Friday, December 27, 2019

Ferdinand von Habsburg, Archduke of Austria, Shares Video of Christmas with His Family

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria spent this Christmas in Abu Dhabi with his father Archduke Karl and his younger sister Archduchess Gloria. The family stayed at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort. Ferdinand put together an amusing and charming film of the trio's Christmas holiday for others to view and enjoy.

Ferdinand von Habsburg, well-known for his racing career, will be entering his compulsory military service in the Austrian armed forces this coming year. Ferdinand (b.1997) is the only son of Archduke Karl of Austria (b.1961), Head of the Imperial House, and Archduchess Francesca (b.1958; née Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon), who married in 1993. Archduke Ferdinand has two sisters: Archduchess Eleonore (b.1994) and Archduchess Gloria (b.1999).

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Archduke Ferdinand is the grandson of Archduke Otto of Austria (1912-2011) and Archduchess Regina (1925-2010; née Princess of Saxe-Meiningen). Ferdinand's maternal grandparents are Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza de Kászon (1921-2002) and Fiona Campbell-Walter (b.1932).

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Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Collection of Christmas Images from the Imperial & Royal Houses of Europe & the Americas

Please enjoy these holiday photographs from various royal and imperial families around Europe and the Americas. From Albania to Brazil to Italy to Romania to the Two Sicilies, we wish you a Blessed Christmas & Happy New Year!

Pictured: Crown Prince Leka and Crown Princess Elia of the Albanians

Pictured: Archduke Karl, his son Archduke Ferdinand, and his daughter Archduchess Gloria

Pictured: Prince Luíz, Prince Bertrand, and Prince Antônio with his wife Princess Christine

Pictured: Prince Umberto, Prince Amedeo, and Princess Isabella of Savoy (children of the Duke and Duchess of Aosta)

Pictured: Archduke Carlos Felipe, Archduchess Anne-Claire, and their sons Archduke Julián Lorenz and Archduke Louis-Damien

Pictured: Prince Nicholas and Princess Alina-Maria of Romania

Two Sicilies
Pictured: The Duke and Duchess of Castro with their daughters Princess Maria Carolina and Maria Chiara

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2019 Christmas Messages from the Monarchs of Europe: Watch Them Here!

As is tradition, many European monarchs have given Christmas messages this year. In this post, you may watch the messages from the Belgian, Luxembourgish, Dutch, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish, and British kings, queens, and grand duke - you can also read English-language commentary on their messages. Queen Margrethe of Denmark, Prince Albert of Monaco, King Harald of Norway deliver their messages on the occasion of the New Year.

Belgium: HM The King
Head of House since 2013: His Majesty King Philippe I of the Belgians (*1960)

Belgian king calls for government to be formed 'quickly'

Luxembourg: HRH The Grand Duke
Head of House since 2000: His Royal Highness Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg (*1955)

The Grand Duke's moving Christmas speech
Grand Duke appeals for solidarity in Christmas message

The Netherlands: HM The King
Head of House since 2013: His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (*1967)


Romania: HM The Custodian of the Crown
Head of House since 2017: Her Majesty Margarita, Custodian of the Crown (*1949)

Spain: HM The King
Head of House since 2014: His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain (*1968)

Spain’s King defends Constitution in Christmas Eve address
Spain’s King Felipe calls for national unity in Christmas Eve address

Sweden: HM The King
Head of House since 1973: His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (*1946)

Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf Addresses His Surprising Decision to Strip Grandkids of Royal Titles

United Kingdom: HM The Queen
Head of House since 1952: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (*1926)

Queen acknowledges 'bumpy' year as royal family attends Christmas services
Queen's Christmas message: Monarch 'struck' by climate activists' 'sense of purpose'
Queen’s Christmas Message Acknowledges a ‘Bumpy’ Year for U.K.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas: The Five Modern Royals Born on 25 December

For whatever reason, it seems relatively rare that people are born on 25 December. When one takes a look at the Gotha, there is an even smaller number of individuals who arrived on Christmas Day. Currently, there are only four princes and one princess who share this unique distinction: the eldest was born in 1934, and the youngest arrived in 1991.

1. Prince Wolfgang von und zu Liechtenstein (*1934)

Prince Wolfgang of Liechtenstein in 2018
H.S.H. Prince Wolfgang Johannes Baptist Johannes Evangelist Ildefons Franz de Paula Josef Maria von und zu Liechtenstein was born on 25 December 1934 at Graz; he was the fourth and last child of Prince Karl Aloys (1878-1955) and Princess Elisabeth (1894-1962; née Princess von Urach), who married in 1921. In July 1970, Prince Wolfgang wed Countess Gabrielle Basselet de la Rosée (b.1949), the daughter of Count Franz Xaver Basselet de La Rosée (1906-1984) and Princess Eleonore von Lobkowicz (1916-2000). Wolfgang and Gabrielle have two children: Princess Stephanie (b.1976) and Prince Leopold (b.1978).

2. Princess Alexandra of Kent, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy (*1936)

Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy, in 2010
H.R.H. Princess Alexandra Helen Elizabeth Olga Christabel of Kent was born on 25 December 1936 at London; she was the second child and only daughter of Prince George (1902-1942), Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina (1906-1968; née Princess of Greece and Denmark), who married in 1934. In April 1963, Alexandra wed the Hon. Angus Ogilvy (1928-2004; later made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, and then a member of the Privy Counsel). Angus was the son of David Ogilvy (1893-1968), 7th Earl of Airlie, and Lady Alexandra Coke (1891-1984). Alexandra and Angus had two children: James (b.1964) and Marina (b.1966). Through her father the Duke of Kent, Princess Alexandra is a first cousin of H.M. The Queen (b.1926); though her mother Princess Marina, Alexandra is a first cousin once-removed of H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (b.1921). 

3. Fürst Alexander of Schaumburg-Lippe (*1958)

Fürst Alexander zu Schaumburg-Lippe
H.S.H. Prince Ernst August Alexander Christian Viktor Hubert zu Schaumburg-Lippe was born on 25 December 1958 at Düsseldorf. He was the second son and last child of Fürst Philipp-Ernst (1928-2003) and Fürstin Eva-Benita (1927-2013; née Baroness von Tiele-Winckler), who married in 1955. In August 1993, Alexander married Princess Marie-Luise "Lily" zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (b.1972); the couple had one son, Hereditary Prince Heinrich-Donatus (b.1994), before divorcing in 2002. In June 2007, Fürst Alexander married Dr Nadja Anna Zsoeks (b.1975); the couple had two daughters, Princess Friederike (b.2008) and Princess Philomena (b.2011), before divorcing in 2018. Alexander is the Head of the Princely House of Schaumburg-Lippe.

4. Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven (*1969)

Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven, in 2015
H.H. Prince Bernhard Lucas Emmanuel of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven, was born on 25 December 1969 at Nijmegen. Bernhard is the second son of the four sons of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands (b.1943) and Pieter van Vollenhoven Jr. (b.1939), who wed in 1967. In July 2000, Bernhard married Annette Sekrève (b.1972); the couple have three children: Isabella (b.2002), Samuel (b.2004), and Benjamin (b.2008). Prince Bernhard is the first cousin of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.  

5. Hereditary Prince Carl-Anton zu Waldeck und Pyrmont (*1991)

Fürtin Cecilie, Hereditary Prince Carl-Anton, and Fürst Wittikend of Waldeck and Pyrmont in 2016
Photograph © Elmar Schulten
H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Carl-Anton Christian Gustav Clemens Alexander of Waldeck and Pyrmont was born on 25 December 1991 at Arolsen. Carl-Anton is the eldest of the three sons of Fürst Wittekind (b.1936) and Fürstin Cecilie (b.1956; née Countess von Goëß-Saurau). In 2013, Carl-Anton sustained serious injuries during a swim in the River Main; this incident led to the prince becoming a paraplegic. In 2016, Carl-Anton succeeded his father as Executive Chairman of the Princely Foundation of the House of Waldeck and Pyrmont.


Therefore on 25 December 2019, five members of the first section of the Gotha will celebrate their birthdays. Prince Wolfgang of Liechtenstein will turn eighty-five. Princess Alexandra of Kent will turn eighty-three. Fürst Alexander of Schamburg-Lippe will turn sixty-one. Prince Bernhard of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven, will turn fifty. The youngest of the group, Hereditary Prince Carl-Anton of Waldeck and Pyrmont will turn twenty-eight.

We wish them a Happy Birthday and a Merry Christmas!

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Norwegian Author Ari Behn, Ex-Husband Of Princess Märtha Louise, Dies Aged 47

Ari Mikael Behn, the former husband of Princess Märtha Louise of Norway, has passed away today, 25 December 2019, at Lommedalen. The cause of death was suicide. An artist and author, Mr Behn was forty-seven years-old.

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Ari was born on 30 September 1972 at Århus, Denmark. He was the eldest child of Olav Bjørshol and Marianne Solberg. In 1996, Ari changed his last name from Bjørshol to Behn, his maternal grandmother’s maiden name. His family moved from Denmark to Norway when he was six, and it was in Norway that Behn grew up. He studied history and religion at the University of Oslo, receiving his bachelors degree from this institution. In 1999, Ari published a compilation of short stories titled Trist som faen (Sad as Hell); he went on to author three more books: Bakgård (Backyard) in 2003, Entusiasme og raseri (Enthusiasm and Rage) in 2006, and Talent for lykke (Talent for Happiness) in 2009.

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On 24 May 2002, Ari Behn married Princess Märtha-Louise of Norway, the only daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja, at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Ari and Märtha-Louise had three daughters: Maud Angelica (b.2003), Leah Isadora (b.2005), and Emma Tallulah (b.2008). The couple separated in 2016 and their marriage was ended by  divorce in 2017. Ari and Märtha-Louise shared joint custody of their daughters. Märtha-Louise continued to reside in the family's home at Lommedalen, and Ari found a place not far from it to be close to his daughters.

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King Harald and Queen Sonja as well as Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit issued statements after the family had learned the news of Mr Behn's passing:

In connection with Ari Behn's passing, His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen announce the following: 
It is with great sadness that the Queen and I have received the news of Ari Behn's passing. Ari has been an important part of our family for many years, and we carry warm, fond memories of him. We are grateful that we got to know him. We grieve that our grandchildren have now lost their beloved father - and we have deep compassion for his parents and siblings, who have now lost their beloved son and brother. We pray that Ari's immediate family will be at peace during this painful time. 
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit announce the following: 
For us, Ari was a good friend, a dear family member and a wonderful uncle, with whom we shared many of life's small and big moments. It is with great sadness that we have received the message of his passing away. We were all very fond of Ari. Our thoughts go especially to Maud, Leah, Emma, ​​Princess Märtha Louise and Ari's immediate family.
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May Ari Rest in Peace. May his daughters and all who love him find Eternal Comfort.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health issues, for those in the USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by a quick call to 800-273-TALK (8255). For those in the United Kingdom, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Please call these resources whenever needed. 

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Birthday of the Head of the Imperial House of Romanov: Grand Duchess Maria of Russia

Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Alexei Pavlishak
Grand Duchess Leonida Georgievna with her daughter Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna at the baby's baptism
The charm bracelet created by Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Leonida to celebrate their daughter Maria's birth
The Little Heiress
On 23 December 1953, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia was born at the Nuestra Señora de Loreto Clinic in Madrid. She was the only child of Grand Duke Vladimir Kirillovich of Russia, Head of the Imperial House of Romanov, and his wife Leonida (née Princess Bagration-Mukhranskaya). Maria Vladimirovna was the granddaughter of Grand Duke Kirill Vladimirovich (1876-1938) and Grand Duchess Victoria Feodorovna (1876-1936; née Princess Victoria Melita of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), the great-granddaughter of Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich (1847-1909) and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (1854-1920; née Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin), and the great-great-granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II Nikolaevich of Russia (1818-1881) and Empress Maria Alexandrovna (1824-1880; née Princess Marie of Hesse and by Rhine). Nearly forty-years-old, Leonida Georgievna had started to worry that she would be unable to give her husband a much desired heir. Seeking all possible remedies, early in 1953 Leonida made a pilgrimage to the relic of St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Bari, and, several weeks after returning to Spain, she was thrilled when her doctor informed her that she was expecting. Grand Duchess Maria’s parents always rather regarded their daughter as something of a miracle (“a child from God”), and the three formed an exceptionally close familial bond. Upon being baptised into the Russian Orthodox faith on 3 February 1954, the infant was given the name Maria; the chosen godparents were her great-uncle Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, who due to ill health was represented at the event by Prince Nicholas of Romania (a son of Maria Vladimirovna's great-aunt Queen Marie of Romania), and Queen Mother Giovanna of Bulgaria.

Grand Duchess Maria of Russia
The Imperial Family at a zoo in Rome 
The young grand duchess
The Romanov trio spent the year moving about their various homes. In Spain, they resided in a comfortable apartment on the rue Velasquez that was just around the corner from the home of Maria’s maternal grandparents. At some point, the family exchanged the apartment for a more spacious villa in the posh Madrid suburb of Puerto de Hierro. Their French residences included Ker Argonid in St Briac (named after Maria's grandmother Victoria Melita) and an apartment in Paris. The Romanovs were particularly quite close to the Albanian, Bulgarian, and Spanish royal families.

Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duke Vladimir, and Grand Duchess Leonida at their Puerto de Hierro residence in Madrid
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
Grand Duchess Maria of Russia in Madrid, 1966
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
Grand Duchess Leonida, Grand Duke Vladimir, and Grand Duchess Maria of Russia in 1966.
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
The Romanovs in Madrid, 1968
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
Grand Duchess Maria recalled her early years: “I had a very happy childhood. There was such a harmony between my parents. They very much loved each other. They never quarrelled or were separated. I was thus raised in an atmosphere of mutual love and respect.” When she was a toddler, Maria was often taken by her parents to visit her great-uncle Andrei and his wife Mathilde at their “enchanting” Villa Molitor in Paris, with its “big windows and conservatories.” There Maria enjoyed playing with the Grand Duke’s pet turtle Rosalie, who was kept in one of the gardens and was one of Maria’s earliest guests at her childhood tea parties. The grand duchess had a multitude of Prussian, Leiningen, and Bagration first cousins from her paternal and maternal aunts and uncles; however, Maria was the youngest of the group. From her aunt Grand Duchess Maria Kirillovna (1907-1951), who married Fürst Karl of Leiningen, Maria Vladimirovna had seven first cousins: Fürst Emich of Leiningen (1926-1991; husband of Duchess Eilika of Oldenburg), Prince Karl (1928-1990; husband of Princess Marie Louise of Bulgaria), Princess Kira (1930-2005; wife of Prince Andrej of Yugoslavia), Princess Margarita (1932-1996; wife of Fürst Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern), Princess Mechthilde (b.1936), Prince Friedrich (1938-1998), and Prince Peter (1942-1943). From her aunt Grand Duchess Kira Kirillovna, who married Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, Maria Vladimirovna also had seven first cousins: Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (1939-2015), Prince Michael (1940-2014), Princess Marie Cécile (b.1942; wife of Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg), Princess Kira (1943-2004), Prince Louis Ferdinand (1944-1977; husband of Countess Donata of Castell-Rüdenhausen), Prince Christian-Sigismund (b.1946; husband of Countess Nina of Reventlow), and Princess Xenia (1949-1992). A twenty-seven year age gap thus separated Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia from her eldest first cousin, Fürst Emich of Leiningen.

Grand Duchess Maria of Russia with her dog while in the UK, November 1971
Photograph (c) Getty Images
Maria of Russia, circa 1976
Maria was partially raised by a nurse: a Swiss-German woman by the name of Hanny Vögelin. Hanny, described as “firm but fair,” taught the little girl how to read and write, and stayed on with the family until Maria went to primary school at the age of seven. After this, Maria went on to the British Institute in Madrid. Passionate about languages, she then made the choice to enter Oxford University, where she began her studies in 1972 at Lady Margaret Hall. Grand Duchess Maria left Oxford in early 1975 an accomplished polyglot, fluent in English, French, Russian and Spanish as well as possessing a thorough knowledge of Russian literature.

Grand Duchess Maria and Prince Franz Wilhelm
Photograph (c) Seeger-Presse
Grand Duke Vladimir, Grand Duchess Leonida, Prince Franz Wilhelm, and Grand Duchess Maria
Photograph (c) Seeger-Presse
Grand Duchess Maria and Grand Duke Michael on their wedding day
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
In July 1976, Grand Duke Vladimir and Grand Duchess Leonida announced the engagement of their daughter Maria to Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, the son of the late Prince Karl Franz Joseph of Prussia and his first wife Princess Henriette of Schönaich-Carolath. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna and Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich (as Franz Wilhelm became known after converting to Russian Orthodoxy and being granted the style and title of Grand Duke of Russia by his soon-to-be father-in-law) were married in great style on 22 September 1976 at the small Orthodox Church in Madrid. Their wedding was attended by four kings (King Leka I of the Albanians, King Simeon II of Bulgaria, King Umberto II of Italy, and King Juan Carlos of Spain) and six queens (Queen Mother Geraldine of Albania, Queen Susan of the Albanians, Queen Mother Giovanna of Bulgaria, Queen Margarita of Bulgaria, Queen Farida of Egypt, and Queen Sofía of Spain) as well as a deluge of other royals.

Grand Duke George with his grandfather Grand Duke Vladimir and aunt Hélène Kirby at his baptism, May 1981
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari
The Modern Romanovs: Vladimir, Leonida, Maria, and George
Maria and Michael's only child was born almost five years into their union. Grand Duke George Mikhailovich of Russia arrived on 13 March 1981 at Madrid. On 6 May 1981, the feast day of St. George, the little grand duke was baptised into the Russian Orthodox Church. Grand Duke George’s godparents are King Constantine II of Greece, for whom the baby’s grandfather Grand Duke Vladimir stood proxy, and Hélène Kirby, Countess Dvinskaya, George’s maternal aunt.

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Grand Duchess Maria Vladmirovna and Grand Duke Michael Pavlovich separated in 1982. Their divorce became final in 1985. The grand duchess has never remarried. As a single mother, Grand Duchess Maria raised her son with the assistance of her parents. Once again, the four Romanovs formed a tight family unit. Grand Duke George also had regular visitation with his father Prince Franz Wilhelm (who reverted to his Prussian title after the divorce).

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In 1992, Grand Duchess Maria succeeded as the Head of the Imperial House of Romanov following the sudden death of her father. Aged seventy-four, Grand Duke Vladimir suffered a fatal heart attack in Miami on 21 April. His widow Grand Duchess Leonida survived him by over twenty years; she passed away in Madrid on 23 May 2010, aged ninety-five. Both Vladimir Kirillovich and Leonida Georgievna are buried at the Saints Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg.

Grand Duchess Maria and Grand Duke George of Russia with Pope Benedict XVI in 2011
Grand Duke George and Grand Duchess Maria arrive at the wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco, 2011
Photograph (c) Getty Images / Gareth Fuller / PA Images
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands with Grand Duchess Maria of Russia, 2011
Grand Duchess Maria and Prince Mohammed Ali of Egypt arrive at the wedding of Crown Prince Leka of Albania and Crown Princess Elia (née Zaharia) in Tirana, 2016
Photograph (c) Seth B. Leonard
Princess Nadia (née Nour) of Prussia, Prince Franz Wilhelm of Prussia, and Grand Duchess Maria of Russia at the wedding of Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen and Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia in 2017
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Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Grand Duchess Maria in 2018
Grand Duchess Maria, Grand Duke George, and Rebecca Bettarini at the wedding of Prince Joachim of Prussia and Countess Angelina zu Solms-Laubach at Mallorca in June 2019
Photograph (c) Seeger-Presse / Albert Nieboer
Since her accession to the Headship of the Imperial Family, the Grand Duchess has fulfilled her role with inscrutable dedication and duty. Grand Duchess Maria is frequently present at Gotha events: from weddings to funerals. She resides in Madrid, and her Chancellery is in Moscow.

H.I.H. Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia, Head of the Russian Imperial House
Photograph (c) Russian Imperial House
We wish Her Imperial Highness many happy returns of the day!

To learn more about the Russian Imperial Family, please visit this link: Imperial House

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