Monaco Twins update


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Video courtesy MonacoInfo on YouTube.

Prince Albert II of Monaco took to YouTube to announce the birth of his children and thank the people of Monaco and the world for their good wishes. (Albert’s message in English begins at 1:02.) Also, the Princely Palace has formally begun a period of celebration – the same one they mentioned last month, with bunting and flags – which will end when Albert and Charlene present the twins to the principality on January 7. (In the past, other Monegasque princely children were presented at about a month old as well.)

Finally, the people of Monaco are invited to come to the Palace and sign guest books as a way of sending their congratulations, but if you don’t live anywhere near Monaco, you may send a note to secr2s@ (Just remove the space after the @, which I have done in order to prevent spamming of the princely inbox.)

A girl and a boy for Albert and Charlene!


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Les Carabiniers du Prince firing cannons from Fort Antoine to mark the birth of the Princely Twins.

Photo courtesy France Bleu Azur on Twitter.

Today, at just after 5 PM Monaco time, Princess Charlene gave birth to her twins, a girl and a boy.

Their names are Princess Gabriella Thérèse Marie and Hereditary Prince Jacques Honoré Rainier. As the Hereditary Prince and heir, Jacques also receives the title Marquis of Baux and as 2nd in line, Gabriella receives the title Countess of Carladès. (The Grimaldis hold many French titles, though some have become extinct and the Grimaldis hold them in pretence.)
Even though Gabriella was born about two minutes ahead of her brother, because Monaco still practices male-preference primogeniture, Jacques is the new Hereditary Prince and Albert’s heir. (I confess I would love to see this changed before the babies become too much older.)
But all that matters is that Charlene and the twins are healthy. Félicitations (congratulations) to the happy family!

Queen Fabiola of Belgium, 1928-2014


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It has been announced by the Belgian Monarchy that Queen Fabiola of Belgium has died at the age of 86.

She was born Doña Fabiola de Mora y Aragón to an aristocratic Spanish family and was working as a nurse in Spain when she was selected to marry King Baudouin of the Belgians, whom she married in 1960. Fabiola was a popular queen, partly because of her devotion to Belgium and the Roman Catholic Church, and partly because of her 5 pregnancies, all of which ended in miscarriages.

King Baudoin died in 1993, and Fabiola stepped back to a quieter life, but remained devoted to her pet causes, which included mental health, and women’s and children’s issues; she was also the patron of the  Queen Elisabeth of Belgium International Music Competition, with which she was closely involved. Her brother- and sister-in-law King Albert II and Queen Paola also continually included her in state events, and she appeared on the balcony last year with the royal family when Philippe was invested as King. Notably, she was hospitalized for pneumonia in 2009. After she recovered, she received death threats that she would be shot with a crossbow. Fabiola later appeared at Belgium’s National Day festivities waving an apple in reference to the story of William Tell.

Sadly, it seems Fabiola never truly recovered from the lung infection, though the Palace has not announced an official cause of death.

My condolences to the Belgian Royal Family.

Birth celebration plans for Monaco


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At the end of November, the Princely Palace of Monaco announced what has been planned to celebrate the birth of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene’s children (in case you missed the announcement, Charlene is indeed having twins). There are a few updates to old traditions, and an interesting issue (for me, at least).

First, there will be a 42-gun salute from Fort Antoine (21 for each child). In the past, first-born daughters (such as Princess Caroline, Prince Albert’s elder sister) received 21 guns, but there was a 101-gun salute for the birth of Prince Albert, who was born Hereditary Prince. Following the salute, bells will ring across Monaco, and boaters will be encouraged to honk their horns.

The Palace will post the birth proclamations in the Palace’s “Petit Quartiers,” and there will be registry books available for the people in Monaco to sign. Finally, the Monegasques* may put up bunting and flags in their homes from the day of the births to the day the children are presented to the country at the Palace (a day which will be a national holiday).

The interesting issue to me is that Monaco seems willing to retain male-preference primogeniture, meaning one of two things will happen when the twins are born:

  • The first is that the elder twin will be the heir/ess, either because both twins are the same gender, or because they are mixed twins where the elder twin is a boy.
  • The second is that a younger boy twin will succeed Albert ahead of his elder sister.

Especially after the debate about the succession in other countries (and two princesses** taking traditionally-male positions as heir apparent in the last year and a half) It will be interesting to see what happens in Monaco in the future (the babies are due before the end of the year).

Above all, however, I wish Princess Charlene a healthy end to her pregnancy and an easy delivery.

*If you read the proclamation, you will see it make a distinction between “people of Monaco,” or the Monegasque citizens, and “residents of the Principality” which I assume are ex-pats living in Monaco. There is also a phrase about “people working in the Principality,” which I assume means everybody living in Monaco.

**Princess Amalia, Princess of Orange in The Netherlands and Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant in Belgium. As Spain still has male-preference primogeniture, Princess Leonor, Princess of Asturias, is still heiress presumptive and could still technically be supplanted by a younger brother… as would girl/girl Grimaldi twins if Charlene were to have a son in the future.

Another baby for William and Kate!


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Prince George is going to be a big brother!

It was announced on Monday by Clarence House that Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with her second child.

Unfortunately, as with the announcement almost two years ago that Kate was pregnant with George, the announcement was made early because Kate is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (which literally means “excessive vomiting in pregnancy”), and it forced Kate to miss an engagement in Oxford. However, instead of being treated in a hospital, Kate is being treated at Kensington Palace.

No other details are being announced yet; we should apparently hear a due month once Kate hits twelve weeks. However, it should be a spring baby (April-May-ish.)

Prince Charles has already expressed his excitement about becoming a grandfather again, and said that he hopes this little one is a girl.

I wish Kate a speedy recovery and a happy, healthy pregnancy!

Engagement of Prince Carl Philip of Sweden


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The Swedish Royal Court announced this morning that Prince Carl Philip – second child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia – has proposed to Sofia Hellqvist, his girlfriend of four years. Actually, Carl Philip asked her this morning, she said yes (obviously), and the press release was announced. (No sense putting it off, I guess.) The press conference can be seen here or here.

Sofia is a former model and reality show contestant (she participated in the Swedish version of the show Paradise Hotel in 2005) and was once photographed for a men’s magazine wearing only bikini bottoms and a boa constrictor wrapped around her upper body, but in more recent years she became the co-founder of Project Playground, a program in South Africa that offers recreational activities to disadvantaged children.

A wedding date has not been announced, but will take place some time next summer.

Grattis (congratulations) to the happy couple!

Spain has a new king


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At 10:30 this morning Madrid time, King Felipe VI (who has been king since midnight, when Juan Carlos’ abdication bill went into effect) was sworn in before the Cortes Generales, or Spanish Parliament. Before the ceremony, Juan Carlos presented Felipe with the red sash of Captain General (or Commander-in-Chief) of the Spanish Armed Forces.

Now that Felipe is King, his elder daughter Leonor is the very first royal daughter to hold the title of Princess of Asturias in her own right. (However, Spain still practices male-first primogeniture, so if Letizia ever gives birth to a boy, he will become Prince of Asturias unless Felipe and the Spanish Parliament changes the law.)

The official YouTube channel of the Spanish Monarchy has posted video of today’s ceremonies and the parade that followed. In case embedding doesn’t work, you can watch it here.

Video courtesy Casa Real.

Muchas gracias (thank you) to the Spanish Royal Court for making the video available so quickly.

¡Viva el Rey Felipe y Reina Letizia!
(Long live King Felipe and Queen Letizia!)

Spanish abdication video


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The official YouTube channel of the Spanish Monarchy has posted video of today’s abdication ceremony. In case embedding doesn’t work, you can watch it here.

Video courtesy Casa Real.

The bill that Juan Carlos signed goes into effect at midnight tonight (which at the time of this post is about twenty minutes away).

Muchas gracias (thank you) to the Spanish Royal Court for making the video available so quickly.

Spanish abdication livestream news


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Thank goodness somebody found some livestream news, because I was thinking that we’d only get pictures or video after the fact.

However, Spanish broadcaster RTVE has a web stream that will be running for the abdication and proclamation festivities. I believe everything abdication-related will be broadcast on Channel 1. Here is a description of everything RTVE will be broadcasting between the 18th and 19th. The Spanish Monarchy has provided a PDF with the schedule and other information, but it’s in Spanish (and Google Translate can’t handle PDFs), so if you can understand Spanish, it’s here.

After the proclamation (there will be no “coronation,” per se, and no foreign royals have been invited), Felipe and Letizia’s elder daughter Leonor will become Princess of Asturias, and Juan Carlos and Sofia will become “honorary” king and queen.

Hat tip to Order of Splendor for the legwork.

I’m a little bummed that the proclamation itself won’t take place until Thursday, as Wednesday is my birthday, and so far we already have two royal weddings on the 19th. But what can you do, right?

It’s a girl for Félix and Claire!


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Today is Father’s Day in the United States, so it’s especially wonderful that the Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg announced this morning that Princess Claire of Luxembourg gave birth to a little girl today. This is the first child for both Prince Félix and Princess Claire, and the third grandchild for Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa.

Princess Amalia Gabriela Maria Teresa is also the first girl born in the Luxembourgish Grand Ducal Family with succession rights; Amalia is currently third in line behind her father. Originally, Luxembourg practiced male-only succession, though they switched to absolute primogeniture in 2011 (Amalia’s aunt Princess Alexandra was not born in the line of succession but was added in 2011, ahead of her younger brother).

Additionally, the title Prince (or Princess) of Luxembourg is reserved for the children of the reigning Grand Duke/Duchess and of the heir to the throne, so Amalia is a Princess of Nassau and a Princess of Bourbon-Parma, two royal houses of which the Luxembourgish Grand Ducal Family are members.

Félicitatiounen (Congratulations) to Félix and Claire!


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