28 January 2012

New French Princess

Three centuries after it lost its most famous Antoinette (the alternately maligned and celebrated Marie Antoinette) to Madame Guillotine, the French royals welcomed a new Princess Antoinette on January 28, 2012. The new baby is the daughter of Jean Duke of Vendome, whom Orleanists recognize as the Dauphin, and his Viennese-born wife, Philomena. The couple married in 2009, eight years after Jean was forced to call off his engagement to Protestant Duchess Tatjana of Oldenburg so as not to jeopardize his family's claim to the long-defunct throne of France. Even if the French monarchy were restored again, it has been recreated so many times that there are also claimants from the Bourbons and Bonapartes. Perhaps there is potential for a French reality series, "Who Wants to Be King of France?"

Jean and Philomena also have a two-year-old son, Gaston.

24 January 2012

A New Princess in Denmark


Princess Marie, wife of Prince Joachim of Denmark, gave birth to a daughter on the morning of January 24 in Cooenhagen. This is the couple's first daughter. They have one son together and Joachim has two older boys by his first wife, Alexandra.

The prince says his little girl looks like her mother.

By Danish royal tradition, the baby's name will not be announced until her christening several weeks from now. Like her brothers and first cousins, she will undoubtedly receive four names and it is a fairly safe bet that one of those will be Margarethe after her maternal grandmother who is this year celebrating her fortieth anniversary as Queen of Denmark. (A quirkier possibility could be Ruby for the Ruby Jubilee.) Based on her brothers' names, don't be surprised to see her names include that of her mother Marie and her maternal grandmother Francoise.

May 20, 2012 UPDATE: And the name is Athena Marguerite Francoise Marie, which includes the names of the baby's mother and grandmothers. The first name, however, was a bit unexpected.

14 January 2012

First Royal Jubilee of 2012

Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe on Jubilee Day 2012
 Jens Dresling, Polfoto

That's right, Queen Elizabeth II is not the only reigning queen celebrating an anniversary this year. While Elizabeth will celebrate her Diamond Jubilee (60 years), her Danish counterpart Margrethe II is celebrating her Ruby Jubilee after 40 years on the throne. Like Elizabeth, if Margrethe had had a brother, she would never have been queen. However, it took a bit more to clear Margrethe's path to the throne since women weren't allowed to ascend at all until the law was changed shortly before her thirteenth birthday.

Margrethe II with her heir Crown Prince
Frederik and his heir Prince Christian
Maleri af Niels Strøbek
Also like Elizabeth, she had two small children at the time of her accession. Margrethe became queen on January 14, 1972 upon her father Frederik IX's death.

Known as Daisy to her family, Margrethe is very intelligent and extremely well-educated (Cambridge, Aarhus, Sorbonne and London School of Economics). She is also a gifted artist who has illustrated books, mounted exhibitions and created costumes for stage and film. She has even been known to design her on clothes, which are usually brightly colored.

Margrethe Alexandrine Thórhildur Ingrid is married to the French aristocrat and former diplomat Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat. She has two sons, Crown Prince Fredrik and Prince Joachim, and seven grandchildren (Nikolai, Felix, Christian, Isabella, Henrik, Vincent and Josephine) with one more due to be born any day. If that baby turns out to be a girl, I wonder if she will be named Margrethe?

12 January 2012

First Royal Wedding of 2012


On January 12, Prince Hamzah Bin Al Hussein of Jordan married Basmah Bani Ahmad Al Atoum, the daughter of Jordanian businessman Mahmoud Hassan Bani Ahmad Otoum. Prince Hamzah is the half-brother of king Abdullah II. He is the son of the late King Hussein and the American-born Queen Noor.

The wedding took place at the home of the bride's grandfather. The new Princess Basmah, 25, is a pilot.

The prince, 31, was formerly married to his cousin, Princess Noor Bint Asem, with whom he has a four-year-old daughter, Princess Haya.

The Jan. 12 ceremony is called a Katb Ketab; according to follower Akram AlNagdy of The Royal Couturier blog, this ceremony involves signing the marriage papers. An official ceremony is expected at a later date. The gown, cake and other traditions more familiar in Western culture will be included in that event. Both Queen Noor and Prince Hamzah's sister-in-law Queen Rania tweeted that the Jan. 12 event was a celebration of love.

First Royal Engagement of 2012


Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma has announced that she is engaged to Paris-born Albert Brenninkmeijer. However, this is her brother, Prince Jaime Bernardo, not her betrothed in this photo. Carolina is officially a member of the Dutch royal house, as a niece of Queen Beatrix. She is also the daughter of the late Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne, Prince Carlos Hugo, who gave her the title of Marquesa de Sala. She is a Harvard graduate who works for the United Nations. The groom has an MBA from Oxford, and works for his family's company, C&A France. They are both 37 years old.

07 January 2012

First Royal Baby of 2012

The first royal baby of 2012 is a little boy named Zayed, who was born on January 7. He is the son of Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, daughter of the late King Hussein and wife of Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of the UNited Arab Emirates. The couple married in 2004, and also have a daughter named Al Jalila. A former Olympic equestrienne, Princess Haya is well-known for her charitable work. She is also often seen at horsey events like Royal Ascot Week.

05 January 2012

Top Princess of 2011: The Winner

The votes are in and, based on a nonscientific combination of factors including the poll, consultations with other royal bloggers, and my own personal views, here are the finalists for Top Princess of 2011.

THE RUNNERS UP

Britain's Princess Beatrice holds a rose during a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show on press day, in central London May 23, 2011. Picture taken May 23, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Jackson/Pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ENVIRONMENT ROYALS SOCIETY)
HRH Princess Beatrice of York
Okay. So not many people voted for her, but one of my personal faves (and it is my blog, after all) this year is Princess Beatrice. She has taken a lot of knocks in the media: she wore a crazy hat to THE royal wedding, she enjoys nights at the clubs and her daddy thinks she should have police protection. Despite it all, she has maintained a positive attitude, turned negatives into positives (like losing weight healthfully when she didn't like the media's carping at her), she ran a marathon and she earned a university degree. She is, after all, the very first British princess to ever receive one. That is nothing to sneeze at in my opinion. What the future holds? Who knows? There is still ongoing debate about whether she will assume a public role and take on official duties. We shall see if she or her sister, Princess Eugenie, make any appearances during their father's Jubilee Tour of India. That will be a good indicator of her role for the future, I think. Beatrice herself has said that she would like to be a champion of charities "just like Mummy," Sarah Duchess of York. With a degree in history, maybe she'll become an author like mummy, too.

Photo by Marlene Eilers Koenig
HIRH The Princess of Prussia
The former Princess Sophie of Isenburg makes the list as a bloggers' choice. Marlene Eilers Koenig of Royal Musings made a particularly strong case for her in our discussion of this list. She said that, although neither Sophie nor her bridegroom, Prince Georg Friedrich, the titular head of the Hohenzollen dynasty and heir to the defunct German throne, are legally royals in Germany, "it is interesting how this wedding played out - and how the bride, who would now be a Queen of Prussia and Empress of Germany, if World War I never happened, became the star in royal pageant that most in Germany would never have expected." In short, for their wedding, the German people remembered their royal past and all of the positives that also went with it. For a nation that has a lot of negatives to look back on, history can be a painful a subject. For a moment, at least, Sophie made a history sparkle, drawing the spotlight not only on the good qualities of the dynasty, but also on the city of Potsdam and the Orangerie. As Marlene reports, "This was a true major royal occasion on a grand scale - as nearly every German royal house was present, as well as foreign royals, renigning and non-reigning." For those of us enamored by monarchy, Sophie truly made magic.

Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary carry their twins, Princess Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda (L) and Prince Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander, after the twins' christening at Holmen's Church in Copenhagen April 14, 2011. Also pictured are the royal couple's other children, Prince Christian (R) and Princess Isabella (2nd R). REUTERS/Nils Meilvang/Scanpix Denmark (DENMARK - Tags: ROYALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK
HRH The Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
Clearly a lot of people adore, the Australian-born future Queen of Denmark. In fact, a recent poll showed that about 40% of Danes would like her to become queen within the next decade; 11% said they want her to become queen immediately. All of this on the very eve of her mother-in-law Queen Margrethe's 40th Jubilee. The poll results are being interpreted as a sign of the love for Mary and her husband, Frederik, rather than a criticism of Margrethe, who says she will not abdicate. For Mary, 2011 was a huge year, which she started with the birth of twins, Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, bringing her brood to four--quite a large family in Denmark. She also completed several foreign tours and continued her charitable work, including the campaign for skin cancer awareness. Her popularity in Australia also reached new heights, which her sisters have been able to leverage to bring attention to the struggle against ovarian cancer, the disease that killed their mother. Also, 2011 was the first year that Mary and her family lived in the newly renovated Frederik VIII Palace, where they incorporated contemporary Scandinavian art and environmentally friendly systems to create a modern home in a historical palace.

HSH The Princess of Monaco
There was more than one royal bride in 2011 whose fate is to live always in the shadow of glamorous, beautiful and beloved mother-in-law who died tragically and too young. Adding to the burdens for the new Princess of Monaco, formerly Charlene Wittstock, are illegitimate step-children and wildfire rumors during the week of her wedding that she was being physically prevented from runaway after learning that her groom was still catting around. Whether the rumors or true or not--they have been officially denied--Charlene's wedding was a fantastic commercial for Monaco as a destination and for its official sponsor, Lexus. Since then, Charlene has shown nothing but poise and grace (pun intended) in the public eye. Did I mention that she also has faced down possible tensions that might have been created by taking over the role of first lady of Monaco, which had been held by her sister-in-law Princess Caroline since Grace's death nearly three years ago? Despite the scandals that have plagued this family, Albert and his sisters seem to have very good relationships with each other and both Caroline and Stephanie have apparently welcomed Charlene with open arms. Stephanie has even spoken publicly about how terrific Charlene is.


HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden
Victoria is one of only two female heirs at the moment--the other being HRH Princess Caroline of Hanover who will bumped as heir to Monaco as soon Albert and Charlene have a baby--and she wears that distinction with honor. She is well-beloved, well-educated and seems to be very centered, having battled anorexia as a young woman. She waited years to be able to marry the man of her choice in 2010, since many felt that his background was not good enough for her. Now, they are undoubtedly seen as a power couple and the bright hope of the Swedish monarchy. With their first child ready to make its appearance in 2012, they are settling into a family home and splitting their time somewhat evenly between being part of a royal family and being part of Prince Daniel's family, the Westlings. They even posed for pictures with a passerby when they stopped for gas on the way to visit the Westlings over the holidays. Victoria may truly be the next "People's Princess."

THE WINNER

HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
When I posted the nominees for Top Princess of 2011, there was no doubt in my mind that Catherine would emerge as the popular favorite. She certainly has received more column inches and air time than most of the other princesses combined. Not to mention the fact that there are numerous blogs devoted entirely to her. The world in 2011 certainly seems to have gone Kate-crazy. As blogger Tracey Connell of Tracey's Royal Blog has said, "she has proved what just average women she is and her modern approach to her life as royal...She is not Diana and she is Catherine. That is why I adore her already." But perhaps Catherine is no more extraordinary than any other princess. Marilyn Braun of Marilyn's Royal Blog said, "As big a fan as I am of her I don't know about Catherine. Yes there was the big royal wedding, yes she's pretty but isn't it somewhat of a cop-out to automatically include her? No to diminish her ability to smile and wear nice clothes but she hasn't proven herself yet." Now that Catherine has announced the first four charities she will patronize, she will certainly have more opportunities to show us how well she can fill her princess shoe, or boots as the case may be. Perhaps the best thing about Catherine so far is how well she is fitting into Prince William family. As Tracey explains, "Her relationship with her father-in law is solid. Prince Charles and Catherine attended a opera together few months ago. She and Duchess of Cornwall have wonderful relationship also." And, there is no doubt that brother-in-law Prince Harry is also a fan. I have no doubt that Catherine will continue to be a royal star for the foreseeable future, and I'll be very surprised if you don't vote her Top Princess of 2012 at the end of this year, too!

01 January 2012

Top Princess of 2011: The Nominees

2011 turned out to be quite a year for princesses. With numerous weddings, several pregnancies, fashion highs and lows, and miscellaneous other news, the royal ladies really kept the media, the bloggers and royal watchers busy. This year, I've decided to honor our tiara-ed lovelies by singling out just one as the Princess of the Year. So, where do we start? How about some nominees? (Please add your vote at the end.)

THE BRIDES

Nothing gets more attention than actually becoming a princess. Even if you already are a princess, we still love it when you find your Prince Charming and have a fairytale wedding. This year, it seemed like there was a royal wedding almost every week. Here are the top royal brides:

Photo by Hugh Burnand
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge
Without a doubt, the former Kate Middleton generated more headlines--some of them actually true!--than any other royal person. But, will that earn her our coveted Princess of the Year title?

HSH The Princess of Monaco
When former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock married Prince Albert II of Monaco, she may have won her biggest competition yet: the 50-something bachelor had become really good at avoiding matrimony.

HIRH The Princess of Prussia
Born Princess Sophie of Isenburg, this German business woman married her childhood friend, Prince Georg Friedrich, who is head of the House of Hohenzollern and which means she could call herself Queen of Prussia and Empress of Germany. However, since that throne was abolished nearly a century ago, Sophie von Preussen will also do.

HM The Queen of Bhutan
At just 21 years of age, Jetsun Pema has been a Queen Consort for barely three months, but she has already impressed the world with her gracious demeanor and elegantly appropriate fashion choices on several international visits.

Press Association
Zara Phillips, Mrs. Mike Tindall
Even if she is not technically a princess, she is a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, which earns her a nod on our list. This athletic beauty married her live-in love, rugby star Mike Tindall, who was then caught allegedly canoodling on an overseas junket. Still, the newlyweds could be seen holding hands as they walked to church on Christmas Day.


THE MOTHERS

With so many recent weddings, it could be expected that many of our royal brides are expectant. Several new royals made their debuts or had their impending arrival announced in 2012. Here are their mamas:

Steen Brogaard
HRH The Crown Princess Mary of Denmark
Princess Mary pulled off a triple miracle with the birth of twins in January (a double joy) and losing all that baby weight in record time (the third part of the miracle). However, naming the babies Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine, may keep her out of the top five Princesses of 2011. Really? Prince Vince?

Autumn Phillips
Autumn scrapes into our list, but barely. After all, she is not a princess and she gave birth to her first child on December 29, 2010 (close enough to 2011!). However, since that daughter is named Savannah, after my home town, and is Queen Elizabeth II's first great grandchild, AND because Autumn has speedily followed with another pregnancy, she is on the list.

Paul Hansen
HRH The Crown Princess of Sweden
After struggling with an eating disorder and holding out to finally marry the man of her dreams, Princess Victoria delighted everyone with a very early announcement of her first pregnancy. She then went on to wear baggy clothes not really intended as maternity wear, but, as a gorgeous future mother and queen, she can do whatever makes her happy (for now).

HRH Princess Marie of Denmark
After just three and a half years as a princess, the French-born Marie has more than fulfilled her royal duties by providing one son, born in 2008, and preparing for the birth of another child later this month. This will bring her husband's total up to four--he has two sons from his first marriage. Despite her advancing pregnancies, Marie has kept busy fulfilling royal engagements, overseas tours and taking official portraits well into her third trimester. Hope she takes a couple of days off for the birth.

THE TINY ONES

What is more adorable than a little girl? How about one that is anything but a royal brat? Here are our top royal tots of 2011:

HRH Princess Isabella of Denmark
Four years old is really the perfect age for cuteness. You are still an elfin, doll baby no matter how many funny faces you make at your siblings' christening. Little blondie Isabella makes the list for always having a good time in front of the cameras both at home and in her mum's homeland of Australia.

The British
Monarchy
The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor
The youngest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II could technically be called a princess. She emerged into the limelight this year as a bridesmaid at the wedding of her cousin, Prince William. She was seen more than ever this year, including an appearance with her grandmother in an officially released photograph and on the royal walk to church on Christmas Day.


THE ACHIEVERS

A princess can't get married, have a baby or be adorable every year, here are a few nominees who make the list for doing what they do best.

HRH The Princess Royal
No list of top princesses could ever be complete without the world's hardest working royal, Princess Anne. In 2011, she carried out 568 official engagements, despite being 61 years old and a new granny. She also was spotted wearing several outfits that first saw light two and three decades ago. So, she gets one brava for being thrifty and another for maintaining her figure.

RVD
HRH Maxima, Princess of The Netherlands
In a year that saw the youngest of her three children start school, Argentine-born Princess Maxima launched herself even more fully into her work, completing even more engagements than her husband or her mother-in-law, Queen Beatrix. Interestingly, this year, in honor of her tenth wedding anniversary, the Dutch government officially declared that when her husband becomes king, she will have the title and style of The Queen of the Netherlands.

HRH Princess Beatrice of York
While Beatrice received most of her publicity this year because of her unfortunate choice of headgear at her cousin Prince William's wedding, she actually had some genuine milestones this year, like completing the London marathon and receiving a university degree--both firsts for British royal-born ladies.