30 April 2019

New Emperor of Japan, Longest reigns (current monarchs) page updated

The Imperial Seal of Japan. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Emperor Akihito of Japan declared his abdication in a historic ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo at 5 p.m. local time on 30 April 2019.

I have not yet found a translation of the special abdication act which was passed on 8 June 2017 by the National Diet of Japan and which allowed Akihito to abdicate. But according to BBC News, «Akihito technically remained emperor until midnight (15:00 GMT on Tuesday)», which makes sense.

Crown Prince Naruhito ascended the throne from midnight 1 May 2019 local time and thus became the 126th Emperor of Japan. The Koreiden-Shinden-ni-Hokoku-no-gi, which is the «rite of reporting the accession to the throne» is sceduled to take place at the Imperial Sanctuaries (Koreiden and Shinden) later on 1 May 2019. A enthronement ceremony will follow in the fall of 2019.

As it is already 1 May 2019 in Japan, I decided to update my Longest reigns (current monarchs) page already this evening.

Links to websites and documents with relevant information:

23 April 2019

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg (1921–2019)

Grand Duke Jean at the wedding of his grandson Prince Louis in 2006. Photo: Schnékert/Wikimedia Commons.

Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, who served as head of state of Luxembourg from 1964 to 2000, died early in the morning of 23 April 2019, the Grand Ducal Court has announced.

It is with great sadness that I inform you of the death of my beloved father, His Royal Highness Grand Duke Jean, who has passed away in peace, surrounded by the affection of his family.
Grand Duke Jean died a week after he was hospitalised for a lung infection. The exact time of death, 00.25, was given in a declaration by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, later on 23 April. A national mourning will last until the day of the funeral, 4 May 2019. The death was also formally announced in Mémorial, the Legal Gazette of Luxembourg.

Jean Benoît Guillaume Robert Antoine Louis Marie Adolphe Marc d'Aviano, Prince of Luxembourg (as well as Prince of Bourbon-Parma and of Nassau), was born at Schloß Berg in Luxembourg on 5 January 1921 as the eldest son and child of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg (1896–1985) and Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma (1893–1970). His siblings were Elisabeth (1922–2011), Marie Adelaide (1924–2007), Marie Gabriele (b. 1925), Charles (1927–1977) and Alix (1929–2019).

Following school in Luxembourg and England, Prince Jean received the title Hereditary Grand Duke by decree of 4 January 1939 in connection with his 18th birthday the day after. When Luxembourg was invaded by German troops in 1940, Jean and his family fled to France, later to Portugal before finally being transported to the United States. He studied law and political science at the Quebec University in Canada before joining the British forces in 1942. He took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944 and came home to Luxembourg in September 1944. He later took part in several battles before the Germans surrendeded in May 1945. In April 1945 he welcomed his mother Grand Duchess Charlotte home to Luxembourg.

Raised to become Grand Duke and head of state of Luxembourg, Jean served as a member of the State Council for 10 years from 1951 before becoming  Lieutenant-Représentant («Lieutenant Representative», i.e. Regent) in 1961. Jean became Grand Duke upon his mother's abdication on 12 November 1964 and served until he himself abdicated on 7 October 2000 on behalf of his eldest son Henri.

Grand Duke Jean, 1967. Photo: Ron Kroon/Wikimedia Commons.

The then Hereditary Grand Duke Jean married on 9 April 1953 Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium (1927–2005), daughter of King Leopold III of the Belgians (1901–1934–1951–1983) and Queen Astrid, née Princess of Sweden (1905–1935). They had 5 children – Marie Astrid, b. 1954, Henri, b. 1955, Jean and Margaretha, b. 1957, and Guillaume, b. 1963 – and 22 grandchildren. (Someone else has to give the total number of great-grandchildren!)

As Grand Duke Jean's great-grandfather Grand Duke Adolf (1839–1905), formerly Duke of Nassau, was an elder brother of Princess Sophie (Sofia) (1836–1912), who in 1857 married Prince Oscar of Sweden, later King Oscar II, Jean was a third cousin of King Harald V of Norway. At the same time Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte was a first cousin of King Harald as their mothers Astrid and Märtha née Princess of Sweden were sisters. From this follows that Grand Duke Henri and the future King of Norway, Haakon, are 2nd cousins.

Then people of Luxembourg is mournng their beloved former head of state and war hero. He held the same position in Luxembourg as Queen Elizabeth II does in the United Kingdom – even if he had retired, he «had always been there» for generations of people. Loyally he spent his whole life in service of his country. «Der stille Monarch», «the quiet Monarch», as Luxemburger Wort writes today. «Er war ein großes Stück Luxemburg» («He was a large piece of Luxembourg»), as one citizen expressed earlier today. «He was one of us», has also been said. Someone the people could identify themselves with. Both royal and distant and close at the same time.

An epoch has reached its end.

Obituary in Telegraph.co.uk  23 April 2019: Jean, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, benevolent ruler who served in Normandy landings, took part in the liberation of the Grand Duchy and had close ties to Britain – obituary

15 April 2019

UK: «Private birth plans»

We are getting closer to yet another royal birth in the United Kingdom – today it is exactly 6 months since the pregnancy was announed – and last Thursday Buckingham Palace released an «operational note» to the media facilities «ahead of the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby»:
«The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby. Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private. The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.»
This means first of all that we will not know if the Duchess will give birth in a hospital or at home at Frogmore before the birth has taken place. Secondly, there will not be a photo call outside the Lindo Wing at the St. Mary's Hospital in London like after the births of the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

However, in the same operational note the media was also told that «Within a few days of the birth, the Duke and Duchess will take part in a photo call within the grounds of Windsor Castle». And furtheremore, the media has been informed that «A large fixed position for broadcasters and reporters will be facilitated on the Long Walk in Windsor. This will only become open for access once it has been announced that The Duchess is in labour. The facility will be operational from 6am until 11pm and for up to 72 hours after The Duchess has given birth».

So much for keeping the birth «secret». Of course the media – and far too many royalty watchers and «experts» – have worked themselves into a frenzy with screaming headlines about «break of protocol» and whatever. The Norwegian tabloid VG produced one of the most silly headlines ever: «Prins Harry og hertuginne Meghan vil holde fødselen hemmelig» («Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan is going to keep the birth a secret»). But then went on by saying that «Prinseparet vil vente med å kunngjøre at babyen er kommet til de selv har rukket å feire begivenheten privat», which more or less taken from the last sentence of the first quote above.

If only people could calm down for a minute or two ... or three. As the editor of the blog Peearage News, Michael Rhodes, has put it, «The idea that the Sussexes are breaking ‘protocol’ and ‘royal tradition’ by having a private royal birth is wrong. The hospital photo shoot is a modern move. The birth of the Queen’s children were private affairs. Edward wasn’t seen in public until he was 3 months old.» Rhodes later went on by writing that «If some people understood the difference in the words ‘private’ and ‘secret’ then the Duke & Duchess of Sussex would not be suffering from the barrage of criticism thrown at them by irrate Twitterers....and Press».  I couldn't have said it better myself.

I think the parents to be have made a wise decision. We will get the happy news soon enough anyway.

Many people have asked about possible royal titles for the Sussex baby. As no press release concerning a Letters Patent has been given yet, I think we can safely assume that the Sussex baby will not become a Prince or Princess. This means that the baby, if a girl, will be styled Lady X Mountbatten-Windsor, while a boy by courtesy will be styled Earl of Dumbarton, which is the Duke of Sussex's second (lesser grade) title.

For the record, when I commented on the title issue back in October, I didn't make any predictions on what the Queen would decide. I only wrote what I personally thought would be the best solution. The number of «working royals» are bound to drop for natural reasons in the years to come, so in that regard it would be wise to give a royal title to the Sussex baby as well. Many have argued that the Letters Patent published in January 2013 signalled that only the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be Prince or Princess. In other words, the LP would have been worded differently if all possible grandchildren of the Prince of Wales were to receive a royal title.

That is a reasonable argument. However, there is nothing that could have stopped the Queen from changing her mind some time in the future if she saw it necessary. At the time Prince Harry had not settled down anyway. There are good arguments for limiting the number of Princes and Princesses, but there are in my opinion equally good reasons for including the Sussex baby.

As it stands today, the future Sussex baby, whether it be Earl of Dumbarton or Lady X Mountbatten-Windsor, will in accordance with the terms of the Letters Patent of 30 November 1917 become Prince or Princess when the Prince of Wales succeeds to the throne. But it is not unreasonable to expect that the Letters Patent in due time will be modified to reduce the number of potential princes and princesses, or that the monarch in some form or another will «let it be known» that the Sussex baby will continue using «the birth title» under the new reign even without a changed LP. We will obviously know sooner or later.

Updated on Monday 6 May 2017 at 22.00 (orthographic mistake corrected).

8 April 2019

Luxembourg: Louis and Tessy divorced

The Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg announced on 5 April 2019 that the divorce between Prince Louis and Princess Tessy became final the day before, 4 April 2019.

The divorce was covered by the local press, among others Wort.lu, following the statement and has also been written about in other blogs, like Marlene Koenig's (go also here) and Luxarazzi (see also a follow-up). But «for the record» I mention it also in my own blog.

Prince Louis married Tessy Antony in 2006. The decision to get a divorce was made public in January 2017, and a decree nisi was granted om 17 February 2017. Since then the former couple has been in a conflict over the financial settlement, which now is solved.

According to the press statement referred to above, Tessy has as a result of the divorce ceased to be a Princess of Luxembourg with the style Royal Highness, and she will not represent the Grand Ducal family anylonger. It's been a while, anyway. For the sake of the children, Prince Gabriel and Prince Noah of Nassau (born 2006 and 2007 respectively), Tessy will be allowed to use the hyphenated surname Antony-de Nassau taking effect from September 2019. I am not sure why she has to wait so long, but it might be because Luxembourg law concerning name changes works that way. She is referred to as «Mrs. Tessy Antony» in the statement, but if it takes so long to get a new surname in Luxembourg, how is it possible to lose the surname de Nassau so quickly? She seems to believe that she is a Princess until September, although this is in conflict with the said press statement and house law. The name of her Instagram account is «Tessy from Luxembourg», by the way, while she at present calls herself «Tessy Antony, Princess de Luxembourg» on Twitter. I hope there will be more information on the issue in due time.

Updated on 8 April 2019 at 23:53 (reference to Tessy's Twitter account added).