Carl Fürst zu Wied (1961-2015)

Carl Fürst zu Wied died completely unexpectedly in the early hours of Thursday 12 March 2015 in the Marienhaus Klinikum St. Elisabeth in Neuwied after an heart attack. He was only 53 years old. The funeral service will take place in Neuwied on 20 March 2015, followed by the burial at the family cemetery near the Monrepos Castle in Neuwied.

Carl was the 8th Fürst zu Wied. He was born in Neuwied on 27 October 1961 as youngest of the two sons of Friedrich Wilhelm Fürst zu Wied and his first wife Guda Prinzessin zu Waldeck und Pyrmont (* 1939). They were married in 1958 and got divorced in 1967. Both parents remarried. His father had another son and daughter, his mother had two more sons. Friedrich Wilhelm Fürst zu Wied died in Salmon Arm, Canada, on 28 August 2000, aged 69, while visiting the family’s property there. Carl’s elder brother Alexander (* 1960) formally renounced his rights as first born son on 4 October 2000, and is not regarded as having succeeded his father.

Fürst Carl with daughter Luise and his mother-in-law, Potsdam, August 2011.

Fürst Carl with daughter Luise and his mother-in-law, Potsdam, August 2011.

Fürstin Isabelle and her younger son Friedrich Wilhelm, Potsdam, August 2011.

Fürstin Isabelle and her younger son Friedrich Wilhelm, Potsdam, August 2011.

Carl married in Birstein on 25 April 1998 Princess Isabelle von Isenburg (* 1973), daughter of Fürst Franz Alexander and his wife Countess Christine von Saurma, Freiin von und zu der Jeltsch. The couple had four children: Maximilian (* Neuwied 10 August 1999), Friedrich Wilhelm (* Neuwied 12 June 2001), Marie Elisabeth (born and died Neuwied 29 March 2003) and Luise (* Neuwied 2 November 2004). Maximilian, only 15 years old, will be the new Fürst. The family lives at the residence castle in Neuwied, Germany, built between 1707 and 1756.

Maximilian, Potsdam, August 2011.

Maximilian, Potsdam, August 2011.

Fürst Carl studied business administration. After the death of his father he led the family property. He managed about 5,500 hectares of forest and was shareholder of a steel company. He was very much involved in the conservation of nature and environmental pollution. Since 2000 he was the president of the Naturpark Rhein-Westerwald. Only early this month he had been chosen as spokesperson for the president of the Naturparke in Rheinland-Pfalz. He also was the patron of the Rheinische SchützenBund. Hunting was his hobby.

An interesting portrait about his work and his love for hunting can be seen here.

The Wied family tree starts with Sifrid I Lord of Runkel, who was mentioned in a document in 1159.. Friedrich von Runkel in 1462 inherited the County of Wied. He was a son of Dietrich IV von Runkel and Countess Anastasia von Isenburg-Wied († 1454), who was the heiress of her father Count Wilhelm II († 1462). The title of “Reichsfürst” (Prince of the Holy Roman Empire) was given to Johann Friedrich Alexander Graf zu Wied on 29 May 1784. Since 1824 the head of the house has the titles Fürst zu Wied, Graf zu Isenburg, Herr zu Runkel und Neuerburg, and is called “Durchlaucht” (Serene Highness).

The Year of Maria Louise 2015

marialouiseMaria Louise? Yes, Maria Louise, still quite well-known, especially in the Province of Friesland, The Netherlands. This Princess of Orange-Nassau, a born Princess von Hessen-Kassel, died on 9 April 1765 in Leeuwarden, the capital of the Province of Friesland. She is even better known under her nickname “Marijke Meu” (Aunt Mary). Her 250th death anniversary is extensively celebrated this year. The Maria Louise Year 2015 officially opens on the date of her death.

But why is she of great importance? Not only for Friesland, but also for the present Royal House of the Netherlands? Born on 7 February 1688 as daughter of Landgrave Karl von  Hessen-Kassel and his wife Princess Maria Amalia of Courland, and in 1709 she married the young Stadtholder of the Provinces of Friesland, Groningen and Drenthe, Johan Willem Friso of Orange-Nassau. The next year they had a little daughter, Amalia. The next year, seven months pregnant, Maria Louise lost her husband when he drowned in the Hollands Diep. Their son Willem IV never would meet his father. If Maria Louise hadn’t given birth to a son, it would have been the end of this branche of the House of Orange-Nassau. Maria Louise became the regent for her son until he came of age in 1731. She shows herself to be a strong woman, who is well respected and popular. Her son Willem IV dies in 1751, leaving a three-year-old son, Willem V. His mother Princess Anna of Hanover became the regent, but when she died in 1759, it was again Maria Louise who takes over that position until her death in 1765. She became the ancestor of many kings, queens and emperors in Europe.

A list of the most important and probably most interesting events for royalty-watchers:

21 March-10 May: exhibition “Maria Louise, Vorstin in Friesland” (Maria Louise, Princess in Friesland), Fries Museum, Leeuwarden.
21 March-5 June: Exhibition “Thuis bij Marijke Meu” (At Home with Marijke Meu), Keramiekmuseum Princessehof, Leeuwarden.
4-5 April – Broadcast of the Documentary “Met de ogen van Vandaag” (With the Eyes of Today) about Marijke Meu, NPO2 and Omrop Fryslân.
9 April – Opening of the Maria Louise year, Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, Leeuwarden (for invitees only).
9 April – Start of the “Vorstelijke Muurschildering (Princely Wallpainting), Oldehoofsterkerkhof, Leeuwarden.
9 April 2015-3 January 2016 – Exhibition “Johan Hermann Knoop, de hovenier van Maria Louise” (Johan Hermann Knoop, the gardener of Maria Louise), Historisch Centrum, Leeuwarden.
10 April – Symposium Marijke Meu, Fryske Akademy.
19 April 2015-30 March 2016 – Exhibition “Kant en mode uit de tijd van Maria Louise” (Lace and Fashion in the Times of Maria Louise), Museum Pakhuis Koophandel, Leeuwarden.
24 April – Marijke Meu Concert, Grote- of Jacobijnerkerk, Leeuwarden.
14 May – Princess Day, Prinsentuin, Leeuwarden.
20 May – Nassau Lecture by Hanno Brand, HCL, Leeuwarden.
27 May – Publication of the historical magazine “Fryslân Magazine” about Maria Louise.
20 June – Trotting-race at the Wilhelminaplein, Leeuwarden.
20 June – Revealing of the “Vorstelijke Muurschildering” (Princely Wallpainting), Oldehoofsterkerkhof, Leeuwarden.
27 June, 4 July, 1, 8 & 15 August – Maria Louise Walks, Leeuwarden.
As of 4 July – The Secret of Marijke Meu, Walks, Leeuwarden.
11 October – Lecture by Bearn Bilker about Maria Louise and religion, Nij Brongergea Tsjerke, De Knipe.
11 November – Lecture by Bearn Bilker about Anna Charlotte Amalia, Historisch Centrum, Leeuwarden.

The VVV Leeuwarden (Tourist Information) also offers Nassau arrangements.

Royal Lego (2)

Another lego post … people can create so much with a royal theme. The SculpturePark in Zuidlaren in the north of the Netherlands has sand sculptures and lego art on show. A friend of mine is creating all kind of buildings in Zuidlaren from lego and of course I had to have a look with him and his wife.

Unfortunately only a part of the sand sculptures was well visible, as because of a small earthquake in the area it is too dangerous to come close to some of the bigger ones. But although some media reported that the hall had closed, the building and even part of the exhibition is still open. And we were able to admire a few anyway, and also some small ones. Then we of course continued to the lego exhibition. It is really unbelievable what people can create of these tiny stones. And I even met a few royals well known to me … King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. The portraits were made by Paul Toxopeus in April 2013. They are based on official portraits of King Willem I of the Netherlands and Queen Anna Pavlovna, wife of King Willem II. We tend to think that someone (a visitor?) wanted to be funny by putting a little black block on her cheek.

lego1Lots of buildings and animals also, including this wonderfully made Taj Mahal.


Russian Easter Eggs

Thanks to two befriended Dutch royalty-watchers I just happened NOT to miss a great exhibition in the Drents Museum in Assen, a Dutch town less than 20 minutes by train from my hometown. Apart from an exhibition about the Russian painter Kazimir Malevich (sorry, not really of my interest) they also had a wonderful exhibition called “Kostbare eieren uit het Tsarenrijk” (Precious eggs from the Empire of the Tsars), only on show from 23 November 2014 to 1 March 2015. The collection is on loan from the Landesmuseum in Liechtenstein. The original collector was Adulf Peter Goop (1921-2011), who loved Russia. Decorated Easter eggs were symbols of faith, hope and love, and after Tsar Alexander III ordered his first egg at Fabergé in 1885, the tradition of giving your beloved ones an an egg on this most important orthodox feastday blossomed. It was the way to wish each other “Christos Woskresje”. The imperial family and nobility wanted them as extravagant and expensive as possible. They were ordered at Easter up til World War I. At the end of the 19th century the imperial family also liked it to present eggs with their initials to the people.

eastereggs1The exhibition starts with the biggest and probably one of the best eggs: the Apple Blossom Egg. The industrialist Alexander Kelch ordered it at Fabergé in 1901 as a present for his wife Barbara. But the exhibition shows many more Easter eggs from a variety of designers, including the Imperial Porcelain Factory. Some are small, others bigger. They are made of porcelain, gold, silver, glass or papier-mâché. And they are all richly decorated with religious motives, imperial initials, birds, flowers … and of course the most precious gemstones. Below is only a small selection of the eggs shown at this impressive exhibition.


The King and Queen of the Netherlands visit Two of Their Provinces

Once in a while King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, like many of their European colleagues, pay a visit to a part of one of their provinces. The Netherlands has twelve provinces and on Tuesday 17 February they spent the whole day in the peat-colonies of the Provinces Groningen and Drenthe, in the northeast of their country. As usual they learnt to know the area, its history, initiatives and problems.One problem wasn’t really heard during this visit, however the King had already spoken to people about it earlier. In Groningen there are earthquakes regularly, because of the exploitation of gas, and they become somewhat heavier and more regularly nowadays, causing damage to peoples houses and make that people don’t feel safe anymore.

Groningen and Drenthe don’t see that many royal visits yearly, and certainly not these parts of the provinces. The enthusiasm among the locals was therefore big and many people showed up everywhere to catch a glimpse of the royal couple. Sometimes they even stood there for some hours, although the weather was awfully grey and in Stadskanaal even a bit rainy. The people thought it was wonderful that the royal couple visited their part of the country and took the time to hear about what is going on in the area. And they much admired Queen Máxima for managing to brave the cold weather without wearing a coat.

provinces1The visit started at 10am in the town of Veendam, where many people waited on the square in front of the museum. In the “Veenkoloniaal Museum” the King and Queen learnt about the history of the area where peat was gathered since the 16th century up till the 20th century. They were also told about the co-operations between the municipalities in the east of the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe, especially in the inovative co-operation AVEBE, that unites Dutch and German farmers, and processes potatoes.

provinces2 provinces3 provinces4In Stadskanaal Willem-Alexander and Máxima visited the social workplace Wedeka, that helps people with some distance to the labour market to get a regular job, by offering them courses and intermeditation. The unemployment in the north of the Netherlands is pretty high at the moment. The royal couple toured the company and spoke with people working there. Outside again they took their time to greet the public.

provinces5 provinces6 provinces7Around lunchtime a private meeting was arranged with as theme the wind energy. Not all people are happy about having windmills spoiling the landscape. The meeting must have been very interesting and the food too good, as the royal couple arrived in Emmer-Compascuum almost half an hour late. Lots of schoolchildren, people and even the local carnival society were waiting patiently. The children sang the “Koningslied” (which was very much criticized in April 2013) and Prince Carnival offered the royal couple some herring, which by the way was refused, as they had just eaten. The Multifunctional Center De Deele does have a municipality shop and also offers day care for little children and old people. The visit started in the library with a film about the participation and initiatives of citizens.

provinces8 provinces9 provinces10 provinces11 provinces12The visit ended in the town of Emmen, where the couple visited the Stenden Hogeschool, a school that is very important for the area and offers education in technical science, tourism and hospitality, logistics and commerce. The royal couple met with children of a primary school who with help of students of the school learn about technical science. They also met with entrepreneurs who told about their companies. The visit ended with a short reception. It had been a long and interesting day for the King and the Queen, who left Emmen more than one hour after the estimated time.


Kate Middleton … Kate who?

The news section for the British Royal Family  of the British newspaper Daily Telegraph says in its header “Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 but continues to carry out an exacting range of duties with Prince Philip. They are ably supported by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, and increasingly by Princes William and Harry – the sons of Charles and the late Diana, Princess of Wales – and William’s wife, still affectionately known as Kate Middleton.” [thanks Mandy of Mandy’s Royalty for noticing].

Nothing affectionately about it, rather plain lazyness to my opinion, or probably media thought nobody would know anymore about whom they were writing when using her proper title, after having written about Kate Middleton for years. She was of course born Catherine Elizabeth Middleton, better known at the time as Kate. But no way she kept her maiden name after her marriage. Calling her Kate Middleton is to me simply not accepting her marriage, nor accepting that she is allowed to use a title now, which is much higher than her birth name, which was of course not at all a title. But whatever royalty experts write, media keep on calling her Kate Middleton, which is rather annoying to read.

I wonder whether the British Royal Court was helpful at all when announcing that Catherine wouldn’t mind being called by her first name, or as Princess or Duchess after her marriage. It simply is as it is written on the website of the British Royal Family: “On the occasion of his marriage, The Queen conferred a Dukedom on Prince William of Wales. The Duke received the titles of Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus. As a result Miss Catherine Middleton became Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn and Lady Carrickfergus.” (notice the lack of her first name in that row of titles). No matter what the audience calls her, she is neither Duchess Kate, nor Princess Kate, and surely not Kate Middleton anymore. As both her husband Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, and the Royal Palace call her Catherine nowadays, even Kate might not be correct anymore, at least not when you officially write about her.

Actually if her husband hadn’t been given a Ducal title she would have been called Princess William of Wales, as in Great Britain it is still quite normal to name wives by their husband’s name. Even when I think that is totally old-fashioned nowadays, at least in most other parts of the world. But she nowadays is simply The Duchess of Cambridge, because it is her husband’s title, but it isn’t Catherine’s personal title. As wife she is simply allowed to use his titles … Her husband used to be His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales and because he kept his princely title upon his marriage he became His Royal Highness Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, Earl of Strathearn, Baron Carrickfergus. But as a palace spokesperson explained on the day of the marriage: “She [Catherine] is not a princess in her own right. That title has not been conferred on her. Her title is that of duchess. So she is not Princess Catherine. And to call her Princess William of Wales is misleading.”