27 December 2011

Royal Christmas Speeches 2011

Several monarchs make a televised annual address during the holiday season. For your convenience, below are the 2011 speeches. You can also read a review of some of the European speeches on Royalty in the News.

Emperor Akihito of Japan

King Albert II of The Belgians

Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

Queen Elizabeth II of The United Kingdom

Grand Duke Henri II of Luxembourg

King Juan Carlos of Spain

21 December 2011

Royal Christmases

As Kate Middleton spends her first Christmas as a full-blown royal (see my article with 5 tips for her survival), here's a look at some royal Christmas traditions.

The Christmas Tree
The presence of a tree in nearly every British, Australian and American home is due to the influence of one single royal: Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, who brought the evergreen tree tradition to England with him from his native Germany. Illustrations of his royal Christmas tree started appearing in magazines and newspapers in 1841. Within a few years, dragging a tree into the house, lighting it with candles and hanging baubles on it had become all the rage. Just think, without Prince Albert's influence, there would be no Charlie Brown Christmas tree and no giant trees at Rockefeller Center in New York and Victoria Square in Adelaide. Not to mention, the contribution Albert made to what is now a multibillion dollar industry.

Live to the Commonwealth
A more recent royal tradition in Britain is the monarch's Christmas day broadcast. The tradition started when the current queen's grandfather, King George V, began making radio broadcasts in 1932. Although there have been three monarchs since then, only two others have participated--the queen's uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated the throne in early December 1936 after less than a year as king, so he never made the address. The queen has delivered a radio or television address every year since her accession, except 1969, when the palace thought the release of the documentary, "The Royal Family," had provided enough exposure for the year. Public outcry, however, caused the queen to announce that the annual tradition would return the following year. The address has sometimes been issued live, but more commonly, it is pre-recorded. It is first broadcast at 3 p.m. GMT on Christmas Day. Since 2006, it has also been available via podcast.

For more about the British Monarchy at Christmas, visit the official site.

Sinterklaas and Zwart Piet
In The Netherlands, children celebrate Christmas with Sinterklaas and Zwart Piet, or Santa Claus and Black Peter. For the Dutch royal family, the arrival of that illustrious pair was become an annual outing. On December 5, the Prince of Orange and Princess Maxima take their three adorable litte girls to join the hordes of happy youngsters as they welcome Santa and Peter to town. See photos from this year's event. The pair arrives, having traveled all the way from Madrid and bringing candy for all the little ones who come to their parade--even little princesses.

Christmas Cards in Spain
Although Christmas cards are sent around the world, we don't always get to see what royal families send out, except in Spain. We occasionally get to see a few cards elsewhere, but the Spanish royal family always releases the cards from all four of their "families": the King and Queen, the Prince and Princess of the Asturias, Infanta Elena, and Infanta Cristina. Another nice touch is that the publicly released cards show the handwritten note and all of the individuals signatures. Most of the time the images on the cards are family photos or at least, pics of the kids. However, the King and Queen will often select artwork. This year's cards are notable because it is the first time that the youngest infanta, four-year-old Sofia, signed the card all by herself. (Click to see this year's cards.)

Family Photos in Belgium
Like many families, the crown princely couple of Belgium uses Christmas as an opportunity to take new family photos. With four young children, it is probably quite a task to get everyone dressed in matching outfits that aren't too matchy-matchy, but they always pull it off with aplomb. In addition to the family portrait, they also take pictures of each of the children. This year's set of photos does a particularly good job of highlighting each child's individual personality. (See this year's photos.)

Family Videos
The Norwegian royal family takes it a couple of steps further; the ladies at least usually dress in bunad (the traditional Norwegian costume) AND they release a video with the photos. Over the years, we have seen Queen Sonja reading to her grandchildren and little Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus making cookies. (See this year's photo and video.)

A Musical Christmas
As an extension of their tenth anniversary celebrations, the Crown Prince and Princess of Norway this year launched what may become an annual tradition. They and the king and queen hosted a performance for 200 young people who are associated with charities sponsored by the Crown Princess's foundation, which was established when she married Crown Prince Haakon. Nine Norwegian artists performed on the concert, which was broadcast across the country. The same musicians have also created a benefit Christmas album.

17 December 2011

Three Naughty Princesses and One Wicked Queen

This is the story of how some little purses prevented women from ever inheriting the French throne.

Philip the Fair with his children and his brother
The story starts when the very beautiful Queen of England personally embroidered three purses for her lively young sisters-in-law: Marguerite, Jeanne and Blanche. Born a princess of France, Isabella gave these special gifts to them while on a visit home. Isabella had been sent to England as a little girl, so she must have been excited to spend time with her own family—her powerful father King Philip the Fair, her three handsome brothers and their three wives, all of whom were princesses of Burgundy. Blanche and Jeanne were sisters and Marguerite was their cousin.

Since the death of Isabella’s mother, the three Burgundian princesses had made the French court a place for frivolity with fun-filled parties and risqué fashions. Nineteen-year-old Isabella must have enjoyed their company, particularly since her English sisters-in-law were all much older than she.

Alas, although Isabella had to return to Britain, many Frenchman were frequently at her husband’s court. Two dashing knights were visiting just a few months later: the dashing d’Aulnay brothers, Philip and Gautier. Although not nearly as handsome as her own husband King Edward II, the brothers certainly caught her eye. They were amusing to admire until Isabella noticed something odd. On each brother’s belt there hung a familiar little purse—the very purses that Isabella had recently given to Blanche and Marguerite.

To say that Isabella was angry is probably putting it mildly. She might have been slightly offended by the re-gifting, but she was more likely infuriated that two wives of French princes—her own brothers—were granting such favors to men who weren’t their husbands. What could it mean?

Tour de Nesle
Isabella didn’t immediately tell her father and brothers. She had little evidence to prove her worst fears. Soon, however, others began to question the jovial Burgundian trios’ too boisterous behavior. Whispers, perhaps outright accusations, reached King Philip’s ears. Isabella finally shared her own suspicions. A cautious, but politically vicious man, Philip gathered information. He had his daughters-in-law and their friends followed. The trail quickly led straight to the Tour de Nesle, an old fortress on the River Seine, which had been turned into a love den.

The d’Aulnay brothers tried to escape Philip’s reach, but they failed. Instead, they were tortured just as the Knights Templar had so recently been tormented by the King. This time, however, more than money, power, and religion were at stake. The very fate of the Capetian dynasty was on the line, for if either princess conceived a child by her lover, it could be passed off as an heir to the throne.

The d’Aulnay brothers did not last long under their brutal inquisition. They confessed everything. For their lusty crimes against the king, they were publicly castrated, flayed alive and then decapitated. Their mistresses faced a more private trial before the Paris Parlement. All three young women stood accused. Jeanne admitted that she knew about the affairs but had never been unfaithful herself. Her husband, the second son Prince Philip, believed her and pleaded for her. Blanche and Marguerite had no such defenders. They were both found guilty. Their lives were spared but they were humiliated by being shaved bald and were imprisoned in the dank and gloomy Chateau Gaillard. Jeanne was punished by being placed under house arrest at Dourdan. Within a year, she was reunited with her husband and five children at court.

Just months after the Tour de Nesle Affair, King Philip died and his eldest son became King Louis X. Because his wife Marguerite’s affair had called into question the legitimacy of their only child, a daughter named Jeanne, Louis needed to marry again quickly. With Marguerite still alive at Chateau Gaillard, it would be difficult for him to find another bride. Then, Marguerite conveniently died. Perhaps too conveniently. It might have been the harsh conditions of being imprisoned underground or it might have been murder. Nevertheless, her death could not have come at a better time for Louis, who married his second wife just five days later.

Louis managed to impregnate his new wife very quickly, but his athletic prowess soon got the best of him. After an intense game of tennis—his favorite sport—he grew ill and died. He had been king for less than two years. France eagerly awaited the birth of the heir, a little boy name John, who died within a week.

Jeanne of Burgundy
What was the country to do? Louis’ daughter Jeanne was still alive, though not quite four years old. So, King Philip IV’s second soon assumed the throne as King Philip V, with his wife Jeanne of Burgundy at his side. He quickly convened the three estates and had them affirm that women could not inherit the throne, allegedly based on historical precedence from the time of the Frankish kings. Called the Salic Law, this legal decision barred the orphaned princess from the throne and confirmed the new King Philip’s regal rights, but it had some unintended consequences. At the time, Philip’s heir was his own son and namesake, but five years later, the little prince died. When the king died the next year, he left behind four daughters who, because of their father’s insistence, could not inherit the throne.

Blanche
Instead, Philip’s brother, Charles, husband of the still-imprisoned Blanche of Burgundy became king. Charles finally managed to have the marriage annulled and he remarried. Blanche, despite the dreadful conditions which had perhaps led to her cousin’s death at Chateau Gaillard, carried on her promiscuous ways: she conceived a child by one of her jailers. Nevertheless, she ultimately repented and was allowed to become a nun. She lived until the ripe old age of 30.

As for Charles, despite two more wives, he died without sons and the Salic Law prevented his two surviving daughters from ascending the throne in 1328, just 14 years after the Affair of the Tour de Nesle.

Queen Isabella and her lover
at the head of an army.
In England, the only surviving child of King Philip IV, Queen Isabella thought she saw a loophole in the Salic Law. Although she could not inherit the throne, perhaps her son could. That question would launch the Hundred Years’ War between France and England.

Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of the entire Tour de Nesle Affair, however, is perhaps that Queen Isabella had become the most infamous adulteress in the world. Although she had pointed fingers at her sisters-in-law, she also engaged in a well-known extramarital affair, she and her lover led a rebellion against her husband, forced his abdication and had him executed.

10 December 2011

Princess Pepper

Said goodbye today to my sister's best friend, Pepper, who wasn't really a real princess, but who was always treated royally--especially during her final illness.

I just had this portrait of Pepper done by Melinda McPherson Golden as a Christmas present. I highly recommend Melinda. She takes new commissions all the time; I have purchased several works of art from her.

03 December 2011

Book Review: The Royal W.E.

Although many American girls have dreamt of marrying a prince, very few have ever achieved it. There was the glamorous movie star Grace Kelly who became a Serene Highness. Today, there is New York socialite Marie-Chantal Miller, whose father-in-law used to be the King of Greece. But the American dame who snagged an actual King and Emperor has a name that is synonymous with infamy.

Not that Bessiewallis Warfield Spencer Simpson doesn’t have her defenders. Chief among them is longtime royal blogger Victoria Martinez , whose 2011 e-book, “The Royal W.E.: Unique Glimpses of The Duke & Duchess of Windsor,” sets out to tell the behind-the-scenes story of Wallis Simpson and her Prince Charming from a more sympathetic point of view. To be fair, Wallis and King Edward suffered from bad press from the very beginning, a situation they only managed to fuel throughout their lives.

Martinez’s book takes us back before the beginning—before the then-Prince of Wales met the woman for whom he would give up the British Empire. Through careful research and a bit of psychological reckoning, Martinez ably demonstrates how the couple’s past lives led them to each other’s arms. The prince hated protocol and ceremony, he felt unloved by his undemonstrative parents, and at every turn he was hemmed in by his high rank. Refusing to make an appropriate marriage, he found his comfort with motherly married women. Wallis was the last in a string of such misalliances. But, Wallis was no less lovelorn; having made an unfortunate and abusive early marriage, she found a second husband who provided security if not passion. When the prince and Wallis met, she was dazzled by the charming, boyish prince and he was ensnared by the forthright, strong woman. It is hard to imagine that either dreamt where their joint path would lead.

“W.E.” is presented as a series of short essays, mostly derived from Martinez’s earlier blog posts. The research is impeccable and many of the stories and insights will be new to any but the most avid royal readers. Her writing is fresh and inviting, and she often approaches her topic like a detective. As Martinez explains in her introduction, she has had a strong desire since childhood to really understand the real tale of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

I am no apologist for the couple, who seem to have made a series of poor choices throughout their lives together, but I am persuaded that neither is quite as selfish or self-deluded as they are often portrayed. However, I don’t subscribe to the Romeo-and-Juliet romanticism doled out by their defenders. Martinez manages to present a more balanced—though still favorable view—that captures them as human beings rather than archetypes.
The format of the book makes it easy to read, although I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the preliminary information, which includes a nine-page foreword by Windsor biographer Greg King, endorsements from two more royal authors, and Martinez’s own acknowledgements and introduction. Had it been a printed book, I would have been tempted to skip straight to the well-crafted essays.

In most of them, Martinez strives to contradict some of the more outlandish accusations that have been leveled at the Windsors, particularly Wallis, including reports that she had secret sexual powers or that she was not actually a woman at all.

Since I have some knowledge of the couple’s history, I was particularly intrigued by some of the lesser-known stories. Two essays in particular stand out. In “A Fool Would Know,” Martinez discusses the mysterious theft of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelry during a sojourn at an English country house. This is our intrepid author at her Agatha Christie best: no theory is left unexamined although the crime remains unsolved.

Secondly, I was quite intrigued by “A Dreadful Woman,” in which Martinez explores the strained relationships between Wallis and her various royal in-laws. In this examination, the Kent branch of the family emerges as the most humane and forgiving—with royal family black sheep Princess Michael of Kent as the one true friend of the elderly and widowed Duchess of Windsor. The late Queen Mother’s relationship with the Duchess of Windsor is traced from its early misunderstandings to full-scale warfare. And, the Queen Mother’s bitter hatred is represented as the poison that spoils any chance Wallis and her prince might have had for reconciling with the family. The enmity between the two women was unrelenting—while the Duke of Windsor’s mother, the formidable Queen Mary, is granted a moment of human kindness as Martinez recounts her concern for Wallis during an illness. In this section, Martinez may be a bit heavy handed in her favorable bias toward Wallis, but it is nonetheless a fascinating exploration of some truly hyperbolic family dynamics.

Overall, “The Royal W.E.” offers cleverly composed, thoroughly researched glimpses of the American divorcee and the King who gave up his throne for her. I encourage you to keep an open mind as you read it; you just might realize that sometimes a fairytale doesn’t have any actual villains, just a lot of people in genuine emotional distress trying their best to make a life for themselves in very unusual circumstances. Click the Amazon linkbelow to buy it for just $2.99.



Read The Arbitrary History Blog by Victoria Martinez.

21 October 2011

The Not-So-Wicked Stepmother

Today, stepmothers have become an ordinary part of many children’s lives. Heck, some people even end up with more than one. This was also the case for many royal children throughout history—particularly royal daughters. You see, when royal sons predeceased dear old dad, it was up to the aging king to find a young wife.

So, here you are a princess and in comes the new queen, who is probably about your age. This isn’t always the best formula for a harmonious family life. You don’t have to be a great historian or a psychiatrist to deduce that Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, probably had little reason to love Anne Boleyn. After all, seeing your own mother cast aside and being declared illegitimate yourself so papa can try again with one of your mother’s maids has a way of cramping your style. The latent causes of “Bloody Mary’s” bloodiness may have started with this catastrophic second marriage.

Nevertheless, one royal stepmother did fare very well with her tempestuous stepdaughter. King Henry I was a melancholy old man of 52 when his friends persuaded him to marry again. His first wife had died a few years earlier and, Henry probably could have cared less. She had given him a couple of robust sons, William and Richard, to be the heir and a spare. However, in November 1120, Henry and the family (including several illegitimate children) set out for a little jaunt to Normandy. But Prince William, who could give the current Prince Harry a run for his money, decided to party longer on the English coast with his brother and one of his sisters and their friends. Henry’s boat rowed away as the youngsters enjoyed a few too many. By the time they finally set out, the helmsman and all the oarsmen were completely wasted. The boat struck a huge rock often covered by tidal floods and all but a lowly butcher was killed.

King Henry was distraught. His only surviving child, Matilda, not only was a girl, but was far away in Germany, the wife of the German emperor. So, the saddened old man chose to try for another heir, and promptly married the teenaged daughter of the Count of Louvain. Adela (sometimes called Adelicia or Adeliza) was considered gentle and loving and very beautiful. One of her illegitimate stepsons wrote “no maid as fair as she was seen on middle earth,” but that’s a Freudian issue we won’t get into here.

Despite being young and hot, Adela gave the king no children of any kind, male or female. He had several more illegitimate children and she had seven kids by her second husband after his death, but the stork never arrived at Adela and Henry’s castle. A few years later, Henry had a bit of luck; the German emperor had died without fathering any kids with his hot, young bride either. Henry’s daughter, 23-year-old Empress Matilda came home to England and found Queen Adela well established in her mother’s place. Evidently though, Adela’s winning ways impressed the usually proud Matilda and the two became friends. In fact, after Henry named Matilda his heir and insisted that she marry the too-short, very uncouth 14-year-old Geoffrey of Anjou, it was to Adela’s house that she fled.

Adela let Matilda stay secluded with them for many weeks while she protested the marriage. Why should she, an empress, marry a distasteful little count? King Henry won out in the end, however, and the marriage took place.

Years later, Adela was a little better at protecting her stepdaughter from a disagreeable king. After Henry died, his nephew Stephen usurped Matilda’s place as heir. Within a couple of years, Matilda and her illegitimate brother (the same one who thought Adela was a cutie) decided to raise an army and take the throne away from their cousin. The two of them arrived from the Continent and hurried to their stepmother’s house, Arundel Castle—where strangely enough she had already produced two sons for her second husband. Stephen got wind of their location and marched on the castle with a large force. Matilda and Robert had not thought to bring many men with them and the castle had a rather small entourage of its own. Adela, who until now had not taken a side against the new king, decided to take a stand. While Robert fled out a back door, Adela told Stephen she had no intention of handing over her stepdaughter.

Stephen, was persuaded by the pretty, thirty-something former queen and agreed to do the chivalric thing. He granted safe passage for Matilda, gave a jaunty wave to his lovely little aunt and rode away. After all, he thought he had more to fear from Robert than from a woman. Matilda, however, had other ideas. (Read my post about Matilda, Royal Escape Artist.) This was the start of civil war that lasted 14 years, ending only when Stephen agreed to make Matilda’s son, Henry, his heir. If Adela had not stood up to Stephen, the war might have been nipped in the bud and Stephen’s son, Eustace, might have become king rather than the energetic Henry II.

So, now we see what a good stepmother can do for a kingdom.

15 September 2011

Always a Monarch, Never a Mother

The recent unwarranted and extremely premature speculation about the fertility of the newly married Duke and Duchess of Cambridge--by the way, unless you are Henry VIII, you should know fertility is a two-person tango--has prompted some to ask what happens to the throne if they have no children. The answer is that it would pass from a future King Willam to a future King Harry and then to Harry's legal heirs.

In truth, many monarchs have not had children or have had their children predecease them. Since our focus here is royal ladies, I thought we would take a look at "childless" reigning queens and empresses. They may just outnumber the ones with children. For instance, in England, there have been six Queens regnant (seven if you count Lady Jane Grey), but only Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II have produced their own heirs. Both Mary I and Mary II* were succeeded by their sisters who were each succeeded by distant cousins.

Centuries before, the English and Scottish thrones were united, there was a time when a little girl named Margaret of Norway was set to become Queen of Scotland following the death of her maternal grandfather, but her succession was contested. When she died at age seven on the voyage to Scotland, clearly without children of her own, the little kingdom was embroiled in a succession war. Had Margaret lived, King Edward I of England, who was hammering the Scots, might have married her to the Prince of Wales and united the thrones 300 years sooner. Instead, the union took place after the first Queen Elizabeth executed her cousin and presumptive heir Mary Queen of Scots for treason and left the English throne to Mary's son King James V of Scotland. As for Mary, who had inherited the Scottish throne when she was six days old, her mismanagement and personal scandals forced from the throne when James was still a baby.

In Russia, Peter the Great and his immediate heirs were not very good at keeping boys alive--often because they killed them. So, the throne bounced about somewhat haphazardly. Peter was followed on the throne by his widow, then his son, then his niece, then his niece's niece's son, then his daughter. Refusing to marry officially, his daughter Empress Elizabeth adopted her sister's son as her heir. She married him off to a minor German princess who was re-christened as Catherine, but the imperial couple had no children after nine years of marriage. So, some speculate, Elizabeth allowed/encouraged Catherine to find a new stud, which was resulted in the birth of Grand Duke Paul. After Elizabeth's death, Catherine launched a coup d'état to seize the throne for herself. She was ultimately followed by her son Paul, who may or may not have been a Romanov.

In Scandinavia, 14th century Queen Margrethe I served as regent for her only son Olaf II, but when he died at 17, she was invested with the power herself and with her husband, she united the thrones of Denmark, Sweden and Norway. She selected her great-nephew Eric of Pomerania as her heir. Later, the famously tomboyish, cross-dressing Queen Christina of Sweden refused to marry. She eventually abdicated in favor of a cousin, converted to Catholicism and moved to Italy, where she apparently had a rollicking good time. A few generations after that, Queen Ulrika Eleonora succeeded her brother to co-reign with her husband Frederick I, who continued to rule without her after his death and was followed by their son. Today, Margrethe II of Denmark has two sons and is awaiting the arrival of her eighth grandchild.

On the Iberian Peninsula, the various reigning Spanish and Portuguese queens were all dynastically successful although their male counterparts did not always manage to leave legitimate children. Perhaps one of the most interesting stories of fertile female monarchs is being told in The Netherlands, where three generations of queens have reigned in a row. In 1890, nine-year-old Wilhelmina succeeded her elderly father. She had two half-brothers who were supposed to become king instead, but they both died unmarried in their thirties. Wilhelmina passed the throne to her only child, Queen Juliana who had four children--all girls. When her oldest daughter, the current Queen Beatrix had a son in 1967, he was the first Dutch prince to be born in 116 years! He now has three children of his own--all girls!!

*Mary II co-reigned with her husband (and first cousin) William III with the understanding that if she died before him, which she did, her sister Anne would not assume the throne until his death.

11 September 2011

Princesses at Ground Zero

(L-R) Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York Bill Baroni shows Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde the plans for a revitalized Ground Zero at the World Trade Center in New York June 23, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS)
Ten years ago today, the entire world experienced a terrible tragedy. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 killed thousands of people from dozens of nationalities. For thousands, perhaps millions of people whose families were touched by the deaths that day or the recovery efforts that followed, that day is still a close, personal horror. The remembrance ceremonies, both public and private, will take place all around the world. The truly international scale of the event is indicated by the fact that the site of the main attacks, now called Ground Zero, has become a required stop for any dignitary visiting New York, including our favorite royal ladies.

One (formerly) royal lady undoubtedly has the closest connection to 9/11. Sarah Duchess of York was not only in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, but she was running late on her way to the World Trade Center to meet with the staff of her Chances for Children charity. Fortunately for that staff, they had gathered in the lobby to greet her and, therefore, were able to escape. As ABC News reported at the time, she was "desperately upset for everyone involved in this terrible tragedy," according to her spokesperson. "It is unbelievable, she was just a few minutes away when the explosion took place." Meanwhile, her ex-husband Prince Andrew was on one of the numerous of transatlantic flights that were turned back to Europe when the United States shut down its air space that morning. Andrew and Sarah together attended the memorial ceremonies five years later. Recently, recently has published a children's book online called "The Little Pear Tree" about a tree that survived the attacks.

The next closest connection was with one of our princesses who was also not a royal at the time. Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano was still a highly successful television journalist when her network sent her to cover the aftermath of the attacks live from Ground Zero. This was just one of several onsite tragic stories she covered in her career. In fact, she is reported to have met her husband, Spain's future king Prince Felipe, when he visited an oil spill disaster that she was covering. After Felipe and Letizia announced that they would marry in the spring of 2004, the national celebrations planned for their wedding were greatly reduced as a result of the terrorist attacks in Spain on March 11. As a royal fiancee, the earliest public exposure Letizia experienced was visiting the survivors and victims families of the 3/11 attacks.

 Having lived in New York before her marriage to Crown Princess Willem Alexander of The Netherlands, Crown Princess Maxima may also feel a very personal connection to the events of 9/11. She and her husband attended the memorial ceremonies at Ground Zero on the eighth anniversary of the attacks.

The King and Queen of Norway were in New York barely a year later, while the debris was still being cleared. Poor weather that day only heightened the dismal view they had of the site. They returned again in 2005 after a Norwegian architectural firm was selected to design the entrance pavilion to National September 11 Memorial and Museum. Last year, their son and daughter-in-law Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit paid a visit to inspect the construction progress of the pavilion.

During her June 2010 trip to address the United Nations in New York, Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath where the South Tower of the World Trade Center once stood. Then, she and Prince Philip traveled to Hanover Square to officially open the British Garden of Remembrance, dedicated to the 67 Brits who died that day. Five years earlier, when the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall made Ground Zero the first stop of their American tour, a tattered Union Jack that had flown that day and been found among the rebel was flown again in honor of the royal visit. The couple left behind a bouquet with a message that read, “In enduring memory of our shared grief, Charles and Camilla.”

Crown Prince Philippe and Crown Princess Mathilde of Belgium were there in June 2011. It was only the most recent of several visits to the site for Mathilde, who had been to the World Trade Center before the attacks and returned again only seven months after the devastation. During her 2002 visit, she was quoted as saying, "'there are no words to describe this now.''

While Queen Margrethe II of Denmark did not include Ground Zero as part of her two-day official visit to New York in June 2011, she will be represented by her son and daughter-in-law Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary next month when several Nordic heads of state gather to mark the 100-year anniversary of the American Scandinavian Foundation and the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

 But only one royal lady has ever been put on the spot about the aftermath on 9/11. Last year, Queen Rania of Jordan was caught in a challenging position while visiting New York to promote a United Nations program for girls. As part of her tour, she had agreed to do media interviews. At the time, a lot of American media was focused on a controversial proposition to build a 'mosque' near Ground Zero and on an irate preacher's call to burn the Qu'ran. When faced with questions about these hot-button topic, the Islamic queen responded with the rational equanimity for which the entire Jordanian royal family is known. She told Matt Lauer of Today, "I think it's very important for us to focus on the actual debate, because my fear is that the debate now is dominated by radicals on both sides who want to preach hatred and spread fear among people. Or, worse still, it's also being used by some demagogues in order -- as a cheap political tool. And what's really important for us is to see the debate being dominated by well-informed people who are reasonable, who really care about the issues at hand. We need to redraw the battle lines. It's not Muslims against Christians. It's not East against West. It's extremists on all sides against moderates of all sides. Once we can really understand that this is the landscape, then we can start to rid ourselves of the evil forces that exist."

05 September 2011

2012: The Year of the Royal Baby

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria (R) and her husband Prince Daniel arrive to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)
If 2011 is the Year of the Royal Wedding, then 2012 is starting to look like the Year of the Royal Baby. Great news for royal watchers everywhere!

So far in 2011, we have witnessed the Royal Wedding of the Century (so far) with the wedding of Prince William of Wales and Catherine (Kate) Middleton, now known as Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. We also saw Europe's oldest royal bachelor Prince Albert II of Monaco finally come off the market when he married his South African beauty Charlene Wittstock. Then, Prince William's cousin, Zara Phillips, decided to finally make it legal with her live-in love Mike Tindall. Most recently, the heir to the defunct German Imperial House, Prince Georg Friedrich, married his childhood chum, Princess Sophie of Isenburg. Just to name the four most prominent nuptials.

Now, it looks like we are gearing up for a season of royal babies galore. The trend really started earlier this year when Crown Princess Mary of Denmark delivered not one but two chubby little ones, with the uncommon names of Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine. In recent weeks, her sister-in-law, French-born Princess Marie of Denmark has announced that she is expecting her second child in January. A little further north Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is expecting the next generation's heir to the throne in March. Meanwhile, Philomena Duchess of Vendome (wife of the Orleans claimant to the French throne) is awaiting her second child in January.

Each of these little ones will bring its own excitement. Will Marie have a daughter or give her husband Prince Joachim his fourth son? (He has two boys from his first marriage.) Will Victoria have a daughter and thereby set Sweden up to have two queens in a row?

Of course, a collective international breath is being held for THE announcement about impending royal children for the Cambridges. No one's abdomen is being more closely watched than Catherine. If she foregoes wine at a party, as she is said to have done at Zara's pre-wedding gala, the papers and blogs are full of speculation. The pressure of history is upon her, British heirs are usually born quickly after the wedding. But, more contemporary royal brides tend to wait a little longer before jumping into mommy mode and a few have struggled with fertility issues, as I pointed out in my blog post, Kate Middleton's First Baby.

So, my advice to you anxious baby bump watchers is to chill out. Let Kate enjoy being a newlywed. Let her relax. She'll let us know as soon as we need to know. In the meantime, there are plenty of other royal babies to enjoy!

30 July 2011

A Sporting Scottish Wedding

Today, Miss Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips married her longtime love, rugby star Mike Tindall. So, why does a sports stars wife, who is herself an equestrian Olympic hopeful, rate attention from the Princess Palace? Well, there may be no titles involved, but Zara is a royal standout as the only daughter of HRH The Princess Royal. Her life has been closely monitored from the beginning, when she was given her unusual name by her uncle The Prince of Wales to her rebellious tongue-stud clubbing days to her highly successful athletic career.

For the wedding, Zara paired a full-figured gown featuring clean lines with the "meander tiara" that once belonged to her great-grandmother, Princess Alice of Greece. An elegant look for a young woman whose fashion choices are usually more brassy. But, well done.

Despite the traditional look and feel of the wedding, Zara is breaking with tradition by keeping her own name as many career women do today. She is a well-established athlete with several corporate sponsors and her own line of sportswear.



The bridesmaids look adorable. They are the daughters of friends of the bridal couple.

The bride's cousin, Princess Beatrice, despite hiring a stylist since her last wedding ensemble caused an international furore, still goes a bit "over the top," but she looks very pretty.

Meanwhile, Bea's sister, Princess Eugenie, looks more sedate in chocolate and cream with their dad, Prince Andrew, who recently returned from a canoeing holiday in Canada.


The bride's uncle Prince Edward and his wife Sophie. At forty-something Sophie is reportedly trying to keep up with the fashions and figures of the younger royal lady. True or not, she seems to be doing an excellent job of maintaining her looks and style.

Royal newlywed Catherine revisited some looks we have seen before, perhaps trying in vain not to steal the bride's spotlight. Incidentally, since the wedding is in Scotland, she should be officially referred to by her Scottish title, The Countess of Strathearn, rather than The Duchess of Cambridge.

Speaking of Scottish titles, The Duchess of Rothesay (rather than Cornwall) seems to be reliving her look from her own royal wedding at the registry office with this coat dress and flowered headpiece. It may be just a bit too large.

Queen Elizabeth II looks radiant in apricot for her eldest granddaughter's nuptials.

Meanwhile, the mother of the bride, The Princess Royal, has raised some eyebrows with her bright red print. But, Anne is not known for her fashion and I say cheers to her for choosing something festive.

03 July 2011

Princesses of Monaco

When South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock married the reigning Prince of Monaco (See wedding pics), she joined a long line of, let's say, interesting brides for the House of Grimaldi. While other princely houses have insisted on highborn wives for their sons and heirs--even "disinheriting" dynasts for whom the throne or title has been abolished for decades--Monaco has felt no such compulsion. Therefore, it has selected more than its fair share of actresses and ladies with scandalous behavior. They also seem to favor English-speaking ladies. One positive impact of their matrimonial choices: the Grimaldi family is one of the most attractive reigning families in the world!

Here's a look at Princess Charlene's predecessors with the dates they held the title:

Grace Kelly (1956-1982)
Princess Grace has long been idolized as THE ideal princess. A stunning beauty with regal grace, she brought renewed elegance to the tiny principality which was little known outside of the European high rollers. Born Grace Patricia Kelly in Philadelphia, she came from a well-to-do though not wealthy Irish American family. As a young woman, she made her way to New York to become a model and actress. Before long, she was a Hollywood starlet with a string of hit films. She even won an Oscar for her role in "The Country Girl." She gave up her movie star life to marry Prince Rainier III and settled into life as a glamorous princess. She fulfilled her most important role as princess by having her first child nine months after the wedding. As Princess of Monaco, she championed the arts and health issues. In 1982, at the age of 52, she suffered a stroke while driving on the narrow, winding roads near Monaco. Both she and her youngest daughter, Princess Stephanie, the only passenger, suffered serious injuries. Grace died the next day. Actor Jimmy Stewart delivered her eulogy.

Ghislaine Dommanget (1946-1949)
Rainier's grandfather also married an actress, although she was not as notable as Grace. Born in France, Ghislaine was 45 when she married the septuagenarian playboy Prince Louis II of Monaco. She had previously been married to another actor, but that ended in divorce. Louis had never married before and had already settled the inheritance of the principality on his illegitimate daughter's son, Rainier, so Ghislaine did not have to worry about having a child--good thing, too, considering her age! She provided companionship and comfort for her elderly husband, who spent little time in Monaco. Following his death, she received a pension from Monaco, but that was eventually cut off due to conflict between her and Rainier. She returned to Monaco for Grace's funeral but spent most of her long life in France, where she died at age 90 in 1991.
(Thanks to Mad For Monaco for some source info and the photo.)

Alice Heine (1889-1922)
In addition to marrying actresses, the Princes of Monaco also seem to have a penchant for selecting American brides. Princess Alice was born in New Orleans. Both of her parents were from prominent, although not noble, French families. When she was a child, the family returned to France to escape the American Civil War. As a teenager, she married the Duke of Richelieu and their only child later became the last Duke of Richelieu. Alice was widowed at the age of 22. Ten years later, she became the second wife of Prince Albert I of Monaco. Like other Princesses of Monaco, she focused much of her time on developing the principality as a center of high culture. After 13 years, Alice and Albert legally separated but never divorced, so she remained titular Princess of Monaco until his death in 1922. They had no children together. She died a few years after the prince at the age of 67.

Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton (Hereditary Princess; divorced before husband's accession)
Mary Victoria was the last nobly born Monagesque consort. Her parents were a Scottish peer, the 11th Duke of Hamilton, and a German princess from Baden. She married the future Prince Albert I when she was just 18 and their marriage was annulled when she was 29. A few months later, she married Count (later Prince) Tassilo Festetics von Tolna and moved with him to Hungary. Her marriage to Prince Albert produced one son, the future Prince Louis II, and she had two children with Festetics, through whom are descended fashion designer Egon von Furstenberg and actress Ira von Furstenberga. Mary Victoria died one month before her first husband at the age of 71 and is buried at Festetics Place in Hungary.

Antoinette de Mérode (1856-1864)
When Prince Charles III married his Brussels-born wife, she brought more than a noble heritage as a count's daughter, she also brought money: lots and lots of money. At that time, Monaco was an isolated community on the Mediterranean. No one went there on purpose. With Antoinette's substantial dowry, Charles built Monte Carlo and its famous casino, later handing over its care to Francois Blanc, who helped turn the tiny principality into a sought-after destination and a highly profitable business. There was a saying about roulette in Monte Carlo: "Whether it lands on red or black, white [Blanc] wins." The true winner ultimately was Monaco. Antoinette and Charles had only one child, the future Albert I. She predeceased her husband, who never remarried, by 25 years. She was only 35.

Marie Caroline Gibert de Lametz (1841-1856)
Yet another actress who became Princess of Monaco, Marie Caroline was born in France. She also married an actor--however, her actor was also her prince. Prince Florestan had been an actor and was ill prepared to handle the affairs of his tiny principality, which was actually much larger than it is today as it also included the towns of Menton and Roquebrune. So, Marie Caroline became the real ruler of Monaco, which was a protectorate of the Kingdom of Sardinia. She and Florestan tried to balance calls for more democracy with a difficult economy but were unsuccessful and lost Menton and Roquebrune. They had two children, Charles III and Princess Florestine. Prince Florestan died in 1856; Marie Caroline lived until 1879, dying at age 86. Under their son, Monaco again became a protectorate of France. (Thanks to Mad For Monaco for some source info and the photo.)

Louise d'Aumont (Hereditary Princess; divorced before her husband's accession)
Descended from King Charles II of England's French mistress Hortense Mancini, Louise was part of the powerful Mazarin (as in Cardinal Mazarin) family on her mother's side and the Dukes of Aumont on her father's. Married to Prince Honore IV of Monaco, she gave him two children. During the French Revolution, Louise and Honore were imprisoned. They divorced in 1798, four years after Louise had an illegitimate child. Louise married and divorced again before dying at age 67 in 1826. Both of her sons became reigning princes of Monaco: the unmarried (but not childless!) Prince Honore V and Prince Florestan.

Maria Caterina Brignole (1757-1770)
The daughter of a Genovese nobleman, Maria Caterina was renowned as a great beauty. The young girl fell in love with the Prince de Conde, but her mother insisted she marry the much older Prince Honore III of Monaco, who had been mum's lover. (Ick!) Her father opposed the marriage but was "persuaded" by King Louis XV. After the marriage, Maria Caterina gave Honore two sons, but she continued to spend most of her time with the Prince de Conde, particularly after his own wife's early death. Honore was insanely jealous, but with reason: Maria Caterina was moving into one of de Conde's estates! Despite Honore's best efforts, she escaped from Monaco to Paris, where the teenaged Queen Marie Antoinette did not appreciate her unsavory behavior. Maria Caterina and her lover fled France during the French Revolution and finally married each other after Honore died in 1795. She died in England in 1813 at age 75.

Marie of Lorraine (1701-1724)
A member of the House of Guise, Marie was ranked as a Foreign Princess at the French Court, where she grew up. She was only 13 when she was married to the future Prince Antonio I of Monaco, earning him the rank of Foreign Prince in Louis XIV's court. He was twice her age. Like all of the Princesses of Monaco, she was a renowned beauty, which her father-in-law Prince Louis apparently could not resist: Marie claimed that he tried to seduce her. One of the most prolific of the Princesses of Monaco, Marie had six daughters although only three survived. Still daughters, no matter how numerous, were thought insufficient and the marriage broke down. Marie and Antonio remained married but lived separately, while he fathered several other children. Marie predeceased her husband in 1724 at age 50. Her oldest surviving daughter, Louise Hippolyte, eventually succeeded the Monagesque throne as the only Reigning Princess of Monaco. She was in turn succeeded by her son Honore III.

Catherine Charlotte de Gramont (1662-1678)
Catherine Charlotte was already in her twenties when she married the future Prince Louis I of Monaco. Her father was a French Marshal and her mother was Cardinal Richelieu's niece. She gave Louis six children, including two sons. Like most French nobles of the day, the Prince and Princesses of Monaco spent most of their time at the French court, where she was a lady-in-waiting to Louis XIV's sister-in-law, Henrietta of England. Intelligent and beautiful, Catherine Charlotte earned a reputation for pleasure at the licentious court, even having a brief affair with the king himself. Her risque behavior eventually caused her husband to banish her from his principality, but she probably did not care. She died in Paris before her 40th birthday. Her husband outlived her by more than 30 years.

Maria Aurelia Spinola (Hereditary Princess, her husband died before his father)
Maria Aurelia was from a noble family in Genoa. She married the Hereditary Prince of Monaco, Ercole Marquis de Baux in 1641. In the 10 years before his death, they had seven children. Maria Aurelia outlived her husband by almost 30 years.

Ippolita Trivulzio (1616-1638)
The daughter of an Italian count, Ippolita was also descended from the noble house of Gonzaga on her mother's side. She was the first person to bear the title Princess of Monaco--her predecessors had been Ladies of Monaco. Her husband Honore II earned the title Prince of Monaco when he broke away from an alliance with Spain and made Monaco a protectorate of France. As part of the bargain, he became an independent Prince with control over his own territory. The two had met and married when he was briefly exiled to Milan by the Spanish who had overrun Monaco, but with French support, he regained his country. Ippolita had one son, Ercole (or Hercules), before dying at the age of 38. Honore survived her by 24 years. Unfortunately their son died at age 27 and Honore was succeeded by Ercole's son Louis I.

02 July 2011

Princesses at the Wedding Ball

Prince Emanuele Filiberto and Princess Clotilde of Savoy
Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia (L) and his wife actress Clotilde Coureau arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Claire and Prince Laurent of Belgium
Prince Laurent (R) and Princess Claire of Belgium arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Madeleine and her (apparently miniature!) brother Prince Carl Philipp of Sweden
Prince Carl-Philip of Sweden and Princess Madeleine of Sweden arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Prince and Princess Michael of Kent
Prince and Princess Michael of Kent arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden (L) and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway (R) arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Queen Silvia and King Carl Gustav of Sweden
King Carl XVI Gustaf (R) and Queen Silvia of Sweden arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Philippe of Belgium
Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Philippe of Belgium arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Mathilde of Belgium
Princess Mathilde of Belgium arrives at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Pierre and Charlotte Casiraghi
Pierre (L) and Charlotte Casiraghi arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

The Bride and Groom: Princess Charlene and Prince Albert of Monaco
Newlyweds Monaco's Prince Albert II (R) and Princess Charlene arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Monaco's Royal Wedding Guests

Crowds gathered outside of the Palace in Monaco for the wedding of their sovereign Prince Albert II to Rhodesian-born South African beauty Charlene Wittstock. The couple married in a civil ceremony yesterday. (See post.) This was the first princely marriage in Monaco for nearly six decades. The last was when Albert's father Rainier III married American screen star Grace Kelly in 1956.

Royal guests came to the wedding from around the world. They included King Albert and Italian-born Queen Paola of The Belgians.
Belgium's King Albert II (R) and Queen Paola arrive at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Joel Ryan/Pool (MONACO - TAGS: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)


Thailand's Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana also made the trip to sunny Monaco, although she looks cool as a cucumber.


Crown Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde are regal in shades of purple.
Belgium's Crown Prince Philippe (R) and Princess Mathilde arrive to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Each of Albert's nieces offered a reading during the ceremony. Here Princess Stephanie's daughter Pauline Ducruet reads as Princess Caroline's daughter Charlotte Casiraghi listens.
Princes Stephanie of Monaco's daughter Pauline (R) reads at the altar as Princess Caroline of Hanover's daughter Charlotte Casiraghi looks on during the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Bruno Bebert/Pool (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Charlene chose her husband's cousin-in-law Donatella Knecht de Massy as her maid of honor. Some remarked that Donatella's dress had some similarities to recent royal maid of honor Pippa Middleton (without the draped collar, of course!)
Monaco's Princess Charlene's maid of honour Donatella Knecht de Massy arrives at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Emma Foster/Pool (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

The British royal family sent their usual royal wedding delegates: the Earl and Countess of Wessex. Not a bad job if you can't get it. I'm sure a long weekend in Monte Carlo is quite enjoyable!

The Prince of Orange and his Argentinian wife Princess Maxima. She wore orange again today. I think she loves bright colors, and it goes with her husband's title and it matches her orange diamond engagement ring. And, she looks smashing in it!

Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette Marit of Norway look highly presentable although I don't understand her head wear. FYI Mette Marit is one of the few prince's wives who was actually born in the same country as her husband.
Norway's Princess Mette Marit (L) and Crown Prince Haakon leave Hotel de Paris to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark offers a contrast to Maxima. She pairs her bright colors with strong neutrals. No matchy-matchy for this Australian-born beauty. Meanwhile Prince Frederik decided against military uniform but is colorfully attired nonetheless.

Of all of the royally born princesses, Princess Madeleine of Sweden is undoubtedly the most beautiful in my opinion. I wonder if attending all of these weddings makes her sad--two years ago she called off her own engagement when she discovered her fiancee was cheating.
Princess Madeleine of Sweden arrives at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Prince Albert's sisters Princess Caroline (far right) and Princess Stephanie with Stepanie's children, Louis Ducruet (who resembles his father), Pauline Ducruet (who resembles Princess Grace) and Camille Kelly (who is pretty in pink).
Princess Stephanie of Monaco (2nd L) and her children Louis (L), Camille (3rd L) and Pauline arrive with Princess Caroline of Hanover (R) to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Caroline and her youngest daughter Princess Alexandra of Hanover, whose father has not been spotted in the principality for months. Alexandra will be 12 in a few weeks.


Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. I can't help thinking that Princess Charlene's dress today bore some striking similarities to Victoria's.
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria (R) and her husband Prince Daniel arrive to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Italian Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy and his French wife Clotilde in a vivid red. Are you supposed to red at a wedding?
Prince Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy (R) and his wife French actress Clotilde Coureau arrive at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Bruno Bebert/Pool (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Louis Duke of Anjou should be the King of France according to some staunch royalists. He is one of several pretenders to the very, very defunct throne.
Louis de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (L) , arrives at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Emma Foster/Pool (MONACO - TAGS: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Grand Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg could offer Princess Charlene some marital advice. Born in Cuba, she has been married to Grand Duke Henri for 30 years. They have five children and two grandsons. Maxima and Willem Alexander of The Netherlands are behind them.
Grand Duke Henri (front R) and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg (front L) and Dutch Prince Willem-Alexander (rear R) and Princess Maxima (rear L) attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Bruno Bebert/Pool (MONACO - TAGS: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Empress Farah Pahlavi, widow of the Shah of Iran, and Prince Karim Aga Khan also attended. It wouldn't be a royal wedding without Farah there.
Prince Karim Aga Khan (R) and Empress Farah Pahlavi arrive at the Palace du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Princess Caroline's daughter Charlotte Casiraghi arrived wearing a gorgeous pink dress unfortunately accompanied by a strange black headband/face net and giant black bow. Otherwise she and her boyfriend look fantastic.
Monaco's Princess Charlotte Casiraghi (R) and her boyfriend Alex Dellal (L) arrive at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

The bride and her father followed by six Monagesque children dressed in traditional costume.
Michael Kenneth Wittstock (L) escorts his daughter Princess Charlene on the red carpet at the Place du Palais for the religious wedding ceremony with Prince Albert II at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

A general view shows the religious wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princes Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Michael Kenneth Wittstock (R) escorts his daughter Princess Charlene (L) on the red carpet at the Place du Palais for the religious wedding ceremony with Prince Albert II at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

For details about the dress, visit http://exm.nr/kuL2Pf
Michael Kenneth Wittstock (R) escorts his daughter Princess Charlene (L) on the red carpet at the Place du Palais for the religious wedding ceremony with Prince Albert II at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Monaco's Prince Albert II speaks with Princess Charlene during their religious wedding ceremony at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Monaco's Prince Albert II takes the hand of Princess Charlene during their religious wedding ceremony at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT ROYALS) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Monaco's Prince Albert II (R) and Princess Charlene leave the Palace after the religious ceremony in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

Monaco's Royal Wedding Guests

I WILL BE UPDATING AS PHOTOS BECOME AVAILABLE

Princess Madeleine (L) of Sweden takes her seat with her brother Prince Carl Philip for the religious wedding ceremony of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY) ) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)

A better look at Charlotte


Prince and Princess Michael of Kent


Princess Alexandra and Princess Caroline

Monaco's Princess Charlotte Casiraghi (R) and her boyfriend Alex Dellal (L) arrive at the Place du Palais to attend the religious wedding ceremony for Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene at the Palace in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)
Princess Caroline's daughter Charlotte Casiraghi arrived wearing a gorgeous pink dress unfortunately accompanied by a strange black headband/face net and giant black bow. Otherwise she and her boyfriend look fantastic.