The Secret of Dresden

dresden9On Friday 12 December Queen Máxima of the Netherlands opened the exhibition “Het Geheim van Dresden. Van Rembrandt tot Canaletto” (The Secret of Dresden. From Rembrandt to Canaletto) in the Groninger Museum in Groningen, in the northeast of the Netherlands. I had been looking forward to the opening, also because the museum usually has wonderful exhibitions and this one had a bit of a royal theme, but it was not to be. Shortly after the death of Queen Fabiola of the Belgians it was announced that 12 December would be the date of her funeral. Not that I was going to travel to Brussels, but as I had to work, and the opening of the exhibition was held at the same time as the funeral, I stayed at home sitting behind my laptop in front of the television half of the day. Luckily on Thursday  journalists could already have a look, and so I managed to see the exhibition already before Queen Máxima did.

dresden1Dresden has been on my “to-go” list for some time already. The capital of the former Kingdom of Saxony seems to be worth a visit, because of its palaces, gardens and art collection. Not that I am really very interested in art, but in connection with royalty I am always happy to have a look. And as said the Groninger Museum always had beautiful art exhibitions in the past, and I must admit has definitely shown me art can be beautiful: Nordic Art 1880-1920 (2013), J.W. Waterhouse (2009), Russian Fairy Tales (2008), Akseli Gallen-Kallela – The Magic of Finland (2007), Russian Landscapes (2004) … The museum was built when I was studying in the city, and although it is very modern and is situated between old houses you slowly get used to it.

dresden8

Elector Friedrich August I of Saxony, King August II of Poland (1670-1733).

Elector Friedrich August I of Saxony, King August II of Poland (1670-1733).

Elector Friedrich August II of Saxony, King August III of Poland (1696-1763) and his wife Maria Josepha, Archduchess of Austria (1699-1757).

Elector Friedrich August II of Saxony, King August III of Poland (1696-1763) and his wife Maria Josepha, Archduchess of Austria (1699-1757).

But why “The Secret of Dresden”? Many Dutch people don’t seem to have discovered this pearl in the east of Germany, former East Germany, yet and hardly know what a special art collection is present in this old royal capital. Actually between 1697 to 1763 Saxony even was the most important state within the present boarders of Germany. From a simple electorate it became a significant European metropolis when the Electors of Saxony managed to become King of Poland too. The city of Dresden flourished economically and cultural during this time. The royal court in Dresden became the place to be for many artists, and not only did the kings ask artists to come to Dresden, the artists also sent in art themselves in the hope to be invited. August II The Strong and his son August III were big music and art collectors, and especially the latter one loved to collect paintings. Their collection became one of the biggest and notable ones in Europe. The museum closed during World War II, and towards the end of the war the art collection was kept in old mines. After the war the city was totally bombed by the Germans and Allied troops (remember February 1945), and the galery and other important buildings in Dresden had disappeared as had the art collection. The Soviets had taken them to the Soviet Union, and only returned the collection some ten years later. They were not only on display in Moscow in 1955, but also in Berlin. When the galeries (partly) had been restored, the collection could slowly return to Dresden itself. However with closed borders between the East and the West not too many Western tourists came to see the collections. Only in November 1989 the borders were open again for everybody. Who comes to Dresden nowadays just has to visit the Royal Palace, the Albertinum and the Zwinger. The last one (or actually the Semper Building) houses the “Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister” (Gallery of Paintings Old Masters), which at the moment undergoes an extensive renovation and modernization. A good time also to organise traveling exhibitions. The exhibition that is now on show in Groningen already visited Munich, Germany, and afterwards will go to the Belvédère Museum in Vienna, Austria. The modern setting in Groningen however is unique and gives you a totally different perspective on the paintings shown.

dresden4 dresden5 dresden7 dresden6This exhibition is really worth a visit. Don’t miss the beautiful wall and floor decorations, based on decoration that can be found at the Zwinger. Just walk slowly and enjoy all the works of art by big and less big painters like Rembrandt, Velasquez, Titian, Canaletto, Carracci, Wouwerman, Van Ruysdael. I especially loved the big paintings showing what Dresden looked like at the time, including a painting by Bernardo Bellotto of the ruins of the “Kreuzkirche” (Cross Church), dated actually 1765, which lots of small details. There are also portraits (of course also from both Electors), Italian landscapes, paintings with a mythological theme, still lifes, some with beautiful flowers. Remembering my experiences at previous exhibitions you better come early as I am certain this exhibition with 18th century paintings will once again become a huge success.

The exhibition is organized by the Groninger Museum in conjunction with the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden from 13 December 2014 to 25 May 2015.

Christmas Markets

What is more wonderful than a Christmas market … exactly, a Christmas market in or around a castle. The closest one from where I live is the Swedish Christmas market at the Fraeylemaborg, this year on 13 and 14 December. This year’s theme: sturdy. So you will get Vikings and Pippi Longstocking. I am not quite sure whether I’ll make it this year, as I have already plans for the surrounding days. Inside the estate is beautifully decorated, there is sometimes music and literature. Anyway it is always wonderful and two years ago I was lucky enough that there was some snow.

fraeylemaborg1 fraeylemaborg2 fraeylemaborg3Anyway there are many more Christmas markets in my country, held around castles. There is one at Middachten Castle in De Steeg from 9-14 December, taking you back to Victorian times. the Country & Christmas Fair at De Haar Castle in Haarzuilens from 26 to 30 November, the Kerst & Wild Fair at Doorwerth Castle on 7 December … and I am sure there are many more. Don’t miss Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn with its gorgeous Christmas decoration. This year from 13 December to 4 January 2015, including an ice rink outside. The decoration inside includes the decorated table as being used during the galadinner the Dutch royal couple held at the palace on the occasion of the official visit of Prince Albert II of Monaco last Summer.

But especially in Germany Christmas markets are a good place to enjoy the Christmas sphere. Merode Castle in Langerwehe-Merode opens its doors from 27 November to 21 December from Wednesday to Sunday, and their website says they have been named the most beautiful Christmas market in North Rhine-Westphalia in 2011. Moyland Castle‘s Christmas market takes place from 10 to 14 December, in Bedburg-Hau. Or what about the Thurn und Taxis Weihnachtsmarkt at St Emmeram, Regensburg with a chance to meet Fürstin Gloria? It will be held from 27 November to 23 December. Also Burg Hohenzollern in Hechingen from 28 to 30 November, and from 5 to 7 December has its own Royal Christmas market. Also the market in front of Charlottenburg Castle in Berlin looks quite nice. In the past years Prince Alexis von Hessen has since a few years organized a Christmas market at his Augustenau Castle. Very popular seems to be the spectacular Christmas market at Bückeburg Castle, taking place from 28 November to 7 December.

Royal Gatherings

gatherings1It was pretty clear to anyone who passed the Bookshop Van Hoogstraten in The Hague, The Netherlands, in the weekend of 8 and 9 November 2014. On the occasion of Royal Gatherings II the whole shop window was full of royal books. Normally there is a bit of everything, but because of the weekend the owners had done everything to show that it was being held … royal books were all over the place. Not that they usually don’t sell royal books, but it has never been so clear!

gatherings2 gatherings3 gatherings4And if you wouldn’t notice on the outside, you would have seen it inside the small shop. Just over 60 people from about 12 countries attended the royal weekend in The Hague and the ones who arrived early already had a look in the shop before the weekend, others had a look in the breaks after noon on both days and sometimes came out with bags full of books. Very handy there were several authors at the conference who could sign their books. The conference itself was held in the Park Hotel near the Noordeinde Palace. Just a pity the Dutch royals didn’t show up :-) Both days started at 9.15am and ended around 5-5.30pm.

gatherings5The programme on Saturday:

  • Opening and introduction. All people attending actually had to introduce themselves.
  • Coryne Hall: APAPA: King Christian IX of Denmark and His Descendants.
  • Bearn Bilker: Anna of Hannover.
  • Renny van Heuven: Queen Wilhelmina and Her British Governess.
  • Ted Rosvall: Notabilities: Royalty and Celebrities in the late 19th Century.
  • Tatiana Cheboksarova: Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna: Aunt Miechen.

The programme on Sunday:

  • Coryne Hall: The Royal House of Bavaria.
  • Bjarne Steen Jensen: Royal Jewels (actually it was about the imperial Fabergé Easter Eggs).
  • Susan Symons: Schloß: The Fascinating Royal History of 25 German Castles.
  • Arturo E. Beéche: The Lesser-known Coburgs (The Coburgs “cursed”).
  • Galina Korneva: The Vladimir Villa in Tsarskoe Selo.
Arturo Beéche talking about royals of course.

Arturo Beéche talking about royals of course.

Ted Rosvall came from Sweden to entertain us.

Ted Rosvall came from Sweden to entertain us.

Coryne Hall signing her newest book "Princesses on the Wards. Royal Women in nursing through wars and revolution".

Coryne Hall signing her newest book “Princesses on the Wards. Royal Women in nursing through wars and revolution”.

Tatiana Cheboksarova and Galina Korneva, two lovely ladies from Russia who presented their new book on Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.

Tatiana Cheboksarova and Galina Korneva, two lovely ladies from Russia who presented their new book on Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna.

The weekend was closed with a drink in the Bookshop Van Hoogstraten. I suppose it was “Oranjebitter”, drunk to celebrate events in the Dutch royal family.

Someone left his glass in the right spot in the bookshop.

Someone left his glass in the right spot in the bookshop.

I had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed the lectures and company. However I had far too little time to talk with all my acquaintances from Ticehurst – many were there. And I met some new people too, which was really nice. I thought it was a bit of a pity there was nothing really arranged for lunch and dinner on Saturday. Arturo asked me and some others to join him for dinner on Saturday, but as it was quite late to go for dinner in the Netherlands, and I had to be back in time as I stayed with friends during the weekend, I had to say no. And unfortunately I had arranged to go back home on Sunday evening, so I couldn’t join some of my British friends for dinner that evening either. I also thought the room the conference was held was a bit small … not for the conference, but it took ages to get in and out of the room as always people were standing in the way or waiting in front of the coffee machine.

Another Christening at Palace Het Loo

You’d almost forget, but no Willem Jan Johannes Pieter Floris van Vollenhoven, son of Prince Floris and Princess Aimée van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven wasn’t christened yet. The little boy was born at the Bronovo Hospital in The Hague, The Netherlands, on 1 July 2013 at 1.32pm.

The little brother of Magali and Eliane was finally christened at the chapel of Palace Het Loo in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, on Sunday 9 November 2014, aged 16 months. Willem Jan could show the onlookers that he already is able to walk. His godparents were Prince Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje-Nassau, Van Vollenhoven, Hereditary Prince Alexander von Isenburg, Floris Leewens and Cooske Alberda van Ekenstein-Ten Cate.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Among the guests of course King Willem-Alexander, cousin of the father of Willem Jan, his wife Queen Máxima and their three daughters, Princess Laurentien with her three children, Princess Margarita de Bourbon de Parme with husband and daughters, and all children, children-in-law and grandchildren of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands and Pieter van Vollenhoven.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

The reason for the late christening was the serious illness of Prince Bernhard, uncle of Willem Jan. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the Summer of 2013, and happily the treatment was successfull. He attended the christening with his wife and three children and looked very good. Also his hair is returning.

The Funeral of the Fürst zu Castell-Rüdenhausen

As reported here Johann-Friedrich Fürst zu Castell-Rüdenhausen died on 30 October 2014, only aged 66, after a long fight against cancer. The funeral service took place in the Parish church of St Peter and Paul in Rüdenhausen, Germany, on 8 November 2014. The service in church was led by the Rev. Martin Fromm. About 1000 mourners paid the Fürst their last respect. Half of the mourners had to follow the service in a tent outside the church, where the service was shown on big screens.

Copyright: Gabi P.

Copyright: Gabi P.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Gabi P.

Copyright: Gabi P.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

Copyright: Henriëtte E.

After the service the Fürst was buried in the family grave at the cemetery. Hunters carried the coffin out of the church and to the carriage that drove the coffin to the cemetery. An impressive group of mourners walked it. They were led by the widow of the deceased and the new 29-year-old Fürst, Otto. Behind them followed the two daughters, son and son-in-law of the deceased, as well as his brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces. After the funeral hereditary count Otto received the flag of the House of Castell-Rüdenhausen as a token that he is the new Fürst. A reception was held in the park of Rüdenhausen castle.

Copyright: Gabi P. The wreath of Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia.

Copyright: Gabi P.
The wreath of Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia.

Among the mourners were members of the Castell-Rüdenhausen, Castell-Castell, Baden, Hannover, Hohenzollern, Lippe, Oldenburg, Prussia, Reuss, Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha, Erbach-Fürstenau, Hohenlohe-Bartenstein, Hohenlohe-Langenburg, Isenburg, Leiningen, Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, Neipperg, Oettingen, Solms-Laubach, Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee and Ysenburg.

For some more photos see Royalty Guide.

The King’s Tree at the Noordeinde gardens

On the occasion of the inthronisation of King Willem-Alexander on 30 April 2013 there was a project by the “Stichting Nationale Boomfeestdag” (Foundation of National Festival of Trees) and the “Koninklijke Bond van Oranjeverenigingen” (Royal Society of Orange Societies). All over the country “koningsbomen” (King’s trees) were planted and Dutch municipalities were stimulated to plant one to mark the start of the reign of King Willem-Alexander. On 23 April 2013 Willem-Alexander, still Prince of Orange, planted the first tree in The Hague.

noordeinde1 noordeinde2 noordeinde3On 22 November 2013 Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands planted a King’s tree in the “Prinsessetuin” (princess’s garden) of Palace Noordeinde in The Hague. Around the tree an ornamental railing, designed by artist Margot Berkman. The tree was presented to the former Queen as a present for her longtime concern for child and nature.

noordeinde4The gardens itself looked quite dull already. But the fact that the trees had already lost their leafs, made it possible to have a good view on the back of the palace.