19 February 2016

This Week in Princesses

THE NETHERLANDS, February 12: International diplomacy at home
One of The Netherlands great claims to fame is that it is home to many multi-national organizations including branches of the United Nations, the European Union and NATO. It is no surprise then that Princess Beatrix was on hand for the official opening of new UNICEF offices at The Hague.

NORWAY, February 12: Lighting an Olympic flame
Young Princess Ingrid Alexandra got to run up the stairs to light the Olympic cauldron for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics in Lillehammer. The entire Norwegian royal family is crazy about winter sports and can often be seen competing in events themselves.

GREECE, February 16: A fashion-forward young princess
19-year-old Princess Maria Olympia of Greece has been emerging more and more into the fashionable world. Perhaps not a surprise since her mother, American-born Crown Princess Marie-Chantal is a children's fashion designer. Maria Olympia attended the Michael Kors fashion show during New York Fashion Week. Recently tabloids linked her romantically (and without foundation) with her distant cousin Prince Harry of Wales.

THE NETHERLANDS, February 16: Visiting Western Brabant
Queen Maxima was at her big-brimmed, big-earring best as she and the King visited their Dutch countrymen in the Brabant region. (I always like it when she makes an effort with her hair!) But, she is really twinning it up with her mother-in-law's attire from a few days earlier (see above).

SPAIN, February 16: Visiting the Prado
One of the privileges of being a Queen, is having access to all of the great cultural institutions of your country. This week, Queen Letizia and King Felipe, attended a meeting of the Board of Patronages at The Prado in Spain. They also greeted some very excited schoolchildren, who had waited calmly to see them.

UNITED KINGDOM, February 16: Scholarship ceremony

Her Majesty looked delightful in shiny, textured cream-suit when she visited Claridge's to attend the Gold Service Scholarship Award ceremony. Created in 2012, these awards recognize and encourage young talent in working in front-of-house positions within the hospitality industry.

THE UNITED KINGDOM, February 16: Reading to the kids
A passionate advocate for literacy programs, The Duchess of Cornwall rarely misses an opportunity to read in public. Here she seized the moment as part of the preview event marking an upcoming exhibition celebrating the centenary of children's author Roald Dahl.

BELGIUM, February 17: Remembering their loved ones

Queen Mathilde, King Philippe and members of the extended Belgian royal family attended a mass in memory of their deceased family members at their home church in Laeken. Other royal ladies in attendance included the King's cousin, Margaretha of Liechtenstein, his half-aunt Princess Esmeralda of Belgium, and his late half-uncle's widow, Princess Lea of Belgium.

THE NETHERLANDS, February 17: Helping erase personal debt

Embed from Getty Images

Queen Maxima was all smiles as she helped SchuldHulp Maatje celebrates its fifth anniversary. The Dutch organization aims to help people with debt problems. Maxima is interested in everything related to finance and in helping people achieve success in this area.

SPAIN, February 17: Still more audiences
It must get exhausting having to smile and shake hands all day as people are presented to you, but Queen Letizia has it down to an art. Good thing too, because it seems like she's hosting a never-ending cycle of audiences at Zarzuela Palace.

UNITED KINGDOM, February 17: #YoungMindsMatter
The Duchess of Cambridge visited with youngsters at Kensington Palace to mark her day working as guest editor of the Huffington Post. Her goal with the project is to raise awareness that the "mental health of our children must be seen to be every bit as important as their physical health."

MONACO, February 18: More New York Fashion Week
Prince Albert of Monaco's oldest daughter, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, was spotted at the J. Mendel runway during New York Fashion Week. She is an aspiring model.

UNITED KINGDOM, February 18: Greeting the diplomats
As is traditionally done, foreign diplomats present their credentials to The Queen. At this special reception, the Senegalese ambassador was among the diplomats who came to make their presence official. Ambassadors to Britain are actually appointed as ambassadors to the Court of St. James's because St. James's Palace is still designated as the official residence of the monarch, even though the true London residence has been Buckingham Palace for two centuries. Other royals do live at St. James's: The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall live their in the late Queen Mother's former home, Clarence House. The Princess Royal, the York Princesses and the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra also live at the Palace. (Most of the other royals have their London homes at Kensington Palace.)

UNITED KINGDOM, February 18: Sending off the RAF
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge shared a private moment while back in their old stomping grounds, RAF Valley in Anglesey, where William was stationed during the last part of their courtship and early part of their marriage. It was a bittersweet visit as they were there to help honor all of the RAF Search and Rescue personnel over 75 years, as the SAR operations are closed down.

SWEDEN, February 19: Hiding the baby bump
Despite having just six to eight weeks until the birth of her first child, Princess Sofia barely looks pregnant in this slim-fitting red dress. It is just an optical illusion, a trick of the angle, however, and the bouquet of flowers helps! She, hubby Prince Carl Philip and mother-in-law Queen Silvia were attending an event for the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

UNITED KINGDOM, February 19: Visiting flood victims

Flooding devastated areas around York a couple of weeks ago, so The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cambridge, paid a visit to encourage local residents and business owners, as royals often do in the face of disasters.

18 February 2016

Throwback Thursday: Another Cuban In-Law & a Musical Princess

Christina with her handsome Cuban husband about a year before they divorced.
By Anefo / Croes, R.C. via Wikimedia Commons
Today marks the 69th birthday of Princess Christina of the Netherlands, the youngest of Queen Juliana's four daughters, and therefore an aunt to the current King Willem Alexander. Like most royal babies, she had numerous godparents, but among hers was probably one of the youngest in history: her then nine-year-old sister Beatrix. Unfortunately her mother had German measles during the pregnancy, causing Christina to be born practically blind. She underwent a series of treatments, including faith healers, throughout her childhood. As an adult, she made her own way in the world, pursuing her love of music as a profession. She defied her family and country to marry a Roman Catholic. Her husband, Jorge Pérez y Guillermo, was the first Cuban to marry into a European royal family--two decades later Cubana Maria Teresa Mestre y Batista married the current Grand Duke of Luxembourg. (Maria Teresa and Henri celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary just a few days ago, on Valentine's Day. ) Christina and Jorge divorced after 21 years--in fact just at the same time that Maria Teresa was becoming royal. Christina and Jorge have three children and two grandchildren together. Christina is rarely seen at royal events, living her life quietly in England and Italy.

11 February 2016

Throwback Thursday: Provocative Portraits

 As it turns out, 19th Century men also liked sexy portraits of their wives.  Thankfully, renowned royal portraitist Franz Xaver Winterhalter was around to capture that perfect, provocative image before photographs and selfies were pushed portrait painting into a different realm. Winterhalter usually painted his royal ladies in grand style, looming large and gorgeous amidst a dramatic setting. For these two paintings, however, he evoked a more intimate image.

Still a newlywed in 1843, Queen Victoria commissioned this portrait for her beloved husband Prince Albert's 24th birthday present. The surprise was greatly appreciated, as Victoria recorded in her journal, "he thought it so like, & so beautifully painted. I felt so happy & proud to have found something that gave him so much pleasure." The painting hung in his writing room at Windsor so that he could look at as he worked. It was also recreated in miniature so that he could carry it with him.

Two decades later, Winterhalter painted a similarly personal portrait of 25-year-old Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Like Victoria and Albert, she and Emperor Franz Joseph were a love match. It is not surprising then that he also kept this portrait in his study so he could look at her when he worked. He had a great need to be able to see her image because, while Victoria and Albert were nearly inseparable, Elisabeth was always restless and frequently traveled leaving her husband at home alone. His loneliness for her was permanently imposed when she was assassinated by an anarchist in 1898. He outlived her by 18 years, but had this portrait to help him remember his beautiful and beloved wife.

04 February 2016

Throwback Thursday: An industrial prince

Even today it is unusual for a king or queen's children to have a career (outside of the military of course). Such was not the case for King Gustav VI Adolf's second son Prince Sigvard. The Bernadotte princes were among the first royals to insist on marrying for love. Up until the current king's reign began in 1973, however, marriage to a commoner meant surrendering your royal status. Three of Gustav's four sons decided they could not live without the loves of their lives. (Although Prince Bertil kept his status by just living with his Welsh lady for 30 years until the new rules were in place.) Sigvard threw over his royal status in 1934 to marry his first wife, Erica Maria Patzek (pictured here--don't they look snazzy?). He divorced twice and married three times, having just one child along the way. But, his marital adventures are not his claim to fame. Although he passed away on this date in 2002, he still remembered today for his work as an industrial engineer designing everything from knives to typewriters to eyewear. After surrendering his royal titles a Prince Sigvard and Duke of Upland, he became knwon as Prince Bernadotte, as had an uncle who married unequally before him. Later, he was given the title Count of Wisborg by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.