Styles and Titles

A royal I won’t mention by name, recently said that styles should only be used on an envelope. Searching around on the Internet it seems you can also use styles as salutation in a letter or when addressing people orally. However how often do you see these styles also used in other places, such as official guestlists or seating cards? Quite often to be honest … and as many experts will agree, these guestlists are usually filled with mistakes in styles and titles.

Now I am the first person to admit that the use of styles and titles not really easy, but why not research a bit better when you really need to use styles or titles? Some years ago I attended an engagement of the then Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. One of the speakers had clearly not done his work well, and addressed her as “Royal Highness” instead of “Majesty”. And I am sure such things happen regularly when royals are visiting an official event. Not to speak of all the mistakes on websites of official organisations.

Royal courts not always make it easy either, especially not when various members of one family have different styles. In the Netherlands and Denmark for example part of the members of the family are Royal Highness, while others are just Highness … yes, that is a difference! Princess Märtha Louise of Norway lost the style of “Her Royal Highness” in 2002, and is styled “Her Highness” since, but only abroad. She doesn’t have a style in Norwegian. The same counts for her aunt Princess Astrid, and the son of the crown princely couple, Sverre Magnus. To make it more confusing, Sverre Magnus’ sister and future heir to the throne, Ingrid Alexandra, is styled “Her Royal Highness”, as are his parents Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

A New Website Design

websiteFor years I had the same website design. Just over a year ago I thought about changing my website a little bit. Since 1998 I have mainly presented myself as a royalty watcher, but most of the time I also have been working as a royalty journalist. My German friend Anuschka agreed making a new design for the website, and despite her fulltime job spent weeks on it about one year ago, for which I am very grateful.

I very much like the new simple design. All these years I called the website “Netty’s Royalty Page”, which sounds quite uninspiring. When I had to think of a domain name years ago I came up with Nettyroyal, a decision I do still like. The name now heads the website also. I thought it would cost me just a few weeks or months eventually to alter the original website, but I had to make lots of changes, so in the end it took me almost a year. A few months ago I checked all links, but I am certain in the meantime some have gone already again, and new ones have been created. I have renewed the princes and princesses pages, added some specials and photo albums, and finally finished the profiles of all monarchies in the world.

Have a look at the new NettyRoyal. If you want to know a bit more about my work as a journalist you can click on “Journalist” on top of the frontpage. Would you rather like to see the old website, you click on “Royalty” instead. The menu is on top of the page, instead of on the side. The content hasn’t really changed, except for the lay-out and additions. So just have a look around. I am certain you will get used to the page very soon. I wish you a pleasant visit.

Romantic Wedding on Chiemsee-Island

All pictures: Copyright Gabi P. Not to be posted elsewhere without permission.

On 5 July Prince Amedeo of Belgium married Elisabetta Maria Rosboch von Wolkenstein (in short Lili Rosboch) at the Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, Italy. Some pictures by Dutch photographer Bernard Rübsamen can be found here It seems it was a lovely wedding, although it was pretty warm. Beautiful bride, gorgeous wedding gown by Valentino. For me it was simply too far away and too expensive at the moment.

A few more interesting weddings this weekend. Princess Theresa zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Oettingen-Spielberg, the 30-year-old daughter of Fürst Albrecht and Fürstin Angela, married Carl Christian Oetker “Charly” in an oecumenical service at the Pfarrkirche St. Jakob in Oettingen, Germany, on 12 July. He is a son of Richard Oetker and his first wife Marion Busch. Doesn’t his family name sound familiar to you? Yes, he is a member of the family running the company “Dr. Oetker”, producer of baking powder, cake mixes, pudding, etc. The civil wedding took place in Oettingen the previous week. The bride of course looked lovely, as you can see in the Augsburger Allgemeine.The couple celebrated with over 600 guests. Rumours in Oettingen are that the hereditary prince will marry next year.

isenburg2 isenburg4 isenburg6But another hereditary prince did marry on 12 July … Hereditary Prince Alexander von Isenburg. After having married civilly at home in Birstein on 14 June, he now married Sarah Lorenz also religiously. Place of the event was the Benedictine Abbey of Frauenwörth on the “Fraueninsel” (The Women’s Island) in Lake Chiemsee. The wedding mass was celebrated by the Auxiliary bishop of Fulda, Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Dietz and Konrad Kronast. Among the guests were members of the Dutch royal family: Pieter van Vollenhoven, Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Prince Floris (who was one of the witnesses of the groom) and Princess Aimée van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Prince Jaime and Princess Viktória de Bourbon de Parme, as well as Albert Brenninkmeijer and Princess Carolina de Bourbon de Parme. Other guests were Fürst Alexander and Fürstin Nadja Anna zu Schaumburg-Lippe, Fürst Philipp and Fürstin Leonille zu Stolberg-Wernigerode, Elizabeth Herzogin in Bavaria with her two children, Hereditary Prince Hubertus and Hereditary Princess Kelly von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Princess Maria Theresia and Princess Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, Fürst Wolfgang Ernst zu Ysenburg and Büdingen. And of course all four siblings of the groom with their families. A very nice photo gallery can be found at About 300 people celebrated with the couple. Bride and groom took them on a boat tour on the Chiemsee. On 16 August the home coming of the bride will be celebrated in Birstein.

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The Film: Grace of Monaco

In the past weeks I have heard different opinions about the new film “Grace of Monaco” starring Nicole Kidman. The princely court of Monaco issued a statement on 2 May stating: that “The Prince’s Palace would like to reiterate that this feature film cannot under any circumstances be classified as a biopic” and “that this production, a page of the Principality’s history, is based on erroneous and dubious historical references”. It further said: “The Princely Family does not in any way wish to be associated with this film which reflects no reality and regrets that Its history has been misappropriated for purely commercial purposes.” People, including Nicole Kidman, have said however it wasn’t meant to be a biopic in the first place. Some people I know said it wasn’t very good, others liked it. So today I finally went to the cinema myself to have a look.

To be honest I thought the story sounded quite OK, surely if you don’t look at the historical side of the film. Beautiful palace, gorgeous costumes and jewellery, and great views on a tiny part of Monaco. Loved the few old pieces of video that were shown, like the arrival of Grace in Monaco in 1956, her wedding, and the French-Monaco conflict in 1962. I also thought the few appearances of her children Caroline and Albert throughout the film were quite cute. I thought that the Rainier in the film actually hardly was charismatic. The story is that of the somewhat bored Princess Grace being asked for a new film, called “Marnie”,  by Alfred Hitchcock personally. A princess that doesn’t really feel appreciated either by the court or the people of Monaco, and at that point neither by her husband Prince Rainier. She says yes at first, but when the country gets into trouble with France about paying taxes, she in the end withdraws. Of course the conflict between the two countries is being solved by inviting everybody, including President Charles de Gaulle for the yearly Red Cross Ball. Also attended by the defence secretary of the USA, Robert McNamara, by the way. And of course Grace is the star of the evening, looking absolutely stunning.

I wonder if the film attracts anyone who doesn’t know who Princess Grace of Monaco, previously actress Grace Kelly, is. I hope visitors also know the few other important historical figures in the film, as it is hardly explained who they are. Most important are of course Prince Rainier himself, his sister Princess Antoinette, her second husband Jean-Charles Rey (they only got married in December 1961), Alfred Hitchcock, President Charles de Gaulle, and Aristoteles “Ari” Onassis, who of course wants to keep his business in Monaco running. Last but not least opera singer Maria Callas, who gives a splendid performance at the Red Cross Ball. I can at least also say that the film makers have done some research in the titles and how to address royals.

But to the historical facts … According to Wikipedia Antoinette “was removed from the Palace by her sister-in-law, Princess Grace, and thereafter was estranged from the princely family for many years”. In the film she is negotiating with the French behind her brother’s back. Not sure how much of that is true. For sure they have had their conflicts. Antoinette for quite some time tried to achieve the throne for her son Christian, born out of wedlock, but legitimized by her first marriage to Alexandre Noghès. Most of this would have taken place before 1962 I suppose. The Monaco constitution was changed in December 1962, apparently leaving Antoinette without succession rights.

As is already said in the film in 1962 Monaco refused to impose a tax on both its residence and international businesses residing in Monaco. That led to a conflict with France. In the end there was an agreement between the countries saying that French citizens residing in Monaco for less than five years and companies who were doing more than 25% of their business outside of Monaco could be taxed at French rates. As a result Monaco also had a new constitution, and the National Council was restored. The power of the reigning Prince was reduced. The conflict never came as far as the almost war situation in the film, and didn’t almost lead to the fall of Monaco as far as I understand online.

Princess Grace actually was asked by Hitchcock to play the leading role in “Marnie”, said yes, and after protests in Monaco and from her former film company MGM had to say no after all. Marnie was in the end played by Tippi Hedren.

This article by The Guardian actually says that neither Charles de Gaulle nor Robert McNamara attended the Red Cross Ball in 1962. And did Maria Callas actually perform? According to a website I found the prestigious performer at that ball was the Frenchman Charles Trenet. No mentioning at all of Maria Callas. She was however special guest in 1974, and surely also attended in 1960. The film dress and jewellery don’t come anywhere near the much more simple dress Princess Grace wore in 1962, and no, Prince Rainier didn’t wear a white suit either.

Was Princess Grace in 1962 still clueless about speaking French, as is suggested in the film, and did she only then start to make something of her life as a Princess? Did she really only then started to learn the history of Monaco and the Grimaldi family? I can’t help taking a look at the present situation in Monaco and found it pretty similar to be honest. Whether of course in both cases the truth is being told, is a different story. But also now it is thought Princess Charlène hardly speaks French. She also doesn’t seem to have been fully accepted at the Monaco court and by the people, and seems to be struggling with her identity.

Anyway I have noticed there is actually a new book to be published about Princess Grace, by Joan Dale (who died in 2005) in cooperation with her daughter Grace Dale, called “My days with Princess Grace of Monaco. Our 25-year friendship. Beyond Grace Kelly”. It is said to be the true story behind the wedding crisis. Joan Dale learnt to know Princess Grace in 1962, when her husband became an advisor to Prince Rainier. The book is to be published in October 2014.

Five royal abdications

Of course there were rumours, but only a few years ago most people would have laughed if you’d suggested that several monarchs would abdicate in the years to come. But now we all know … the most unlikely scenario might happen after all. Since early 2013 we’ve had no less than five abdications: Vatican City, The Netherlands, Qatar, Belgium and Spain. Interesting as voluntary abdications are not really usual in most monarchies, except for probably The Netherlands, Luxemburg and Bhutan.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands was the first one, on 28 January 2013 to announce that she was to abdicate on 30 April 2013. Not unexpectedly, as also her mother and grandmother had choosen to abdicate and hand over the throne to their heir. And there had been rumours for years. She announced the news in a speech on television: “As you all know, in a few days I hope to celebrate my 75th birthday. I am thankful that I have been granted the opportunity to do so in good health. At the end of this year we shall mark the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, an occasion that ushered in a new era in our history. The fact that these two special events coincide led me to decide to relinquish the throne this year. It seems to me to be an appropriate moment to take this step, which I have been considering for some time.”

The Dutch had hardly started the preparations for the big day when on 11 February 2013, completely unexpectedly, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would step down and resign on 28 February 2013. The reason given was “lack of strength of mind and body”. Popes usually don’t abdicate and he was the first to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, who didn’t do that completely voluntarily. Benedict XVI has retired now, but retained his papal name and title, and is still styled His Holiness. Within weeks he was succeeded by Pope Francis.

Unlike the other abdications, the one in Qatar happened quickly, and was hardly noticed. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar surprisingly announced in a brief televised address that he would hand power with immediate effect to his son Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Sheikh Hamad said: “The time has come to turn a new page in the journey of our nation and have a new generation carry out responsibilities … with their innovative ideas,”

The next to follow the example was King Albert II of the Belgians. In a national televised address on 3 July 2013 he said he would step down in favour of his son Philippe on 21 July. Hardly any time to prepare, but luckily the event coincided with the National Day of Belgium. Thus most events would take place as usual. Albert confessed: “I realise that my age and my health are no longer allowing me to carry out my duties as I would like to.” About one hour after King Albert II signed the abdication papers his son was sworn in as King Philippe of the Belgians.

There had been rumours already for a few years, but it was still a shock to most when King Juan Carlos of Spain on 2 June 2014 followed the example of his four colleagues the previous year. The Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the morning said: “His Majesty King Juan Carlos has just informed me of his desire to renounce the throne and begin the process of succession.” An official press conference with the King took place a few hours later. Not being used to voluntary abdications some things had to be arranged in Spain before the official abdication could take place. On 11 January the Spanish lower house of Parliament voted in favour of the law approving the King’s abdication. On 17 June the Senate also approved the law. The next day, 18 June Juan Carlos signed the abdication papers at the Royal Palace in Madrid. The abdication took effect at midnight on 19 June. As of that moment the Prince of Asturias became King Felipe VI, and his eldest daughter Leonor the Princess of Asturias. The new king was sworn in in the Parliament in Madrid on 19 June. The ceremony wasn’t attended by the old king. However the new Queen Letizia, daughters Leonor and Sofía, Queen Sofía of Spain (the old royal couple kept their titles), the King’s eldest sister Infanta Elena, the new King’s aunts Infanta Pilar and Infanta Margarita and several royal guests all related to the Spanish royal family, including former King Constantine II of Greece and his wife Anne-Marie. Also attending were about 700 members of the lower house and the Senate, the Cabinet and special guests.

Book tip! The Assassination of the Archduke

archdukeWhen there is one book you should read at the moment it is “The Assassionation of the Archduke. Sarajevo 1914 and the Murder that Changed the World” by Greg King and Sue Woolmans.

On 28 June it is 100 years ago that Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Crown Prince, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, during their visit to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This led to the outbreak of the First World War only weeks later. The three huge European Empires at the time, Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary, did no longer exist when the war came to an end somewhat more than four years later.

Unlike many books about the subject, this book is not only focused on what happened in Sarajevo. The book starts with a biography of the life of Franz Ferdinand, his education, health issues, travels and his relationship with several family members, including his uncle Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. Franz Josef hardly ever informed his nephew about state affairs as soon as Franz Ferdinand became the Crown Prince. The book gives an account of Franz Ferdinand’s thoughts on certain issues, and it would have been interesting to see how he would have been as an Emperor. Unfortunately that was not to be.

Franz Ferdinand would marry for love, unlike many other archdukes. According to the Family Statutes he was to marry a Catholic woman who was of equal rank. However he fell in love with a mere aristocrat, Countess Sophie Chotek, born in 1868. Twenty years later, in 1888, she became a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella of Austria. In the years to follow Franz Ferdinand and Sophie fell in love. Only in 1900 the Emperor gave his permission to the couple to marry. In the book you can read all about their relationship, the struggle to get permission and its consequences. Franz Ferdinand would be the Crown Prince, but his children would never have the right to succeed, nor would they ever be archdukes or archduchesses. Despite of their marriage Sophie was never fully accepted by the family of her husband and some people at court, although it seems that quite a lot of people and several foreign royals did. I must really admire her for her strenght to cope with the Austrian court. The couple had three children: Sophie (1901), Max (1902) and Ernst (1904). Another son was stillborn in 1908. And it appears to me that Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were doting parents. I loved reading in the book about their family life.

It is not until halfway the book that the story of the visit of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie to Sarajevo starts. A visit that actually should never have happened, if people involved in the organisation had listened to each other and to rumours about an attack. You could also wonder why this specific visit was to be held on 28 June, St. Vitus Day, a date of special importance to ethnic Serbs. The final plot and the events on 28 June 1914 are extensively described in the book. Just read and shiver … After his death Franz Ferdinand – the heir to the throne of one of the biggest empires in the world – was not to have a state funeral. He and Sophie were buried at their castle in Artstetten. And it is so sad to read how in the end the funeral events were held. They really had deserved something better.

Interesting enough the book doesn’t end with Sarajevo. The last part gives an account of the often difficult life of the couple’s three children, especially in World War II. But one also learns about the fate of the assassin of the couple, Gavrilo Princip and his accomplices. All of her life their daughter Sophie, who died in 1990, years after her two younger brothers, would keep on defending her parents and take care that they would never be forgotten. The same thing is done by several descendants of the three siblings, who have been talking to the media recently about their ancestors.

The foreword of the book was written by Princess Sophie von Hohenberg, a great-granddaughter of the couple that was killed in Sarajevo. A great help, especially for people who don’t know the family very well, are the genealogies of the Habsburg, Hohenberg and Chotek families, a map of the Austria-Hungarian Empire, and a list with characters in the book. In the back of the book is a good index, as well as a list of notes and a bibliography (both could have been printed smaller tough). In the middle of the book are several pages with lovely illustrations, so you can see what the main persons in the book really looked like. On the cover of the book is also a lovely portrait of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie with their three children.

Princess Sophie von Hohenberg and family. Photo & Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Princess Sophie von Hohenberg and family. Photo & Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Don’t miss this on 28 June: BBC to re-live start of First World War with four-and-a-half hour news report on assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The website of the authors

The book has been published in Great Britain by Pan MacMillan on 26 September 2013 (£ 20). The book is available in hardback, paperback, as Kindle edition and as an audiobook. The book has been published in the USA by St Martin’s Press early September 2013, a paperback version is to follow early August. The book has already been published in Portugal and Poland, and will be followed by publication in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Romania, Russia, Slovenia and Turkey later this year. Sue Woolmans has been given several lectures about the subject, and is still going strong.

Website Progress

Am I having fun! Still working on my new website (nearing the end I hope), and I have decided to put online again the articles I once wrote for an online royal magazine called “Royal Watch”. The magazine, that was written by royalty watchers, doesn’t exist anymore, I wrote an article about royal news each month from August 2001 to August 2003. Some articles might have gone lost, but most of them are still on my computer.

I just came across my thoughts about 9/11, and an article from November 2001, when I still was convinced that the new King Felipe VI of Spain was to get engaged to his Norwegian girlfriend Eva Sannum very soon … we all know now what happened. They broke up, and in May 2004 he married Letizia Ortíz Rocasolano, who is since 19 June 2014 Queen Letizia.