Monaco Celebrates Birth of Royal Twins

HSH Princess Charlene and HSH Prince Albert have announced the arrival of their twins Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Jacques Honoré Rainier. The babies were born two minutes apart, Gabriella at 5:04 pm (local time) and Jacques at 5:06 pm. They were safely delivered today in the maternity ward of the Princess Grace Hospital.
Since Monaco still follows primogeniture, Jacques, despite being two minutes younger, is the next in line to the throne after Prince Albert. He is also styled Marquis of Baux.

Princess Gabriella is second in the line of succession, receiving the title of Countess of Carladès.

Many congratulations to the happy parents and best wishes to the little prince and princess!

“King James” Fouls With Duchess of Cambridge

“King James” Fouls With Duchess of Cambridge
By William Hanson – Etiquette guest writer

Who would have thought a few lines to the Daily Mail about basketball player Lebron James putting his arm around the Duchess of Cambridge would cause so much outrage? For the past 24 hours I have been getting some very forthright opinions on Twitter, Facebook and directly through my website. I even made an ESPN show last night where the host dubbed me the ‘World’s Worst Person in Sports’. I’m so touched.

Now, I really don’t mind the abuse. I’ve had worse and actually find it all very funny. Thankfully I have a thick skin. What I can’t see is why there is so much outrage. Yes, from a Royal protocol point of view Mr. James should not have put his arm around Catherine. As I said originally, I am sure she didn’t mind. Did I expect Mr. James to know the fundamentals of Royal protocol? No, although it would have been nice for one of his colleagues to brief him, and others, beforehand, as used to happen. Today we now all live with a pandemic of ‘CBB disease’ (Can’t Be Bothered).

But royal protocol aside, he had just finished a basketball game. He was sweaty, icky and moist. Would anyone, let alone a highly voguish lady who was obviously dressed up for the occasion, really want a smelly, wet arm placed around them? Probably not. My American correspondents seem to forget that we over here, and, I would hazard to guess, most of the rest of the world too, have absolutely no idea who Lebron James is, whereas I suspect most know the Duchess of Cambridge. (This assumption based solely on the fact that an estimated 2.4 billion people watched her get married into an institution that is thousands of years old.)

Royal protocol is getting relaxed, it is very clear to see that. Many say that it is the younger generation who are the root cause, although anyone with half an interest in the monarchy will know that Her Majesty The Queen has been known to move things along a bit, dropping presentations at court in 1958, and the stopping the requirement for her ‘subjects’ to not turn their back on the Monarch. That said, one former senior royal courtier told me recently that although this is no longer taboo it is still the practice to try to avoid it when at close proximity – out of courtesy, not necessity.

Protocol is not there to annoy, it is there to manage relationships. When countries meet, formally (state visits, summits) or informally (basketball games), it is there to ensure that both parties come away without losing face. As well-intentioned as Mr. James’s tactile gesture was to the Duchess of Cambridge he should know that you don’t hug perfect strangers. If the tables were turned it’s the equivalent of legendary British entertainer Sir Bruce Forsythe goosing the First Lady. It just shouldn’t happen. Common sense dictates that.

Moving the narrative along, much else can be learned from the official visit to the United States of America by Their Royal Highnesses. We saw Taylor Swift high-five the royal couple (also incorrect from a protocol/common sense point of view). But it wasn’t just the USA who raised eyebrows. Should the Duchess of Cambridge have worn such a bright choice of pink to the World Trade Centre memorial? A more subdued colour given the occasion may have been fitting, although I suspect both she and her dresser were thinking that in a big grey city in December, hot pink may stand out more and be more striking. That it did, but a block white or cream would have done the same thing but been a little more becoming to the occasion. Catherine is still learning lessons from the Diamond Jubilee river pageant where she wore a red dress that made her vanish against the red cushions and furnishings of the royal barge – whilst The Queen was visible to all in a pristine white.

However many high-fives and sweaty hugs the Duke and Duchess had to endure, would they have cared? No. Absolutely not. They may have clocked it, but will have seen far worse before now. They don’t care as, unlike Mr. James and Miss Swift, they will be around in 20 years’ time and need not play up to cameras with publicity stunts. Shake it off!

(c)2014 William Hanson

Farewell, Fabiola: Belgium Mourns

queen fabiolaQueen Fabiola of Belgium (June 11, 1928 – December 5, 2014) has passed away at the age of 86.The former queen died at her home at Stuyvenberg Castle on Friday after a final struggle with her health. We can rest assured that she is reunited now with her husband Baudoin, who adored her. The late king predeceased her by 21 years.

Fabiola, born into an aristocratic Spanish family, was the last of her siblings to marry. She was provided a magnificent education and trained as a nurse in Spanish military hospitals. Suffice it to say, she was not itching to marry right away and was focused on nursing, but a nun whom she met had other ideas.

She was deemed excellent wife material by the nun, Sister Veronica, whose express purpose was to find Baudoin a consort. Sister Veronica had been dispatched by the bishop of Malenes, who was distressed at the King’s lack of success at finding a suitable wife. He thought the King lonely, and thus Sister Veronica was sent on her mission.

Fabiola was everything they were looking for: Sister Veronica trumpeted her virtues and declared Fabiola “well-built, good-looking and striking, bubbling with life, intelligence and energy”. Baudoin’s lonely days were over.

The couple married in 1960. They were unable to have children of their own, but doted on their nieces and nephews.

Visite Reine Fabiola

Image via Wikipedia

Certainly, her family won’t be the same without Queen Fabiola. She appeared to be a fountain of strength, and a bit feisty. I remember a few years ago when she received a death threat from an anonymous source. The assassin claimed he would kill her using a crossbow during the balcony appearance for National Day in 2009.

On the day, the royals appeared on the balcony as usual. Suddenly, Queen Fabiola brandished a bright green apple and waved it around. It was a clear message to the bully: “Come and get me, William Tell.” What a gal.

Rest in peace, Fabiola.