Royal Legoland

Legoland only for children? Forget it. On 9 and 10 May 2016 I spent almost two days at Legoland Billund, Denmark, with two other grown-up friends, and we enjoyed ourselves enormously. Amazing what can be build out of lego. legoland10Apart from several Danish and foreign palaces and castles, I noticed the Danish crown princely family standing in front of the Kancellihuset at Fredensborg, one of their residences. Even dog Ziggy is included.

But there is much more to see: buildings, landscapes, Star Wars, Ninjago (new in 2016), Atlantis with great fish, penguins, the Wild West, Egypt, and of course lots of attractions. We were very lucky with the sunny weather. When we got wet in an attraction, we were dry very quickly. Luckily we had tried a few of them on day one, as on day two several weren’t working because of technical problems. Really a pity, so we missed the biggest rollercoaster.

See here for a lot of my pictures of Royal Legoland I left out anything non-royal, otherwise I could even have posted more.

Other Danish Purchases

yearbook

How could I forget I bought one more magazine and a royal book in Denmark.

I don’t have all the Danish royal yearbooks, but I come close. Luckily a friend of mine bought “Kongehuset 2015” for me, and all I had to do was pick it up when I was in Denmark earlier this month. They’re usually published early, so the year seems to run from October to September. The book contains a good list of engagements of the royals as well as many pictures taken during the year.

Furthermore I bought myself the Eurowoman of May 2016 I had read about online. It has an interesting interview with Crown Princess Mary and a selection of lovely pictures of her at home in Amalienborg, including a wonderful one taken on the roof with the Marble Church in the background. Even when it was somewhat expensive, and it will take me lots of difficulties understanding the text, I couldn’t leave it in the shop.

My Favourite Danish Magazine

billedbladet

I can’t help it, but when I am in Denmark, about the first thing I do is buying myself the Billed Bladet. THE magazine to read when you’re interested in the (Danish) royals, even when sometimes it is a bit gossipy. It is a weekly magazine with lots of reports and a TV-magazine, that I usually throw away immediately. Any royal engagement that is worth to be mentioned, gets mentioned in the magazine, with photos and sometimes even interviews. Anyway I discovered a special edition for this Summer about royals and their gardens too this time. It seems to be a bimonthly magazine with a different theme each time, and looks really nice.

 

Ribe Cathedral

Last week I was in Denmark, not a very royal vacation for a change, but I did see a few things connected to Danish royalty.

On Wednesday I was in Ribe, the oldest existing town in Scandinavia, that celebrated its 1300th anniversary in 2010. Lovely old streets and houses, several museums worth a visit. I was there with friends and we only had a good look at the cathedral and climbed the 52 metres high red brick Commoner’s tower from around 1300. Outside the cathedral is a pretty modern statue of Saint Ansgar (801-865), a monk, later Archbishop of Hamburg, whose mission it was to christen the people in northern Europe. He managed to build up relations with two Danish kings, Horik the Elder († 854) and his successor Horik II, although they never became Christians. Ansgar in 860 founded the first church in Ribe. The building of the present church on the same location – partly rebuilt several times – began between 1150 and 1175 and was completed between 1225 and 1250. After having climbed all the way up to the tower of the cathedral I found a little “shield” with the initials G S, a crown and the year “1928”. Not quite sure who the initials belong to, so if anybody knows …

What I could have known, if I had looked for it before travelling, was that there were a few kings buried in this cathedral. There is however not that much royal to see anymore. The first king to be buried in the cathedral was King Erik II Emune (ca. 1090-murdered 1137), who only reigned for three years. All that reminds of him here is a painting and an epitaph in Latin. Also buried at Ribe Cathedral is King Christoffer I (1219-1259), who is also honoured with a painting and an epitaph. Both memorial tablets were put up in 1576 by the historian Hans Svanning. Christoffer was buried in front of the high altar. The big black tombstone was taken out from the grave in 1987. It is the oldest royal tombstone in Scandinavia and made of black Belgian marble. Next to it stands his sarcophagus.

A Royal Visit to Northwest Friesland in 1905

Ha, ha, asked my uncle Wietse Leistra, who is a local historian, whether the royals had ever been in the area of Northwest Friesland, The Netherlands.

oudtzummarum

Royal train at Sexbierum, 27 September 1905. Source: http://oudtzummarum.nl/

He came up with this picture from the royal train at Sexbierum, not too far from Tzummarum, on 27 September 1905. I searched and it turns out the railway between Stiens and Harlingen was opened in December 1902 (and closed in December 1940). It among others passed Sint Annaparochie and Tzummarum. An extensive newspaper report says that Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands spent several days in the Province of Friesland at the time. On the 27th of September they apparently took the train from Leeuwarden to Stiens, and from there to Harlingen. They stopped for five minutes each on the railway stations of Stiens, Sint Annaparochie and Sexbierum where the inhabitants were celebrating them. Dutch flags all over the place as well as tasteful decorations. I wonder if the people really have seen much of the royal couple, but it must have been something very special at the time.

My First Royal Meeting

Photos copyrighted

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw my mailbox this afternoon: King and Queen tp pay regional visit to Northwest Friesland on Monday 13 June 2016. It is the area in the Netherlands my parents originally come from, where part of my roots are. But of course they wouldn’t … but yes! Sint Annaparochie, Wier, Tzummarum, Franeker and Harlingen. Now the two latter ones are towns, and have surely seen royal visitors before. They were even part of Queen’s Days in the past. But I am not too sure if they’ve ever visited one of the three mentioned villages. And I have relatives living in all three of them. Not the most touristic area of the Netherlands perhaps, close to the Wadden Sea and pretty empty space. But a cycle tour or a tour by car along the coast can be very lovely if you climb the dikes once in a while.

vanharenskerk

Van Harenskerk

Just a pity that the royals will likely spend so little time all the way up north in the Netherlands. In Sint Annaparochie they will visit the school Campus Middelsee, where schools and companies work together to connect secondary school students to the local labor market. They will likely not have time for the Van Harenskerk , where 13 members of that family were buried long time ago. They were monarchists as far as I know, and some descendants even married into the high nobility (Hohenlohe for example). The copper doors to their grave chapel were donated by King Karl XI of Sweden. In the old church, that was previously on the same spot the world famous painter Rembrandt van Rijn married in 1634 Saskia van Uylenburgh. There is even a statue of them in front of the church.

The King and Queen will likely immediately travel on from the Campus Middelsee to the tiny village of Wier, where they will visit the tomato farm “ItWiid”. Let’s be honest, the farm is almost situated in Berlikum, but officially it is in Wier, where my mother was born. A village with hardly 200 inhabitants. But if the Royal Couple would love camping, they would find a nice place for their caravan or tent here with a view on the old 12th century church that was restored in recent years. On the wall of the church is a very special astronomical clock, a present from a grateful man who hide in the village in WWII. And I am sure they could have a nice drink or ice cream on the terrace of the camping site. The Lautawei street remembers of the Lauta State, a noble house, that until 1748 was situated on that spot. Just outside the village is an ugly grey round building – which is much more important than you’d think. It is on of the two radar stations of the Dutch Royal Air Force that protects the Dutch airspace. I am certain the royals will pass it – and the actual village of Wier – on their way to Tzummarum, where they will visit the old people’s home Nij Bethanië. Can’t remember I have ever really gone into the village, but an uncle and aunt live there.

Royals

Willem-Alexander, 26 February 1986

I am pretty sure King Willem-Alexander doesn’t really remember, but he has been in Wier before, probably the only royal that has ever been there. Ever heard of the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Tour), a skating tour of almost 200 kilometres leading past all eleven historical cities of the province of Friesland? And yes, somewhere just after the tenth city, Franeker, it passes Wier too. The last time it could be held was in 1997. I spent part of the tours of 1985, 1986 and 1997 in Wier with my relatives and stood near and on the ice for hours and hours. 1997 was the last time unfortunately. But it was on 26 February 1986 that I surely remember I saw a royal. 18-year-old Prince Willem-Alexander had a bet with friends that he could skate the tour and as a prince of course managed to get on the contestants list. It must be said he did finish!  He was skating under the name of W.A. van Buren, but at the time he reached Wier, it was long known that he participated and even how he was dressed – as he was very recognisable you could hardly miss him. Anyway we had seen him passing, when a friend of my mother said, he is still there on the bridge! A cousin and I went there of course, too curious to see a real Prince from nearby. Don’t blame us, we were 12 and 13. He was sitting in a car on the bridge holding either a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. He must have been exhausted and cold at that point. Just imagine us standing there for probably 15 minutes or so just looking at the car and the poor Prince. My cousin said today that we were only a metre away and that we were sent away by his bodyguards, which I can’t really remember anymore, but of course we kept on watching from a somewhat bigger distance. If he ever noticed us? We have no idea. At one point he got back on the ice, full of energy again (hopefully). Above picture was probably taken just after his stop, by a friend of my mother.

Two (Three) Happy Queens

solarqueens

Here the newest additions to my collection. It must at least have been a year ago that I acquired Queen Silvia of Sweden (in the middle). On Sunday a friend gave me Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain as a gift. And I decided to buy Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands myself, after I found out she is still available. My mother isn’t happy, as I always have to put them away when she comes – the waving hands (there are solar cells in their handbags) make too much noise. I honestly hardly hear it anymore myself. Silvia and Elizabeth are products by Kikkerland.com. They have several versions of the Queen, including a special 90th birthday edition. Queen Beatrix was issued in 2013 on the occasion of her abdication, and was fabricated by a Dutch company called “Buro Glimlach”. I bought mine at The Tin Star Company. If you want to have one, just search for Solar Queen and the name in a search engine, as prices can be different.

Accidentally two of these Queens were in the news this week. Queen Silvia of Sweden became a grandmother for the fifth time. A baby boy was born to Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia at Danderyds Hospital on 19 April at 6.25 (statement)/6.28 (Carl Philip). The gender wasn’t immediately announced, but was announced by the happy father during a short press conference later in the evening. Mother and child are doing fine and left hospital already the next day. The only picture we got to see thus far is the one of the parents leaving the hospital with their newborn son. Not much to see tough. The name and title were announced in a Council of State on 21 April at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. He will be known as His Royal Higness Prince Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland. A Te Deum will be held in the palace church in Stockholm on 22 April. I am sure a photo will follow somewhere in the coming days.

Anyway the most important birthday girl of the week was of course Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, who today, 21 April, turned 90 years old. Can you imagine? You really wouldn’t say if you’d see her. She still looks so good and healthy, the same can be said of her husband Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who will even turn 95 on 10 June (although his skin clearly shows he is old). And they’re still have more than enough engagements. Yesterday and today they (especially the Queen of course) were celebrated in Windsor, where they’re staying these days. A private party with the family seems to take place this evening. Big celebrations – going on for days – will take place in May and June. I hope to see as much of it as possible on television. Long live the Queen (and the Duke)!

By the way, also Queen Beatrix, at 78, is still going strong. She today attended the Four Freedom Awards.