13 January 2019

Princesses to Watch in 2019

While I'd like to start the New Year off in a state of great excitement, I'm having trouble drumming up my enthusiasm. After several years of babies and weddings, it's starting to look like a bit of a dry spell is ahead of us. Nearly all of the adult royals are already married. All we have left is Princess Beatrice of York, Prince Philippos of Greece and his older sister Theodora, who is engaged to be married this year. Then, it will likely be years before another royal wedding while we wait for the teens and pre-teens to grow up in Spain, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Most of our married royal ladies also already have two or three children. Could there be a fourth for the Duchess of Cambridge or Princess Madeleine of Sweden? Maybe a third for the Princess of Monaco or Princess Sofia of Sweden? I don't think so... Prince Harry and his cousins the York sisters are our only hope.

I fear that the next four or five years will include more goodbyes than hellos. (Maybe I'm just melancholy because I'm in the middle of preparing a lecture called, "After Elizabeth: The Future British Royal Family," and I don't want to think about the day when Elizabeth II is no longer Queen.)

Let's shake it off and celebrate the things that we can look forward to...

By Carl Rudolph Sohn via Wikimedia Commons
Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!
This year will mark the 200th anniversary of the births of both Queen Victoria (May 24) and her husband Prince Albert (August 26). This will likely mean some updated books and television specials about the diminutive royal lady who ruled an empire that stretched around the entire globe. If you live in or near any place named Victoria, you might check to see if they are already planning a commemoration or festivities. If not, start up your own committee and get the celebrations going. In the meantime, people in the United States can enjoy season three of the delightful and occasional factual PBS series Victoria that starts up again this month. If you are in Britain or planning to go this year, you might want to add Victoria and Albert's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight to your list of places to visit this year. Of course, you could go total fangirl and start planning now to dress as Victoria for Halloween. Enjoy!

A New Empress
After two decades as Crown Princess of Japan, the former Masako Owada is scheduled to become the Empress on April 30 when her 85-year-old father-in-law, Emperor Akihito, abdicates. His decision to leave the throne was reported in July 2016, but was not made possible until the Japanese government passed legislation to allow for abdication. In other words, this has been a long time coming. And, it appears that Masako has spent the last two and half years preparing herself for a more public role. Officially suffering from an adjustment disorder, likely triggered by the stress of Imperial Court life and fertility struggles, Masako spent long periods of time completely out of the public eye and only rarely made official appearances, usually staying home when her husband, Crown Prince Naruhito traveled abroad. In the last few weeks, Masako has once again been seen at court events. With Naruhito's accession, and barring any health relapse, Masako will likely spend more time outside of the palace. We may also get to see a bit more of their 17-year-old daughter Princess Aiko during the transition before she spends the next few years completing her education. As a reminder, Aiko will not be Naruhito's heir because Japan still does not permit female accession -- in fact, princesses are even required to surrender their titles and leave the Imperial Family when they marry. Naruhito's heir will be his brother Prince Akishino, followed by Akishino's 12-year-old son Prince Hisahito. One final note on the Japanese abdication: in addition to the emperor's retirement, it also will likely signal the end of his wife Empress Michiko's long public career. In 1959, she was the first commoner to marry into the family and she also struggled at first to adapt. Nearly 60 years later, however, she is a model Empress, even without the tiaras that she long ago due because their weight irritated problems with her head, neck and back. It will be nice to see a new generation move forward in Japan. After all, Akihito is the only post-World War II Emperor. His father Hirohito, who died in 1989, was the Emperor of Japan throughout the war and in the four decades that followed.

[And before you ask: no, I don't think Queen Elizabeth will ever abdicate. She sees her service as monarch as a lifelong vocation from God. She has stepped down her activities, handing over more and more responsibilities to other members of the family, including some recent charities that she has assigned to Meghan The Duchess of Sussex. If she gets to the point that she feels she can no longer the red dispatch boxes she receives from the government, she may allow Prince Charles to be appointed Regent, but she will remain Queen until her death.]

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Baby Sussex
Get ready, world! Harry and Meghan's little one will be here very soon. Hopefully, the completely uncalled-for nastiness in the gutter media and social media will have stopped by then. I suspect that the new little one, who will only be royal if The Queen changes the rules, will arrive well before their first anniversary on May 19. Under current guidelines, the child will be Lord or Lady X Windsor (or Mountbatten-Windsor). As the editor of a blog about princesses, I really hope it is a girl! Boy or girl, though, I'm not sure that I am going to try to predict the baby's name. With no need to stick to royal history or tradition, the Sussexes can pick from absolutely any name. Let's remember that Princess Anne named her daughter Zara. In fact, I would be incredibly surprised by a name like Victoria or Albert, unless the baby arrives on Queen Victoria's actual birthday, May 24. Otherwise, I suspect that we will see something that better reflects the modernity of the parents. But, please also remember: I am ALWAYS WRONG about royal baby names.

Princess Theodora
The exiled Greek king's youngest daughter announced her engagement to Los Angeles lawyer Matthew Kumar in November. The princess also lives in Los Angeles, where she is an actress. Her parents moved back to Greece from London in 2013, and it's likely that the wedding will be held somewhere in Greece. When Theodora's older brother Prince Nikolaos married in 2010, the wedding was on the Greek island of Spetses. I would predict something similar to that with a bit more Hollywood glitz.

And now for the maybe, might, could happens...

Alex Bramall/Buckingham Palace via AP
Princess Eugenie
Newlywed Mrs. Brookbank might reasonably considering starting her own family within the next year or two. Her own mother Sarah Duchess of York gave birth just over 24 months after her marriage to Prince Andrew, if that is any indication, we might not get a pregnancy announcement in 2019...but I wouldn't be surprised.

More Babies? More Weddings"
After the royal baby boom of the last couple of years, 2019 will likely be a bust. Princess Sofia of Sweden could bring fourth a third child, but we might also have seen the last baby for this Swedish royal generation. Within the extended Belgian Royal Family, there are possible family expansions for the older children of Princess Astrid. Her oldest son Prince Amedeo's daughter Anna Astrid will be two this spring, so perhaps a little brother and sister might be welcomed. Astrid's oldest daughter Princess Maria Laura turned 30 this past summer, so we might want to keep an eye on her in these next few years.

Some may also wish for a little sibling to join Monaco's twins, who turned four just last month. Their mum Princess Charlene will be 41 later this month, so maybe just maybe will get a little one. Since all of Princess Caroline of Monaco's full-grown children had babies in 2019, it is unlikely that any of them will be procreating. However, Princess Stephanie of Monaco's son Louis Ducruet is getting married this year, so perhaps Stephanie will get her first grandchild some time soon. Her daughters Pauline Ducruet, 24, and Camille Gottlieb, 20, could also surprise us. As could their cousin, Jazmin Grace Grimaldi, the illegitimate half-sister of the twins. She will be 27 in March.

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The only place remaining with the possibility of a slew of royal weddings and royal babies in the next half decade is the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa currently have five adult children and four grandchildren. Princess Alexandra is nearly 28 and Prince Sebastien will be 27 this spring, while father-of-two Prince Louis's divorce was finalized in 2017, even though the final divorce settlement with Princess Tessy still seems to be lingering. (Speaking of which, Princess Tessy, just 33, could also re-marry and add more children to the two she had with Louis.)

As for "big" royal weddings. There just aren't many possibilities. There are only two adult, unmarried children of king/queen out there now that Prince Harry has married and Princess Theodora is engaged. Theodora's 32-year-old little brother Prince Philippos of Greece is attached but doesn't seem to be rushing to the altar. And, the only other eligible bachelor is Prince Andrew The Duke of York, who will be 59 next week. The father of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie was divorced from their mother Sarah Duchess of York in 1992. Every once a while, rumors fly the "happiest divorced couple in the world" are about to remarry. Now THAT would be a major royal story, indeed!

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