07 October 2019

The Shrinking Royal Family

Prince Alexander
Photo: 
Josefine Persson, The Royal Court of Sweden
On 7 October 2019, the King of Sweden announced that five of his seven grandchildren are no longer members of the Royal House. They retain their personal titles but will no longer use "Her Royal Highness" or "His Royal Highness." They also will not be expected to carry out official duties nor receive monetary support from the state. The announcement comes after much public and governmental grumbling about how large the family could eventually become. The five children, all age five and under, are the offspring of the King's two younger children, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine.

King Carl XVI Gustav has three children and seven grandchildren, each of whom received royal status and personal titles at the time each was born. The King also has four older sisters, three of whom lost their royal status decades ago when they made "unequal marriages", a standard that is no longer used. The other sister, Princess Birgitta, is not impacted by today's announcement. Because her children have never had royal status they also are not impacted.

Prince Gabriel
Photo: HRH Princess Sofia,
The Royal Court of Sweden
Over the last several decades most of the remaining European monarchies have made official moves to limit the size of their Royal Houses. The Royal House is distinguished as members of the Royal Family who have official roles and responsibilities. In Norway, the Royal House is defined as only the King, the heir, the heir's heir and their respective spouses. Other members of the Norwegian household, like the Crown Prince's younger son, have princely styles but are simply Highnesses, not Royal Highnesses. In the Netherlands, the children of the monarch's younger children are no longer given princely titles. In Spain, the Royal House is currently limited to the King, his wife, his daughters and his parents. Even in Britain, we have seen informal decisions like the lack of royal responsibilities for the adult children of Prince Andrew and no of royal titles or styles for the young children of Prince Edward and Prince Harry.

Sweden bucked that downsizing trend in 2014 when the King's second grandchild was born to his youngest child. The new baby was proclaimed Her Royal Highness Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland. Each of his subsequent grandchildren was likewise entitled.

Princess Madeleine with her children:
Leonore (standing), Nicolas & Adrienne
Photo by Emily Dahl
With this announcement, only the King's grandchildren by his eldest child Crown Princess Victoria remain in the Royal House. This makes Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar the only child members of the House with eight adults: the King, the Queen, Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and his wife Princess Sofia, Princess Madeleine (whose husband Christopher O'Neill declined a royal title so he could maintain his business pursuits), and Princess Birgitta. The announcement does not change the Line of Succession.

On her social media accounts, Princess Madeleine wrote, "This change has been planned for a long time. Chris and I think it is appropriate that our children will now have a greater opportunity to shape their own lives as private individuals.

We were honoured when my parents bestowed upon Leonore a royal title when she joined Estelle as the 2nd grandchild of our Swedish Royal Family. We have always believed in giving our children the freedom to choose their future, that’s why we welcome this decision wholeheartedly. I will continue with my royal responsibilities by supporting my parents and my sister."


22 May 2019

Victoria's Guide

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their first five children
By Franz Xaver Winterhalter from the Royal Collection
via Wikimedia Commons
May 24, 2019 marks 200 years since the birth of Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, known to us today as Queen Victoria. At the time she was born, everyone knew that she might rise to the throne, but the odds were still against her. Her father, Edward Duke of Kent, had three older brothers who might have fathered children ahead of her in the line of succession. Also, if her father had a son, Victoria would lose her place in line to that little brother due to male-preference primogeniture of the day.

Even for those who could imagine her eventual ascension, how well might they have imagined her iconic status as Queen and Empress and as the person for whom an entire age is named? What is the 19th Century if not Victorian? Around the world, lakes, towns, territories, mountains, etc. etc. Her descendants sit on five European thrones (Denmark, Norway, Spain, Sweden & the United Kingdom). At least 27 of her descendants have born her name, including the next Queen Regnant of Sweden.

In celebration of her anniversary, here is an index to all of the Princess Palace posts that have been published about her, her daughters and granddaughters over the years:

Queen Victoria
Long May She Reign (Queen Victoria et al)
Losing Her Prince (Queen Victoria et al)
The Mother of the Bride (QueenVictoria)
Queen Victoria (Queen Victoria)
Victoria's Secrets: 10 Things You Don't Know About the Famous Queen (Queen Victoria)
Young Royal Widows (Queen Victoria et al)

Victoria's Daughters
Darling Vicky's Birthday (Victoria Princess Royal)
Darling Baby: Beatrice's Brief Childhood (Princess Beatrice)
50 Years Ago: Death of Princess Beatrice (Princess Beatrice)
10 Centuries of Royal Moms (Princess Alice et al)
Amiable and Affectionate Alice's Birthday (Princess Alice)
The Kiss of Death (Princess Alice)

Victoria's Granddaughters
Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria (all of the granddaughters)
The Princesses & The Soldiers (many of the granddaughters and great-granddaughters)
Death to the Queen: One Night at the Palacio Real (Queen Victoria Eugenie)
Fire at the Palace (Queen Sophie)
The Royal Lady Who Passed Her Name Down (Queen Sophie)
The Last Romanov Ladies Part 1 (Empress Alexandra)
The Last Romanov Ladies Part 3 (Grand Duchess Elizabeth et al)
Victoria of the United Kingdom (Victoria of the UK)




18 May 2019

A Windsor Wedding: Lady Gabriella

On May 18, 2019, St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle hosted its third royal wedding in a year. The first was the internationally celebrated marriage of Prince Harry of Wales and American Meghan Markle, now known as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, on May 19, 2018. On October 12, 2018, the chapel hosted the nuptials of Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank. The latest union to be celebrated is that of Lady Gabriella Windsor to Thomas Kingston.


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Lady Gabriella Marina Alexandra Ophelia is the youngest grandchild of the late Prince George of the United Kingdom and Princess Marina of Greece, better known as The Duke and Duchess of Kent. Gabriella is first cousin once removed to Queen Elizabeth II. She is a great-grandchild of King George V of the UK, a great-great-grandchild of King George I of Greece, and a great-great-great grandchild (twice over) of King Christian IX of Denmark and of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.

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Born in April 1981, she is the only daughter of Prince Michael of Kent and his wife Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz, better known as Princess Michael of Kent. (Read my post about Princess Michael.) She grew up at their former country home in Gloucestershire and in London at Kensington Palace, where they were neighbors of Princes William and Harry of Wales, who are just a bit younger than she is.

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The Michaels earn their own living. The Prince is a business consultant with many interests in Russia. The Princess is an interior designer and author. Ella, as their daughter is nicknamed, also writes professionally. Her work has appeared in several prominent publications like Country Life, Hola!, The Spectator and The London Magazine. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative literature at Brown University in the United States in 2004. Seven years ago, she earned a Master of Philosophy degree in social anthropology Linacre College at the University of Oxford. (Her older brother Lord Frederick Windsor is a financial analyst and is married to actress Sophie Winkleman -- read my post about her.)

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The groom, Thomas Kingston, completed his education at Bristol University, taking a bachelor of degree in economic history. He initially worked for the Foreign Office, including several years as a project officer at the Iraqi Institute of Peace in Baghdad. He currently is a director at Davenport Capital working in frontier market investment. Thomas previously dated The Duchess of Cambridge's sister, Pippa Middleton Matthews, who attended the wedding along with their parents, Carol and Michael Middleton and her husband, James Matthews. (Thomas and Gabriella were are James and Pippa's wedding two years ago.)

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Several members of the British Royal Family attended the wedding. These included The Queen, Duke of Edinburgh, Duke (and former Duchess) of York, Earl of Wessex, Duke of Sussex, Princess Beatrice of York and, of course, the extended Kent branch of the family. The former King and Queen of Greece as well as members of other former royal families, particularly Brazil and Yugoslavia were also present.

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Among Gabriella's five little bridesmaids and three pageboys were her nieces, Maud and Isabella Windsor. This was five-year-old Maud's second gig as royal bridesmaid as she filled the same role for her godmother, Princess Eugenie, in October. 

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