30 November 2016

Big Sister Mia & Her Royal Ancestors

Zara and Mike Tindall
By Land Rover MENA via Wikimedia Commons
It's been announced that Zara Phillips Tindall is expecting her second child in the spring. This means that her daughter Mia is about to be a big sister. [Update on December 24, 2016, it was announced that Zara had miscarried. Our prayers are with the family in this time of loss.] Zara is the only daughter of Anne Princess Royal, who is the only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.

Zara and her brother received no royal or noble titles nor any royal responsibilities. Therefore, they have been free to pursue relatively normal lives. Zara followed her mom into the realm of Olympic equestrian sports. Anne represented her country at the 1976 Montreal Games and Zara did the same at the 2012 London Games.

Zara married professional rugby player Mike Tindall on July 30, 2011 and their first child, daughter Mia Grace was born on January 17, 2014. Mia is often seen at her family's various sporting events, usually playing with her first cousins, Savannah and Isla Phillips, daughter's of Zara's brother Peter or with her second cousin Prince George of Cambridge, son of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The new baby, who will be 18th in line to the throne, will be Queen Elizabeth's sixth great-grandchild. To celebrate the impending arrival, I thought we'd take a look at photos of the babies who came before.

First, big sister Mia:


Second, mummy Zara as a youngster:


Third, granny Annie -- apologies to Her Royal Highness, but I couldn't resist the rhyme!


Fourth, great-granny Elizabeth:


Finally, other royal ancestors as little girls.


Royal Ladies of Nov. 30, 2016

HER IMPERIAL MAJESTY EMPRESS MICHIKO



HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH



HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MATHILDE & HER MAJESTY QUEEN MAXIMA (daytime)



THE ORANGE LADIES greet THE KING & QUEEN OF BELGIUM (night time)


29 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 29, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
throws a party for her cousin
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS ALEXANDRA
with special appearances by
HRH THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX & HRH THE DUCHESS OF GLOUCESTER



HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA in the daytime



HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA at night





HER MAJESTY QUEEN MATHILDE & HER MAJESTY QUEEN MAXIMA
in the daytime



HM QUEEN MATHILDE & HM QUEEN MAXIMA
at night along with
HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS BEATRICE, HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS LAURENTIEN & HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MARGARET



HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS INFANTA ELENA with
HER EXCELLENCY DONA VICTORIA FEDERICA



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS SOFIA



28 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 28, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MATHILDE AND HER MAJESTY QUEEN MAXIMA



WINDSOR LADIES AT THE FUNERAL OF THE DUKE OF WESTMINSTER
note: Princess Alexandra is misidentified as Princess Michael in the photo with her brothers.


Centennial Birthday of a Controversial Princess

In the early years of World War II, the downtrodden people of Belgium looked to their King Leopold III for inspiration. When the Germans invaded, he chose not to flee as other monarchs had done under similar Nazi pressure. Instead, he declared, "I have to share the same fate as my troops." And so he found himself a prisoner of war in his own palace. A lonely young man, whose beautiful and beloved wife Queen Astrid had been killed in a tragic automobile accident in 1935. The widower king who refused to bend to Hitler's will struggling like his people to survive the war.

Then, on December 7, 1941, as the Japanese were bombing Pearl Harbor, the King dropped his own bomb on Belgium. It was announced in all of the churches that Leopold had married his young mistress three months earlier. For the people, this besmirched the memory of Queen Astrid. Not only that, the young woman, Lilian Baels, was unfit to marry a king: she was a commoner and her father was Flemish politician of questionable loyalty. Despite the fact that Lilian was never declared queen, the once popular King found himself on a very slippery slope that eventually led to his abdication. How could he be so selfish at such a difficult time? As for Lilian, she was clearly a social-climbing schemer. Never mind that the king's mother, Queen Elisabeth, had personally arranged the relationship. Even her approval was not good enough.

Lilian Baels was born in London on this date 100 years ago (November 28, 1916). Her family later moved back to their native Belgium, where Lilian was considered elegant and well-educated. At the start of the war, she had taken on responsibility as a driver helping to transport patients and refugees before her family fled to France. When Queen Elisabeth invited her back to Belgium to befriend the lonely king, she could hardly have refused. Lilian knew that socially she was no match for a reigning monarch. It is said that she herself refused the title of queen accepting instead the title of Princess de Rethy.

After the wedding, Lilian joined Leopold in his house arrest and quickly became a popular stepmother to his three children by Astrid: 14-year-old Josephine Charlotte, 11-year-old Baudoin and 7-year-old Albert. Soon, she added her own child to the imprisoned family. Baby Alexander was made a prince and a royal highness, but he was not added to the line of succession. As the war grew more desperate, Hitler transported the family to Austria, where they suffered great deprivation and feared for their lives. After all the Italian Princess Mafalda, who was the sister-in-law of Leopold's sister Marie Jose, was being held by the Nazis at Buchenwald. In August 1944, she died there as a result of Allied bombing. Nevertheless the Belgian royal family tried to keep their hopes up even as the king and his wife had to take on duties of educating the children themselves.


By the time the war ended, Leopold's popularity had slipped so far due to rumors that he was a Nazi collaborator rather than a prisoner, that he feared returning immediately to Belgium. His continuing absence allowed the political situation--always tense between the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemish--deteriorated even further. The nation that had been constructed in the wake of Napoleon's defeat was about to be destroyed in the wake of Hitler's defeat. A referendum was held that barely allowed the monarchy to survive and Leopold finally returned. However, he had long since lost the trust of his people and Lilian's place at his side, where she was said to be too demanding and behaving too queenly, did not help. By 1951, he accepted that he must abdicate in favor of his oldest son, 20-year-old Baldwin.

The former king was allowed to remain in Belgium with his wife and growing family. Shortly before the abdication, their daughter Marie-Christine was born and in 1956 daughter Marie-Esmerelda arrived. But things never really settled down for them. As a teenager, Prince Alexander became ill and had to undergo heart surgery. This experienced inspired his mother to found the Princess Lilian Heart Foundation. Her relationships with most of the other children, fell apart.

Despite an early affection between them, Lilian and her stepdaughter Josephine-Charlotte had a falling out at the time of Josephine-Charlotte's wedding to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Perhaps proving her critics right, Lilian apparently insisted on taken a place of precedence over her mother-in-law Queen Elisabeth. Then, when King Baudoin married his Spanish wife, Fabiola de Mora y Aragon, the never-queen Lilian also seems to have tried to assert too much authority and tried to outshine the new Queen. She was officially pushed to the side. Even her own child, Marie-Christine quarreled with Lilian, offering Mommy Dearest-style peaks at her childhood and accusing Lilian of child abuse.


Nevertheless, many viewed Lilian as an elegant hostess, supportive wife (of an unfaithful husband), and brilliant woman. In fact, Alexander's heart condition inspired both mother and son to pursue their interests in medicine.

As she aged, Lilian reached less and less for the spotlight. In fact, after Leopold's death in 1983, she was practically invisible until her own death in 2002. She even asked to be buried at the home she and Leopold had spent their final decades together, away from the royal spotlight. Instead, she was buried with her husband and his first wife in royal crypt of the Church of Our Lady in Laeken.

For more about Princess Liliane:
The Belgian Royal Question on The Royal Articles
The Glamour of Lilian Baels on The Cross of Laeken
Portrait: Lilian de Rethy on Nobility & Royalty
Princess Lilian of Belgium on The Cross of Laeken
Princess Lilian of Belgium on Unofficial Royalty
Princess Lilian of Belgium: Loved and Loving on Lost in the Myths of History

27 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 27, 2016

ROYAL SPOTLIGHT ON LADY SARAH CHATTO, NIECE OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II
photos of her at weddings
For more about her, read Catherine Ostler's new article about her in the Daily Mail or
check out Tatiana Coco's new ebook on Lulu.



BONUS LADIES


24 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 24, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MARGRETHE



HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA



HER MAJESTY QUEEN SILVIA



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX





23 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 23, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MATHILDE



HER MAJESTY QUEEN RANIA



HER MAJESTY QUEEN SOFIA AND HER ROYAL HIGHNESS INFANTA PILAR



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK AND SARAH DUCHESS OF YORK



LADY AMELIA WINDSOR



BONUS ROYAL LADIES



A Braganza Birthday

There are former monarchies all over Europe and many of them have competing claimants for the throne, were it ever to be restored. One of the least discussed is the Portuguese House of Braganza. This one fascinates me, however, because it established one of the few European monarchies in the Americas by setting up the Empire of Brazil. There is an extremely complex history there and the family eventually came to have two monarchs for a time, one on each side of the Atlantic, and this eventually led to succession crisis. The Brazilian crown was lost in 1889 and the Portuguese crown in 1910. Today, there are two lines of descent in the family. There are no living descendants of the last three kings of Portugal. There are descendants from their matriarch, Queen Maria II, in the royal families of Saxony and Romania and there are two claimant lines to Imperial Brazil, but none of these people make claim to Portugal. The only active Portuguese claimant today is Dom Duarte Pio, great-grandson of King Miguel I. Miguel had been the uncle and regent for his niece, the aforementioned Maria, when he claimed the throne for himself. By the way, he was also Maria's fiance at the time. Needless to say, that didn't end so well and they never married.

Duarte Pio married a Portuguese businesswoman (and noblewoman) 20 years his junior, Dona Isabel Castro Curvelo de Heredia in 1995, making her his Duchess of Braganza. Today, she celebrates her 50th birthday.


A financial assets manager prior to her marriage, she devoted herself post-wedding to the standard life of a European princess. She is the patron of numerous charities devoted to social justice, children's health and welfare, and patient care. The couple has three children: 20-year-old Afonso Prince of Beira, 19-year-old Infanta Maria Francisca, and Dinis Duke of Porto, who will be 17 on November 25th.




22 November 2016

New Photos of the Dutch Princesses

The House of Orange in The Netherlands does a good job of providing updated photos and photo opportunities for their three young princesses. This way, we admirers can keep track of how they grow and change without relying on paparazzi pics. This latest set was taken over the summer. They show that Catharina Amalia (nearly 13 now), Alexia (11) and Ariane (9) are continuing to thrive, although Amalia had recently injured herself and was wearing a cast at the time. Just part of being a member of one very outgoing and active family!

All photos copyright RVD, photos by Jeroen van der Meyde

Alexia, named for her daddy, but looking more and more like her mum.

The baby of the family, Ariane

Catharina Amalia, The Princess of Orange and future queen

Royal Ladies of Nov. 22, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS EUGENIE



BONUS ROYAL LADIES


21 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 21, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN SOFIA & THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES INFANTA PILAR & INFANTA MARGARITA
The King's mother and aunts at the christening of Pilar's newest grandchild


17 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 17, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA & THEIR ROYAL HIGHNESSES THE PRINCESS OF ASTURIAS & INFANTA SOFIA



HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MARGRETHE



HER SERENE HIGHNESS PRINCESS CHARLENE OF MONACO



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX


12 November 2016

Royal Ladies of Nov. 12, 2016

HER SERENE HIGHNESS PRINCESS CHARLENE



BONUS PRINCESSES



Royal Ladies of Nov. 10-11, 2016

My pardon for the delay. My computer decided it needed a break.

HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA



HER SERENE HIGHNESS PRINCESS CHARLENE



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS CROWN PRINCESS METTE-MARIT



BONUS PRINCESSES