18 January 2017

Update: Blog Postponed

Hi everyone! Don't think I have forgotten about you or our princesses. Just having tons of complications at work and in moving house. Have been working on a post in pieces, so I may be able to get that one up soon. Otherwise, I should be back on form by Monday.

In the meantime, here are my comments on the latest royal news:
- RIP to Anthony Earl Snowdon. A handsome devil, wasn't he? Now we have a new Countess Snowdon, the beautiful Serena.
- Didn't see the divorce announcement from Princess Tessy coming so I didn't have her on the 2017 list of Princesses to watch. Too sad.
- Not impressed with Victoria, which is now airing on American public television. Still holding out hope for it though.

Now, to distract you from my absence, here is an adorable pic of baby Princess Margaret with her mum (later Queen Mother) and big sis (our current Queen Elizabeth II).

14 January 2017

Royal Lady of Jan. 14, 2017

This weekend Countess Diana Bernadotte af Wisborg, a great-granddaughter of Sweden's King Gustav V, married for the second time.



13 January 2017

Royal Ladies of Jan. 12-13, 2016




The Royal Lady who Passed Her Name Down

One of the most common names in royal Europe today is Sophia. In Britain, the Queen's daughter-in-law is Sophie Countess of Wessex. In Sweden, the King has a daughter-in-law called Princess Sofia. Liechtenstein's Hereditary Princess is Sophie and Sophie is also the name of the wife of the current head of the German imperial House of Hohenzollern. In Spain the Queen Emerita is Sofia and so is her youngest grandchild, the Infanta Sofia. We can trace these two Spanish Sofias' common name back to a German princess who died January 13, 1932, or 85 years ago today.

Sophie (seated in the center of the group) with her family
via Wikimedia Commons
Sophie of Prussia was the third of four daughters of the enlightened Victoria Princess Royal of Britain and Emperor Friedrich III of Germany. Vicky, as her mother was known, was the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who considered her more intelligent than her siblings. Both of Vicky's parents had been disappointed when she chose to marry young and move to Germany, but were delighted that it, like theirs, was a love match. Vicky's first years in her husband's country were frustrating because of her domineering mother-in-law who more or less seized control over Vicky's oldest children. However, Vicky had much more authority and better relationships with her younger offspring, including Sophie.This meant that Sophie had a mostly "British" upbringing and was closer to her British family than to her German one, including her much older oldest brother, the future Kaiser Wilhelm.

Sophie grew up with English nurses and taking holidays on the Isle of Wight amidst a vast array of cousins. However, her childhood was not all sunshine. When she was only 8, her cousin Mary of Hesse and her aunt Alice died from diptheria. (You can read my post about that, The Kiss of Death.) A few months later, her nearest brother Waldemar contracted the same disease and died at age 11. A couple of years later, her dear sister Viktoria was prevented from marrying the man she loved for political reasons, although Vicky and Friedrich had approved of the match. It was a precursor of what Sophie would face.

Sophie and Constantine
By Wilhelm Hoofers via Wikimedia Commons
Perhaps it did not help that Sophie's love was encouraged by her English grandmother, who really had very little say in the marriage of German princess. More significantly, Sophie's father had died of throat cancer a day after her 18th birthday, leaving her oldest brother, Kaiser Wilhelm at the head of the government. Willy, as he was called, did not approve of Sophie's choice, the heir to the still-new throne of Greece. Not only did the Greek royal family derive from the Danish one, to which the Prussians were hostile, but they had adopted Orthodoxy as their religion. Willy would not allow his sister to leave her Protestant faith and, I think, he may have enjoyed flexing his muscles as the new emperor and head of the family. To make matter worse, Crown Prince Constantine's mother, who was Russian by birth, wasn't thrilled with the prospect of a Lutheran daughter-in-law either. Politically, Greece was more aligned with France and Britain, while German was making its bed with the Ottoman Turks, Greece's traditional enemies. Hardly anyone was happy about the union. Nevertheless, Sophie won her prince and they married in two separate religious ceremonies after a year of maneuvering. The bride was 19 and the groom was 21. They would have six children, with all three of their sons eventually becoming King of Greece.

Sophie maintained a close relationship with her mother. Their correspondence was as voluminous as Vicky's was with her own mother Queen Victoria. Sophie had also inherited a lot of Vicky's spunk; she was never a shrinking violet although she did her best to do her duty. The marriage was initially very popular among the Greek people, especially after Sophie decided to convert to Orthodoxy after all. This severely angered her brother, who even banned her from visiting Germany for a time. Despite the bad blood between them, however, Sophie's German roots would come to haunt her.

Greece never had a stable monarchy. After the Greeks lost the Thirty Days War against the Ottomans in 1897, some felt she had sided against her adopted country in favor of her homeland, the Turks' ally. Her husband even came close to being tried in a military court for his role in the defeat and her father-in-law, King George I of Greece, was nearly assassinated. So, the couple decided to leave Greece and were welcomed back to Germany by Kaiser Wilhelm. Constantine undertook more military training, but German training could hardly erase the political smear left on him by the war.

Sophie with her daughters Irene,
Helen and Katherine
By RealPolitik via Wikimedia Commons
Tensions and violence between Greece and the Ottomans continued, even after Sophie and Constantine returned. A decade later, all of the Greek princes were forced to resign their military commissions and a military government took over. The king was able to call for elections and new civilian government was elected, which restored the royal family, some of whom were in exile. Then the country was shaken by the Balkan Wars that preceded World War I. Between the First and Second Balkan Wars, in 1913, King George was assassinated, bringing Sophie and Constantine to the throne through violence. When World War I broke out, the royal couple wanted to keep Greece out of it, not just because they had close family relations on both sides but because Greece was already so weak from so many wars. The Greeks did not agree. The politicians and the king were at odds. When King Constantine was suddenly taken ill, a rumor spread that he was actually near death because the evil German Queen Sophie had stabbed him herself. The complexities of Balkan politics made it difficult to choose sides but the king's wavering led the French and their allies to determine that the Greeks were their enemies.

This led to greater danger for Sophie and Constantine, who had recovered from his illness. When a fire broke out on the royal grounds, many believed it had been assassination attempt. (You can read my post about Sophie's escape, Fire at the Palace.) Even though Constantine reluctantly allowed the French to come to Greece to claim guns and soldiers, the French bombarded the palace causing Sophie and the royal children to take refuge in the cellars. By summer 1917, Constantine was forced to relinquish his powers to his second son, Alexander, while he and Sophie went into exile in Switzerland. Alexander's death from an infected monkey bite in 1920 caused a constitutional crisis. Their third son refused to take the throne over his still-living father and oldest brother. Eventually, Constantine was invited back.

By Georgics Jakobides  via Wikimedia Commons
However, all was still not well in Greece. Another war broke out with the Turks and Constantine was eventually forced to abdicate and return to exile. He died soon thereafter and Greece was declared a republic. Sophie never accepted that the republic would be permanent. She spent her last years trying to hold her family together and visiting with relatives. Three years after her death from cancer in 1932, her oldest son George was welcomed back to Greece as the new King. He was eventually succeeded by her third son Paul.

It is through King Paul that the name Sophie has been passed down to today. He named his oldest daughter Sophia. She was born nearly seven years after her grandmother's death. While the new Sophia of Greece's brother Constantine II would become the last king of Greece (he has been in exile now for more than 50 years), this Sophia would marry the heir to another deposed throne, whose return as the monarch King Juan Carlos actually brought democracy instead of dictatorship to Spain. Now known as Queen Sofia of Spain, she was honored with the passing of the name to her own granddaughter, Infanta Sofia in 2007. So, our Sophie's granddaughter and her granddaughter's granddaughter will carry the name forward well into this century and perhaps the next.


11 January 2017

10 January 2017

Royal Ladies of Jan. 10, 2017



09 January 2017

08 January 2017

Princesses to Watch in 2017

Time for my annual prognostication of what to look out for in the coming year. Our big princess news areas are generally weddings and babies, but sometimes, we get a princess in the spotlight for other (usually less pleasant) reasons. So, let's get started...

by Nick Parfjonov via Wikimedia Commons
Barring any other big news (like an engagement for Prince Harry or accession for Prince Charles), the  late summer will be all about Diana this year. August 31 will mark the 20th anniversary of her death and while she still lives on the media, her coverage is nothing like you are going to see this year. It may, in fact, be the last year that we see really significant media attention for her. Don't worry, she won't disappear completely after September, but we will start to hear gradually less (except on those two occasions mentioned above). This year, I expect everyone who ever knew her will be interviewed, several new books and documentaries will be produced, and magazines around the world will feature fresh, young photos of the woman who would have been 56 this year. I suspect we could also see a recreation of the floral tributes outside of Kensington Palace, where they will be hosting a special exhibition in tribute to her beginning on Feb. 24th. At Althorp House, her brother Earl Spencer is redesigning the gardens surrounding her grave in time for the anniversary. I suspect Elton John may even release a new version of "Goodbye England's Rose." What will be most interesting to see is what her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, do to mark the occasion.

By GuitarStrummer
via Wikimedia Commons
It is now generally believed that it is only a matter of time until we get an engagement announcement for Princess Eugenie, so we could have our first Yorkie royal wedding this year. Of course, most everyone is most excited over the possibility that the most eligible prince might marry his most attractive girlfriend, but I think we may have to wait a bit longer before Prince Harry makes such a big decision on a still relatively new relationship. However, neither of them is getting younger (Harry will be 33 this year and Meghan will be 36--incidentally, did you know that she shares the Queen Mother's birthday, Aug. 4?). Plus, the anniversary of Diana's death could make her son feel like nesting, so I wouldn't be surprised by an announcement either. In the other regal lands practically everyone is married. There are some young singletons in Monaco--but you can't count on them for weddings-- and in Luxembourg. In Norway, Princess Martha is not yet divorced, but who knows what might happen there.

By Bengt Nystrom
via Wikimedia Commons
Now, the second thing everyone goes goo-goo over. Where can we expect new royal babes? Perhaps we will see a "rainbow baby" for Zara Phillips following her recent miscarriage.

I have a sneaking suspicion that we will have at least one more princeling in Sweden before the year is over; could come from either Princess Madeleine or Princess Sofia, but my money is on Sofia.

Back in Britain, Monday, January 9 is Catherine Duchess of Cambridge's 35th birthday and her youngest child will turn two this year. She herself comes from a close family of three, so perhaps another Baby Cambridge could make its debut this year. The Cambridges also are planning to make their London home their main home so that Prince George may attend the same kindergarten that his father attended.

In Spain, the ongoing prosecution of the Noos embezzlement case seems to be continually postponed, which means we may or may not get a final verdict on Infanta Cristina's involvement. She wrapped up her testimony early in 2016, and all testimony was concluded in the summer. The judgement has been postponed until some time early this year, but I am beginning to think they can postpone proceedings indefinitely. King Felipe has already stripped his sister Cristina of her ducal title. If she is convicted, she may also lose her royal status and place in the line of succession.

Royal Ladies of Jan. 8, 2017

A day we royal watchers have waited for made doubly sweet. Her Majesty has returned to public view following her illness while her granddaughter is sunshine and smiles in Australia following her pre-Christmas miscarriage. A Happy New Year to them both!




07 January 2017

Royal Ladies of Jan. 6-7, 2017



05 January 2017

Royal Ladies of Jan. 5, 2017


02 January 2017

Royal Ladies of Jan. 2, 2017



01 January 2017

Princess Round-Up 2016

Each year at this time, I take a look back at my princess "predictions" for the previous year. For 2016, I predicted a relatively "quiet" year compared to the weddings, jubilees and babies that had occurred in the five years leading up to it. We knew we had two babies coming in Sweden and that we would celebrate the Queen's 90th birthday, otherwise, not much else was on the horizon. So, let's take a look at my more specific ideas and see how insightful (or not) I may have been.

The Ongoing Saga of Infanta Cristina
Via Wikimedia Cmmons
This is the case that just won't end. More than five years ago, corruption charges were brought against Infanta Cristina of Spain's husband for allegedly embezzling millions of dollars of public money. A few years later, charges were brought against Cristina herself; she is accused of using some of that money for personal expenditures. With her testimony finally scheduled for January a year ago, I expected a resolution in 2016. Boy was I wrong! Her testimony was delayed until March--her defense basically was, "I'm just a mom; my husband handles all the money stuff." Then, there were more delays. Testimony finally concluded in July, but a decision was never announced. In fact, by late fall, the court was granted a three-month extension to make its decision. That puts us into 2017. In the meantime, the scandal is not helping the monarchy. In fact, many believe it was a primary cause of her father's decision to abdicate the throne in 2014 and her brother, the new king, distanced himself from it by stripping of her title of Duchess of Palma de Mallorca in 2015. If she is convicted, look for a renunciation (or removal) of succession rights.

Windsor Romances
Princess Eugenie

By Carfax2 via Wikimedia Commons
Turns out all of my longstanding hopes for Princess Beatrice and Dave Clark finally bit the dust in 2016 with the couple's breakup. To be fair though, I had refused to predict her marriage in 2016, but I did for reasons of reverse psychology. In the meantime, my thoughts about her sister Princess Eugenie's possible engagement to Jack Brooksbank looked close to realization with reports that such an engagement would be announced by the end of the year. Didn't happen, but some are holding on to hopes that the announcement was merely delayed because of cousin Zara's sad news (see below). However, I doubt they were planning an engagement announcement in the last week of the year. Meanwhile, I had ventured to hope that Prince Harry just might have a secret love we didn't know about. It wasn't true in January but it was true by summer and in the late fall we first got wind of it. Just days later, Prince Harry himself confirmed it with an unprecedented statement calling for an end to the harassment of his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, and her family. (See my post about that.)

More Swedish Babies
Okay, I know it was a little overboard to think that the Swedish princesses might have yet another baby after the three ladies managed two weddings and four babies in the 34 months between Madeleine's June 2013 wedding and the birth of Prince Nicholas in April 2016. Despite some ridicule from others and my own usual preference for not watching for baby bumps, I still would not be surprised if Alexander's mum, Princess Sofia, is already pregnant again. It's just a sneaking suspicion that would be confirmed fairly soon if accurate. (My sister and I are the same age for 10 days every year, so it can definitely happen!)

Stephanie and Charlene
Princess Charlene
By Tokuburai
via Wikimedia Commons
I wrote that I would not be surprised if we saw pregnancies from Princess Charlene of Monaco or Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg. If Charlene is planning another pregnancy, she would likely be trying again now that the twins are two years old. As for Stephanie, who is now approaching her fifth wedding anniversary, I have no doubt that she is hoping for a pregnancy and that it is likely a very painful situation for her. All of my prayers are with her. Having endured the kind wishes and prying questions of others as I struggled with fertility issues, this is the last time I will mention this regarding Stephanie unless there is an official announcement regarding an impending arrival or a confirmation of fertility issues. It is extremely personal, and I don't know for sure that Stephanie and Guillaume are facing it (although it be very weird for an heir to the throne, especially a Catholic one, to intentionally not  have children, but I do wish more high profile people would share their stories. These couples often feel very isolated but they are not alone. And, while Stephanie and Guillaume certainly rejoice in the birth of new nephew Prince Liam this year, it may be hard to watch others having children.

Oh Zara
Speaking of fertility issues, our hearts are broken for the Queen's oldest granddaughter, Zara Phillips and her husband Mike Tindall. On November 30, they announced a pregnancy (I had predicted one might happen after the 2016 Olympics). On Christmas Eve, however, they shared that the child had been lost in a miscarriage. Such a terrible loss for them. The good news is that many (most?) women recover and go on to have another child--there is even a term for babies born after a miscarriage: "rainbow babies." Prying for a rainbow to alight on the Tindall family.

In other baby news, we were not disappointed by the folks I've decided to call the "new Monagesques." With the six adult children of Prince Albert and his sisters Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie, plus 18-year-old Camille Gottlieb and 17-year-old Princess Alexandra on the horizon, I predicted that we could expect a wedding or a baby, and we got a baby! No official announcement was made, but Beatrice Borromeo, wife of Caroline's son Pierre Casiraghi is clearly expecting a child in the first part of 2017.

The Unmentionable
RIP Queen Anne
By MrBoise via Wikimedia Commons
I talked about the numerous royals who are now beyond the "life expectancy" of their generation and worried that we might lose some of them. Despite a couple of Twitter death hoaxes and a lingering cold that kept 90-year-old Queen Elizabeth from church on both Christmas Day and New Year's Day (today), she is thankfully still with us and we wish her to continue for a long, long time yet. This last 10 days though has been very scary as her husband Prince Philip (now 95) was also ill though he managed to go to church, Queen Sonja of Norway (79) was also too sick for church on Christmas Day, Queen Silvia of Sweden (73) was actually hospitalized with a cold that made her dizzy, former Grand Duke Jean  (95) was in hospital with bronchitis over Christmas, and just after the holiday, former Queen Paola of Belgium (79) fell and broke her back. Thankfully, they all made it into the New Year!

Unfortunately, however, we had to bid farewell to former Queen Anne of Romania (92). See my tribute to her.