Monday, 1 May 2017

My latest article: The three Dutch male consorts

For more than a century gender roles were reversed within the Dutch monarchy as three condecutive queens reigned and their husbands filled the traditionally female role of consort to the monarch. In an article in the May issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 5), I look at the very dissimilar ways in which Princes Hendrik, Bernhard and Claus shaped the role as male consorts. The magazine went on sale in Britain on 20 April and will probably be on sale in Norway from Thursday of this week.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Celebrations for King and Queen's 80th birthdays

The royal court has announced the programme for the official celebrations of the King and Queen's eightieth birthdays, which will take place on 9 and 10 May.
On 9 May there will be some sort of entertainment in the Palace Square at 5.30 p.m. The King and Queen and their European guests will appear on the balcony at 6.30 p.m. At 8 p.m. there will be a gala banquet at the Royal Palace (which usually means white tie).
The next day the King and Queen will give a luncheon onboard the Royal Yacht "Norge" at 11 a.m., while the cabinet will host a dinner for 300 guests at the Opera House at 7 p.m. Government dinners usually take place at Akershus Castle, but this time it has been decided to hold it at the Opera as this will make it possible to seat all 300 guests in the same room, whereas they would have to be divided between several rooms at the old castle. While white tie in the twentieth century, government dinners for the royal family have been black tie affairs since the turn of the century.
Aftenposten reports that between 30 and 40 foreign royals are expected to attend, but contrary to what the newspaper claims this is neither a record nor the largest royal gathering in Norway since the Crown Prince and Crown Princess's wedding in 2001, as fifty foreign royals attended the celebrations of the King's seventieth birthday in 2007.
The Queen of Denmark will attend with her two sons and daughters-in-law, who will stay onboard the Royal Yacht "Dannebrog", while the King and Queen of Sweden will be accompanied by Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia. Two of King Carl Gustaf's sister, Princesses Désirée and Christina, usually attend family events in Norway, but are unlikely to attend this time as Princess Christina is undergoing treatment for leukemia while the funeral of Princess Désirée's husband, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, takes place the day after the Norwegian celebrations come to an end. Other royal guests are yet to be announced.
The King was eighty on 21 February, but spent the day privately in South Africa together with his wife, children, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, while the Queen will be eighty on 4 July.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

At the road's end: Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld (1934-2017), landowner and royal brother-in-law

The court of Stockholm has announced the death of King Carl Gustaf's brother-in-law, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, the husband of Princess Désirée, at the age of 82. Princess Désirée was at his side.
The son of Baron Carl-Otto Silfverschiöld and his wife Madeleine Bennich, Baron Nils-August Otto Carl Niclas Silfverschiöld was born on 31 May 1934. He married Princess Désirée, the third of the present King's four elder sisters, in the Cathedral of Stockholm on 5 June 1964 and had three children: Carl, Christina and Hélène.
The couple kept a very low profile and rarely figured in the press. In recent years Niclas Silfverschiöld suffered from cancer and therefore missed several royal family events. The couple lived at Koberg Palace near Sollebrunn in Västergötland, a 40-room-palace surrounded by 20 000 acres of land which had come into the noble Silfverschiöld family through female inheritance in 1776. King Carl Gustaf as well as the King of Norway have been regular visitors to Koberg during the shooting season.
In a statement released by the royal court, King Carl Gustaf says that he and the rest of the royal family have received the news of Niclas Silfverschiöld's passing with deep grief and their thoughts are with Princess Désirée and her family.
Niclas Silfverschiöld's death comes thirteen months after the death of Princess Birgitta's husband, Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, while Princess Margaretha's estranged husband, John Ambler, passed away in 2008. The fourth sister, Princess Christina, who is battling leukemia, remains married to Tord Magnuson.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

My latest article: Fabergé eggs and King Willem-Alexander

Easter will soon be upon us, and in the April issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 4) I mark the occasion with an article on the imperial Fabergé eggs, the splendid works of art that were created as Easter eggs for the Russian empresses Maria Fyodorovna and Alexandra Fyodorovna, a tradition that, along with the Russian monarchy, came to an end 100 years ago this year.
As April will also see the fiftieth birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (on 27 April) I have also contributed a profile of him. The magazine went on sale in Britain two weeks ago and is on sale in Norway from today.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My latest article: Schleissheim Palace

I have forgotten to mention that the March issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 3) is now on sale. In this issue I continue my occasional series on European palaces and this time I write about Schleissheim just outside Munich, which is the site of three palaces. The largest of them is a splendid baroque palace that Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria built to glorify the House of Wittelsbach, who held great ambitions at the time, and to commemorate his own military prowess as a commander in the wars against the Ottomans. However, his involvement in the War of the Spanish Succession not only almost cost him Bavaria as he was driven into exile, but also meant that work on the palace stood still for many years. Nevertheless the result is arguably one of Germany's most splendid palaces, which would probably have been known as "the Bavarian Versailles" were it not for the fact that "mad" King Ludwig II built a replica of Versailles further south.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

On this day: The King's eightieth birthday

Time flies, and today the King is suddenly eighty. While his seventieth birthday was the occasion of a major round of celebrations, he is spending his eigtieth (like his 75th) birthday on a private holiday abroad with the Queen, their children, daughter-in-law and five grandchildren.
The official celebration of his and the Queen's upcoming eightieth birthday will take place on 10 May, when the government will host a dinner in the foyer of Oslo's opera house (a departure from the usual practice of holding government dinners at Akershus Castle). The details are not yet known, but according to the Prime Minister foreign royals have been invited.

Monday, 20 February 2017

81 % support for Norwegian monarchy

On the occasion of the King's eightieth birthday tomorrow, state broadcaster NRK has commissioned an opinion poll (external link) from Norstat on whether Norway ought to be a monarchy or not. The poll finds that 81 % favour a monarchy, while 15 % want a republic and 4 % are undecided. Interestingly, support for the monarchy is highest among younger people. 85 % of those in their thirties support the monarchy, while 82 % of those under thirty do so.
This may be compared with the result of a similar poll undertaken by Norstat for NRK at the time of the bicentenary of Norway's independence in the spring of 2014, which found 82 % in favour of the monarchy (the decrease from 82 to 81 % is within the margin of error). If I recall, an opinion poll around the time of King Olav's death and King Harald's accession in 1991 found 87 % in favour of the monarchy, while the lowest support measured was 59 % in 2000, when there had been a number of controversies during the preceding years.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

My latest articles: The King and Princess Astrid & the artistic Princess Louise

The February issue of Majesty (Vol. 38, No. 2) has been on sale since last week and as February will see the King's 80th birthday as well as Princess Astrid's 85th I have written an article on the two siblings and the close relationship they have enjoyed since childhood.
In the same issue I also write about Queen Victoria of Britain's daughter Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll who broke with conventions by becoming an accomplished sculptor and by marrying a commoner, something which caused quite a lot of problems for him.