheses)

Constantine (Konstantinos), born 1868 in Athens; died 1923 in Palermo, Italy. Married Princess Sophie of Prussia in 1889, had issue.

George (Giorgios), born 1869 in Athens; died 1957 in Saint Cloud, France. Married Princess Marie Bonaparte in 1907
, had issue.

Alexandra, born 1870 in Corfu; di
ed 1891 at Ilinskoe, Moscow. Married Grand Duke Paul of Russia in 1889, had issue.

Nicholas (Nikolaos), born 1872 in Athens; died 1938 in Athens. Married Grand Duchess Helen of Russia in
1902, had issue.

Marie (Maria), born 1876 in Athens; died 1940 in Athens. Married Grand Duke George of Russia in 1900, had issue. Widow
ed in 1919 when Grand Duke George is killed by the Bolsheviks. Remarried in 1922 to Admiral Pericles Ioannides.

Olga (Olgha), born and died in 1880 in Athens.

Andrew (Andreas), born 1882 in Athens; died 1944 in Monte Carlo. Married Princess Alice of Battenberg in 1903, had issue.

Christopher (Kristophoros), born 1888 at Pavlovsk, Russia; died 1940 in Athens. Married Nancy Stewart Leeds in 19
20. Widowed in 1923 when Nancy dies of cancer. Remarries in 1929 to Princess Francoise of Orleans, had issue.

The family of King George I and Queen Olga of Greece was generally regarded by their contemporaries as a loving one, their children having been brought up in a simple (by royal standards) and cozy environment. When their eldest son, Constantine, married Princess Sophie of Prussia in 1889, Sophie's mother, the Dowager Empress of Germany, expressed her concern over Sophie marrying into a politically unstable country like Greece. In response to this, Sophie's grandmother, Queen Victoria, saying that Constantine "comes from...loving parents and a very united, loving family. And this is a priceless blessing."

Sadly, many of George and Olga's children would face great hardship in their later lives. Constantine succeeded his father as King of the Hellenes but was forced into exile twice in his reign before dying in bitter exile in 1923. Princess Alexandra died at the age of 21 when she slipped into a coma while prematurely giving birth to her son, Dmitri. Prince Andrew was tried by a military court in 1922 and banished from Greece for life.

None of George and Olga's children lived past the age of 65 except for Prince George, who died at the age of 88.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

170 years ago...

Today, February 10, marks the 170th anniversary of the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. This legendary royal marriage, recently chronicled in the film The Young Victoria, starring Emily Blunt as Victoria and Rupert Friend as Albert, has fascinated biographers for decades and practically changed the course of modern European history, due to the impressive dynastic marriages of Albert and Victoria's nine children, 42 grandchildren and 85 great-grandchildren.

Victoria and Albert's
marriage, happy and passionate as it was, certainly carried its own shadows. Albert found difficulty adjusting to life at the British court in his early years as prince consort, with many of the courtiers viewing him as a provincial German. As a husband and father, he struggled with wanting to exert his own masculine dominance when his wife sat on the throne of the mightiest empire on Earth. In time, Albert carved his own role and became a valuable asset to his wife's reign. Victoria and Albert worked closely with each other, and Albert is often credited with molding the British royal family's image at this time as the model of a proper Victorian family.

Albert's death in 1861 was lamented throughout Britain. Courtiers and government officials like agreed that the prince consort's death was a terrible blow to the monarchy. Victoria went into a prolonged period of mourning, where she withdrew from public life and seriously damaged the image of the crown as a result. After some years, the queen began to emerge back into public life but continued wearing mourning colors for Albert for the remainder of her long life.

Albert and Victoria's marriage is responsible for linking Britain with the reigning dynasties (both past and present) of Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Romania, and Yugoslavia, but a large number of these future marriages suffered from their own tragedies. Revolutions, assassinations, executions, exile, and illness plagued a number of Victoria and Albert's descendants. Today, their great-great-grandchildren occupy every throne in Europe except for The Netherlands and Belgium- no small feat.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The tragedy and sorrow of the House of Hesse

The House of Hesse has produced some of the most illustrious European royals. Members of this German line have contracted dynastic links with the royal families of Britain, Russia, Spain, Greece, Germany and Sweden, but behind these glittering marriages, tragedy and sorrow have marked numerous of these relatives with a special vengeance.

1855-1880- Princess Marie of Hesse, who had married Tsar Alexander II of Russia and became Empress Maria Alexandrovna, lives a lonely life at the Russian court while her husband engages in numerous extramarital affairs and fathers a number of illegitimate children. When Marie dies in 1880, the Tsar contracts a morganatic marriage with his mistress Ekaterina Dolugorki less than a month later and moves her and their three children into the apartments above those occupied by the Empress in the Winter Palace.

1851- Prince Alexander of Hesse, brother of Grand Duke Ludwig III, marries Julia Hauke, a Polish aristocrat who is a lady-in-waiting to Alexander's sister, Empress Maria of Russia. The marriage is viewed with scandal, and Julia Hauke is barred from sharing her husband's royal rank. She is created Princess Julia of Battenberg, and their children will all bear the title Prince/Princess of Battenberg.

1886- Alexander of Battenberg, who had reigned as the sovereign Prince of Bulgaria since 1879, is forced off his throne by a military coup and flees Sofia in disgrace.

1873- Prince Friedrich of Hesse, youngest son of Grand Duke Ludwig IV and Grand Duchess Alice of Hesse, tumbles from a bedroom window and, being a hemophiliac, begins bleeding internally. He dies hours later, aged two.

1878- Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, daughter of Queen Victoria and the Grand Duchess of Hesse as the wife of Grand Duke Ludwig IV, dies of diphtheria just a few weeks after the illness had killed her youngest daughter.

1896- Prince Henry of Battenberg, a son of Prince Alexander of Hesse and Princess Julia of Battenberg, who had married Queen Victoria's youngest daughter, Beatrice, dies aboard a military cruiser off the coast of Sierra Leone after contracting malaria during the Ashanti War in Africa. He leaves behind his widow and their four children; their only daughter, Victoria Eugenie, later becomes the queen of Spain.

1901- Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse, son of Princess Alice and brother to Empress Alexandra of Russia, is granted a divorce from his wife, Victoria Melita. This causes a major scandal among Europe's royalty and Victoria Melita sequesters herself in the French Riviera.

1903- Princess Elisabeth of Hesse, only daughter of Grand Duke Ernst and Victoria Melita, dies of typhoid fever at the age of 8.

1914- Prince Maurice of Battenberg, son of Prince Henry of Battenberg and Princess Beatrice of Britain, is killed in action at the first battle of Ypres during World War I.

1917- Prince Louis of Battenberg, son of Alexander of Hesse and Julia of Battenberg, is forced to retire as First Sea Lord in the British Navy as anti-German sentiments rage through Britain. The Battenberg family are forced by a proclamation from King George V to renounce their princely titles, and change their family name to Mountbatten.

1918- Empress Alexandra of Russia, daughter of Princess Alice and Grand Duke Ludwig IV, is murdered by the Bolsheviks along with her husband, Tsar Nicholas II, and their five children. One day later, Alexandra's sister, Elisabeth of Hesse, who had also married into the Russian imperial family, is hurled alive down a mine shaft with a group of Russian princes and killed when the Bolsheviks throw a grenade into the shaft.

1918- During the German Revolution of 1918, Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse follows a multitude of other German duchies and principalities and abdicates.

1937- A Junkers Ju 52 aircraft carrying various members of the Hessian family crashes in Ostend, Belgium and kills all on board. Those killed from the House of Hesse are-
- Prince Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse
- His wife, Princess Cecilie (born Princess Cecilie of Greece and Denmark and a sister of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh)
- Their sons, Princes Ludwig and Alexander of Hesse
- Dowager Grand Duchess Eleonore of Hesse, Georg Donatus' mother and the widow of Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig
- The unborn son of Prince Georg Donatus and Princess Cecilie. The baby's corpse is found among the remains of the crash, indicating that the trauma of the crash caused Princess Cecilie to go into labor.
The family had been traveling from Cologne, Germany to London to attend the wedding of Georg Donatus' brother, Prince Louis of Hesse.

1938- Princess Johanna of Hesse, daughter of Prince Georg Donatus and Princess Cecilie and the only one of her family who was not killed in the 1937 plane crash (she had been too young to travel with the family), contracts meningitis and dies at the age of two.

1979- Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, the son of Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria of Hesse, is killed when the IRA detonates a bomb planted in his fishing boat off the coast of County Sligo, Ireland. Mountbatten's grandson, Nicholas Knatchbull, and Baroness Bradbourne, mother-in-law of Mountbatten's daughter Patricia, are also killed in the blast.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The king who became a politician

Simeon Sakskoburggotski is the now retired Prime Minister of Bulgaria, having served from 2001-2005. His party, NMSII won 42% of the votes in the 2001 Bulgarian parliamentary election and was praised for bringing moderate liberalism back to post-communist Bulgaria.

Simeon Saksoborggotski is also known as Simeon of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and he was the King (or Tsar) of the Bulgarians from 1943 to 1946 as Simeon II. Simeon II inherited the Bulgarian throne at the age of six when his father, Boris III, died from heart failure after a visit to Hitler in Nazi Germany. Simeon, the child king, reigned under the regency of his uncle, Prince Kyril, until a communist coup in 1945 deposed the monarchy. Prince Kyril was executed, and Simeon and his sister, Princess Maria Louisa, were taken into exile by their mother, Queen Ioanna. They fled to Alexandria, Egypt, where Simeon's grandfather, King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy (Queen Ioanna's father) was also living in exile.

In Egypt, Simeon attended Victoria College, where his schoolmates included Crown Prince Leka of Albania and the future King Hussein of Jordan. In 1951, the Bulgarian royal family were granted asylum in Spain by Francisco Franco, where Simeon met his wife, Doña Margarita Gómez-Acebo y Cejuela. They married in 1962 and have five children.

While living in Madrid, Simeon worked as a businessman. He attempted to form an official government-in-exile while in Madrid with hopes of
counteracting Bulgaria's oppressive communist regime, but the plan did not succeed. Then in 1990, with the collapse of communism across eastern Europe, Simeon was finally issued a Bulgarian passport. Six years later, the former Bulgarian royal family returned to Sofia and greeted by enthusiastic crowds. Some of the former royal estates that had been nationalized by the communist government were returned to the Saxe-Coburg family, but for the next five years Simeon made no announcements of any return to public life.

In 2001, however, the former king announced he was forming his own political party, NMSII, the National Movement Simeon II. The party gained a significant following and won the 2001 parliamentary elections, making Simeon II one of the only deposed monarchs to later become an elected head of state.

As prime minister of Bulgaria, Simeon championed the growth of technology and promot
ed Western business to invest in the country. However, in 2005 NMSII had lost much of its luster, and after obtaining just 3% of the votes in 2009's parliamentary elections, Simeon Sakskoburggotski stepped down as head of NMSII.

The Bulgarian royal family continues to enjoy a fairly popular existence in Bulgaria, though it is unlikely the country will ever seriously consider restoring its monarchy. Since becoming prime minister, Simeon himself has not stated his thoughts on restoring the monarchy,
since upon taking office he swore his oath to uphold the current constitution of Bulgaria.

Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, former king and later Prime Minister of Bulgaria, with former US president George W. Bush.

Friday, February 5, 2010

58 years

Tomorrow, February 6, marks the fifty-eighth anniversary of the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. On that date in 1952, Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh was on a royal visit to Kenya with the Duke of Edinburgh when the shocking news broke through that her father, King George VI, had unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. The king had been suffering from lung cancer and had undergone a series of operations in previous years, but doctors reported that his condition had actually improved in recent weeks.

Since 1952, Britain (and the rest of the world) has undergone enormous social and political change, with the Queen truly representing the end of a bygone generation- a generation who lived during the second World War, before television, Internet or iPhones, before technology vastly changed our lives and the way we communicate and interact with one another. Through it all, even the most ardent critics of monarchy cannot argue Elizabeth II's unwavering devotion to duty and service. She represents the admirable virtues of her generation- prudence, diligence, a desire for simplicity. Some would also argue that she embodies the less-admirable qualities of those from her time- stiff upper lip, cold, detached. But in 58 years one can legitimately argue that there was perhaps just one occasion where she might have slipped up- the royal family's handling of the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales. But just one misstep in 696 months of reigning is something worth commending.

Here's to you, Ma'am. Here's to another two years until your Diamond Jubilee.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What's in a name?

When it comes to family names, no people on Earth are more confusing or downright ridiculous as royalties.

In most present monarchies, dynastic members of royal families typically do not hold any surnames. Their royal houses and dynasties each have their own names, but that does not necessarily mean that is the family's name.

Understanding the reasoning behind this requires an understanding of how surnames came about in general. Most human beings acquired their surnames through various outlets- from the places they lived, the occupations they held, acquiring the first name of a parent or a leading family member, etc. In the cases of kings and queens, throughout history they typically named their own dynasties after their family's initial place of origin. Hence, throughout history most monarchs would sign themselves solely with their first name. This tradition continues to this day, although some monarchs will typically add the initial "R" after their name, which stands for "rex" or "regina", the Latin words for king or queen.

Today, the reigning houses of Europe are:

Bernadotte (Sweden)

Bourbon (Spain, Luxembourg)

Grimaldi (Monaco)

Lietchenstein (Lietchenstein)

Orange-Nassau (The Netherlands)

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (Belgium)

ücksburg (Denmark, Norway)

Windsor (United Kingdom)

However, there are some discrepancies with some of these.

The grand ducal house of Luxembourg, Bourbon, is sometimes known as Nassau-Weilburg. However, the last male grand duke of Nassau-Weilburg, William IV, was succeeded by his daughter, Marie Adelaide, who in turn was succeeded by her sister Charlotte. Grand Duchess Charlotte married Prince Felix of Bourbon, and their descendants have reigned in Luxembourg ever since. Though some continue to refer to the grand ducal house of Luxembourg as Nassau-Weilburg, agnatically (through the male line), it is the House of Bourbon.

In the Netherlands, the House of Orange-Nassau has reigned for hundreds of years. But the present queen, Beatrix, is an agnatic descendant of the princes of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Therefore, she is actually of the House of Lippe, although the Dutch monarchy officially is named the House of Orange-Nassau. Likewise, the Dutch royal house will technically become the House of Amsberg (after Beatrix's late husband, Claus van Amsberg) when Beatrix's son and heir, Willem-Alexander, ascends the throne. It seems highly unlikely, though, that there will be any official name change.

In the cases of the United Kingdom and Denmark, the heirs-apparent to their thrones will belong to different houses than that of their predecessors. For years, it's been speculated that following Elizabeth II's death, the name of the house will change to Mountbatten or Mountbatten-Windsor, owing to Letters Patent issued by the Queen in 1960 stating that all descendants of Elizabeth II and Prince Philip (in the event that any member of the royal family should require a surname) shall bear the surname Mountbatten-Windsor.

But even that is not entirely accurate.

Before marrying Elizabeth, Prince Philip renounced his titles as a prince of Greece and Denmark, and assumed the style of a British naval lieutenant. He adopted the surname "Mountbatten", which was used by members of his mother's family. This owes itself to a proclamation issued by King George V in 1917, when anti-German sentiments ran high in Britain during the First World War. Not only did this proclamation change the name of the British royal house from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to the present Windsor, but it also forced descendants of Queen Victoria who were subjects of the British crown to renounce any and all previously held German titles.

This applied to Prince Philip's maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, who had served in the British navy for over 40 years and was married to a granddaughter of Queen Victoria. He was forced to give up his title of prince, resigned from the navy, and Anglicized his family name from Battenberg to "Mountbatten", which is the name Philip used when he married the future queen.

However, Philip's father was Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark. The Greek royal family were an off-branch of the Danish royal family, and both belonged to the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Therefore, if the present Prince of Wales were to choose an accurate dynastic name when he ascends the British throne, it would be Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, though it seems likely he will leave the name as simply Windsor.

One exception to the rule that royalty don't use last names is the Spanish royal family. In keeping with tradition of Spanish names, the members of the House of Bourbon typically incorporate both parents' family names into their own. King Juan Carlos is Juan Carlos de
Borbón y Borbon-Dos Sicilias, Bourbon being his patrilineal name and Bourbon-Dos Sicilias (Two Sicilies) reflecting his mother, Princess Maria Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies. Likewise, Juan Carlos' children all use de Borbón y Grecia (of Bourbon and Greece), reflecting both their father and their mother, Princess Sophia of Greece.