28 February 2022

Norway: King Harald breaks off his vacation

The Royal Court has informed the newspaper Dagbladet that King Harald and Queen Sonja have decided to break off their vacation abroad and return home to Norway earlier than planned. The reason for their decision is the war in Ukraine.

The list of official engagements has already been updated and states that the King will grant the prime minister an audience on Friday morning 4 March 2022 and will also preside over the Council of State at 11 a.m. The Criown Prince will be attending both events. Originally Crown Prince Haakon was meant to serve as Regent for the whole week during the King's absence.

26 February 2022

Norway: Crown Prince Haakon back in business

As reported 2 days ago Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit returned home from their vacation abroad a bit earlier than planned on Friday 25 February so that the Crown Prince could take up the role as Regent. No ordinary Council of State was planned for Friday –in week 8 there is a winter break in Oslo and some other counties and it is seldom that a Council of State takes place that week  but I speculated that an extraordinary meeting was going to take place in order to decide on sanctions on the Russian Federation following their invasion of Ukraine. No such Council of State has taken place yet. Next council is scheduled for Friday 4 March.

It could very well be, as for instance fellow historian Oscar Aanmoen has suggested, that the Crown Prince returned home earlier  to «take care of the royal house's duties in the event of an escalation». Following the Crown Prince's return, the program of official engagements was changed and today the Crown Prince Regent granted Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre an audience at 9.30 a.m. I am sure that the war in Ukraine was the main topic during the conversation.

Crown Prince Haakon will as planned serve as Regent the whole of next week due to the king's stay abroad.  

24 February 2022

Norwegian Crown Prince couple returns to Norway earlier than planned due to the war in Ukraine

VG (NRK) reports that the Crown Prince and Crown Prince of Norway have decided to break off their vacation and return home due to Russia's attack on Ukraine so that the Crown Prince can take up the role as Regent.

The Crown Prince couple will arrive in Norway on Friday. Prior to the decision to return home, the Crown Prince as Regent had several engagements planned for Monday 28 February and Thursday 3 March and is going to preside over the Council of State on Friday 4 March. Due to the winter break no Council of State was going to take place this Friday (25 February), but this might change if Norway is going to decide on economic sanctions against Russia. Alternatively an extraordinary Council of State could take place early next week. Time will show.

The whole royal family has been on vacation abroad this week in order to celebrate King Harald's 85th birthday. No details have been given, but I suspect that the Crown Prince family originally had planned to return home on Sunday. The king and queen will stay abroad for yet another week.

According to the Constitution of Norway article 41, when both the King and «the person next entitled to succeed to the throne», i,e, the Crown Prince, are abroad or incapacitated due to illness, «the Council of State [i.e. the Government] will conduct the administration of the realm». This is why the Norwegian state flag has been flying from the roof of the Royal Palace this week. In other words, some time tomorrow the Crown Prince flag will be hoisted at the Palace.

23 February 2022

Luxembourg: Prince Louis and Scarlett-Lauren Sirgue go separate ways

The Grand-Ducal Court of Lusxembourg announced today that the engagement between Prince Louis, the third son of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa, has been broken:

Communiqué: Séparation du Prince Louis avec Mme Scarlett-Lauren Sirgue

"Nous avons décidé de ne pas continuer notre relation amoureuse, tout en restant profondément attachés par l’amitié et la tendresse."

Par ces mots, le Prince Louis et Madame Scarlett-Lauren Sirgue ont fait part de leur volonté de mettre un terme à leurs fiançailles.

"En réfléchissant, ensemble, sur l’engagement que nous souhaitions prendre, nous avons fini par admettre que nous avons des visions qui divergent trop. "

Le Grand-Duc et la Grande-Duchesse saluent la maturité de cette décision.

In short, the couple have decided not to continue their romantic relationship, but remain «deeply attached by friendship and tenderness». According to the statement, differences of vision (opinion) led to the decision to split. The news of the broken engagement was first carried by the magazine Point de Vue yesterday.

The engagement was announced on 6 April 2021. Although no wedding date had been announced the wedding was expected to take place this year.

Prince Louis was previously married to Tessy Antony, by whom he has two children, Prince Gabriel (b. 2006) and Prince Noah of Nassau (b. 2007). Tessy married the Swiss business man Frank Floessel on 23 July 2021 and their son Theodor was born on 26 August 2021.

12 February 2022

Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 4, 2021

I received the latest issue of Royalty Digest Quarterly – no. 4, 2021 – about a month ago, so obviously it is on time to write a few words. The red color of the front cover seems darker in print than in the photo published at the RDQ Facebook group. The image is of the Swedish Royal Family in 1905, showing (standing) Prince Eugén, Prince Oscar and Princess Ebba Bernadotte, Prince Wilhelm, Princess Margaretha, Prince Gustaf (VI) Adolf,  Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Erik, Crown Prince Gustaf (V) and Prince Carl and in front (sitting) Princess Therese,  Queen Sophie, King Oscar II and Princess Ingeborg with her daughters Princess Märtha and Princess Margaretha. The front cover image tells the readers that Sweden is the topic of the traditional Family Album, this time written by the editor Ted Rosvall himself instead of the magazine's historical consultant Charlottge Zeepvat. As always the readers are treated with a short introduction in addition to a large selection of images of royals and palaces as well as genealogical tables. Rosvall has already mentioned a few mistakes in the genealogical table on page 33. It is a bit ironic that such (minor) mistakes have been made by the world's Bernadotte genealogy expert no. 1, but as they say, it can happen to the best of us!

In his Editor's Corner Ted Rosvall gives a warm thank you note to alle the contributions Charlotte Zeepvat has made to the magazine both as an editorial consultant and as a writer of numerous articles. The way the column is worded one starts to wonder whether this means that Zeepvat has stepped down as historical consultant, but I can't find any explicit mentioning of this.

Datiu Salvia Ocaña has this tine written an interesting piece titled The Demidoffs and the Royals. The Russian noble family has interesting connections to the imperial and royal houses of France-Bonaparte and Serbia-Karadjordjevic. I learn a lot from this article, but there are quite a lot of names, so I wonder if the article would be easier to read with the help of a genealogical survey.

Another interesting article in this issue is The Very Short Reign of Boris I, which gives the story of Boris Skosyrev, who in 1934 proclaimed himself King of Andorra! The author is Michael Nash, who has made numerous contributions to RDQ before.

Charlotte Zeepvat then returns with A Long Chain of Persecutions. Princess Luise Sophie of Schleswig-Holstein and Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia. Part 2: The Children's Story. I commented on the first part in January. As I wrote then, the couple in question is Princess Luise Sophie (1866–1952), the sixth child of Duke Friedrich of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg (1829–1880), by his wife Princess Adelheid of Hohenlohe-Langenburg (1835–1900). Luise Sophie married in 1889 Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia (1865–1931). One of Princess Luise Sophie's brothers-in-law was Emperor Wilhelm II, who caused so much misery in the family. Luise Sophie and Friedrich Leopold had four children –Viktoria Margarete «Agra»  (1890–1923, who married (and later divorced) Prince Heinrich XXXIII Reuss (1879–1942), Friedrich Sigismund (1891-1927),who married Princess Marie Luise of Schaumburg-Lippe (1897–1938), Friedrich Karl (1893–1917) and Friedrich Leopold (1895–1959). Viktoria Margarete and Friedrich Sigismund gave Luise Sophie and Friedrich Leopold four grandchildren. I guess there were great-grandchildren as well, but it might take some time to figure out the number. Many tragedies in this family. And the article is so well written and researched.

Eric Lowe has contributed with the article Elegant Royals  Some favorites from my collection. Lowe has a large collection of photos of royalty and is also a photographer himself. He is also the administrator of the Facebook group Elegant Royals, which has more than 2700 members.

The series Little-Known Royals is continued in this issue as well, and Coryne Hall has this time written about Princess Josephine Caroline of Belgium (18721952), who married Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern(-Sigmaringen) (18681919) in 1894. There were four children in this marriage and many grandchildren. There is an interesting article (no date given) about this family in Deutsches Adelsblatt titled Ein Konzert rettet die Burg.

The column The World Wide Web of Royalty this time gives us genealogical news about the non-royal part of the Bernadotte family, Bourbon-Parma, Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Russia, Schaumburg-Lippe and Schleswig-Holstein (Glücksburg).

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.

Norway: Princess Astrid Mrs. Ferner's 90th birthday

Photo: © 2022 Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen/The Royal Court.

Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner, elder sister of King Harald V of Norway, celebrates her 90th birthday today, 12 February 2022. The big day will according to the court be celebrated privately. 

Princess Astrid was born at Villa Solbakken in Aker (now a part of Oslo municipality) on 12 February 1932 at 4.36 a.m. as the second daughter of the then Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha. Her elder sister Ragnhild was born on 9 June 1930, while her younger brother Harald was born on 21 February 1937. At the time of birth the Crown Prince family lived at the Villa Solbakken residence, which was owned by the Stang family, because the construction of the Skaugum residence was burnt down in 1930. Princess Astrid, whose full name is Astrid Maud Ingeborg, was christened at the Royal Palace Chapel in Oslo on 31 March 1937. She was borne to the baptismal font by Queen Maud. Bishop Johan Lunde performed the ceremony. The sponsors were King Haakon VII, Queen Maud, Prince Carl of Sweden, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden Crown Princess Astrid of Belgium (the Duchess of Brabant, later Queen Astrid of Belgium), the Duchess of York (later Queen Elizabeth), Princess Thyra of Denmark, Prince Eugen of Sweden and Prince George of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (later Duke of Kent). Not all were present, though.

Princess Astrid grew up at Skaugum in Asker and spent 5 years in exile with her mother and siblings during WW2. She graduated from Nissen School for girls (both lower and upper seconary school) in 1950 and later studied economics and political history for two years at Oxford. Later she learnt dressmaking at the Märtha School and cooking at the Lolly Ræstad Housekeeping School. She also followed her interest in handicraft by among others being an apprentice with Halvor Sandø's pottery at Røa in Oslo.

Princess Astrid married 12 January 1961 Johan Martin Ferner (1927-2015), youngest son of Ferner Jacobsen and Ragnhild Olsen. The union met some opposition at the time because Mr. Ferner had been married once before and was a divorcé. Upon marriage she ceased to be a Royal Highness (but is still using the style HH/Highness while abroad) and was referred to as Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner. She also had to give up her appanage. The happy marriage gave five children. As of today she has 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

Princess Astrid served as first lady following the death of Crown Princess Märtha in 1954 and until her brother Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. She still make several official engagements each year and is an active patron of several organisations, being particularly devoted to activities relating to children and adolescents with dyslexia and intellectual/learning disabilities. 

Two major biographies have been published about Princess Astrid:
  • Rosenberg, Brita. Astrid. Prinsesse av Norge, Oslo: Stromboli, 1988. ISBN  8290548265
  • Isaksen, Trond Norén. Kvinne blant konger. En biografi om prinsesse Astrid, Oslo: Damm, 2007. ISBN 9788204136756.
Isaksen published a seven pages long article about Princess Astgrid in the magazine Se og Hør earlier this week and appeared at the TV news channel today to talk about the princess and her anniversary.

6 February 2022

UK: Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee

King George VI (1895-1952). Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-matpc-14736/Wikimedia Commons.

Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: 2015  Joel Rouse (Ministry of Defence), and nagualdesign/Wikimedia Commons.

Today, 6 February 2022, it is 70 years since the death of King George VII of the United Kingdom, a day which naturally also marks the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II.

On the eve of her platinum jubilee, Sandringham House, where the queen is currently residing, issued the following statement:

Tomorrow, 6th February, marks the 70th anniversary of my Accession in 1952. It is a day that, even after 70 years, I still remember as much for the death of my father, King George VI, as for the start of my reign.

As we mark this anniversary, it gives me pleasure to renew to you the pledge I gave in 1947 that my life will always be devoted to your service.

As I look ahead with a sense of hope and optimism to the year of my Platinum Jubilee, I am reminded of how much we can be thankful for. These last seven decades have seen extraordinary progress socially, technologically and culturally that have benefitted us all; and I am confident that the future will offer similar opportunities to us and especially to the younger generations in the United Kingdom and throughout the Commonwealth.

I am fortunate to have the steadfast and loving support of my family. I was blessed that in Prince Philip I had a partner willing to carry out the role of consort and unselfishly make the sacrifices that go with it. It is a role I saw my own mother perform during my father's reign.

This anniversary also affords me a time to reflect on the goodwill shown to me by people of all nationalities, faiths and ages in this country and around the world over these years. I would like to express my thanks to you all for your support. I remain eternally grateful for, and humbled by, the loyalty and affection that you continue to give me. And when, in the fullness of time, my son Charles becomes King, I know you will give him and his wife Camilla the same support that you have given me; and it is my sincere wish that, when that time comes, Camilla will be known as Queen Consort as she continues her own loyal service.

And so as I look forward to continuing to serve you with all my heart, I hope this Jubilee will bring together families and friends, neighbours and communities – after some difficult times for so many of us – in order to enjoy the celebrations and to reflect on the positive developments in our day-to-day lives that have so happily coincided with my reign.

The statement was signed «Your Servant Elizabeth R». Earlier today the Prince of Wales  followed up with his own statement from Clarence House:

On this historic day, my wife and I join you all in congratulating Her Majesty The Queen on the remarkable achievement of serving this nation, the Realms and Commonwealth for seventy years. The Queen's devotion to the welfare of all her people inspires still greater admiration with each passing year. 
We are deeply conscious of the honour represented by my mother's wish. As we have sought together to serve and support Her Majesty and the people of our communities, my darling wife has been my own steadfast support throughout. 
The year of this unprecedented Platinum Jubilee brings an opportunity for us all to come together in celebrating the service of The Queen, by whose example we will continue to be led in the years to come.
There have been many reactions to the queen's statement since it was released yesterday, fortunately most of them have been positive. The Duchess of Cornwall has not put a foot wrong since she married the Prince of Wales in 2005. She has been a great support to her husband and served her Queen and country well, something that is confirmed by the queen's wish. In 2005 before the Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowes, née Shand, it was stated that upon the accession of the Prince of Wales, Camilla would use the unprecedented title Princess Consort, even if  by authority in English common law she was
entitled to become Queen (Consort). In the same way Camilla has since her second marriage been referred to by the (secondary) title Duchess of Cornwall instead of Princess of Wales. even if she is entitled to the latter. The reason for this decision was make the marriage more acceptable to the public following the circumstances surrounding the marriage of the Prince of Wales and the former Lady Diana Spencer and the latter's tragic death in 1997. I felt at the time that the decision to use the title Duchess of Cornwall was understandable given the situation, but I always hoped and also expected that Camilla would become Queen at the accession of the Prince of Wales. Diana, Princess of Wales would never have become Queen anyway following the divorce, so the title «Princess Consort», despite the circumstances, made less sense to me. I am pleased that it has now been sorted out.

But the title discussion should not in any way overshadow the platinum jubilee. Hats off to the British queen for her many, many years of service to her country and people!

To celebrate a platinum jubilee is not common for any monarch. Queen Elizabeth will most likely pass both Prince Johann II of Liechtenstein, who reigned for 70 years and 91 days as well as King Bhumibol Adulyadej  (Rama IX) of Thailand, who reigned for 70 years and 126 days, during the jubilee. The queen is currently in her 96th year, but we cannot rule out the possibility that she will live to pass King Louis XIV of France's record of 72 years and 110 days on 28 May 2024 ...

Details of the plans for the Platinum Jubilee can be read at the British Royal Family's official website.