31 December 2016

Royal Lady Flashback for Dec. 31, 2016

Today, we focus Queen Sonja of Norway, one the oldest of our current Queens Consort, a distinction she has held since 1993 when the death of King Baudoin of Belgium left his Queen Fabiola a widow. However, she is just months older than former Queen Paola of Belgium (Baudoin's sister-in-law) and not quite a year and a half older than Queen Emerita Sofia of Spain.

Born as Sonja Haraldsen, the daughter of an Oslo merchant, she had to wait a long time for her Prince (now King) Harald. It took years for her husband to convince his father, the late King Olav, to let him marry a commoner. When they finally married, she immediately became Norway's first lady because Olav's wife had died long before he became king. Sonja and Harald have two children and five grandchildren.

MISS SONJA HARALDSEN




HER ROYAL HIGHNESS SONJA THE CROWN PRINCESS OF NORWAY



HER MAJESTY SONJA THE QUEEN OF NORWAY



HER MAJESTY AS MOTHER



HER MAJESTY AS GRANDMOTHER


30 December 2016

Royal Lady Flashback of Dec. 30, 2016

Today we take a look at another of our current Queens Consort, Queen Letizia of Spain. Originally from the Asturias region of Spain, from whence her husband drew his pre-regnal title as Prince of Asturias, she is the first Spanish queen consort born in Spain since 1860. Her engagement to King Felipe took the nation by surprise as there had been no hint that the two were dating although both had high profiles. Letizia was a nationally known television journalist. It is said that they struck up a romance after meeting at a dinner party, but they had also crossed paths at the location of an oil spill. Once their engagement was announced, the media dug back through the files to find a photo of them shaking hands. They now have two daughters; the oldest, as heir to the throne, bears the title Princess of Asturias.

LETIZIA ORTIZ ROCASOLANO



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS LETIZIA THE PRINCESS OF ASTURIAS



HER MAJESTY LETIZIA THE QUEEN OF SPAIN



HER MAJESTY AS MOTHER




28 December 2016

Royal Lady Flashback of Dec. 28, 2016

While our royal ladies continue to enjoy their winter holidays away from the public's gaze, let's take a look at another of our current Queens Concert. Born in Argentina, Maxima Zorreguieta almost certainly never dreamed of becoming Queen of the Netherlands. With advanced degrees and high profile career in finance, she had already made a success of herself when she met a man calling himself "Alex." As the story goes he did not tell her that he was the heir to the Dutch throne until some time later, and when he did, she didn't believe him. Imagine her surprise when she finally realized that he really was Crown Prince Willem Alexander. The lively and lovely Maxima has charmed the Dutch and provided them with three beautiful little princesses. She also is much admired among royal watchers for her (sometimes unusual but always awesome) personal style.

MISS MAXIMA ZORREGUIETA CERRUTI



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MAXIMA, PRINCESS OF THE NETHERLANDS



HER MAJESTY MAXIMA THE QUEEN OF THE NETHERLANDS



HER MAJESTY AS MOTHER


The Venus of Napolean's Empire

By Francois Joseph Kinson via Wikimedia Commons
Born a poor little girl on a struggling island, Maria Paola had little to look forward to in life. Her family did not even attempt to provide her with the least education. The sixth of eight children, things looked even more bleak when her father, a minor functionary, died. She was just five years old. But there were three exceptional things about Maria Paola Buonoparte: she was exceptionally beautiful, she was exceptionally silly, and she had one exceptional brother.

Eleven years her senior, her brother rose to prominence in the French Army and the French Revolution, eventually taking over the government as First Consul. He brought his entire family, including the teenaged Maria Paola to Paris to enjoy his success with him. Now known as Pauline, the lovely young girl loved Paris, but more than that she loved men. It wasn't long before big brother Napolean found her canoodling in his office with one of his officers. For her own good, Pauline was soon married off to her lover, General Charles Leclerc. Within months, she gave birth to her only child, a son whom her brother named Dermide before sending the the general, his promiscuous bride and the baby off to Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) to tame a rebellion. Even in this far-flung corner of the world, Pauline managed to make a good time for herself in the company of other men. However, when her husband died of yellow fever, Pauline was truly devastated--indeed, she even cut off her luxurious hair and buried it with him.

Pauline and little Dermide returned to Paris, where despite the enforced rules of widowhood, 23-year-old Pauline basked in the attention lavished on her by the opposite sex. She was one of the most renowned beauties of her day. She prided herself on her milky skin, fine hands and feet, and perfect breast, which many people got to enjoy. Napolean arranged for her to marry a bona fide Italian prince Camillo Borghese after her period of mourning had ended. Pauline refused to wait. She married Camillo months early and took great pleasure in surprising her brother when she was announced as Princess Borghese at an event!

Initially enthralled with each other, the Borgheses soon discovered that their physical attraction had worn off and they had little in common. Already tired of Camillo, Pauline refused to forgive him for leaving her son Dermide behind on a trip. The little boy died while they were gone and Camillo insisted on keeping the news from her.

By Robert Lefevre via Wikimedi Commons
Like all of Napolean's officers, brothers and brothers-in-law, Camillo was kept occupied with various military and governing roles throughout Europe. Pauline found ways to entertain herself without him. Her reputation as a nymphomaniac grew steadily. Her other eccentricities also drew attention, like insisting on taking baths in milk poured over her by her African servant and making others carry her up and down stairs. She nevertheless danced incessantly at every party, made fun of her sister-in-law Empress Josephine, and even made sassy remarks to big brother Napolean in public. Wherever she went, she was the center of attention--and she loved it!

In spite of her great admiration for herself and her growing list of lovers (said to include famous actors, artists and musicians of the day as well as servants and minor officers), she had a genuine affection for Napolean. Rumors abound even today that the hot-blooded Pauline and her equally sex-mad brother might even have been incestuous lovers. Whether true or not, Pauline was the only one of Napolean's numerous siblings to voluntarily follow him into his first exile and she even begged to be sent to him during his final illness on Saint Helena.

After Napolean's death, Pauline reunited with her husband Prince Camillo Borghese and he helped see her through her final illness. She is thought to have suffered with gynecological problems throughout her life and was often advised to try abstinence. She never took that advice. It is also likely that she suffered from sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, which was quite common in those days. In the end, she likely suffered from liver cancer, the same disease that had killed her father, but it was pulmonary tuberculosis that killed her at age 44.

Numerous portraits of the famous beauty survive and there is even one famously scandalous sculpture of her depicted, half naked, as the goddess Venus. It is how she would have wished to be remembered.
Venus Victrix is displayed at the Galleria Borghese.

For more about Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese:
How Pauline Bonaparte Lived for Pleasure on Shannon Selin
Keeping It In the Family on Noon Observation
The Long-Lost Slippers of Pauline Bonaparte Borghese on Two Nerdy History Girls
Marie-Pauline Bonaparte Was the Uncrowned Queen of Folly on Look & Learn
Napolean and Pauline Bonaparte: Incest? on Versailles and More
The Notorious Pauline Bonaparte on Scandalous Women
Pauline & Josephine: Rivals for Napolean's Love on Enchanted by Josephine
The Story of Pauline Bonaparte on Famous Affinities of History
Surface Beauty: Neoclassicism and Napolean's Scandalous Sister on Artstor Blog
Wayward Venus on The Coincidental Dandy
Why Did Pauline Bonaparte Cover Her Ears on History and Other Thoughts

Books about Pauline Bonaparte, Princess Borghese:





27 December 2016

Royal Lady Flashback of December 27, 2016

For today, we will shine the spotlight on one of our current Queens Consort, the lovely and always appropriate Queen Mathilde of the Belgians. She is the first Queen of her country to be born in her country. She is a member of the Belgian nobility, who bore the honorific "Jonkvrouw," which literally means "young lady." It is an appellation reserved for the untitled daughter of a nobleman. She was therefore the most highly ranked of our current Queens Consort prior to marriage. It is not surprising then that she grew up in a castle. Before becoming engaged to Philippe, now King of the Belgians, she was a speech therapist with a master's degree in psychology. The couple has four children, two girls and two boys, aged eight through 15.

JOUNKVROUW MATHILDE D'UKEDEM D'ACOZ




HER ROYAL HIGHNESS MATHILDE THE DUCHESS OF BRABANT




HER MAJESTY MATHILDE THE QUEEN OF THE BELGIANS




HER MAJESTY AS MOTHER



26 December 2016

Royal Lady Flashback of Dec. 26, 2016

Let's take a look back at Queen Margrethe II of Denmark's long service to her country. A statuesque redhead with a smoking habit and a creative mind, she has served as her nation's queen since her father's death in 1972. Like her colleague on the British throne, Margrethe was a mum with two young children when she took on the role of a lifetime.

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MARGRETHE OF DENMARK



HRH PRINCESS MARGRETHE, HEIRESS PRESUMPTIVE OF DENMARK



HER MAJESTY QUEEN MARGRETHE II OF DENMARK



HER MAJESTY AS MOTHER



HER MAJESTY AS GRANDMOTHER




25 December 2016

Royal Ladies of Dec. 25, 2016

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CORNWALL, HRH THE COUNTESS OF WESSEX, HRH PRINCESS BEATRICE OF YORK, HRH PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK & HRH ANNE THE PRINCESS ROYAL



LADY LOUISE WINDSOR, MRS AUTUMN PHILLIPS, MISS SAVANNAH PHILLIPS & MISS ISLA PHILLIPS



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE & HRH PRINCESS CHARLOTTE OF CAMBRIDGE



HER IMPERIAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS AYAKO OF TAKAMODO



Happy 80th Birthday to Princess Alexandra

Princess Alexandra of Kent

By Harry Pot / Anefo via Wikimedia Commons
The British Royal Family has had a distressing run up to Christmas 2016. The Queen and Prince Philip delayed their departure for Sandringham due to illness, although they did eventually travel by helicopter. The former governess to Prince Edward and his cousin Lady Sarah Chatto passed away. Most tragically of all, it was announced that the Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips lost her pregnancy.

At least when they wake up Christmas morning, they will have something extra to celebrate: the 80th birthday of Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Born on Christmas Day 1936, Alexandra's arrival was also a welcome respite during a troubling time for then family. Exactly two weeks before her birth, her uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in a decision that set family members against each other for the next several decades.

Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel Windsor was the second child of Edward VIII's favorite brother, the charming and handsome Prince George The Duke of Kent. In 1934, he had married the equally glamorous Princess Marina of Greece, who was a granddaughter of Greece's King George I and a great-granddaughter of Russia's Czar Alexander II. Marina and George's marriage was one of the last truly royal, royal weddings. Their first child Prince Edward was 14 months old when Alexandra was born and another baby boy followed five and a half years later with the birth of Prince Michael of Kent on July 4, 1942.


Despite Prince George's closeness to the former king, he was publicly supportive of the new king, his second brother, Albert who took the regnal name King George VI. The Kents were active representatives of the king and offered a glamorous alternative to the King and Queen as Europe headed into World War II. Prince George was also an officer with the newly created Royal Air Force, and the start of the war saw him resign the high rank that had been awarded him as a royal so that we could serve at a level more appropriate to his experience. He longed for a more active role in the war but was instead assigned to a support role in Scotland. Nevertheless, we was killed in a flying accident in August 1942, just seven weeks after the birth of his youngest child. Princess Alexandra was not yet six years old.


Only a decade younger than her first cousin who would become Queen Elizabeth II, Alexandra received a much better education. In fact, she was the first British princess to be sent to school and she even went on to study in Paris. As a teenager, she began to take on official royal duties, even representing The Queen abroad. She attracted media attention but always avoided any hint of scandal or problems. When she married, she chose an "appropriate" mate, an older man who was a scion of the Scottish Earl of Airlie, The Honorable Angus Ogilvy. He declined any titles upon his marriage but was later knighted as Sir Angus.


The couple had two children, James and Marina, who each have a son and daughter of their own. for more than six decades, Princess Alexandra has been a workhorse for the royal family. Despite some ill health in recent years, suffering with polymyalgia rheumatica, she is still actively involved in organizations concerned with nursing, mental health, music, theater, animals, etc. She is a Royal Lady of the Order of the Garter and a Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. She is also very close to The Queen, for whom she was a bridesmaid in 1947.

Princess Alexandra was widowed 12 years ago when Sir Angus passed away on December 26, just one day after her 68th birthday. He was 76.


For More About Princess Alexandra:
Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Alexandra on Her Majesty's Jewel Vault
Princess Alexandr of Kent, Lady Ogilvy on the Royal Watcher
Princess Alexandra of Kent's Gown on The Order of Royal Splendor
Who is Princess Alexandra on Royal Central

24 December 2016

Royal Lady of December 24, 2016

HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
This photo has been released in advance of Her Majesty's pre-recorded Christmas message.


23 December 2016

Royal Ladies of Dec. 23, 2016

HER IMPERIAL MAJESTY EMPRESS MICHIKO OF JAPAN, HER IMPERIAL HIGHNESS CROWN PRINCESS MASAKO, HIH PRINCESS KIKO, HIH PRINCESS MAKO & HIH PRINCESS KAKO




HER MAJESTY QUEEN MATHILDE OF THE BELGIANS



22 December 2016

Royal Lady of Dec. 22, 2016

Time for another flashback. Let's take a look at one of our current ladies: Queen Elizabeth II. She is reportedly taken ill and that has impacted the start of her Christmas break. May she recover swiftly and enjoy the holiday with her family!

HRH PRINCESS ELIZABETH OF YORK



HRH THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH



HRH THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH, THE DUCHESS OF EDINBURGH



HM THE QUEEN



THE QUEEN AS MOTHER




THE QUEEN AS GRANDMOTHER





21 December 2016

Royal Ladies of Dec. 18-21

My apologies for a lack of daily posts. My husband and I received an early Christmas gift: a few days at Disney World! So, I only had eyes for Disney princesses for those days. 

VROLIJK KRESTFEEST &  JOYEAUX NOEL FROM THE BELGIAN ROYALS
Including Her Majesty Queen Mathilde, Her Royal Highness Princess Elisabeth, Her Royal Highness Princess Eleonore & Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid



GOD JUL FROM THE NORWEGIAN ROYALS
Including Her Majesty Queen Sonja, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit & Her Royal Highness Princess Ingrid Alexandra



HER MAJESTY QUEEN LETIZIA OF SPAIN




HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE



HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS EUGENIE OF YORK & SARAH DUCHESS OF YORK




Christmas Lunch with The Queen

Earlier in Queen Elizabeth II's reign the entire royal family would gather for Christmas together at Windsor Castle or Sandringham. This included ALL of the descendants of the sons of King George V, specifically, the invitation went to the children and grandchildren of Bertie (aka King George VII), Henry (Duke of Gloucester) and George (Duke of Kent). Alas, the last of these brothers died in 1974 and the last of their spouses died in 2004. The extended royal family has 77 living members. That's a lot of people for a house party!

Plus, the family now includes includes five generations descended from the brothers and more than a dozen spouses who have married into the family, some of .home are not even British and all of whom have their own family traditions even if they do hail from the UK. Therefore, several years ago, The Queen slimmed down the Christmas house party to invite her family and her sister's while creating a new tradition of holding a Christmas lunch at Buckingham are released. However, the media gathers outside to snap pics of the family coming and going. This is often the only time we catch a glimpse of some of the lesser known family members.  Let's take a look at who we saw yesterday:

THE WALES FAMILY
This branch of the family includes the heir to the throne Charles Prince of Wales; his second wife Camilla Duchess of Cornwall; his children by his late first wife (Diana Princess of Wales) Prince Harry and William Duke of Cambridge; as well as William's wife Catherine and the Cambridges' children George and Charlotte.



THE YORK FAMILY
This small set has just three members, The Queen's second son Andrew Duke of York and his daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Rumors abound that someone may be joining the York family soon: Eugenie is reported (not confirmed) to be engaged to her longtime boyfriend Jack Brooksbank.



THE WESSEX FAMILY
The Queen's youngest son Edward Earl of Wessex and his wife Sophie have two children, Lady Louise Windsor and James Viscount Severn. (Getty Images did not have any photos available of the family arriving at Buckingham Palace, so here is a photo of them together last week.)


THE PRINCESS ROYAL'S FAMILY
The Queen's only daughter Anne Princess Royal has two children from her first marriage, Peter Phillips, who is married to Canadian Autumn Phillips, and Olympic equestrian Zara Phillips, who is married to retired rugby player Mike Tindall. Peter and Autumn have two daughters, Savannah (The Queen's first great-grandchild) and Isla. Zara and Mike's little girl Mia will have a new sibling in 2017. Anne and her second husband Tim Laurence celebrated their 20th anniversary in 2016.



THE ARMSTRONG-JONES FAMILY
The Queen's late sister Princess Margaret married and later divorced photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, who was granted the title Earl of Snowdon. Their son David Viscount Linley, heir to that title, his a high-end furniture maker married to Lady Serena Stanhope, daughter of the 12th Earl of Harrington. Their son is Hon. Charles Armstrong-Jones and their daughter Hon. Margarita was a bridesmaid when Prince William married Catherine Middleton in 2011. Margaret's daughter, Lady Sarah, is a great favorite of her aunt The Queen. She is an artist married to fellow artist Daniel Chatto. Their sons are Samuel and Arthur.



THE GLOUCESTER FAMILY
Henry Duke of Gloucester married a Scottish peer's daughter, Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott and they had two sons, Prince William and Prince Richard. Their oldest son William died unmarried at age 30 in a plane crash in 1972. Princess Alice became the longest lived British royal in history, passing away at age 102. (The oldest current member, The Queen's husband Philip Duke of Gloucester still has a long way to go to catch up as he is merely 95!) The second son Richard inherited the title upon his father's death in 1974, shortly after marrying a Danish woman named Birgitte van Deurs. They have three children, each of whom is married with two children. Alexander Earl of Ulster and his physician wife Claire Booth have Xan Lord Culloden and Lady Cosima Windsor. Lady Davina was the first member of the British Royal Family to marry someone who had non-European ancestry when she wed a Maori from New Zealand, Gary Lewis. (Will Prince Harry become the second by marrying mixed race actress Meghan Markle???) Davina and Gary's children are Senna and Tane Lewis. Lady Rose and her husband George have two little ones, Rufus and Lyla.(Only photos of the Duke and Duchess were available, so I added a photo of their children together, back in 2005.)



THE KENT FAMILY
There are now three branches among the descendants of George Duke of Kent and his wife Princess Marina of Greece (a cousin of Philip Duke of Edinburgh, who was born a prince of Greece: The Queen's Uncle George married her husband's aunt. In fact the couple is said to have met for the first time as children at the Kent wedding in 1934.) Let's look at each of these branches individually.

THE DUCAL LINE
George Duke of Kent died on active duty during World War II when his children were young. The current duke, Prince Edward, inherited the title when he was just six years old. He married a Yorkshire lass, Katharine Worsley. The Duchess later converted to Catholicism and has eschewed her royal titles, preferring to work as a music teacher and to be called simply Katharine Kent. Their son George Earl of St. Andrews gave up his place in the Line of Succession to marry the Catholic Sylvana Tomaselli. Changes in the succession laws mean that George (himself a member of the Church of England) is no longer barred from the throne, However, his two oldest children Edward Lord Downpatrick and Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor have been received into the Catholic Church and are therefore not eligible for the British throne. (They are still in line for the Greek and Danish thrones!) George and Sylvana's youngest child is Lady Amelia Windsor. The Duke and Duchess' youngest child and second son is Lord Nicholas Windsor, who converted to Catholicism and married Croatian/Italian noblewoman Princess Paola Doimi de Lupis Frankopan Subric Zrinski. Theirs was the first Catholic wedding in the British royal family in 500 years and their sons (Albert, Leopold and Louis) were the first to be baptized Catholic since 1688. The three boys are still officially in the Line of Succession for the throne because they are still too young to have been confirmed in the Catholic Church. They will each drop out of the line as they make their confirmations. The Duke and Duchess of Kent have one daughter, Lady Helen, who is married to Timothy Taylor. They had two sons, Columbus and Cassius, before Timothy suffered from cancer. After his survival, they added two daughters to the family, Eloise and Estella. (I think there is mis-identification in the photos: I believe Lady Marina-Charlotte is in the car with her grandmother Katharine Kent while the person identified as Marina Windsor is actually her cousin Zenouska Mowatt.)



THE MICHAEL LINE
Prince Michael of Kent was born on the 4th of July and one of his godparents was US President Franklin Roosevelt. Michael was only seven weeks old when his father George Duke of Kent died. Michael became the first modern British royal to surrender his right to succession in order to marry a Catholic, the German/Hungarian noblewoman Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz. Like his nephew the Earl of St. Andrews, as a communicant of the Anglican Church, Michael has now regained his succession rights. Michael was the first Windsor since his uncle Edward VIII to marry a divorced person. As a close relative of the Romanov dynasty (three of his four grandparents were cousins of the assassinated family), he is extremely interested in Russia and he was one of many relatives to donate DNA to confirm the identity of the martyred Romanovs when their bodies were found, Known as Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, they have one daughter Lady Gabriella Windsor and their son Lord Frederick Windsor is married to actress Sophie Winkleman. Frederick and Sophie have two children, Maud and Isabella.



THE OGILVY LINE
Although 10 years younger, Princess Alexandra, George and Marina's only daughter, is very close to her cousin The Queen and was a bridesmaid at her wedding. Alexandra has been a working member of the Royal Family since she was a teenager. She married a younger son of a Scottish earl, The Honorable Sir Angus Ogilvy, who declined to accept a title upon his marriage to the princess. It was a decision he later regretted because he thought it set a bad example when Princess Anne later married a commoner and The Queen's first grandchildren were born without titles. Alexandra and Angus, who passed away in 2004, had a son and a daughter. Son James married Julia Rawlinson and their children are Flora and Alexander Ogilvy. Daughter Marina had two children with husband Paul Mowatt before they divorced in 1997. Their kids are Zenouska and Christian Mowatt. Princess Alexandra will be 80 years old on Christmas Day this year and The Queen recently hosted a party for all of her royal patronages. (There were no photos available of them this year, so I added earlier pics of the family.)




The Pearl of a Girl who Scared Bad King John

via Wikimedia Commons
What do you do with nieces and nephews who have better claims to the throne than you do? If you're King Richard III (or perhaps his nephew-in-law King Henry VII, history doesn't know for sure) you have them locked away in the Tower until one day they just disappear. As evil as some think Richard may have been -- and there's a whole society dedicated to his sanctification -- it's not a trick invented in his day. In fact, he or his successor Henry may have been inspired by their common ancestor, Bad King John.

Everyone knows petulant John from the Robin Hood legends. He tried to take over the kingdom while his brother, Richard the Lionheart. Others remember him from history class as the king who was bullied by the barons into signing the Magna Carta. Everyone agrees that John was a bad king.

While people today remember John and big brother Richard, they don't realize that John had more older brothers, notably the Young King Henry, who was crowned by their father Henry II to solidify his eventual succession, and Geoffrey, who was made Duke of Brittany. Despite a relatively happy marriage, Young Henry had no children but Geoffrey and his duchess produced Arthur and Eleanor. It was a large and power-hungry family. When the older brothers along with their mother Eleanor of Aquitaine (read my post on her) rebelled against their father, only John was loyal, but he eventually turned against dad, too. (I told you, Bad King John.) After John died of dysentery on the battlefield and Geoffrey died in a jousting tournament, only Richard and baby brother John remained. Under the rules of primogeniture, the line of succession, should have been Richard, then Geoffrey's boy Arthur and then John.

That's not what happened. After Queen Eleanor's favorite son Richard was shot by an error, Queen Eleanor colluded with John, her least favorite child, to get the crown to him, since Arthur was barely 12 years old. Soon, Arthur partnered with the perennial English nemesis, the King of France, to wrest his crown away from Uncle John. It didn't take long for him to be captured and imprisoned. Then, one day, he disappeared and it became clear that he had been killed on John's orders. Rumors still persist that John actually did the deed himself and threw the body into the River Seine.

via Wikimedia Commons
But, this is a blog about princesses...Arthur's teenage sister, Eleanor, the Fair Maid of Brittany or Pearl of Brittany was captured at the same time. Upon Arthur's death, she became the heir to their mother, who was Duchess of Brittany in her own right. She had grown up caught in the crossfire of her warring family. Like most princesses, her marriage had been on the top of everyone's minds since her birth. Despite several agreements by her parents, grandparents and uncle King Richard, nothing had ever been completed.

Eleanor escaped the murderous hands of Uncle John and instead was sent to live imprisoned in an English castle, far from any possible rescue by her loyal subjects in Brittany, even after her mother's death would have made her the duchess. They also discovered that no amount of ransom was large enough to free her. Unlike his predecessors, John had no interest in finding a husband for Eleanor. After all, she was the child of his OLDER brother. Her husband and any children she might have would almost certainly have laid claim to the English throne on her behalf. In fact, John's son kept her under key when he came to the throne as Henry III. Better safe than sorry.

Eleanor is just one royal to have been put away because of her superior succession claims, but her 37-year captivity is the longest on record. However, she was not locked away in a dungeon or a tower. She was able to move about the grounds freely, given good food and good clothes, occasionally went to court. John even made her the Countess of Richmond, although Henry took the title away. John and Henry sent her gifts and sought to make sure she was comfortable. She was also regularly brought out in public to stave off rumors of an untimely demise.

Denied a family of her own, she was given companions when, about a decade into her captivity, the Scottish King William III's daughters were taken hostage and sent to live with Eleanor. However, the Scots princesses, Margaret and Isabella, were eventually released and married off to English earls while Eleanor remained her cousin's prisoner until her death at nearly 60 years old. She was in captive for 39 years, decades beyond the time that she could have given birth to a potential heir.

For more about Eleanor:
Eleanor of Brittany in Captivity on Plantagenesta
Eleanor, the Pearl of Brittany on History...The Interesting Bits

17 December 2016

Royal Ladies of Dec. 17, 2016

Time for a flashback! Let's take a look at our living former queens: Anne Marie, Beatrix, Paola & Sofia.


HER MAJESTY QUEEN ANNE MARIE OF GREECE
born Princess Anne Marie of Denmark
in exile since a military coup in 1967





HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS BEATRIX OF THE NETHERLANDS
formerly reigning Queen Beatrix
abdicated in 2013





HER MAJESTY QUEEN PAOLA OF BELGIUM
born Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria
formerly Queen Consort of the Belgians until her husband's abdication in 2013




HER MAJESTY QUEEN SOFIA OF SPAIN
born Princess Sofia of Greece and Denmark
formerly The Queen of Spain until her husband's abdication in 2014