30 April 2024

Royalty Digest Quarterly no. 1, 2024

The latest issue of Royalty Digest Quarterly (no. 1, 2024) was waiting for me in the mailbox when I returned on 7 April 2024 from my visit to Tanzania. Since my return I haven't had that much time for blogging, but obviously I had to finish reading RDQ before I could start commenting.

The front cover shows a photo of the Ansbach Residence (Residenz Ansbach), also called Markgrafenschloss (Margrave's Palace). The choice of photo tells that this issue's Family Album will cover The Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach. I will return to the article later in the blog. 

Main contents:

  • Olivier Defrance: A Life Without Tenderness. Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma. [Part] 1, pp. 1–10
  • Martijn Arts: Princess Alexandra Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein-Glücksburg. A Princess in a Caravan, pp. 11–15.
  • Elizabeth Jane Timms: Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse (1870-1873), pp. 16–22.
  • Ted Rosvall: The Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach. A Family Album, pp. 23–35.
  • Susan Symons: The Last Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach, pp. 36–41
  • Ove Mogensen: Tombs, Graves and Monuments in Prussia, pp. 42–51.
  • Coryne Hall: Little-known ROYALS. Princess Henriette of Belgium, Duchess de Vendôme, pp. 52–53.
  • David Horbury: Queen Elizabeth II and Greece, pp. 55–60.
  • Ted Rosvall/Anne-Karin Schander: Royal Bustards. The Princes of Lapland. King Oscar I and Emilie Högqvist, pp. 61–62.
  • The World Wide Web of Royalty, p. 64 [this time including news about/from Albania, Fürstenberg, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Schaumburg-Lippe and Württemberg].
On p. 63 there is an ad for the royal history conference in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, in October. I have paid for the flight and conference fee and got a hotel room reservation, so I look very much forward to the conference and hope to see as many old (and new) friends and acquaintances as possible. Go here for more details about the conference. 

The shocking abdication of Queen Margrethe II in January this year is the topic of Ted Rosvall's  Editor's Corner. He gives examples of abdications in other European countries and writes that "[...] in the Nordic countries, Margrethe's decision may be seen as an innovation, even though there was in fact a precedence. In 1654, Queen Christina of Sweden, actually did the same." That is absolutely correct. What Rosvall didn''t mention, was the abdication of the Danish King Erik III Lam in 1146. We are of course only talking about voluntary abdications. In Norway there were abdications in 1814 (King Christian Frederik) and in 1905 (King Oscar II), and neither had much choice in the matter. I only hope that Queen Margrethe's choice will not be followed up in the other Nordic monarchies.

The historian Oliver Defrance, with the colloboration of Joseph van Loon and Damien Bilteryst, has written about Princess Marie Louise of Bourbon-Parma (1870–1899), the first wife of of Prince and later King Ferdinand of the Bulgarians (1861–1948). The writers tell that they among others have based their article among others on an archive which has been little used until now : "[...] we have reread the existing works – old and new – on the Court of Bulgaria. We have gone trhough the press of the period, often rich with information, and we have made small surveys in an archive which has been little used until now: the Fonds Coburg, kept in the State Archives in Vienna". The result is a good and detailed biographical sketch of Princess Marie Louise, and I am already looking forward to part II.

I have often commented on the choices Coryne Hall has made for her column Little-Known ROYALS. I wonder if Princess Alexandria Victoria of Glücksburg (1887–1957) would also have been a good candidate. Of course my question marks some times tell as much about my own knowledge level. More important is that Martijn Arts has written an informative and amusing article about Princess Alexandria Victoria, the second eldest daughter of Duke Friedrich Ferdinand of (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-)Glücksburg (1855–1934) and Princess Caroline Mathilde of (Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-)Augustenburg (1860–1932, the latter a niece of Empress Augusta Victoria, wife of Empreror Wilhelm II, while the former was a cousin of KIng Frederik VIII of Denmark. Princess Alexandria Victoria married Prince August Wilhelm of Prussia (1887–1949) in 1908 and divorced him in 1920. They had one child, Prince Alexander Ferdinand (1912–1985). The princess then married Arnold Rümann (1884–1951) in 1922, but also this marriage ended in divorce. She had a long career as an artist and for some time traveled around in the USA in a caravan. She lost all her paintings when Russia occupied the area where they were stored during WW2. I wonder how talented she really was and how much one would have to pay for any paintings that still exist? I note that one of her works was put on auction last year.

Royalty Digest Quarterly has covered all the all the still existing reigning and non-reigning royal and princely houses of Europe in the article series A Family Album and now it seems that houses that for various reasons have died out will also be covered. In this issue we learn more about The Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Somewhat confusing is the fact that the principality was also referred to as a margraviate and that the head was a margrave. There might be some historical details here that I have missed. Anyway, the last reigning Prince and Margrave (!), Karl Alexander (1736–1806), who was also sovereign of Brandenburg-Bayreuth, sold his principalities to King Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia in 1791. The childless margrave then moved to England with his second wife. As usual the family album gives a short introduction as well as quite a few photos/paintings – 55 in all (if a photo of  the Royal Family of Great Britain containing as many as 9 portraits should be counted as 9, and not just 1) – of various family members, palaces and tombs. The most famous descendant was Margravine Karoline of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1683–1737), who in 1705 married Georg Augustus of Hannover, who became King George II  of Great Britain and Ireland in 1727. One page 35 there is a select family tree of the house of Brandenburg-Ansbach.

The expert on German palaces, Susan Symons, then follows up with the article The Last Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach. The article, however, also gives many details about the above-mentioned Karoline/Caroline and even about Kaspar Hauser, who claimed to be a lost prince and the rightful ruler of Baden, because there is a memorial to him in the gardens of Ansbach Palace. When the former margrave moved to England after he had sold his principalities, he bought Brandenburgh House at Fulham, London as well as Benham Park near Newbury in Berkshire. It was at the latter country home that the margrave died in 1806. According to the Wikipedia article, "a memorial in St Mary's Church in Speen, simply records "In Memory of the Margrave of Anspach, who died at Benham 5th January 1806", but it doesn't say exactly where he is buried. Same thing could be asked about his wife Elizabeth, Princess Berkeley (b. London 1850–d. Naples, Italy 1828), née Lady Elizabeth Berkeley and formerly married to the 6th Baron Craven. The Wikipedia article about her, however, state that she was buried in the English cemetery in Naples. As for Brandenburgh House, it was demolished some time after the property was sold in 1822, and today the property, called Fulham Reach, consists of several buildings with luxury apartments. Not the worst place to live, I guess.

The Royal Mausoleum in Charlottenburg Palace Park, Berlin. © 2008 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

Grave of Queen Louise of Prussia, née Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1776–1810). © 2008 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

Grave of Friedrich der Grosse/Frederick the Great at Sanssouci, Potsdam. © 2011 Dag Trygsland Hoelseth.

The reason for including the grave photos above is of course due to Ove Mogensen's very informative article Tombs, Graves and Monuments in Prussia. Is there any royal burial place he has not been to?  I visited Charlottenburg Palace and the royal mausoleum (Luisenmausoleum) in February 2008. As far as I remember the main hall with the sarcophaguses was closed at the time due to renovation, so I could only visit the crypt, but that was of course where the royals were actually buried. I would have to return one day to see more of Berlin and Potsdam as well as the many burial places. I visited the crypt in Berlin Cathedral in 2011, so I might return with a blog article from that visit another time.

There are so many interesting articles in this issue, but I choose not to comment on all of them. But I have enjoyed reading them all, and cannot recommend a subscription enough! 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

24 April 2024

The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual Report 2023

The Norwegian Royal Court's annual report for 2023 was published on 18 April 2024. As the Royal Court writes on its website, the report "provides an account of the official activities of the Royal Family and the operation of the Court during the previous year" and "is intended to provide better information about and increase understanding of the activities of the Royal House of Norway and the Royal Court". As I write almost every year when I comment on the annual report, the publication is a great compensation for the lack of the former royal yearbooks. You get a very good summary of the activities of the royal family during the year in question, and  in addition you get lots of great pictures and statistics.

The Royal Court has provided the following summary of the report:

Annual report for 2023

The activities of the Royal House of Norway over the course of the year are closely aligned with the current situation in the country. The visits by the members of the Royal Family to 47 municipalities, official visits to five European countries, participation in a wide array of events together with the Norwegian Armed Forces and a focus on national security and preparedness both show what is essential for Norway and demonstrate the commitment of the Royal Family.

In 2023, members of the Royal Family continued to meet people throughout Norway – at schools, at new start-ups and traditional industrial companies, in museums and churches, at primary industry businesses, at music and drama festivals, at sporting events. They also visited with many of the people who experienced the devastation of Storm Hans in August.

Activities in 2023 were framed by the security situation in Europe. The King and the Crown Prince carried out a number of activities and visits with the Norwegian Armed Forces. The visit of the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford to Oslo in May, and of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Palace in December, both point to the serious events taking place in the world at large, and the importance of constructive cooperation with trusted allies. Internationally, the Royal Family represented Norway in Denmark, the UK, France, Sweden and Germany. Topics highlighted during these visits included the green transition, defence and industrial development and cooperation in the cultural sphere.

The year also held milestone events for the Royal Family. In 2023 the Crown Prince and Crown Princess both celebrated their 50th birthdays. They wanted to mark the occasion by celebrating Norway and the Norwegian sense of community by acknowledging the many people who help to make Norway what it is. They spent the year travelling to different places in Norway and in August they invited 370 guest from across the country to a party in the Courtyard of the Royal Palace.

Annual accounts

The accounts for the Civil List showed a calculated deficit of NOK 54.3 million in relation to the 2023 allocation. This deficit will be covered by previously allocated funds. The result is in keeping with the anticipated charges to expenses projected in the annual report for 2022. 

The deficit has its origin in the lag between allocations to and disbursements from the Palace security project. In 2023, the project accounts showed a calculated deficit of NOK 70.9 million (cf. the corresponding surplus of NOK 92.7 million for 2022). Commissioned in 2016, the security project was by and large concluded in 2023. Security enhancement of the perimeter of the Palace and Palace Park was completed, and the logistics building, which ensures safe handling of mail, goods and waste, was opened. A few minor tasks that remain under the project will soon be concluded.

The management accounts for the Royal Court show a surplus of NOK 16.5 million. This surplus is largely due to vacant posts and postponement of projects as a result of an ongoing organisational development process. The accounts show that a significant proportion of the ordinary appropriations are used for operation and maintenance of the Palace and other Royal residences, as well as the cultural and historical assets these encompass.

The annual report and accounts of the Royal Court for 2023 have been submitted to the Presidium of the Storting, the Ministry of Digitalisation and Public Governance, and the Office of the Auditor General of Norway.


Every year when the report is being published the Norwegian media tend to focus on the budget and nothing else. When the report this year showed a calculated ("planned") deficit of NOK 54,3 million, the media omitted the word "calculated" in the headlines, hoping that the readers wouldn't care to read the article, or the report itself, to get the details. It happens every year when there is a deficit. Then people will get the impression that the royal court – or the royal family – is out of control.

The report showed that the members of the royal family had 756 engagements ("oppdrag") in 2023, while the number was 769 in 2023, 635 in 2021 and 381 in 2020. The two last-mentioned years was of course dominated by the pandemic. In 2019 the number of engagements was 723. In other words, the number of engagements have not changed much, but considering the fact that the king will scale down his activities due to his age, that the queen is also of old age and the crown princess has chronical health issues, the number might fall a bit in 2024. Obviously the crown prince will not be able to cover all the things the king has normally taken care of. Fellow historian Trond Norén Isaksen has done some calculations and found out that King Harald in 2023 had 55 engagements outside the Royal Palace, as compared to 92 in 2013. Obviously his health and age are the reasons for this.

The report also tells that the members of the royal family visited 9 counties (out of 11, from 2024 the number of counties have gone up to 15), 47 municipalities, they have made official visits to Denmark, France, Greece, Jordan, United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany and have hosted as many as 2 735 guests.

But what about the orders and medals? 12 people were awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2023, as compared to 17 in 2022 and 2021. Among the 12 were Prince Sverre Magnus and the then Prince Christian of Denmark, who both received the Grand Cross. The order is conferred as "a reward for distinguished services rendered to Norway and mankind".

53 people received  the Royal Norwegian order of Merit in 2023, all classes combined, compared to 34 people in 2022, 56 in 2021, 89 in 2020 and 57 in 2019. Not sure what to read into the increase. It varies a bit from one year to another. According to the official website, the Order of Merit is conferred on foreign and Norwegian nationals as "a reward for their outstanding service in the interest of Norway". Most of the recipients are diplomats, mostly ambassadors and honorary consuls. Bishop and Preses of the Bishops' Conference of the Church of Norway, Olav Fykse Tveit, who became a commander, was one of the exceptions.

The Medal of St. Olav is conferred as "a reward for services in advancing knowledge of Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their descendants and their country of residence". In 2023 only one person, farmer Ole P. Gamme from Gran, county of Innlandet (formerly Oppland), received the medal, compared to two people in 2022. Gamme is known for his impressive efforts through many years of promoting knowledge of Norway in the Norwegian-American communities in the USA, and to establishing contact between emigrant Norwegians in the USA and their relatives in Norway. He has among others also built a very impressive database of emigrants from Hadeland and in this way helped a lot of Americans finding their roots at Hadeland.

The King's Medal of Merit is conferred as "a reward for service in the fields of art, science and industry and for outstanding public service". 68 people redeived the medal in 2023, as compared to 53 in 2022, 47 in 2021 and 46 in 2020. Among the 68 were the artist Finn Kalvik, rose painter Hjørdis Emilie Juvik and several teachers.

The King's Commemorative Medal "is conferred for particularly meritorious service to His Majesty the King", but "may also be conferred on foreign nationals in connection with state visits and visits of the King abroad, on those who have served at a Norwegian foreign service mission, and on others in recognition for special services". The medal is conferred in silver or gold. In 2023, 7 people got the medal in gold, while 23 people were awarded the medal in silver. In 2022 the numbers were much lower - 3 gold medals and 6 silver medals. Several people connected to the king's staff received the medal in 2023 and 2022.

Previous articles on the subject of the Norwegian Royal Court's annual report:

I started the blog in 2009. The first annual report was published by the court in 2005. Previously all there were links to all the reports here, but now only the reports from 2020 to 2023 are available. You may, however, contact the court and ask for earlier reports if you are interested.

Front cover: © 2023 (?) Eskil Wie Furunes/NRK.

UK: New appointments to various Orders of Chivalry announced

Yesterday Buckingham Palace announced appointments to various Orders of Chivalry:

New appointments to various Orders of Chivalry announced

Published 23 April 2024

A number of new appointments to Orders of the Garter, the Bath, the British Empire and the Companions of Honour become effective immediately.

The Order of the Garter

His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to appoint four new Companions to the Order of the Garter. The Companions are:

Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Gloucester, GCVO, DStJ, CD, to be a Royal Lady Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

Air Chief Marshal the Lord Peach, GBE, KCB, DL, to be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

The Right Honourable the Lord Kakkar, KBE, to be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

The Lord Lloyd-Webber to be a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.


The Order of the Garter is the oldest and most senior Order of Chivalry in Britain. Each year, it is celebrated with a procession and service in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The appointment of the Knights and Ladies of the Garter is in The King’s gift (i.e. without Prime Ministerial advice). Appointments to the Order of the Garter are therefore in the same category as the Order of the Thistle, the Order of Merit and the Royal Victorian Order which are also in The King’s gift.

Today's announcement brings the number of Companions to 21 (out of a maximum of 24).

This year’s Garter Service will take place this Summer at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. 


His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to appoint His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, K.G., K.T., A.D.C., to be Great Master of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. 

Previous Great Masters have included: His Majesty The King as The Prince of Wales (1974-2022), His Royal Highness Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1942-1974) and His Royal Highness Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn (1901-1942). 

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath was established by King George I in 1725 although it is believed to originally date back as far as the eighth century. It is awarded to members of the military or civil service for exemplary service.


His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to appoint Her Majesty The Queen to be Grand Master and First or Principal Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. 

Previous Grand Masters have included: His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1953-2021), Her Majesty Queen Mary (1936-1953) and His Majesty King George VI as The Duke of York (1917-1936). 

The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour a broader cross section of society, both military and civilian.


His Majesty The King has been graciously pleased to appoint Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales, GCVO, to be Royal Companion of The Order of the Companions of Honour. 

This is a new appointment.

The Order of the Companions of Honour was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognise outstanding achievements in the Arts, Sciences, Medicine and Public Service. 

The appointments are effective from 23rd April 2024.

I am not the only one who is pleased to note that the Duchess of Gloucester this way is being recognized for all her work on behalf of the crown for so many years, usually without getting the public and media attention that she has deserved. 

It is also wonderful that Queen Camilla has been appointed as Grand Master of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. However, I am still a bit surprised that the mistake about King George VI has not been corrected yet. The appointmemnts were after all published yesterday. King George VI was not the Grand Master as Duke of York from 1917 to 1936, but his elder brother, who became King Edward VIII in January 1936 (and then abdicated  in December the same year), was. 

22 April 2024

Norway: King Harald back at work, but the number of engagements will be reduced

King Harald today resumed his duties after his long absence due to having fallen ill during his vacation in Malaysia in late February. Upon his return to Norway on 3 March he was admitted to the National Hospital and had an permanent pacemaker implanted on 12 March. He was discharged from hospital two days later, but has been on sick leave until today in order to rest and recuperate. In the meantime his son Crown Prince Haakon has acted as Regent.

Today the king granted audiences to The Chief of Defence, General Eirik Kristoffersen, Brigadier Terje Bruøygard, Head of Brigade Nord (the Northern Brigade) as well as to Rear Admiral Bjørn-Erik Marthinsen, second in command of the the Defence Staff. The king will grant more audiences on Thursday 25 April and preside over the Council of State at the Royal Palace on Friday 26 April. 

The Norwegian Royal Court announced today the king was going to continue his constitutional duties, including conducting meetings and audiences at the Palace and making official visits in Norway. However, due to his age the number of engagements and scope of activities will from now on be scaled down.

The news doesn't come as a surprise due to his age and health situation, and the number of engagements have been reduced in later years as well, as for instance fellow historian Trond Norén Isaksen has pointed out, but obviously now the changes become more permanent. 

11 April 2024

Jordan: Princess Rajwa is pregnant

The Royal Hashemite Court of Jordan announced yesterday that Crown Prince Hussein bin Abdullah and Princess Rajwa Al Hussein are expecting their first child in the summer of 2024.

Crown Prince, Princess Rajwa expecting baby this summer

10 April 2024

The Royal Hashemite Court is pleased to announce that Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II and Princess Rajwa Al Hussein are expecting their first baby this summer.

The Royal Hashemite Court extends its sincere congratulations to Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah on this occasion, and wishes Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Al Hussein and Princess Rajwa good health and joy as they welcome their baby.

Crown Prince Hussein, the eldest son of King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, married the Saudi citizen Rajwa Al Saif, a daughter of Khaled bin Musaed bin Saif bin Abdulaziz Al Saif and Azza bint Nayef bin Abdulaziz bin Ahmed Al Sudairi, on 1 June 2023.

The summer baby, if a boy, will at birth become 2nd in line of succession to the Jordanian throne. The prince or princess will  be the first grandchild of the king and queen of Jordan.

7 April 2024

Norway: King Harald on sick leave for two more weeks

The Norwegian Royal Court announced on Thursday 4 April 2024 that King Harald, who was scheduled to return to his duties next week after having been on sick leave since late February, will be on sick leave for two more weeks. This blog article might be a bit outdated as it has already gone 3 days since the announcement, but I have been on vacation in Tanzania the last two weeks, and as I have written about the king's health developments previously, I thought I should include the latest announcement as well, at least for the record:

His Majesty The King on sick leave for two more weeks

His Majesty The King is undergoing rehabilitation following his hospitalisation earlier this winter and still needs more time before returning to his constitutional duties. Therefore, His Majesty will be on sick leave for two more weeks until Monday 22 April.

During this period, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince will act as regent.

His Majesty's official engagements will largely be taken care of by members of the Royal Family:

  • His Royal Highness The Crown Prince Regent, Her Majesty The Queen and Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess host a reception at the Royal Palace for recipients of the King’s Medal of Merit on 9 April.
  • Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess attends the presentation of Nasjonalforeningen for folkehelsen's research awards 2024 on 15 April.
  • Her Majesty The Queen visits 'Drive' in Melhus, as well as Skaun municipality on 16 April.

Crown Prince Haakon's planned official visit to the West Coast of the US will proceed as scheduled from 15 to 19 April. The Norwegian Government will, in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway, conduct the administration of the realm during this week.


The Constitution of Norway Article 41 says that "If the King is absent from the realm unless commanding in the field, or if he is so ill that he cannot attend to the Government, the person next entitled to succeed to the throne shall, provided that he has attained the age stipulated for the King's majority, conduct the Government as the temporary executor of the Royal Powers. If this is not the case, the Council of State will conduct the administration of the realm."

The king and the crown prince take their constitutional responsibilites very seriously, so it is not often that the government (the Council of State) act as regent, at least they usually make sure that one of them is home to preside over the Council of State on Fridays. The Crown Prince is scheduled to visit San Francisco and Seattle from 15 to 18 April. I don't know the details of the visit yet, so it is too early to say if the crown prince will manage to return to Norway early enough on Friday 19 April to preside over the Council of State. If not, the Council of State will take place at the Prime Minister's Office on Thursday 18 April instead.*

Earlier articles on the King's hospitalisation in Malaysia and at the National Hospital, Norway:

* Correction: I was almost correct. The Royal Court has now updated the list of official engagements, and it shows that the Council of State will indeed take place at the Prime Minister's Office, but not on Thursday 18 April 2024 as I expected, but on Friday 19 April 2024 at 11 a.m.

Updated last time on Monday 8 April 2024 at 3 p.m. (corrected added).