10 March 2019

UK: Scottish title for the Earl of Wessex

Buckingham Palace announced today, 10 March 2019, which is the 55th birthday of the Earl of the Wessex, the youngest child of Queen Elizabeth II, that he had received an additional title:
The Queen has been pleased to grant The Earl of Wessex the additional title of Earl of Forfar.
In the «Notes for Editors» section, the Earl's Scottish connections, such as being a patron of several Scottish charitable organisations etc., are pointed out. From the notes we also learn that:
Their Royal Highnesses will use the title The Earl and Countess of Forfar when in Scotland.

The Earldom of Forfar was created in 1661 and became extinct as a title in 1715. It was a subsidiary title to the Earl of Ormond and was a title held by the Douglas Family.

The 1st Earl of Forfar (1653 to 1712) was Archibald Douglas. His son, also Archibald Douglas, became the 2nd Earl of Forfar (1692 to 1715). The 2nd Earl took the title at the age of 20 and died without issue leaving the Earldom, part of the Peerage of Scotland, extinct.

Forfar is the county town of Angus with a population of just over 14,000. It is the principal county town nearest to Glamis Castle, the seat of the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne. It was this family of which the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother was part.
According to Michael Rhodes, who is behind the blog Peerage News, the Earl of Wessex is «a fifth cousin nine times removed of the previous holder of that peerage».

Just for the record, as there are so many misconceptions concerning the Earl of Wessex and the future title of Duke of Edinburgh, let me quote the press statement released at the day the Earl of Wessex married Sophie Rhys-Jones on 19 June 1997:

TITLE OF HRH THE PRINCE EDWARD The Queen has today been pleased to confer an Earldom on The Prince Edward. His titles will be Earl of Wessex and Viscount Severn. The Prince Edward thus becomes His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex and Miss Sophie Rhys-Jones on marriage will become Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex. The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and The Prince of Wales have also agreed that The Prince Edward should be given the Dukedom of Edinburgh in due course, when the present title now held by Prince Philip eventually reverts to the Crown. The Queen has also decided, with the agreement of The Prince Edward and Miss Rhys-Jones, that any children they might have should not be given the style His or Her Royal Highness, but would have courtesy titles as sons or daughters of an Earl. To be released at 12 noon BST Saturday 19th June, 1999.
The Prince of Wales as the eldest son of the title holder is the present heir to the title Duke of Edinburgh. This mean that the Prince of Wales will inherit the title on the death of his father. If this happens while the Queen is still alive, the Prince of Wales will just add the Duke of Edinburgh title to his other titles. When he becomes King, the title will merge with the Crown.  If Prince Philip outlives the Queen, then the title will eventually pass on to the Prince of Wales, but as he by then is already the King, the title will merge with the Crown. Only then the title can be recreated for the Earl of Wessex.

5 March 2019

UK: Buckingham Palace issues Social Media Community Guidelines

On 4 March 2019 Buckingham Palace issued the following press statement concerning the new «Social Media Community Guidelines»:
These guidelines are in place to help create a safe environment on all social media channels run by The Royal Family, Clarence House and Kensington Palace.

The aim of our social media channels is to create an environment where our community can engage safely in debate and is free to make comments, questions and suggestions.

We ask that anyone engaging with our social media channels shows courtesy, kindness and respect for all other members of our social media communities.

In order to help create this safe environment we have set out some guidelines which apply to any engagement with us or other members of the community on any of our social media channels.

By engaging with our social media channels you agree to follow these guidelines.

Comments must not:
  • Contain spam, be defamatory of any person, deceive others, be obscene, offensive, threatening, abusive, hateful, inflammatory or promote sexually explicit material or violence.
  • Promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age.
  • Breach any of the terms of any of the social media platforms themselves.
  • Be off-topic, irrelevant or unintelligible.
  • Contain any advertising or promote any services.
Breach of guidelines

We reserve the right to determine, at our discretion, whether contributions to our social media channels breach our guidelines. We reserve the right to hide or delete comments made on our channels, as well as block users who do not follow these guidelines.

We also reserve the right to send any comments we deem appropriate to law enforcement authorities for investigation as we feel necessary or is required by law.
The Telegraph explains the new formal guidelines with the «escalating abuse of the Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex» in social media, and adds that «On Twitter and Instagram, the comments section has regularly descended into abuse of both Duchesses, with the Duchess of Sussex subjected to racist comments on top of the sexist and offensive words aimed at both her and the Duchess of Cambridge.»

The Telegraph also refers to the ongoing «war» between the «supporters» of the two duchesses. I have noted that many Boardhost forum regulars and others have also been dragged into this conflict. I am happy to stay out of it! Another matter is how this «Sussex vs. Cambridge war» goes against the very concept of monarchy. Many of the «warriors» seem to have a very shallow understanding of monarchy, monarchism and the roles of the royals.

I don't think the lack of formal guidelines would have stopped the British Royal Court from blocking or reporting offensive postings, but at least from now on the trolls and haters can not claim that they have not been warned!

Titles for the Emperor and Empress of Japan following abdication

Preparations are under way for the abdication of Emperor Akihito of Japan on 30 April 2019. One question that naturally has arised is what to call them afterwards.

Last week The Japan Times wrote, with the Imperial Household Agency as the stated source, that Emperor Akihito will be referred to as «Emperor emeritus», while his wife, Empress Michiko will use the title «Empress emerita». The Japanese equvialents will be jōkō (上皇) and jōkōgō (上皇后) respectively.

The similar practice in Europe varies. While the Dutch monarchs traditionally reverts to the title of prince or princess* following abdication, King Juan Carlos of Spain, King Albert of the Belgians and Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg are still titled King or Grand Duke respectively, but they are of course not HM The King or HRH The Grand Duke anylonger. A parallell to Japan would be the Roman-Catholic Church, where Pope Benedixt XVI is referred to as «supreme pontiff emeritus».

* The three monarchs prior to King Willem-Alexander were all women – Queen Wilhelmina, Queen Juliana and Queen Beatrix respectively – and they all reverted to the title of Princess of the Netherlands following their abdication. I mention the title prince the just for «the sake of balance and equality» and because I expect that King Willem-Alexander will use the title of Prince again if he should decide to abdicate some time in the future. As far as I know, the first King of the Netherlands, Willem I, continued to use the title King following his abdication in 1840.

31 January 2019

New Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia; Longest reigns page updated

The closest I got to the Royal Palace (Istana Negara) in Kuala Lumpur ... © 2004 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

The Sultan of Pahang, Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, was sworn in as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (King/Head of state) of Malaysia  in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, today, following his election by the Conference of Rulers last Thursday. At the same time the Sultan of Perak, Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, took the oath following the re-election as Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Deputy King/Head of state).

The previous king, Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, abdicated the throne on 6 January 2019, and the Timbalan Yang di-Pertuan Agong acted as Head of state until today.

The new Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin, b. 30 July 1959, succeeded as Sultan of Pahang as recent as 15 January 2019 following the abdication of his father, Sultan Ahmad. Abdullah has been married to Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar, b 5 August 1960, since 6 March 1986. His second wife, since 1993, is named Cik Puan Julia Aisha binti ‘Abdu’llah, b. 1971. His first wife will act as the official consort (titled Raja permaisuri Agong). The Sultan of Pahang has six children by his first wife and three by his second, cf. The Royal Ark. In addition he has also two adopted sons born prior to his children by his first wife.

The new King is described as a huge football fan and a supporter of the English football team Arsenal FC. According to the newspaper The Star, «Sultan Abdullah, who is quite a skilful midfielder in football, is just as adept at hockey, tennis, golf, horse riding, scuba diving, squash and polo».

Today's events in Kuala Lumpur means that I have updated my Longest reigns (current monarchs) page. If nothing happens in the meantime, the website will be updated again in late April when the Emperor of Japan, Akihito, abdicates.

18 January 2019

Another abdication in Malaysia, new Sultan of Pahang to become the new King?

The 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State/King) of Malaysia, Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, abdicated on 6 January 2019 and returned to his home state of Kelantan, while the Deputy Head of State, the Sultan of Perak, in accordance with the Constitution stayed in the capital to exercise  the  functions of  the Yang di-pertuan Agong until the Conference of Rulers elected the new King. The election will take place on Thursday 24 January 2019.

Malaysia has a rotation system by which the king is elected for a five-year-period among the 9 rulers. At the time of the abdication, The Straits Times wrote that «[...] the next in line is Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang, 88, followed by Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, 60, and then Sultan Nazrin Shah from Perak, 62. Sultan Ahmad Shah is not in good health and his son has been Regent for two years.»

Since my blog article of 7 January, I haven't really paid enough attention to the news from Malaysia. Today I learnt that the Sultan of Pahang, Ahmad Shah, b. 1930, abdicated the sultanate throne on 15 January 2019 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Abdullah. Ahmad Shah became Sultan of Pahang in 1974 and served as the 7th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia from 1979 to 1984. His son Abdullah, b. 1959, had the role as regent in the meantime.

The Straits Times wrote on 15 January that «The installation of Sultan Abdullah puts him in line to become the next Malaysian constitutional ruler under the rotation system practised by the nine Malay royal houses.» Next Thursday we will know for sure.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway's confirmation

Photo: © 2018 HKH. Kronprinsen/HRH The Crown Prince.

The Royal Norwegian Court announced today that Princess Ingrid Alexandra will be confirmed in the Palace Chapel at the Royal Palace on Saturday 31 August 2019.

According to the press release, the princess is receiving her confirmation instruction with Asker Church congregation under the direction of Provost Tor Øystein Vaaland and acting Vicar Karoline Astrup.

The confirmation service in the Palace Chapel will be led by the Bishop of Oslo, Kari Veiteberg, and the Praeses of the Norwegian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien.

The christening of Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who turns 15 on Monday 21 January 2019, took place in the Palace Chapel on Saturday 17 April 2004. She was carried to the christening font by her grandfather, King Harald. Her other sponsors were King Felipe of Spain (then Prince of Asturias), Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, her aunt Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her grandmother Marit Tjessem.

Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 4, 2018

The front cover of the latest issue of Royalty Digest Quarterly (no. 4, 2018) is blue and beautiful, and in the photo we can se the royal family of Montenegro in around 1910, the year when the principality was declared a kingdom. I have happy memories of my visit to Montenegro and the former capital of Cetinje in 2009. I will come back to this later in the blog article.

So, what is on the mind of the editor, Ted Rosvall, this time? He starts with mentioning the 100th birthday of Princess Woizlawa Feodora Reuss and then lists other royals (by birth or by marriage) who reached the same milestone. Members of royal as well as princely and mediatized families are included. Strictly speaking I wouldn't have included Elsa Cedergreen, née Bernadotte Countess of Wisborg, as she was only a decendant of the Swedish royal family, but I will leave it at that.

The first article, 'The Blue Flower' a Romanian Mystery, is written by the magazine's historical consultant, Charlotte Zeepvat. She writes about, and make extracts, of a collection of postcards signed by «Floare Albastra».While her identity is never disclosed, she obviously was close to the Romanian royal family and court.

Then Ove Mogensen follows up with the second part of his series Tombs, Graves and Monuments. Burial Places of the Bonaparte Dynasty. My, my, hasn't he been all over the place! Would love to visit some of the places as well as the graves he has visited.

Another regular contributor, Marlene A. Eilers Koenig, has researched and written the story of the American-born Nonnie May Stewart (1878–1923), who in 1920 married Prince Christopher of Greece (1888–1940), youngest son of King George I and Queen Olga, née Grand Princess of Russia. Prince Christopher was her third husband. Funny how she lied about her age to make her closer in age to her husband. As of today, her Findagrave.com entry still gives her birth year as 1883 ...

The front cover photo obviously reveals which royal family Charlotte Zeepvat will cover this time in her Family Album series. I find the history of the former royal familiy of Montenegro to be one of the most fascinating ones, and once again I cannot say how much I enjoyed my visit in 2009, three years after the former monarchy regained its independence. Following a 3 pages long historical introduction, the readers can enjoy 61 illustrations besides the photo of the royal palace and a map. And of course, there is a genealogical table as well.

Here is a small collection from my own visit to Cetinje in 2009, the first two shows the royal palace, the third was taken of the chapel in which King Nikola I and Queen Milena were reburied in 1989. I was not allowed to take photos inside. The last two photos show the birth house of King Nikola in the village of Njeguši. There is a museum inside.

Photos: © 2009 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

The royal palace in Cetinje is open for tours, but you are not allowed to visit by your own, only groups are allowed. At least that was the case in 2009. So I had to wait half an hour or so until a group of Russian tourists arrived and I could join them for the sightseeing. I was the only one who left money in the book shop, though. I bought lots of cards as well as the book The Court of King Nikola by Milan Jovićević, Anđe Kapičić and Tatjana Jović, published by The National Museum of Montenegro, Cetinje in 1999.

Of course I took loads of photos during my visit to Cetinje (and other royalty-related places), including many tombs, but I will have to come back with another article on this later on. It is on time, considering the fact that it is close to 10 years since my visit! Then again, my visit to Norse, Texas in 2005 was covered as late as in 2018, so I guess it is never too late ...

Returning to the article and specifically the genealogical table for a minute, I note that Zeepvat and Rosvall list two daughters of Prince Boris of Montenegro, Milena, b. 2008, and Antonia, birth year not given, while An Online Gotha only mentions Milena. Has the birth of Antonia never been officially confirmed? I know that it is almost impossible to get any news or any information at all about the present head of the royal family, Prince Nikola, and his children and grandchildren. With no male heirs (after Boris) in sight, the house seems destined to die out with him.

The article The November 1918 Abdications, part I by Bearn Bilker gives a presentation of abdications of Emperor Wilhelm II and the monarchs of the various kingdoms, duchies and principalities of the German Empire. It was a good idea to write such an article, and I look forward to the follow-ups.

I have never really understood the fascination for Sisi, the Empress of Austria (1837–1898). I think other members of the imperial family of Austria are far more interesting. But of course there are many aspects of Empress Elisabeth's life which are interesting to pay attention to, and the story of her property at Corfu, Greece, A Fairytale Palace on Corfu. I: The Achilleion and Empress Elisabeth of Austria by Stefan Haderer, is at least new to me and is worth reading.

Then Coryne Hall is back with her Little-Known Royals series, this time writing about Princess Therese of Bavaria (1850–1925), younger (and only) sister of King Ludwig III. I have earlier put a question marks of some of the royals covered in this series, but Princess Therese certainly deserves to be included. But I am sure there are many Bavaria experts out there who will disagree with me ...

Last, but not least, The World Wide Web of Royalty column, is put at the end of the magazine again. The column lists genealogical news of the Imperial, Royal, Princely and/or mediatized families of Europe and this time we are treated with news from Austria, France, Reuss, Romania, Schönburg-Hartenstein, Sweden and Two Sicilies.

Now I just have to remember to renew my subscription!

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.  

Updated on Sunday 20 January 2019 at 14.15 (grammatical error corrected).

7 January 2019

Malaysia: New king to be elected on 24 January 2019

Following the abdication of the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State/King) of Malaysia, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, yesterday, the Conference of Rulers decided today that the new king would be elected in a special meeting on Thursday 24 January 2019.

According to Thestar.com, the meeting was attended by the rulers from Terengganu, Perlis, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perak and Kedah. The Sultan of Selangor was abroad, while the Sultan of Pahang felt unwell and therefore stayed home. A special meeting for the swearing-in ceremony for the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be held on Thursday 31 January 2019.

No official explanation for the king's decision to abdicate has been given, but The Straits Times points to the complaints made by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in June last year, alleging that «Sultan Muhammad had not abided by the rule of law in delaying his installation as Premier and the appointment of a new Attorney-General». The events had caused debate and allegedly damaged the royal institution, something some of the Malay rulers were unhappy about. The final straw was supposedly the King's wedding to a 25-year-old Russian model (Oksana Voevodina, following convertion to Islam renamed Rihana Oxana Gorbatenko) while he was on sick leave last fall.

6 January 2019

Published articles and Slektshistoriewiki contributions, 2018, plans for 2019

Here is a survey of the articles I have written and got published during 2018. Both articles (book reviews) were published in Genealogen, the newsletter of Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening, the Norwegian Genealogical Society.
  •  ««Helt til jordens ende». Bok om de mange norsk-amerikanske misjonærene», book review, Genealogen no. 1/2018, pp. 47–49.
  • «Ny kildeutgivelse fra Riksarkivet: Lofthusoppreisten», review of Løyland, Marit (publisher). Lofthusoppreisten. Rettsmateriale frå kommisjon og høgsterett 1789–99, Oslo: Riksarkivet, 2018, in Genealogen no. 2, 2018, pp. 55–56.
I have also helped out with proofreading all issues of Genealogen and Norsk Slektshistorisk Tidsskrift published in 2018. My bibliography, although still not complete, can be viewed here.

I have mentioned earlier in my blog that I am one of the administrators of Slektshistoriewiki, the Norwegian genealogy wiki, which is administered by Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening (the Norwegian Genealogical Society). Besides administration work I have contributed with many articles over the years.

Here are some (but far from all) of the articles I written (both initiated and written most, if not all, of the updates) during 2018:

Book presentations
The articles above come in addition to the updating of many articles which I have initiated earlier. I am mostly proud of finishing (with the help of others) the project Ordliste for ættegranskere (bok) («Dictionary for genealogists»), which was started in 2015. Cato Krag-Rønne published the dictionary in 1946. He had made a collection of explanations to words and expressions which one encounters during genealogy research. We got the permission from Krag-Rønne's daughter, Bodil Gjetanger, to add all the explanations to the wiki. It took a while to finish the project, though, but I am pleased that the work was finally done. Unfortunately Gjetanger died just before I did the finishing touch on the project.

The teacher and author Guri Trygsland mentioned above was the sister of my great-grandfather Søren Trygsland (1878–1967). I have done a great deal of research on Guri's life and work, so I hope to update the article soon. I have also done the needed research on the Norwegian ancestry of Rep. Deb Haaland, so I just have to get my act together and get the work done! The article Norsk prestehistorie (is «History of the Norwegian clergy» a good translation?) is just the first step of transferring the project from the website of the Norwegian Genealogical Society to Slektshistoriewiki. Hopefully I will finish the move during 2019. I was also happy to add more details about the noble family of Mund (which died out in the male line in 1915), especially the cognatic line (non-noble, of course) which still exists today.

By the way, a survey of all my contributions to Slektshistoriewiki can be viewed here. Most of the Slektshistoriewiki articles initiated in 2018 are rather short, but believe me, it takes time to do the research needed, in addition to the writing process.

Still, I am not too satisfied with my «achivements» in 2018. I would like to have done more. Of course I can use my family and work commitments as an excuse (I don't get that much time every day to research and write), but if I could be more disciplined and focus on less projects at a time I should be able to publish more. I have done lots of research during 2018 (as in previous years), but I have too many ongoing projects, and would love to focus more on writing and publising.

David Allen Lambert, the Chief Genealogist at NEHGS (New England Historic Genealogical Society) in Boston, Massachusetts, asked on 1 January 2019: «What #GenealogicalNewYearsResolution are you planning for 2019? Sort, organize, publish, research, visit a grave?»
This made me thinking! Yes, of couse I will do all the things he mentioned – sort, organize, publish. research, visit a grave – during 2019! But it is the publishing part which is most challenging. I really hope, if my time allows it (here I go again!), to publish more than the two book reviews and thus ad more to my bibliography. The quality is of course more important than the number of publications. But still ... So, what are my publishing plans for 2019? In the late fall of 2018 I was asked to «update» the genealogy of an old Norwegian family of German origin. It will be a time-consuming project which will certainly not be finished in 2019. The question whether I will take on this project or not has not been settled yet. Therefore, in the meantime I am thinking of working on the genealogy of one of the other families I descend from, with the possible publishing date some time in 2020. In addition I am working on a surname project which I think I can be able finish in 2019. My goal is both a printed edition as well as an e-book accessible for members of the Norwegian Genealogy Society. It all depends on what will happen with the old Norwegian family genealogy I mentioned above. Time will show ...

So, what about my blog? Obviously I have made far less updates in 2018 (48) than I did in the first years, but still I am happy with four blog articles a month on average. I think I will be satisfied with 48 blog articles in 2019 as well.

Updated on 10 March 2019 at 13.10 (correcting a mistake in the last paragraph).

Longest reigns (current monarchs) page updated

The 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Head of State/King) of Malaysia, Muhammad V, Sultan of Kelantan, abdicated today, 6 January 2019. He took office on 13 December 2016 and had therefore close to 3 years left of his term. As I understand it, the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah, as the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, will perform the duties of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong until the Conference of Rulers has elected the new king.

My Longest reigns (current monarchs) page has therefore been updated. Obviously the page will soon be updated again after the election has taken place and the new King has taken the oath. The Emperor of Japan, Akihito, has already announced that he will abdicate his throne on 30 April 2019. Hopefully there will be no other changes in the meantime.