26 February 2014

Another Swedish Surprise: Princess Leonore

Photo: Christopher O'Neill/Kungahuset.se
When Princess Estelle of Sweden was born two years ago, I admitted to being flabbergasted by her unprecedented name (see Queen Estelle, Really?). This time, it is the TITLE of the new royal lady not her name that caught me by surprise. After all, Leonore Lillian Maria fits many royal naming conventions. For instance, there are more than two names. The first name is becoming fairly common in this new regal generation, appearing as it does as the moniker of the future Spanish queen (Infanta Leonor), a granddaughter of the former Dutch queen (Countess Leonore of Oranje-Nassau van Amsberg), and the youngest daughter of the Belgian king (Princess Eleonore). The second name pays tribute to a recently departed loved one, the Welsh-born Princess Lillian, widow of the Swedish king's uncle. And, you can hardly find a more commonly used royal girl's name than the many variants of Mary/Maria.

No, it is the title that is not only almost unprecedented but also seems out of touch with the direction of most modern monarchies.

Throughout most of history, princesses like Princess Madeleine did not pass their royal status on to their children. Usually, it was completely unnecessary, because a royal princess was almost always married to a royal or serene duke, a prince, a king or an emperor. Their children took their status from him and no one really thought much about it, except on the rare occasions when the princess was also the heir to the throne. Even then, as in the case of England's Queens Anne and Victoria, their husbands' princely rank would have made their children princes and princesses--although in Victoria's case, she did bump her kids to royal rather than the serene status held by her husband before his marriage.

The Princess Royal (center) with her daughters
Indeed, even in most modern examples, royal rank only passed through the female line when the princess was also heir to the throne. Such was the case when the current Prince of Wales was born to the then Princess Elizabeth. However, this rule started to loosen as more princesses began marrying below their rank. When Princess Louise of Wales married a peer, her daughters were born as Ladies during the reign of Queen Victoria. Once her father became King Edward VIII, he gave Louise the title The Princess Royal and made her daughters highnesses with title of princess.

In The Netherlands where there were only princesses born for three generations, things were a bit more complex. (See End of the Queen Streak.) In that third generation, the Dutch Queen Juliana had four daughters: the aforementioned Beatrix, Irene, Margriet, and Christina. Both Irene and Christina married without Parliament's approval and their children were not given Dutch royal status. Irene's offspring, however, are princely because their father was a prince of the House of Bourbon-Parma. For Margriet, who has been a model (and popular) princess since her birth (see Watch List: Princess Margriet), her marriage to a university professor did meet with approval and their five sons were all granted princely titles. In Belgium, the marriage of Princess Astrid to an Austrian archduke in the 1980s brought this trend to a seeming conclusion. Their five kids bear titles as princes/princesses of Belgium and archdukes/archduchesses of Austria.

In the next couple of decades, the expansion of royal families started to be seen as not-so-good. So, Beatrix announced that her grandchildren by her younger sons would be counts and countesses, not princes and princesses. In Britain, the children of the Queen's second son are princesses but those of her third son are simply known as Lady Louise Mountbatten and The Viscount Severn, and her daughter's children have not titles at all. This is also the case with the grandchildren of King Haakon of Norway by his daughter Princess Martha. Likewise, the offspring of Princesses Caroline and Stephanie of Monaco have no titles. In Spain, the king's daughters were granted ducal titles (as Madeleine was in Norway), but their children are excellencies, not highnesses, with the honorific status of dons, not princes.

Leonore's parents on their wedding day.
I'd love to hear from Swedes about how they feel about this week's announcement that little Leonore is a royal princess. Given that her British-American father declined any titles when he married Princess Madeleine last summer, and that the couple have lived in New York City for some time now--indeed, they chose to have their daughter born there--I'm sure I'm not the only who thought Madeleine would be the only princess at that kitchen table.

Nevertheless, the Princess Palace is always glad to have another princess to celebrate so welcome little Princess Leonore Duchess of Gotland!

18 February 2014

Looking for your prince at the Olympics

Most princes love sports. They play them. They watch them. Even Prince Philip has a television in the royal box to keep up with cricket when he accompanies The Queen to her favorite sport, horse racing. So, elite athletic events are an excellent place to spot royals. And, there is no athletic competition that draws more royal attention than the Olympics.

The future (now former) King Constantine of Greece won a sailing gold medal in Rome in 1960. Anne The Princess Royal competed on Britain's equestrian team in Montreal in 1976 and her daughter, Zara Phillips Tindall, did the same in London in 2012, where she won a silver medal. Prince Albert of Monaco competed in bobsled from 1988 to 2002 and his bride Charlene was on South Africa's 2000 swim team in Sydney.

Princess Estelle
But royals also have some down time while they are at The Games. In fact, at least two royal marriages have resulted from chance encounters at The Olympics. You can read more about it in my guest post at the fantastic blog, The Royal Source. But, I will give you a hint: if not for one of these Olympic romances, we wouldn't have the popular little princess pictured here.