22 August 2017

Previously at the Palace: Bonne of Luxembourg

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

via Wikimedia Commons
2015: Bonne of Luxembourg
"The intertwining and shifting allegiances of 14th century Europe explain why a Bohemian princess named Jutta born 700 years ago last month is remembered as Bonne of Luxembourg (1315-1349). Although born in Prague as the daughter of the King of Bohemia, she was of the house of Luxembourg. (Her father was a Luxembourgish prince who gained the throne through marriage to a Bohemian princess.) When the French king Philip VI selected her as the bride of his heir--passing over an English princess, which might have been politically wiser--the French decided to translate her "odd" central European name. The closest they could come was the feminized version of the French word for "good" and so she is remembered as Bonne of Luxumbourg (or Good of Luxembourg) while her husband is remembered as Jean le Bon (or John the Good)." READ MORE

16 August 2017

Daughters of York

For more than five centuries, the world has wondered, "What happened to the Princes in the Tower?" Rarely do we ever ask, "What about their sisters?"

Whether they were murdered by their uncle, who became King Richard III, or by their brother-in-law, who became King Henry VII, or happened to die naturally with immaculate timing, the little King Edward V and his younger brother Richard Duke of York have been the subject of one of history's ultimate unsolved mysteries. With the exception of their eldest sister, Elizabeth of York, who is a barely more than a footnote in the biographies of her husband and son (Henry VII and VIII) respectively, we hear almost nothing about their sisters. Despite this, we do know quite a bit about their lives.

The daughters of the Yorkist King Edward IV and his wife Elizabeth Woodville were plentiful: Elizabeth (1466-1503), Mary (1467-1482), Cecily (1469-1507), Margaret (b. and d. 1472), Anne (1475-1511), Catherine (1479-1527) and Bridget (1480-1517). Had they been boys, there would have been a LOT of princes in the Tower to be murdered!

Elizabeth Woodville
via Wikimedia Commons
Their story starts as a love story between their parents. Elizabeth Woodville's first husband Sir John Grey had died fighting for the Lancastrians before she caught the eye of the Yorkist heir. She already had two sons, when Edward of York won his throne and then secretly married her. Some said, he was already contracted to marry someone else, and it was upon this basis that all of his children by Elizabeth would later be declared illegitimate. Despite the constant political and military turmoil of the ongoing Wars of the Roses, Elizabeth and Edward had a fruitful marriage, producing 10 children in 14 years. (A third son, George Duke of Bedford, died at age 2).

Despite his reputation as a soldier, Edward grew increasingly subject to illness and succumbed to natural causes (pneumonia? typhoid?) shortly before his 41st birthday. One of his final acts was to name his trusted brother, Richard Duke of Gloucester, as the Protector for his young son and heir. While little Edward was taken to live in the royal castle known as the Tower of London, Queen Elizabeth's father and one of her Grey sons were taken prisoner for attempts to monopolize power. Elizabeth gathered all of her daughters and the little Duke of York and fled into sanctuary. Gloucester soon accused her of plotting his murder and had several of her allies, including her father and son, executed.

When he demanded that the Duke of York be sent to keep his brother company, she had no choice but to let him go. He also enticed the former Queen and her daughters to come out of sanctuary and live instead under house arrest, eventually bringing some of the girls to court to serve as ladies in waiting to his wife Queen Anne Neville. Meanwhile he had Edward IV's marriage declared invalid based on witness testimony that he had been contracted to someone else when he married Elizabeth Woodville. This meant that all of his children were now considered bastards.

Elizabeth of York:
daughter, sister, niece, wife & mother of kings
via Wikimedia Commons
Elizabeth was an ambitious woman and she soon found her equal in Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian claimant to the throne. The mothers agreed that Elizabeth's oldest daughter would marry Henry, if he could secure the throne. The young man, defeated Richard (who was killed) at the Battle of Bosworth and declared himself King Henry VII by right of conquest, but solidified his claim by marrying Princess Elizabeth, who by now, was generally thought to be the Yorkist heir due to the disappearance of her brothers. She went on to be immortalized with her portrait on playing cards. She also is best remembered as the mother of the much-married King Henry VIII, although she produced a total of eight children. Her last child died about a week after her birth and Elizabeth followed her the next day having succumbed to infection caused by the birth. It was her 37th birthday.

The second York sister, Mary, had died a year before their father, at the age of 15. Daughter #3, named Cecily for Edward IV's mother, was married off by her uncle to one of his supporters, Ralph Scrope, but it was annulled when her brother-in-law seized the crown. Henry VII married her off to one his supporters, his uncle John Welles 1st Viscount Welles. The couple had two daughters who died young, but their marriage seems to have been happy. After Welles' untimely death, she chose her third husband for herself, a country Squire named Thomas Kyme and lived the rest of her life in relative obscurity. She appears to have had children by Kyme, but the records are rather sketchy and, if they existed, they certainly never took up life at the royal court. She died at age 38.

The fourth York sister, Margaret, died at just eight months old but the fifth sister Anne survived the tumultuous reigns of her father and uncle to be married to Thomas Howard, to whom she had been betrothed by King Richard. After Richard's defeat and death, Howard was not about to lose his claim on marrying a royal princess (since the York children's legitimacy had been re-established so that their oldest sister could marry King Henry.) Henry allowed the wedding. Anne died at age 36, having outlived any children they had, and Thomas remarried. He became very famous indeed as the 3rd Duke of Norfolk; he was the uncle of two of King Henry VIII's unfortunate wives, the two who were beheaded, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard.

Five daughters of Edward IV on a stained glass window:
Elizabeth, Cecily, Anne, Katherine & Mary of York
via Wikimedia Commons
The ongoing political turmoil of the era also continued to impact the sixth sister, Catherine. Her brother-in-law arranged her marriage with William Courtenay 1st Earl of Devon, by whom she had at least three children. However, hubby got caught up in one of several conspiracies against the new Tudor king. In 1509 he was imprisoned and lost his title for his support of a Yorkist claimant, Catherine's cousin Edmund de la Pole. He managed to keep his head and survived into the reign of nephew Henry VIII, who pardoned him. After Courtenay's death two years later, Catherine was given control over the earldom, which was inherited by her teenage son. Her nephew even honored her by making her a godmother to his daughter, the future Queen Mary. Catherine was the longest lived of all the sisters, passing away at the age of 48. Her descendants are numerous among Britain's aristocracy today, having interwoven with the royal offspring of the Stuart kings and the Hanoverians.

The youngest sister Bridget was only two years old when their father died. Her oldest sister Elizabeth, 14 years her elder, was one of her godmothers. Elizabeth apparently took this role seriously and would look after Bridget until her own death when Bridget was 22. At some point early in Henry VII's reign the little girl was sent into religious life as a nun at Dartford Priory. Big sis Queen Elizabeth paid many of her expenses, especially after the death of their mum. Despite her quiet life well away from the political vagaries of the court or the uncertainties of childbearing, Bridget also had a relatively early death at the age of 36.

14 August 2017

Previously at the Palace: Children in the Wedding

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

2010: Children in the Wedding
"Amidst the pageantry of a royal wedding, a small group of children almost always takes center stage after the bride and groom. This troupe of tiny attendants takes the place of adult bridesmaids and groomsmen." READ MORE

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

12 August 2017

Previously at the Palace: Young Royal Widows

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

By Allen Warren
via Wikimedia Commons
2013: Young Royal Widows
"With the long, slow death of Dutch Prince Johan Frisco today, his wife Princess Mabel becomes the latest in a tragic line of young royal widows. Here are the stories of a few of them." READ MORE
(It's hard to believe that it's been four years already.)

08 August 2017

A Different Maria Theresa of Austria

By Johann Ender via Wikimedia Commons
Revolutionaries had forced her to flee Sicily with her five youngest children, but now a new crisis loomed: cholera. The deadly disease made no allowance for widowed queens and their little ones. She had already lost three of her 12 children, and her stepson had lost his throne. When she began to feel the effects of the disease, doctors were summoned, but Maria Theresa of Austria, majestic to a fault, refused their care. She would not be saved by liberal doctors. She passed away on August 8, 1867 at age 51. A few days later, her youngest child, 10-year-old Prince Januarius, died too.

As a great-granddaughter and namesake of the famous Empress, Maria Theresa's life was bookended by revolution. Before her birth, her father Archduke Charles had battled against the French Revolution, but his efforts ultimately failed to save the monarchy or the life of his aunt Queen Marie Antoinette. By the time he married the Protestant Princess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg, he was already a bona fide hero of the Napoleonic Wars, Austria's version of Britain's Duke of Wellington. Maria Theresa was the first of their seven children, but she was only 13 years old when her mother died of scarlet fever.

At age 20, Maria Theresa was sent to be the second wife of her second cousin, King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies, and immediately became a mother to his son, the future King Francis II. Baby Francis' mother, another second cousin of both Maria Theresa and King Ferdinand, had died one year earlier, just five days after Francis' birth. From the beginning, the stepson was close to his stepmother, and she accepted him as her own, even after her own brood began arriving with regularity.

The peace and calm of their family life, with Maria Theresa enjoying both motherhood and needlework, did not extend to their public life. Queen Maria Theresa was thought to have a little too much influence on her husband, and that influence was thought to be too authoritarian. Things only got worse after Ferdinand's death in 1859, placed 23-year-old Francis on the throne. As always, he turned to his stepmother for advice, and she was only too happy to assist him. This not only caused strife with his new bride Maria Sophie of Bavaria, but severe political issues at a time when all of Italy was in turmoil. The forces of Italian unification and revolution were threatening must of Italy's various little states. Whenever any issue large or small arose, Francis' response was often a reactionary overreaction.

In less than two years, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies was being threatened by an imminent invasion by Giuseppe Garibaldi, the man who would eventually unite Italy under one government. Maria Theresa was the first of the royal family to flee with her young children in tow. She was followed not long thereafter by Francis and Maria Sophie. They fled to the coastal fortress at Gaeta, but it was eventually overrun by the opposing Sardinia King Victor Emmanuel II, who would eventually be King of all of Italy. The family then took refuge in Rome, while summering at the papal retreat in Albano Laziale, where Maria Theresa would meet her final defeat at the hands of unrelenting cholera.

05 August 2017

Quick Bio: Matilda of Flanders

Originally from "Queens of England" - 1894.
via Wikimedia Commons

c. 1031

Baldwin V Count of Flanders and Adela of France

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy & King of England

c. 1051-1052

Statue by Carle Elshoecht (1850). Luxembourg Garden, Paris.
By Tosca via Wikimedia Commons

9 or 10 who lived to adulthood: Robert Duke of Normandy; Richard; William II of England; Henry I of England; Agatha; Adeliza; Cecilia Abbesst of Holy Trinity, Caen; Matilda; Constance Duchess of Brittany; Adela Countess of Blois

Crowned Queen Consort of England at Westminster in 1068

Unknown artist. Pen, ink and watercolour, 18 x 13.3cm (7 1/8" x 5 1/2").
National Portrait Gallery (RN49540). National Portrait Gallery, London
via Wikimedia Commons

Governed Normandy during her husband's absence in England, first English consort to officially share in royal power, secured excellent education for her children (both sons and daughters

UNSUBSTANTIATED CLAIMS: Many stories claim that she turned down William's proposal because he was a bastard. As a result he is said to have ridden to her home (or church) and violently snatched her by her hair, after which she refused to marry anyone else. Also, a poorly conducted examination of her bones in 1959 concluded that she was only 4'2"; it has been discredited.

November 1083 from illness

L'Abbaye aux Dames in Caen, Normandy, France

Photograph of the chancel of the Women's Abbey at Caen
with Queen Matilda's grave shown in the center.
By Greenshed via Wikimedia Commons

04 August 2017

Previously at the Palace: Farewell to Romania's Queen Anne

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

King Michael and Queen Anne
on their wedding day in 1948
via Wikimedia Commons
2016: Farewell to Romania's Last Queen
"Very few queens have worked in a department store. Perhaps only this one.  Born in 1923 to cadet members of the royal houses of Bourbon-Parma and Denmark, Princess Anne of Bourbon-Parma had gobs of glamorous cousins more royal than she, but she didn't necessarily have bright prospects. She was born just a few years after World War I and revolution had decimated Europe's royal houses. When she was a teenager, World War II sent her family as blue-blooded refugees across the pond to the United States." READ MORE

03 August 2017

Previously at the Palace: Rudolph's Tragic End

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

By Atelier Adele
via Wikimedia Commons
2010: Rudolph's Final Moment
"Rudolph sat stone still on the edge of the bed, tormented by what his life had become, terrified of the next step he must take. Beside him, his teenage mistress lay cloaked by her beautiful hair, her youth forever frozen by the jagged bullet wound behind her ear. Dawn was coming too slowly, too quickly. Crown Prince Rudolph, heir to the dual thrones of Austria and Hungary, knew he had to complete his plan. It had all seemed so simple, why was he hesitating?" READ MORE

02 August 2017

A Dollhouse Fit for a Queen

Many little girls long for a dollhouse. My sister and I used to make furniture and clothes for our dolls who had both a house and houseboat! We even made food for them out of Play Doh, but nothing we did could compare to the ultimate dollhouse.

Created in the 1920s for the Queen Mary, consort of King George V, Queen Mary's Dolls' House was conceived by one of Queen Victoria's granddaughters, Princess Marie Louise. The princess engaged an architect and even had her artist friends and craftsmen create items for the house. The house also includes all of the modern conveniences of the day, like electricity, flushing toilets, and a working elevator. The lowest level has a garage filled with model classic cars with working engines. It is really amazing!

Embed from Getty Images

The house is included as part of the Royal Collection and is displayed at Windsor Castle, where members of the public can view it as part of their tour admission. (Rates for 2017 are £20.50 for adults with discounts children, seniors, disabled people, and families.)

You can also take a virtual tour of Queen Mary's Dolls' House online: Click Here

01 August 2017

Spanish Royals on Holiday

The King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain recently welcomed photographers to their home at Marivent for a photocall with them and their daughters Leonor Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia. It's appears from these photos that little sis Sofia, aged 10, is currently taller than Leonor, nearly 12. As they head into their teens it will be interesting to see if Sofia continues to outgrow her sister. Since their father is six and half feet tall, either one of them could hit a growth spurt that takes them well beyond average height! More importantly, we can see a happy and relaxed family in these photos. It is quite clear that the King adores all of his ladies.

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

30 July 2017

Previously at the Palace: Zara's Wedding

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

By Land Rover MENA (The All-New Range Rover | Global Reveal)
via Wikimedia Commons
2011: A Sporting Scottish Wedding
"Miss Zara Anne Elizabeth Phillips married her longtime love, rugby star Mike Tindall. So, why does a sports star's 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." READ MORE

25 July 2017

Abdicating Queens

In honor of the 450th anniversary of the abdication of Mary Queen of Scots earlier this month, let's take a look at the list of Queens Regnant who have given up their thrones, starting with the first European lady to do so, Mary herself. Since her, there has been one each century, except in the 20th century which witnessed the abdications of the mother and daughter Dutch Queens Wilhelmina and Juliana.

after Francis Clouet
via Wikimedia Commons
Mary Queen of Scots, 1567
The turbulence and violence of Scotland's monarchy often meant the early deaths of kings followed by the accession of children. Mary, the only surviving child of King James V was only six days old when she became Queen. The Regency for her was hotly debated between Catholic and Protestant claimants while the tiny Queen was sent to be raised at the French court, where at the age of fifteen she married the Dauphin, who became King of France less than a year later. Before the end of the next year, the teenage King died and his teenage Queen returned to her homeland, which could have hardly remembered. The very Catholic Queen was regarded with distrust by her numerous and powerful Protestant noblemen and by her very powerful cousin to the south, Queen Elizabeth I of England, who was little interested in Mary's desire to be her rightful heir in England. When Mary married their shared cousin Henry Stuart Lord Darnley and further strengthened her claim to the English throne, Elizabeth was infuriated. Although a passionate marriage, it was a troubled one. Darnley wished to be Mary's equal and things grew ugly. In an act of jealousy, Darnley and his men murdered her secretary in front of the pregnant Queen. Several months after their son's birth, Darnley's dead body was discovered. Mary was suspected, but then she was abducted, possibly raped and married to the Protestant Earl of Bothwell. Conspiracy rumors were rampant. The once-again pregnant Mary and her new husband faced an open revolt but their supporters abandoned them. He was given free passage to escape and she was imprisoned, and soon miscarried twins. The despondent Queen, just 24 years old, was forced to abdicate in favor of her one-year-old son. However, that was not the end of her story. She escaped to England but Queen Elizabeth was not eager to help her and instead kept her under close observation. She was tried for Darnley's murder, but Elizabeth found it more politically sound to keep Mary prisoner without an actual conviction. From her imprisonment, Mary embroiled herself in various plots and was eventually caught plotting against Elizabeth herself. For this crime, Mary was beheaded at the age of 44. (Read my post about the Tudor & Stewart Queens: Killing Queens.)

By Sebastien Bourdon
via Wikimedia Commons
Christina of Sweden, 1654
Although not an infant like Mary Queen of Scots, Christina was also a child when she inherited her father's throne. The last surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolf, the nearly six-year-old Christina was initially in her mother's physical custody, despite her mother's refusal to allow the king's burial for 18 months and her mother's apparent neglect of her. Christina was eventually placed with her maternal aunt and, after her death, with appointed guardians. Her father had not only doted on her but had clearly accepted that she would be his heir, leaving orders that she would be educated like a prince. She learned men's sports: fencing, riding and bear hunting. She studied politics, religion, philosophy, the classical Greek and Roman texts and knew at least nine languages. She became obsessed with collecting both art and books. She had a keen and curious mind--a fact that would trouble her reign in an age of absolutes. Not only did she refuse to blindly accept the precepts of Lutherans, a religion for which her country had fought wars, she actually studied Catholicism, Islam and Judaism. She forced her government into peace negotiations while bringing the cultural booty back to Sweden. Another disruptive issue was her refusal to wed. In an attempt to quiet the insistence on her marriage, she named a cousin (once considered a possible husband) as her heir when she was only 21. Her views and tastes were changeable as she explored so many different ideas. At one period she was solemn and serious, working ten hours a day, barely eating or sleeping. Then, she swung the other direction, indulging in all things pleasurable. At age 27, having reigned quixotically and controversially, she announced her abdication. She shipped many of her books and treasures out of Sweden and left for Rome, converting to Catholicism along the way. She traveled around Europe, unsuccessfully inserting herself in their politics but always returning to Rome. When her cousin died, she even returned to Sweden with the stated intention of being queen again. She later attempted to have herself elected queen of Poland. She remained a controversial figure for her insistence on her regal prerogative, her politics, her religion, and her manner of dressing and behaving like a man. Christina continues to be a fascinating person. In her own lifetime, she was alleged to be oversexed or undersexed, to be a lesbian, and to be a hermaphrodite. Today, some scholars believe she may have been intersex, while others make a number of other medical assertions, from various endocrine disorders to autism. Her skeleton was even exhumed 50 years ago in an unsuccessful attempt to confirm or disprove hermaphroditism--turns out bones aren't a very good indicator of gender issues. She lived to age 62, always following her own rules, but is one of only three women buried in the Vatican Grotto.

By David von Krafft

via Wikimedia Commons
Ulrika Eleonora of Sweden, 1720
Ulrika Eleonora was the youngest child of Sweden's King Charles XI. She had an older sister and an older brother, the soldier King Charles XII. Her mother died when she was young and Ulrika Eleonora grew up in the shadow of her brighter, prettier, more talented big sister Hedwig Sophia. However, Ulrika Eleonora had one major advantage over her sister: she remained in Sweden after her marriage. While Hedwig Sophia was sent to live in Holstein, Ulrika Eleonora's husband stayed with her in Sweden. So, while her big brother was often (really always) away on military campaigns, he left the government in the hands of his younger sister, who dutifully did only what she thought he would do, never asserting her own thoughts or directions. Those around her, however, including her husband, Frederick of Hesse, were far more ambitious and began positioning her as her bachelor brother's heir. In this, Hedwig Sophia had one more major disadvantage: she had died, leaving behind a young son. By rights of primogeniture, as the son of the older sister, the lad should have inherited the throne when Charles died from gunshot to the head in 1718, but Auntie Ulrika Eleonora surprised the ministers by declaring she had inherited the throne. She pleased them by agreeing to end the era of absolute monarchy and they willingly declared her the Queen. However, she really did support absolutism and continually tried to thwart the new constitution. She also created more nobles (to support her aims) than any other Swedish monarch despite her very short aim. With the recent example of joint British rulers William and Mary, she wished to have her husband crowned co-ruler, but such an arrangement was not permitted in Sweden. Nevertheless, she insisted on sharing state business with him. Ultimately, it was determined that he could be king, if she would abdicate. Although unhappy with this decision, she agreed as long as she would be his heir. Her reign had lasted just 14 months. Before the abdication, her marriage, though childless was happy. Once Frederick became King, however, he began a long-term affair and even had children with his mistress. Ulrika Eleonora was deeply hurt and the ministers were deeply concerned that their much respected queen was being disrespected by her husband. Various plans to ask him to leave Sweden and bring her back to throne never went far, and she predeceased him in 1741 after contracting small pox. A succession crisis ensued with her older sister's descendants finally winning the throne following Frederick's death.

By Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz
via Wikimedia Commons
Isabella II of Spain, 1870
Isabella was the daughter of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, who had lost his throne to Napoleon before regaining it, and his fourth wife, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies, who was also his niece. Her reign was marked by struggle from the beginning. The ambitious Maria Christina had convinced her husband set aside Salic Law, which forbade female succession, on his deathbed, thereby disinheriting his younger brother Don Carlos in favor of two-year-old Isabella. This launched the Carlist Wars in Spain with liberals supporting the new Queen and conservatives supporting Carlos and, upon his death, his successors. Isabella's early reign was only established through military force and she endured several changes in regency before being declared "of age" and no longer in need of a regent at the ripe old age of 13. At 16, she was pushed into marrying Francisco de Asis de Borbon, a double first cousin, by whom she had 12 children, just five of whom reached adulthood. She was a terrible queen, subject to conspiracies and intrigues and rapid changes of government. She showed favoritism and generally was seen as capricious and perhaps and adulteress. Her enemies, especially the Carlists, spread rumors that her husband was homosexual or impotent and that her children had various husbands. After a revolt in 1868, she went into exile and was replaced with an Italian prince under the First Spanish Republic. Still abroad, she agreed to abdicate in 1870 in favor of her son Alfonso , but the Republic did not invite him to become King and he did not return to Spain until after the Republic fell four years later. Isabella, having left her husband, remained in Paris visiting Spain on occasion and still causing problems. She did form a friendship with her estranged husband and was at his bedside when he died in 1902. She passed away two years later and was buried with the Spanish monarchs in El Escorial.

United Nations Information Office
via Wikimedia Commons
Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, 1948
Wilhelmina was the only child King William III of the Netherlands had with his much younger second wife of Emma of Waldeck-Pyrmont. His grown sons by his first wife never married and died before he did. Like all of the Queens already discussed here, Wilhelmina succeeded to the throne when she was still a child although she was older than the others at age 10. Her accession was not marked by controversy as with the others, and her Regent, her mother Emma, was well-admired. She grew to adulthood with grace and was enthroned at age 18. At 20 she married Henry of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, a happy marriage sadly marked by several miscarriages. For nearly a decade, it was feared that she would remain childless and be succeeded by a German cousin who was under the influence of the despised Kaiser Wilhelm II. However, her only living child Juliana's arrival in 1909 thwarted that worry. She was strong-minded and not easily intimidated, even standing up to the Kaiser personally. She led her small country successfully through World War I by maintaining neutral. Her popularity help assuage civil unrest after the war. Ultimately, the Kaiser had to surrender his hauteur as he sought refuge in the Netherlands after he lost his throne. Between the wars, Wilhelmina led her country to prosperity with industrial development. She herself was renowned for her business acumen which led to her becoming the world's first female billionaire. Nevertheless, the Nazi invasion in 1940 forced her to flee wearing only her nightgown and housecoat. She took refuge in Britain despite her well-known dislike of England stemming from earlier conflicts between the two countries and their settlers in South Africa. She led the government in exile, becoming a symbol of the Dutch resistance back home. After the war, she did not return to palace living, staying instead at The Hague and touring to visit her subjects around the country by bicycle. By this time, her health was failing and this led to her decision to abdicate in favor of her daughter in 1948, taking the title of Princess, a tradition that has now been followed by both her daughter and granddaughter. She lived a mostly retired life in the country until her death in 1962, emerging only on occasion.

By Hilterman, Dutch National Archive
via Wikimedia Commons
Juliana of the Netherlands, 1980
The only daughter of Queen Wilhelmina, Juliana is the first of our abdicating queens who did not accede as a child. She grew up happily and although educated at home, a small class of students was formed to study with her. She completed a Bachelor's degree at Leiden University, making her the first reigning queen to have a university degree. Because her family was deeply religious Protestants the search for a husband of suitable faith and rank was challenging. Fortunately, Juliana fell in love with the clearly qualified Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld. Nevertheless, the savvy Queen Wilhelmina also made sure that there was an ironclad prenuptial agreement. The couple went on to have four children, all daughters, the third of whom was born in Canada where Juliana had fled with the girls after the Nazis invaded The Netherlands. Her husband stayed in Britain to assist his mother-in-law with the government-in-exile. After the war, Juliana was active as the president of the Dutch Red Cross in an efforts to help her starving and devastated country recover from the brutality of the Nazi occupation. During her final pregnancy, she contracted German measles, causing near total blindness for her youngest daughter, for which the deeply religious Juliana and Bernhard sought all kinds of remedies both medicinal and of the faith healing variety. When her mother's declining health led to her abdication, Juliana ascended the throne at age 39. She continued her mother's tradition of riding around the country on bicycle and adopted a rather casual approach to interacting with her subjects. Her reign saw the decolonization of most of the Dutch overseas territories abroad and by some serious controversies at home. When a devastating storm caused massive flooding in 1953 killing thousands, Juliana threw on her boots and marched into the flood waters to personally help rescue people who were trapped. The affection she earned helped her get through major controversies that arose when it was discovered that she had moved a faith healer into the palace who might be exercising too much influence, when she cut off her second daughter for secretly marrying a Roman Catholic with a Carlist claim to the Spanish throne, and when it was revealed that her husband had accepted $1.1 million bribe. Bernhard had to resign from most of his activities but Juliana recovered and continued a reign until abdicating on her 71st birthday in 1980. She lived another 24 years, suffering from Alzheimer's disease during the last half of that time. Her husband died eight months after her.

By Emil Ketelaar/FrozenImage
via Wikimedia Commons
Beatrix of the Netherlands, 2013
Young Beatrix spent most of her early childhood in Canada, separated from her father and her country due to the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands during World War II. She returned to her homeland at age seven. She not only attended university, but completed a law degree. Her decision to marry a German, Claus von Amsberg, who worked in the German embassy and who had been a member of the Hitler youth and the German military drew huge protests, even on her actual wedding day, when a street battle between protesters and the police erupted. After her mother's abdication, Beatrix faced violent protests again on her investiture day from people wishing to demonstrate about poor housing conditions. Nevertheless, she persisted in the informal and friendly style established by her mother and grandmother and both she and Claus gained popular support and affection. The couple had three sons and eventually eight grandchildren. Claus passed away after a long illness in 2002, leaving Beatrix to soldier on alone. She faced one more violent moment in 2009 when a lone assailant crashed his car into a royal procession. Although none of her family were injured, several people died and the queen was deeply shaken. She faced further tragedy when her second son, Prince Friso, was buried in an avalanche. By the time he was rescued, he had suffered an extended period of oxygen deprivation and remained in a vegetative state. Beatrix decided to abdicate on the 33rd anniversary of her accession, having become at age 75, the oldest reigning queen in Dutch history. She was able to spend more time with Friso, who had reached a minimally conscious state, before his death later that year. Beatrix reverted to the title Princess and still carries out royal duties but not at the level or with the frequency she did while Queen. She spends as much time as she can with her family. (Read my post about the three Dutch queens End of the Queen Streak.)

22 July 2017

Summer Family Photo Calls

In the last couple of weeks, we've enjoyed some official photo calls with a few of our royal families. The Dutch king, his Queen Maxima and their princesses turned out for their traditional summer photo call. Over in Denmark the weather dampened the day but the spirit of Queen Margrethe's annual photo call. Although she is usually joined by her husband (who is ailing), both sons, all of her grandchildren, and sometimes a sister and nieces and nephews, this year, only her heir Crown Prince Frederik, his wife Crown Princess Mary and their quartet of offspring were on hand. In Sweden, the whole royal family came out for several events celebrating Crown Princess Victoria's 40th birthday. An even bigger birthday in Norway, Queen Sonja's 80th, brought out the royal grandchildren. Meanwhile, we had a very rare set of sightings of the Cambridge family together for what has been dubbed the "Brexit Charm Offensive." William and Catherine brought along their wee ones for a few days in Poland and Germany. And, just to top off a week of royal youngsters, the Belgian quartet attended the National Day celebrations with their folks.

21 July 2017

Previously at the Palace: 30 Years with the Yorks

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

2016: The Yorks after 30 Years

"In re-watching clips of their wedding day [July 23, 1986], it is clear that the newly titled Duke and Duchess of York were absolutely smitten. Every member of the family also had pure joy written across their faces. It was an exuberant day, less grand than Charles and Diana's wedding five years earlier. The world was worshiping at Diana's feet, but Sarah was clearly a star... As one American broadcaster remarked that day, every girl wished she could be Diana on her wedding day, but when Sarah married her prince, every girl could say "that IS me." READ MORE

20 July 2017

The "Pantsless King" Who United Scandinavia

via Wikimedia Commons
Despite being born a girl in the fourteenth century and the sixth child to boot, Margaret Valdemarsdatter managed to inherit her father's Danish throne, take over her husband's Norwegian throne, and be selected to control of the Swedish throne, too, settting up the Kalmar Union, which united the Scandinavian countries for about a century.

Like so many medieval princesses, Margaret found herself a pawn in the political and religious upheavals of the day. With constant warfare among the Nordic nations and the German Hanseatic League, she was engaged and unengaged as the political situation suited the needs of her father, King Valdemar of Denmark. Ultimately, she was finally married off at the grand old age of 10 to the 23-year-old King Haakon VI of Norway and sent to live in Oslo. Their engagement and wedding did not bring the planned-for peace and Scandinavian remained in great political turbulence.

But Margaret learned political machinations very well. After her brother died and then her father, Denmark was left without a male heir. She pushed aside her older sister and nephew to declare that her son Olav was the rightful heir not just of Denmark but also of Sweden. Since he was too young to rule, she was declared his regent. Five years later, her husband died and young Olav became King of Norway. When he died at age 17, Margaret was in full control. All she had to do was secure Sweden, which she did. She was elected the sovereign. Her Swedish rival, the de-throned King Albert declared her the "Pantsless King" and hired mercenaries in an unsuccessful attempt to topple her. Margaret was not yet 40.

Under her deft political leadership, she formulated the Kalmar Union, uniting the Scandinavian countries while retaining their national identities. Although a formal Act of Union was never completed, the three nations remained under one ruler into the 16th century while Denmark and Norway stayed together into the 19th.

With no heirs of her own body remaining, she adopted a niece and nephew, declaring him her heir. She continued to serve as his regent until he turned 18, but actually maintained her control until her death 13 years later.

Unlike many other female rulers who have done little for the fellow ladies, Margaret enacted laws to protect women from rape and even awarded money to women who had been raped during the wars between Sweden and Denmark.

19 July 2017

Previously at the Palace: More Tips for Your Own Royal Wedding

In this series, we capture the biographical and major news posts from this date in previous years so that you can "catch up" on your favorites or reflect on some topics you might have missed. One paragraph is included here; click the title to see the full post.

2010: Blending Your Tastes with Wedding Traditions
"Most brides don't get to have everything their own way on their wedding days. Your mother's veil. Your partly talented cousin's band at the reception. Princesses tend to have even fewer personal choices open to them. Burdened by centuries of tradition and protocol, not to mention the personal opinions of their countrymen and the world's media, it is challenging to make this most personal of commitments in a ceremony representing her own personal style."  READ MORE

17 July 2017

A Long Hanoverian Tradition

Feuds between the Kings of Hanover and their heirs have been so common that it's almost inevitable that the current head of the house, Prince Ernst August, has publicly announced that he does not support his oldest son's marriage. Nevertheless, Prince Ernst August Jr. pushed forward 10 days ago to marry his longtime love, Ekaterina Malysheva. Daddy may not have attended, but Ernst August Jr.'s siblings and step-siblings all showed up to show their support.

Of course, for just over a century the person who sat on the throne of Hanover also sat on the British throne as Kings George I, II, III, and IV and William IV. The personal union was split when Victoria inherited the British throne--because she was a woman, the restricted Hanoverian throne went to her uncle, a man not surprising named Ernest Augustus. In honor of our newest Hanoverian princess, let's take a look at the Hanoverian brides who came before her.

Sophia Dorothea of Celle
via Wikimedia Commons
Sophia Dorothea of Celle
The product of a morganatic marriage that wasn't made official until she was 10, Sophia had no desire to marry the Electoral Prince of Hanover. He didn't much care for her either. Nevertheless, she came with a hefty dowry and the two were married just days after her 16th birthday. Despite a volatile relationship, they produced a son, George, in 1683 and a daughter, Sophia Dorothea, in 1686. Then, he took up a mistress. She took on a lover, too. Soon, the fights between the couple became physical. Then, suddenly, her lover disappeared. George divorced her and imprisoned her in the Castle of Ahlden. She spent the last 30 years of her life there, never seeing her children again. She did not become Queen of Hanover when he ascended that throne, not Queen of the United Kingdom, when he ascended that throne. Incidentally, he traveled to England with his two mistresses at his side. Just two years ago, bones were discovered under the Leineschloss castle; they are believed to be the hidden remains of her murdered lover.

Caroline of Ansbach
after Geoffrey Kneller via Wikimedia Commons
Caroline of Ansbach
Caroline was the first Hanoverian bride to become a British queen. She had a much better relationship with her husband than his parents had had. She was much brighter than her George and many believe she greatly influenced his government--she was the brains under the crown. On a personal front, however, all was not as it should be. When the family moved to England in 1714. George and Caroline were forced to leave their oldest son Frederick behind in Hanover. He blamed them and never forgave them. Frederick quarreled often and publicly with her mother, especially when she (instead of he) was named regent when his father was traveling abroad. Caroline had eight children with King George II plus a stillbirth and a miscarriage. She was able to keep two daughters at home with her, but the other three married abroad. She suffered for 13 years after the birth of her last child and died after her womb ruptured at the age of 54.

Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
Sixteen-year-old Augusta married the unhappy Frederick Prince of Wales but spoke no English. He was pleased with the marriage because of the increase in allowance that Parliament awarded him. Frederick was determined that his wife would not dominate him as his mother had his father, so he did all he could to keep her naive and to foment discontent between his wife and mother. He even sneaked Augusta out of the palace while she was heavily in labor so that Queen Caroline could not witness the birth. After bearing nine children, Augusta was widowed by Frederick's sudden death. In order to avoid criticism, she increasingly isolated herself. However, when her oldest son became King George III at the age of just 22, she had great influence on him, even keeping his first bout with mental illness a secret from his own wife. When she died of throat cancer at age 52, crowds gathered not to mourn but to shout insults at her.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Charlotte was not only the most prolific of the Hanoverian brides--15 children!--she was also probably the most beloved. When he married the 17-year-old, George told her not to meddle in politics and she only ever did so discreetly. She busied herself with childbearing, botany and the arts instead, particularly music as a sponsor of Mozart and Bach. He even bought her her own house in London (Buckingham Palace) and built her a lodge at Windsor. When her husband's illness led to their son becoming regent, she acted as his first lady since he was estranged from his own wife. She died at age 57, a year before her husband, whose severe illness meant that he did not even know she was gone.

Caroline of Brunswick
By Thomas Lawrence
via Wikimedia Commons
Caroline of Brunswick
Arguably, the biggest mess of a marriage in the Georgian era was that of Caroline and the future George IV. In fact, he even banned her from his coronation, literally turning her away at the door. Like his grandfather, Frederick, George had married to get more money for Parliament. Unlike Frederick, he remained with his wife just long enough for one child to be born and then the two went in opposite directions, always taking any opportunity to snipe at the other. She spent most of her time on the Continent. In fact, she was not event in England when her only child, Princess Charlotte of Wales, died in childbirth. Caroline died less than a month after her husband's crowning.

Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen
Adelaide married George IV's brother William so that he might beget legal heirs when George's only child died. William already had 10 children by his former mistress, and Adelaide welcomed them in her home. Even after her own little children died in infancy, good Queen Adelaide continued to serve as a mother to William IV's children and was a trusted friend to William's successor, his niece Queen Victoria. She outlived her husband by 12 years. Although she had no descendants, her name lives on today as the capital city Adelaide, South Australia.

Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
By Johann Tischbein
via Wikimedia Commons
Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
As a twice-widowed princess with children, Frederica seemed a perfect choice when George III's fifth son, Prince Ernest Augustus, decided to roll the dynastic dice. He was the first of the princes to figure out that because his oldest brother's heir Charlotte was a girl, that he might just become King of Hanover, where ladies were banned for the throne. A princess with proven breeding experience played into his plans. His other brothers didn't really get into the game until Charlotte died. When only another girl (the future Queen Victoria) survived the royal race to beget an heir, Ernest Augustus received his crown in 1837 when his brother William IV died. The connection to Frederica was deeper than that though--they had fallen in love while her second husband still lived. His untimely/timely death opened the door for them.  Their first two children together were stillborn girls, but a son, Prince George followed in 1819. All together, Frederica delivered 13 children for her three husbands and managed to live to age 63.

Marie of Saxe-Altenburg
Marie had reached the ripe old age of 25 when she married the future King George V of Hanover. A year younger than Marie, George was also completely blind, having lost the sight in one eye due to illness and the other in an accident. As the only son, indeed the only surviving child, of King Ernest Augustus, he was still deemed fit to inherit the throne, which he did upon his father's death in 1851. However, he was not to keep the throne for long. He made the mistake of siding with Austria instead of Prussia, which was seeking to create a German Empire. In 1866, Prussia occupied Hanover and the king fled with Marie and their family. He refused to renounce his throne, but he was the last official King of Hanover. Therefore, Marie's son Ernest August was always called the Crown Prince and the subsequent heirs of been head of the House rather than Kings of a nation. Marie outlived her husband by nearly 30 years, passing away at the genuinely old age of 88 in 1907.

Thyra of Denmark
via Wikimedia Commons
Thyra of Denmark
Thyra came from a prolific royal family. A daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark, her sisters were Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Empress Marie of Russia. One of her brothers inherited the Danish throne while another was made King of Greece. Of course, Thyra might have been a queen too, but the loss of the Hanoverian throne meant her husband Crown Prince Ernest August never claimed the title. But a prince without a throne was about as much as Thyra could hope for since she had indulged in a bit of "youthful indiscretion" that had resulted in a pregnancy. Most of the Danish royal family were involved in covering up the pregnancy and the baby girl was placed with an ordinary Danish family while Thyra recovered from her jaundice.They had six children, but when their eldest son was killed in a car accident, their youngest boy, yet another Ernest Augustus became the hope of the House. Thyra and her crownless prince lived outside of Germany, mostly in Austria, and were very welcome in Britain where he still was recognized by the title Duke of Cumberland, which had passed down for King Ernest Augustus.

Victoria Louise of Prussia
Then, as now, the father Ernest Augustus objected to the son Ernest Augustus' choice of bride. As the daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II, Victoria Louise embodied her father-in-law's hatred for the country that took his throne. He forced his son to renounce his claims to the defunct throne, but allowed him to keep his claim to the Duchy of Brunswick, which was also a dubious claim. Their 1913 wedding was one of the last big royal gatherings before World War I brought so many monarchies, including Germany's, to their ends. At the end of the war, her husband formally abdicated any claims he had to the defunct Hanoverian throne. His father had managed to keep his British title as Duke of Cumberland when George V revoked titles held by Germans, but Victoria Louise husband did not inherit it because he had actually served in the German army in the war. The family actually lived in Germany, raising their five children, and they remained there despite both World Wars. Ernest Augustus died there in 1953 and Victoria Louise died in 1980.

Ortrud of Schleswig-Holstein-Glucksburg & Monika of Solms-Laubach
Ortrud married the fourth Ernest Augustus, whose birth in 1914 was a strange prelude to World War I. Among his numerous godparents were the monarchs who were just weeks from going to war against each other: Wilhelm II of Germany, Franz Joseph II of Austria, Nicholas II of Russia, and George V of the United Kingdom. By the time of their marriage in 1951, however, there was very little left of Hanoverian glory. Their titles and claim had been rendered null by two World Wars. Then, as now, they were still surrounded by royal cousins. They produced six children, including the fifth (and current) Ernest August. Ortrud died in 1980 and her husband remarried a close cousin, Countess Monika of Solms-Laubach before passing away in 1987.

Chantal Hochuli & Caroline of Monaco
Unlike so many Hanoverian father-son relationships, the fourth and fifth Ernst August did not have a big, public feud, even when the son decided to marry a commoner. Instead, dad approved the marriage as "equal". The heiress of a Swiss chocolate fortune enjoyed the royal status her husband provided and turned a blind eye to his innumerable love affairs. Having given him two sons, the next Ernst August (the recent bridegroom) and Christian, she spent her time hanging with a glamorous set of people that included Grace Kelly's oldest daughter, Princess Caroline of Monaco. Despite their close friendship, the widowed Caroline didn't seem to have quibbled over starting her own affair with Chantal's husband, and Chantal appears not to have noticed until photos of the lovers together in Thailand surfaced. After 16 years of marriage, Chantal called it quits. A year and a half later, Ernst August married Caroline, elevating her from a Serene Highness to a Royal Highness. Six months after the wedding, their daughter Alexandra was born. For the last several years, Alexandra has spent most of her time in Monaco and France with Caroline while Ernst August has openly cavorted with other women, been caught drunk and urinating in public, and brawled with reports. It is he who has deemed his son's bride unacceptable for the fine House of Hanover.