Sunday, October 7, 2012

Greek Government to Sell Off Former Royal Estate

It appears that Tatoi Palace, the private home of the Greek royal family, is the latest casualty in Greece's ongoing financial crisis.

Situated approximately 20 km from Athens, the childhood home of the last Greek monarch, King Constantine II, and his sister, Queen Sofia of Spain, has been put up for sale by the Greek government along with other government-funded buildings, such as the former home of the London consulate, and even some islands, airports, and harbors in an effort to shore up extra funds for the debt-ridden country.

No official comment has been issued by King Constantine II, who was stripped of his ownership of Tatoi in 1994 by the government of Andreas Papandreou. The king was later compensated for a small portion of its value after successfully suing the Greek government through the European Court of Human Rights.

Tatoi was purchased in the 1870s by King George I of Greece and used as the main private residence of the royal family. The estate has remained unoccupied since December 1967, when King Constantine and his family fled into exile. The 1994 confiscation of Tatoi was justified by the Greek government on the grounds that it belonged to the state, while Constantine II maintained that his great-grandfather, George I, purchased the property with private funds from his inheritance as a prince of the Danish royal family. Tax records also showed that Constantine paid taxes on the estate while living in exile.  

Tatoi consists of the main Victorian-styled house, several outbuildings including stables and quarters for servants and estate workers, a defunct swimming pool, and a helipad. It also includes a cemetery where most members of the deposed dynasty are buried. All five of the previous kings of Greece are buried there, along with most of Greece's queens consort. Also buried there is Prince Andrew of Greece, father of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and grandfather of Prince Charles.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

European Royals Gather for Queen's Jubilee Luncheon

Royalty from across the world pose with at a luncheon honoring the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Guests include, from left, bottom row: Emperor Akihito of Japan, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Constantine II of Greece, King Michael of Romania, Queen Elizabeth II, King Simeon II of Bulgaria, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, and Prince Hans Adam II of Litchenstein. In the second row, European royals include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, King Albert II of Belgium, and King Harald V of Norway. Crown Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia stands in the back row, third from left.

The Queen invited members of European royal families from across the world to Windsor Castle on Friday for a luncheon to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. Many of the royal guests were distant relatives of the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip. The most notable absence, however, was that of the Queen of Spain. Queen Sofia had to cancel her invitation at the last minute on the advice of the Spanish government, who were displeased with the Queen's appearance due to an ongoing territorial dispute between Spain and the United Kingdom over Gibraltar.

It was regarded as the most impressive gathering of royalty since the Queen's coronation in 1953. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Golden Wedding Anniversary for Spanish Monarchs

Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain reached their fiftieth wedding anniversary on Monday, May 14. However, recent controversies surrounding the Spanish royal house have marred the anniversary, and the royal household announced that neither public nor private celebrations would be held to commemorate the milestone. 

Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece with bridesmaids at their May 1962 wedding. Bridesmaids include Sophia's sister, Princess Irene of Greece (who stands to her left), and Sophia's future sister-in-law, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark (standing to the right of Juan Carlos). Anne-Marie would marry Sophia's brother Constantine two years later.  
Princess Sophia of Greece waves from the carriage on her wedding day, May 14, 1962. 

Fifty years ago, on May 14, 1962, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain and Princess Sophia of Greece were married in the bride's native Athens in one of the twentieth century's grandest unions of two European dynasties. Juan Carlos was the grandson of the late King Alfonso XIII of Spain and an heir to the deposed Spanish throne, while Sophia was the eldest daughter of King Paul of Greece.

King Paul of Greece performs the Greek Orthodox tradition of holding crowns over the heads of his daughter, Princess Sophia, and her husband, Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, during their wedding ceremony on May 14, 1962.

The wedding was one of the most spectacular royal events Athens had ever seen; the only other event that would rival it would be the wedding of Sophia's younger brother, King Constantine II, to Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark two years later. Crowned heads from all across Europe attended, most of whom were related to the bridal couple. Both Juan Carlos and Sophia were descendants of Queen Victoria of Great Britain - Juan Carlos' great-grandmother, Princess Beatrice, and Sophia's great-grandmother, Victoria, Princess Royal, were daughters of the Queen.

After the wedding, Juan Carlos and Sofia (she changed the spelling of her name to its Spanish form) resided in Madrid, where the dictator Francisco Franco had given them permission to reside in the former royal palace. Franco later decided that upon his death, the Spanish monarchy would be restored with Juan Carlos as its king. Juan Carlos and Sofia became King and Queen of Spain in 1975 upon Franco's death, and since then they have enjoyed a significantly high degree of popularity among the Spanish people. The marriage has produced three children - Elena, Cristina and Felipe.

Sadly, the King and Queen's anniversary has been tainted by recent events concerning a highly controversial hunting trip the King took to Africa, and just weeks ago one of the King and Queen's grandchildren accidentally shot himself in the foot. The announcement by the royal household that there would be no commemoration of the royal wedding anniversary ignited long-standing rumors about the unhappiness of the King and Queen's marriage.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Queen Victoria's last living great-grandchild dies

Carl Johan Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg, died on May 5, 2012 at the age of 95.

Count Bernadotte was the son of King Gustaf VI of Sweden and his wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught. Princess Margaret was a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, making Count Bernadotte one of the queen's 85 great-grandchildren. Count Bernadotte was also the uncle of the reigning king of Sweden and the reigning queen of Denmark.

He was born Prince Carl Johan of Sweden in 1916. His mother died when he was only three years old, and his father remarried some years later to Lady Louise Mountbatten, also a great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and the aunt of the future Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Carl Johan was forced to renounce his title as a Prince of Sweden in 1946 when he married a commoner, Kerstin Wijmark. He remarried after her death to Countess Gunnila af Johannishus in 1988.

Following the death of Princess Katherine of Greece in 2007, Count Bernadotte remained the only living great-grandchild of Queen Victoria. His death at the age of 95 also makes him the longest-lived male descendant of the Queen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Birthday of Queen Frederica of Greece

Today, April 18, marks the 95th anniversary of the birth of Princess Frederica of Hanover, who later became Queen Frederica of Greece through her marriage to King Paul.

Princess Frederica Louise Thyra Victoria Margaret Sophie Olga Cecily Isabelle Christina of Hanover, Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland, was born on April 18, 1917 in Blankenburg, Prussia, part of the German Empire. She was the only daughter of Prince Ernst Augustus of Hanover, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia. Through her mother, Princess Frederica was a granddaughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.

In 1937, Princess Frederica accepted the marriage proposal of Crown Prince Paul of Greece. Paul was Frederica's first cousin once-removed: his mother, Queen Sophia of Greece, was the sister of Frederica's grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm. Paul and Frederica were also descendants of both Britain's Queen Victoria and King Christian IX of Denmark. They were married in Athens in January 1938. She gave birth to their first child, Princess Sophia of Greece, in November of that year. Their first son, Prince Constantine of Greece, was born in June 1940, and their last child, Princess Irene, arrived in 1942.

As Crown Princess of Greece, Frederica was praised for her youthful exuberance and vivacious character, but initially gained some criticism concerning her German heritage. Crown Prince Paul became king in 1947, and for the first years of his reign Greece was plagued by civil war. King Paul and Queen Frederica worked tirelessly to aid their war-torn subjects. Queen Frederica set up the Queen's Camps to shelter and feed displaced child refugees of the war, and also braved dangerous battlefields to pay visits to soldiers. Despite her charitable efforts, Queen Frederica could never completely escape criticism. Her German heritage remained a source of contention for many Greeks, particularly after World War II, and her active political involvement also garnered detractors.

King Paul died suddenly in March 1964, and Queen Frederica's only son ascended the throne as King Constantine II. As queen mother, Frederica curtailed many of her royal duties in favor of her son's new wife, Queen Anne-Marie. In December 1967, after King Constantine unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the military regime that had seized control of the Greek government earlier that year, Queen Frederica fled Greece into exile with her son, his children and her daughter Irene.

In exile, Queen Frederica made numerous trips to India and became interested in eastern mysticism. She also spent her time visiting her growing brood of grandchildren. While her son Constantine went to live in a mansion in the outskirts of London, Frederica and Princess Irene lived primarily in Madrid with her daughter Sophia's family.

Queen Frederica died on February 6, 1981 at a hospital in Madrid of complications resulting from eye surgery (presumably done to remove cataracts). The Greek government permitted her family to bury her at the royal family's residence in Tatoi, near Athens, alongside her late husband. Frederica's son, King Constantine, and his family were allowed to attend the funeral, on the condition that they left Greece immediately after the burial.

Queen Frederica's eldest daughter is Queen Sofia of Spain, wife of King Juan Carlos. Frederica's eight grandchildren are - Infanta Elena of Spain, Infanta Cristina of Spain, Felipe, Prince of Asturias; Princess Alexia of Greece, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Princess Theodora of Greece, and Prince Philippos of Greece.

The Queen of Denmark's Ruby Jubilee

HM The Queen of Denmark celebrated forty years on the Danish throne (her Ruby Jubilee) back in January. A series of celebrations took place across Denmark to commemorate the occasion.

The Ruby Jubilee began on a somber note with a visit on January 14, the official anniversary of the Queen's accession to the throne, to the graves of the Queen's parents, King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid, at Roksilde Cathedral in Copenhagen. The actual day of the Queen's accession incidentally is also the date of King Frederick's death. This small memorial service was attended by the late King's children and grandchildren, who make up the Danish and Greek royal families and the princely family of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Burleburg.

The ceremony began with the King's three daughters laying individual wreaths across their parents' graves.

From left: Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Princess Benedikte (the Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Burleburg), and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece lay wreaths at the graves of their parents, King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece, and Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Burleburg, King Frederick's three elder grandsons, then placed a joint anchor-shaped wreath on their grandparents' graves.

The jubilee celebrations continued with a lavish dinner gala a few days later held at Christiansborg Palace. Guests included the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark, Prince Joachim of Denmark, the King and Queen of Greece, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Greece, Princess Theodora of Greece, Prince Philippos of Greece, the Prince and Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Burleburg, and other members of the Queen's close family. The Kings and Queens of Sweden and Norway also attended the gala.

About Royalty is Back

Greetings, readers!

We apologize for the long hiatus and thank you for your patience.

We will be doing our best to keep About Royalty updated. 2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for royalty, particularly with the Diamond Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II.

Happy reading, everyone!