Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wedding of Prince Nikolaos

Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark, the second son of King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, married his fiancee Tatiana Blatnik on Wednesday, August 25 at the St. Nicholas church on the Greek island of Spetses. The wedding was attended by members of the Greek royal family - King Constantine, Queen Anne-Marie, and the groom's siblings - Princess Alexia, Crown Prince Pavlos, Princess Theodora and Prince Philippos.

Royals from across Europe also arrived for the wedding, including th
e groom's aunts, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Sofia of Spain, and the crown princes and princesses of Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands.

Since the wedding, Ta
tiana Blatnik is now officially known as Her Royal Highness Princess Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark. Though the Greek constitution no longer recognizes titles of nobility, many foreign countries continue to recognize the titles of the Greek royal family out of courtesy. Since all dynastic members of the Greek royal family are male-line descendants of King Christian IX of Denmark, they are also legally titled as Princes/Princesses of Denmark, a dignity Ms. Blatnik has inherited through her marriage. Tatiana Blatnik has married into one of Europe's most prominent royal families. Though the Greek monarchy itself only lasted for a little over a hundred years, the dynasty that sired the current generation of Greek royals traces its lineage through the Danish royal house and through marriages into countless other European royalties.

Prince and Princess Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark depart the church after their wedding.

Crowds cheer as King Constantine, Queen Anne-Marie and Prince Nikolaos enter the church.

King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie, former monarchs of Greece, attend the wedding of their son, Prince Nikolaos.

Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece arrives with one of his children at the wedding of his brother, Prince Nikolaos.

Prince Philippos and Princess Theodora arrive at the wedding of their brother, Prince Nikolaos.

Princess Alexia, sister of Prince Nikolaos, arrives with her husband and children at the wedding.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Sofia of Spain arrive at the wedding. Prince Nikolaos is a mutual nephew of both queens- Margrethe II is the sister of Queen Anne-Marie, while Queen Sofia (formerly Princess Sophia of Greece) is the sister of King Constantine.

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent (members of the British royal family) arrive at the wedding. Prince Michael is closely related to the Greek royal family- his mother, Princess Marina of Greece, was a cousin of Prince Nikolaos' grandfather, King Paul of Greece.

Farah, former Empress of Iran, arrives at the wedding.

Felipe, Prince of Asturias, and Letizia, Princess of Asturias (son and daughter-in-law of the King and Queen of Spain) arrive at the wedding of Felipe's cousin, Prince Nikolaos.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Denmark's Crown Princess Expecting Twins

The Danish court announced on Friday, August 6 that Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess Mary, wife of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik, is expecting twins. The couple already have two children- Prince Christian, age 4, and Princess Isabella, age 3. The Crown Princess is due to give birth in January 2011.

The birth of the twins will bring the number of grandchildren for Queen Margrethe II up to seven. In addition to the Crown Prince and Princess' two children, the Queen also has three grandchildren by her son Prince Joachim.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Birthday of King Alexander of Greece

August 1 marks the 117th anniversary of the birth of Alexander I, who was King of the Hellenes from 1917-1920 and the third monarch of the House of Glucksburg.

Prince Alexander (Alexandros) of Greece and Denmark was born August 1, 1893 at Tatoi, the royal family's private estate outside of Athens. He was the second child of Crown Prince Constantine of Greece and Princess Sophie of Prussia. Born during the reign of his grandfather, King George I, Alexander was third in the line of succession to the Greek throne, behind his father and his elder brother, George. Crown Prince Constantine became King of the Hellenes upon his father's assassination in 1913, moving Alexander to second place in the line to the throne.

In 1917, Alexander's relatively easygoing life changed abruptly when, following months of political intrigues, King Constantine I was forced to step down from the throne under overwhelming pressure from the Allies, who believed the King was a German sympathizer. The Allies refused to accept Constantine's elder son, Crown Prince George, as his successor, and so the crown unexpectedly fell to Alexander. Just 24 years old, Alexander had not been trained at all to become king and was completely bewildered by the prospect. Before leaving Greece, King Constantine advised his son that he was merely holding the Greek crown in place of his father and his elder brother, and the family prayed that they would return in a few years' time and restore the proper order.

King Alexander's first few months on the Greek throne were miserable. With his entire family driven into exile, he was surrounded day and night by political enemies who merely used him as a puppet king by Prime Minister Venizelos, his father's arch-rival. The King was constantly under surveillance by secret police, and none of his friends were allowed to work as members of his household, instead being replaced by known rivals of his family.

Alexander's piteous existence was made bearable by a young woman named Aspasia Manos, the daughter of a colonel and a descendant of one of Greece's most illustrious families. The King fell deeply in love with Aspasia, but when he announced his intentions to propose to the girl, he was faced with opposition from nearly all sides. Greek society being what it was, it was considered extremely controversial for any member of the royal family to marry a Greek national. The King and Aspasia Manos instead eloped, infuriating Prime Minister Venizelos and causing a major scandal within Greece. Aspasia was forced to temporarily flee Greece until the scandal had settled, and once she returned the Greek government agreed it would be viewed as a morganatic marriage, where the marriage was deemed legitimate but Aspasia would not be permitted to share her husband's rank and become Queen.

On October 2, 1920, King Alexander was walking in the gardens of the royal palace in Athens when his favorite dog was attacked by a pair of wild monkeys. Alexander attempted to drive the monkeys away from his dog but was bit during the scuffle. At first, he was more embarrassed by the scene than alarmed, but within hours infection had set in and he became seriously ill.

For weeks Alexander suffered from agonizing pain and went into fits of delirium, imagining himself to be driving along the roads at Tatoi and claiming to have seen visions of his assassinated grandfather, King George I. Finally, on October 25, King Alexander died at the age of 27.

The only member of his family to attend his funeral was his grandmother, Queen Olga of Greece. When King Constantine and Queen Sophie received word of their son's illness, Queen Sophie begged the Greek government to let her see Alexander. Her requests were cruelly denied, but the government did grant permission for Queen Olga to return to Greece. Due to bad weather, her ship was delayed, and she arrived in Athens just hours after her grandson's death. Shortly after Alexander's death, Constantine I was recalled to the Greek throne.

At the time of his death, Alexander's wife Aspasia was pregnant. Five months after his death, his daughter Alexandra was born. Queen Sophie, devastated by her son's death, found herself deeply attached to Aspasia and the baby Alexandra, and convinced her husband to pass a decree declaring the legitimacy of Alexander and Aspasia's marriage. Aspasia was created Princess Alexander of Greece, and Alexandra was created Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark. Alexandra would later marry King Peter II of Yugoslavia.