Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Prince of Wales Visits Grandmother's Grave in Israel

While in Israel to represent the Queen at the funeral of former president Shimon Peres, HRH The Prince of Wales made a private pilgrimage to the Church of Mary Magdalene, an Eastern Orthodox church on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, where his paternal grandmother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, formerly Princess Alice of Battenberg, is buried.

It is the first time the Prince has visited the gravesite. Prince Charles was twenty-one when his grandmother died at Buckingham Palace in 1969. After laying flowers for Princess Alice, Charles paid tribute to another of his relatives buried at the church, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, who was Princess Alice's aunt and a sister of the Russian empress Alexandra.

Princess Alice of Battenberg, who was the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was born at Windsor Castle in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. Though she was born deaf, Alice learned to lip read in multiple languages, and grew into a strikingly beautiful young woman. Regarding her prospects as a potential bride for a European monarch, her great-uncle, King Edward VII, is reported to have said that "no throne in Europe is too good for her". She would not marry a king, however, but did end up marrying the fourth son of a king. In 1903, she wed Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, one of the younger sons of King George I of Greece. After her marriage, she adopted the title "Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark", which she used for the remainder of her life. She had five children, of which Prince Philip was the youngest, but spent a great deal of time apart from them after she was committed to a mental sanitarium during the 1930s when she suffered a nervous collapse. After her release, she returned to Greece and remained there during the German occupation in World War II, where she secretly hid a Jewish family in her home. She left Greece and came to live at Buckingham Palace at the invitation of her son and daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth II, following the Greek military coup of 1967.

In 1994, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, recognized Princess Alice as "righteous among nations" for her efforts in hiding the Jewish family while living under enemy occupation in Athens. The ceremony was attended by her two surviving children, Prince Philip and Princess Sophia. Her remains were moved to the Church of Mary Magdalene in 1988.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

70th Birthday of HM Queen Anne-Marie of Greece

Her Majesty Queen Anne-Marie of Greece turns seventy on August 30, 2016. The wife of former
King Constantine II of Greece, she has led a remarkable life, from her beginnings as a princess of Europe's oldest monarchy to becoming the young queen of a politically unstable kingdom before facing nearly fifty years of exile. Despite such misfortunes, the Queen has drawn comfort from a loving marriage, a happy family life with five children and, later on, nine grandchildren, and the privilege of retaining close family ties to the other reigning houses of Europe.

She was born as Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark on August 30, 1946 at Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen, the third and youngest daughter of King Frederick IX and Queen Ingrid. Her father was the son of King Christian X, while her mother was the only daughter of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. Through her mother, Anne-Marie is a great-great-granddaughter of "the grandmother of Europe", Queen Victoria of Great Britain, and through her father, a great-great-granddaughter of "the father-in-law of Europe", King Christian IX of Denmark. Her eldest sister, Margrethe II, is the reigning Queen of Denmark, and her second elder sister, Princess Benedikte, is married to the German prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. 

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie in the early years of their marriage.
Anne-Marie met Crown Prince Constantine of Greece, her third cousin and a fellow descendant of both Queen Victoria and King Christian IX, when she was thirteen years old and he was nineteen. They met again a few years later, when Anne-Marie was fifteen, and became unofficially engaged. The Danish king and queen asked the couple to wait until their daughter had reached maturity before marrying (King Frederick reportedly locked Crown Prince Constantine in his bathroom after being told of his intentions to propose), but the sudden death of Constantine's father, King Paul, and his ascension to the Greek throne sped up their plans. On September 18, 1964, two weeks after her eighteenth birthday, Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark married King Constantine II of Greece at the Mitropolis Cathedral in Athens. Upon marriage, she officially became Her Majesty The Queen of the Hellenes, and also the world's youngest queen consort.

King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie at their golden wedding anniversary celebration in 2014 with their children and their spouses. From left: Princess Alexia, her husband Carlos Morales; Crown Princess Marie-Chantal, Crown Prince Pavlos, Queen Anne-Marie, King Constantine, Prince Nikolaos, his wife Princess Tatiana, Princess Theodora, and Prince Philippos.

The new Queen of the Hellenes only spent three years in her new kingdom before a military coup in April 1967 and the King's failed counter-attack in December of that year forced the royal family to flee into exile. They stayed in Rome and with the Queen's family in Denmark before finally settling in a mansion outside of London, where they stayed until 2013. Between 1965 and 1986, Queen Anne-Marie gave birth to five children - Princess Alexia, Crown Prince Pavlos (who were both born in Greece), Prince Nikolaos (born in Rome after the family's exile), Princess Theodora and Prince Philippos (both born in London). King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie visited Greece in 1981 for the funeral of Constantine's mother, Queen Frederica, and again in 1993 on a sailing trip that led to the Greek government buzzing their yacht with warplanes and stripping the family of their citizenship and private property. A lawsuit filed in the European Court of Human Rights led to a cash settlement with King Constantine, who donated the funds to a charity entitled the Anna-Maria Foundation, named in Queen Anne-Marie's honor and with her serving as chairwoman.
Queen Anne-Marie, her sisters Queen Margrethe II and Princess Benedikte, and their mother, Queen Ingrid.

In 2013, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie returned to live in Greece. Though they have been deposed since 1973, they retain close family ties to the other monarchies of Europe. Anne-Marie is still a member of the Danish royal family, often present at events such as her sister Queen Margrethe's birthday and jubilee celebrations, and the wedding of her nephew, Crown Prince Frederik, in 2004. Anne-Marie's sister-in-law is Queen Sofia of Spain, consort of King Juan Carlos until his abdication in 2014. Anne-Marie and her husband attended the 2004 wedding of their son, the current Spanish king Felipe VI, and were also present at his enthronement ceremony in June 2014.

King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie with their son and daughter-in-law, Crown Prince and Crown Princess Pavlos of Greece, and their grandson, Prince Constantine, preparing to attend the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

In true modern fashion, Queen Anne-Marie was celebrated on social media by members of her family. Her daughter Princess Theodora and her son Crown Prince Pavlos took to their respective Instagram accounts to post birthday greetings for their mother. 

Funeral for Queen Anne of Romania

Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania, the late wife of Romania's last monarch, King Michael, was buried on Saturday August 13 in a ceremony described by the international media as the biggest royal funeral since that of Queen Marie of Romania back in 1938.

While it was not a state funeral, the Queen, who died on August 1 in a Swiss hospital, was given a guard of honor by soldiers of the Michael the Brave regiment. Members of Anne's family were in attendance, along with representatives of various European royal houses. A service held in front of the former Royal Palace in Bucharest (now the National Museum of Art) preceded the Queen's burial at the cathedral of Curtea de Arges. Absent from the service were King Michael, who was advised by doctors not to attend as he is currently receiving extensive treatment for cancer, and Anne's daughter, Irina, who lives in the United States but was arrested in 2013 and convicted of engaging in illegal cockfighting.

Below are photographs from the ceremony.

Coffin of Queen Anne arrives at the Cathedral of Curtea de Arges.

From left: Queen Anne's second daughter, Princess Elena; Prince Radu and Princess Margarita, Queen Anne's eldest daughter and her husband.

From left: Queen Anne's youngest daughter, Princess Maria, comforts her sister, Princess Sofia.

Nicholas Medforth-Mills, Queen Anne's grandson. Nicholas, the son of Princess Elena, was previously styled as HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania following his 25th birthday in 2010, as King Michael had designated him to be third in line to head the Romanian royal house, behind his mother and his aunt Margarita. In 2015, however, the King stripped Nicholas of his title and revoked his place in the succession for undisclosed reasons.

Princess Maria, followed by her nephew, Nicholas Medforth-Mills.

Princess Maria weeps as her sister Princess Sofia comforts her.

Prince Carlos of Bourbon-Parma, Duke of Parma; he is the current head of the royal house which Queen Anne was born into.

Various royals in attendance, including Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna (second from left), the current head of the deposed Russian imperial house, and next to her Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, current head of the House of Hohenzollern, the deposed imperial house of the German Empire and the dynasty from which the Romanian royal family descends.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Anne of Romania, 1923-2016

Queen Anne of Romania, a Franco-Danish princess born from a deposed Italian royal house and married to a deposed Romanian king, has died at the age of 92. The Queen passed away on August 1 at a Swiss hospital with four of her five daughters at her side, while a statement issued by the royal household said her 95-year-old husband, King Michael, had been with her each day of the past week. A second cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Philip’s father and Anne’s mother were first cousins), Queen Anne lived a colorful life buoyed up by her independence and informality. Born as Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma in 1923, she descended from the ruling house of the dissolved Italian duchy of Parma, and through her Danish mother she was closely related to the kings of Denmark. Yet from a young age, she was exposed to a decidedly un-royal life. Escaping the Nazi invasion of France and fleeing to the United States, the Bourbon-Parma family joined the workforce; Anne was even employed for a time at a Macy's department store. When her brothers returned to Europe and joined the Allied armies, she begged her parents for the chance to participate in the effort. She did so as an ambulance driver, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French government after the war ended.

Unlike most of her royal relatives, Anne was exposed to something of a "normal" life, having to work for a living and serving with the armed forces. It was this difference that no doubt enhanced her appeal when she was introduced to her future husband, King Michael of Romania, at the royal wedding of England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in November 1947. She agreed to marry him not long after, but by the time the couple saw each other again in 1948 things had dramatically changed. Michael lost his throne on December 30, 1947 when the communist party forced him to abdicate in favor of a socialist republic. Having already had their marriage plans marred by Michael's abdication, the young couple then faced another obstacle when the Pope refused to grant a dispensation for Anne, a Catholic, to marry her Eastern Orthodox king. In the end, Anne defied the church and married King Michael in an Orthodox ceremony held at the Royal Palace in Athens, Greece. Settling in Switzerland, they raised five daughters - Margareta, Elena, Sofia, Irina, and Maria. King Michael worked a number of jobs, Queen Anne took the children to school, and for all intents and purposes the exiled royals looked set on a life of quiet, permanent exile.
The collapse of Nicolae Ceausescu's regime and the end of communist rule over Romania in 1989 scuttled those plans. For the first time since their wedding, the international press came calling on King Michael and Queen Anne. As was the case with other deposed Eastern European monarchs, the idea of a royal restoration in Romania after 1989 seemed not entirely impossible. Unaccustomed to the spotlight, Anne nonetheless undertook the opportunity to offer her services to the Romanian people in any way she could. For a woman who held the title Her Majesty The Queen of Romania out of courtesy for forty-four years, it was not until 1992 that she actually set foot on Romanian soil. Her husband had been banned the previous year after his visit generated a turnout from the citizens of Bucharest that left the sitting government less than thrilled, but Queen Anne’s discreet forays into her “homeland”, along with frequent visits by her daughters, were billed as humanitarian efforts and only served to appeal the long-exiled royals to a population still shattered by brutal communist dictators. By 1997, the restrictions on King Michael’s entries into Romania had been lifted, and the royal couple visited with increasing regularity. Their repeat trips led to the Romanian government taking the unprecedented step of offering the vacant palaces for the family to occupy again; Michael and Anne chose to use Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest as their base when in the country. Since then, they have visited the country for holidays, state occasions, and family celebrations such as their sixtieth wedding anniversary in 2008. Queen Anne’s last publicized visit to Romania was for the king’s 90th birthday in 2011, but her increasingly frail health kept her back in Switzerland.

The author Peter Kurth, in a 1990 profile on King Michael and Queen Anne, wrote about Anne’s appearance at a Geneva church service attended by numerous Romanian émigrés; when a Romanian teenager shot during the 1989 revolution was wheeled to the church, Queen Anne swept over to the young man and held his hand, despite the fact that she spoke not a lick of Romanian. The event is characteristic of her straightforwardness, some might say even feistiness; it is easy to understand why a character as serious and duty-bound as King Michael found his ideal match in this woman. She might not have commanded the unbending love of the Romanian people in the way her husband’s grandmother, the flamboyant and legendary Queen Marie, did back in the darkest days of World War I, but for a country struggling to reclaim its identity, Her Majesty Queen Anne was a quiet symbol of hope and dignity. What effect her death will have upon her husband remains to be seen, but it can be assumed that in his frail health, he may not last much longer with out the support, strength, and assurance he received for the sixty-eight years they lived together. May Her Majesty rest in peace, knowing that whatever the future holds for her husband and children, her devotion to them and to the Romanian people, from whom she was separated for so many decades, shall not be forgotten.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Milestone for the Queen

On May 12, 2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the second longest-reigning monarch in British history. Her reign has lasted 59 years and 96 days, overcoming the record previously held by her great-great-great-great-grandfather, King George III. George III reigned from 1760 until his death in 1820. He was king during the American Revolutionary War, and history has given him the nickname "Mad King George", as he spent the last ten years of his reign incapacitated by the blood disease porphyria.

The Queen is presently the longest-lived British monarch, having surpassed her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who reigned until the age of 81 (Elizabeth II celebrated her eighty-fifth birthday last month). The Queen is due to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee next year, commemorating sixty years on the throne, which will make her only the second monarch in Britain's history to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. The last one was held for Queen Victoria in 1897. Should Elizabeth II continue to reign past September 11, 2015, she will surpass Victoria as the longest-reigning British monarch in history.

Birthday of Greece's Princess Irene

May 11 marks the birthday of HRH Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark.

The princess' early life began interestingly enough. She was born on May 11, 1942 in South Africa, where the Greek royal family were living in exile during the German occupation of Greece in World War II. She was the t
hird and youngest child of Crown Prince Paul of Greece and the former Princess Frederica of Hanover; her elder sister was Princess Sophia and her brother Prince Constantine. Princess Irene was named for her father's sister, Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta, and her godfather was the South African prime minister Jan Smuts.Irene returned to her homeland in 1946 after the end of the Nazi occupation. When her brother Constantine ascended the Greek throne in 1964, Irene was heiress presumptive to the crown. She held this status until the birth of her niece, Princess Alexia, in 1965, who in turn was heiress to the throne until the birth of her brother, Pavlos, in 1967.

Princess Irene was an accomplished pianist, and studied under the tutelage of the famous Greek concert pianist Gina Bachauer. As a young woman, she was romantically linked with Prince Michel d'Orleans, and unsubstantiated rumors abounded that a possible engagement was to be arranged between her and Crown Prince Harald (now King Harald V) of Norway. Neither of these romances flourished and Princess Irene has remained unmarried.

In 1967, her brother King Constantine attempted to overthrow a colonels' regime that had seized power in Greece earlier that year. When the counter-coup failed, Irene fled Greece into exile with her mother, Queen Frederica, her brother, his wife and their children. The royal family arrived in Rome and remained there until the early 1970s.

Irene and her mother spent much time abroad in India, where they studied Eastern mysticism. After Queen Frederica's death in 1981, Princess Irene went to live in Madrid with her sister, Sophia, who is now the Queen consort of King Juan Carlos of Spain. Irene continues to reside at the Zarzuela Palace with her sister's family and is reportedly very close to her nieces and nephews in the Spanish and Greek royal families.

Since 1986, Princess Irene has been president of the World In Harmony organization, aimed at providing humanitarian aid. She appears with her brother and
sister at various royal functions. In 1993, she joined King Constantine's family on a sailing trip to Greece, the first time they had visited the country since 1981, when they were permitted to spend just a few hours there to bury their mother, Queen Frederica. Since then, Irene has returned to Greece on occasional visits but retains her principal residence at the palace in Madrid.

Princess Irene (right) with her sister, Queen Sofia of Spain and their first cousin, King Michael of Romania.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

HRH Prince Philippos of Greece Turns 30

His Royal Highness Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark celebrates his thirtieth birthday today.

The prince was born at St. Mary's Hospital in Paddington, London on April 26, 1986, the fifth and youngest child of King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece. He was born nineteen years after his family fled Greece into exile, and twelve years after a referendum officially confirmed the abolition of the Greek monarchy.

His paternal grandparents were King Paul of Greece (1901 - 1964) and Queen Frederica (born Princess Frederica of Hanover, 1917 - 1981). His maternal grandparents were King Frederick IX of Denmark (1899 - 1972) and Queen Ingrid (born Princess Ingrid of Sweden, 1910 - 2000). 

Prince Philippos was baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church; among his numerous royal godparents were King Juan Carlos of Spain (Philippos's uncle, the husband of his father's sister, Queen Sofia of Spain), Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (Philippos's namesake and a first cousin of his grandfather, King Paul of Greece); and Diana, Princess of Wales (Diana's sons, Princes William and Harry, are Philippos's second cousins).

The baptism of Prince Philippos; held by his father, King Constantine, and Diana, Princess of Wales, one of his godmothers.

Raised at his parents home near London, Philippos did not set foot on Greek soil until he was seven years old. In 1993, the former royal family undertook a private yachting trip of the Greek islands, with landings in places such as Thessaloniki, Greek Macedonia, and Tatoi, the family's country estate outside of Athens. The last time the royal family had been permitted to visit Greece was for the 1981 funeral of Philippos's grandmother, Queen Frederica. Just as the 1981 visit had aroused controversy, the family's 1993 excursion proved to be a contentious one. The Greek government barred King Constantine and his entourage from visiting certain areas, and at one point even sent warplanes to buzz their yacht while sailing in the Aegean. Sky TV in Britain filmed a television special covering the Greek royal pilgrimage. In the below clip, at around the 27:40 mark, we see seven-year-old Philippos joining his mother and sisters in meeting with monks from the monastery of Mount Athos. While Philippos's father and elder brothers went ashore to the monastery, he had to remain on the ship as women and young children are forbidden from setting foot there. After being presented with sacred icons and joining in prayers, Queen Anne-Marie relays to her son a conversation she had with the monks about whether Philippos would like to become one himself. The young prince's response is anything but enthusiastic.

In recent years, Philippos has joined his family for more visits to their homeland, and as of 2013 his parents have returned to live in Greece permanently.

Prince Philippos graduated from Georgetown University and currently works in New York City with hedge funds. He makes appearances at various royal events, such as the 1995 wedding of his eldest brother, Crown Prince Pavlos, in which he was a pageboy; the 2004 wedding of his cousin, Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark; the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in 2010 and that of his second brother, Prince Nikolaos, later that year; and various events and celebrations pertaining to the Danish royal family, which his mother belongs to.

Prince Philippos graduates from Georgetown University and poses with his sisters, Princess Theodora and Princess Alexia, and his parents, King Constantine II and Queen Anne-Marie.
Being a prince of a deposed monarchy, Philippos holds a somewhat ambivalent position. Though the Greek constitution does not recognize his title as a Prince of Greece, he is styled as such out of courtesy by the royal courts of Europe. He is also a prince of Denmark, as all dynastic members of the Greek royal family are princes and princesses of Denmark (the founder of the Greek royal house, King George I of Greece, was originally a Danish prince, the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark. After assuming the Greek throne in 1863, his descendants were allowed to retain their Danish titles in addition to their Greek ones). He does, however, enjoy close family ties to the royal houses of Denmark and Spain. The reigning Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II, is his mother's sister; the reigning King of Spain, Felipe VI, is his first cousin - Felipe's mother, Queen Sofia, is the sister of Philippos's father.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Birthday tribute to Her Majesty The Queen

On September 11, 2015, Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her Other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, Duke of Lancaster, Duke of Normandy, Lord of Mann, surpassed her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, to become the longest-reigning British sovereign. It was yet another remarkable milestone in a life already filled with remarkable milestones. To add to her list of records, which include being the longest-reigning female monarch in world history and having the longest-lasting marriage of any British monarch, she again notches another feat today, April 21, 2016 –the only crowned ruler of the British Isles who lived to their ninth decade. If she possesses the impressive longevity of her beloved mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who soldiered on to the ripe old age of 101, the United Kingdom can expect to have Elizabeth II around for at least a few more years. If she lives to the year 2022, when she will be 96, she would celebrate her platinum jubilee to commemorate seventy years on the throne. This would place her second to King Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch in European history.
On this day ninety years ago, no one expected that the infant princess born at 17 Bruton Street in Mayfair, London would even succeed to the throne. She was the daughter of Prince Albert, Duke of York, the second son of King George V; it was still believed that her uncle, the dashing Edward, Prince of Wales, would find himself a bride in due time and sire heirs that would displace the newborn Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary in the line of succession. It goes without saying that the world in 1926 was far different than the one we know today. Unlike the births of her great-grandchildren in 2013 and 2015, which were met with a barrage of flowery coverage on the news and social media and beaming photographs of the infant royals with their glamorous parents outside the hospital, Princess Elizabeth’s birth was conducted in that old-time, decorous royal manner which we would deem positively archaic. For one, the pregnancy of Elizabeth’s mother, the Duchess of York, was never even formally announced, as public discussions of a royal pregnancy were considered taboo. Instead, the announcement from Buckingham Palace that the Duchess would temporarily step back from public duties was considered sufficient indication of her confinement. Secondly, the princess’s name was not even publicly announced for a number of weeks after the birth. Any information thereafter about Elizabeth was carefully orchestrated and released to the public with the strictest amount of formality. She even appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in the United States in 1929, at the tender age of three. Despite the amount of interest in the young princess, she still only occupied a relatively minor position within the royal family. All that would change in just a few years’ time.
The lives of Princess Elizabeth, her sister, Margaret, and their parents were irrevocably changed in December 1936 with the abdication of Elizabeth’s uncle, King Edward VIII. The bachelor king had been on the throne for less than a year when he gave up his crown for the American divorcee Wallis Warfield Simpson in the face of a constitutional crisis over his plans to marry her. In his brother’s place came Elizabeth’s nervous, stammering father, who adopted the regnal name King George VI. Aided by his charming, stalwart wife, Queen Elizabeth, George VI led his nation through the dark days of World War II and emerged a deeply respected leader, but in the end sacrificed his health for the cause. The king’s early death in 1952 thrust his elder daughter onto the throne at the age of twenty-five. While the new queen possessed the dutiful qualities of her father, along with his reserved character and touches of his shyness, she also inherited the stamina and longevity of her enormously popular mother. Unlike her father, she had been prepared for her destiny once it became clear the throne stood directly in her path. Her youth did not betray her commitment to duty, and just as she had pledged aged twenty-one during a broadcast to the Commonwealth, that her “whole life, whether it be long or short” would be devoted to her people, she has served the British nation and the other nations of the Commonwealth, that surviving vestige of the former empire which still declare her their queen, with unfailing devotion. True, unlike her predecessors Elizabeth I or Queen Victoria, it cannot be said of Elizabeth II that her reign will come to define an era –her limited political influence (and her desire to maintain her position’s apolitical nature) coupled with the dramatic social changes of the past sixty years, cannot realistically be regarded as a second Elizabethan Age. The one defining characteristic of Elizabeth II’s tenure as queen, however, should be adaptability. She has adapted herself, her family, and the institution she represents with surprising flexibility. The deference of the early years of her reign gave way to growing indifference in the 1970s and 80s, and she adapted accordingly. Even the Queen’s time of troubles during the 1990s – spurred by a fire at Windsor Castle, the collapse of her children’s marriages, and the short-lived though deeply cutting backlash over the Queen’s response to the Princess of Wales’s shocking death – eroded away into the new millennium, replaced with informal but widespread public admiration. The size of the crowds that turned out for her golden jubilee in 2002 and diamond jubilee in 2012 serve as solid testaments to the respect the monarch commands from her people.
No tribute to the Queen’s life and reign would be complete without a word on her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh. Though largely viewed nowadays as a cantankerous old man with an unfortunate propensity for foot-in-mouth syndrome, Prince Philip’s devotion to his wife has been as dedicated as her devotion to her nation. In so many ways, he is the perfect counterbalance. While she grew up cosseted and nurtured as the heiress to Europe’s most secured dynasty, he grew up penurious and nomadic, as a member of the troubled, unstable Greek royal family. She enjoyed the luxury and comforts of homes such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, while he was bounced unpredictably between royal relatives in France, Germany, and England after his parents proved unable to care for him (his mother was sent to a mental hospital and his father retired to southern France with his mistress). Yet they were most likely drawn to each other precisely because of their differences. Marrying Elizabeth would give Philip the stability and family life he had never known, while she was certainly enamored by his tough, independent streak, so different from anything she had ever known in her privileged upbringing among upper-crust aristocrats. Their marriage has lasted sixty-nine years – in 2017, provided they are both living, they will celebrate their seventieth anniversary. Their progeny includes four children, eight grandchildren, and (at present count) five great-grandchildren. The failures of three of their four children’s marriages yielded a gold mine of tabloid fodder and partially called into question their success as parents. Thankfully, the family troubles have largely been smoothed over. Their eldest son is married to the woman he has loved all along, and whatever their views on the Duchess of Cornwall may be, the Queen and the Duke cannot be displeased that Charles’s married life is at least settled and devoid of scandal these days. Given the unique nature of their positions, one can only assume that the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh did as fine a job as they could with their brood.
Having served long past the accepted age of retirement, and with her heir, Prince Charles, already in his late sixties and still waiting for the top job, a growing discussion has emerged over whether the Queen will seriously consider abdication. Indeed, there have recently been plenty of examples to support this notion. In 2013, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and King Albert II of Belgium both stepped down in favor of their middle-aged heirs, followed in 2014 by Elizabeth II’s third cousin, King Juan Carlos of Spain. But any serious discussion of the Queen abdicating should not seriously be entertained. For one, the Queen regards her monarchical role as a sacred one; the oath she swore at her coronation confirms it as such. She believes it is a role to carry on for life, without retirement, without relinquishing. The Dutch, Belgian, and Spanish monarchs might be able to slip the glove on and off, but they do not oversee the most famous royal house on Earth. How seriously could the idea of the Queen stepping down into glorious retirement be taken, to live in the countryside somewhere as Queen Emeritus, with her shadow looming over the House of Windsor and looming over her son’s throne? It is highly unrealistic. As mentioned earlier, the Queen is certainly one to adapt, and she has done so in delegating a wider breadth of duties and representation to the Prince of Wales as well as her grandsons, William and Harry, preparing them for their future roles as the heads of the House of Windsor and ensuring the monarchy retains a bond with younger generations. In any event, the Queen would never agree to retirement. Service and duty are embedded in her veins, and any notion that she will take a full rest is simply unfathomable. The Queen has spent more than half of her ninety years in full devotion to her country, and in the twilight of her life she will certainly never recede from that.
Happy birthday, Ma’am. Send her victorious, happy and glorious.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

News Round-up - March 2016

The first week of March 2016 has certainly been eventful for royalty news, though unfortunately not all of it has been good.

First, the sad news -

His Majesty King Michael of Romania issued a statement announcing that he is withdrawing altogether from public life. Though the king is no longer a reigning monarch, he has been active in performing various duties on a semi-official basis, such as handing out decorations or meeting with dignitaries. The announcement revealed that the 95-year-old king is suffering from leukemia and epidermoid carcinoma. His eldest daughter, Princess Margareta, whom he deemed as "custodian of the Romanian crown" in 2007, will be taking on his duties.

Statement signed in King Michael's own hand as Mihai R. Courtesy of


His Serene Highness Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern died on March 2 at the age of 83. He was the son of Frederick, Prince of Hohenzollern (and, as head of the dynasty from which King Michael descends, put himself forth at one time as a claimant to the Romanian throne) and Princess Margarete of Saxony, the daughter of the last Saxon king, Frederick Augustus III. Johann Georg had been married to HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden, sister of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf, since 1961, though they have lived separately since 1990. The Swedish royal court announced Prince Johann Georg's death, with a personal statement from King Carl XVI Gustaf stating that "our thoughts are with Princess Birgitta and her family". Prince Johann Georg is survived by his wife, their three children, and three grandchildren.

HRH Princess Birgitta of Sweden and HSH Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern on their wedding day, May 1961.

Finally, the good news -

Just as the Swedish court mourns for Princess Birgitta's husband, they also celebrate the arrival of a new royal. Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria and His Royal Highness Prince Daniel welcomed their second child, a son, on March 2. The boy is third in line to the Swedish throne behind his mother and his elder sister, Princess Estelle. His name and title were announced the following day - His Royal Highness Prince Oscar Carl Olof of Sweden, Duke of Skane.

It has been a busy year for the Swedish royal family in terms of births. In just about a month or so, Crown Princess Victoria's brother, Prince Carl Philip, and his wife, Princess Sofia, will welcome their first child, while last June their younger sister Princess Madeleine gave birth to a son, Prince Nicolas. 2016 will bring the total of royal grandchildren for the Swedish king and queen to five - Princess Estelle, Prince Oscar (Princess Victoria's children), Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas (Princess Madeleine's children), and Prince Carl Philip's unborn child.
The Council of State where King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden confirmed the name and title of his newborn grandson, Prince Oscar. Seated next to the King is his son, Prince Carl Philip, whose wife is expecting their first child in April.