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.