13 December 2012

12 Royal Reasons the World Can't End

As everyone on Earth now knows, centuries ago, the Mayans scheduled for the world to end on December 21, 2012. However they did this without much consideration for what would be happening in our lives at the time. If the Mayans had known about some of the exciting things taking place in 2013, they certainly would have reconsidered.

In all seriousness, we can anticipate several intriguing royal news stories in 2013 and beyond. Here are 12 royal reasons the world can't end in 2012.

1. We'd never know if Kate's baby is a boy or girl or multiples.
Even before it was announced that the Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant, people were speculating about the gender of her first child. I think this is due to two main reasons. Firstly, the issue of succession rights throughout the Commonwealth is still being ironed out. At the moment, if a girl is born first, she would later cede her place to a younger brother due to male primogeniture. It is expected, however, that this will be changed so that gender no longer is considered in the British succession for any descendants of the couple. Secondly, royal watchers seem to prefer princesses overall especially if there is a chance that princess might be named Diana. If they have a daughter and don't name her Diana, many people will be disappointed. (I, for one, think it would be a poor choice, but I also didn't think William would give Kate his unhappily married mother's engagement ring.)

Now, that it has been revealed that Kate is suffering from hyperemisis gravedarum and we have learned that women with this condition statistically have more daughters and are more inclined to have twins, people are enthusiastically anticipating the arrival of multiple princesses named Diana, Elizabeth and Victoria (why not triplets?)

2. We wouldn't get to see Princess Madeleine's wedding gown.
One of the most beautiful princesses in the world got engaged in 2012 and everyone is rooting for her to have a fabulous wedding, particularly since her first engagement three years ago was called off when it was discovered her fiance was a cheating scoundrel. After that, Princess Madeleine of Sweden moved to New York City where she could enjoy a bit more privacy, but she will undoubtedly marry her British-American sweetheart in Sweden. But, what will her wedding gown look like and will she wear the hideous Cameo Tiara that all of the Swedish royal brides have worn for the last two generations? 

3. We wouldn't know whether Casiraghis would take over from the Grimaldis.
Andrea Casiraghi
The world is still waiting for Prince Albert Grimaldi of Monaco to father a legitimate child. (He has two acknowledged illegitimate children.) He and his wife, Princess Charlene, have been married a year and a half and so far they have not announced any great expectations. If Albert does not produce an heir, the principality will pass to his older sister Princess Caroline and then to her oldest son, Andrea Casiraghi, whose fiancee Tatiana Santo Domingo is currently expecting their first child. Albert and Caroline's dad, Prince Rainier, specifically changed the law to prevent illegitimate children from inheriting, even though Rainier's mother was an illegitimate daughter who passed the throne to him after her princely father officially adopted her.

4. We'd never know whether Chelsy would finally get her prince.
Okay, so this one is pretty far fetched, buy Chelsy Davy is still discussed by royalwatchers as the love of Prince Harry's life. The fact that they have broken up and reunited several times gives Chelsy supporters hopes that one day he will settle down with the woman he truly loves. However, I've never thought Chelsy was very interested in being a princess. Plus, Harry's reported current girlfriend, Cressida Bonas, probably would not be happy to cede her place in the prince's arms. Besides, there are plenty of other girls ready to offer their services. (I'm looking at you, Harry Hunters!)

5. We would miss the opportunity to have a nonagenarian monarch.
So far, so good. Queen Elizabeth II seems to be made of the same sturdy stock that kept her mother alive until the age of 101. At this rate, she will be 90 years old on April 21, 2016--less than 3.5 years from now--and she would become the first European monarch to live into the ninth decade. She could even become the first centenarian monarch in 2026 and I'd like to be around to see it!

6. We'd never find out whether Camilla would actually become queen.
At the time of her marriage to Prince Charles, it was announced that Camilla would use his second highest title and be styled as the Duchess of Cornwall out of deference to the late Diana, who was so beloved as Princess of Wales. They also announced that, upon his accession, she would use the unprecedented title of Princess Consort instead of Queen Consort. This declaration has been reconfirmed in the ensuing years although many traditionalists and historians say she is still legally Princess of Wales and would legally be Queen Consort. Plus, it doesn't seem like Charles is overly excited about not having a queen by his side. When asked about it in recent years, he responded, "we'll see."

7. We wouldn't get the chance to see six of Europe's seven kingdoms led by queens.
That's right, by the middle of this century, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Spain, The Netherlands and The U.K. could all have a female monarch. (That's if popular opinion determines the gender of Kate's first child.) Born between 2001 and 2012, Elisabeth of Belgium, Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, Leonor of Spain, Estelle of Sweden, and Catharina Amalia of The Netherland could all be sitting on their respective thrones at the same time. The future King Christian X of Denmark would be the only fellow in this exclusive ladies-only club.

8. We'd never get to see Kate wear the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara.
Since her marriage, Kate has had very few tiara occasions. That will certainly change once Charles is king and William is the Prince of Wales. So far, she has only been seen in the late Queen Mother's Cartier Halo tiara. However, many people would love to see her wear the Cambridge Lover's Knot tiara, which was brought into the family by Queen Mary but which was made famous as one of Diana's favorites. Plus, it would seem to additional sentiment attached since William was given the Cambridge title.

9. We'd never see male primogeniture eliminated everywhere.
In the wake of Kate's pregnancy announcement, the British are finally moving quickly toward eliminating the male preference in their succession laws. On Dec. 13, the proposed changes were finally published. (Read about them on the Royal Musings blog.) The changes also lift the ban on dynasts who marry Catholics (like Prince Michael of Kent) but not on those who are or become Catholic (like Lord Nicholas Windsor). The male preference has already been removed in Belgium, Luxemburg, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It is still in place in Monaco and Spain. Women are completely barred from the succession in Liechtenstein as well as in several non-European monarchies, including Morocco, Jordan and Japan. So, it looks like we still have a ways to go before the Mayans can end the world.

10. We'd never get to see the Greek throne restored.
Okay, I'll admit this one is a very long shot. The Greek royal family was displaced several times throughout the 20th century, most recently in 1967. Since then, King Constantine, his wife the former Princess Anne-Marie of Denmark, their five children and nine children have lived abroad, primarily in London. However, their eldest daughter lives in the Canary Islands with her Spanish husband, their youngest daughter is an actress in the United States, and the Crown Prince lives in New York City with his American wife. The Greek royals, however, are very tight with the other European royals. After all, the King's sister is the Queen of Spain, the Queen's sister is the Queen of Denmark, and they are close cousins with the Kent branch of the British Royal Family and Prince Philip and his children.

11. We'd never get to see Japan decide Princess Aiko should be empress.
As I mentioned in #9, the Japanese Imperial throne currently does not allow for female succession. So, when Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife Masako's long fertility struggle ended with the birth of daughter Princess Aiko, the nation started to consider changing the laws. After all, his only brother Prince Akishino also had only daughters, the teenaged Princesses Mako and Kako. Then, suddenly, that all changed when Akishino's 39-year-old wife became pregnant, 12 years after the birth of her last child. The new baby was a prince and all talk of changing the succession to include women was dropped. In 2012, however, the Japanese princesses once again began to attract support. As it stands, they are forced to leave the imperial family when they marry commoners. Since there have been so many princesses and so few princes in the family, this means that the official imperial family is shrinking. Laws to allow women to remain family members are now being discussed. With enough time, maybe they will even be permitted to accede to the Chrysanthemum throne; perhaps in time for Empress Aiko, who is now 11.

12. We'd never know if Kate is brave enough to face another pregnancy.
The severe form of morning sickness from which the Duchess of Cambridge is suffering is so miserable that many women opt not to risk subsequent pregnancies. Will the pressure to have a "spare" to go with her "heir" cause Kate to try for another pregnancy after the sheer misery of this one? Or, should she just go ahead and have triplets now, as I so kindly suggested in #1. Of course, that leads to a higher possibility of Caesarean delivery with the doctor possibly playing a determining factor in birth order and thereby selecting the future monarch, as some silly people have already started speculating.

01 December 2012

Announcing Kate's Pregnancy

UPDATE: Just days after this was posted, St. James's Palace, HQ of The Prince of Wales, announced that Kate is in the early stages of pregnancy. The announcement was unusually early in first trimester, but necessary because Kate had to be hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum, a very acute and dangerous form of morning sickness. Prince William has been at her side daily. Best wishes to the little family.

Based on the first pregnancy's of other recent royal brides (see my earlier post, Kate Middleton's First Baby), it may not be long now until we get an announcement that The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant. Although some royal couples have apparently struggled with fertility and pregnancy issues (notably the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan and the Wessexes in England), everyone seems fairly certain that William and Kate will produce children at any moment.

The average wait for the other heirs of this generation has been 21 months after the royal wedding, ranging from 17 months in Denmark and Spain to 29 months in Norway.  to deliver at the 21-month-mark, Kate would need to have a baby in January 2013. Since she is clearly not six or seven months pregnant at this time, we can only surmise that the wait will be longer.

However, when Prince William was recently presented by a well-wisher with some baby clothes, he said he would keep it, sparking rumors once again and setting eagle eyes all over the world looking for Kate's potential baby bump.

When an announcement comes, I suspect it will be made on a weekday morning before the couple are scheduled to make a joint public appearance. Also, the announcement is likely to come from Prince Charles' office at Clarence House rather than Buckingham Palace, since Prince William is not the current heir to the throne. finally, I would not be surprised if Kate withdraws from the scene for a few weeks after the announcement in the hopes that the frenzy will die down some before she has to face the public and media again. After all, starting a family is a very personal business, and William has often voiced his desire not to have his family harrassed by prying eyes.

So, if Kate is pregnant now, I would not be surprised by a pre-Christmas announcement. In the meantime, here is some ITN footage from the day Princess Diana's first pregnancy was announced to the world.

27 October 2012

Another American Royal

Chris O'Neill and Princess Madeleine of Sweden
Photo by Ewa-Marie Rundquist/Kungahuset.se

Last week brought the happy news that Princess Madeleine of Sweden is engaged to marry her English-American boyfriend, Chris O’Neill, after about two years together. The wedding will make Chris the first American man to join a royal family, but he is hardly the first American to marry regally. 

Ever since their ancestors first made their way to the New World, Americans have slowly been making their way back across the pond and into Europe’s noble and royal houses. The pace really picked up after the Industrial Revolution created a bevy of rich American industrialists with young daughters to offer to the Old World blue bloods.  That’s how Sir Winston Churchill came to have an American mother.

In the last 100 years, of the Americans who married into royal houses, none is more famous and glamorous than Grace Kelly and none more ridiculed than Wallis Simpson. A beautiful Oscar-winning actress of Irish Catholic extraction, Grace surrendered her Hollywood career to marry the ruling prince of the tiny nation of Monaco, nestled on the Mediterranean coast between France and Italy. Already well-known among the wealthy elite, the holiday haven became world-renowned due to Grace, who also turned the country into a center for arts and culture through her advocacy for ballet, music, film and more. Even after her tragically young death in 1982, her glamour and legacy lived on in her three children and is now being assumed by her only daughter-in-law, South African-born Princess Charlene.

A generation before Grace, another less glamorous and less beautiful American captured the heart of an even higher royal: the King of England himself. But, very few others found Baltimore-born Wallis Simpson endearing. Twice divorced and somewhat déclassé, Wallis was not considered a suitable bride for the King, who chose to abdicate the throne in order to marry the woman he loved.

Since Wallis and Grace paved the way into royal houses, several more Americans have found regal mates. Among the first is mixed-race Panamanian-born Angela Browne, who married Prince Maximilian, second son of the ruling Prince of Liechtenstein, in 2000. The couple now lives in London with their son, and Princess Angela works in fashion.

Also making her way in fashion is the former Marie-Chantal Miller. Daughter of wealthy New York aristocrats, Marie-Chantal is married to the Crown Prince of Greece and is the mother of his five children. In recent years, she has launched a chain of exclusive children’s boutiques with shops in London and Hawaii. It is unusual for a Crown Princess to have a career outside of princessing and charitable causes, but Marie-Chantal has a bit more freedom because she married into an exiled house—she will likely never sit by her husband on a throne because the Greek royals were ousted from their country in the 1960s and only recently have they even been allowed back into the country for brief visits.

One Western Hemisphere lass who likely will be a Queen one day is Argentine-born Maxima Zorreguieta who is married to the heir to the Dutch throne. When the well-educated banker met her future husband at a dinner party, he introduced himself just as “Alex” and had to do some convincing later to get her to believe he actually is a prince. The couple now has three blonde daughters, but their fairytale had at least one bump in the road: Maxima’s father was not invited to their royal wedding because of his former service in the controversial military regime of Jorge Rafael Videla, who has been held responsible for the thousands of desaparecidos, people who disappeared by force during his tenure.

The most recent lady from the American continents to marry into royal Europe is Canadian Autumn Kelly. Like Maxima, she had no idea who her Prince Charming was, particularly since he has no title. Nevertheless, Peter Phillips is still the oldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Autumn is now the mother of the Queen’s only great-grandchildren so far. Although her mother-in-law has the lofty and well-earned title Princess Royal, Peter and Autumn have no royal roles and are able to live their lives on the fringes of the public’s notice, only plagued by photographers when they show up at royal events and sporting events to support their more prominent relatives.

The royal role for Chris O’Neill has not yet been revealed. Since he and his Princess have been living in New York, it is possible that they will continue to spend most of their time on the western side of the Atlantic Ocean. It remains to be revealed whether he will be created a royal prince as Daniel Westling was when he married Madeleine’s older sister Crown Princess Victoria in 2010. Since Madeleine is only fourth in line to the throne, the family may decide that her husband does not need a title, as was the case with all of her royal aunts who married non-royals.

16 September 2012

Death of Princess Ragnhild

King Harald of Norway's oldest sister, Princess Ragnhild Alexandra, passed away on September 16, 2012 in Brazil, where she has lived since shortly after her marriage to Erling Lorentzen in 1953. The princess was 82. She was born the daughter of Crown Prince Olav (later King) of Norway and his wife Martha of Sweden. During the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II, she lived in the United States with her mother and siblings as guests of President Franklin Roosevelt.

Like Princess Margaret in Britain, the young Ragnhild fell in love with a member of the staff, her bodyguard, Mr. Lorentzen. Unlike Margaret, she was permitted to marry him. Although she did not have to give up her right to the throne--because women at the time had no right to succeed, she was downgraded from Royal Highness to Highness and the national flag was no longer flown on her birthday.

The Lorentzens had three children: Haakon, Ingeborg and Ragnhild.

In her later years, Ragnhild gained notoriety for publicly criticizing King Haakon's children for their own controversial choices of mates--including Mette-Marit Tjessem-Hoiby, who was an unwed mother when Crown Prince Haakon proposed to her.

11 March 2012

Book Review: Princess Diana, The Day She Didn't Die

When I first heard about this book by Heath Samples, I thought, "Oh no, not another Diana survival fantasy." As my readers know, I am not of the opinion that Diana was a saint--I was in no mood for any kind of book that might portray her that way. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very human Diana at the center of Samples' book. This Diana is still struggling to find normalcy in her unique world. She is searching for who she is, what she wants and what she believes. Is this the real Diana? Who knows? Could Diana have followed this path? Perhaps.

The book opens in the middle of the action on that final night in Paris. The narrative here is intentionally fragmented, in much the way that Diana might have perceived the events around her. After her survival, the novel splits into two separate narratives: Diana's own story and the story of Ella, a university student and Diana admirer whose personal story begins to mirror Diana's. In many ways, I enjoyed Ella's story more than Diana's, perhaps because I didn't have to suspend my belief in her case.

For me, "Princess Diana, The Day She Didn't Die" is a compelling story, with an inviting narrative structure. However, there were two things that bothered me. First, a key motivation for Diana's behavior simply vanishes without explanation halfway into the book. Second, the characters of Prince William and Prince Harry always seemed younger than the real princes would have been.

Overall, I think the book is a good read. It offers compelling storytelling, examines the inner workings of two confused women looking for their places in the world, and, frankly, I couldn't put it down.


04 March 2012

Queen Estelle? Really?

Foto: Kungahuset.se
Often, when a royal baby is born, great care is given to its name--or names actually since there is usually a long string of names. While some names are chosen due to the personal taste of the parents, there is more than a nod given to honoring the history of the royal house and the members of the family. If that baby is expected to one day become the monarch, even greater care is given to ensure that the name can carry the burden of the crown.

This naming tradition seems to have hit a snag when it comes to the new daughter of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden. No royalwatcher anywhere won any money when it was announced that the baby would be called Princess Estelle. "Reminds me of George Costanza's mother from Seinfeld," tweeted one. What about The Golden Girls' Estelle Getty, thought I. Never in the history of royalty has there been a Princess Estelle, much less a Queen Estelle. However, the name may have derived from a source in the Swedish royal family, where the King's cousin (and godfather), Count Folke Bernadotte married an American named, Estelle Manville. Count Folke is considered a hero among the Nordic royal families. During World War II, he played a pivotal role in the White Bus mission which rescued more than 30,000 people from Nazi Germany, a third of whom were Jewish. After the war, he was United Nations mediator working to establish statehood for Palestine and Israel. He was assassinated in 1948 by a Zionist group because of his political positions regarding Palestine.

The Swedish royal family, and Crown Princess Victoria in particular, have sought to restore Folke Bernadotte's heroic standing. So, many have theorized that Victoria named her daughter for his wife out of respect for his memory. Officially, she says she thought the name was beautiful. Still, it seems an odd choice for a future queen.

However, in Sweden, where there have only been three reigning queens, the selection of names with queenly history is narrow: Margrethe, Christina and Ulrika Eleonore. With Victoria's own future ascension, you can add Victoria to the list. Although Victoria has very regal associations thanks to the original Queen Victoria of England and her myriad descendants who took her name into other countries, it did not start out with royal associations at all. When Queen Victoria was born, she was named Alexandrina after the victorious Russian czar, who had helped Britain defeat Napoleon. Her uncle, The Prince Regent (later Kinge George IV) would not let her have a more traditionally royal name like Mary or Elizabeth nor would he let her be named Georgiana for himself (because he didn't want his name to come after the czar's). When forced to choose a second name for her at the christening, he petulantly said she could be named for her mother, a minor German princess. Uncle George never expected her to ascend the throne because other cousins were being born ahead of her in the line of succession and she could be superceded by the birth of a younger brother. After her cousins died as infants and her father died before begetting more heirs, young "Drina" dropped her first name and, at age 18, became Queen Victoria. There had been no Queen Victoria anywhere in the world before that.

In celebration of Princess Estelle's name, let's take a look at the other monikers of current monarchs-in-waiting.

United Kingdom
The name Charles was rather surprising when the future Queen Elizabeth II gave it to her little boy in 1948. She is said to have personally liked the name, but it had not been used in the British royal family for centuries, possibly because of its Stuart/Catholic/Scottish connections. Plus, the two previous kings named Charles did not exactly give it a sterling reputation. Charles I lost his crown and his head to the Roundheads in the Civil War and while his son of the same name restored the monarchy, he also lived a very fast life, fathering numerous bastards who became the ancestors of most of the British aristocracy today, including the Spencers. The choice of William for Charles and Diana's firstborn reflects much deeper royal history, as it originated in England with the Norman Conquest by William I in 1066. Since then, three more kings bore the name, which means today's Duke of Cambridge should become King William V. Given the longevity of his family, he may be reigning in 2066 when Britain celebrates 1,000 years since the first King William. Now, that will be a jubilee. I will be 95 myself then, but I promise to tweet it up. Of course, little Prince George will follow six previous King Georges, including the current Queen's beloved father and grandfather.

In Spain, the choice of Felipe for the heir once again harkened back to deeper royal history. Juan Carlos and Sofia could have named their son Alfonso or Ferdinand after the most recent kings, but since it was an Alfonso who lost the crown and the last Ferdinand is also known as "the felon king," they perhaps wished to remind their countrymen of the time when Spain was ruled by men named Philip and their dominion encircled the globe. At the time of Felipe's birth, Spain had no king and it was under the dictatorship of General Franco, so little Felipe's birth offered a ray of hope. After the restoration of the monarchy and democracy by King Juan Carlos, the birth of a daughter to Prince Felipe offered a new challenge to the royal family. Spain still allows brothers to succeed over their sisters, so the new infanta might never be queen. Nevertheless, they sought a suitably regal name for her, again digging way back in history. Isabella, as the name of Spain's most prominent queen, might have seemed a natural fit, but perhaps they took into account that the second Queen Isabella's reign led to a succession dispute and that she herself was unpopular and was eventually forced to abdicate. The choice of Leonor connects the little infanta with the medieval history of the Iberian peninsula where many Leonors were consorts of the various Spanish and Portugese thrones.

The Netherlands
After a century of nothing but princesses, the future Queen Beatrix gave birth to the first male heir in 1967. Like all Dutch kings and reigning princes before him, he was named Willem, but with Alexander as a more personal name. Although officially Prince Willem-Alexander, he introduced himself to his future wife as "Alex." When he later told her that he was a prince, she didn't believe him. With the birth of their three daughters, they once again restored the accidental tradition of female heirs in The Netherlands, which made the choice of names less clear. A boy would undoubtedly have been named Willem-Something, but there is no tradition of naming queens for queens in this country. Every Dutch queen (Wilhelmina, Juliana and Beatrix) has been singular, so the field was wide open. Nevertheless, the name chosen, Cathrina-Amalia, has numerous royal predecessors in many, many countries.

The history of the modern Norwegian crown is barely a 100 years old. For centuries, the Norwegian crown was merged with Denmark and then with Sweden. After Norway regained independence, it selected Danish Prince Carl and his English wife Maud as its new monarch. Reconnecting with Viking history, Carl changed his name to Haakon and renamed his only son Olav. Olav in turn gave his son, the current king, the royally Norwegian name Harald. When Harald's heir was born, he reinforced the Viking ties and underscored the strength of the young dynasty by naming him Prince Haakon for the first modern king. When Haakon's firstborn was a girl, as elsewhere, the choice of names from previous reigning queens was very limited. It consisted of Margaret. That's it. Instead, the Crown Princely couple selected another clearly Norwegian name with Viking connections: Ingrid.

Belgium is another very young monarchy, having been created in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. There have been three King Leopolds, two Alberts and a Baudoin. In its brief history, the line of succession has twice jumped branches in the family tree because the senior line became extinct. The first time this happened, the throne passed to the heirs of a younger brother named Philippe. It is for this man that the current heir, his great-great grandson is named. However, when he was born, it was not expected that Crown Prince Philippe would become the heir either. His uncle, King Baudoin was fully expected to have children of his own. When this did not happen, the throne passed down the tree for the second time to Baudoin's younger brother, making Philippe the new heir by the time his own first child was born. Since she was a girl and there have been no reigning queens in Belgian history, the name choice was wide open. Instead, they selected Elisabeth after one of the Belgian consorts, her great-grandmother Elisabeth of Bavaria.

In Denmark the naming of heirs has followed a very clear tradition for generation after generation. There, King Frederik names his son Christian, who names his son Frederik who names his son Christian and so on. The tradition was broken when King Frederik IX had only daughters, naming the eldest Margrethe, in good Scandinavian tradition. But, Margrethe reignited the tradition by naming her heir Frederik after her father. Then, Crown Prince Frederik carried forward the tradition by naming his firstborn Prince Christian. However, he did choose less traditional names for his other children: Isabella, Josephine and Vincent, none of which are even particularly Danish. (And, I still haven't recovered from Prince Vince.)

23 February 2012

Two Female Heirs

Crown Princess Victoria (R) and Prince Daniel of Sweden arrive at the Opera Garnier to attend the official dinner and ball for the wedding of Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene in Monaco July 2, 2011. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard (MONACO - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT) (MONACO ROYAL WEDDING)
The Royal Court, Sweden, photo: Kate Gabor
With the birth of a daughter to Crown Princess Victoria earlier today, Sweden is now the only country in the world with two female direct heirs to the throne. Sweden was one of the first countries to adopt gender-blind succession when Victoria was a young girl; a move that made her heiress over her younger brother, Prince Carl Philipp.

Historically, Sweden has had three previous Queens Regnant: Margaret, Christina and Ulrika Eleonore. It will be interesting to see if the new princess will bear any of these names in tribute to them. [UPDATE: Her name is Estelle Ewa Silvia Mary.]

The most recent nation to have multigenerational female heirs is The Netherlands, where Queen Wilhelmina was succeeded by her daughter Queen Juliana who was followed by her own daughter, the Queen Beatrix.

Although Victoria is the only female heir in her generation of royals, there are several future queens among her daughter's generation, including Ingrid Alexandra of Norway, Elisabeth of Belgium, Catharina Amalia of The Netherlands, and Leonor of Spain. The succession laws in all of these countries except Spain allow for girls to succeed even if they have brothers; Leonor is number two in line for the Spanish throne only because she has no brothers. Another potential monarch is Princess Aiko in Japan, however, any talk of changing succession laws there to even include women, was halted when her male cousin was born a few years ago.

Interestingly in Britain, where many wait daily for the announcement that William and Catherine are expecting, changes to the male-preference succession were only agreed upon a few months ago and, when they are enacted, they will only apply to descendants of William's father--therefore, there will be no impact on any of the current members of the royal family.

Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel were married in June 2010.

28 January 2012

New French Princess

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

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

24 January 2012

A New Princess in Denmark

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

The prince says his little girl looks like her mother.

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

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

14 January 2012

First Royal Jubilee of 2012

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

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

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

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

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

12 January 2012

First Royal Wedding of 2012

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

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

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

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

First Royal Engagement of 2012

Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma has announced that she is engaged to Paris-born Albert Brenninkmeijer. Carolina is officially a member of the Dutch royal family, as a niece of Queen Beatrix. She is also the daughter of the late Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne, Prince Carlos Hugo, who gave her the title of Marquesa de Sala. She is a Harvard graduate who works for the United Nations. The groom has an MBA from Oxford, and works for his family's company, C&A France. They are both 37 years old.

07 January 2012

First Royal Baby of 2012

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

05 January 2012

Top Princess of 2011: The Winner

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

01 January 2012

Top Princess of 2011: The Nominees

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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