16 April 2014

HRH Princess Leonore of Sweden's christening to take place on 8 June 2014

The Swedish Royal Court announced today, 16 April 2014, that the christening of Princess Leonore of Sweden, the daughter of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, will take place in the Royal Chapel at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm on Sunday 8 June 2014.

8 June happens to be Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill's first wedding anniversary. They married in the Palace Church in Stockholm on 8 June 2013. Princess Leonore, the second grandchild of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, was born in New York City on 20 February 2014. Her name was announced in a Council of State six days later.

The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual Report 2013

The Norwegian Royal Court published its annual report for 2013 on Thursday 10 April 2014. The report gives an overview of the activities of the Royal Family and Royal Court and also includes the accounts for the Civil List and a survey of the orders and medals awarded by the King during 2013. The press release last week stated among others:
"During 2013, His Majesty The King attended 314 official events in Norway and abroad, while Her Majesty The Queen attended 98 official events, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince attended 200 official events and Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess attended 72 official events. The Royal Family visited 47 municipalities in 16 counties and Svalbard in Norway, and paid several visits abroad. The King and Queen carried out their annual county visit in Sør-Trøndelag county in June, while the Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Vest-Agder county in September.

The King and Queen conducted a State Visit to Turkey in November, while the Crown Prince and Crown Princess travelled to the USA for an official visit in May.

In 2013 the Royal Court completed its modernisation and rationalisation process, and all Court employees have now been consolidated into a joint overall organisational unit.

A report on the use of the funds allocated to the Royal Court (the Civil List) and the staff of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess by the Storting is submitted annually.

The allowances provided to the King and Queen and to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, respectively, are meant to cover the management, operation, maintenance and development of the private properties, as well as official attire and private expenses.

The accounts for the Civil List showed a deficit of NOK 6 701 468. This deficit will be covered by previous appropriations.

The accounts for the staff of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess showed a deficit of NOK 37 251. This deficit will be covered by appropriations from previous years.

The accounts for “Åpent Slott” (cultural outreach activities) showed a surplus of NOK 373 266. This surplus will be transferred to equity capital."
Not surprisingly the press and the social media focused on the deficit of NOK 6 701 468, but many left out the fact that the deficit was to be covered by previous appropriations. It is not as if the royal family and court are on their uppers. The activities and the costs seem to be well planned. The Norwegian tabloid VG wrote in its coverage of the annual report that the celebrations of the crown prince couple's 40th birthdays last year cost as much 2,4 million NOK. In addition security cost as much as 2,7 millions, taken from the police force budget. Crown Prince Haakon's 40th anniversary was marked by a music festival in the garden at the Skaugum estate, where numerous royal guests were entertained. Obviously a party on such a large scale has to cost something. The court's information director, Marianne Hagen, confirmed the numbers, but "had  no further comments". Maybe not the best reply, but then again what should she have said? Simply that this is what a party like this costs? Many people would then say how the money could have helped the sick and elderly. It is hardly possible to win an argument about the cost of royal celebrations. But it should be stressed that the expenses were covered by the civil list, not by any extraordinary grants. And concerning security costs, even a president would need security if he was to hold a private party.

The annual report reveals that 22 persons received the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2013, compared to 27 in 2012 and 30 in 2011. Among those 22 were Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey (both Grand Cross) and the composer and musician Henning Sommerro (Commander).

61 persons received the Order of Merit (all classes combined), among them Barry White, the US Ambassador who left Norway in September 2013, and has not yet been replaced. President Barack Obama has nominated George Tsunis to the post as Ambassador to Norway, but he has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. As you might recall, he did not do too well at his confirmation hearing, and Senator John McCain has said he would fight the appointment when it is finally voted over in the Senate.

But back to the annual report again! The Medal of St. Olav was awarded to only one person, in 2013, Johan Beck, who has served as a verger at the Norwegan Seamen's Church in Stockholm since 1974! In addition there were 162 recipients of the King's Medal of Merit, among them Tove Fleischer from my home town Sandefjord. Fleischer has for many years been in charge of the local society for the protection of animals and has done a fabulous job, so it was well deserved. The King's Commemorative Medal was awarded to 9 persons in 2013. The medal is conferred for "particularly meritorious service to His Majesty the King", and among the 9 persons were one of the King's drivers, Bjørn Einar Lindstrøm.

The annual report 2013 can be downloaded here. For earlier annual reports, go here. See also my earlier blog articles The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual report 2012 (published 17 April 2013), 2011 (published 11 April 2012) and 2010 (published 12 April 2011).

4 March 2014

Norway: Princess Märtha Louise cancels trip to Sochi

Princess Märtha Louise had planned to attend the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia from 10th to 14th of March on behalf of the royal house, but on advice of the Norwegian government she has cancelled her trip, due to the escalated Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie, who had planned to attend the opening ceremony of the Paralympics on Friday 7 March together with his husband, Dag Terje Klarp Solvang, has also decided to cancel his trip.

Earlier today the Swedish Royal Court informed that Crown Princess Victoria was not going to attend the Paralympics due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

See also Views and News from Norway today.

27 February 2014

HRH Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland

In the Council of State at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on Wednesday 26 February 2014, King Carl Gustaf informed his government that his new granddaughter, born in New York City on 20 February 2014, had got the name Leonore Lilian Maria. Her call name was Leonore, and besides her princess title with style of Royal Highness she had also got the title Duchess of Gotland.

According to Dagens Nyheter's coverage of Chris O'Neill's press meeting last Friday, the newborn princess had got five names, but that seems to have been a misquote, unless O'Neill referred to his daughter's middle name and surname as well (Bernadotte O'Neill or the other way around). I guess three given names are far enough...

Princess Leonore's parents have not yet said anything in public about the given names, so it is impossible to know for a fact their motivation behind their choices. We can only guess. It is, however, not difficult to gather that the name Lilian comes from Princess Madeleine's late great-aunt Princess Lilian, who died in 2013. Princess Leonore's paternal grandmother is named Eva Maria, so that surely explains her third name.

The name Leonore surely surprised most people. It could be described as a more modern and trendy version of the name Eleonora, which is well.rooted in Swedish royal history. Queen Ulrika Eleonora (1688-1741), who became reigning Queen of Sweden in 1719, but abdicated in favour of her husband, Fredrik I, the year after, is just one example. One can also find the name, or a variation thereof, in other European royal families (Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands). I think the Swedish connection is more important, but Princess Madeleine and her husband have most likely chosen the name because they like it. It is as simple as that.

The last Duke of Gotland was King Oscar II's second son Prince Oscar (1859-1953), who lost his succession rights, membership of the royal house as well as his ducal title when he married a Swedish "private man's daughter", Ebba Munck af Fulkila in 1888. It is nice that such and old ducal title has come back to light again. It is also nice that in this way the beautiful island of Gotland might get more attention and attract more tourists, as the governor of Gotland, Cecilia Schelin Seidegård, touched upon in an interview on Wednesday. The county administration issued a short press statement, expressing happiness in the fact that the island of Gotland would have a special place in the heart of the royal family.

After the Council of State, the Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, informed that the requirement in article 4 in the Act of Succession, which says that "princes and princesses of the Royal House shall be brought up [...] within the Realm", was interpreted into saying that it would be fulfilled if the princess lived and started school in Sweden from the age of 6. In other words, while Princess Leonore and her parents live in New York City today, they would have to move to Sweden by August 2020.

The christening will take place in the Royal Palace Church in the spring.

25 February 2014

Sweden: Name of royal baby to be announced in Council of State on Wednesday 26 February 2014

In connection with the birth of  Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill's daughter on 20 February, a Council of State ("konselj") will - according to a statement released by the Swedish Royal Court (*) today - take place at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on Wednesday 26 February 2014 at 3 p.m.

In the Council of State, King Carl XVI Gustaf will inform the government about the child's title, names and call name. Soon after the Council of State has taken place the Marshal of the Realm will inform the media about the same.

(*) The English version of the press release was made available after my article was published.

Updated on 25 February 2014 at 16.05 (link added, one typo corrected).

23 February 2014

Program for the Royalty Weekend 2014

The Royalty Weekend 2014 will take place on 5-6 April 2014 at the Ticehurst and Flimwell Church of England Primary School, Steellands Rise, Ticehurst in East Sussex, England.

The updated program tells that the speakers will include:
  • Coryne Hall on They Were Not all Kings - Lesser Known Descendants of Christian IX
  • Ricardo Mateos Sainz de Medrano on The Infanta Eulalia of Spain 
  • Colin Parrish on Aunt Gloucester- the Life of Queen Victoria’s aunt, Princess Mary 
  • Margreeth Pop-Jansen on Portraits of Royal Children 
  • Helen Rappaport on Four Sisters - the research behind her just released latest book on the daughters of Nicholas II followed by a signing session at Van Hoogstraten's bookstall 
  • Ian Shapiro on Royal Manuscripts and Letters from Elizabeth I 
  • Katrina Warne on Residences of the Russian Imperial Family 
  • John Wimbles on The Duchess of Edinburgh’s Farewell to England 
  • Charlotte Zeepvat on Maurice of Battenberg
There will also be other royal authors present including Janet Ashton, Bobby Golden and Ilana Miller.

Booksellers van Hoogstraten of the Hague will be in attendance til teatime on Sunday 6 April, and they can take orders in advance if you wish them to bring books from their shop. Judith Grant will have a Royal Ephemera stall on the Saturday only.

There will also be the usual bring and buy Royal Ephemera sale, and it will be possible to buy second-hand books as well.

Cost: for all lectures, tea, coffee and snacks, two buffet lunches & one evening meal with wine:
  • £110 for those paying in sterling before Feb 28th 2014
  • £115 for those paying with Paypal; or sterling later than Feb 28th 2014
Please contact Sue Woolmans at royalweekend[at]gmail.com for more details.

Go here for my article about the 2011 conference and here for the 2013 conference.

I would have loved to attend the conference, but it will have to pass this year. My wife and I bought a new home last fall, and as it took so long to sell our old flat, we will have to reduce the number of trips abroad this year. I hope to make a comeback next year instead!

21 February 2014

Swedish Royal Birth in New York City

The Swedish Royal Court announced early this morning that Princess Madeleine the evening before, at 10.41 p.m. (local time), at the New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, USA, had given birth to a girl. Princess Madeleine, the youngest child of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, has been married to Christopher O'Neill since June 2013. The pregnancy was announced on 3 September 2013.

According to another press statement released later the same morning, both mother and child are in good health and Mr Christopher O’Neill was present at the hospital throughout the birth. The birth was marked by a 21-gun salute at noon today. The names and titles of the baby girl, who was born into this world as no. 5 in the line of succession to the Swedish throne, will be announced in a cabinet meeting, probably early next week (no date has been set yet). The Royal Court's solicitor informed last fall that Princess Madeleine's child woult be titled, so it would be rather surprising if the king in the meantime has changed his mind.

Chris O'Neill told in a press meeting tonight that baby girl has got five names, which might be somewhat surprising, considering that the newborn's grandfather as well as Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine all received four names "only". On the other hand, King Carl Gustaf's sisters all got three names, so the "four names tradition" is far from being deep-rooted. And if we go back to the king's father's generation, Prince Gustaf Adolf had six names, the then Prince Sigvard three, Princess Ingrid (later Queen Ingrid of Denmark) five, Prince Bertil also five and the then Prince Carl Johan only three.

According to the information given at the press meeting, the newborn princess weighed 3150 grams and measured 50 cm. She looked like her mother, O'Neill said, and had brown hair and dark brown eyes.

It will of course be interesting to hear the names the parents have chosen. After the announcement of Princess Estelle's call name, I am not sure if I will take the chance to make a guess. But as I have said on similar occasions before, I would love a tradtional royal name or at least a name with Swedish/Norse roots, but Princess Madeleine and Chris ONeill might have opted for a more "modern" and trendy call name. Katharina Leibring at the Department of Scandinavian Languages at Uppsala University, who has researched personal names traditions, finds it hard to imagine "something like Hjördis", a comment I thought was rather amusing. According to the Dagens Nyheter article, Elouise and Desirée are the betting companies' favourites.

The Royal Court has informed that a Te Deum thanksgiving service will take place on 2 March in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.