30 November 2015

Our Baby Princesses

With the release of new photos of Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (hurray!!!), I thought we should take a look at all of the baby and toddler princesses on the scene today. In age order, from youngest to oldest, here are these little beauties under the age of five.

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Parents: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge
Sibling: Prince George of Cambridge
Birthdate: May 2, 2015
Copyright HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

Princess Gabriella of Monaco, Countess of Carladès
Parents: Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene of Monaco
Sibling: twin brother Prince Jacques
Birthday: December 10, 2014

Princess Amalia of Nassau
Parents: Prince Felix and Princess Claire of Luxembourg
Siblings: none
Birthdate: July 12, 2014

Princess Leonore of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland
Parents: Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Mr. Christopher O'Neill

Sibling: Prince Nicholas of Sweden

Birthdate: February 20, 2014
Photo Brigitte Grenfeldt, The Royal Court, Sweden

Princess Estelle of Sweden, Duchess of Östergötland
Parents: Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden
Sibling: one on the way!
Birthdate: February 23, 2012
Photo: Kate Gabor, The Royal Court, Sweden

Princess Athena of Denmark
Parents: Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark
Siblings: half-brothers Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, brother Prince Henrik
Birthdate: January 24, 2012
Danapress, POLFOTO, Scanpix og Steen Brogaard

Princess Josephine of Denmark
Parents: The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark
Siblings: Prince Christian, Princess Isabella and her twin Prince Vincent
Birthdate: January 8, 2011
Credit: Pernille Rohde, PR FOTO

20 November 2015

Princess Spotlight: Alexandra of Denmark, Queen of the United Kingdom

Sisters: The future Queen Alexandra of
England and Empress Marie of Russia
On November 20, 1925, the Dowager Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom (1844-1925) passed away at her Sandringham home. Just five months later, her first great-granddaughter was born and was given the second name Alexandra in her memory. Ninety years later, the baby girl sits on the throne as Queen Elizabeth II.

Despite the many privileges of her life, the woman who was born Princess Alexandra of Schleswig Holstein Sonderburg Gluckburg also faced many challenges. Some of these were common to many women of her day, some were inherent in her royal status at a time of great international turmoil, and some were specific to her.

Although she became incredibly wealthy and is remembered today as a glamorous figure dripping in jewels, Alexandra was born into a relatively poor and minor branch of the Danish royal family. She and her sisters shared a chilly room in the attic and even made their own clothes. Then, when she was eight, she underwent an incredible change of fate when the vagaries of succession laws made her father heir to the throne and future King Christian IX of Denmark. This raised his six children to the top of the royal European marriage market; Alexandra's siblings made brilliant marriages with the royal families of Sweden, France, Hanover, and Russia. One of her younger brothers was even selected to be the King of Greece, and one of her nephews was presented with the throne of Norway.

Admired for her beauty and quiet charm, Alexandra caught the attention of the Crown Princess Victoria of Prussia who was on the hunt for a bride to help curb her brother's "wild" ways. The Crown Princess arranged a meeting for the couple, and within no time, Alexandra was on her way to England to become the Princess of Wales in a wedding ceremony where the gloomy widow Queen Victoria and the ghost of Prince Albert loomed over the limited festivities.

Despite her new mother's funereal spirit, Alexandra soon found herself caught up in the exuberant and exciting whirlwind lifestyle of her groom, Prince Albert Edward, better known as Bertie and she as Alix in the family. Their first child was born 10 months after the wedding and seven more babies followed within five years. With the arrival of her last child, Prince Alexander John, Alix suffered like so many other nineteenth century mothers with the loss of her baby before she had even recovered. Twenty-one years later, she lost her firstborn to influenza. Then, 23 years later, her beloved youngest grandson, also named John, died at the age of 13.

Alix also suffered the humiliating philandering of her husband. Always faithful to him and always graceful, she epitomized the ideal of the "good wife" who turned a blind eye. She even invited his final mistress to visit his deathbed.

She was greatly admired by the public, where she was lauded as a beauty and a leader of fashion. Everything she wore and everything she did was copied. Most people didn't realize and or didn't think about the pain that was behind some of her fashion sense. They simply adopted her high collars and layers of choker necklaces, little realizing that she adopted this style to hide a childhood scar. When the ladies of high society adopted her limp, perhaps she was flattered and this brought her some comfort from the painful condition that had been caused by rheumatic fever; she had to learn to walk again while also carrying her fourth pregnancy. The general public was certainly unaware that Alix also had inherited a form of hearing loss from her mother that caused increasing deafness throughout her life.  Toward the end of her life, she was even burdened with temporary blindness.

These various disabilities reinforced her charitable nature and she was highly supportive of various charities for people with disabilities. These characteristics, especially her hearing issues, probably also contributed to her extreme shyness, a trait she passed on to her children, who were collectively referred to as the "whispering Waleses." Nevertheless, Alexandra was very close to them, taking a hands-on role atypical of a princess of her day. It was she who gave baths and put her children to bed. In return, they absolutely adored her, calling her Motherdear all of their lives. She even managed to keep her middle daughter, Princess Victoria unmarried and at her side until her death in 1925.

Alix spent a decade as the Queen Consort, and maintained her enviously youthful appearance after she was widowed in 1910. In 1912, her oldest daughter Louise Princess Royal and her two oldest granddaughters barely survived a shipwreck which ultimately caused the death of her son-in-law. A year later, her brother King George I of Greece was assassinated.

Alix at age 79, two years before her death
With the conflagration of World War I, however, she endured innumerable heartaches as the royal families of Europe were torn apart. Her sister Marie, Dowager Empress of Russia, with whom she shared an almost twin-like relationship escaped the revolution there, but her nephew Tsar Nicholas and his entirely family were brutally murdered after Alix's son King George V stopped British plans to rescue them for fear that the British would not welcome a despot to their shores. He had already undertaken the difficult decision of changing family names and titles to distance the British royal family from its many family ties across enemy lines. Her nephew-in-law Grand Duke George Mikhailovich was also executed by the Bolsheviks in Russia. In 1917, her nephew King Constantine I of Greece was overthrown.  Three years later, his successor, her nephew and namesake King Alexander died after being bitten by a pet monkey, bringing her deposed brother back to the throne until his death in 1923. His oldest son, George II inherited the crown but was exiled within just two years. In the middle of the Greek turmoil, her great-nephew Prince Philip of Greece was rescued by a British warship and a makeshift cradle was made for him out of an orange crate--he would grow up to be Prince Philip The Duke of Edinburgh.

Fortunately, things were much more stable for Alexandra's immediate family in Britain. Increasingly frail and visibly aging (at last), she lived quietly surrounded by family and her pets. At the time of her death, she was survived by her three daughters, one of her three sons, three granddaughters, five of six grandsons, and four great-grandsons. The current King of Norway, Queen of the United Kingdom, and the new Duke of Fife are descended from her.

More about Alexandra:

Alexandra of Denmark on British Express
Alexandra of Denmark on English Monarchs
Alexandra of Denmark, Queen of Great Britain on Freelance History Write
Alexandra of Denmark, Queen of the United Kingdom on Unofficial Royalty
Consort Profile: Alexandra of Denmark on The Mad Monarchist
Deaf History: Queen Alexandra on BSL Zone
The First Queen of Hearts on Sunday Express
HM Queen Alexandra on Museum Victoria
The Last Marriage of a Prince of Wales on History Today
Princess of Wales on Queen Victoria
The Princess of Wales' Feast for the Outcast Poor on History 250 
Queen Alexandra on IMDB
Queen Alexandra of Great Britain on Windows to World History

More about Alexandra's Fashion and Jewels:
Flashback Friday: The Splendor of Queen Alexandra on Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor
Queen Alexandra and Face Enameling on Cosmetics and Skin
Queen Alexandra - Fashion Icon on The Enchanted Manor
Queen Alexandra's Royal Bosom on Lisa's History Room 
Queen Alexandra's Wedding Parure on From Her Majesty's Jewel Box
Tiara Time: Queen Alexandra's Amethyst Tiara on Tiaras and Trianon
Tiara Timeline: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara on Court Jeweller

More about the Alexandra Limp:
The Stupid Limping Fad of Victorian Britain on Knowledge Nuts
Victorian Strangeness: The bizarre tale of ladies who limped on BBC Magazine Monitor no twitter

More about Alexandra as an Artist and Photographer:
Alexandra's Photo Book I on Glucksburg
Alexandra's Photo Book II  on Glucksburg
Queen Alexandra, when Princess of Wales on Royal Collection Trust

More about Alexandra's Wedding
Alexandra of Denmark Marries Albert Edward, Prince of Wales on About Royal Weddings
British Royal Wedding Look-Back: Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark on The Royal Forums

Portraits of Alexandra:
Children of Alexandra of Britain, Life at Sandringham on Glucksburg
Engagement: Alexandra to Edward VII of Britain on Glucksburg
Queen Alexandra on National Portrait Gallery
Queen Alexandra of Britain, Her Early Years in Denmark on Glucksburg
Wedding: Alexandra to Edward VII of Britain on Glucksburg

Books by Alexandra:

Books about Alexandra:

12 November 2015

Princess Spotlight: Charlotte of Belgium, Empress of Mexico

Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Named for the unfortunate first wife of her father, King Leopold I of the Belgians, Charlotte of Belgium (1840-1927) was born 175 years ago to a German dynasty in a new Belgian kingdom and grew up to marry an Austrian archduke and become Empress of Mexico before returning to Belgium where she died and was buried in the royal crypt at Laeken.

Charlotte's life was marked by tragedy almost from the beginning. Her mother, Louise of Orleans, died of tuberculosis when she was barely ten, and young Charlotte grew up to be unusually close to her maternal grandmother, the Queen of France, who had been born Maria Amalia of Two Sicilies.
At the age of 17, she married the gorgeous and charming Archduke Maximilian, younger brother of Emperor Franz Joseph II of Austria. In Austria, the lovely young bride found it hard to compete with her famously beautiful sister-in-law, Empress Elisabeth, who had also developed a close and playful relationship with Maximilian. However, their domineering mother-in-law Sophie of Bavaria did prefer Charlotte over Elisabeth, even though Elisabeth was her own niece.

Nevertheless, Charlotte was glad to move to Italy, where her husband served as governor of the Austrian provinces of Lombardy and Venetia. The couple enjoyed a happy marriage, but they had no children, an unfortunate situation for any wife of the day and especially for a royal/imperial wife. Slowly, life began to seem rather empty. They both wanted something more.

So, when the French Emperor Napolean III offered Maximilian the crown of Mexico, they were eager to take it, even though Emperor Francis advised them that Mexico was too politically unstable. Their idealistic dreams of bringing peace and European civilization were short-lived; within three years Napolean had withdrawn his support, Maximilian was deposed, and executed by firing squad.

Charlotte, who was in Europe at the time trying to raise support for her husband, suffered a complete mental and emotional breakdown. She had just turned 27. She was declared insane and sent back to Belgium, where she lived in seclusion for the next 60 years.

My Profile of Charlotte:
Belgian Highnesses Part I Mad Carlota

Other Profiles of Charlotte:
Carlota, Empress of Mexico on Historical Text Archive
Charlotte of Belgium on Mad Monarchs
Consort Profile: Empress Carlota (in two parts) on The Mad Monarchist
The Curse of Charlotte of Belgium on Tiaras and Trianon
Empress Carlota of Mexico on About Women's History
Max and Carlota on Mexconnect

More Resources on Charlotte:
Charlotte and Maximilian Collection at Rice University

Movies about Charlotte:
Carlota: A Serpentine Crown (2009), musical by Marcel Wick
Maximiliano y Carlota (1965), telenovela

Books about Charlotte:

04 November 2015

Princess Spotlight: Francoise d'Amboise

By Selbymay via Wikimedia Commons
Medieval princesses often found themselves in convents. "Extra" daughters for whom no husbands could be found. Widowed women who were too old to marry again. On occasion, they went there entirely by choice. Such is the case with Francoise d'Amboise (1427-1485). 

Betrothed at age four and married at 15 to the second son of the Duke of Brittany, Francoise soon found herself the Duchess of Brittany when her husband's brother died and he became Duke Peter II. Peter was reportedly an unkind husband but Francoise's gentleness and religious devotion had a positive impact on him. Renowned for her piety, she committed charitable acts with more sincerity than many of her contemporary ladies. Every week, to honor St. Ursula, she invited 11 poor girls to dinner. She made sure that mass was said for her late brother-in-law every week, too. Together with her now kinder husband, she provided a home for an order of Poor Clare nuns in Nantes. This period in Brittany is referred to as the "time of the blessed Duchess."

Shortly after that, Peter died leaving Francoise a widow at age 30, still young enough to be remarried and she had a very powerful suitor: King Louis XI of France. But, Francoise had no desire to be the Queen of France. She wished instead to devote her life to God. Under the tutelage of Blessed Jean Soreth, she gave her properties to found the Carmelite convent of The Three Maries. She became a Carmelite herself a few years later, eventually rising to become prioress for life. Because of her role in helping establish the Carmelites in France, she is referred to as their founding mother.

According to the Catholic Church, she died in holy ecstasy, a state of altered consciousness in which the person is deeply spiritually aware and sometimes experiences visions or emotional euphoria. With miracles documented as taking place at her tomb, Pope Pius IX beatified her in 1863, nearly 400 years after her death. This is the next-to-last step toward being declared a saint. It means that she is known as Blessed Francoise d'Amboise and that people can pray to her for intercession. Her feast day is November 4, the date of her death.

For a very Catholic view of Francoise, see:
Blessed Francoise d'Amboise on Tradition in Action

02 November 2015

Celebrating the Princess of Asturias

Saturday, October 31, 2015 marked the tenth birthday of the Spanish king's heir, his eldest daughter Leonor. In line with Spanish tradition, Leonor, as the heir automatically gained the title Princess of Asturias when her father acceded to the throne last year. Leonor is only the fourth woman to hold the title in her own right even though the title has been in existence for more than 600 years.

The title Prince of Asturias was created as part of the marriage treaty between the heir of King John I of Castile and the daughter of the English Prince John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. Lancaster had been battling for the Castilian throne by right of his second wife. Although unsuccessful, he did cause enough of a ruckus to land the regal marriage for his daughter and ensure that she would have a suitable title until the day she became Queen. Meant to mirror the English heir's title as Prince of Wales, the title Prince of Asturias has one major difference:  it is automatic and is given to any heir, male or female. The title Prince of Wales is given at the pleasure of the monarch. It has never been given to a female heir, although there have been numerous women who have held the position of first in line to the throne (Margaret Tudor, Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Mary II, Queen Anne, Sophia Electress of Hanover, Queen Victoria, Victoria Princess Royal, and Elizabeth II).

Let's take a look at these special Spanish ladies:

Maria of Castile (1401-1458) was the first child of the Castile-Lancaster marriage noted above. As such, she was the heir to her father's Castilian throne until the birth of her brother in 1405. She lost the title Princess of Asturias at that point, but she regained it nine months later, when their father died and she became her baby brother's heir. This time, she held the title for 16 years when her brother began having children. By then, she had already married her first cousin and become Queen Consort of Aragon. However, she had poor health and was left scarred by smallpox. Despite an unhappy relationship, her husband left her as regent while he battled for the throne of Naples, so she was the de facto ruler of Aragon for 29 years of his 42-year reign.

Catherine of Castile (1422-1424) and Eleanor of Castile (1423-1425) were the nieces of the previous Princess of Castile, and the first two children of John I of Castile. Born when her mother was 26 and her father was 17, Catherine gained the title at birth, and her younger sister Eleanor succeeded her when she died, but held the title for only four months until the birth of a brother, the future Henry IV.

Joanna La Beltraneja (1462-1530) was the only legitimate child of Henry IV. However, many people believed that he was impotent, and she was rumored to be the daughter of a courtier named Beltran de la Cueva--hence she was mockingly called "La Beltraneja." Nevertheless, she was recognized as the heir until Henry was forced to declare his younger half-brother Alfonso as his heir, which he did on the condition that Alfonso would marry Joanna. Alfonso died before the marriage, and his full sister Isabella (Henry's half-sister) was declared the heir because Henry had since divorced Joanna's mother. Joanna was held hostage by various factions who sought to marry her off and gain control of the Castilian throne. Henry died when she was 12, and some considered her the rightful Queen while others saw her as the heir of her aunt Isabella, the new Queen. At 13, Joanna married her maternal uncle, the King of Portugal, who immediately went to war against Isabella. Suffering humiliating defeat, Joanna was forced to renounce her Castilian titles and claims. In the meantime, her marriage had also been annulled due to consanguinity, and she was deprived of her title as Portuguese Queen Consort. She was only 16 years old. Given the choice of waiting to marry Isabella's infant son or joining a convent, she chose the convent, and lived to the quite old age (for the time) of 68.

Isabella I of Castile (1451-1504) was declared the heir of her half-brother Henry IV upon the death of her younger full-brother Alfonso. Her claim, however, was not uncontested (see Joanna La Beltraneja) above. By the time she succeeded Henry, she was 23, and already married to Ferdinand, who became King of Aragon five years later. Together, they became known at The Catholic Kings, and they are renowned for the Spanish Inquisition, the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors from Spain, and the funding of Columbus. The Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon would be united into the Kingdom of Spain by their heirs.

Isabella of Castile (1470-1498) was the first child of Ferdinand and Isabella. She was four years old at her mother's accession and she held the position of Princess of Asturias until the birth of her brother John four years later. Born into a family that was constantly at war, young Isabella was trapped in a tower of the Alcazar in Segovia while her mother battled for her throne against the King of Portugal (see Joanna La Beltraneja above). As part of the peace terms, she and a large dowry were promised to the Portuguese heir Alfonso. The young couple fell in love, but he was killed in a riding accident barely a year after the wedding. The incident deepened her already devout Catholicism and her resolve not to marry again. However, princesses in those days didn't have much choice in such matters, and she was eventually married off to her late husband's uncle Manuel, who had since become King of Portugal. She only agreed on condition that he expel the Jews from Portugal (she was her parents' daughter after all). That same year, she once again became Princess of Asturias upon the sudden death of her brother John. The following year, she died shortly after giving birth to her only child, a boy named Miguel da Paz ("of peace") who was declared heir to Portugal, Castile and Aragon, but he lived less than two years, ending the hope of uniting all of the Iberian kingdoms.

Joanna looking a lot like her sister,

Catherine of Aragon
Joanna of Castile (1479-1555) became Princess of Asturias upon the death of her nephew Miguel da Paz of Portugal in 1500 (see Isabella of Castile). The second daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, she was married at age 16 to Philip the Handsome, son of the Holy Roman Emperor, who longed to add Spain to the Habsburg Empire. Joanna was madly in love with Philip, although her passion seems to have been unrequited. Upon her mother's death in 1504, Joanna became Queen of Castile with both her father and her husband claiming the right to rule with her as King. The popularity of Philip and Joanna, forced Ferdinand to withdraw his claim--but the treaty between Ferdinand and Isabella asserted that Joanna was mentally unstable and consequently unable to rule. When Philip died soon thereafter, Joanna attempted to take control but was not able to manage a kingdom that was beset by both plague and famine. Ferdinand seized power against her wishes. When Ferdinand died in 1517, Joanna's teenage son took over as co-monarch with his mother, while she remained confined due to her alleged madness. Having been dominated successively by her husband, father, and son, Joanna lived to have one of longest reigns of any female monarch. (See my post Long May She Reign.) She is remembered as Joanna the Mad or Juana La Loca.

Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain (1566-1633) was heir of her father King Philip II of Spain for three years between the death of her older half-brother in 1568 and the birth of her younger half-brother in 1571. She once again assumed the position on the death of her father and accession of another younger half-brother, Philip III, for three years until the birth of his first child. When her maternal uncle, King Henry III of France was assassinated, the Parlement named her the legitimate sovereign of France, despite France's adherence to Salic Law, which forbade female succession rights. However, the issue was much complicated by the religious turmoil and long-ranging dynastic issues, with the nearest male-line heir eventually converting to Catholicism and assuring himself the throne. Isabella married an Austrian archduke when she was 33 and her father granted them to reign over the Spanish Netherlands together. After Albert died, Isabella became a Sister of the Third Order of St. Francis, but continued as governor of the Netherlands until her death in 1633.

Anne of Austria (1601-1666) was the eldest child of King Philip III. Born and raised in Spain, she was called "of Austria" because of the Habsburg dynasty's primary territory. She remained her father's heir until the birth of a brother, the future Philip IV, when she was three. At 14, she married King Louis XIII of France, and was largely ignored at the French court where her mother-in-law reigned supreme and Anne clung to her Spanish friends and Spanish ways. As Louis seized control away from his mum, Anne's Spanish ladies were replaced with French and she began to adopt French manners. However, she suffered several stillbirths, remaining childless for the first 22 years of her marriage, while Cardinal Richelieu held sway over the king. The birth of the future King Louis XIV was greeted as a miracle, and secured Anne's future in France as his regent when her husband died four and a half year's later. She, however, relied upon Cardinal Mazarin as chief minister and he was eventually rumored to be her lover, perhaps even her secret husband. Her regency ended when her son came of age in 1651. Some years later she retired to a convent that she had founded years earlier and died there of breast cancer at age 65. She is a central figure in the Three Musketeers novels, which include the storyline that Louis XIV was not only the love child of Anne and Mazarin, but that he had a secret twin, who was kept hidden until he was brought forth to usurp the king's place, sending Louis to finish his days as the "Man in the Iron Mask".

Maria Margaret of Spain (1621-1621), Margaret Maria Catherine of Spain (1623-1623), Maria Eugenia of Spain (1625-1627) and Isabella Maria Theresa of Spain (1627-1627) were the first four children of King Philip IV. They each served as their father's heir, although they lived sometimes for barely a day. His first male heir, Balthasar Charles, was not born until 1629, and he died of smallpox at the age of nearly 17, sending their father scrambling for a new wife to get more sons.

Maria Theresa of Spain (1638-1683) was a younger sister of the four infantas above. She became the heir upon the death of their brother Balthasar Charles, and held the position until the birth of a younger half-brother Philip Prospero and again for the five days between his death and the birth of her half-brother Charles II and again when he became King Charles II in 1665. She was the first wife of King Louis XIV of France. She found an ally there in the person of her mother-in-law, who also happened to be her aunt Anne of Austria (see above). However, Maria Theresa was viewed as somewhat frivolous. She quickly became pregnant and soon gave birth to Louis the Grand Dauphin. From that point, her once faithful husband, no longer remained loyal and she was forced to endure the ever growing influence of his mistresses at court, although he did insist that she be treated with some measure of the respect due to her position as queen. She went on to have five more children, four of whom died as infants and one of whom lived to be five. Although Maria Theresa should have remained the legitimate heir of her childless brother, King Charles II of Spain, the Spanish did not wish to allow France to take control and instead declared that the young son of his full sister Margaret Theresa would succeed him. When that child predeceased him the throne passed to Maria Theresa's grandson, despite the War of Spanish Succession, thus bringing the Borbon dynasty, that reigns in Spain today, to power there.

Maria Luisa Isabel of Spain (1817-1818) and Maria Luisa Isabel of Spain (1818-1818) were the two eldest daughters of King Ferdinand VII. His wife died giving birth to the second daughter, who having been stillborn, was given the same name as her sister who had died earlier in the same year.

Isabella II of Spain (1830-1904) was the first of the two daughters King Ferdinand VII had with his fourth wife. Isabel was Princess of Asturias for just under three years, when she succeeded to the throne upon the death of her father. However, the Borbon dynasty had brought Salic Law to Spain with them, banning female succession rights. Since he had only daughters, Ferdinand had had these set aside but his brother Carlos contested Isabella's accession, leading to several Carlist Wars during her reign. She always had to rely on the army in order to assert her authority. Her marriage to her double first cousin also caused trouble because his rumored homosexuality led many to whisper that none of her nine children were legitimate. Her reign was rife with palace intrigues and other troubles, and she was eventually deposed in favor of a republic, which fell after four years, restoring her son Alfonso XII to the throne. She left her husband and lived the last three decades of her life in France, although she continued to meddle and cause problems in Spain.

Luisa Fernanda of Spain (1832-1897) was the heir of her older sister Isabella II from 1833 until the birth of Isabella's daughter Maria Isabel in 1851, with a break in 1850 during the brief life of Isabella's first son. Luisa Fernanda was married at age 14 to a French Prince Antoine Duke of Montpensier, who continually conspired against the queen. In 1848, her French father-in-law was deposed from his throne, and she gave birth to the first of her nine children.

Isabella of Spain (1851-1931) was Princess of Asturias from her birth until the birth of her brother Alfonso XII in 1857, and again was heir from his accession in 1874 until the birth of his first child in 1880. At the age of 16, she married into the Sicilian branch of the family. Isabella was richer, smarter, and healthier than her husband. He suffered from depression and attempted to kill himself on more than one occasion, finally succeeding with a gunshot wound to the head, leaving Isabella widowed at age 20. During her widowhood, she devoted herself to her family and always refused to remarry. She lived through the restoration of the monarchy in Spain and died just five days after it was once again overthrown in 1931.

Maria de las Mercedes (1880-1904) was her father Alfonso XII's heir from her birth until his death on November 25, 1885, at which time she became the extant head of state until the posthumous brother on May 17, 1886, when she again reverted to being the heir. Like her aunt Isabella, she married into the Sicilian Bourbon family, but hers was a love match from the start. Her first child was born nine months after the wedding with another quickly following. The third pregnancy followed within a year, but she fell victim to misdiagnosed appendicitis just days before her due date. During the birth, so much attention was paid to Mercedes that everyone thought the child was stillborn--the baby's uncle King Alfonso XIII was the first to realize the baby was alive. Mercedes, however, died the next day at the age of 24. Her children were raised in the Spanish court while her husband remarried and fathered four more children. One of his daughters was the mother of King Juan Carlos, father of the current King Felipe VI.

Leonor (2005- ) is currently the Princess of Asturias but because Spain has not adopted gender-blind succession laws for the throne (although they do have them for noble titles), she could be supplanted as the heir if her father were to have a son. It is the same position the two current reigning Queens (Elizabeth II of the UK and Margrethe II of Denmark) were in during their years as heirs, even though they grew up two generations ago! The last year or so has been truly momentous for Leonor. Not only did she get her new title and step up to first in line, but she also partook in her first communion.