8 November 2022

Norway: Princess Märtha Louise to relinquish her official duties

The Norwegian Royal Court today announced that Princess Märtha Louise, eldest child and only daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja and currently no. 4 in the line of succession to the Norwegian throne, has decided to relinquish her official duties:

Princess Märtha Louise to relinquish her official duties

Princess Märtha Louise wishes to differentiate more clearly between her own activities and her relationship to the Royal House of Norway. The Princess has therefore decided, in consultation with His Majesty The King and other close family members, that she will not carry out official duties for the Royal House at the present time.   

The Princess is patron of various organisations, and today she informed them that she is relinquishing her patronage role, which has provided the framework for her official duties. The Princess is taking this step to create a clearer dividing line between her business activities and her role as a member of the Royal Family. The organisations previously under her patronage will be offered the patronage of other members of the Royal Family. 

The Princess and her fiancé, Durek Verrett, are seeking to distinguish more clearly between their activities and the Royal House of Norway. This means, among other things, that they will not employ the title of Princess or refer to members of the Royal House in their social media channels, in media productions or in connection with other commercial activities (with the exception of @PrincessMarthaLouise on Instagram).

His Majesty The King has decided that the Princess is to keep her title. The King and Queen wish to thank Princess Märtha Louise for the important work she has carried out in her official capacity for several decades. She has performed her duties with warmth, care and deep commitment.

When Durek Verrett and Princess Märtha Louise are married, Mr Verrett will become a part of the Royal Family ­– as did Erling Lorentzen, Johan Martin Ferner and Ari Behn. But in accordance with tradition he will not have a title or represent the Royal House of Norway. Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett will attend family-related gatherings, such as birthday celebrations, as well as certain major sporting events that the Royal Family traditionally attends together.

The court then followed up with more information:

The roles of Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett moving forward

The Princess is withdrawing from her official duties for the Royal House of Norway.

The Princess is relinquishing the role as royal patron that has set the framework of her official duties for the Royal House, and will not be representing the Royal House at the present time. The organisations previously under her patronage will be offered the patronage of other members of the Royal Family.

The King and Queen wish to thank Princess Märtha Louise for the important work she has carried out in her official capacity for several decades. She has performed her duties with warmth, care and deep commitment.

In accordance with The King’s wishes, the Princess will keep her title. The Princess will continue to serve as chair of the board of Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund.

When Durek Verrett and Princess Märtha Louise are married, Mr Verrett will become a part of the Royal Family ­– as did Erling Lorentzen, Johan Martin Ferner and Ari Behn. But in accordance with tradition he will not have a title or represent the Royal House of Norway.

Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett will attend important family-related gatherings, such as birthday celebrations, as well as certain major sporting events that the Royal Family traditionally attends together.

Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett are seeking to distinguish more clearly between their activities and their association with the Royal House.

In 2019, the Princess decided in consultation with her family not to use the title of Princess in connection with her business activity. This principle will now apply to her fiancé Durek Verrett as well.

Accordingly, they will not indicate an association with the Royal House of Norway in their social media channels (with the exception of @PrincessMarthaLouise on Instagram), in media productions or in connection with other commercial activities. In practice this means that the Princess and Durek Verrett will avoid mention of this association in activities such as social media tagging, the use of the Princess title or the use of pictures of, or references to, other members of the Royal House in channels where commercial activity also takes place. This includes interviews primarily intended to draw attention to commercial activity. 

This is intended to draw a dividing line that more clearly separates commercial activity from the Royal House of Norway. The objective is both to prevent misunderstandings regarding the Royal House and to allow the Princess and Durek Verrett greater freedom in their business activities and other parts of their lives.

As an extension of this clarification of roles, the Royal House of Norway wishes to add the following:

We are very pleased by the engagement of the Princess to Derek Verrett, and we want Mr Verrett to feel welcome in our family.

The situation we as a family have found ourselves in recently, however, has raised problems that are complex and that involve many different views we are trying to accommodate.

For us it is crucial to maintain our relationship of trust with the Norwegian people while at the same time safeguarding the well-being of our family to the best of our ability. The constraints on what we may say or do while representing the Royal House have been questioned and challenged. That is why we have seen a need to further clarify roles and the use of the Princess title.

We are also committed to the ideal of all people living together in harmony despite their differences. We deplore the racist attitudes that Durek Verrett has had to contend with, especially on social media. We consider it a strength that the Royal House reflects Norway’s ethnic diversity.

For those who have never experienced such discrimination, it can be hard to imagine how racism – whether direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious – is perceived by those it strikes. Unfortunately there are many people in Norway today who are subjected to discrimination and racism. We must work together as a society to put an end to intolerance.

Across the generations in Norway we have sought to create a society rooted in knowledge, scientific research and freedom of expression ­ – as well as continuous expansion of the Norwegian “we” as society has grown more diverse. We wish to continue the efforts to promote a society based on tolerance, where people do not make hasty judgements about others but sincerely seek to find common ground.   

We wish to achieve a generous, welcoming society where there is room, and respect, for one and all – not just those who are our friends and family but the wider society we are building together.

Regarding health and science

The members of the Royal House of Norway have great confidence in the Norwegian health service and the Norwegian health authorities. A structure based on established medical knowledge and scientific research, carried out by skilled health personnel across the entire health service, has resulted in one of the world’s best health-care systems for the benefit of everyone in Norway. 

Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett have stressed on several occasions that they have confidence in, and avail themselves of, the conventional medical establishment and the Norwegian health service.

In response to questions about her views on alternative medicine and science-based conventional medicine, Princess Märtha Louise has stated the following:

Throughout my life I have been deeply interested in health and research. I believe keenly in expanding our knowledge of the foundations of health. My own training as a physiotherapist has made me aware of the importance of research-based knowledge in advances in the health-related professions, and in particular to the vulnerable individuals who rely on them. 

I am grateful that we in Norway have a high-quality health-care system. I am impressed by all the knowledgeable people who work in hospitals, doctors’ offices and educational institutions across Norway. I personally have received help from them many times – as have most people in the country.  

I also believe, however, that there are components of a good life and sound physical and mental health that may not be so easy to sum up in a research report. Many preventative measures are of course well documented – such as a healthy diet, proper exercise and a sensible balance between work and leisure. In other areas of life — such as spirituality, intimacy with other people and animals, yoga and meditation — the medicinal effects are perhaps less well understood or documented. In recent years, for example, there have been research findings that conclude that meditation contributes to stress reduction.  

I think for many people alternative methods can be an important supplement to help from the conventional medical establishment. A warm hand, an acupuncture needle, a crystal, natural remedies, yoga, meditation or therapeutic conversation can, I believe, help to make life better for many individuals. Not instead of, but in addition to, the treatment provided by the health-care system. As a natural consequence, some people have chosen to follow this approach to treatment as a business practice.

There have been successful collaborations between conventional and alternative forms of medicine – for example, the use of acupuncture in maternity wards in Norwegian hospitals and horses as a supplemental element in therapy at Gaustad Hospital. It is in this area of cooperation and bridge-building that I wish to continue my efforts. I go to the physician while at the same time I use acupuncture and work with energies. I go to yoga and I meditate – as I find that many people do.

All of these have been constants in my life. I try to be true to myself, and to live a life with due regard to both objectivity and personal experience.

I am aware that many people follow what I do and say very closely. My title entails a certain responsibility. It is therefore important to me, including in my business activity, to distinguish between myself as a private person on the one hand and as a member of the Royal Family on the other. Sometimes I stumble, and am grateful to receive supportive advice along the way.

I consider it important to be honest with myself and with the people around me on these matters. I know where I stand, and hope my personal views will be treated as mine alone, without others having to answer for them. By the same token, I hope my views will not be used or interpreted as support for the opinions of others.

Princess Märtha Louise's role has been debated for quite some time, especially since the announcement of her engagement to the self-proclaimed Shaman Derek Verrett and after Verrett too often has referred to his fiancee's royal status in connection with his quackery activities. The princess herself has for many years been criticised for her business and involvement with alternative treatments and for having started a school aimed at helping people «to get in touch with their angels». It has been claimed that the princess has taken advantage of her role as a princess in her business. In  2019 she agreed to stop using her title in connection with her commercial ventures and those with Verrett. She has not always managed to stay on line and her activities seem in recent times to have become even «more alternative».

Will this be enough? She didn't represent the royal house that often anyway, so the most important change, maybe somewhat superficial, is to create a larger distance between her role as princess and her business, as described in the press announcement. She as well as her fiancé are already stepping on a thin line here and don't have that much latitude. Are they only delaying the problems, or will they manage to stay in line? The main challenge is of course Mr. Verrett with his obviously limited understanding of how the monarchy works. I fear that their activities will continue to draw negative attention and continue to undermine the institution.

An alternative solution in order to to create a larger distance to the royal house would be that the king welcomed Mr. Verrett into his family, but, given his constitutional role, decided not to give consent to the marriage, which would mean that the princess would lose her succession rights, and that he would ask her to give up her title. It is of course all about protecting the institution from more attacks. The «alternative activities» have created too much negative attention and has too often overshadowed the activities of the other members of the royal family. The royal house has become less popular because of this, given recent polls. As I wrote in connection with the engagement announcement, most people will probably wish the couple all the best for their future together. The Norwegian Constitution Article 36 says that «A Prince or Princess entitled to succeed to the Crown of Norway may not marry without the consent of the King.» This might seem a bit antiquated in this time and age, but obviously the restriction is made to stop marriages that could put the integrity of the royal house in danger. The princess should be allowed to marry whoever she wants, but not necessarily without consequences. As I have written before, there is no doubt that the king (and queen), given their own experiences prior to their engagement and marriage in 1968, support their children's choices and want to make sure that they don't have to go through a similar situation like they did. But some people have wondered if the king despite this should have put down his foot and maybe much earlier. I like the idea of a liberal, inclusive and generous king, but fear that today's decision will not work out as well as intended. We just have to wait and see.

There are other aspects of today's announcement which are worth discussing. I have no doubt that Mr. Verrett has received racist abuse, especially in social media, and this is of course unacceptable. Racism should not be tolerated in any form. And maybe some people unconsciously would have been more forthcoming and accepting towards Verrett if it had not been for the color of his skin. But I am still convinced that most of the criticism has little to do with color, but with Mr. Verrett's shaman and quackery activities.

Another interesting aspect is Princess Märtha Louise's comment that «she will not carry out official duties for the Royal House at the present time». Does this mean that we could expect «a royal comeback» some time in the future? It is difficult to see that possibilty now, but the Norwegian royal family is small, and there could be scenarios where the princess has to step in and help out (and she has been great at it, let there be no doubt, being a princess representing the royal house. It is her private business affairs and «alternative activities» that have caused all the trouble. Earning her salary as a physioterapist or whatever would not have been a problem). But a comeback as «a working royal» would most likely also mean that she would have to give up her commercial activities, at least for a while. Such a scenario would probably not be possible without keeping her title, and that this is – besides being born a princess and identity issues that come along – a good reason for today's chosen arrangement.    

7 November 2022

Luxembourg: Princess Alexandra engaged to Nicolas Bagory

The Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg announced today the engagement between Princess Alexandra and Nicolas Bagory.

Fiançailles de la Princesse Alexandra avec M. Nicolas BAGORY

Leurs Altesses Royales le Grand-Duc et la Grande-Duchesse ont la très grande joie d’annoncer les fiançailles de Leur fille, Son Altesse Royale la Princesse Alexandra, avec Monsieur Nicolas BAGORY.

Né le 11 novembre 1988, Monsieur BAGORY a grandi en Bretagne. Après des études en sciences politiques et lettres classiques, il travaille aujourd’hui dans la création de projets sociaux et culturels.

Le mariage aura lieu au printemps.

Les deux familles se joignent au bonheur des fiancés en les entourant de leur affection.

Princess Alexandra, b. 1991, is the fourth child and only daughter of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg. Born 11 November 1988, Nicolas Bagory grew up in Bretagne, France. He has studied political science and linguistics at the University of Sorbonne and now works «in the creation of social and cultural projects».

Not much more about Mr. Bagory is known at present, but I am sure more details will be given in connection with the wedding, which will take place in the spring of 2023. See Wort.lu for some more details. It was certainly not a co-incidence that the engagement was made public on 7 November, exactly 42 years since the engagement of the then Hereditary Grand Duke Henri and Maria Teresa Mestre was announced.

21 October 2022

Birth of son to the Heir to the Imperial throne of Russia

The Office of the Head of the Russian Imperial House, Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, today issued the following statement concerning the birth of HSH Prince Alexander Georgievich, son of the heir to the Imperial throne of Russia, Grand Duke George of Russia, and Princess Victoria Romanovna:

On October 21, 2022, Our daughter-in-law, Her Serene Highness Princess Victoria Romanovna, the spouse of Our son and heir His Imperial Highness The Tsesarevich and Grand Duke George of Russia, was delivered of a son, Our grandson, who has been given the name Alexander.

Welcoming this new addition to Our Family as a sign of God's grace, I ask all Our countrymen to offer fervent prayers to the Almighty for the health and well-being of the newborn. In accordance with Our current Family Law and the Family Act of September 14/27, 2020, Our grandson will be called His Serene Highness Prince Alexander Georgievich.

Issued in Madrid, 21 October, in the Year 2022 since the Nativity of Christ, and in the twenty-first year [sic!] of our succession to the rights and duties of Our August Ancestors - the Emperors of All the Russia.

H.I.H. The Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

As far as I understand it the head of the Russian Imperial House has previously declared that the marriage between George and Victoria is not dynastic, which means that Prince Alexander as of now is not a dynast. However, it is expected that Grand Duke George when he succeeds to the headship will declare his marriage as dynastic and that by then his son will become first in line to the throne.

The pregnancy was announced by the Russian Imperial House on 21 May 2022. Two months later we were informed that the couple expected a boy. Grand Duke George and Princess Victoria Romanovna, the former Rebecca Virginia Bettarini, were married on 1 October 2021.

11 October 2022

UK: Coronation of King Charles III to take place on 6 May 2023

Buckingham Palace announced today that the coronation of King Charles III will take place at Westminster Abbey in London on Saturday 6 May 2023:

The Coronation of His Majesty The King

Published 11 October 2022 

Buckingham Palace is pleased to announce that the Coronation of His Majesty The King will take place on Saturday 6th May, 2023. 

The Coronation Ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey, London, and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Ceremony will see His Majesty King Charles III crowned alongside The Queen Consort.

The Coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.

Further details will be announced in due course.

4 October 2022

The Danish title saga continues

The Danish Queen's decision to discontinue the royal titles for Prince Joachim's children, as announced on 28 September 2022, didn't go down so well as she might have expected. Both Prince Joachim, his former wife Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg and their eldest son Prince Nikolai – from 1 January 2023 Count Nikolai of Monpezat «only» – have been quite vocal about their disappointment. I have written about the title issue in blog articles of 28 and 29 September 2022. Since then there have been comments on the issue by the court, by Prince Joachim once again, by Crown Princess Mary and even the Queen's sister Princess Benedikte has butted in, before the court released a new statement from the Queen yesterday. I left for a long weekend in Oxford, England on Friday, so I haven't been able to follow up before now, so here is some sort of a summary.

On Thursday 29 September the head of the comnunications department at the Danish Royal Court, Lene Balleby said to the Danish magazine Billed-Bladet (I didn''t comment on it then) that for the Queen it was a well thought out decision for the benefit of the future of the royal house. – The Queen has a great sense of duty and differs between the royal house's public work and the family. As the Queen stated yesterday, the decision has been under consideration for some time. We understand well that there are many feelings on play at the moment, but we hope that the queen's wish to secure the future of the royal house will be respected.

Now, I wrote on Thursday that Prince Joachim's comments about identity was over the top and rather pompous, but I don't believe for a minute that the monarchy would be in danger if Prince Joachim's children had kept their titles for life.

On Friday 30 September Crown Princess Mary met the media in connection with an international youth conference at Øksnehallen in Copenhagen. She said: – I can understand that it is a difficult decision to take and a very difficult decision to receive. Change can be difficult and can be painful. But that doesn't mean that the decision is not the correct one. We will also have a look on our children's titles when the time comes. Today we don't know how the royal house is going to look like at the time of Christian [his regency] or when we are getting close to Christian's time [as regent].

Even Princess Benedikte has commented on the title issue: – Of course the decision will be difficult for them in the beginning, that is obvious, but my sister takes wise decisions also as queen and thinks aahead of time and not just here and now, and I think that is more important.

In an interview with the Danish newspaper B.T. on Saturday 1 October Prince Joachim and his wife Princess Marie add fuel to the fire when they told that their relationship with the Crown Prince couple was complicated and that the queen had not tried to get in touch with them. Prince Joachim, somewhat cryptically, adds: «Det er også familie. Eller hvad vi nu vil kalde det.» («This is also family. Or what we now should call it.»)

On Monday 3 October the court was forced to follow-up with a new statement from the queen, and a rather well-phrased statement at that:

Statement from HM The Queen

In recent days, there have been strong reactions to my decision about the future use of titles for Prince Joachim’s four children. That affects me, of course.

My decision has been a long time coming. With my 50 years on the throne, it is natural both to look back and to look ahead. It is my duty and my desire as Queen to ensure that the monarchy always shapes itself in keeping with the times. Sometimes, this means that difficult decisions must be made, and it will always be difficult to find the right moment.

Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family. This adjustment, which I view as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy, I want to take in my own time.

I have made my decision as Queen, mother and grandmother, but, as a mother and grandmother, I have underestimated the extent to which much my younger son and his family feel affected. That makes a big impression, and for that I am sorry.

No one should be in doubt that my children, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are my great joy and pride. I now hope that we as a family can find the peace to find our way through this situation.

Margrethe R

Later on Monday Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg's private secretary Helle von Wildenrath Løvgreen assures us that there will be no more comments about the title issue from Prince Joachim, Princess Marie, Countess Alexandra, Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix for now. That is a wise decision. I don't think Prince Joachim's wining in public has helped his cause, but I can understand his frustration and his need to comment on the situation. He could have worded himself better, though. 

Of course the queen's decision stands firm. Their Royal Highnesses Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix, Prince Henrik and Princess Athena will from 1 January 2023 be referred to as Their Excellencies Count Nikolai, Count Felix, Count Henrik and Countess Athena of Monpezat. The title issue has revealed, or rather confirmed, that the family relations within the Danish royal house are far from good. My impression is also that the queen, or her court, has not communicated the decision well to Prince Joachim and his children, and while I understand that the number of royals at some time had to be restricted, it was - on principle - not a well timed decision. It should have been done much earlier, or the decision should have only affected Prince Joachim's grand children. In other words the queen has got «a little scratch in her paint», but for someone who has done most things correctly over the years I guess we can forgive her for it.

I only hope that the troubled sea now will calm down and that all parts involved will manage to adjust to the new situation. And more importantly that the relationships eventually will improve, for the good of the royal house and the monarchy.

29 September 2022

Denmark: More about the changes in titles and forms of address in the Royal Family

The Danish Royal Court announced yesterday that the royal titles of Prince or Princess for Prince Joachim's children – Prince Nikolai, Prince Felix, Prince Henrik and Princess Athena – would be discontinued from 1 January 2023, and that they from that day on would «only» be referred to as Count or Countess of Monpezat. 

Prince Joachim's former wife, Countess Alexandra of Frederiksborg, said in a statement that «We are all confused by the decision. We are saddened and in shock. This comes out of the blue. The children feel ostracized. They cannot understand why their identity is being taken away from them.» 

The head of the Communications Office of the Royal House, Lene Balleby, told the Danish newspaper Politiken yesterday that Prince Joachim in early May had been informed about the decision to take the royal title away from his children: «The decision has naturally had different forms during the process, and there have been different considerations, but Prince Joachim has been involved and informed about the progress.»

Prince Joachim says in a telephone interview with the Danish newspaper B.T. this morning that Balleby's comments was  «a truth with modifications». He said that he was informed about the plan to remove the titles on 5 May this year. The propisal was then that the children would lose their royal titles when they turned 25. Prince Joachim had asked for some time to think it over and possibly return with his own proposal. The decision was speeded up, and he got 5 days' notice before the decision was announced. He had no idea why the decision was speeded up. «I got five days' notice to tell my children that from next year their identity would be taken away from them. I am saddeded to see them saddened and puzzled by the decision, which takes place above their heads.» Joachim continues: «My children don't know which leg they should stand on. What should they believe? Why should their identity be taken away? Why should they be punished this way?» The prince tells that the whole family has been affected by the situation.

Prince Joachim's eldest son, Prince Nikolai, has been quoted as saying to Ekstra Bladet that «My whole family and myself are of course very saddened by it. We are, as my parents have also stated, in shock by the decision, and how fast it [the decision making] has taken.»

The reactions are strong, as most would imagine, although some of the statements seem a bit pompous and over the top. It is difficult to believe that their identity should stand or fall on having a royal title. They will need to adjust and will in time get used to it. But I think the court – and Queen Margrethe – could have handled this better, and much earlier. It is in my opinion – as I also wrote yesterday – about principles. Such decisions should not be taken retroactively. Yes, of course I agree that something had to be done about the title situation. The royal titles could not have been continued in all eternity. It is Crown Prince Frederik's line that will represent the royal house in the future, so there is no need for a bunch of princes and princesses who are not «working royals». But I think there were only two good alternatives: either the children should not have received titles from the beginning, or it should be stopped with Joachim's children so that his grandchildren would «only» be Counts or Countesses of Monpezat (yes. I know that the title was created in 2008, but this could nevertheless have been solved at the time of Nikolai's birth). Constitutionally speaking it is much more difficult to take someone's right away than to give one. If the court had had some patience, they could wait and see if Crown Prince Frederik would finally settle down and have his own family or not. If he remained a bachelor, Prince Joachim's children could then be upgraded. One can now only hope that the relations within the Danish royal family will not remain strained for too long.

UK: Queen Elizabeth II's death certificate released

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom's death certificate was published today by the National Records of Scotland.

The National Records of Scotland writes on its website today: «The Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Lowe, confirmed that Her Majesty The Queen’s death was registered in Aberdeenshire on 16th September 2022. National Records of Scotland has today published an extract from Her Majesty The Queen’s entry in the Register of Deaths. An official extract of an entry in the Register of Deaths can also be referred to as a death certificate.»

The death certificate shows that Queen Elizabeth II died on 8 September 2022 at Balmoral Castle, Ballater in Scotland, and that the exact time of death was 3.10 p.m. The cause of death was given as «old age». The document shows that the certified registered medical practitioner was Douglas James Allan Glass, a local GP, and that the cetificate was signed by the Princess Royal (Princess Anne), who was listed as the informant, and the Registrar General for Scotland, Paul Edward Lowe.

We have earlier been informed that the then Prince Charles (the Prince of Wales) and the Princess Royal were the only children present when the queen died. The prime minister was informed of the queen's death at 4.30 p.m.