Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Queen Elizabeth II. Everybody's Queen!

Queen Elizabeth II, her full name Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.

Her title in the United Kingdom : Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith. She is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Queen Elizabeth is the only Head of State of more than one country/realm.

Elizabeth II is also Queen of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, in each of which she is represented by a Governor-General. These 16 countries of which she is Queen are known informally and unofficially as Commonwealth realms; their combined population, including dependencies, is over 129 million, and their total land area makes Queen Elizabeth one of only a few monarchs to reign over parts of every continent on earth. (Go to each link to read on the unique constitutional position of Queen as Queen and Head of State of the realm/country.)

Her role (and title) Head of the Commonwealth is more unique, the Commonwealth of Nations have member countries, in addition to the above list of Realms, which are Republics, or Monarchies(!). (link):
The Republics include : India, Pakistan, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Gambia, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Fiji.
These were Commonwealth realms for some time after gaining Independence and before becoming Republics.

The following member states became Republics immediately on gaining independence but opted to become members of the Commonwealth: Cyprus, Cameroon, Samoa, Zambia, Maldives, Singapore, Botswana, Nauru, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Seychelles, Dominican Republic, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Namibia.

Independent Monarchies, once part of the British empire with their Monarchs considering the British monarch their King Emperor, which are members of the Commonwealth : Malaysia, Brunei, Lesotho, Swaziland and Tonga.

(Burma, now Myanmar, a former British colony, Israel, former British mandate of Palestine, and Sudan, a former Anglo-Eygptian possession, decided to have no Commonwealth relationship!)

The Queen takes a great interest in the Commonwealth, she is at great pains to keep abreast of the situation in each of the member states, making certain she attends every Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The member states have several trade agreements, student exchange programs, sharing of resources and skills, the Commonwealth Games, Commonwealth Youth Program, Commonwealth of Learning, Commonwealth Association of Lawyers, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Commonwealth Scholarships linked to the Commonwealth Association of Universities, the Commonwealth Business Council. (link)

In the case of India, its example may not be present elsewhere, the Queen and the Commonwealth are far from the public mind, mention of any news or information on these two institutions made rarely; the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, was very keen to promote the Commonwealth although he steered the country on a course that distanced itself from the British Monarchy.

However, Indians take great interest, for example, the TV and media coverage of Charles and Diana's wedding, (some of the cinema theatres in Mumbai showed a documentary of the wedding before the main feature), the death of Princess Diana, Charles' second marraige to Camillia; the Indian media carries news of Princes William and Harry-Harry's keen interest to serve in Iraq, for example.
At the political level the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association must expose Members of India's Parliament to British and commonwealth workings. Besides, the Commonwealth Games are taken very seriously, the recent Games in India proving this point.

Queen Elizabeth is one of the most photographed woman in the world, her visits abroad attract huge crowds, the press always makes a mention of what she wears on each occasion -the Queens's style of clothes, though seen as outdated, are very attractive, her sense of colours and style stand out in the crowd.

The Queen is probably the most well informed Head of State, she has these unique Red Boxes sent to her daily, with State papers to read, comment on, and bills statutes to sign. including documents and state papers from the other 15 realms.

Through her reign the Queen has been 'served' by 11 UK Prime Ministers, 11 Australian PMs, 11 Canadian PMs, 14 New Zealand PMs, etc (see list.)

The Monarch has the right to warn and advice, but she never makes any political comments. The Speech from the Throne outlining government policies is prepared by the Prime Minister...........this tradition is followed in the realms by the Governor General of the day.

The UK Prime Minister meets the Queen every week, the PMs of the other 15 realms pay her a visit after being elected and keep her informed of important crucial matters.

Queen Elizabeth became Monarch in February 1952; crowned, in June 1953, at Westminster Abbey, London, simultaneously "ascending the thrones" of the other Realms, (see above.)

She married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburg on 20th Nov 1947, and has four children, Prince Charles, Heir to the throne,Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

Very briefly, the Queen, born on 21st April 1926, is daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York; her father unexpectedly becomes King, George VI, in 1936, on the abdication of his elder brother, King Edward VIII, and Princess Elizabeth becomes first in line to the throne. She studied arts, music, and the French language; by the age of 16 she is appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards, in 1944, at the age of 18 she is a Councillor of State and carries out some functions of Head of State when her father went abroad to Italy. During the WW II she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service and rises to the rank of Junior Commander, and a fully trained ambulance driver!
With foresight, she had requested the government to televise live the Coronation Ceremony on 2nd June 1953. The British Queen is easily the most travelled, most approachable person, eager to meet people from all parts of the world and all walks of life; her garden tea parties, informal dinners with her subjects and people from all accross the world, her walkabouts, meeting ordinary common folks, her honours to achievers from all kinds of work and vocations have endeared her to the public. She takes her work very seriously, fully acquaints herself with all important matters in the UK, the Commonwealth realms and the world.

The Queen's Genealogy: (link 1) and (link2)
Strictly, on a patrilineal ancestry basis, the Queen is descended from King Edward VII whose father was Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg Gotha (consort of Queen Victoria), and Albert's patrilineal ancestors were the Dukes of Saxe Coburg Gotha, Saxe Coburg Saalfeld and Saxe Wiemar, very old line of German Dukes who in turn are descended from the Wettins, Electors of Saxony.

(Descendants of the House of Saxe Coburg Gotha also become kings of Belgium (currently), kings of Portugal and of Bulgaria.)
(descendants of the House of Wettin became Electors of Saxony, then Kings of Saxony, Kings of Poland, Grand Dukes of Lithuania and Dukes of Saxe Coburg Gotha etc.)

Her royal ancestors go further back, from Queen Victoria, through Victoria's patrilineal line to George I, to the Dukes of Brunswick and Luneberg, further back to the Dukes of Saxony and to Azo II, Marques of Este, 990 A.D.

This gets more interesting............. through George I' s mother Sophie Wittulsbach, James I, the Stuart king of England, is George I's great grandfather. Again, through James' mother, the famous Mary, Queen of Scots, the royal line goes back to Henry VII (this means Henry's son Henry VIII and H. VIII's daughter, Elizabeth I were ancestral uncle and aunt of Queen Elizabeth.)

Through HenryVII's mother, the royal line goes further back to Edward III and to William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, who is descended from Ivar of the Uplands in old Scandinavia. William's wife is descended from the Capet kings of France.

William's son Henry I marries Matilda Edith, daughter of King Malcolm III of Scotland; her mother is descended from Edmund II Ironside from the ancient line of English kings that goes back several generations to Alfred the Great, King of West Saxons, further back to Ealhmund, Eaba, Eoppa, Ingild, Cenred, Ceolwald, Cuthwulf, Cuthwine, to the Kings of Wessex, Ceawlin, Cynric, Creoda, and to Cerdic 1st king of Wessex, acceded 532 A. D.

Cerdic is descended from Elesa, Elsa, Gewis, Wigg, Freowine, Frithogar, Brond, several generations back to even stranger sounding names- Hathra, Hwala, Bedwig, Seskef, Magi, Moda, Vingener, Vingethor, Einridi, Loridi, Thor of Thrace and his father Munon, King of Troy!!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The King of the Belgians.

Pictures: Palace at Brussels; King Albert II and Queen Paola; the royal family and the young generation; Belgian chocolates!!!

Belgium, with Brussels as capital, and seat of the European Union Parliament, headquarters of NATO. is an important player in European politics.

Belgium, famous the world over for its waffles,chocolates and pralines, the Godiva and Guylian brands, and the Trappist beer rated as the world's best, is a small country wedged between the Netherlands to the north, and France to the south; covers an area of 30,528 sq kl ms. with the Dutch speaking northern region of Flanders and the southern French speaking region of Wallons.

Although Begium became an independent sovereign state in 1830, breaking away from the Netherlands, it has a very long history; first occupied by the Belgei, a tribe from Central Europe, it became a Roman province and later a province of Charlemagne's empire, then part of the Netherlands, sharing its fortunes, until 1830, when the southern provinces seceded and became an independent country, Belgium. In 1831, Belgium chose Leopold I as king.

Although this gives an impression of the royals of Belgium as new on the scene, this is not true; Leopold descends from a long line of German princes of the House of Saxe- Coburg Gotha.

But like the Wettins of Great Britain (George V, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II) who changed their family name to Windsor to be seen to severe German links, the Belgian royals changed their family name to de Belgie.

Leopold I had a very interesting life, born in Bavaria, Germany, his father Duke Francois of Saxe Coburg Saalfeld, Leopold has served in the Russian army of the Czar, rising to the rank of General, then later acquired British citizenship (!!!) and rose to the rank of Field Marshall, and in 1831 accepted the Crown of the new kingdom of Belgium.

The present Monarch Albert II, brother of the previous Monarch King Baudouin, served, before his becoming king in 1993, as Honorary President of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Foreign Trade Office, a position he held for 31 years, helping to boost Belgian foreign trade. He was also President of the Belgian Red Cross. In 1969 he became member of the Council of Europe with the Presidency of the European Ministerial Conference. As Prince he was active in town planning, housing, nature conservation and protection of the environment.

In 1959, the King, then prince, married Donna Paola Ruffo di Calabria, from an Italian royal house.

Queen Paola, who had a classical education in Rome, in Latin and Greek, assists the King in his royal duties and takes active interest in the Queen's Charities, set up by her for helping people in financial crisis. She has also founded the Queen Paola Foundation, that help young people in education and the professions. She is Honorary President of Child Focus (, the charity which searches for children who have disappeared, combats sexual abuse and deals with other problems facing children.

Crown Prince Phillipe is a trained fighter pilot and paratrooper, and holds the rank of Major General. He is a graduate of Trinity College, Oxford, and completed his Masters in Political Science from Stanford University. Since 1993, he serves as Honorary Chairman of the Belgian Foreign Trade Board, and in this capacity has visited over 30 countries!

His wife, Princess Mathilde, daughter of Count and Countess Patrick d'Udekem d'Acoz, is a trained speech therapist, and holds a Diploma in Psychology. She is patron of and takes active interest in the welfare and rehabilitation of vulnerable persons. As member of the Belgian delegation of United Nations Conference on Children's Rights, and following the invitation by UNICEF and the Belgian agency for development cooperation, she presided over humanitarian missions to Niger and Mali, emphasising children's rights, health, female empowerment, poverty eradication.

The Belgian monarchy does not follow the usual tradition where a new Monarch, the heir, ascends to the throne on the death or abdication of his/her predecessor, rather the monarch accedes to the throne after the official act of swearing an oath to the Belgian Constitution.

The wordings of the Oath seem very significant as the incoming monarch has to swear by the Constitution to "I swear to observe(should be "abide" in translation)/by the Constitution and the laws of the Belgian people, to maintain (uphold) national independence and the integrity of the territory/nation."

Significantly, the Begian king is styled 'King of the Belgians' not 'King of Begium' to signify he is a King of the people.

All acts of the Monarch, appointment or dismissal of ministers, constitutional functions such as assenting to a new law, etc, have to be countersigned by the concerned Minister.

Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Royals then and now!

Everyone of us have to change with the times, adapt or perish, and Royals are no exception.

Most of the young generation today, familiar with modern liberated attitudes, would be surprised and amused that things were not the same before the two Great Wars, before Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Hard Rock; no one would be bothered today if a couple is seen kissing in public, not so some hundred years back. Up until the early 1850s betrothed couples, in Europe, could not "date" without a chaperone's accompanying the couple. A fiancee would address her paramour with "sir" and "Mister." A few good movies, with an eye for detail, will show these, now forgotten, mindset and postures and what have you, "A Girl with a Pearl Earring" a good example.

Most of us would be far more skeptic and incredulous on learning how people held their kings and princes in awe and reverence.
In the ancient East, kings sat on their thrones behind screens of silk encrusted with precious stones, so the commoner could not view their faces. When royalty walked, with nobles following, a gold threaded parasol held above, musicians leading the royal procession, commoners had to bow and touch their heads to the was sacrilege to view the royal face!

Kings led their armies from up front, they set an example of bravery and chivalry by hard training to be the best swordsman, the best on the horse; intelligent and astute, kings planned battles, made diplomatic coups by marriage alliances, and some were very good at planning their countries' and their own finances, valued in gold and jewels, life stock and slaves, palaces and vast land holdings.

The entourage of an ancient monarch on the march, to invade a foreign land, was a spectacle.......along with ornate chariots drawn by magnificent stallions, the sacred household fire of the king leading, standards and pennants, the thousands of foot soldiers and mounted horse cavalry, mounted elephants, royal tents and furniture in gold and ivory, carried on camels and mules, there would be hundreds of musicians, priests, women of the harem, women following their husbands, or courtesans, slaves and clowns, dwarfs and jugglers.

In many parts of the world where kings ruled with absolute powers, good families 'hid' their beautiful daughters, and this no exaggeration, minions of the king would literary "pick" fair maidens off the China, the Emperor was presented with beautiful women on a full moon's the novel Good Earth, by Pearl Buck, the Empress on reaching 40 moons, presents her husband, the Emperor, with a beautiful concubine!

Throughout history the most ambitious schemed and used people like soldiers on a chess board in their greed and ambition to be kings...............history is full of examples......pretenders and rogues had to be hounded down, and great generals schemed their way to the far back as ancient Eygpt, Libyans who first assisted native Pharaohs, claimed the throne when their power went undisputed (see The Book of the Pharaohs by Pascal Vernus, Jean Yoyotte, David Lorton, Amazon books).........then Smerdis or Bardiya claimed the Persian throne in 400 B. C. when Cyrus the Great died and his spear bearer and nephew from a side line, Darius the Great had to hound down the pretender before he could be king. (see The Cambridge History of Iran by William Bayne Fisher, Ilya Gershevitch, Ehsan Yarshater, R. N. Frye, J. A. Boyle, Peter Jackson, Laurence Lockhart.-Amazon books.)
Alexander the Great proclaimed himself Persian King of Kings and adopted Persian court etiquette.
Better known is the case of Julius Caesar who paid with his life for declaring himself the Roman Emperor
, the great general of all time Napoleon becoming the Emperor of the French.

A classic example where the aspirations of people and that of the royals clashed famously is the incidents after the death of Princess Diana, when the British royals kept themselves secluded in Balmoral Castle in Scotland that so annoyed the British public, who also insisted the flag over Buckingham palace be flown at half mast!!!

In sharp contrast, at no time in the history of the world have royalty been so subjected to the public gaze as now, with the electronic media, newspapers, magazines and journals covering every move, every story of royals, their private lives, what they say or don't, a relentless chase with the public wanting to know everything.

The royals, at least most of them, haven risen to the occasion, encouraging the media to televise- their day to day life, speeches on Christmas, how their ardous duties are coped with, films of the younger generation of royals at military training, parades and visits, both abroad and within their country, palace ceremonies-investitures and parties, etc.
Royals are now trained officers in their defence forces, graduates from Universities, ambassadors for their countries, involved with issues such as Aids and HIV, credit and other charities in Africa, bankers, and human rights activists, good sportsmen and artists.

Having said this, people with a royal tag are human beings, with the same characteristics as any common man; perhaps some members of this exclusive elite take the fullest opportunity of their position to be seen as good persons, and others take the fullest advantage and are seen as undeserving, to become more unpopular and disliked, even hated.............but in all democratic constitutional monarchies there are checks and balances so the royals have to remain within certain parameters and seen to be doing so. In their private lives the minor royals are generally left to lead their own private life, but the Head of State and his/her immediate family are expected to set some high moral standards, at least definitely high ethical levels.

That brings us to the question: are royals in any way different human beings, with some pure bloodline that is assumed to give them better judgemental ability, make them better students or soldiers, or better suited to any human activity. Certainly not, anyone who believes this is believing a lot of nonsense!!!
At the end of the day, the good monarch, albiet most often trained to be one, is what he or she is on the strength of his/her's own character and sense of responsibility and commitment, ingrained patriotism, good judgement, some good level of maturity and a constitutional monarchy he need not be a good leader or good executive, all that is taken care of!!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Dutch Royal Family

Pictures: Royal Palace, Amsterdam; Noordeinde Palace; the Dutch Royal Crown; Queen Beatrix; and the Queen with Crown Prince Willem Alexander and Princess Maxima; Princess Catharina, a future Queen(!); windmills of Holland.

The Netherlands, in Dutch not plural, but Nederland, means low country; almost 30% of the country is below sea level, with a majority of the Dutch living there; its reinforced banks to contain sea water from coming in so well constructed that the US government sent its engineers to examine the dykes after the Katrina disaster in New Orleans.

The Netherlands is also popularly called Holland, and evokes memories of the "Diaries of Anne Frank" and the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and the Hague are some of the best tourists destinations in Europe. Some of the greatest painters, Van Gogh and Rembrandt are Dutch.

The country lies on the western European coast north of the English channel, north of Belgium and west of Germany, covering an area of 41520 sq kl ms with Amsterdam as the capital and the Hague as the seat of Government. The Netherlands is also one of the founding members of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and OECD, and seat of the International Court of Justice.

In the Middle Ages, Netherlands with its traders and burgomasters, with its Far East trade in spices was then one of the richest countries in Europe.

Netherlands (and the southern region of Belgium that broke away and became a separate Kingdom in 1830) came into prominence as lands belonging to the Spanish crown whose people rebelled against the Spanish King Philip II and formed a Republic in 1581. Its relations to the House of Orange, with Prince William I of Orange and Nassau as a statdholder (a Viceroy) also dates from around that time, succeeding statholders were also from this family....the present ruling House is the same House of Orange and, in 1813, Willem I became the first King.

The present Monarch, Queen Beatrix, born in 1938, succeeded her mother Queen Juliana in 1980. The Queen had her college education at the Lieden University, with studies in sociology, jurisprudence, economics, history and constitutional law, studies of her overseas colonies, international law and European law. Her Majesty obtained a Degree in Law in 1961. She was a member of the Lieden Women Students Association!!
As Head of State, Queen Beatrix takes great interest in the affairs of state, especially involved with issues that face common people, for example how effective the Justice system is, in protecting their rights, especially rights of minorities. She is also concerned with environmental issues and takes interest in affairs of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

She married the German diplomat Claus von Amsberg in 1966, made the Prince of the Netherlands the same year............he died in October 2002.
Prince Claus was a distinguished member of the post war German Foreign Service, after his graduation, in 1956, as a student of Law and Political Science from the University of Hamburg. He had seen some war service during the Second World War but without any political commitment or connection to the Nazi party.
As the Prince Consort he was very active in the development plans of the Netherlands, even serving as Inspector General for Development Cooperation and, served on the Board of Directors of the Nederlandsche Bank, and Chairman of the Transport and Public Works Export Platform (council?)

Their eldest son Crown Prince Willem Alexander, Prince of Orange, is an active career officer, presently in reserve, in both the Dutch Navy, holding rank of Commodore, and the Dutch Army, with the rank of Brigadier General. He is also a student of History, Political Science and Law from the Arts Faculty of the Lieden University. As Crown Prince he represents his country at international events, and is involved in social issues facing the Dutch people.

Princess Maxima, wife of the Crown Prince, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1971, and married to the Prince in 2002, is a professional executive and banker, having worked in Boston Securities, then in Deutsche Bank in New York, and in the European Union Representative Office of Deutsche Bank in Brussels.
After marraige she studied Dutch history and constitutional law, is a member of the Council of State, member of the Ethnic Minority Women's Participation in Society, and a member of the United Nations Advisory Committee on Micro-Credit, that is involved in small loans to the poor disadvantaged in under-developed countries. Amazing!

The House of Nassau Orange, descended from the House of Nassau, a German lordship that owned the castle of Nassau in the German Rhineland, became elevated to the title of Counts with Walram I, the first Count in the 12th century. His grandson Otto founded the Otton line, where a descendant Engelbert I married Breda, owner of Dutch possessions, hence the connection to Netherlands was forged here. Hendrik III of Nassau-Breda was made the first statdholder of Holland and his son Rene served in the same office; some form of hereditary basis was now in place, so when Rene died without an heir, his nephew William I of Orange became statdholder; he led a revolt against the Spanish King Charles V and his son Philip II which gained the Netherlands as an independent Republic. William I's descendants became the Kings/Queens of the Netherlands.

(William the III, King of England, was born William, Prince of Orange, son of Willem II, served as statdholder before he began a military campaign to claim the English throne, one reason of claim being his mother was Mary Stuart, Princess Royal, daughter of Charles the Ist of England!! and his wife Mary II, his first cousin, was daughter of James II of England!!!)

Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch, is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Royal Family of Denmark.

Pictures: Palace at Copenhagen; the Danish Royal Crown; Queen Margrethe II of Denmark; Prince Consort Prince Henrik; Crown Prince Frederick and Princess Mary Elizabeth in the next three pictures; young royals with their parents. Last picture, world famous "Mermaid" in Copenhagen harbour.

Denmark, with its mainland, a peninsula, pointing north from the north western German border, and several islands, mainly east of the mainland, is a flat country south of Norway and Sweden, covering an area of 43,098 sq klms, Copenhagen the capital.

Denmark has one of the highest standards of living in Europe, its free market economy doing very well for several decades, and boasts being a well organised welfare state. The 2008 Global Peace Index survey ranks Denmark as the second most peaceful country in the world, after Iceland!

Denmark shares with Norway and Sweden the Viking heritage and the three countries form the region of Scandinavia.

The Danish Monarch Schleswig-Holstein Christian IX was known as the grandfather of Europe, his children and grandchildren sat on several thrones of Europe, his son William George on the Greek throne, his daughter Alexandra "Alix married to King Edward VII of Great Britain, another daughter, Marie Dagmar, was the Russian Tzarina, his grandson Charles Haakon was crowned King of Norway.

Queen Margrethe II, born in April 1940, ascended the Danish throne in January 1972, has an extensive education in Universities in Denmark and other European countries. After having passed the examination in philosophy at Copenhagen University in 1960, the Queen studied archaeology in the period 1960-1961 (Diploma in Prehistoric Archaeology) at University of Cambridge. The Queen, subsequently, studied political science at Aarhus University in the period 1961-1962, at the Sorbonne in 1963 and at the London School of Economics in 1965.

The Queen performed voluntary service with Women’s Flying Corps in the years 1958-1970, and received comprehensive training in the corps during this period.

The Queen is the supreme commander of the Danish Defence Forces, and has a special connection to particular units of the British Defence. In 1972, Her Majesty was appointed Colonel-in-Chief of The Queen's Regiment, and in 1992 was appointed Colonel-!in-Chief of The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment!

The Queen is an accomplished artist, with her works represented at the following art museums: Statens Museum for Kunst (the Danish National Gallery), Aarhus Art Museum, ARoS, and Køge Art Gallery Sketch Collection for church designs and has her works exhibited at various art galleries across the world! She is an accomplished costume designer, designing for stage plays, TV presentations, ballets, and book illustrations for J.R.R. Tolkien: “The Lord of The Rings” published in Danish in 1977 and 2002; “The Lord of the Rings” was reissued with her illustrations in 2002!

Henrik, His Royal Highness The Prince Consort, was born Henri Marie Jean André Count de Laborde de Monpezat. The Prince Consort was born in 1934 in Talence, Gironde, France.

The Prince Consort studied law and political science at the Sorbonne, Paris while simultaneously studying Chinese and Vietnamese at École Nationale des Langues Orientales. Having studied Oriental languages in Hong Kong in 1957, Prince Henrik subsequently studied in Saigon in 1958, and performed his military service with the infantry in Algeria in the period 1959-1962. His Royal Highness holds the honorary rank of General and Admiral in the Danish Defence. The Prince operates the wine estate Château de Caïx in Cahors in France. Wine from the estate is exported throughout the world!

Crown Prince Frederick has a Masters in Political Science from the University of Aarhus. In connection with these studies, he spent a year studying political science at Harvard University, USA from 1992 to 1993......... served at the Danish UN Mission in New York in 1994, and was posted to the Royal Danish Embassy in Paris as First Secretary of Embassy from October 1998 to October 1999. Crown Prince Frederik remains active in the defence services, and in the period 2002-2003 served as a staff officer at Defence Command Denmark, and from 2003 as a senior lecturer with the Institute of Strategy at the Royal Danish Defence College.

The Crown Prince participated in an expedition to Mongolia in 1986. In 2000, he participated in "Expedition Sirius 2000", which was a four-month and 2,795 km dog-sledge expedition in the northern part of Greenland.

Crown Princess HRH Mary Elizabeth enrolled at the University of Tasmania in 1989 and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor's degree in Commerce and Law (B Com. LLB).

Between 1994 and 1996 Crown Princess Mary qualified for a Certificate in Advertising from The Advertising Federation of Australia (AFA), and later a Certificate in Direct Marketing from the Australian Direct Marketing Association.

After completion of her university degree, The Crown Princess moved to Melbourne to take a graduate position with the worldwide advertising agency DDB Needham. After completion of the graduate programme she held the position of Account Executive for client management.

Crown Princess Mary’s career path continued with a position as Account Manager with MOJO Partners, also in Melbourne.

She married Prince Frederick in May 2004.

The House of Denmark is descended from the Dukes of Holstien-Gottorp who belong to the House of Oldenburg.north Germany. This link provides some amazing information that this is a senior German line of Dukes that also gave Russia their Romanov Tzar Peter III and his descendants; Peter's father was Duke Karl Frederick of Holstien Gottorp of the Oldenburg line (Peter III was legitimate heir to the Russian throne as his mother was Anna Petrovna, daughter of Peter the Great of Russia......Peter III's wife was the future Catharine the Great(!!!) who was also a German princess, daughter of Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, of another German ducal line, her mother Joanna Elizabeth, daughter of Prince August Christian of Schleswig Holstien Gottorp...........all in the family!!!)

Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch, is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

The Royal Family of Sweden.

Pictures: Drottingholm Palace; Royal Palace, Stockholm; the Swedish Crown; King Carl XVI Gustaf; Crown Princess Victoria, Heir to the throne; Queen Silvia; very much in their dancing mood!!

Sweden, on the eastern side of the Scandinavian landmass, with Norway to the west, Denmark to the south and Finland to the east, covers an area of 449964 sq kl ms, Stockholm the capital. Sweden shares the Viking heritage with Norway and Denmark.
Sweden is home to the Nobel Prize, considered the most prestigious award in the world. Stockholm is built on several islands hence called "Venice of the North."

The Norse saga Edda and the Nordic god Thor are from very old folklore and traditions of pre-Christian Europe.

An early King of Sweden and Goten, Edmundsson Eric, 900 A. D. was descended from King Edmund of Burka, a small kingdom amongst many on the Scandinavian peninsula. Sweden's greatest King, Gustavus Adolphus, carved an empire with territories from Russia, Poland-Lithuania, and the Holy Roman Empire.

King Carl XVI Gustaf is the eighth Monarch in the Bernadotte dynasty whose first King, Charles the XIV Bernadotte was a brilliant Marshall in Napoleon's army, was adopted by Charles XIII Holstien-Gottorp, and elected to the Swedish throne by it's Parliament; Carl Gustaf is his descendant.

King Carl XVI is a trained Naval Officer, serving on various ships of the Swedish Navy; then academic studies comprising History, Sociology, Political Science, Financial Law and Economics at the University of Uppsala. Later he also studied Economics at the University of Stockholm.

He participated in the work of the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations in New York and spent time working with
SIDA (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) in Africa. He also spent considerable time in London - at Hambro Bank, the Swedish Embassy and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce - and in France at the Alfa Laval plant in Nevers.

During the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany in 1972, Carl Gustaf met Miss Silvia Renate Sommerlath. She was working at the Games as an interpreter and hostess.

The King began showing an interest in cars and tools at an early age. As Crown Prince, for his fifth birthday, he received a pedal car, a trowel, bricks, gardening tools and a real yoke with two pails.Today, he maintains a great interest in motor sport: at the vintage car rally on the island of Öland the King likes to drive an old Volvo. He is passionate about gardening, heavy gardening, like cutting Oak trees, hunting, art and music, and is a skilled skier.

Crown Princess Victoria has gone through academic studies in Political Science and History at Yale University in the USA. In conjunction with her stay in the USA, The Crown Princess completed two periods of work experience at the United Nations in New York (June and September 2002) as well as one at the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC in 1999.

In autumn 2000 The Crown Princess completed studies in conflict resolution and international peace-building.

In spring 2001 The Crown Princess studied the Swedish Presidency of the EU 2002.

The Crown Princess completed a study programme at SIDA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and spent time in countries such as Uganda and Ethiopia.

During this time she also continued with her official engagements. In 2002 she completed an internship with the Swedish Trade Council in Berlin and Paris.

The present House of Bernadotte of which King Carl Gustaf is the eight descendant, has humble beginnings, Charles XIV John was Marshall Bernadotte, one of the generals in Napoleon's army, and son of Henri Bernadotte.

Genealogy link .

Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch, is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

From the Monarchy in Sweden website:

Change in order of succession
The Swedish order of succession was changed in 1980 to a fully cognatic one. This means that the Monarch´s eldest heir, regardless of gender, inherits the throne.
Constitution Act of 1974

The governing procedures of The King remained the same from 1809 to 1974 when the Constitution Act was enacted.
According to the new act The King should no longer “Rule the Kingdom alone". The new introduction states that “All public power in Sweden derives from the people".

A Symbol for Sweden
Today, Sweden has a constitutional monarchy, which means that the monarch's duties are regulated by the constitution.
According to the Swedish constitution, the King as Head of State is the country´s foremost representative and symbol. The King's duties are primarily ceremonial and representative.

When The King is unable to fulfil his duties as Head of State because for example he is abroad, his duties are discharged to Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip or Princess Madeleine.
Sweden has a constitutional monarchy. The Monarch's power is regulated by the Swedish constitution. The constitutional monarchy emerged at end of the 1800s and at the beginning of the 1900s.
The monarchy, as a form of government, was established in the 1809 constitutional governing procedures. This was changed in 1974. For 165 years it had been Europe's oldest form of government.
The Bernadotte Dynasty has ruled Sweden since 1810. At that time the French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was chosen as successor to the Swedish throne.

Carl XVI Gustaf has been King of Sweden since 1973. He is the 74th King of Sweden.
Sweden ´s successor to the throne is Crown Princess Victoria.

The Royal Family of Norway.

Pictures:Royal palace, Oslo; the Crowns of Norway; King Harald V of Norway; King Harald, Queen Sonja, with Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, heir to the throne, and his wife Princess Mette-Marit; Queen Sonja; the young generation of the family(!)and
bottom pictures:
King Haakon VII(3 August 1872 to 21 September 1957)
(Son of Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess
Louise of Denmark. Elected to the Norwegian throne after
dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden in 1905.)......last picture, a picturesque fiord in Norway

Norway, a country running north to south in the western region of the Scandinavian landmass on the tip of north western Europe, famous for its picturesque fiords, with an area of 385,252 sq kl ms. forms along with Sweden to the east and Denmark to the south the famous "Nordic" region-Scandinavia, Oslo is the capital of Norway.

Norway, historically a country of the Vikings, has had a history of political sovereign union with Denmark as well as Sweden.

Before the small countries of Panama and Liberia acquired this distinction, Norway was the shipping haven of the world.

The Norwegian monarchy dates back more than one thousand years. Harald Fairhair, regarded as the first Norwegian king, united the petty kingships of Norway into a single realm in about 885. From the time of Harald Fairhair until the present day, Norway has had more than 60 named sovereigns. The current King belongs to the House of Glücksburg, which has ruled Norway since 1905. The King is descended from the Danish rulers of Schleswig-Holstien, an old German ducal dynasty that trace their descent from the German ducal House of Oldenburg. Oldenburg descendants have at some time in history, been the Tzars of Russia, Catharine the Great, a German princess before marrying the Russian Tzar, descended from this House.

Christian Michelsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate and statesman, Prime Minister of Norway from 1905 to 1907 played a central role in the peaceful separation of Norway from Sweden on 7 June 1905. After a national referendum confirmed the people's preference for a monarchy over a republic, the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to the Danish Prince Carl and Parliament unanimously elected him king. He took the name of Haakon VII, after the medieval kings of independent Norway. The present King is his grandson.

King Harald V, as a young man, entered the Norwegian Cavalry Officers’ Training School and went on to finish his military education at the Military Academy in 1959. Upon completion of his compulsory military service, Crown Prince Harald went to Oxford for further study. He attended Balliol College from 1960 to 1962, studying social science, history and economics.

Queen Sonja was born Sonja Heraldsen in 1937 and married King Harald in 1968, their children are Princess Martha Louis and Crown Prince Haakon Magnus.

Crown Prince Haakon is married to Princess Mette-Marit, born Mette-Marit Tjessem in August 1973; she has specialised in Development Experience, Theories of Development, HIV/AIDS and Development, and The Global Refugee Crisis. The Crown Princess spent three months as an observer at the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), where she focused on HIV/AIDS issues.

Prince Haakon graduated in 1995 from the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in Bergen. In autumn 1996 he moved to the USA to study at the University of California at Berkeley, and received his BA in political science in spring 1999. The following autumn the Crown Prince was a member of Norway’s third delegation to the UN General Assembly. In 2001 he followed the Foreign Ministry’s trainee programme for diplomats, and completed his education in 2003 at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was awarded an MA in development studies, specializing in international trade and Africa..

In 2003 the Crown Prince was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP with a particular focus on the UN Millennium Development Goals. In this capacity he has travelled to Tanzania, Cambodia, Sierra Leone, Guatemala and Burundi.

The present Norwegian Royal House is descended from the Kings of Denmark, who in turn are descended from the Dukes of Schleswig Holstien, north Germanyand the Dukes of Holstien Sonderburg, and back again some ancestors are the Kings of Denmark, then further, to the parent line of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg


Similar to all constitutional monarchies, the Monarch, is Head of State, a symbol of the country, representing the country's aspirations and traditions, the first person, in most cases as per a written Constitution, representing the country's freedom and democratic values, its continuity and political, social, cultural and other aspirations; although seen a figurehead, this is only partly true, there is a two way communication between the Monarch and his people.
The enlightened Monarch sets the example of a national identity of the country, and its dignity as a sovereign nation.

Today the King’s duties are mainly representative and ceremonial. When the Constitution states that: “the executive power is vested in the King”, this now means that it is vested in the Government.

The King undertakes the formal opening of the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) every autumn. He plays an important role in connection with changes of government and presides over the Council of State at the Royal Palace. The King and Queen make state visits to other countries and are hosts to foreign Heads of State who visit Norway. Newly appointed ambassadors to Norway from other countries must present their credentials to the King during a formal audience at the Royal Palace. The King is Commander-in-Chief of the country’s armed forces, and holds the rank of general in the Army and Air Force, and admiral in the Navy. He is also the formal head of the Church of Norway.

In addition to granting audiences, the King’s day-to-day duties also include meetings with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and representatives of the Defence Establishment. The King also travels to different parts of Norway, where he visits public and private institutions.

The King presides over the Council of State, Friday at 11.00 hours. The meeting is held in the Council Chamber at the Royal Palace.
Decisions made by the Government as a single body are made in the Council of State. This is presided over by the King, and such decisions are said to be made by “the King in the Council of State”. All acts of legislation and other decisions in the Council of State must be sanctioned by the King and countersigned by the Prime Minister before they can take effect.

Under Article 35 of the Constitution the heir to the throne may also participate in the Council of State: “As soon as the heir to the throne has completed his or her eighteenth year, he or she is entitled to take a seat in the Council of State, although without vote or responsibility.”

Thus His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon also participates in the Council, and when the King is absent, for example due to illness or when travelling abroad, Crown Prince Haakon presides over the Council in his capacity of Crown Prince Regent.

Introduction to the Royals!

Picture: the British Crown of St Edward used during the coronation of the British monarch.

If I begin to list the reigning or ruling royal families of the world it won't take me too long:

In Europe:
Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Spain, Luxembourg (the world's only Grand-Duchy-head of state a Grand Duke;) Liechtenstein, Monaco (both are Principalities-head of state a Prince;) the Vatican, and Andorra, with ecclesiastic (clergy) Head of State, the Pope of the former, and the current Bishop of Urgill is co-Prince of Andorra with the current French President as the other co-Prince!!!

In Africa:
Morocco, Lesotho, and sub-kingdoms(!)-Ashanti, sub-kingdom within Ghana, Cokossian monarchy within Togo and Wogodogo monarchy within Burkina Faso; Toro, Bunyoro, Ankole, Buganda and Busoga are sub-kingdoms- monarchies within Uganda.
In Asia:
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates-with the seven Emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, Umm al Quwain and Ras al Khaimah; Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, all these make up the Arabian peninsula. Further east is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Leaving the Middle East, further east in the Far East- Malaysia- with the constituent Sultanates of Perak, Selangor,Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengannu and Johor electing from themselves a Yang di Pertuan Agong-King of Malaysia for periods of five years; the Sultanate of Yogyayarta in Indonesia, then Thailand, Cambodia and Brunei, and Japan form the monarchies of the far east.

In the Pacific, the Kingdom of Tonga, the only independent kingdom in the region. And the Maori kingdom has some sort of recognition within New Zealand.

Besides, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is Head of State-Queen.

The huge island of Greenland is a member country of Denmark, and Netherlands Antilles and Aruba in the Caribbean Sea are part of the Netherlands.

Why do some countries, societies and peoples continue with the monarchic system when the republican system is the norm and affords any citizen becoming a Head of State, usually called President? This is a very difficult question.

Perhaps, the answer lies in the cultural make up of people; the traditions, culture, history and political set up of the country the deciding factors to continue with the monarchial system.

Moreover, every country or people with a continuous bad economic record and very stubborn monarchical traditions that allow little or no freedom for its people, have got rid of their royals! Some countries like Australia, Canada, and others have seriously debated the choice of moving to republicanism, the charisma and personality of the present Queen a deciding factor against any change.

And people who love pomp, pageantry, colour, medals and uniforms, glitter and jewels, with a benevolent "father" figure as monarch, who lives up to every body's expectations, a radiant charismatic personality, with little or no political interference, a long dynastic record of good governance, with "winning the people's heart," royals who fit these parameters are still reigning in many parts of the world.

Of late, with far more exposure from the "electronic" mass media, most royals are subject to more attention than ever, and the stories are more often unpleasant, exposing individuals' private lives, and details that surface, more unsavoury and embarrassing for all concerned...........divorces, with the private sex lives not private in the least sense of the word, property and other money scandals, arrogant and undiplomatic behaviour of individuals within the family.

Chased by the paparazzi, it even cost Princess Diana her life; this remarkable woman known throughout the world for her various causes and for her compassion and concern for the underprivileged, nevertheless led a private life that could fetch millions to people who could photograph her private moments and her life details after her divorce with Prince Charles.

In spite of these new setbacks with exposure to the media, some royals also considered dyfunctionals, most "subjects" in the majority of countries with the monarchic system, prefer to continue with a king , queen, prince, shaikh or sultan..........and are opposed to the republican main reason being, along with patriotic and cultural considerations, the monarch is now a figurehead, and the country is committed to a constitutional democratic form of government led by an elected executive and legislature.

In spite of functioning as a figurehead, a majority of monarchs are well informed of their government's political and functional record and goings on, very often giving discreet and timely advice to their prime minister/head of government.

Besides, the monarch is not above the "system", with laws and statutes that require, for example, permission of the government of the day, for marriage alliances of family members, (including the monarch's,) and the 'status' to be accorded to the new entry in the family(!)

It is the government of the day who will decide whether the new Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, (second wife of Prince Charles) be designated Queen Consort or continue with a lesser title after Prince Charles becomes King because she is a divorcee.

The Monarch's privy purse, his salary, is fixed and reviewed by the government!

The monarch's public speeches have to be cleared by the government; the palaces, crown jewels, art objects belong to the State, the monarch paying Income Tax on his/her personal wealth..................the British Queen pays Income Tax on her personal income........she owns estates that are run on professional lines- agriculture, dairy, life stock and meat, and this generates income for her...........the Queen is a farmer of sorts!!!

Most of the rulers/monarchs in the Middle East are absolute or near absolute rulers, and further east, the Kings of Thailand, Cambodia and the Japanese Emperor have a certain degree of "divine" status bestowed on them, an altogether different relationship with their people..................untill recently the Japanese Emperor was considered a god in the pantheon of Shinto gods (Shintoism is native to Japan.) The Maori hold their royal family in great regard, but it is very private between the people and their king (untill recently the previous monarch was a queen), and the Maori king rarely figures in New Zealand public life.

The Thai revere their King, Bhumibol Adulyej, in times of unrest the King's word of caution brings any controversial issue to an amicable close!!