Monday, September 26, 2011

The Queen and The Duke of Cambridge

The Daily Mail has gotten an extended insider scoop on the royals, thanks to Mail reporter Robert Hardman's research for his book "Our Queen."
While there will surely be many juicy anecdotes from the book, our favorite so far is a tidbit from Prince William talking candidly about his grandmother -- and her taste in clothes.
"I wanted to decide what to wear for the wedding," Prince William said in the excerpt. But the Queen would have none of it.

"I was given a categorical: 'No, you’ll wear this!'"

The "this" was the bright red military uniform. Writes Hardman, "Having just appointed Prince William to the position of Colonel of the Irish Guards, his most senior military appointment — and one of her Guards regiments to boot — the Queen was quite clear that her grandson should be getting married in his Irish Guards uniform."

Apparently the prince is an officer in all three Services of the British military as well as a Royal Air Force member -- we didn't realize there were so many uniform options!

What we did know, however, is that the Queen has plenty of opinions about such things. Although Kate picked out her own dress, Queen Elizabeth II was not a fan of the dress's exhibition at Buckingham Palace.

"Horrid, isn't it? Horrid and dreadful!" the Queen supposedly commented to her new granddaughter, who took in the Royal Wedding exhibit with the Queen in July.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saudi King Allows Women to Vote in Local Elections

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi King Abdullah announced Sunday that the nation's women will gain the right to vote and run as candidates in local elections to be held in 2015 in a major advancement for the rights of women in the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom.

In an annual speech before his advisory assembly, or Shura Council, the Saudi monarch said he ordered the step after consulting with the nation's top religious clerics, whose advice carries great weight in the kingdom.

"We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society and in every aspect, within the rules of Sharia," Abdullah said, referring to the Islamic law that governs many aspects of life in the kingdom.

The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country's de facto ruler in 1995 during the illness of King Fahd. Abdullah formally ascended to the throne upon Fahd's death in August 2005.

The kingdom's great oil wealth and generous handouts to citizens have largely insulated it from the unrest sweeping the Arab world. But the king has taken steps to quiet rumblings of discontent that largely centered on the eastern oil-producing region populated by the country's Shiite Muslim minority.

Continue reading...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Helen of Yugoslavia's Damaging Testimony on Her Estranged Husband's Activities

"My husband went to get cash to Switzerland to hand them over to Nicolas Bazire"

LEMONDE.FR | 24.09.11 | 7:22 • Updated 24.09.11 | 3:18 p.m.
In an interview in the world, Helen of Yugoslavia , the wife of the former adviser of Nicolas Sarkozy, Thierry Gaubert, says that her husband visited many times in the early 1990 seeking money to Geneva the back then Nicolas Bazire , then director of the firm and the presidential campaign of Prime Minister Edouard Balladur .

When did you meet your husband Thierry Gaubert ?
We met in 1987 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, where we lived both. And we were married in 1988. We are separated for five years.
Before 1987, you already know Nicolas Sarkozy ?

No, I met him through my husband. I presented it right away, and he married us.

What was your husband when you met him?
He was project manager for communication for mayor of Neuilly, and also worked in real estate.

At the time, Mr Sarkozy was a close friend?
He was very close, yes, we often invited to dinner , the weekend ... He called my husband all the time. Thierry had become indispensable.

After arriving at the Ministry's budget in 1993, Sarkozy called your husband at her side as Deputy Chief of Staff. What memories do you have of that period?
That of a life much more intense, with constant trips to Bercy. I myself was on my way from time to time to the ministry, especially for dinner.

It is therefore from this period [the presidential campaign of 1995] that your husband would have made ​​trips to Switzerland to find the cash?
Yes. He told me regularly: "I'm going to Switzerland looking for money. " He spent systematically, with the move as a return, in London, so he told me to avoid customs checks at the Franco-Swiss border.

When these trips began and what was the frequency?
It is difficult to date precisely. I'm sure it started in the early 1990s. And he went to Switzerland about once every two months.

But how did he justify these trips?
He did not tell me why, I do not speak the amounts nor showed me the tickets. Generally, it brought them back in small bags.

Continue reading...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Museum of Bavarian Kings opens its doors

The Museum of Bavarian Kings opened in Schwangau on Friday. The new museum traces the history of the Wittelsbach dynasty, which ruled the southern German kingdom until 1918.

The museum is housed in the former Grand Hotel Alpenrose on the shores of the Alpsee, a lake made famous by its proximity to two castles: Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein, the white palace built by Ludwig II and popularized by Walt Disney’s iconic castle.

With 1,000 square metres of exhibition space the museum will explore the Wittelsbach family, who ruled from 1180 until the 1918 revolution in Bavaria.

Over a million tourists visit the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein every year, and the Wittelsbach Equalization Fund, which manages the property and possessions of the former ruling dynasty, hopes to attract around 200,000 of those visitors to the new museum.

“People are fascinated with Neuschwanstein, but they return from their visits with many unanswered questions,” said Elisabeth von Hagenow, the art historian who coordinated planning, construction and conception of the museum over the last three years.

The 800-year family history will be presented in the two-story space. An exhibition highlight includes the “walk in family tree,” which offers visitors an extensive orientation to the Wittelsbach dynasty. Porcelain, jewellery and portraits also illustrate the family’s influence.

One of the most valuable displays, according to Luitgard Löw, the new museum director is the 90-piece precious carved tableware set – a wedding gift from Ludwig I to his son and heir, Maximilian II.

Continue reading:

A Video of the Maria Pavlovna Exhibition at Contrexeville, France

In French...but for those of you who do not know the language, at least you can see some of Maria Pavlovna's descendants!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Prince William makes Colin Firth joke in Hollywood speech

Seaking at the inaugural “Brits to watch” dinner, hosted by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Prince William praised anglo-american efforts in the entertainment industry saying: “When American and British talent get together, magic happens.”

Watch his speech...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Liechtenstein voters reject plan to legalize abortion after prince threatens to veto change

Liechtenstein voters reject plan to legalize abortion after prince threatens to veto change
September 18, 2011 - 09:46

The Associated Press

GENEVA - Voters in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein on Sunday rejected a plan to legalize abortion, following a bitterly fought campaign that saw the country's prince threaten to veto the proposed change in the law.

Opponents won the referendum with a majority of 514 votes, out of 11,510 ballots cast. The official count put no-votes at 52.3 per cent, ahead of 47.7 per cent who favoured the plan to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if the child is severely disabled.
Under existing law, women who have an abortion risk one year imprisonment, except in cases where the mother's life is in danger or she is under 14 at the time she got pregnant. Doctors who carry out an abortion can go to prison for three years.

Campaigners for the change argued that the threat of prosecution meant women had to go secretly to neighbouring Austria or Switzerland even just to get advice on their options in an unwanted pregnancy.

But opponents in the Catholic majority country warned that the proposal went too far and could lead to late-term abortions of disabled children.

Their concerns were echoed by Hereditary Prince Alois of Liechtenstein, the country's de facto ruler, who said in a speech last month that he would use his veto power to block decriminalization.

The move prompted backers of the change, as well as democracy campaigners, to accuse him of interfering in the democratic process and of discouraging people from voting.

The outcome of the vote means a counterproposal backed by Liechtenstein's two main political parties is likely to come before the country's parliament and people soon.

Under the alternative proposal, which Alois has yet to comment on, abortion will continue to be a criminal offence in Liechtenstein. But having an abortion abroad wouldn't be punished anymore.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Exclusive: Descendants of Grand Duchess Vladimir Gather to Honor Her

A group of descendants of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna Senior and Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich of Russia gathered at Contrexeville.

The Grand Duchess spent long visits in this French resort, where she went to partake in cures.

Contrexeville is located in a beautiful region near the famed town of Vittel, France. Famed for the purity of its waters, it served as a destination for those, who like the Grand Duchess Vladimir, believe in the restorative and curing power of natural spring waters.

Grand Duchess Vladimir was born a Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. She married Grand Duke Vladimir Alexandrovich, third son of Alexander II and Empress Maria Alexandrovna. In St Petersburg, the Grand Duchess Vladimir became one of the leading luminaries of the social whirlwind, if not herself the most radiant sun in the dying twilight of the Romanov dynasty. Beloved by many, mistrusted by some, admired by her indomitable nature and ambition, Grand Duchess Vladimir was a force to be reckoned with. Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra Feodorovna were both awed by her presence and fearful of her influence.

Maria Pavlovna Senior became a widow in 1909 after the untimely death of her husband, who had not yet reached his sixty-second year. In widowhood she continued her incessant traveling schedule around Europe, while also continuing to lead a second (and rival) court in St Petersburg.

During the Great War she organized a chain of hospitals and did amazing work to save the lives of countless thousands of wretched wounded soldiers.

Revolution caught her away from St Petersburg. Also trying to escape the Bolshevik menace, Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna recalled running into her aunt. Olga encountered Maria Pavlovna at the port of Novorossik in early 1920: "Disregarding peril and hardship, she stubbornly kept to all the trimmings of bygone splendour and glory. And somehow she carried it off... When even generals found themselves lucky to find a horse cart and an old nag to bring them to safety, Aunt Miechen made a long journey in her own train. It was battered all right--but it was hers. For the first time in my life I found it a pleasure to kiss her..."

Maria Pavlovna eventually made it to the Black Sea and there boarded a steamer and headed to exile. Soon after landing in Italy, Maria Pavlovna made her way through Switzerland to Contrexeville, where illness and deteriorating health, due in no small measure to the privations suffered between 1917-1920, finally took a deadly toll. She died at Contrexeville on 6 September 1920. Her children surrounded her death bed.

One of her most lasting legacies to her descendants was the Grand Duchess's magnificent jewel collection, most of it making it out of Russia. In fact, some of her jewels were eventually purchased by the English royal family, most importantly, a Russian-style tiara still owned and used by The Queen.

A few years ago the Swedish government found a bag of precious objets d'art. These were long-forgotten jewels owned by the Grand Duchess. One of her devoted friends had handed the bag to the Swedish legation in St Petersburg, from where it was sent in the diplomatic mail to Stockholm. Astonishingly, everyone forgot about the treasure until the Swedish Foreign Ministry inventoried its archive and found the parcel. The jewels were auctioned off in 2010 and the proceeds, which ascended to several million dollars, were divided among the descendants of the Grand Duchess Vladimir's grandchildren: Fürstin Maria of Leiningen, Princess Kira of Prussia, Grand Duke Vladimir of Russia, Princess Olga of Yugoslavia, Countess Elisabeth of Toerring-Jettenbach and Princess Marina, Dowager Duchess of Kent.

Part of the proceeds were destined to restore the Contrexeville's Russian Orthodox chapel and the tomb of the Grand Duchess Vladimir. This September the Mayor of Contrexeville sponsored an exhibition on the Grand Duchess Vladimir's years at Contrexeville. Curated by French auctioneer Cyrille Boulay, the exhibition's opening was attended by a small group of Grand Duchess Vladimir descendants, among them: Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia and her son Grand Duke George Michaelovich, Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and his wife Princess Barbara, Prince Karl Vladimir of Yugoslavia and his wife Princess Brigitte, and Archduchess Helen of Austria and her brother Count Hans Veit of Toerring-Jettenbach, Head of House.

 The Grand Duchess Vladimir

Top: Archduchess Helen at her great-grandmother's tomb; Above: the iconostasis inside
the Russian Orthodox Chapel at Contrexeville.

 The Grand Duchess Vladimir's former palace in Contrexeville.

The Russian Orthodox Chapel at Contrexeville.

Top: Count Hans Veit Toerring-Jettenbach, Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna
and Grand Duke George of Russia. Above: Prince Alexander and Princess Barbara
 of Yugoslavia.

Archduchess Helen of Austria, Cyrille Boulay, Prince Alexander and
Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia.

Princess Brigitte of Yugoslavia and Princess Barbara of Yugoslavia.

Prince Karl Vladimir of Yugoslavia.

Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia.

Archduchess Helen of Austria and Princess Brigitte of Yugoslavia.

Prince Alexander of Yugoslavia and Grand Duchess Maria Vladimirovna of Russia. 

Archduchess Helen of Austria and Baron Sambucy de Sorgue, a grandson of the
late Count of Paris.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Archduchess Sophie of Austria Talks to HOLA

Archduchess Sophie of Austria, Fürstin of Windish-Graetz, has given an exclusive interview to HOLA.

The meeting took place at one of her husband's homes near Caserta. During the photo shoot, in which several aristocrats modeled some of Archduchess Sophie's designs, she reminisced about the loss of her son Alexis.

She believes that her sojourn into fashion is more a "mental need," not a financial one at all. Since the tragic death of her second son, Prince Alexis, Sophie and her husband Fürst Hugo have relied on their Catholic faith for strength.

" Throughout this difficult time without my son son Alexis, I have lows points, but I rely on our faith which lifts me."

The family continues keeping Alexis present in their every-day life. "My children Maximilian and Larissa decided that their brother's room ought to be left untouched, just as he left it before departing us." She also said, "I usually do not dream about him, but I do find myself speaking to him throughout the day..."

The Romanovs at Contrexeville – Exhibition

The city hall of Contrexeville, France, is hosting an exhibition to commemorate the many visits of the Vladimirovich branch of the Russian Imperial Family.

Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna (née Mecklenburg-Schwerin) was particularly fond of the resort town and spent long periods at Contrexeville, where she also died soon after reaching Western Europe in 1920, after a harrowing escape from Bolshevik Russia.

Descendants of the Grand Duchess have been invited  by the Mayor of Contrexeville to attend the exhibition's inauguration.

A Future Queen Gives Her First Speech – Elisabeth of Belgium

Given how little we've heard Kate Middleton open her mouth since she became the Duchess of Cambridge, we know it's a big deal when a royal stands up and makes a formal speech.
So Belgium was stunned last week when its royals, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, trotted out their nine-year-old daughter to make her first formal public appearance: a speech to open a new hospital.
Princess Elisabeth, the prince and the princess's eldest child, arrived to the hospital with her parents. After meeting with various hospital administrators, she gave the following address:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very happy that I can give my name to this new children’s hospital today. Together with you, I hope that many children will find help here. I know they can count on your daily commitment. The Princess Elisabeth Children’s Hospital now gets a special place in my heart."
The Wall Street Journal writes that a formal speech in public is extremely unconventional for underage royals, who are supposed to be seen and not heard while still under their parents' wings.
The royal children have already appeared in public, of course, when Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde, also known as the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, took their four children -- Gabriel, Emmanuel, Elisabeth and Eleonore -- to their first day of school two weeks ago.
But a speech is another story. WSJ writes that having a nine-year-old make a speech in Dutch at a children's hospital is certainly a good PR move for the royal family, which is less popular in Dutch-speaking Flanders than in French-speaking Wallonia.
Because how could anyone hate a little girl in a pink dress speaking at a children's hospital? Check out the pictures below and read more at

Cashing in on a "royal" Connection

The University of St Andrews followed the precedent set by Edinburgh by ruling that youngsters from the rest of the UK will face annual fees of £9,000 for a four-year degree.
Professor Louise Richardson, the university’s principal, said it is not a “wealthy institution”, despite its alumni including Prince William and Kate Middleton, and the fee represented a “very good deal” for students.
But the decision to impose the highest charges in Britain will infuriate Mike Russell, the SNP Education Minister, and increased speculation he will retaliate by stripping principals of some of their power.
Mr Russell said they could charge up to £9,000 per year for students from the rest of the UK, but predicted they would show restraint. He has argued that higher education should be based on “the ability to learn, not the ability to pay”.

He is due to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament next week about post-16 education and the National Union of Students (NUS) urged him to wreak vengeance by “reining in” principals


 HRH The Duchess of Cambridge

+ Prince Rasso of Bavaria (1926-2011)

A family member notified us that Prince Rasso of Bavaria passed away earlier today.

He was the second son of the late Prince Franz of Bavaria and his wife Isabella, née Princess of Croÿ.

Prince Rasso was born at Schloß Leutstetten in 1926. In 1955 he married Archduchess Theresa of Austria, by whom he fathered seven children.


More on the French Inheritance – The Count of Paris and His Mess

Drawing one of his daughters near, he is said to have whispered in her ear: "I will leave you nothing but hatred."
To others, he murmured: "You will have nothing but your tears to cry with."
The Count, it seems, remained true to his word, as all his six sons and five daughters recovered from his once vast family estate were six embroidered handkerchiefs and a pair of slippers.
The rest of his huge array of chateaux, jewellery, furniture and art works he had either frittered away in a frenzied selling spree or left to France in a special foundation.

But now, his nine surviving offspring may finally be about to get their hands on the fortune he did everything in his power to keep out of their clutches while alive.

Continue reading...

The present Count of Paris with his wife.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Swedish Royal Dinners – How It Works

One week before the official dinner on 8 September, feverish activity begins in a room at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. Grand Master of Ceremonies Lars Grundberg and Master of Ceremonies Jan-Eric Warren lay out a puzzle of all the 160 guests attending the official dinner.
On a large table there is a map of the dinner table in Karl XI's Gallery, together with 160 colour-coded cards featuring the name and title of each guest.
Firstly, what is the Office of Ceremonies?

Jan-Eric Warren: We are part of the Office of the Marshal of the Court. We take care of the organisation of guests at major events hosted by The Royal Family. We are what you could call "mini hosts" and we make sure that the guests find their seats and particularly, that they enjoy their evening. The Royal Family may only have time to speak to ten or so guests at a dinner, and it is our job, together with the other members of the Royal Court taking part in the dinner, to see to it that all the guests have a pleasant evening. At an official dinner, we are responsible for making sure that the guests are welcomed at the entrance, taken to the assembly rooms and presented to The Royal Family. We are also involved ahead of and during state visits, for example it is the job of the Grand Master of Ceremonies to present the Swedish Government to the visiting Head of State. We also work with a number of other events that take place at the Royal Palace: formal audiences, medal presentations, celebrations to mark Sweden's National Day, etc. Furthermore, we assist The Royal Family ahead of royal birthdays, weddings, memorable years and similar such occasions. 

It will soon be time for this year's third official dinner. Tell us a little about the seating arrangements. How is it decided upon, by rank or by well-suited dining companions?
Lars Grundberg: If it were done by rank it would be a simple matter, then we would simply go by the Court Directory. But we take other factors into consideration, such as interests, language, whether guests have attended previous official dinners and who they were sitting next to then. But naturally rank does play a part, as does age. Ambassadors are seated according to the length of time they have been in their post in Sweden. The Royal Court's employees sit round the table to act as mini hosts; at one end there is the First Marshal of the Court, and at the other end the Master of Ceremonies. The King and Queen always sit opposite each other at the centre of the table. The centre of the table functions as our starting point when we are organising the seating plan. 


Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden Thank Well-wishers

The Crown Princess Couple have received many good wishes following the announcement that they are expecting a baby. In response, The Crown Princess Couple have expressed their thanks:
"Our deepest thanks for all the kind greetings and congratulations we have received. We appreciate your support and are touched that so many of you share our happiness."

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

+ Archduke Felix of Austria (1916-2011)

HIRH Archduke Felix of Austria, last surviving son of the late Emperor Karl and Empress Zita (née Bourbon-Parma) passed away in Mexico, where he had lived for decades.

Felix was born at Schönbrunn on 31 May 1916, the same year that his father was to succeed to the moribund Austro-Hungarian throne. He was named after his mother's brother, Prince Felix of Bourbon-Parma, who later married Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.

He married at Beaulieu, France, Princess and Duchess Anna Eugenie of Arenberg (1925-1997), by whom he fathered seven children: Maria del Pilar (b. 1953);  Karl Philipp (1954);  Kinga (1955); Raimund (1958-2008); Marie Adelheid (Miriam) (b. 1959); István (b. 1961); and Viridis (b. 1961).

The Archduke settled in Mexico and led a very successful business career. All but one of his children were born in that country.

The late Archduke Felix of Austria.