Remembrance Day: The Netherlands

The Remembrance of the Dead ceremony, held May 4th each year, is the first event in the reign of King Willem Alexander.

Along with Queen Maxima, the king laid a wreath at the National Monument in Amsterdam. The Remembrance Day (Dodenherdenking) ceremony commemorates the casualties of World War II.

The National Monument was officially opened on May 4th, 1956 by Willem-Alexander’s grandmother, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands Abdicates

English: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in V...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What has long been suspected has come to pass. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands has decided to abdicate.

This will place her 45-year-old son, Willem-Alexander, on the throne as the new Dutch monarch. The prince’s eldest daughter, Princess Catharina-Amalia, will become the first in line to the throne.

Her Majesty Queen Beatrix ascended the throne of the Netherlands on April 30th, 1980. She became queen upon the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana.

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Japanese Imperial Rules: Is Marrying A Commoner the Only Way Out For Women?

Japanese Imperial Rules: Is Marrying A Commoner the Only Way Out For Women?

Princess Mako, a granddaughter of Japan’s Emperor Akihito, is set to marry her college sweetheart, Kei Komuro. Since Komuro is a commoner, Mako will lose her royal title and become a commoner herself. This has reignited the debate on women’s status and succession laws in Japan which currently favor males.

When a Japanese princess marries a commoner man, she loses her status and position within the Imperial family. She’s given a dowry and is never mentioned again, but when a commoner woman marries a Japanese prince, they are elevated to their husband’s royal rank. It’s an imbalance, to say the least, but given the treatment we’ve seen with Japanese Crown Princess Masako and other ladies, that title and lifestyle is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Mako’s paternal aunt, Sayako (Princess Nori) lost her title when she married a commoner in 2005. She was known simply as Mrs. Sayako Kuroda thereafter. She is not even mentioned as a member of the family on the Imperial family’s official website despite being the only daughter of the emperor.

The new Mrs. Kuroda didn’t seem too unhappy about it, though. As she embarked on married life, her parting words were about her feelings of “loneliness” and “unease” as a princess. She also took a shot at the Imperial Household Agency, the organization that tightly regulates the Imperial family’s life. Speaking out for her mother, Empress Michiko, Sayako stated that “Her Majesty collapsed due to unbearable fatigue and distress and lost her power of speech” after “being exposed to a great deal of criticism that had no ground in fact.”

It’s strange that life for Imperial women is so difficult. Japan can count eight Empresses among its rulers from as early as the 6th century until the 1600s, but after the Meiji Restoration in the 1800s, the monarchy became a male-only landscape designed to preserve the mystique and lineage of the Japanese royal line. It was dictated by the Imperial Household Agency and, as we have seen throughout the years, this has not been good for the well-being of Japanese royal women. Empress Michiko has suffered and her daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Masako, has fared no better. The multilingual former diplomat gained her status upon her marriage to Crown Prince Naruhito, but she lost her independence and her spirit. Masako’s severe depression forced her to withdraw from the public eye, and was carefully managed by the strict and secretive Imperial Household Agency.

Masako’s difficulties were underscored when she could not bear a child for several years after her marriage to Naruhito. At long last, they were blessed with a baby girl whom they named Aiko. Her birth in 2001 threw the line of succession into question. The Crown Princess was unlikely to have more children after Aiko, and Naruhito’s brother Akishino had Princess Mako and Princess Kako as his heirs. Without a male in line for the future, Japan held its collective breath to see if the IHA and the Japanese government would allow an amendment to the succession laws.

Then a surprise – Prince Akishino announced that his wife was pregnant. On September 6, 2006, Princess Kiko gave birth to Prince Hisahito. The little prince was over a decade younger than his sisters and the first boy since Akishino’s birth in 1965.

Crown Princess Masako’s distress over her inability to produce a son became so intense that her husband publicly complained to the press, unheard of for the royal family and least of all a Crown Prince.

“Princess Masako, giving up her job as a diplomat to enter the Imperial Household, was greatly distressed that she was not allowed to make overseas visits for a long time,” the crown prince said. “There were developments that denied Princess Masako’s career as well as her personality.”

Sadly, Naruhito and Masako’s daughter Aiko is said to be suffering from stress and has missed months of school as a result. It seems that the cycle may continue.

Or will it?

Emperor Akihito, in delicate health at age 84, will step down soon. This is the first time a Japanese Emperor has abdicated in 200 years. Naruhito will ascend the throne and when he does, will he try to force a change in succession laws? It is my belief that he will at least try to expand Masako’s freedom in her role as empress, given his statement about protecting her and criticizing the Imperial Household Agency.

The couple also have the support of fellow royals. In April 2013, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands personally phoned Princess Masako and insisted she attend to the Dutch inauguration of King Willem-Alexander. Happily, Masako attended with Naruhito to the delight of many Japanese and many royal watchers. Prior to this, the former Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands hosted the Crown Prince and Princess and grew close to them.

With this monumental change in leadership, as well as fellow royals rooting for them, will Naruhito and Masako usher in a new era in the Japanese Royal Family? I can’t wait to find out. I wish them the best for the future. There has to be a way for the Japanese royal women to thrive and to eventually reign. Otherwise, it’s time to marry a commoner and escape the world of the Imperial Household Agency.

Royal April! What’s on in April 2017

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April is a very royal month. Lots of events and birthdays, including mine! What happened in royal history on my birthday? Let’s take a look:

April 28th 

1841
Wedding of Tsar Alexander II of Russia and Marie of Hesse and by Rhine

1909
Prince Harald of Denmark, third son of King Frederick VIII of Denmark, married Princess Helena of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg

1950
King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand marries Mon Rajawongse Sirikit.

1964
Birth of Lady Helen Taylor (daughter of the Duke of Kent)

Oh, and it’s also National Blueberry Pie day that day. Yum!

The rest of April is also very royal. My fellow April babies are:

April 15
Philippe, King of the Belgians

April 16th
Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg

April 21
Your fave and mine, Elizabeth II

April 27
King  Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands

April 29
Infanta Sofía of Spain

April 30
Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
The late Princess Juliana (formerly Queen Juliana) of the Netherlands

April 29th is, famously, the wedding anniversary of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge! Isn’t April a great month? Not only is it spring, but it’s full of lovely events and royal history. Oh, and cake. You can’t beat it!

Dutch State Visit To Denmark

maxblue The Dutch state visit to Denmark is happening, and I love it.

Like me, you probably love to see royals hanging out together. It was great seeing Marie of Denmark and Letizia of Spain chatting during the Olympics, along with Mette-Marit of Norway sitting alongside Guillaume of Luxembourg.  It’s great!

So this Dutch state visit to Denmark this week has been nothing short of spectacular. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima make their official visit to strengthen the relations between Denmark and the Netherlands, says the Danish Foreign Ministry. Following the official welcome by Queen Margrethe and Prince Consort Henrik at Copenhagen Airport, the Dutch royal couple began their visit at Fredensborg Palace. The Dutch King and Queen then met with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen.

Queen Margrethe held a State Banquet Tuesday evening for her visitors and the royal women wore their shiny finest. Maxima, however, was the best.

Impressing the heck out of all concerned, Maxima was swathed in her delicate blue lace gown and Dutch Sapphire tiara. She wore both for Willem-Alexander’s investiture as king, and I’m so glad she brought both back for this occasion. In fact, she made the tiara slightly taller by adding a diamond sprig at the top (as if it needed embellishment!).

It is fantastic to see these major royals all together. I hope for more visits like this between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and fellow crowned heads in the future! Britain often seems far removed from their European counterparts, save for Edward and Sophie (the Earl and Countess of Wessex).  So let’s hope the Cambridges get to the Continent and then little Prince George will perhaps see his royal compatriots more often than not (George and Estelle = yes)!

 

 

Royals Join Auschwitz Liberation Commemoration

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People from around the world joined the survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp today on the 70th anniversary of its liberation.

Among the attendees at the ceremony were King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands; Crown Prince Haakon of Norway; Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden; Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie of Luxembourg, and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

Spain’s King and Queen Make Introductory Tour

Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are in the process of introducing themselves to their European neighbors.

Crowned in June of this year, King Felipe and his wife began their tour by visiting Pope Francis at the Vatican. The king and queen then stopped in Portugal to greet the President in July. They continued to Morocco, France and the Netherlands. They recently met with Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri and his family and neighboring Belgium with King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde last week.

This tour is a formal acknowledgement of their new position, though these recently crowned monarchs have long been known to the world at large. Felipe and Letizia have already made news crossing the globe to the United States, South America, and Europe in their working lives as Prince and Princess of Asturias.

See photo/video

Descended from Queen Victoria (through her daughter Beatrice), Spain’s new king is certainly no stranger to other royals. To him, his tours to countries such as Belgium and Luxembourg are simply a family reunion. A very official one, but a family affair nonetheless.

I look forward to more visits by Spain’s new king and queen!

2014: A Year of Royal Firsts

King of the Netherlands

King of the Netherlands (Photo credit: HereIsTom)

Prince George of Cambridge isn’t the only royal to celebrate a first this year.

A mere 24 hours separated the young prince’s first birthday (July 22) and the one-year anniversary of Belgian King Philippe’s reign (July 21).

Philippe’s father, King Albert II, shocked the nation last year by abdicating on July 21 – Belgium’s National Day. Philippe stepped into the role as king and his wife, Mathilde, became Queen Consort.

Unlike the Dutch, where abdication has been traditional within the royal family, the Belgian people were not expecting Albert to step down. Poor health was cited as the cause, but many felt that the pressure to acknowledge an alleged out-of-wedlock daughter was another reason.

Philippe’s Dutch counterpart, HM King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, met his one-year milestone on April 30th.

The first Dutch king in a century, Willem-Alexander took the throne when Queen Beatrix abdicated after 33 years. The king and his wife, Queen Maxima, immediately undertook an official introductory tour of several European countries. At home, they have been hard at work around the kingdom.

Another abdication took place in June – a first for this year – that of Spain’s King Juan Carlos. His son, now King Felipe VI, is steering the Spanish monarchy’s prestige back into the gilded realm of respectability. Felipe is the same generation as Philippe and Willem-Alexander, and all three must prove to the world that kings are still a guiding light in the maelstrom of politics.

2014 has been a year of firsts, and they have all been immensely positive for the role of royalty. May it ever be so.

Look Out Kate, Letizia’s Moving Up!

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Photo (c) Holger Motzkau

It’s Christmas in June, folks.

After Kate’s 200th bum flash, I despaired of the modern princess. How do I defend ‘princess’ as something positive for women and young girls?

So I set about writing posts on Maxima of the Netherlands, Mathilde of Belgium, Letizia of Spain, and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. These ladies are princesses par excellence, with two (Maxima and Mathilde) now Queen consorts themselves. Then, suddenly it happened – King Juan Carlos of Spain abdicated, launching Letizia into the limelight with her husband, Prince Felipe.

The soon-to-be Queen of Spain is not only gorgeous and stylish, but she’s got some serious substance. As both a journalist and a TV news personality, the Princess has covered several historical events, and during the invasion of Iraq, she traveled there to broadcast live from the front line. In 2000, Letizia won the Madrid Press Association’s Larra Award for most accomplished journalist under the age of 30.

Letizia is certainly accomplished, beautiful, and knows first-hand what the media is like. No fool, she. Top that off with the glamour, and you’ve got one hell of a great representative for your nation.

Her Story:

The Princess was born Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano on September 15, 1972 in Oveido, the capital city of the Principality of Asturias.

After graduating from the Complutense University of Madrid, where she majored in journalism, Letizia earned her Master’s Degree in broadcast journalism. She then went to Mexico where she worked for the newspaper Siglo XXI. Letizia soon moved back to Spain and focused on TV work, presenting the news on a Spanish CNN channel and Spain’s TVE.

In 2002, thirty-year-old Letizia met Prince Felipe, the Prince of Asturias. Felipe, the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome, also boasts an illustrious pedigree. Both of his parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, are direct descendants of Queen Victoria.

Letizia captured Felipe’s heart, and after a brief courtship, he proposed with a baguette diamond eternity band. Letizia was introduced to the public now as the fianceé of a Prince and as a future queen.

She had been married once before to Alonso Guerrero Pérez, a teacher. The marriage only lasted a year before they divorced. Fortunately for Letizia, the Catholic authorities in Spain permitted both parties to remarry since they did not wed in a church. She was free to marry again without a problem.

Letizia has been married to Felipe since May 22, 2004. They have two beautiful daughters: Leonor (8), and Sofia (7). Now that her parents are to be king and queen, Leonor will become Princess of Asturias in her own right.

Letizia will be the first Spanish-born queen since Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans y Borbón, the first wife of Felipe’s great-grandfather Alfonso XIII. Letizia’s mother-in-law, Queen Sofia, is of Greek and German descent.

I wish the new king and queen much success in their lives as monarchs, and I wish the Spanish people a good, prosperous future!

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