7 July 2020

Princess Raiyah of Jordan and Ned Donovan married

Princess Raiyah bint Hussein of Jordan, youngest daughter of the late King Hussein II and Queen Noor, née Lisa Najeeb Halaby, married today, 7 July 2020, Faris Ned Donovan, son of the business man Patrick Donovan and the author and former actress and model Tessy Dahl.

According to Petra. Jordan News Agency, the small wedding ceremony took place in the United Kingdom, attended by Queen Noor, Jordan's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Omar Nahar, and members of the Donovan family. No further details about the location of the wedding ceremony are known at present, but I am sure they will be given later. Besides the photo in the Petra press statement, two more photos have been posted from Princess Raiyah's Twitter account. According to Princess Raiyah's tweet, the wedding was originally planned to take place in April 2020, but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Princess Raiyah, b. 1986, is currently a PhD candidate in pre-modern Japanese literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), while Ned Donovan, b. 1994, is a freelance journalist. Ned's grandfather was the famous British author Roald Dahl 1916–1990), whose parents Harald Dahl and Sofie Magdalene Dahl, née Hesselberg, originally came from Norway.

6 July 2020

Norway: Princess Ingrid Alexandra to attend Elvebakken High School

Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway had her last day of lower secondary education at Uranienborg School in Oslo a couple of weeks ago. Today it was announced that the princess in the fall will start her upper secondary education at Elvebakken videregående skole (high school) in the capital.

Elvebakken is the largest and most popular high school in Oslo with 1400 students and 150 teachers.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra started at Jansløkka primary school in Asker in 2010, before continuing her education at Oslo International School at Bekkestua in Bærum in 2014. In 2019 she switched to Uranienborg School close to the Royal Palace for her last year of junior high school (lower secondary school).

Princess Ingrid Alexandra's grandfather and father have also attended high school in the capital. King Harald attended Oslo Cathedral School, while Crown Prince Haakon went to Kristelig Gymnasium (KG).

3 July 2020

Vestre gravlund (Western Cemetery), Oslo, Norway, Part IV

I paid Vestre gravlund (Western Cemetery) in Oslo a short visit on Thursday 2 July in order to fulfill a Findagrave.com photo request. I had made a long list of graves to take photos of for my last visit in April this year, but discovered after my visit that I had missed one grave. So I did «my duty» today and will upload the photo at Findagrave.com soon. The photo is not included in this short article, though. Except for the photo request I had no plan for today's visit, so there are no particular reasons behind choice of grave photos. I took some more photos that are not included here.


Squirrels are everywhere to be seen in the cemetery, but I have never managed to take a decent photo of one until today, and this little fellow was even taking a snack on top of a headstone! Grave of Kirsten Rønning (1920–2001).


Sokoloff grave.

Shetelig grave. Originally the family name was spelt Schetelig.

Borchsenius family grave. I am distantly related to the family through Sofie Cappelen (1869–1939), whose name is no. 2 from the top.


The funeral service for René «Roma» Karoli (1963–2020), a leading member of the Norwegian Roma family Karoli, who died on 21 June, took place at Vestre gravlund kapell (Western Cemetery Chapel) earlier on 2 July, followed by burial in the Karoli family grave. When I passed the grave there were still mourning family members present, so the photo of the grave is of last year. The family had rolled out a long red carpet from the chapel to the grave. Buried in the grave are Polykarp Karoli (1916–2001), his wife Lola Karoli (1918–1996), their grandson (and one of René's sons) Daimens Kaikoni (1985–2017) and now also René. Their legal names, the names in the Public Register and in the cemetery register, were Pål Karlsen, Eva Karlsen and Pål Johansen respectively. I am not sure at present wether René was legally surnamed Karoli or Karlsen. Should add that the cemetery register says that Lola was born om 27 July 1918, while the headstone says 15 January 1929. Polykarp was according to the former source born on 26 December 1916, while the headstone says 24 December.


Photos: © 2019–2020 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

I have called this article «Vestre gravlund (Western Cemetery), Oslo, Norway, Part IV», but I have written more articles with photos from this cemetery, but under other subject titles, so the present article could have been named «Part VIII» ... Follow the link for more details.

Updated on 3 July 2020 at 00:15 (a couple of sentences regarding Polykarp's and Lola's birth dates were added), last time on 5 July 2020 (spelling of name corrected).

1 July 2020

Princess Märtha Louise's Hankø property sold

It was confirmed today that Princess Märtha Louise holiday home Bloksberg in Fredrikstad has been sold. The property was put on the market in August 2018, but it has obviously taken some time to find the right buyer at the right price. In 2018 the property was valued at NOK 35 millions.

The selling price has not been disclosed, but will be revealed when the title deed has been registered.

The then Crown Prince Olav bought the property in 1949, as Grunnboken (the Land Registry) reveals (not in 1947, as the Norwegian newspapers claim). Bloksberg was transferred to Princess Märtha Louise in December 2001.

25 June 2020

The Korean War and Rolv Møll of Norway

Today – 25 June 2020 – marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War. In Oslo's main street Karl Johans gate the South Korean embassy is behind the exhibition of 24 banners thanking Norway for its contribution to the war, which mainly consisted of a field hospital called Norwegian Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (NORMASH) as part of the UN force. Norway also contributed with financial support, and established together with Denmark and Sweden the hospital National Medical Center.

The banner says «70th Anniversary of the Korean War Remembrance Solidarity Peace» and «Takk, Norge For Støtten under Koreakrigen 1950–53 Republikken Korea» («Thank you, Norway for the support during the Korean War 1950–53 The Republic of Korea»).

Karl Johans gate, Oslo.

Karl Johans gate, Oslo, with the University of Oslo's Law Faculty Library in the background, and further back the Royal Palace.



Photos: © 2020 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

The South Korean embassy is currently hosting a photo contest were people are encouraged to send in their best photos of themselves alongside the banners. The best photos in the categories «best quality picture», «most creative picture», «pictures in special attire», «happiest or funniest picture» or «picture showing cooperation between Korean and Norway» will win a prize from the embassy. I guess I would have to make a better effort than the ones above in order to win ...

623 Norwegian men and women served in NORMASH over seven contingents. Only 2 of them working for the hospital were killed – one was shot, the other killed in a car accident. In addition two two seamen died, one by illness while the ship «Belocean» was in harbour in Pusan, the other by drowning while the ship was in harbour in Japan. But several Norwegan-born men served in the US army. One of them was Rolv Møll, who was born in Holum, Mandal in 1926 and settled in Brooklyn, New York in May 1950. He married the Norwegian-American Rosy Reiersen (Ryerson) (1924–1976) in December 1951, four months after he had joined the US army: He was sent to Korea in April 1952, serving in the 35th Infantry Regiment (25th Infantry (Tropic Lighting) Division) and was killed on the North Korean frontline in July the same year, 26 years old. He was among others awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. I wrote a piece about Rolv in Slektshistoriewiki, the Norwegian genealogy wiki, back in 2017. So whenever I think about the Korean War, I think about Rolv, whose life was taken far too early while in the service of his adopted country.

Updated on Friday 26 June 2020 at 12.40 (typo corrected).

Royalty Digest Quarterly no 2, 2020

The latest issue of Royalty Digest Quarterly – no. 2, 2020 – has arrived, and as usual it provides plenty of quality reading. The cover is in green colour this time (what about yellow next, Mr. Editor!), and the photo is of King Alfonso XIII of Spain (1886–1941) together with his 6 surviving childen; Jaime, Maria Christina, Gonzalo, Alfonso, Beatriz and Juan. The latter was of course the father of King Juan Carlos and grandfather of the current king, Felipe VI.

Royal jewels is the topic of the first article of the present issue. The Leuchtenberg Jewels in Sweden is written by the Brazilian-born Claudia Thomé Witte, who appeared on Norwegian TV 12 days ago in a documentary on the royal jewels of Sweden. While royal jewels (tiaras etc.) are not exactly «my thing», there is no doubt that they represent important royal family history, and I admire experts like Ms. Witte who posess such a detailed knowledge. My daughter, who will turn 10 years old next month, took a great interest in the documentary, and even hushed me down when I dared to start talking. Who would have guessed that she would be interested in royal history ... It was a good article as well, although I miss a list of sources at the end.

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, Duchess in Bavaria (1837–1898), nicknamed «Sisi», still draws great interest, and there are no limits to how many different aspects of her life one can write about. In the article Imperial Bride in Vienna Elizabeth Jane Timm studies the wedding between Sisi and Emperor Franz Joseph in great deatail, including the whereabouts of her wedding dress.

The photo cover revals that the main article of this issue is the second part of The Royal House of Spain – A Family Album. A House Divided - the descendants of Carlos IV by Charlotte Zeepvat. The introduction takes the readers from King Fernando VII to King Felipe VI, and we are as usual treated by a large number of illustrations – 99 in all – the last is of King Felipe VI and his eldest daughter Leonor, Princess of Asturias. In addition there are four pages with genealogical tables.

The historian Datiu Salvia Ocaña, who resides in Barcelona, Spain, then completes the third and last part of his series The Six Stunning Infantas. The unexpexted fortune of the daughters of exiled King Miguel I of Portugal. The third part also includes notes, which also cover part I and II.

Who is the next one out in the series Little-Known Royals? Coryne Hall has this time written about Princess Maria of Italy (1914-2001), the youngest daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy and his wife Queen Elena, née Princess of Montenegro. Princess Maria married in 1939 Prince Luigi (Louis) of Bourbon-Parma (1899–1967), the 22nd (!) child of Duke Roberto I and his 2nd wife Duchess Maria Antonia, née Princess of Portugal. They had four children. None of them made «dynastic marriages» and their children don't appear to have any titles according to An Online Gotha, but here I could be wrong. I am not talking about legal titles, of course, only titles by «a genealogical-historical definition».

And finally the column The World Wide Web of Royalty, bringing genealogical news from the European Imperial, Royal and Princely families. This time we get news from Bourbon-Parme, Greece (Brandram), Hesse, Luxembourg, Russia (Kulikovskaya), Stolberg-Roßla, Sweden (Nilert), Bourbon-Two Sicilies and Waldeck and Pyrmont.

Information about Royalty Digest Quarterly can be found at its editor's website Royalbooks.se. See earlier presentations of RDQ here. See also its Facebook page.

10 June 2020

Avledninger og bonus i slektsforskningen

I slektsforskningen jobber man som regel etter et bestemt mål. Man skal finne all nødvendig dokumentasjon som kan identifisere en bestemt ane eller slektning, eller man skal finne frem til de nødvendige kildene for en større krets av personer for å sette sammen en slektsoversikt i forbindelse med en bok eller artikkel. Mens man forsker, kommer man gjerne over andre interessante personer og opplysninger og så ender man opp med å titte nærmere på noe helt annet enn det man hadde planlagt i utgangspunktet. Ja, det er lett å la seg avlede. Man kan eksempelvis finne slektsforbindelser man overhodet ikke hadde forestilt seg. Om ikke «alt henger sammen med alt», så finner man ofte spennende koblinger. Andre ganger dukker opplysninger som kan være viktige for et av de mange prosjektene man holder på med, men som man ikke ventet å finne i den kilden man jobbet med. Og det er jo rett og slett det jeg vil kalle en bonus. Og ikke ufortjent med tanke på all den tiden man faktisk bruker på slektsforskningen.

I påskehelgen var familien og jeg på en liten spasertur i Frogn der vi kunne se over til Oscarsborg festning på den andre siden av fjorden. Da kom jeg til å tenke på Magnus Sødem (1897–1985), som var gift med Astrid Viseth (1905–1997), som var yngste søster til min oldemor Anne Sofie Viseth, gift Ramstad (1886–1969). Sødem ble våren 1940 kommandert til Oscarsborg, der han som sjef for hovedbatteriet spilte en sentral rolle da den tyske krysseren «Blücher» ble senket. Turen til Frogn inspirerte meg derfor til å forske på og skrive en biografi om Sødem på Slektshistoriewiki. Det ville jo uansett komme til nytte hvis jeg skulle gjøre noe mer ut av Viseth-slekten en gang i fremtiden. Den første versjonen ble publisert 13. april 2020, og siden har jeg jobbet med å gi flere detaljer om Sødems rolle 9. april 1940 og finpusse litt på slektsdelen. Jeg har besøkt og tatt bilder av graven til Magnus og Astrid Sødem på Nøtterøy kirkegård og av graven til den første kona til Magnus – Dina Margrethe – og deres felles datter Else Margaret på Ullern kirkegård i Sør-Odal. Bildene ble lagt inn artikkelen denne uken.

I går så jeg litt nærmere på morsslekten til Magnus for å avklare hvorfor moren Inga Ovidia Pedersdatter (1871–1946) var oppført med «pikenavnet» Stubberud i forbindelse med ekteskapet med Peder Mortensen Sødem (1864–1933) i 1896. Det var ikke så vanskelig å finne ut av, ettersom Ingas mor Helene Trulsdatter, f. 1843, var født og oppvokst på bruket Stubberud i Sande i Vestfold. I folketellingen 1875 bodde Helene og Inga Ovidia sammen med Helenes foreldre på Åby søndre i Sande (men Stubberud var nok den korrekte adressen), mens faren Peder Olsen oppholdt seg i Amerika. Så selv om Inga Ovidia var født på Lysakereie i Nedre Eiker, var det Stubberud hun hadde et forhold til og som hun brukte som navn. Det står en del om familien i bygdeboken for Sande på s. 290 og fremover. Der man man også lese om de nære slektsforbindelsene til folkene på gården Bonden, deriblant «mellom Bonden». Noen av disse Bonden-folka havnet i Sandefjord og Sandar, og en av etterkommerne var en god venn av min farfar, Arne Hoelseth (1916–2007). En annen etterkommer er i vennekretsen til min kone og meg, og er altså i slekt med Sødem. Selv om jeg visste at Bonden-slekten var fra Sande opprinnelig var ikke dette en slektsforbindelse jeg hadde tenkt på.

Leser man mer om Stubberud-slekten, finner man også at Inga Ovidia hadde en kusine ved navn Olava Diderikke Stubberud (1876–1962), og hun har jeg faktisk vært borti før, ettersom hun i 1909 fikk sønnen Henry Odvar med Henry Conrad Rosenbaum (1878–1949). Dog med et visst forbehold, da fødselsregistreringen til Henry Odvar ennå ikke er funnet. Men det kan ikke ha vært noen annen kandidat med tanke på navn m.m. Henry Conrads tre sønner født i ekteskapet med Harriet (1881–1965) tok i januar 1939 slektsnavnet Rogg, og jeg omtalte navnebevillingen og slektskretsen i artiklene «Brødrene Rosenbaum som tok slektsnavnet Rogg» og «Mer om Rosenbaum og Rogg» i hhv. Genealogen nr. 1 og 2, 2017. Olava Diderikke ble nærmere bestemt omtalt på side 54 i nr. 1 og s. 49–50 i nr. 2.

Og hvor kommer så bonusen inn? Jo, i 2017 forsøkte jeg altså å finne Henry Odvars dåp ved å gjennomgå alle dåpsprotokollene for Kristiania i 1909 og 1910. Jeg fant ham aldri, men i stedet dukket min oldefar Oscar Marthin Hoelseth (1884–1954) opp som far til en gutt født utenfor ekteskap i 1910. Dette var 4 år før Oscar giftet seg med oldemor Astrid Mathea Strand (1893–1973). «Sjokket» skyldtes selvsagt ikke det utenomekteskapelige forholdet, men selve funnet. Ingen i familien min hadde hørt noe om denne gutten før! Han brukte morens pikenavn som etternavn, noe som forklarer at han ikke har dukket opp i søk på Hoelseth-navnet. Ettersom han var født i 1910 noen år før utenomekteskapelige barn fikk arverett, dukket han heller ikke opp i skiftet etter Oscar. Jeg har selvsagt brukt mye tid på å forske på gutten – som altså var min grandonkel – og etterslekten hans. Dette vil jeg selvsagt gi mer detaljer om når jeg en eller annen gang får skrevet en artikkel om Hoelseth-slekten. Men ville jeg noen gang ha gjort dette funnet hvis det ikke hadde vært for min interesse for slektsnavn og navnebevillinger i særdeleshet? Man skal ha litt flaks i slektsforskningen! Og som sagt, når man legger ned så mye tid og krefter på å forske på egne og andres slekter så fortjener man en bonus en gang i blant!

6 June 2020

Genealogen nr. 1, 2020

Jeg fant siste utgave av Genealogen – nr. 1, 2020 – i postkassen min da jeg kom hjem fra en langhelgstur for et par uker siden. Jeg la inn henvisninger til diverse artikler i Slektshistoriewiki kort etter, men først nå er jeg ferdig med å lese medlemsbladet i sin helhet. Tradisjonen tro gir jeg en kort presentasjon av innholdet på bloggen min og gir samtidig noen få kommentarer.

Først må jeg si at det var et velvalgt bilde på forsiden. Selveste Anita Skorgan og Jahn Teigen under den norske finalen i Melodi Grand Prix i 1986. Artistene medvirket i pausen det året med et utdrag av rockeoperaen «Boheme 86». Forsidebildet røper også at en av artiklene omhandler Jahn Teigens slektsbakgrunn.

Så over til innholdsfortegnelsen!
  • Janne Tylvad: Sorenskriver Gert Heibergs danske hustru Sophie Christensdtr Holbek, s. 4–12.
  • Ivar Leveraas: En gullsmedfamilie i Trondhjem Søren Joensen og hans sønner og svigersønner, s. 13–23.
  • Are S. Gustavsen: Jahn Teigen (1949–2020), familien i Tønsberg og øvrig slektsbakgrunn – en uautorisert artikkel, s. 24–36
  • Finn Roaas: Hvordan var forholdene på farfars arbeidsplass? Del 1, s. 37–49
Deretter følger foreningsstoff – Generalogen er tross alt medlemsbladet til Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening, så det hører selvsagt med:
  • Slektsforskerkonferansen 2021, med program og presentasjon av foredragsholdere, s. 50–53
  • Årsberetning for Norsk Slektshistorisk Forening 2019, med årsregnskap og revisjonsberetning, s. 54–58
Etter foreningsstoffet følger så Lars Løbergs anmeldelser av Øystein Mortens bok Jakten på Olav Tryggvason og Roar Vingelsgaards Uforglemmelige søster – ei minnebok (om søstrene Haavi i Trysil som havnet på hver sin side av Atlanteren). Avslutningsvis finner vi nettredaktør David Widerberg Howdens presentasjon av nettsiden genealogi.no, med informasjon om antall nyhetssaker i 2019 og sidene med flest treff. Antallet nyhetsartikler – 20 – i løpet av et år, burde nok vært større. Nettredaktøren har fokusert på utviklingen av selve nettsiden, deriblant overgangen til https og republiseringer pga. overgang fra flash til html5 og overføringer fra old.genealogi.no. Det hadde nok vært en fordel om nettredaksjonen ble utvidet, og det er blant annet noe som tas opp i artikkelen «Frivillige ønskes til NSF!» Foreningen ønsker frivillige til roller som biblioteksverter, tilretteleggere av materiale, publiseringshjelp (nettsiden), markedsføring og korrekturlesere og bidragsytere til våre tidsskrifter. Jeg var også en del av nettredaksjonen frem til siste store omlegging av nettsiden og kunne sikkert bidratt, men det er kanskje best å fokusere arbeidet med Slektshistoriewiki.

Genealogen nr. 1, 2020 er det første heftet på over 10 år som jeg ikke har vært befattet med, bortsett fra forhåndslesingen av Janne Tylvads artikkel, verken med egne artikler eller korrektur. For å ta det siste først, så står jeg oppført som korrekturleser også i dette heftet, men det er altså ikke riktig. Den enkle og kortfattede årsaken til dette er at jeg aldri ble spurt, men det har nok sammenheng med at jeg i en annen sammenheng tidligere i våres meddelte redaktøren at det ble mindre tid til wikiarbeid etc. så lenge jobben var i kriseberedskap under pandemien. Som redaksjonskonsulent og fungerende redaktør i Norsk Lovtidend måtte jeg jobbe tidlig og sent, ofte også i helger, for å få kunngjort alle de korona-relaterte lovene og forskriftene, og det ble vanskelig å planlegge andre sysler, fordi jeg plutselig måtte legge alt annet til siden for ta meg av en kunngjøring og fordi alt overtidsarbeidet ga meg lite overskudd til fritidssysler. Situasjonen på jobben har heldigvis blitt noe bedre etter påske, og jeg regner med at jeg kan stille som korrekturleser igjen hvis det er behov for min hjelp. Men som jeg også har sagt tidligere så håper jeg på flere korrekturlesere, da det er lurt med flere øyne. Man legger gjerne merke til forskjellige ting. Jeg har lang erfaring som korrekturleser både i Lovtidend-redaksjonen og for Genealogen og Norsk Slektshistorisk Tidsskrift, men man får jo aldri med seg alt. Inntrykket av herværende utgave er at det nok er noe smårusk her og der som jeg ville ha grepet fatt i, men det er på ingen måte feil som ødelegger for leseopplevelsen.

Når det gjelder andre bidrag til Genealogen, så luftet jeg en artikkelidé overfor redaktøren under Genea-LAN i januar, men ideen ble aldri konkretisert, og når man nå vet hvordan denne våren ble, så var det nok like greit at jeg ikke satte i gang med et nytt prosjekt. Nå skal jeg jo heller ikke ha noe klippekort på bidrag i Genealogen. Jeg håper å få noe på trykk igjen når jeg har kommet lenger i et av mine mange pågående prosjekter. Det var for øvrig to debutanter i dette nummeret, og det er positivt!

Den ene debutanten, Janne Tylvad, har som tittelen antyder skrevet om sorenskriver Gert Heibergs danske hustru Sophie Christensdatter Holbek og med dette korrigert G.F. Heibergs påstand i Slægten 
Heiberg fra 1907 om at Gert Heibergs hustru var en Sophie Christensdatter Rønne. Denne feilen har spredt seg som et slektsvirus idet altfor mange har tatt påstanden for god fisk og kopiert den inn i sine egne slektsoversikter på nettet. Så spørs det da om slektsforskere vil fange opp korreksjonen, eller om slektsviruset vil spre seg videre. Utgangspunktet for artikkelen var for øvrig et innlegg i Digitalarkivets brukerforum, og jeg var rask med å anbefale Tylvad om å behandle funnene hennes i form av en artikkel for Genealogen.

Første gang jeg var på en popkonsert var i 1983, og da var det selveste Jahn Teigen som stod på scenen på Kariåsen i min hjemby Sandefjord. Jeg har fulgt hans karriere siden slutten av 70-tallet og spiller fortsatt låtene hans. Som mangeårig Teigen-fan overrasker det vel ingen at jeg opplever slektsartikkelen om Teigen som selveste «rosinen i pølsa» i denne utgaven. På forbilledligvis tar Gustavsen for seg Teigens aner og nærmeste slektskrets og diskuterer motstridende kilder og spesielt fraværet av verifiserbare primærkilde i enkelte oversikter på Geni og MyHeritage. Tre slektstavler/-oversikter får vi også, og artikkelen er rikt illustrert. Det eneste jeg stiller spørsmålstegn ved er påstanden om at det sammen med Jahn Teigens datter er «disse fire søskenbarna de eneste bærere av slektsnavnet Teigen som er etterkommere etter skomakermester og bankbud Haakon Hjalmar Hansen fra Teigen under Horgen i Slagen [...].» Når man sammenholder avissøk i Nettbiblioteket (NB.no) med 1881.no ser det da ut til at de to døtrene til Jahn Teigens bror Viggos yngste sønn begge bruker Teigen-navnet. Med alle mulige forbehold siden ikke alle kildene er «blodferske» og at det er fare for en sammenblanding fordi det er medlemmer av ulike Teigen-slekter med samme navn.. Gustavsen nevner ellers ikke så langt jeg kan se at Jahn opprinnelig het Jan – det er da en relevant opplysning? – og at Jahn er et kunstnernavn. Om stavingen Jahn ble folkeregistert etter hvert vet jeg ikke. «En uautorisert artikkel» står det i artikkeloverskriften. Artikkelen er altså skrevet uten den nærmeste familiens velsignelse. Men det har vel artikkelen felles med de fleste andre slektsartiklene i Genealogen, og synes kanskje noe overflødig? Jeg håper uansett at det kan gjøres mer forskning på Teigens slekt og at mer dokumentasjon kommer på plass. 

Slektsforskerkonferansen 2021, som ble utsatt på grunn av koronapandemien, virker spennende, og jeg burde vel melde meg på for konferansedelen avholdt lørdag og søndag 30.–31. januar.* Det er et bra tiltak styret har satt i gang! Det eneste forbeholdet er at jeg egentlig hadde tenkt å reise til USA den helgen i forkant av RootsTech i Salt Lake City 3. til 6. februar 2021. Nå vet jeg ikke om denne konferansen faktisk vil gå av stabelen som planlagt. Jeg droppet å reise på årets RootsTech fordi det var så kort tid etter RootsTech i London i oktober 2019, og fordi jeg hadde planlagt en større reise til Canada og Mexico sommeren 2020, og to transatlantiske turer samme år ble litt voldsomt. Det er godt mulig at det blir tur til Canada og Mexico i sommeen 2021 i stedet, og da er det kanskje mer fornuftig økonomisk sett å dra på norsk slektsforskerkonferanse i januar 2021 og ta turen til Salt Lake City vinteren 2022 i stedet?

Foreningsstoffet bærer for øvrig bud om endringer i NSFs ledelse. Valgkomiteen har nemlig innstilt Grete Singstad Paulsen som ny formann etter Rune Nedrud, som har sittet i sjefsstolen siden 2009. Styremedlemmene velges for to år av gangen, og Nedrud er derfor innstilt til å erstatte det siste året av Paulsens periode som styremedlem. Det er sunt med et lederskifte etter så mange år, men det blir jo fortsatt kontinuitet i styret hvis valgkomiteens innstilling blir bifalt av årsmøtet. For øvrig litt morsomt at det står «leder» i innstillingen og ikke det vedtektsfestede «formann». To ganger de siste årene har det vært forsøkt å endre tittelen fra «formann» til «leder», men forslagene har ikke fått tilstrekkelig støtte. Med andre ord blir Paulsen etter alt å dømme foreningens første kvinnelige formann, ikke leder. Noe annet som morer meg en smule er at jeg i årsberetningen nok en gang er blitt benevnt redaktør av Slektshistoriewiki og ikke administrator, som jeg jo faktisk er. Det er en (liten) feil som har vært gjentatt i mange årsberetninger på rad nå, og tatt opp på årsmøtet nesten like mange ganger. Ingen stor sak, men styret har altså ikke gjort noe vedtak om at Slektshistoriewiki skal ledes av en redaktør. Så i praksis er det foreningens formann som fungerer som redaktør, selv om jeg har hatt hovedansvaret for det meste i wikien i mange år. Om det er behov for en redaktør er et annet spørsmål. Viktigere er at wikien får flere aktivie bidragsytere. Jeg ser gjerne at det blir flere aktive administratorer også slik at det blir mer fremdrift i utviklingen av diverse prosjekter, hjelpesider etc. 

For øvrig er det svært positivt at økonomien er på rett vei der fjorårets underskudd på 203 0000 er snudd til et overskudd på 95 000, en resultatforbedring på nesten 300 000. Styret har gjort en utmerket jobb her, og resultatet viser vel at det var en riktig beslutning å flytte foreningens lokaler med kontor og bibliotek fra Oslo sentrum til Røykås i Lørenskog rett ved bygrensen. Lørdagstreffene har da også hatt flere besøkende enn de hadde i Oslo. For øvrig avholdes årsmøtet i NSF vanligvis i mai, men på grunn av pandemien ble det utsatt til tirsdag 18. august. Jeg håper så mange medlemmer som mulig tar veien til Lørenskog den dagen!

Short English summary: The article covers the latest issue of Genealogen, the bi-annual newsletter of the Norwegian Genealogical Society. I present the contents and comments on some of the articles and on events in the society.

* Rettelse (Correction): I Genealogen var datoene for Slektsforskerkonferansen 2021 oppgitt å være 30.–31. januar, det er nå rettet til 6.–7. februar 2021.

Updated last time on Monday 15 June 2020 at 10 p.m. (correction added).

10 May 2020

HRH Prince Charles Jean Philippe Joseph Marie Guillaume of Luxembourg

The Grand Ducal Court announced this morning the birth of Prince Charles, the firstborn child of Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie:
THE MARSHALL OF THE COURT COMMUNICATES

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess are delighted to announce the birth of their son at the Maternité Grande-Duchesse Charlotte in Luxembourg on Sunday May 10 2020 at 5:13.

He will be called Charles Jean Philippe Joseph Marie Guillaume.

The child weighs 3,190 kg and is 50 cm.

The Crown Princess and her child are both doing well.

The Crown Prince and the Crown Princess look forward to introducing him to the people of Luxembourg.
The pregnancy was announced on 6 December 2019. Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume married the then Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy in 2012. Prince Charles is no. 2 in the line of succession to the Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg.

30 April 2020

Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 1, 2020

I received the latest issue of the Royalty Digest Quarterly about 6 weeks ago. I had intended both to read it and write about it some time in March, but so many things have happened in the meantime. First of all, the corona pandemic has lead to long hours at work. As the acting editor of the Norwegian Leagal Gazette, I have naturally been very much involved in the publishing of all the laws and regulations related to the pandemic. I usually do most of my reading on the subway on my way to the office and home again, but taking the subway in these times is not the best idea, so I have taken the car instead (I have done work from home as well, but it is more practical to work in the office). Most of my sparetime the last weeks have been spent with my family. And when I have got some time on my own I have worked on various genealogy projects instead of blogging.

But here we go again! It's on time! In his Editor's Corner Ted Rosvall gives some historical examples of «royal bolting» following the Duke and Duchess of Sussex' decision to step back as senior members of the British royal family. I agree with Rosvall's views on the subject: «Far be it from this magazine to pass judgement over the couple's singular decision other than to give them a reprimand over how it was done, surprising the Queen and the Crown with a fait accompli via social media, rather than discussing the matter calmly and sensibly before advertising it to the whole world». As I commented myself back in January: «It seems to have become an established fact that the Sussexes didn't respect the Queen's request that they waited with making their decision public. It certainly showed poor judgment and disrespect to the Queen and other members of the family if that was the case. There might have been good reasons for making the decision public prematurely, but I can well understand the criticism on this point.»

The illustration on the cover is of King Felipe V of Spain and his family. The magazine's historical consultant, Charlotte Zeepvat, has again returned with A Family Album where the focus is on The Royal House of Spain, with the subtitle 1: From Habsburg to Borbón. Besides the introduction the readers can enjoy as many as 99 illustrations and 5 pages with genealogical tables.

The first article of this issue, however, is written by another returning contributor, Lucas Szkopinski, who has brought us back in history to The Iturbides – a forgotten dynasty. It is not so often you read about the Iturbides these days, and it has been a while since last time I read about them. It is a great article with many nice illustrations. The booklet I have about the dynasty – The Imperial House of Mexico. The House of Iturbide by Charles Mikos de Tarrodhaza, Teodora Amerlinck y Zirion and David Williamson – is packed with text, but has few illustrations. I note that the booklet is used as a source for the article, but the author has used other sources as well. The only objection I have this time is that I feel the article was too short on Augustín Iturbide's climb to the top. Granted that he was from a noble family and a had made a career in the army, but how did he end up becoming involvd in the Plan of Iguala etc.? Concerning the illustrations, among them photos of the Iturbide family vault in Philadelphia, it is still one of my regrets that I didn't visit the cemetery during my visit to Philadelphia in 1999. I knew about the family grave, and I think I even passed the cemetery, but I missed the connection during my visit. I have to go to Philadelphia again! And Mexico too! My third visit was planned for this summer, but obviously I will have to stay in Norway instead.

As I have written many times before, I always like reading articles about royal connections (court and staff members, friends etc.) and not only about the royals themselves. Elizabeth Jane Timms has written an interesting piece about the German-born Mrs. Louisa Louis (1771–1838), once a member of the household of Princess Xharlotte, daughter of the Prince Regent and later King George IV, but who also became close to Queen Victoria.

The next one out is The Six Stunning Infantas – Part II. The unexpexted fortune of the daughters of exiled King Miguel I of Portugal by Datiu Salvia Ocaña. The second part covers the Infantas María José and Adelgundes, and I suppose the last two daughters will be covered in the third and last part of this article. I learn so much new from reading this article series and look forward to the last chapter, in which the notes will also be included.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt made friends with many royals, including Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. Edward W. Hanson has, however, chosen another subject, the president's meetings and correspondence with Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg in the article "Dear Lottie". The Grand Ducal Famkily of Luxembourg and President Roosevelt.

Michael L. Nash then gives a nice portrait of The Duke of Sussex and his wives - Prince Augustus Frederick, one of eight sons of King George III and Queen Charlotte.

I have from time to time discussed how «little-known» the royals treated in the article series Little-Known Royals really are. It will of course depend much on how knowledgable the readers are. The average subscriber to Royalty Digest Quarterly certainly know a thing or two about royal history. But I would say that Princess Eudoxia of Bulgaria fits the bill. She certainly is not among the best-known royals, to turn it around! Coryne Hall has given the readers more insight in the subject. I wonder, however, if one had mastered the Bulgarian language and had got access to Bulgarian archives – and German archives following her exile – if one would have found enough material to write a book about her? Are any Bulgarian historians these days interested in the history of the former royal family? Yes, there are books on the subject in English, French and surely also German, but I am doubt that most of the authors of foreign-language biographies etc. on the subject have had access to Bulgarian primary sources and the ability to read Bulgarian.

And finally, but not least, The World Wide Web of Royalty, which brings genealogical news of the Imperial, Royal and Princely houses of Europe. This time we get news from and about Hesse, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

If you are not a subscriber yet, get your act together! You will not regret it! 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.

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.

17 January 2020

UK: Intense days

It has been intense days for everyone involved – members of the British royal family and court, the media and the royalty-watching community – since the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced last week that they wished to «step back as senior members of the Royal Family».

Members of the royal family – the Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex – met on Monday this week to continue the discussions on finding solutions on how the more independent life for the Sussexes will look like. After the meeting the Royal Communications issued the following statement on behalf of Queen Elizabeth:

STATEMENT FROM HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN

Today my family had very constructive discussions on the future of my grandson and his family.

My family and I are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family. Although we would have preferred them to remain full-time working Members of the Royal Family, we respect and understand their wish to live a more independent life as a family while remaining a valued part of my family.

Harry and Meghan have made clear that they do not want to be reliant on public funds in their new lives.

It has therefore been agreed that there will be a period of transition in which the Sussexes will spend time in Canada and the UK.

These are complex matters for my family to resolve, and there is some more work to be done, but I have asked for final decisions to be reached in the coming days.
I have waited a bit before commenting on the developments. It has been many other events to write about since «the independence statement» was released, and I also thought it was a good idea to wait for more details. There was no reason to get carried away. As so often every newspaper claim to have sources close to the couple and to the other family members, and too many people seem to accept their stories as facts, especially if they fit their own views, and even if some of the stories seems very far out.

The media coverage and the discussions in the social media have been very intense and heated, and the Sussexes have received a lot of criticism, especially the Duchess, who has been labelled as the main villain. It seems to have become an established fact that the Sussexes didn't respect the Queen's request that they waited with making their decision public. It certainly showed poor judgment and disrespect to the Queen and other members of the family if that was the case. There might have been good reasons for making the decision public prematurely, but I can well understand the criticism on this point. I acknowledge how delicate the situation is, but I still feel the reactions to their decision to step back as senior members are far out of proportions. Allegations of «betrayal» etc. are really uncalled for. I also find many critical comments, especially in the social media, to be very one-sided.

I think Crown Prince Haakon of Norway put it so well when he earlier this week commented on «the Sussex drama»: – I think that everyone should «breathe with their stomach». And surely the will find good solutions.

Yes, I am personally both sad and disappointed about their decision. I think the Duke of Sussex has a great way of interacting and communicating with the public, and the Duchess and the Sussexes as a joint couple have made more than a promising start, even if there have been a few bumps in the way. One could of course have wished they waited this out a bit and that they would have overcome the challenges eventually. They clearly see it differently. And here we come to the very core: It is their life. They cannot be forced to live a life they are not happy about. In the end nothing would come out good for either parties – the royal family, the Sussexes and public. Yes, they live privileged lives, but they pay a high price for it, and they have found it to be too high and have decided for a different path.

Clearly there are complex issues to solve, and there are still many unanswered questions – about money, titles (which shouldn't be commercialised) and what kind of role they will play in the British society and abroad. Hopefully good solutions will be found.

The biggest question in my opinion is how the current and future senior members of the royal family will play their roles and how they will meet all the expectations. Most people had expected that the Sussexes would assist the Queen and her successors at least until the Cambridge kids were old enough to make engagements on their own. The number of working royals will in the future be lower, not only for natural reasons, but also because of the alleged decision to slim it down actively. How is this going to play out? The reduced number has to mean that the royal family cannot meet all the expectations and demands as today. Some changes are unavoidable, and the royals have to find their own way just like previous generations. I just hope that my reservations and feelings of uincertainty will prove me wrong.

Finally: Some people have wondered if it is now the time for the York princesses – despite the decisions of the Way Ahead Group that they should not be working royals – «to step up» to fill the gaps. But why would they wish to give up their rather independent lives now after so many years on the sideline?

15 January 2020

Norway: King Harald discharged from hospital

The Norwegian Royal Court released a short press statement earlier today informing that the king had been discharged from hospital, but that he was still on sick leave. King Harald was hospitalized on Wednesday last week after feeling dizzy and unwell. According to the court no serious illness has been found.

14 January 2020

Ari Behn's urn to be interred at Our Saviour's Cemetery in Oslo


Grave of Thomas Konow (1796–1881), member of the Constituent Assembly at Eidsvoll in 1814, is buried at Our Saviour's Cemetery in Oslo. Photo: © 2016 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

Geir Håkonsund, who was the author and artist Ari Behn's manager and who has served as the family's spokesperson following Behn's death, informed yesterday that it has been the family's wish that the urn will be interred at Our Saviour's Cemetery (Vår Frelsers gravlund) in Oslo. The family didn't want to reveal the date of interment.

I can well understand that Behn's family wishes to keep the date to themselves, especially if the family wants a private ceremony in connection with the interment. Following Behn's tragic death, the family has shown a remarkable openness, so their wish to keep something private should be respected. The disclosure of the place of interment for a former member of the royal family could be described to be in the public interest to some extent. Unless the urn will be interred in an unnamed grave – something I doubt will happen in this regard – the information will appear in the public cemetery register after the interment. Usually when people die during winter time in Norway, the remains, if cremated, will be interred after the frost has gone out of the ground. Even if the winter has been quite mild so far, I suppose there will be a waiting period before the interment takes place. We will know in due time.

Our Saviour's Cemetery is perhaps the most famous cemetery in Norway and is often described as the «Père Laichaise» of Norway, the place where all the famous people are buried. The cemetery includes Æreslunden, the honorary burial ground, which has many notable interments – for instance the artist Edvard Munch and the authors Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson. Outside the honorary burial section there are also many other graves of historical interest. Even an ancestor of Hereditary Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein is bured in the cemetery. In general Our Saviour's Cemetery was the place to be buried for the upper-class and bourgeois, and there are many grand tombstones to see there. But there are many graves with «less-known» people interred there too. A great aunt and uncle of my wife are buried in Our Saviour's Cemetery as well, mainly because they used to live nearby.

The cemetery was opened in 1808 and was closed to new burials in 1911, the honorary section excepted. After 1911 one could only be buried at the cemetery if the lease of a grave had expired. According to the cemetery website as well as the booklet Her hviler ... Kjente personer på kirkegårdene i Oslo sentrum (by Øyvind Haaland, 1999) the practice of reusing graves after the lease had expired was stopped between 1952 and 2014. I am not sure if this description is entirely accurate, as there were many people interred in «expired graves» in that period, including my wife's relatives. Anyway, nowadays the cemetery allows urn interments in graves which lease has expired.

According to the website the cemetery has more than 4500 tombstones which are considered to be worth preserving and which cannot be removed after the lease of the grave has expired. In order to keep the cemetery's historical appearance it is not allowed to set up headstones with modern design. But one can reuse a grave including the old headstone and get the old inscription replaced by a new one.*

Earlier in January I wrote that «it is quite possible that the urn will be interred at Lommedalen Cemetery in Bærum», given that he resided in Bærum at the time of his death and given that his daughters still live there. No information was disclosed about interment was disclosed at the time. I can, however, well understand the choice of Our Saviour's Cemetery in Oslo. Not only because of the cemetery's historical value, but also for practical reasons. It will among others be easier for Ari's family in the Moss area to visit the cemetery, which is close to downtown Oslo, than to travel to Lommedalen in Bærum.

My earlier blog articles about Our Saviour's Cemetery in Oslo can be found here. More articles will follow later.

* Postscript 15 January 2020: I have to make an additional remark here. According to the Cemetery Administration in Oslo's annual report 2018, when the lease of a grave at Our Saviour's Cemetery has expired and is being reused, the headstone will be taken from an expired lease at another cemetery in Oslo. According to an e-mail from the cemetery administration today, there is an ethical explanation for this – former lease holders should not be exposed to recognizing the headstone which is being used.

Postscript 25 April 2020: Due to the corona virus situation all urn interments where the bereaved wishes to have a ceremony have been postponed indefinitely. According to Se og Hør no. 17/2020, the cemetery administration has confirmed that Ari Behn's urn will be interred in section 20.

Updated on 15 January 2020 (postscript added), last time on 25 Apri 2020 (postscript added).

Norway: King Harald still in hospital, expected to be discharged this week

King Harald of Norway, who was admitted to hospital last Wednesday for dizziness, is still in hospital, but is expected to be discharged this week. In a NTB interview published in Aftenposten on early Sunday evening, the Royal Court's head of communication, Guri Varpe, said that there were no changes since Friday, when the king's health was said to be improving. The head of communication told NTB that the Palace would release a statement when he was discharged.

When Crown Prince Haakon, who has been serving as Regent since his father was admitted to hospital, met the press in connection with his visit to the Norwegian Refugee Council's main office in Oslo on Monday, he said that the king was recovering and that they expeted that he would be home from hospital during the week. He added that his father was «quite well» considering the circumstances. – He was feeling dizzy and unwell, that was the reason why he was admitted to the hospital in the first place. There his health will be continually reviewed.

11 January 2020

The Sultan of Oman has died, Longest reigns website updated

The late Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Sa’id bin Taimur al-Mu’azzam. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur al-Muazzam, died late on 10 January 2020, 79 years old, after having suffered from cancer for some time. Sultan Qaboos came to power in a bloodless coup in 1970 when his father was deposed with the assistance of the United Kingdom.

Qaboos was born at the Al-Husn Palace in Salalah on 18 November 1940 as the only son of Sultan Said bin Taimur al-Muazzam, by his second wife, Shaikha Miyzun bint Ahmad al-Qahtani al-Maashani. He was educated among others at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and briefly served in the British army before returning to Oman in 1966. He ruled as an absolute monarch, and he served as both head of state as well as prime minister, supreme commander of the armed forces, minister of defence, minister of finance and minister of foreign affairs. Under his nearly 50 year long reign the country was modernized and the living standards raised, with a lot of help of oil money. He was said to be a stabilizing force in region. In 1996 the Basic Statute of the State of Oman was promulgated.

The late sultan was briefly married from 1976 to 1979 to Sayyida Nawal bint Tariq Al-Said. As the marriage was childless, the question of succession was left to be decided by the Royal Family Council. Article 5 of the Basic Statute says that «The system of governance is Sultani [i.e. Royal], hereditary in the male descendants of Sayyid Turki bin Said bin Sultan, provided that whomever is to be chosen from amongst them as successor shall be a Muslim, mature, rational and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents.» The following article said that «The Royal Family Council shall, within three days of the throne falling vacant, determine the successor to the throne. If the Royal Family Council does not agree on a choice of a Sultan for the Country, the Defence Council together with the Chairman of Majlis Al Dawla Dawla [State Council], the Chairman of Majlis Al Shura Shura [Shura Council], and the Chairman of the Supreme Court along with two of his most senior deputies, shall instate the person designated by His Majesty the Sultan in his letter to the Royal Family Council».

Early on 11 January 2020 the Royal Family Council decided to open the sealed envelope in which Sultan Qaboos had left his choice, instead of entering proceedings to elect the successor in accordance with Article 6. The opening of the envelope was broadcast on Omani TV. Qaboos' designated heir was his first cousin Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq bin Taimur al-Muazzam, who has served as Minister of Heritage and Culture for 18 years. Soon after the election the new Sultan took the oath in accordance with the Basic Statute Article 7. Sultan Haitham, who is born in 1954 and has been educated at Oxford, said in a TV speech that he «pledged to continue his predecessor's policies of friendly relations with all nations while further developing the country». Sultan Haitham is married and has four children.

The funeral of Sultan Qaboos took place soon after the installation of the new Sultan. Qaboos was laid to rest at the Royal Cemetery  (Times of Oman says the cemetery is in Baushar, while The Oman Observer writes Ghala). The funeral was attended by Sultan Haitham, other members of the royal family as well as military leaders, members of the State Council and members of the Shura Council.

Due to the death of Sultan Qaboos, who at the time was no. 3 on the list of longest reigns among the current monarchs, my website has been updated. The new sultan has naturally been placed on the bottom, while Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has taken over the no. 3 spot.

(I note that while most sources use Al Said as the house name of the royal family of Oman, Royal Ark write al-Muazzam. In this blog article I have followed Royal Ark, but I might not be consistent about it in the future. I am indepted to Christopher Buyers' Royal Ark for information on the Omani royal family.)

Postscript 12 January 2020: Concerning the location of the royal cemetery, follow the link to the Google map. The royal cemetery seems to be in the Ghala village, but not far from Bawshar/Bawshar Heights. Another interesting aspect is of course the transcription of Arabic into the Latin alphabet. I have seen both Bausher and Baushar as well as Ghallah. For whatever it is worth, the English version of Wikipedia uses Ghallah and Bawshar.

Updated last time on 12 January 2020 at 13.40 (postscript added).