12 March 2020

Norway: King and Queen in home quarantine

The Norwegian Royal Court issued today the following statement:
The King and Queen are in home quarantine

His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen are in home quarantine as from today. This is in accordance with the Government’s new measures to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

Neither the King nor the Queen have any symptoms.

His Majesty The King will preside over the Council of State via video conferencing tomorrow, and His Royal Highness The Crown Prince will be in attendance at the Palace.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health had earlier in the day passed new rules demanding that everyone arriving in Norway from areas outside the Nordic countries had to enter 14 days of home quarentine. The rules were given retroactive effect, which forced the king and queen as well as other members of the court and also the Foreign Minister and the Trade Minister into home quarentine because of the state visit to Jordan last week.

The court also cancelled all official events – with the exception of events strictly connected to the king's constitutional role, for instance presiding over the Council of State – until Easter. See Newsinenglish.no for more details.

3 March 2020

Østre gravlund (Eastern Cemetery), Oslo, Norway (Tombstone Tuesday)


This winter in Oslo has been unusually mild. When I went to visit Østre gravlund (Eastern Cemetery) in Oslo on Saturday 22 February, there hadn't been any snow since December. Usually I wait until April or May before I bother to visit a cemetery in order to take grave photos for my blog, writing projects or for Findagrave.com. This particular Saturday was really nice, and I took the opportunity to visit two cemeteries and one private grave. As I so often say, I will come back with an article or two later on! Don't you think this part of the cemetery looks nice? I think the plants are called rush or reed in English. This section seemed to have many empty lots, in other words the leases have expired and will eventually be re-used.

My purpose for visiting Østre gravlund that particular Saturday was to help out a Norwegian-American whose relative had been married to a woman who had been buried at Østre. I knew from the cemetery register online that the lease (feste in Norwegian) had expired. From experience I know that sometimes it takes a while before the headstone is removed, so maybe the headstone was still there, waiting to be photographed? Because I didn't know the day before if the weather would permit a cemtery visit, I didn't contact the cemtery office in advance to ask for information on when the grave had expired. I didn't find the headstone in the section in question, and it later turned out that the lease had expired as far back as in 2001. But it was a good excuse to visit the cemetery anyway.

Østre is the nearest cemetery to where I live (around 4 kilometres). It serves the parishes of Grønland, Kampen, Paulus, Sofienberg and Vålerenga. Østre used to be farm land belonging to Helsfyr gård (farm). Kristiania Municipality bought the farm in 1892 and the cemetery was consecrated three years later. The cemetery has been expanded several times and has today an area of 140 decares. In 1912 10,5 decares were transferred to the Jewish congregation and was formed as a separate cemetery called Helsfyr gravlund (Helsfyr Cemetery).

Of course I have visited Østre gravound numerous times – last year I went there twice to fulfil photo requests for Findagrave.com – but with one exception I haven't blogged about the cemetery. Two cousins of my grandmother were buried there. A few «famous people» (not too many, though) are buried there as well. I promise to post more photos later on. The following grave photos were taken without any particular purpose. Either I just happened to like the headstone or I noticed that the lease was about to expire.

Grave of lokomotivfører (engine driver) Hagbarth Thorkildsen (1865–1930) and his wife Karen née Kristiansen (1872–1923). The cemetery register reveals that there are more people buried in the lot.

 Biseth family grave.

 Braathen grave.

 Karlsen.

 Sogn family grave.


Klemp.

Photos: © 2020 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

Postscript 4 March 2020: I should have mentioned that one of the Norwegian genealogical socities, Slekt og Data, runs a grave photo database which among others includes the above-mentioned Thorkildsen grave (link; you may have to double-click). In other words, even if the headstone is being removed (the lease expired in 2019), there will be photos both here and there to memkorize the grave). I could also have added that just one week after the cemetery visit we had a great snow fall here in Oslo and yesterday evening we even got more.

Updated on 4 March 2020 at 20:40 (postscript added), last time on 5 March 2020 at 18:55 (spelling).

5 February 2020

Vita Brevis: Mayor Pete’s cousins

Photo: © 2019 Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons.

The US elections are all over us again. All the votes from the Iowa Democratic caucus this Monday have not been counted yet – as I write these lines about 75 % have been counted for – but it appears that the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg (pronounced Boot-edge-edge, would you believe it) has won in terms of number of State Delegate Equivalents. I have my doubts about him winning the Democratic nomination in the end, and at present I am not very optimistic about the chances of a Democrat winning the presidential elections in November 2020, but would love to be proven wrong.

Regardless of the outcome of the presidential elections, the genealogy of Buttigieg, whose father was born in Malta, is very interesting. Even if Christopher C. Child's Vita Brevis blog article «Mayor Pete's cousins» is a bit old – it was published in June 2019 – it is still both relevant and worth reading. I very much look forward to reading Child's articles on the genealogy of the other Democratic candidates. The Vita Brevis blog is, by the way, published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

23 January 2020

Norway: King Harald «back in business»

The Norwegian Royal Court could earlier today reveal that King Harald, who has been on sick leave for two weeks and who was discharged from hospital 8 days ago, now has «returned to duty».

The subpage «Official engagements» at Kongehuset.no reveals that King Harald at 11 a.m. on Friday 24 January 2020 will preside over the Council of State. HRH The Crown Prince, who earlier today attended the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau at Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, Jerusalem, will also be present at the Council of State.

On Friday the king is also scheduled to grant the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, His Excellency Mr Abdullah Khalfan Matar S. Al Romaithi, a farewell audience at 10 a.m.

It seems that King Harald will travel abroad this weekend, or at least he will be away on Monday 27 January, as the website reveals that Crown Prince Haakon in the role as Regent will grant the President of Mongolia, His Excellency Mr Battulga Khaltmaa, an audience that day. The king will, however, be back on duty again on Tuesday 28 January to host a luncheon for members of the diplomatic corps. Crown Prince Haakon will also be present.

Most likely a cabinet reshuffle will take place on Friday following the Progress Party's decision earlier this week to leave the coalition government. The three remaining coalition parties – the Conservatives, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party – will continue as a minority government. In the Council of State the outgoing government ministers will be formally dismissed while new members of government will be appointed. Usually the prime minister will be granted an audience prior to the Council of State in order to inform the king about the changes. The «Official engagement» subpage doesn't say anything about it at present, but the information might be added as soon as the prime minister definitely has got everything sorted out.

19 January 2020

Håby Church and Cemetery, Munkedal, Sweden

I made a stop at Håby Church and Cemetery in Munkedal in Västra Götaland county in Sweden on my way home from Svenska Släktforskardagarna (the Swedish Genealogy Convention) in Borås in August 2019. I have passed the church several times before, but it is not always easy to make stops/detours like this, especially when you have other people in the car who might not share your interest in cemeteries and genealogy or think that is more important to reach the planned destination as soon as possible. But this time I was driving on my own and could do whatever I wanted! I still got back in time to spend some quality time with my daughter before she had to go to bed.


Håby Church (kyrka) is situated in the Foss parish in the diocese of Göteborg (Gothenburg). The present church building was finished in 1731, but there has been a church at the same spot since the 12th century. Some changes have been made under renovation work, among others in 1939. You can find more details on Wikipedia (Swedish version), which includes a photo of the interior (the altar).






Grave of riksdagsman (Member of Parliament) Johannes Andersson of Knarrevik (1821–1898). The Wikipedia article (in Swedish) has a portrait of him.



Smith family grave.




Grave of Hans J. Bryngelsson (1837–1919) and his nearest family.

Family grave of Olof Engelbrektsson and in front 3 Hallin graves.

All 12 photos: © 2019 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

It was a sunny day when I made the stop. A bit too sunny, perhaps, because it made it impossible to take photos of all angles of the church. It was well worth stopping by, though.

18 January 2020

UK: New statements released concerning the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

The following statements were released in the evening of 18 January 2020 concerning the arrangements agreed on after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex had expressed their wish to step back as senior members of the royal family.
Statement from HM The Queen

Following many months of conversations and more recent discussions, I am pleased that together we have found a constructive and supportive way forward for my grandson and his family.

Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family.

I recognise the challenges they have experienced as a result of intense scrutiny over the last two years and support their wish for a more independent life.

I want to thank them for all their dedicated work across this country, the Commonwealth and beyond, and am particularly proud of how Meghan has so quickly become one of the family.

It is my whole family’s hope that today’s agreement allows them to start building a happy and peaceful new life.

Statement from Buckingham Palace

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are grateful to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for their ongoing support as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.

As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments. They will no longer receive public funds for Royal duties. 

With The Queen’s blessing, the Sussexes will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations. While they can no longer formally represent The Queen, the Sussexes have made clear that everything they do will continue to uphold the values of Her Majesty.

The Sussexes will not use their HRH titles as they are no longer working members of the Royal Family.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have shared their wish to repay Sovereign Grant expenditure for the refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home.

Buckingham Palace does not comment on the details of security arrangements. There are well established independent processes to determine the need for publicly-funded security.

This new model will take effect in the Spring of 2020.
This means that some of the questions that arised after their «independence statement» was made public now have been answered. They will no longer be styled Royal Highnesses, and they intend to pay back the money which was used for the renovation of Frogmore Cottage, which will remain their UK family home. Of course there are still unanswered questions. The future will tell what kind of roles the Sussexes will actually play and how they will become financially indepentent, i.e. not only having to rely on their combined private fortune. There will of course be people who will argue about the costs of security. But that is, as said in the statement, not for the royal family to decide. The Duke of Sussex should not be blamed if those in charge of security arrangements believe police protection is needed also in the future, whether in the United Kingdom or in Canada. That is part of the deal when you have a monarchy, plain and simple.

Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 4, 2019

I am not completely done with 2019 yet, because I have left to make a few comments on the latest issue of Royalty Digest Quarterly (no. 4, 2019). The magazine was waiting for me when I returned to Oslo on Boxing Day (that is 26 December for those who don't know the expression), so it must have arrived on either the 23rd or 24th of December while I was away). I would normally have written this blog article earlier this month, but January has been rather hectic with many royal events to comment on.

Ted Rosvall is not happy about the Swedish king's decision to take away the style Royal Highness for the children of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia and of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill, we learn when we read his Editor's Corner. Rosvall says that the title change is a breach of tradition and also finds it unneccessary. His main objection seems to be that the title changes are «retroactive or have retroactive effects» which are «contrary to all legal principles». Yes, I can see that objection, but I have argued earlier that the changes were bound to happen one day, and of course it would have been better if King Carl Gustaf had ruled out titles for his younger children's children before they were born. Constitutionally speaking it is much easier to give a title or another privilege than to take it away.

What about the front page? The photo shows Prince Victor Napoléon Bonaparte, his wife Princess Clémentine Bonaparte, née Princess of Belgium and their daughter Princess Marie Clothilde Bonaparte. The photo is the hint we need to know the topic of this issue's A Family Album. The magazine's historical consultant, Charlotte Zeepvat, is as always responsible for the introduction to the Bonapartes. In addition we get lots of photos - 80 portraits as well as two photos of  palaces and one of  St. Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, the last resting place of Emperor Napoléon III.

St. Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, England. Photo: Photochrom Print Collection/Wikimedia Commons.

The opening article, The Other Mrs. Simpson, is provided by Marlene A. Eilers Koenig. She tells the story of the American divorcee Romaine Simpson, née Pierce (1923–1975) and her marriage to David Mountbatten, 3rd Marquess of Milford Haven (1919–1970), a first cousin of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. They married in 1950 and divorced four years later. 

The next article starts with the quote «Geneva is my favourite place – I am safe there among cosmopolitians». Empress Elizabeth was tragically enough very wrong about her own safety while in Geneva. Elizabeth Jane Timms has written the article Empress Elizabeth if Austria and Geneva. The Visit of 1898, which ends with her assassination.

Then it is Douglas Scott Brookes to continue his series of excerpts from the memoirs of Prince Philipp zu Eulenberg – Two Emperors and One King on the Waters.

When commenting on issue 3, 2019 back in November last year, I thought that we had now come to the end of Bearn Bilker's article series The November 1918 Abdications, but I had obviously lost track of how many monarchs he had actually presented. This time he covers the abdications in Saxe-Meiningen, Saxe-Altenburg, Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the Reuss elder and younger lines, Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. Prince Günther Victor (1852–1925) was the reigning Prince of both Schwarzburg-Sondershausen and Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt. On 23 November 1918 the prince gave consent to the abdication law passed in the Landtag of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, and two days later the time had come for Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, which, as the author points out, meant that the last monarchy to exist in Germany was in fact Schwarzburg-Sondershausen. This would also mean that we have come to the end of Bilker's very interesting series on the abdications in Germany in 1918.

Datiu Salvia Ocaña has made contributions to Royalty Digest Quarterly before, and now he has returned with the first part of The Six Stunning Infantas. The unexpexcted fortune of the daughters of exiled King Miguel I of Portugal. King Miguel also had a seventh daughter (actually his first), Maria da Assunçao de Bragança (1831–1887), who obviously will not get her story told in this series. But I like the idea of a presentation of the six infantas and look forward to reading the second part.

Another set of articles which returns regularly is Little-Known Royals, and in this issue Coryne Hall presents Prince Gustav of Denmark (1887–1944), the youngest son of King Frederik VIII and Queen Louise. I agree that Prince Gustav fits the bill, not many people today would know who he was or could tell much about him. Those of us who covers Europan royal history would know, but we are hardly representative.

Finally the readers are treated with genealogical news in the column The World Wide Web of Royalty. This time we get news from France (Bonaparte), Baden, Prussia, Two Sicilies and Württemberg.

Lots to read this time as well. If you are not a subscriber yet, I highly recommend you to join up! Information on Royalty Digest Quarterly can be found at its editor's website Royalbooks.se. See earlier presentation of RDQ here. See also its Facebook page.