31 January 2018

80 Years with Beatrix

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Princess Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard of the Netherlands was born to be the queen in a line of queens. When she arrived on January 31, 1938, her grandmother Wilhelmina was the first queen in the history of their country. Wilhelmina's only child, Beatrix's mother Juliana, would become the second upon Wilhelmina's retirement in 1948. Wilhelmina would become the third when Juliana retired in 1980. When Beatrix herself stepped down in 2013, women had been sitting on the Dutch throne for nearly 123 years. It was the longest stretch of female leadership in the history of European monarchies. (See my post The End of the Queen Streak)

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During World War II, Beatrix, her mother and her sister Irene were evacuated to Canada, where her sister Margriet was born. Another sister, Christina, was born after they returned to post-war Europe. Unlike her British counterpart Queen Elizabeth II, who is 12 years older, Beatrix received a university education.

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Beatrix's marriage was controversial at the beginning because she had fallen in love with a German diplomat. The Dutch, who had suffered greatly under German occupation in the war, were not excited about their princess marrying a man who had been a ember of the Hitler Youth and the German Wehrmacht, even if he had been conscripted. Nevertheless the couple went on to have three handsome sons: Willem Alexander (now the king), Friso and Constantijn. Friso tragically died after being in a coma following an avalanche while skiing.

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Prince Claus died in 2002 after years of illness including cancer, Parkinson's disease, depression and, finally, pneumonia. he was given a full state funeral.

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Today, the former Queen Beatrix is once again known at Princess Beatrix. Although she has slowed down her schedule a bit, she continues to work on behalf of her many charities, to represent her son the King at home and abroad, and to spend as much time as she can with her eight children.

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19 January 2018

Royal Lady Flashback: Sophie of Isenburg's Wedding

Sophie Johanna Maria of Isenburg (1978-  )
Her Serene Highness Princess Sophie of Isenburg (1978-2011)
Her Imperial and Royal Highness The Princess of Prussia (2011-  )

Today we are flashing back just six and a half years to the wedding of the young head of the Imperial House of Hohenzollern, Georg Friedrich The Prince of Prussia, claimant to the German throne that was lost by his great-grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm II nearly 100 years ago, and Princess Sophie of Isenburg. The couple wed on August 25, 2011. Sophie grew up in her family's castle in Hesse. She was educated at the University of Freiburg and the Humboldt University of Berlin. She completed overseas internships in London, Shanghai and Hong Kong. She is a consultant for nonprofit businesses. The couple's civil ceremony took place in the city hall of Potsdam followed by a religious ceremony at the Church of Peace. The service also marked the 950th anniversary of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The reception was held in one of the dynasty's former palaces, Sanssouci. Sophie's gown was designed by Wolfgang Joop. She wore one of her family's tiaras, replacing it later with the Prussian Meander Tiara from the Hohenzollern vaults.

Since the wedding, the couple has had four children. Twins Carl Friedrich and Louis Ferdinand were born in 2013, Emma Marie in 2015 and Heinrich in 2016.

Sophie will celebrate her 40th birthday on March 7, 2018.

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14 January 2018

A Successful Young Queen: Margaret of France

Via Wikimedia Commons
Like so many princesses, Margaret of France, half-sister of King Philip IV, was a pawn in a game over which she had no influence. War was always simmering between the French and English kings. The widowed English King Edward I controlled Gascony and Philip wanted it back. To keep the peace, a double marriage was proposed between the 51-year-old Edward and 11-year-old Margaret and between Edward's only surviving son, the six-year-old Edward Prince of Wales and Philip's three-year-old daughter Isabella. In return, Edward would surrender Gascony. Turns out an 11-year-old bride was not enough to warrant the loss of territory and war broke out before the marriages were completed.

But, Edward had other problems: the Scots. He could not fight wars on two ends of his kingdom. After five years, he finally agreed to sacrifice Gascony so he could focus on Scotland. The marriage to Margaret, now old enough to be a useful Queen, helped make it more palatable. By that time, she was finally old enough to be a wife.

Not a very auspicious beginning for a marriage. The fact that Edward and his first wife Eleanor of Castile had been deeply in love and nearly inseparable also did not bode well for Margaret. (Read my post Eleanor's Crosses: A Royal Love Story.) However, the enviable Eleanor had let Edward down by producing only one surviving son. Of 16 children, only 5 had been boys and only the youngest of these sons was still living. The king's new wife was expected to produce a backup plan in case the young Prince Edward followed his brothers to the grave. Margaret quickly succeeded, first giving birth to Thomas of Brotherton nine months after her marriage and Edmund of Woodstock just 14 months later. A little girl, named Eleanor, was born several years later but died at age five.

King Edward was often away, usually fighting the Scots; he's not remembered as the "Hammer of the Scots" for nothing, but Margaret quickly became indispensable to him and traveled with him as much as possible. He called her a "pearl of great price." She seems to have possessed a wisdom beyond her age that helped her became an important center of the royal family's life. She often served as emissary between the irascible and aging king and her stepchildren, most of whom were older than she was. She had a particularly close relationship with Edward Prince of Wales who addressed her as "my very dear lady and mother," even though she was only a few years his senior. The warrior king and the pleasure-loving prince never saw eye to eye and it was Margaret who helped keep the peace between them.

Margaret was deeply grieved when the king died suddenly on his way yet again to battle in Scotland. Only 27 years old, she refused ever to marry again but she did not put aside her royal role. Within months, she traveled with the new King Edward II back to her native France for him to complete the marriage his father had arranged for him with Margaret's niece, Isabella, and she was present when the couple's first child, the future Edward III, was born a few years later.

Despite the close bond between Margaret and her stepson, his actions soon began to trouble her. He took away lands granted to her by her husband and gave them to his favorite Piers Gaveston. Margaret also fought to protect the inheritances of her own sons against their half-brother. Only seven and five years old when their father died, Thomas and Edmund had no one else to safeguard their interests against a king who had a rapidly growing reputation of taking from others to enrich his friends. In fact, the rising prominence of Gaveston led Margaret to embark on the only intrigue in her life when she helped fund a movement to oust him from power.

Otherwise, Margaret's widowhood was uneventful. When she died 700 years ago on January 14, 1318, her teenage sons were at the mercy of their half-brother. Tensions among them continued to grow, with both Thomas and Edmund joining Margaret's niece Isabella and Isabella's lover Roger Mortimer in the rebellion that dethroned Edward II.

Margaret was no longer there to keep the peace in the family.

More about Margaret of France
Margaret of France on Elizabeth Norton Historian and Author
Margaret of France on English Monarchs
Margaret of France, Queen of England on Unofficial Royalty
Margaret of France, Second Wife of King Edward I on e-Royalty
Marguerite of France (1) on Edward II
Marguerite of France (2) on Edward II
Marguerite of France, Queen of England on The Freelance History Writer
Marguerite of France, Queen of England on Royal Descent
An Unexceptional Man in Exceptional Times on English History Fiction Authors

12 January 2018

Royal Lady Flashback: Donata of Castell-Rudenhausen

Donata Emma of Castell-Rudenhausen (1950-2015)
Her Illustrious Highness Countess Donata of Castell-Rudenhausen (1950-1975)
Her Imperial and Royal Highness Princess Donata of Prussia (1975-1991)
Her Highness Duchess Donata of Oldenburg (1991-2015)

Born into a large German princely family, Countess Donata grew up in Rudenhausen Castle and later trained as a nurse. At age 24, she married the younger Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, son of the Head of the former German imperial House of Hohenzollern. Since his older brothers married dynastically unacceptable women (see my post on Unequal Marriage Equals Happy Marriage?), the imperial line would pass through Donata and Louis Ferdinand to their son Prince Georg Friedrich, who was born 13 months after their wedding. The following summer, Louis Ferdinand was crushed between two vehicles while on military maneuvers with the West German Army. An emergency amputation of his leg failed to save his life. Six months after his death, Donata gave birth to their second child, Princess Cornelie-Cecile, who has developmental disabilities. For the next 13 years, Donata was a single mother until 1991 when she married Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg. Fourteen years her senior, he was also the ex-husband of her sister-in-law Princess Marie Cecile of Prussia, who had divorced just over a year earlier. He had three children of his own, who were just a a few years older than their cousins, Donata's children. Unfortunately, Donata grew ill and died at the age of 65.

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09 January 2018

A Canadian Countess

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In 1998, a member of the British Royal Family gave up his claim to the throne in order to marry the woman he loved. No, this isn't another re-telling of the Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson story. (That was much longer ago!) This is the story of George Windsor, Earl of St. Andrews and his Canadian bride Sylvana Tomaselli. When George married Sylvana on January 9, 1988, he was 16th in line to the throne, but he had to give up his place because Sylvana was Catholic. Under the 1701 Act of Settlement no one who marries a Catholic can become the British monarch.

George is the firstborn child of His Royal Highness Prince Edward Duke of Kent, a first cousin of Queen Elizabeth II. He uses one of his father's secondary titles as a courtesy. His courtesy title and his eventual succession as the Duke of Kent were not impacted by the Act of Settlement. In fact, there was no fuss about his choice of a Catholic bride within the family. Since then, his mother the Duchess of Kent, his brother Lord Nicholas and two of this children have even converted to the faith.

Born in Newfoundland in 1957, Sylvana was the first Canadian to marry into the British Royal Family. Fellow Canadian Autumn Kelly will celebrate her tenth wedding anniversary with The Queen's oldest grandchild Peter Phillips later this year.

Sylvana pursued her higher education in both Canada and England, earning degrees from the University of British Columbia, York University in Ontario and the University of Cambridge. Before meeting the earl she was married to a young man named John Paul Jones, but they were divorced a few years later.

Sylvana has developed a deep love of Scotland and it was there that she married George in 1988. By the end of that same year, their son Edward, who bears the courtesy title of Lord Downpatrick, was born. The late Diana Princess of Wales was his godmother. Now 28, Eddie Downpatrick launched the men's clothing and accessories business, FIDIR, last year. The St. Andrews' second child, Lady Marina-Charlotte Windsor, 25, is currently based in New York, while youngest daughter Lady Amelia Windsor, 21, has been doing some modeling and traveling while finishing her studies in Edinburgh.

Both the Earl and the Countess are committed to the academic life. She is a fellow at St. Johns College, Cambridge, while he was recently appointed chancellor of the University of Bolton. George previously served as a diplomat before working in the antiquarian book business and becoming chairman of the Golden Web, an online world history project. Sylvana lectures on 18th and 19th century political theory and also has strong academic interests in mind-body dualism, the history of women and population theories with many publications to her credit. One of the most well-educated members of the Windsor family, she is also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a founding member of the European Center for the Philosophy of Gender.

In the meantime, George finally got his place back in the line of succession to the throne. Sylvana is still a Catholic, but with the Succession to the Crown Act of 2013 spouses of Catholics are no longer barred. He is now 35th in line to the throne, but following the births of Baby Cambridge and Baby Tindall later this year, he will slide down to 37.

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More about Sylvana, Countess of St Andrews
Miss Tomaselli on St. John's College, University of Cambridge

08 January 2018

So Grown Up: Charlotte's 1st Day

The Duchess of Cambridge took these lovely snaps of a bundled-up Princess Charlotte this morning at Kensington Palace before she and Prince Williams took her to her first day at Willcocks Nursery School in London. Maybe it's her sophisticated ensemble, but it looks like Charlotte has grown tremendously in the last few months since we saw her. The impression is emphasized by the fact that the family photo released last month was taken several months earlier--so it seems like she has grown up literally over night. Here's to hoping that she had a great day!

06 January 2018

Magdalene Sibylle of Saxony

via Wikimedia Commons
Married at 16 to the future King of both Norway and Denmark, Magdalene Sibylle of Saxony seemingly had a bright future ahead of her. Like her father Elector John George I of Saxony, her husband Christian had been heavily engaged on the Protestant side of the Thirty Years War. Christian's military history wasn't necessarily glorious, however. He'd been shot twice and he'd even fallen from a wagon breaking his leg. Fourteen years her senior, his romantic past was also less than savory. His mistress, a widowed Danish noblewoman named Anne Lykke had caused a rift between Christian and his father King Christian IV. Worried about leaving his son in charge at home with Anne while he went off to war, the King had her arrested. Because of her nobility, the Council of State protested. So, the king accused her of using sorcery to try to harm him -- accusations of witchcraft were not uncommon in 17th century Europe. The King's own mother had to intervene to get Anne released into house arrest.

Meanwhile, Magdalene Sibylle was still a child growing up in Saxony. Her wedding in Copenhagen in 1634 was greatly celebrated and was even marked by the very first ballet to be performed in Denmark. The couple lived in Nykobing Castle in Falster, Denmark, but the marriage wasn't necessarily joyful. Christian was renowned as a drinker and he ran up a lot of debt. Added to that, the marriage never fulfilled its purpose: to produce children.

Magdalene Sibylle led a more "acceptable" lifestyle, supporting churches and clergymen. Her strong religious faith also led her to write a prayerbook. When her husband took at yet another loan to travel to a spa, she traveled with him to her native Saxony. He took ill near Dresden and died near the city, never having ascended a throne. Twenty-nine-year old Magdalene Sibylle returned to Denmark, where she was granted dower estates and several fiefdoms. When she remarried five years later, she lost these, but she gained much more.

Duke Friedrich Wilhelm II of Saxe-Altenburg, her new husband, who was the same age as her first. He was born eight months after his father's death and had actually been a ward of Magdalene Sibylle's father. Like hers, his first marriage had been childless, so the couple was undoubtedly delighted when their first child, a son named Christian was born 16 months into their marriage. Two years later, daughter Johanna Madgalena arrived and son Friedrich Wilhelm III was born 18 months after her. Sadly, they lost their first child at age 9. Their second son outlived them, but still died at the age of 14. Johanna Magdalena lived into adulthood and had 11 children of her own. She named her firstborn Madgalena Sibylle.

Friedrich Wilhelm showed his respect for his second wife by building her a widow's house that he named Magdalenenstift for her. Magdalene Sibylle never used it as a widow because she died a year before him on January 6, 1668 at the age of 50.

05 January 2018

Royal Lady Flashback: Kira Kirillovna

Kira Kirillovna (1909-1967)
Her Imperial Highness Princess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (1909-1922)
Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna of Russia (1922-1938)
Her Imperial & Royal Highness Princess Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1938-1951)
Her Imperial & Royal Highness The Princess of Prussia (1951-1967)

The second daughter of an unapproved marriage between cousins, Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe Coburg and Gotha (who had scandalously divorced her first cousin-husband) and Grand Duke Cyril Vladimirovich of Russia, the beautiful little Kira was born in exile. The family was eventually reconciled to the Tsar. During the civil war, when Kira was eight, they were given permission to leave by the Provisional Government, hoping to return after the war ended.  They were at their home in Finland, thereby surviving when so many other Romanovs were murdered in the Revolution. Kira married the anti-Nazi Prussian Prince Louis Ferdinand, who eventually became head of the dethroned German imperial family. They remained in Germany after the war, raising seven children. She suffered a heart attack while visiting her younger brother (a leading claimant to the Russian throne) and died at the age of 58.

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03 January 2018

Princesses to Watch in 2018

Happy New Year! With the arrival of 2018, it is time for my annual exercise in prognostication. Let's explore what big happenings may lie ahead for our royal ladies. Here are my official princess predictions for this year.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with their first child.
By Christopher Neve via Wikimedia Commons
I'll admit that these first few predictions are kind of cheating, but I felt like I should start with a bit of certainty. These first few royal arrivals are already greatly anticipated. We have three Baby #3s expected. Announced in August, Princess Madeleine of Sweden's baby will likely arrive first, followed by Tatiana Casiraghi's little one and followed in April with the Duchess of Cambridge's infant. Going out on a limb for not-yet-expected expectations, I wouldn't be at all surprised to get another pregnancy announcement by the end of 2018 for Princess Sofia of Sweden, who had her first two just 17 months apart. We could likewise get a fast turnaround from Tatiana's sister-in-law Beatrice, whose son Stefano will celebrate his first birthday at the end of February. And, I don't think Prince Claire of Luxembourg is finished building her family either. We might also get a pregnancy announcement from Zara Phillips Tindall, who sadly lost her second pregnancy just over a year ago. She, husband Mike and daughter Mia recently enjoyed a sun-filled holiday in Australia and this royal-watcher can daydream about holiday babies, if she wants to. Finally, I would not be at all surprised if everyone is celebrating a royal baby announcement from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle before next Christmas. Enjoy all these royal babies while you can, this could be the last big baby year for a while as we can safely assume no more little ones in Norway, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium or Denmark for at least a decade, while Sweden is probably about finished creating this generation, too. In fact, the UK is likely the only kingdom likely to continue producing princelings in the next 10 years -- we could see babies for all of the Queen's grandchildren during this time frame.

Speaking of potential new mums of the near future, the York Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie will likely be in the news again this year -- and not just because of tabloid lies about their jealousy of new cousin Meghan. Bea will be 30 years old on August 8 and I anticipate a big celebration. She's been known to enjoy costume balls (or fancy dress parties, for you Brits) in the past, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Yorks pull out all the stops for this celebration. Meanwhile, the much anticipated engagement of Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank could finally come to pass. I'd love to see a Yorkie wedding, please, please, please.

Photo: Matt Holyoak/CameraPress
In the meantime, their granny Queen Elizabeth II will continue to astonish everyone with her indefatigable devotion to duty. In June, she will mark 65 years since her coronation. This specific anniversary will probably pass without fanfare (except here and on other royal blogs) but her official birthday celebration that month will be a big one. First, she'll be 92 years old! Second, Meghan will likely be in the procession and on the balcony for the her first Trooping the Colour. Third, everyone will be vainly looking for New Baby Cambridge, but I don't think will see an infant that young out there. Sorry folks. However, the Queen herself will be the center of ongoing discussion about what happens "next" while we enjoy her fewer and fewer appearance in brightly colored hats and coats and warm smiles that we rarely saw when she was younger. As the Netflix series, The Crown, draws a wider audience, the real lady (however removed from the fictional one) will also gain more "fans."

The women of the Japanese Imperial family will be drawing much more attention than usual as Emperor Akihito prepares for abdication in 2019. As that date gets closer, expect to see more retrospectives about him and Empress Michiko as well as a brighter spotlight on Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako and their daughter Princess Aiko, who currently is banned from inheriting the throne due to her female gender. Could the abdication re-trigger the national conversation about the unfair and equal treatment of women that is enshrined in Japan's constitution? Another Japanese lady will also take some headlines as Aiko's cousin Princess Mako of Akishino becomes a bride in November and, as another unfair consequence, is required to surrender her titles and her role in the Imperial Family. Come on, Japan, it's time to end these gender-biased practices.

With the recent death of Romania's last king, the oldest of his four daughters, Crown Princess Margareta, has taken on the title of "Custodian of the Crown." The Romanian government had, after decades, reached a friendly understanding with her father, but it is unlikely that the republic will continue to extend any favors to his successors. The monarchy itself is not recognized there and even if it were, Salic Law is still the guiding law of succession. In other words, neither women nor their descendants (hence Margareta, her sisters and her nieces and nephews) are barred. Furthermore, under the agreement with the late King Michael, Margareta is only permitted to retain residency for 60 days after his death. Unless a new agreement is reached, she will have to move by early February. It will be interesting to see if the princess can negotiate an agreement to stay and whether she will be granted any further recognition by the government.

HRH Duchess of Kent
By Surtsinca
via Wikimedia Commons
In addition to Princess Beatrice of York's 30th birthday, other royal ladies have some big celebrations to look forward to, too. The Queen's cousin-in-law Katharine Duchess of Kent, who has essentially retired from official duties many years ago, will be 85. The Queen's granddaughter-in-law has two parties to enjoy: her 40th birthday in May and her 10th wedding anniversary two weeks later. I doubt many people will notice, though, because both events are just before THE WEDDING OF THE YEAR. In The Netherlands, Princess Beatrix (formerly Queen Beatrix) will turn 80 at the end of January while Queen Emerita Sofia of Spain will reach the same milestone on Feb. 11. Sadly, I doubt we'll see anything like the double 80th birthday celebrations for Norway's King and Queen last year. Those Norwegians certainly know how to throw a party of royal proportions! In Sweden, sister Princesses Desiree and Christina will have big birthdays. Desiree will be 80 on June 2 and Christina will be 75 two months later.

The year 2018 will mark the centenary of the assassinations of 12 members of the Romanov dynasty. The best-known massacre on July 17 murder the Tsar, his German-born wife and their five children, including the four grand duchesses known collectively as OTMA (Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia) and the hemophiliac tsarevich along with several of their loyal attendants. The next day, five more Romanovs, including the tsaritsa sister Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who was the widow of one of her brother-in-law's uncles, and four grand dukes, all cousins of the tsar. I anticipate that we will see many, many books and television programs about the Imperial Family. Here on Princess Palace, I'm planning a series of posts leading up to the July murders.

As a reminder, many of our favorite royals have been very long lived and I certainly hope for long, healthy lives for all of them (as well as for you, gentle readers). However, the average life expectancy for women in Europe is 84 years old, and a few of our royal ladies have outstripped that average. The oldest of these is, of course, Queen Elizabeth II, who at 91 is still a decade younger than the age her mother reached. As mentioned above, the Duchess of Kent will be 85 this year. On the continent King Carl XVI Gustav's oldest sister Princess Margaretha will reach her 84th birthday on Halloween.

By Alex Lubomirski/Kensington Palace
Whether will see any other royal brides this year or not (I'm looking at you, Eugenie), we will certainly have one fantastic royal wedding to go totally insane over. I'm not sure that Meghan-Mania has reached the fever pitch in the UK like it has among US royal watchers, but there is no doubt that the little town of Windsor will be flooded with well-wishers on May 19. Hotels sold out within hours of the date being announced and if you don't have airline tickets yet, be prepared to pay premium prices to get anywhere near the British isles that week. For those, who will get up in the middle of the night or wee hours of the morning to watch the nuptials on TV, be prepared for LESS royal wedding than you're used to. The church is basically part of the castle complex, so don't look for carriage processions between the castle and the church. Most guests will be dropped off by fancy buses and some may even walk down the hill. Also -- and please don't be too upset -- there is no balcony at Windsor Castle. The closest thing you will get to that will likely be the couple standing together on the wide steps in front of the church after the ceremony. The couple may then hop into a carriage for a little spin, but don't be disappointed if they don't. Harry and Meghan chose this location specifically so they could have a more intimate, personal experience. It's not that they don't love us -- I'm sure they do -- it's just, well, they probably think it's their day. :)  At any rate, I'm sure we will get fabulous pics at the end of it all. (For examples of other recent royal weddings at St. George's Chapel, check out my post The Brides of St. George's Part 2.)

01 January 2018

Princess Round-Up 2017

At the beginning of each year, I offer a preview of what we might expect from our royal ladies in the next 12 months. I also take a moment to look back to see how accurate my predictions were for the previous year. Later this week, I will post my "best guesses" for 2018, but for now, let's take a look at what I got right in 2017.

Sometimes it's really easy to predict what's going to happen. With August/September 2017 marking 20 years since the world was plunged into nearly unprecedented grief over the sudden and tragic death of Diana, it was no surprise that my predictions of books and television specials and ramped-up media coverage came true. We even got interviews with her sons Prince William and Prince Harry, who together with William's wife launched a new focus on mental health called Heads Together. This stemmed from each of their interests in the area of mental health awareness as well as Harry's ongoing support of post-combat military veterans. What was unexpected was the candidness with which the threesome linked the effort to the princes' own experiences of their mother's death and their years of recovery afterward. We even got to "listen in" on a rather more revealing than usual conversation on the subject among the three as they sat in the garden. And, speaking of gardens, the public got to enjoy a very special tribute from the princes to their late mother as they turned her favorite garden at Kensington Palace, the sunken garden, into an all-white floral celebration for summer visitors. Later, we got to see the garden again, sans the white flowers, as Prince Harry chose this location to announce his engagement to Meghan Markle.

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Speaking of Meghan Markle, her engagement was not entirely unexpected even though her relationship with Prince Harry was still quite young at the beginning of last year. After all, Harry had already issued an official statement asking for the media (and online racists) to leave her alone. In my annual predictions, I anticipate that 2017 might include an engagement due in part to the fact that they are likely to want a family and aren't getting any younger and to the idea that the anniversary of Diana's death might prompt the prince to want to move on with settling his own family life. So the biggest wedding surprise in 2017 wasn't about Meghan and Harry but about his cousin Princess Eugenie and longtime love Jack Brooksbank. In the last part of 2016, a certain royal reporter had confidently reported that we would see an engagement before the end of that year. Well, here we are more than a year later...the couple is still together but we have yet to hear an announcement...

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Sofia and Carl Philip with sons
Alexander and Gabriel
Photo: Erika Gerdemark, The Royal Court, Sweden
For the last many years, we've had royal pregnancy announcements to help us get through the cold winter months but last year, we had no spring babies to look forward to. So, my royal baby predictions had to rely more on past family activities. Sadly, there was no "rainbow baby" for Zara Phillips who had lost her second pregnancy right at the end of 2016, but the Swedes and the Cambridges both followed my baby hopes by giving us three pregnancies in 2017. Princess Sofia of Sweden delivered her second son Prince Gabriel on August 31, while her sister-in-law Princess Madeleine is expecting her third child early in 2018. The Duchess of Cambridge, who could certainly have been forgiven for avoiding a third pregnancy and the hyperemesis gravidarum that plagues her, announced that she is expecting another Baby Cambridge in April. In fact, Prince Harry's wedding date of May 19 seems to have been selected so that Catherine will be recovered enough from the birth to feel like making a public appearance at the wedding of the year.

We finally got a verdict in the long, dragged-out Noos embezzlement case that had consumed Infanta Cristina of Spain and her husband Inaki Urgandarin. Cristina, sister of King Felipe, was acquitted while Urgandarin was sentenced to several years in prison plus fines. In 2016, Cristina was stripped of her title as Duchess of Palma de Mallorca, but her brother permitted her to keep her royal title and rights. Her acquittal means that she will not likely lose these. However, both she and their older sister Infanta Elena Duchess of Lugo have been less and less involved in royal duties since their father's abdication in 2014. I would not expect that we will hear much from Cristina for many years to come as she will likely need to focus on raising her four children as an essentially "single" mom.

Your Favorite Posts of 2017

Let's continue the tradition of looking back at your favorite posts from the last year. Here is a countdown of your top 15 Princess Palace posts from 2017:

Posted on the day of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement announcement (between the morning photocall and the afternoon interview), this post looks at the last several royal engagement announcements in the UK.

The story of bad King John's neglected first wife Isabella of Gloucester really caught your attention. Not much is known about her, but like her later successor Anne of Cleves, she kept her head down, didn't protest her maltreatment and managed to survive what otherwise might not have been a survivable marriage.

Mary Queen of Scots
No one seriously thinks that Queen Elizabeth II would ever abdicate no matter what great age she reaches. However, many other reigning queens have surrendered their thrones at far earlier ages and for a variety of reasons. 2017 marked the 450th anniversary of the first queenly abdication, that of Mary Queen of Scots. This post takes a look at all of them.

When King Edward VIII surrendered his throne to marry Wallis Simpson, he did not imagine that he would spend the rest of his life in gentile exile. The reality of his situation dawned on him slowly, beginning with the tremendous snub he received upon his wedding: absolutely no member of his family was permitted to attend.

The brief but popular Royal Lady Flashback included this much-read many profile of Princess Christa, great-granddaughter of the last German Kaiser. Since the Royal Lady Flashback seems to have interested so many readers, I have decided to revive it as a weekly feature in 2018.

Everyone knows that Meghan Markle will not be the first American to marry a prince. However, they mostly know this because they are familiar with Princess Grace of Monaco, formerly Grace Kelly. But, many other American ladies found real princes to wed, including this even earlier Princess of Monaco.

TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester
One of the most dedicated, but least well known working members of the British royal family is the Danish lady who married The Queen's cousin, Prince Richard of Gloucester in 1972. In 2017, she celebrated her 45th wedding anniversary, which, of course, also marked her 45th year as a royal lady.

Speaking of American princesses and of landmark dates, the lovely Jazmin Grace Grimaldi turned 25 in 2017. Although technically not a princess because she is illegitimate, she is the first-born child of Prince Albert II of Monaco. She was born and raised by her American mother in California, but today has an active relationship with her princely father and half-siblings.

Following a multi-year trial for corruption, the Spanish King's sister Infanta Cristina was finally acquitted of all charges in the Noos case. Her Olympian husband, however, was convicted and sentenced to six years in prison plus fines. Despite Cristina's official innocence, her brother had already stripped her of her ducal title, but she was able to retain her royal status. 

The 2017 wedding of Prince Ernst August (the younger) of Hanover drew attention to the feud between him and his father, but this is certainly nothing new in the royal house of Hanover. In this post, we decided to ignore the feud and celebrate the Hanoverian brides who came before.

If King Willem-Alexander had not been
born, would his mom still be Queen?
In this speculative, what-if post, we explore the question of who would rule if none of today's reigning monarchs had been born. In some countries, the answer is very straightforward, but in several the answer is someone that you may not have heard of before.

We celebrated the announcement of The Duchess of Cambridge's third pregnancy in our usual way -- by placing it in historical context with a look at other royals around Europe who are the third-born children in their families. From the baby's Great Uncle Andrew to Monaco's "Wild Child" to Sweden's Princess Madeleine (who is now expecting her own third child), there are a lot of third babies that the new Baby Cambridge could look to for example, whether for good or bad!

In honor of the 15th anniversary of her passing, we profiled the late Queen Mother for the very first time on Princess Palace. Born the youngest daughter of an ancient Scottish noble house and married to a younger royal son, she was set to have a life that would have only been remarkable to her family and friends. But, fate intervened to make her the Queen that the UK needed in World War II and to give the British people a grandmotherly figurehead who was widely respected and beloved.

One of the guiding intentions of this blog is to demonstrate that the lives of princesses are often far removed from our fairytale imaginings. The story of Louise of Austria seems an almost perfect example of this. An Italian-born member of the extended Hapsburg dynasty who became a crown princess of a German kingdom, Louise ended her life living in the streets of Belgium. Along the way, she encountered (engendered) scandals galore in her fruitless search for happiness and love.

One day, I happened to notice that A LOT of today's royal ladies bear some form of the name Sophia. As I started to look at this, I realized that this mostly coincidental, except within one royal family that bridges the thrones of Germany, Greece and Spain. You all seemed to have liked the story of how "Sofia" became a widespread royal name, because it is the most viewed Princess Palace post of 2017.

Thanks for reading and supporting the Princess Palace. Happy New Year!!