27 December 2018

Princess Round-Up 2018

Now for the first of the blog's traditional three Old Year/New Year posts. In the coming couple of weeks, I'll let you know which 2018 posts were your favorites and I will publish my predictions of Princesses to Watch in 2019. For now, though, let's take a look at my predictions for 2018 to see what I foretold correctly and whether I missed anything entirely.

Prince Louis with The Duchess of Cambridge
Matt Porteous/Kensington Palace
The Babies!
As I admitted, it was easy to predict third babies for The Duchess of Cambridge (Prince Louis), Princess Madeleine of Sweden (Princess Adrienne) and Tatiana Casiraghi (Maximilian) since all of their pregnancies were already public knowledge. But, I am particularly delighted that my speculations for three other babies turned out to be accurate. I had hoped for a third baby for Zara Tindall, who safely delivered baby Lena and then later revealed that she had suffered a second miscarriage that had not been publicly announced as the first one had been. Meanwhile over in Monaco, Beatrice Casiraghi did indeed quickly deliver her second son, Francesco, in May, just 15 months after her first baby. Then, in a big surprise, their sister-in-law Charlotte Casiraghi gave birth to her second child, Balthazar, by her current love Dimitri Rassam. This meant that all three of Princess Caroline of Monaco's adult children had a baby boy in 2018. Quite a baby boom! (Her fourth child, Princess Alexandra of Hanover, turned 19 during the summer.)

My other strong suspicion/hope/prayer (which I tried to keep under control in my predictions post) was that Prince Harry and his bride Meghan, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, would announce a pregnancy before the end of 2018. I could never have imagined that they would announce it as early as October. The entire world went mad and we all can't wait until spring when their little will arrive. Nevertheless, neither Sofia of Sweden nor Claire of Luxembourg have shown signs of new pregnancies as I thought they might this year.

Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank with their families and
little wedding attendants
Alex Bramall/Buckingham Palace via AP
The Yorkies
At last, we were treated to a very lovely York wedding when Princess Eugenie married Jack Brooksbank in October. It was a lovely ceremony in the "family church" at Windsor with lots of personal touches, including a gown designed specifically to reveal Eugenie's scars from scoliosis surgery. She was also surrounded by loads of little cousins in the bridal party, and even her little goddaughter Maud Windsor, granddaughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was among them. Eugenie also managed to find a tiara in the back of the family closet that had not been seen in public for decades. The Greville Emerald Kokoshnik Tiara was part of a massive cache of jewels inherited by the Queen Mother in 1942. Eugenie, her great-granddaughter, is the first royal to ever wear it in public.

As for big sister Beatrice, reports are rife that she may have found love again after her long-term relationship with Dave Clark ended in 2016. I guess we shall see if Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi is Mr. Right...

Getty Images/WPA Pool
The Queen
Her Majesty indeed had another banner year after celebrating 65 years since her coronation. She was out and about quite a lot for a 92-year-old, frequently accompanied by one of her children or grandchildren, including the new Duchess of Sussex, who even had the privilege of staying over night with The Queen on the royal train. Nevertheless, with her heir Prince Charles' 70th birthday celebrations in November, speculation inevitably turned to what will happen once he is king. As for The Queen she delivered a touching address at his birthday party, remarking about what a privilege it is for a mother to be at her child's 70th birthday. Let's hope she is with us through ALL of her kids' 70th birthdays! That will keep her around until 2034! She'll be 107 when her "baby" Prince Edward reaches that milestone, but I'm sure she will still be doing very well!!

Crown Princess Masako
From Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
The Japanese Ladies
As predicted, the upcoming April 30, 2019 abdication of Emperor Akihito has placed more focus on the monarchy there. We have seen more of Empress Michiko and much, much more of Crown Princess (soon-to-be Empress) Masako, whose ill health over the years has often kept her out of the limelight. In the last few days, the two ladies featured prominently at the Emperor's official birthday celebrations and we will likely see them front and center at the New Year's Court. Meanwhile, Masako's daughter Aiko, who has suffered from bullying and some ill health, seems to be emerging into a more public role. She turned 17 on December 1, which prompted the Imperial Household Agency to spotlight some of her public and education-related activities this year, including the fact that she danced in a school performance and served as emcee for the event.

Sadly, the announced wedding Aiko's cousin Princess Mako of Akishino did not take place. Early in the year, the IHA said that the engagement had been delayed, but I believe this was just a polite way of canceling the wedding. Rumor has it that there were financial irregularities or concerns about the groom's family. However, another Japanese princess did get married. 28-year-old Princess Ayako of Takamodo, a great-niece of the Emperor, surrendered her imperial title and status to marry Moriya Kei on October 29.

By Casaregala via Wikimedia Commons
Romania
Following the death of former King Michael of Romania late last year, things were a bit unclear for his selected heir, Margareta, the eldest of his five daughters. Though she was living in the Elisabeta Palace in Bucharest, the existing agreement would have required her to decamp within 60 days of her father's death. However, all has turned out well. Margareta is still at the palace where she regularly hosts prominent visitors to Romania. She has also continued to travel abroad to promote and support her country, despite the fact that the monarchy ended there at the end of 1947. Although she might have claimed the title "Queen of Romania" in pretense, she has opted instead to be called Her Majesty Custodian of the Crown. Her hard work has paid off; not only was she named Romanian's most influential woman in 2018, but some politicians event stated that it might be possible, even advisable, to restore the monarchy.

Landmark Celebrations
Most of this year's big birthday's were celebrated rather privately by our royal ladies. In Sweden, Queen Silvia celebrated her 75th with just her close family. Likewise, Queen Emerita Sofia of Spain enjoyed her 80th with her children and grandchildren, even releasing a family photo of everyone (less the son-in-law who is currently in prison on corruption charges). Former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, gathered her kids and grandkids for photos and fun for her 80th birthday.

Photo studio of Boasson and Eggler,
State Archive of the Russian
Federation via Wikimedia Commons
The Romanovs
The centenary of the Romanov murders was indeed marked by many articles, posts and stories. Many new books were released not just about the Imperial Family and about their deaths, but also a couple of books that explored the culpability of their extended family, and  those who failed to save them. These books offered a new perspective on the extreme fear and uncertainty of the time. After all, it is easy with hindsight to say what should have been done, but in the midst of the violence and politics of a world war, it is much harder to make those difficult decisions. Had anyone been able to foretell the fate of the Romanovs, ships galore would have been launched to save them. Sadly, there were no Cassandras among the Romanov's royal cousins.

Elisabeth of Denmark
Sean Gallup/Getty Images
The Unspeakable
Thankfully, all of the superannuated royal ladies whom I mentioned were above the average life expectancy for European women survived the year. Unfortunately, one princess did not quite reach the average age of 84. Queen Margarethe of Denmark's cousin Princess Elisabeth passed away in June at the age of 83. Although she never married, she was buried next to her longtime partner, film director Claus Hermansen. Elisabeth spent 45 years in the Danish diplomatic service and was a regular guest at official royal occasions. The Danish Royal Family had already been greatly bereaved a few months earlier with the passing of Queen Margrethe's husband, Prince Henrik. In 2017, it had been announced that he was suffering from dementia. His health deteriorated rapidly in early February 2018, causing his son Crown Prince Frederik to cut short his trip to the Winter Olympics in Korea. He arrived back in Denmark just in time to be present when Henrik died in his sleep.

Alexi Lubomirski/PA Images/Hand Out/INSTARimages.com
Bride of the Year
Without a doubt the biggest wedding of the year was that of Prince Harry of Wales, who was given the title The Duke of Sussex, to American former actress Meghan Markle. Although "small" by Charles-and-Diana or William-and-Catherine standards, their wedding at St. George's Chapel, Windsor attracted huge attention all over the world. The lead-up to the wedding was unfortunately marred by some very thoughtless and tacky behavior on the part of Meghan's father and half-siblings, who even more unfortunately have continued to sell/tell their stories to the all-too-willing-to-listen media. Also, very unfortunately, Meghan's mixed race heritage has also caused issues among some. While her heritage has brought many new "fans" to the British Royal Family who would never have paid much attention in the past, it has also triggered many instances of actual racial bias as well as some unfounded accusations of racism among the media and the general public. I tend to discount rumors of rifts or problems within the BRF itself, but the public discourse (especially on social media) has yet to settle down. These arguments and controversies, in my opinion, have very little to do with the happy couple or the graceful and strong work ethic that Meghan is demonstrating as a working royal. Rather, it reflects the ongoing racial tensions of both the national and international cultures in which Meghan and Harry live. Genuine attacks against Meghan have very little to do with the real woman. Likewise, her zealous defenders often have little real understanding of the context and history of her role within the monarchy. This is just a new battleground in the longstanding catastrophe of race relations dating back centuries. The very fact that the daughter-in-law of the future King of the world's most recognized and respected monarchy is a woman of mixed race bodes well,  I hope, for continuing progress and positive change in our societies. If we pay attention, we could learn quite a lot from The Duchess of Sussex, though she is neither the cause of nor the solution to racial tensions. Since she was a child, she has done what she could to help support the causes of people of color as well as of women and others who suffer from bias around the globe. And, through her work with the survivors of Grenfell Tower, she has clearly shown that she will continue to support and champion others. She has done far more than most of us to move us toward a more harmonious and fair society. We would do well to stop squabbling, to actually listen to each other and to honor and celebrate the humanity in each of us.

Despite all this "noise" around the newlyweds, they have had a truly tremendous year. The success of Meghan's Grenfell Tower cookbook has been phenomenal. Harry's Invictus Games continued to draw international acclaim for its support of wounded warriors. The couple completed a triumphant tour of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. And, to put a cherry on top of our royal sundae, they announced the impending arrival of their first child less than five months after the wedding. I could hardly be more delighted with all they have accomplished so quickly. Can't wait to see what 2019 will look like for them.

19 December 2018

Your Favorite Crown Princess

Our December Twitter poll asked readers to choose a favorite crown princess from among Mary of Denmark, Masako of Japan, Mette Marit of Norway and Victoria of Sweden. It wasn't an easy decision for some people. "I voted but it's complicated," wrote Nathalie @MmedeParis, "because I like a lot of these four crown princesses...I love these four amazing women." The Spanish-language account Familia Real UK @FamiliaRealUK stated it more simply, "Difícil elección."


By Frankie Fouganthin via Wikimedia Commons
The bottom two princesses were virtually tied: Mette Marit earned 4% of the vote while Masako earned 5%. Not surprisingly perhaps, both of these ladies have faced more public challenges. At the time of her engagement to Crown Prince Haakon, Mette Marit Tjessem Hoiby was highly controversial as an unmarried mother with a young son. His royal aunt Princess Ragnhild event felt moved to publicly proclaim that this marriage could destroy the monarchy. Nevertheless, Mette Marit became a hardworking a popular princess. She had two children with her prince, but her path has still not been easy because of health issues. Over the years, she occasionally has had to cancel engagements due to headaches, vertigo, pneumonia, concussion, neck and back pain, flu, broken ankle, severe sun burn, Norovirus and low blood pressure (during her last pregnancy). In 2018, many people were devastated to learn that the princess has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a potentially terminal condition that causes scarring in the lungs. Nevertheless, she continues to try to carry out a full program of engagements although they are not always announced in advance in case she is not able to well enough to attend. Her fans, like Nathalie @MmedeParis appreciate her for all that she has been through: "She had all against her to be a Royal as a single mother with a not-so-good past. But with the love and support of Haakon she showed to the world that she could be an amazing princess. Love when time puts everyone in his just place."

From Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Masako's health concerns have been even more enduring. From the beginning, she struggled with fertility, successfully completing only one pregnancy with the birth of a daughter, who, because of Japan's gender-biased inheritance rules cannot inherit the throne after her father. Vonnie A @missfroggy63 selected Masako as her favorite because of her moxie, noting "she married into the family for love, but that choice proved debilitating for a while." Fairly early on, she withdrew entirely from public life and the Imperial Household officially announced that she was suffering from an adjustment disorder. Speculation blamed three primary causes: fertility issues in general, public criticism for not producing a male heir and the stringent demands of Imperial House rules. As Nathalie @MmedeParis wrote, "Lots of tenderness for Masako, who is a very intelligent woman but the well-reserved Imperial House and certain people made her suffer a lot." For years, she appeared at only a few events a year and did not accompany her husband, a Crown Prince Naruhito, on overseas visits. More recently, she has begun making more public appearances and even undertaken some international visits. "She rising like a Phoenix," according to Nathalie, "thanks to the support of her husband." Vonnie A agrees that "love is helping her recover. And sheer determination -- moxie." In spring 2019, when her father-in-law abdicates, she will become Empress. I hope that she feels adequately prepared for this huge role and does not suffer any setbacks because of it. After all, many would agree with Vonnie who says, "She seems so gentle and kind. I am inspired by her recovery."


By Erik Christensen, Porkeri Website
Your second-favorite Crown Princess, Mary of Denmark, took a whopping 42% of the vote. The Australia-born Mary Donaldson married Crown Prince Frederik after meeting him during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The Royal Watcher @saadsalman719 said choosing a favorite was tough, but "Crown Princess Mary wins for me because she has a lovely balance between charity, business and gala events, and manages to bring her children to many events (more than the others it seems)! I also really like her style (most of the time)!" Nathalie @MmedeParis also made note of Mary's family life, writing, "I always thought Frederik was a little weak in the character to be future king but, in my opinion, she made a big difference and I think she made him be a better crown prince. I see him more serious, more on his duties." Nathalie also admires Mary because, of the four women in this poll, she is the only one to have left her own country, learned another language, adapted to a new culture and adopted a different lifestyle." Fellow Aussie MF Stylist Perth @PerthsFashion selected Mary "as she is effortlessly stylish." [Read my post about Mary.]


Photo: Linda Broström The Royal Court, Sweden
Earning 49% of the vote, your favorite Crown Princess is the only one of the group who did not marry into her position. As the oldest child of the King of Sweden, Victoria became Crown Princess and future queen regnant at age two when Sweden changed the laws to allow gender-blind succession. She faced some personal struggles in her youth, particularly a long bout with anorexia, and has an ongoing condition that causes her to be unable to recognize people's faces. In the last 10 years, however, she has emerged as a model princess, marrying her former personal trainer Daniel Westling and raising two children. Lauraf68 @lauraf68 had a difficult time choosing between Mary and Victoria but ultimately went with Victoria because "she was born into the position and is still down to earth and relatable! I would expect Mary to be relatable since she was born into 'normal' circumstances." Nathalie @MmedeParis says she loves Victoria: "she’s all simplicity. She’s great. She showed the world her best. Daniel is solid and they have formed a great family." Having overcome anorexia, Victoria is "a future Queen who will be the pride of her country," Nathalie adds. Sloane Murray @THERoyalCrabbit puts it simply: "Go Victoria!" [Read my post about Victoria.]

11 December 2018

The Wives of Hussein

An Egyptian, a Brit, a Palestinian and an American walk into a palace... No, that's not the start of an article about peace talks or the opening of a corny joke. Instead, it is an outline of the four marriages of Jordan's legendary King Hussein II, whose role as a moderator in the still ongoing conflicts in the Middle East made him a legend during his lifetime. By the time the king died in 1999, he had had four wives, 11 biological children and one adopted child. Through tragedies and triumphs, his wives shaped the role of a modern Muslim queen and their legacy is carried on today in the person of Hussein's daughter-in-law, Queen Rania, formerly Rania al-Yassin.

Although many Muslim rulers are polygamists, King Hussein was only ever married to one woman at a time. This does not necessarily reflect disapproval of the practice as his daughter Princess Haya is the junior wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.  

Let's meet the wives of Hussein:

Dina and Hussein at their wedding.
via Wikimedia Commons
 Queen Dina
(Sharifa Dina bint Abdul-Hamid)
Having already survived the first of many assassination attempts, 19-year-old Hussein had been King of Jordan for just over two and a half years when he married his distant cousin, Dina, whose family was from Egypt. She was 25. Both the bride and groom were descendants of Mohammed and members of the Hashemite Dynasty, the second-longest ruling dynasty in the world after the Imperial House of Japan. Highly educated, Dina graduated from Cambridge University and completed graduate studies at London's Bedford College before returning to Egypt to teach philosophy and English literature at the University of Cairo. Their daughter Princess Alia bint Hussein arrived less than a year later. Unfortunately, the very young Hussein and Dina were not well-suited. His desire to exert control over her and to limit her political role--which may have had something to do with his mother Queen Zein's strong influence--perhaps did not sit well with Queen Dina. Their short marriage came to an end during a period when the relationship between Eqypt and Jordan was also strained as a result, in part, of the Suez Crisis. Dina was actually in Eqypt when she received the news that Hussein was ending the marriage. The divorce was finalized just 27 months after the wedding. Although she was granted the title Princess of Jordan, Dina initially was prevented from seeing her daughter. Thirteen years later, she married a commando in the Palestinian Liberation Organization. (He was another younger man; this time, her husband was almost 13 years her junior.) After he was arrested by the Israelis in 1982, she successfully negotiated to free him as well as 8,000 other prisoners.

Muna and Hussein with their sons Abdullah and Faisal
By Angela Cozzi (Mondidori Publications via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Muna
(Antoinette Gardiner)
King Hussein waited a few years after divorcing Queen Dina before he married again. He met his second wife, British-born Antoinette Gardiner. Her father was a British Army officer and Toni, as she was called, spent part of her childhood living abroad, particularly in Malaysia where she attended a boarding school for the children of British Service members. When she was 19, her father was assigned as a military adviser to Jordan. While they were there, Toni worked on the set of the epic film, Laurence of Arabia. She also met the 24-year-old King Hussein. They were married the following year, 1961. She converted to Islam and took the name Muna al-Hussein, meaning "desire of Hussein," but she was never granted the title of Queen. In fact, she only received a royal title as Princess after the birth of their first son Abdullah, now the King of Jordan, eight months later. Another boy, Prince Faisal arrived 21 months later followed by twin princesses Aisha and Zein five years after him. The marriage lasted just over 11 years. Like her predecessor, Muna was able to keep her royal status and remains a Princess of Jordan today. She also continues her work in support of nursing. During her marriage, she founded a scholarship for nursing and a nursing school that is now known as the Princess Muna College of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. She is now the President of the Jordanian Nursing Council. She never remarried.

Hussein and Alia with U.S. President and Mrs. Ford
by Ricardo Thomas via Wikimedia Commons
Queen Alia
(Alia Baha uddin Touqan)
Just four days after his divorce from Muna was finalized, 37-year-old King Hussein married Palestinian Alia Baha uddin Touqan on her 24th birthday. Alia's was born in Cairo while her father was the Jordanian Ambassador to Egypt. He later served in the same role in Turkey and the United Kingdom before being sent as the Jordanian Permanent Representative to the United Nations. As a result, Alia grew up all over the world. After studying at Loyola University in Chicago and Hunter College in New York, she returned to Jordan and worked for Alia Airlines, which was named for the king's daughter by Queen Dina. It's now called Royal Jordanian. Alia got to know Hussein when he asked her to organize Jordan's first International Water Skiing Festival. Their two children, Princess Haya and Prince Ali, were born in the first three years of their marriage. In 1976, they adopted a Palestinian refugee orphan, Abir Muhaisen, whose biological mother had been killed in a plane crash. It was Queen Alia who formalized the public role of the Queen of Jordan, focusing largely on supporting social services, particularly hospitals and schools. She also was a patron of libraries and the arts. Very early in her queenship, she successfully advocated for women to have the right to vote and the right to hold office. Tragically, Alia's life was cut short by a helicopter crash in 1977. She was only 28. Her children were still toddlers. After Alia's death, Hussein continued supporting scholarships in her memory and named Jordan's international airport for her.

Queen Noor 12 years into her widowhood
From Skoll World Forum via Wikimedia Commons
Queen Noor
(Lisa Halaby)
Sixteen months after Queen Alia's death, King Hussein married for the fourth and final time. This time his bride was Lisa Halaby, a 26-year-old third-generation American of Syrian, British and Swedish descent. Lisa's father served in both the Truman and Kennedy administrations before become CEO of Pan American Airways. She was in the first co-ed class at Princeton University, completing a degree in architecture and urban planning. She worked for a time in Australia and Iran, before taking a job in Amman, Jordan with Alia Airlines (now Royal Jordanian) as the director of facilities and design. Soon thereafter she met Hussein, who was mourning his third wife's recent passing. Lisa converted to Islam and changed her name to Noor al-Hussein, meaning "Light of Hussein." Although of mostly Western descent, she continued to raise the profile and role of the Queen of Jordan. In addition to the educational and cultural issues championed by her predecessors, she also works on behalf of the economic empowerment of women and environmental concerns. She became an active stepmother to Hussein's existing children and produced four more: Prince Hamzah, Prince Hashim, Princess Iman and Princess Raiyah. Since the king's death in 1999, she has split her time between Jordan, the U.S. and U.K. and opting for a more international than national role for much of her work.

For more about Queen Dina
Queen Dina of Jordan on Unofficial Royalty
Queen Dina -- A lost chance for Jordan? on History of Royal Women

For more about Queen Muna
Princess Muna: Bringing Britain into the Royal Hashemite Court on History of Royal Women
Princess Muna al-Hussein of Jordan on Unofficial Royalty
Who is Princess Muna al-Hussein? on Royal Central

For more about Queen Alia
Consort Profile on The Mad Monarch
Queen Alia of Jordan on The Royal Watcher

For more about Queen Noor
Consort Profile on The Mad Monarch
Queen Noor: An American Queen on History of Royal Women
Queen Noor of Jordan on The Royal Watcher

05 December 2018

From Reigning Queen to Consort

By Johan Starbus via Wikimedia Commons
The message arrived unexpectedly. The great warrior King of Sweden Charles XII was dead. Shot through the head by an unknown assailant in Norway. He'd spent most of the last two decades, his entire adult life, outside of Sweden, fighting the Norwegians, the Germans and the Russians, and stirring up trouble in the Ottoman Empire. But, in all of his defense of his kingdom, Charles had neglected to do one very important kingly duty: marry and father an heir.

His baby sister Ulrika Eleonora, age 30, received the tragic news with mixed emotions. She'd barely seen him, after all, and his death opened an exciting new door for her. By the standards of primogeniture, the throne should have gone to her nephew, the teenage son of her deceased older sister. But, strict primogeniture didn't necessarily apply in Sweden at that time and Charles Frederick of Holstein-Gottorp was far, far away on that winter's day. Declaring herself the person most closely related to the King, Ulrika Eleonora boldly announced that she was now Queen.

Riksdag, Sweden's parliament agreed, on one condition: the new queen had to renounce the absolutism that her father King Charles XI had put in place. She disagreed with giving so much power to an elected government, but she wanted the throne more, so she conceded. In return, the Riksdag elected her as the Queen Regnant.

That summer, the Russians attacked Stockholm, but Ulrika Eleonora showed no fear and was hailed for her bravery. That helped add to her supporters. She also built up support by creating more and more nobles. During her reign she created more nobles than any other Swedish monarch. Nevertheless, her two greatest supporters were her childhood nurse, Emerentia von Duben, and her husband, Frederick if Hesse-Vessel. Unlike many favorites throughout history and around the world, von Duben actually was a very good friend to the queen and did not abuse her influence in order to enrich herself.

And, Frederick was the love of Ulrika Eleonora's life. In fact, when she claimed the crown, she longed for him to be named co-monarch with him as had happened with William and Mary in Britain a generation earlier. The Riksdag would not allow it. Nevertheless, she continued to rely upon him and his advice. At the same time, Ulrika Eleonora often tried to act against the new constitution that had given her the throne. She never wanted to give up the absolute monarchy, and thought that she would eventually be able to set aside.

The Riksdag was fed up. If Ulrika Eleonora insisted on opposing the government and sharing state information with Frederick, maybe they should make him king, after all. However, they still insisted that there would be no co-monarchs. If Ulrika Eleonora wanted Frederick to be king, she would have to abdicate. She agreed, under the condition that she would be his heir as well as his consort. She agreed. Her reign had lasted 15 months.

With Frederick's accession, Ulrika Eleonora became a loyal consort although she faced great personal challenges. She suffered a couple of miscarriages before her reign and never became pregnant again. Then, after sacrificing her crown for Frederick, he committed a personal betrayal by taking on a mistress, Hedvig Taube. To rub salt into these wounds, Hedvig delivered four children for Frederick. Ulrika Eleonora nursed her hurt in private, always maintaining her composure in public.

The Riksdag was not so easily placated, especially after Hedvig was made the first "official mistress" in Swedish history. On two different occasions, they raised the issue of the King's adultery as running counter to his accession oaths to treat the Queen respectfully. She was very popular as a consort, and no one wished to see her treated poorly. Nothing came of the first attempt, but the King received an official reprimand the second time.

It made little difference because soon thereafter Ulrika Eleonora died of smallpox. She was 53. With her death, Sweden was left without an heir. Frederick survived another decade. The Riksdag had to do some deep geneology work to select a new king, settling on Adolf Frederick of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp, a great-grandson of the sister of King Charles X of Sweden.

Ulrika Eleonora was the last Queen Regnant of Sweden, but today the next monarch will be another woman, the current Crown Princess Victoria, who is expected to be followed by her daughter Princess Estelle.


For More About Ulrika Eleonora
Queens Regnant: From Regnant to Consort on History of Royal Women
Ulrika Eleonora 273 dödsdag on The Swedish History Blog

28 November 2018

Your Favorite British Princess

In our continuing series of Princess Polls on Twitter, we recently focused on the ladies born to the Blood Royal in Britain, asking participants to choose a favorite from among the four adult royal women who have been princesses since birth: from oldest to youngest, these are the Queen's cousin Princess Alexandra, her daughter Anne The Princess Royal, and two of her granddaughters, Princess Beatrice of York and the newly married Princess Eugenie.

From Chatham House via Wikimedia Commons
Although she has sometimes had a reputation for irascibility and a no-nonsense attitude, Princess Anne emerged as the clear winner with 56% of the votes. The second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Philip Duke of Edinburgh has never suffered fools and has been known to tell off journalists. Like two of her brothers, she also experienced marital scandal in her first marriage, after it was discovered that she had written love letters to royal equerry Timothy Laurence, whom she later married as her second husband. (First marriage = 19 years; second marriage = 26 years and counting.) [Read my Silver Salute to Anne and Timothy.] The Royal Watcher @saadsalman719, who selected both Alexandra, who earned 19% overall, and Anne, said that he admires Anne, "but her turbulent personal life, and harsh attitude do not give her a positive image." However, he goes on to note that the 68-year-old princess "has also been carrying out engagements since she was a teenager, and has an enviable work ethic, which should be copied by other members of the Royal Family." Indeed, Anne has been at or near the top of busiest royals every year for decades, completing 540 engagements (including 85 abroad) in 2017. Zef Dahlia/QRC @nelainedahlia93 likewise refused to choose between Alexandra and Anne, calling them "two phenomenal princesses in their own right."

Nathalie @MmedeParis, Linda Rossi @Lros123 and Larissa Bona @larissabona had no qualms at all about declaring Anne their favorite. Nathalie says Anne "works hard since so many years; she's got a special sense of humor. She deserves all the respect." Linda added to the list of accolades the facts that Anne is highly successful in the equestrian world (where she was an Olympic athlete) and that she chose to give her children a more normal life by declining titles for them. Linda summed her up as "Intelligent. Classy. Horsey." Larissa called the princess a 'work machine' and the "female version of the Duke of Edinburgh, without the gaffes."

By LancasterII via English Wikipedia
Second place was a virtual tie between the almost 82-year-old Alexandra (19%) and 28-year-old Eugenie (20%), whose numbers may have been raised a bit by the fact that the poll was conducted in the weeks leading up to her October 12, 2018 wedding. A granddaughter of King George V through his son George Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece, Alexandra is 12 years younger than her first cousin The Queen. [Read my profile of Alexandra.] She lost her father in a flying accident during World War II when she was just five years old. She became a working member of the British Royal Family as a teenager and married a highly respectable son of the Scottish peerage, Sir Angus Ogilvy, who by declining a title for himself and their children set the precedent that was followed a decade later by Princess Anne and her first husband. The Royal Watcher remarked that "Princess Alexandra has been carrying out duties since she was a teenager, and has carried out a heavy load of engagements ever since. She has kept her personal life mostly discreet, and has expertly represented the Royal Family for decades! They don't make them like her any more!"

Prince Royal @Princeroyal99 selected Alexandra because, "she's a very hardworking and glamorous member of the British Royal Family. She deserves full-on respect." Tojori Jewel @Tojorij remarked, "She is courteous and respectful when asked to represent The Queen. I don't think that she set a foot wrong, ever. What I dislike is that we don't see enough of her." The princess has had some health issues in recent years that have led her to cut back on some of her engagements. Plus, as a member of the extended family, her engagements are less well-covered by the media than those of the Wales family. JR @Jakreg76 rounds out the list of Alexandra fans declaring that "she's classy, authentic, not putting on airs, in spite of having ups & downs in private life (like we all have) never putting a foot wrong herself, no complaints just getting on with it...she's basically the perfect princess for her time and place.

Eugenie (left) and Beatrice together at Ascot in 2015.
By Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons
The York sisters completed our list with Princess Eugenie just edging out Alexandra while her big sister Beatrice garnered only 5% of the votes. [Read my profile of Eugenie.] The Yorkies have long been the subject of intense conversations (let's not say "controversies") among royal watchers. While neither of them have done anything particularly scandalous, nor particularly noteworthy for that matter, they suffer in the shadow of their scandal-ridden parents, The Queen's second son Prince Andrew The Duke of York and the former Sarah Ferguson. As JR said, "I've always been of the opinion that the York girls are being punished by the public for both the actions and alleged actions of their parents. Punished in a way any sons of the couple wouldn't have been. Always easier to vilify women."

Both princesses, who are slightly younger than their cousins Prince William and Prince Harry, completed university and have worked steadily in the "real world" while also supporting a number of charitable causes. They each also have faced personal challenges: Beatrice has dyslexia while Eugenie underwent surgery as a girl to overcome a severe curvature of the spine caused by scoliosis. They have faced incredible and unfair ridicule in the media. Chubby baby Eugenie was dubbed "Huge-genie" as an infant while an adult Beatrice undertook a weight loss and fitness regimen after one too many tabloid photos criticizing her rounded figure. They also were lambasted for their choice of headgear at Prince William's wedding, having relied on the talents of the usually very reliable Philip Treacy to design them. Nevertheless, they do have some die-hard fans like Julia Annette @Mimi4AU who wrote, "I really love Bea!"

Beatrice and Eugenie have occasionally represented their grandmother Queen Elizabeth II in an official capacity, but they are not considered working members of the British Royal Family. Support for their charitable work, which includes charities led by both of their parents as well as their own favorite causes, comes from their father's pocket. This awkward combination of royal titles without royal responsibilities makes them particularly vulnerable to public criticism through no fault of their own, as it seems to have been their uncle The Prince of Wales and the Way Ahead Group that made this decision when they were just children. [Read my post about the status of princesses in today's monarchies, To Be a Princess of Not?]

24 October 2018

Baby Sussex and the Other #7 Royals

By Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
When the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced on October 15 that they are expecting a child in "spring 2019", the search term "When is spring?" spiked on the world's search engines. Every royal watcher in the world is closely watching the newest royal lady and a baby before the first anniversary is the greatest hope we could have. (Not to fall into the "just like Diana" category, but Diana delivered her first child 38 days before her first anniversary. If Meghan does the same -- though there is absolutely no reason why she would -- Baby Sussex will arrive on April 12.)

Whenever Baby Sussex arrives, he or she will fit into the Line of Succession to the throne at the #7 spot as follows:

1. HRH The Prince of Wales
2. HRH The Duke of Cambridge
3. HRH Prince George of Cambridge
4. HRH Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
5. HRH Prince Louis of Cambridge
6. HRH The Duke of Sussex
7. Baby Sussex (either The Lady X Windsor or The Earl of Dumbarton)
8. HRH The Duke of York
9. HRH Princess Beatrice of York
10. HRH Princess Eugenie

Not many royal babies have been born at #7. In fact in the last 300ish years since the Hanoverians came to the throne, only nine babies have been born at the spot. Two of them, while members of the monarch's extended family, were not royal themselves. Such will be the case with Baby Sussex unless something changes. Under current guidelines, the great-grandchildren of the monarch do not get royal status. The only exception being the children of the first son of the Prince of Wales. So, as of now, Harry and Meghan's child will either be styled depending on gender as The Lady First Name Windsor or The Earl of Dumbarton, adopting Harry's secondary title. There are two circumstances that could alter this. First, and it does not bear consideration, would be the death or even more unlikely abdication of The Queen. If the Prince of Wales were to ascend the throne, the new baby would be a male-line grandchild of the monarch and therefore entitled to royal status and royal titles as HRH Prince or Princess First Name of Sussex. (This would also mean that the baby would be born at #6, as everyone would move one step closer to the throne.) The second circumstance would be for The Queen to make a special exception for Harry's children, as she did for Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, as the previous guidelines only provided for William's first child to have royal status.

One of the truths about being born at #7 is that the baby will likely move very far from the throne throughout its lifetime, as we shall see from the #7 predecessors. Moving down the line requires only the birth of more babies ahead of you, while moving up the line requires the far less frequent deaths of your higher-up relatives.

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCESS MARY OF WALES
born February 1, 1723
died January 14, 1772 at #29
by Georg Desmarees, Gemaldegalerie
Alte Meister via Wikimedia Commons
Mary was born while her father was still Prince of Wales, but just a few years later, he became King George II and she became The Princess Mary. Of his eight children, only the three youngest (including Mary) were born in Britain. The older children were born in Hanover before their grandfather the King of Hanover became King of Great Britain. In fact, her oldest brother Frederick had been left in Hanover and Mary did not even meet him until she was five years old. Her mother died when she was just 14 and a few years later she was married off to an abusive husband, Frederick of Hesse Kassel. The couple separated after having four sons, one of whom died as an infant. A few years later, Mary's younger sister, Queen Louise of Denmark died at 27 following a miscarriage, Mary took her children to Denmark and helped raise her nephew and three nieces. Naturally, two of her sons married two of her nieces. Mary herself died somewhat young, aged just 48.

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCESS ELIZABETH 
born May 22, 1770
died January 10, 1840 at #8
By Thomas Gainsborough
via Wikimedia Commons
Princess Elizabeth was the seventh child of King George III, who notoriously had 15 children but only eight legitimate grandchildren, two of whom died as infants. With the birth of her five younger brothers, the male-preference succession rules of the day pushed her steadily down the line. Then, she bounced up and down in line as several of her brothers had children, then three of those children died and six brothers predeceased her. She never fell lower than 12th in line. Like all of George III's daughters, she lived a very sheltered life and was not allowed to marry as a young woman.  Even a potential marriage with the future French King Louis Philippe was denied due to religious concerns. However, after her father was declared mad, she demanded to be allowed to marry Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg. She was almost 47 years old at the time. She was finally able to establish her own household in Germany, but was not able to have a family of her own.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE ADOLPHUS 
born February 24, 1774
died July 8, 1850 at #12
Due to the deaths of his father, four older brothers and three nieces, he rose as high as #4 during the early years of his niece Queen Victoria's reign. Once she started her family in 1840, however, he was pushed steadily back down on an almost annual basis until his death in 1850. The seventh of George III's nine sons, Adolphus was the last boy to survive to adulthood. He was given the title Duke of Cambridge but educated primarily in the family's kingdom of Hanover, where he also pursued a military career, before returning to Britain to serve in the army there. In 1818, after the death of his niece Princess Charlotte of Wales, who had been the only heir in the next generation, he married Augusta of Hesse Kassel. They produced a son and two daughters, the youngest of whom, Princess Mary Adelaide (see my profile of Mary Adelaide) was the mother of Queen Mary, who was of course the current Queen Elizabeth's paternal grandmother. So, Queen Elizabeth has close connections to the Duke of Cambridge title that she granted to her grandson Prince William.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS CROWN PRINCE ERNST AUGUST OF HANOVER 
born September 21, 1845
died November 14, 1923 at #99
At least I think he was at #99 when he passed away. Only the descendants of Queen Victoria came before him, but they were multitudinous by the 1920s. Her nine children had produced 42 grandchildren, many of whom had grandchildren of their own by 1923. In fact, five of Ernst August's grandchildren were at least 30 places higher in the line of succession because their mother, was a great-granddaughter of Victoria. Plus, he would have been even lower in line had it not been for several QVDs (Queen Victoria's Descendants) who married Catholics like Marie of Edinburgh and Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. However, Ernst August had been stripped of his British titles and his Garter knighthood in 1917 for fighting on the side of his own country against Britain. Ernst August was a great-grandson of King George III; his grandfather, the Duke of Cumberland, would have been King of the United Kingdom if Victoria had not been born. Instead, he inherited George's throne in Hanover, where female rulers were not allowed. He married Thyra of Denmark, a younger sister of Queen Alexandra, and had six children. The family was deposed from the Hanoverian throne after losing to Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. Ernst August gained a new title as Duke of Brunswick in 1879 after the death of a cousin. The current claimant to his titles is married, though estranged, to Princess Caroline of Monaco.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ALEXANDER JOHN OF WALES
born April 6, 1871
died April 7, 1871 at #7
The third son and sixth child of the future King Edward VIII and Alexandra of Denmark was born prematurely, but he was not the first of their children to arrive early. Little Alexander John, however, did not thrive like his siblings. He was quickly christened and died just a day after his birth. Alexandra had given birth to six children in just over seven years. Although she was only 26 when they lost Alexander John, she had no children after him.

THE HONOURABLE GERALD LASCELLES
born August 21, 1924 
died February 27, 1998 at #47
Gerald Lascelles was the second grandson of King George V and Queen Mary, but he and his older brother were the sons of their only daughter Princess Mary, who was later named Princess Royal (see my profile of Mary Princess Royal). Therefore, they received no royal titles, instead being styled through their father, who was the 6th Earl of Harewood. Both Gerald and his brother led (let's say) interesting marital careers. Gerald was still married to his first wife Angela Dowding when he had a son by Elizabeth Colvin, who became his wife 16 years later after his divorce from Angela, by whom he had also had one son. Gerald served as president of the Racing Drivers' Club for 27 years and he helped compile a series of jazz compendiums. His oldest son Henry and Henry's son Maximilian are currently #70 and #71 in the Line of Succession, but his second son Martin was never legitimized and therefore is not in line.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE EDWARD OF KENT
born October 9, 1935
currently #36
Prince Edward of Kent was the first grandchild of King George V to be born to two royal parents. His father was the king's fourth son, George Duke of Kent, and to Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. On his father's side, he is a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II and a second cousin of her husband who was born Prince Philip of Greece. When his father died in 1942, six-year-old Edward became the Duke of Kent. He graduated from Sandhurst Military Academy and served 20 years in the army, retiring with the earned rank of lieutenant colonel. He is the longest serving Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, is a Garter Knight, and Personal Aide-de-Camp to The Queen. He has represented her around the world and is the patron of dozens of organizations. He married a Yorkshire lass named Katharine Worsley. Today they have three children and 10 grandchildren. At 83 years old, he is the third oldest member of the current British Royal Family after Prince Philip and The Queen.

HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE MICHAEL OF KENT 
born July 4, 1942
currently #47
Amazingly, like his older brother Edward, Prince Michael of Kent was also born at #7 while Edward had moved up to #5. He moved up one spot when he was four months old upon the death of their grandfather King George V and one more spot 11 months later when their uncle King Edward VIII abdicated the throne. Both boys moved up a spot a few weeks after Michael's birth when their father was killed in a flying accident. Prince Michael was actually out of the Line of Succession from the time of his marriage to the Catholic Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz in 1978 until the laws were changed in 2013 to allow the spouses of Catholics to inherit the throne, as well as to allow for gender-blind accession. Unlike his brother, Michael does not receive money from the Privy Purse. However, he does carry out some royal duties and has represented The Queen at home and abroad. Often noted for a physical resemblance to his first cousin twice removed Tsar Nicholas II, Michael maintains an active engagement in Russia. He was one of the members of the Royal Family, who contributed DNA to prove the identity of the Russian Imperial Family's remains. He and Marie Christine, who is styled as Princess of Michael, have two children and two granddaughters.

LADY SARAH ARMSTRONG-JONES
born May 1, 1964 to HRH The Princess Margaret and The Earl of Snowdon
now known as Lady Sarah Chatto
currently #24
Embed from Getty Images
A professional artist, Lady Sarah is a granddaughter of King George VI but in the female line, so she did not inherit any royal titles. Her commoner father was given a title upon his marriage into the royal family, so she has always been styled as the daughter of an earl. She and husband Daniel Chatto have two sons, Samuel born in 1996 and Arthur born in 1999. She is a great favorite of her aunt Queen Elizabeth II and can be seen at almost every royal family occasion. She is also greatly admired by the public for her discretion, kindness and excellent style. Though born at #7, she is now at #24 following the births of The Queen's children and grandchildren and her brother's children. She has only moved up once in her lifetime at the time of her mother's death in 2002. (See my earlier profile of Lady Sarah.)

09 October 2018

A Princess Named Eugenie

By Mark Jones via Wikimedia Commons
When the Duke and Duchess of York announced their new daughter's name in 1990, people were surprised. There had not been a princess named Eugenie in the British Royal Family since the birth of Queen Victoria's youngest granddaughter over a century earlier. The bookmakers reported that not a single person had bet on the name. In retrospect, it was not at all an unusual choice for Eugenie's mother Sarah, who had already shown a strong interest in Queen Victoria and her family. Sarah had named her first child, Beatrice, after Victoria's youngest child. Why not name her second daughter after that first Beatrice's only daughter, Victoria Eugenie?

In fact, the name Eugenie has very few royal connections. The few times that the name has been used have all been very recent by royal standards. The name entered royal family trees through a bit of a side branch when Napoleon Bonaparte stormed across Europe, crowing himself Emperor of France and placing his friends and family on other thrones.


By Friedrich Durck
via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The first royal Eugenie was a Swedish princess. Her grandfather, King Carl Johan, had been one of Napoleon's best friends and top generals before being placed on the Swedish throne and her grandmother Desiree Clary was one of Napoleon's early loves. Carl Johan and Desiree's only child, King Oscar, married Josephine of Leuchtenberg, whose father Eugene de Beauharnais was Napoleon's stepson by Empress Josephine. When King Oscar and Queen Josephine decided to name their little girl in honor of Eugene de Beauharnais, she became the very first Princess Eugenie. She grew up in amidst a tribe of brothers, but her health was always fragile. Despite her ill health, she received several marriage proposals including one from the future Emperor Napoleon III, who found another Eugenie to marry. Instead of marrying, she was allowed to live independently. In fact, she was one of the first women in Sweden to assert her right to live outside of a male relative's guardianship. A talented woman, she was active as a painter and sculptor, a music composer and a poet. She was also active as a royal patron, sponsoring a children's hospital and founding an orphanage. Despite a lifetime of poor health and nearly constant illness, Eugenie lived into her late fifties, dying just one day shy of her 59th birthday.

by W&D Downey
via Wikipedia Commons
Eugenie de Montijo
Born four years earlier than Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway, Spanish noblewoman Eugenie did not reach royal (well, imperial) status until she married Emperor Napoleon III of France at the age of 26. Considered extremely beautiful, Empress Eugenie was highly celebrated as a leader of fashion. She also helped establish the template of modern royals, traveling widely within her country and around the globe to carry the flag. Her husband relied on her advice, though others questioned it, and sometimes lift her in charge. When the Franco-Prussian War lost him his throne, they ended up in exile in Britain with their only son. The emperor died soon thereafter and their son died six years later while fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War. Eugenie lived another 40 years in Britain and on the Continent, as a well-respected member of the elite. (See my full profile of her.)

By Philip Laszlo
via Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg
The youngest of Queen Victoria's 22, Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg is often considered one of the most beautiful. (See my post Gorgeous Granddaughters of Victoria.) Her mother, Princess Beatrice named her for her own mother, Queen Victoria, and her godmother, Empress Eugenie. Little Ena, as she was called, were raised in Victoria's household. Her father died when she was just eight years old, but she received plenty of support from the extended family. At age 17, she caught the eye of the young King Alfonso XIII of Spain. It was a love match but Ena had several strikes against her: her father wasn't truly royal, she was Protestant and she was likely carrying the hemophilia gene that Victoria's daughters and granddaughters had carried into other royal houses. The couple married nevertheless and despite a near-miss terrorist bomb attack on their wedding day, they were initially happy. However, of their five sons, one was stillborn, one became deaf and two were indeed hemophiliacs. (Their two daughters apparently did not inherit the faulty gene, or at least did not pass it to their offspring.) The health of their children and Alfonso's philandering drove the couple apart. The country was also coming apart. The family was eventually forced from the throne and into exile. (Read my post about Victoria Eugenie's escape.) The couple lived separately abroad until his death 10 years later. Ena lived long enough to see her grandson Juan Carlos recognized as the future king by Spanish dictator General Franco, and to attend the christening of her great-grandson, who is now King Felipe VI of Spain. She was the first royal Eugenie not to have a direct tie to the Bonapartes, her only connection being through her godmother.

Young Princess Eugenie with her mother
Princess Marie and brother Prince Peter
Edition Moos, Karlsruhe via Wikimedia Commons
Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Although 11 years his elder, Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark was a first cousin of Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh. His father Andrew of Greece and her father George of Greece were brothers. Her mother Princess Marie Bonaparte was a granddaughter of Napoleon's rebellious younger brother Lucien. A well-known psychoanalyst, Princess Marie helped Sigmund Freud escape Nazi Germany, but Eugenie was already grown by then. Nevertheless, it can be see that she grew up under the direction of a mother who was both educated and influential. She also grew up in the shadow of her mother's famous sexuality. Marie's frustration in sexual climax led her to conduct both numerous affairs and direct scientific research. Eugenie would have known her little cousin Philip, as he spent part of his childhood in Marie's care and she helped pay for part of his early education. (Marie was one of the wealthier members of the by-then exiled Greek royal family.) Meanwhile Eugenie's dad Prince George may have had an inappropriately close relationship with his uncle Prince Valdemar of Denmark. It was a complicated childhood spent mostly in Paris and Vienna or travelling about this her mother and older brother Prince Peter. Eugenie married Prince Dominik Radziwill at age 28. The had a son and a daughter in the eight years before their divorce. A few years later, Eugenie married Prince Raymundo della Torre e Tasso and had one son with him. That marriage lasted twice as long as her first, ending in divorce after 16 years. She lived another 24 years, working on a biography of Tsarevich Alexei Nikolaievich that was published in 1990, a year after her death.

Eugenie of York
The youngest daughter of Queen Elizabeth II's son Prince Andrew The Duke of York, Eugenie of York experienced her first moment of scandal as a toddler when she and her older sister Princess Beatrice were featured in holiday photos of their mother, the former Sarah Ferguson, cavorting with another man. The news rocked the royal family, especially when combined with the implosion of the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales and that of Princess Anne, all amidst well-founded rumors of infidelity. Little Eugenie became a child of divorce at age six. However, her parents continued living together off and on over the years and vacationing together as a family. Both of their daughters have publicly declared them great parents. Both were at 12-year-old Eugenie's side as she underwent back surgery to correct a deformity caused by scoliosis, which has left her with titanium rods in her back and with a commitment to helping support scoliosis care specifically and children's healthcare in particular. In 2012, Eugenie became only the second woman in the British royal family to complete a university degree, following in the footsteps of her sister Beatrice. Since then, she has worked in the art world, most recently as director at the Hauser & Wirth gallery in London. Although not an official working member of the British Royal Family, Eugenie has adopted many charitable causes outside of healthcare, including her mother's organization Children in Crisis, the arts, plastic pollution and human trafficking.


About Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of France
Charles Frederick Worth, The Empress Eugenie and the Invention of Haute-Couture on Napoleon.org
Consort Profile: Empress Eugenie of France on The Mad Monarchist
The Daily Diadem on The Court Jeweller
The Dentist and the Empress on American Heritage
Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie on Historical Men and Women
Empress Eugenie on History's Women
Empress Eugenie's Bow Brooch on Eragem
The Empress Eugenie in eighteenth-century costume on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Empress Eugenie: Her Unique Sense of Fashion with Diamond Jewels on Baunat
The Empress Eugenie Surrounded by Her Ladies in Waiting on Napoleon.org
Eugenie de Montijo, Empress of the French on Unofficial Royalty
Eugenie the Tragic Empress on Victorian Paris
Impress of an Empress on Independent.co.uk
L'Imperatrice Eugenie on Napoleon.org
Marie Antoinette and Eugenie on Versailles and More
Obsession: Empress Eugenie's Shoe Collection on The Bowes Museum's Blog
Two Empresses and Their Sons on Wellcome Library

About Eugenie of Greece and Denmark
Princess Eugenie of Greece and Denmark on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of Princess Eugenie of Greece on The Royal Watcher

About Eugenie of Sweden and Norway
The Delicate Princess Eugenie of Sweden and Norway on History of Royal Women

About Eugenie of York
Princess Eugenie on The Duke of York
Princess Eugenie index on Hello!
Princess Eugenie of York on English Monarchs
Princess Eugenie of York on The Royal Watcher
Princess Eugenie's Story on Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
What to Do about the York Princesses on Royal Musings

About Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain
Albert's Godmother on Mad for Monaco
Aunt Ena's Emeralds on Prince Michael's Chronicles
Consort Profile on The Mad Monarchist
Princess Victoria Eugenie and the Curse of Haemophilia on Kings and Queens
Queen Victoria Eugenia on Royal Magazin
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on Gods and Foolish Grandeur
Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Royal Watcher
Royal Wedding #1 on Edwardian Promenade
The Stories of Queen Victoria's Granddaughters on Royal Central
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg - Queen of Spain on History of Royal Women
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg, Queen of Spain on Unofficial Royalty
Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg. Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain on The Former Paradise
Victoria Eugenie: The English Queen of Spain on Rebecca Starr Brown
Victoria Eugenie, Queen Consort of Spain on The Royal Court
Victoria Eugenie, une Reine d'Espagne en Exil on Point de Vue
Wedding of King Alfonso of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on The Royal Watcher
Wedding of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Princess Victoria Eugenie on Unofficial Royalty

03 October 2018

My Favorite Royal Ladies

by Nick Parfjonov 
via Wikimedia Commons
I first discovered real-life princesses when I was 10 years old, in the year of THE "Royal Wedding of the Century" -- a century that has long since ended. All of the attention generated by Diana Princess of Wales attracted my interest. Like so many royal-watchers in the early stages of royal watching, I was fascinated by where she went and what she wore. Then, in my very first book about the newly born Prince William of Wales, I found my first royal genealogy chart and that took me in a new and even more exciting direction. Soon, I was spending my Saturdays in the public library copying royal genealogies into stacks and stacks of three-ring binders and my evenings pouring through every issue of Royalty and Majesty magazines. I even managed to get a few of my "reader's letters" published. I felt so famous. When teachers allowed me to choose my own topics, they received essays, research papers and slide presentations about royal history. On my dinner breaks at my first fast-food job, I gave history lessons to my co-workers, who were amazingly attentive. (When I ran into one of those ladies again nearly 30 years later, she brought me a copy of the notes she had taken when I told her about the six wives of Henry VIII.)

For 37 years now, I have spent every moment I could exploring, discussing and writing about royal history. But no matter how many times I have been asked, there is still one question that I have never been able to answer: Why? I have tried to analyze my fascination, but can never find an explanation to satisfy myself, much less anyone else. Here is the best response that I can manage: 

We know so little of women's history. Not much of it has been recorded. What we do know often is about royal and noble women, whose rank and status made them of greater interest to contemporary chroniclers. For instance, even well-educated people can probably list no more than 10 women from the 12th century and I would venture to guess that most or all of those women were royal or noble.

I told that you that I didn't have a sufficient reason for my "obsession" but I'm sure all of you have quirky habits, too.

Having said all of that, I recently started wondering who my favorite royal ladies are. So, here they are for your enjoyment, in chronological order.

Detail of Eleanor's tomb
By Touriste via Wikimedia Commons
The earliest of my favorites is undoubtedly Eleanor of Aquitaine. She was long-lived, particularly for someone born in the 12th century. Eleanor lived to be at least 80 years old but that's not nearly the most remarkable thing about her. I love Eleanor because, no matter the many restrictions placed upon her as a woman, she often shaped the world to her own will. She was a powerful Duchess in her own right as a teenager. Despite many suitors, she held out for the top prize: the King Louis VII of France. She convinced him to let her go with him on Crusade and formed her own regiment of Crusading women. When she grew too constrained and unhappy in her marriage, she persuaded Louis that God disapproved of it. The moment the annulment was signed, she flew into the arms of her chosen new husband, the younger man and future King Henry II of England, adding three daughters and five sons to the two daughters that she already had. When she'd had enough of Henry, she fomented a rebellion among her young sons against him. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well for her and she became Henry's prisoner for the rest of his life, but she triumphed by outliving him. She became the top woman in the Angevin Empire during the reign of her son Richard the Lionheart. When he was taken hostage during his return from Crusade, she worked tirelessly to secure his release and to bring her renegade youngest son John under control. After Richard's death, she opted to ignore primogeniture, which would have placed her young grandson Arthur of Brittany on the throne and sided instead with John, though she didn't live long enough to see what a hash he made of it. One of her very last acts before retiring to a convent that she had founded was to travel to Spain to bring back one of her granddaughters to marry one of her first husband's grandsons, thus securing a new peace. It's as if she lived many lifetimes in one!

Juana of Castile
By Juan de Flandes via Wikipedia
I am also a great admirer of Isabella I of Castile and her daughters Juana of Castile and Catherine of Aragon. Recognized as the heir to the Castilian throne as a teenager, Isabella refused numerous political marriages negotiating secretly for her own choice, Ferdinand, the heir to Aragon. Together the two built the heart of what is now Spain, securing their lands against all enemies including the Moors, who for centuries had dominated the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Isabella is best known in the New World for sponsoring Columbus' voyages. She also did some awful things in the name of her faith (ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition), earning for herself and Ferdinand (and their heirs through today) the title of "Catholic Kings". Along the way, even when leading troops into battle, she delivered and raised numerous children. Two of these were the daughter Juana (later known as La Loca or The Mad) who would unite Aragon and Castile under one monarch, but whose father, husband and son conspired against her to control her territories for her. Consequently, she spent much of her life locked away "for her own good." If she wasn't crazy when they sent her away, she certainly became crazy as a result. Poor, sad Juana was also madly in love with her husband, remembered historically as Philip the Handsome, who was far less enamored of her. Through their marriage, the Austrian Hapsburgs added Spain and all of the Spanish territories in the New World to their massive empire. Meanwhile, little sister Catherine of Aragon had been sent to marry the English heir Arthur, who died soon after the wedding. Instead of sending the widowed teenager home, her father-in-law King Henry VII kept her and her dowry in England. When his own wife died, he even contemplated marrying her himself, which sent Isabella into fits of protests that might have led to war if he had not dropped the subject. Instead, Catherine married his other son after he became King Henry VIII at the age of 16. The couple were in love and appeared to be a real-life knight-in-shining-armor and damsel-in-distress romance. Their repeated fertility failures and the death of their infant son Henry Prince of Wales, however, placed great strain on the marriage. Nevertheless, they were both pleased with their bright and talented daughter Mary, who was expected to inherit the throne. That is, until King Henry met a mistress who wouldn't surrender her charms unless he married her. Soon, he became obsessed with his lack of male heir and convinced himself that God was unhappy with his marriage and was punishing him for it. When the Pope would not grant him a quickie annulment, he demanded a hearing. A Cardinal came to England, but Catherine refused to surrender her place as Henry's wife or as Queen of England. Since her nephew (Juana's son) was by then the powerful Holy Roman Emperor, the Catholic Church tended to side with Catherine. Henry found another way: he started his own church and made himself the head of it. Not surprisingly, he attained his annulment and declared Princess Mary a bastard, marrying his mistress Anne Boleyn, who soon gave birth to yet another daughter before suffering her own string of tragic pregnancies. Despite having been deprived of her titles, banished to dreadful houses with small households and budgets, and denied the company of her only child, Catherine remained true to her role as Henry's wife, declaring her love and loyalty to him, even at the end. (Read my full post about Catherine.)

By Sir Thomas Lawrence from

the National Portrait Gallery via Wikimedia Commons
An even more tragic princess makes my list -- and probably tops it. I've certainly spent more time studying Princess Charlotte Augusta than anyone else. (You can read my biographical post about her on the Cross of Laeken blog.) As the only legitimate grandchild of the prolific King George III, who had 15 children, Charlotte was set to lead the British Empire through most of the 19th century. Her life, however, was a travesty from the beginning. Her parents, George Prince of Wales (later the Prince Regent and then King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick, despised each other with the red-hot heat of the blazing sun. They were horrified upon their first meeting and things only got worse. The prince was even drunk at the wedding and only could bring himself to have sex with Caroline for a few days. Fortunately, these were the days when she was apparently fertile and Charlotte arrived nine months later. The parents never lived together again and Charlotte rarely lived with either of them. Instead, she was set up with a household of her own, with rare visits to her disinterested father and even rarer access to her increasingly eccentric mother. She did, however, get to enjoy some time with her grandparents, Queen Charlotte and King George, before his illness led to his internment at Windsor Castle. She even occasionally got to go on holiday. Charlotte grew up headstrong (not surprisingly perhaps) and soon became aware of her value to the nation as its only young heir. When her father proposed a match for the teenage princess with the future Dutch King, Charlotte put her foot down. She refused to make a marriage that would require her to live outside of her own future kingdom. Her father would not back down. So Charlotte, on the eve of a contentious election, ran away to her mother's house. Several of her royal uncles and others were sent to persuade her to come back. She finally relented only on the condition that she could choose her own husband. The people rejoiced at her display of patriotism and spirit. In a royal family that was greatly despised, she was truly the People's Princess. For her husband, she chose the handsome and penniless Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who had built some respect in the Imperial Russian Army as it triumphed over Napoleon. The spirited Charlotte and sober Leopold seemed well-matched and were great favorites among the public. When Charlotte lost her first pregnancy, everyone thought there would be plenty of time for more babies. Her second pregnancy stretched well beyond her expected due date. When she finally went into labor, it lasted for three days and ended with the delivery of a stillborn son. Hours later, Charlotte also died and the nation lamented. (Read my full post about the death of Charlotte and her son.) Her royal uncles rallied to find wives and beget more heirs because her parents certainly weren't having more children. Leopold's sister even married one of the royal dukes and gave birth to a little girl we all remember as the Queen who led the British Empire through most of the 19th century, Queen Victoria. Leopold was later offered the throne of the newly created Kingdom of Belgium. He married a French princess and named his only daughter Charlotte. (You can read his daughter's sad story here.)

Of course, I have many more favorites like the long-suffering Catharine of Braganza, the do-it-your-way Catherine the Great, the dramatic but effective Queen Marie of Romania, the beautiful but tragic Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden, the inspirational Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, the steady and reliable Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the long-lived Princess Alice Duchess of Gloucester, the no-nonsense Anne Princess Royal, the brilliant Empress Frederick, the motherly Princess Alice Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt, the orphaned-by-guillotine Marie Therese Madame Royale, the very beloved Eleanor of Castile, the larger-than-life Mary Adelaide of Cambridge, the ethereal Empress Elizabeth, the determined Empress Matilda, the finally-married Katherine Swynford, the lovely and steadfast Alice of Albany, etc. etc. etc.

And now you know why I have a blog about princesses....so many princesses to write about and so little time!