Monday, 30 December 2013

Royal pictures 2013: Denmark

The most striking image to come from the Danish Royal Family this year really divided opinion. A portrait of the entire family together was unveiled in November but its unusual style and bold composition left many viewers less than impressed.  The portrait, by Thomas Kluge, is an attempt to follow up the famous family portrait of Christian IX and his descendants by Laurits Tuxen but some reviewers labelled it frightening.

The portrait of the Danish Royal Family by Thomas Kluge which was released to very mixed reviews in November 2013

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark's profile abroad increased considerably in 2013.  The wife of the heir to the throne carried out several headline hitting solo tours including a visit to Morocco where she highlighted domestic abuse and women's issues.  But it was her decision to spend some time at a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan that really caught the public imagination, especially as she had to be evacuated from the area after protests broke out about an unrelated issue.  But the images of Mary with children who had been forced to leave their homes because of the ongoing conflict in Syria went around the world and threw a spotlight on the issue for many.

Princess Mary of Denmark meets children at a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan

She took husband, Frederik, with her on another high profile foreign tour in October 2013.  The couple visited Australia where they helped with the 40th anniversary celebrations for the Sydney Opera House which had been designed by a Danish architect.  Mary and Frederik spent several days in the princess' home country on official tour.

Australian born Princess Mary of Denmark helps, along with husband Frederik, to celebrate the 40th birthday of Danish designed Australian icon, the Sydney Opera House

Prince Frederik spent part of the summer training with the America's Cup teams ahead of the race in August 2013.  It was just one of several demanding sporting events the prince took part in.  As well as forming part of the International Olympic Committee as it decided on a host city for the Summer Games in 2020, the prince took part in the Ironman of Copenhagen competition which involved a day of triathlon, cheered on by his family.

Prince Frederik of Denmark running through the rain soaked streets of Copenhagen as he took part in the annual Ironman contest in August 2013

But Frederik had competition on the training front as Crown Princess Mary was photographed a few weeks later taking part in one of the regular training days she undertakes as part of Denmark's homeguard.  The princess, who joined soon after her marriage, was photographed abseiling and taking part in water activities.

Crown Princess Mary of Denmark taking part in home guard training in 2013

Royal pictures for 2013: the Netherlands

The abdication of Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands was a surprise but not a shock.  The pattern for standing aside is well established in the country but Beatrix's appearance on television on the evening of January 28th 2013 to announce she would abdicate in favour of her eldest son and her heir, Willem-Alexander, was still unexpected at that time.  Her reign came to an end on the 33rd anniversary of its start, April 30th 2013, when she signed away her realm in a moving ceremony that was as emotional as it was simple.  After Willem-Alexander had also signed the instrument of abdication mother and son held hands in a very human gesture at the most important state event of all.

A mother and her son, a former queen and her new king - Beatrix and Willem-Alexander in the moments immediately following her abdication and his accession on Queen's Day, April 30th 2013

The events surrounding the end of one reign and the beginning of a new era had been filled with joy as well as pomp and circumstance, with members of all of Europe's royal families attending the two days of celebrations.  But it was the image of the new royal family of the Netherlands waving from the balcony after the king's accession that summed up how special the whole event had been.

King Willem-Alexander, Queen Maxima and their children salute the crowds who gathered to celebrate the beginning of the new reign on April 30th 2013

The new king quickly adapted to his new role as head of state but within months he was called upon to lead his family on one of its hardest days.  The king's younger brother, Johan Friso, died on August 12th 2013 at the age of 44.  He had been badly injured in a ski-ing accident in February 2012 in Lech, Austria and had received treatment in London for many months before returning home to the Netherlands in the early summer of 2013.  He had been in a coma for much of that time but had recovered some minimal consciousness in the months before his death from complications from the accident.  On the eve of his funeral, the royal household released an image of the prince with his wife and children as the lasting memory of a prince who became a family man.

The lasting memory of Friso, seen here with wife Mabel and their daugthers, Luana and Zaria, in the photograph issued by the royal household as they prepared to say their final goodbyes

Johan Friso was buried in a private ceremony on August 16th 2013 at Lage Vuursche, near the home his mother had only recently moved to.  Princess Beatrix turned to comforting his widow and children.

Princess Beatrix leads mourners at the funeral of her second son, Johan Friso, on August 16th 2013

The new king and queen embarked on a series of visits to other royal courts around Europe to introduce themselves as monarchs and in November they played host to their neighbours, the new king and queen of the Belgians.  The image of Willem-Alexander and Philippe with their consorts, Maxima and Mathilde, sealed a year of momentous change in both royal houses.

The new face of Europe's monarchies as the kings and queen consorts of the Belgians and the Netherlands meet in November 2013

Royal pictures for 2013: Belgium

The abdication of Albert II, King of the Belgians came as a surprise to many and certainly hadn't been predicted at the start of 2013.  Instead, the country began the year by looking forward to the planned celebrations in August for the king's 20th jubilee but on July 3rd 2013 he went on television to tell his fellow citizens that he planned to stand aside in favour of his son on Belgium's National Day, July 21st.  The royal household released an image of the king just before his abdication which gave Albert's departure an emotional touch.

Albert II, King of the Belgians, 1993 - 2013, leaves the stage

King Albert and his consort, Queen Paola, embarked on a farewell tour of the country where they were greeted by huge crowds everywhere they went.  The tour ended in Liege, the city of which Albert was made prince on the day of his birth.  Queen Paola found it hard to contain her tears as the monarchs bade an emotional farewell to their fellow citizens before handing over to a new royal family.

Tears of a queen - Paola of the Belgians says farewell in Liege, the area of which she was princess for decades before Albert's unexpected accession to the throne in 1993

The actual day of abdication and accession was a joyful occassion which began with a Te Deum in Brussels before the outgoing king signed away his kingdom and his successor took an oath of allegiance in front of politicians and family members.  Philippe, King of the Belgians then rode through the streets of Brussels to greet his fellow citizens as their monarch for the first time before a balcony appearance where all eyes were on his consort, Mathilde, the first Belgian born queen of the country.

Mathilde, Queen of the Belgians, with her husband, Philippe, on the day of their accession, July 21st 2013

The new royal family kept a low profile after the accession with the king taking on many new functions while the royal children - including the first heiress to the throne, Princess Elisabeth - carried on with their normal routines.  And at the beginning of September there was a chance to see a king on the school run.

King Philippe of the Belgians takes three of his four children to school on the first day of term in September 2013

Belgium now has two kings and three queens and Fabiola, consort of Baudouin, led the tributes to her late husband in August on the twentieth anniversary of his death.  While the former king and his successor and the two most recent consorts stood by, it was the poignant sight of Fabiola being wheeled towards a giant photo of the man she loved for decades during a religious service to commemorate his life that really stuck in the memory.

A queen remembers her lost love - Fabiola of the Belgians at the memorial service for her late husband, King Baudouin, in August 2013

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Royal pictures of 2013: Spain

The unexpected, and unusual, sight of a kiss between King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia caused a stir in September 2013.  The king was waiting for the arrival of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands when his queen surprised everyone by joining him and then planting a kiss on his cheek.  There was much speculation as to why Queen Sofia had chosen to show so much affection to her husband in public.  It was later reported that around this time the king had discovered he needed another operation on his hip and his wife was offering some comfort almost immediately after the diagnosis.  But just days later, rumours swept Spain via social media that the king was about to abdicate.  Within hours, the royal household denied this and revealed the king's new health problems.  But the picture remained one of the most surprising of 2013.

The unexpected kiss.  This rare display of public affection between Juan Carlos I and his consort, Sofia, sparked huge speculation
The whole county was devastated in July when a train crashed at speed on the approach to Santiago de Compostela and 79 people were killed, with hundreds more injured, in the incident.  The royal family spent a lot of time in the area after thecrash with the Prince and Princess of Asturias and the Infanta Elena attending the memorial service.  The image of the king and queen in the city so soon afterwards was symbolic of the concern and heartbreak many felt for those affected by the incident.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain in Santiago de Compostela in the aftermath of a train crash that left 79 people dead
On October 12th 2013, the Prince of Asturias took the salute at Spain's National Day parade for the first time.  King Juan Carlos was still recovering from an operation on his hip and his son and heir led the royal family on this important day.  Queen Sofia did not attend the military parade, leaving Felipe and Letizia alone on the royal dias but the consort did lead the reception for dignitaries afterwards with the prince, princess and the Infanta Elena lending a hand with the handshaking. The image of a king in waiting acting for the king in this hugely significant event is one of the photos of the year for Spain's royals.

 The Prince and Princess of Asturias on the royal dias during Spain's National Day
on October 12th 2013
The prince had experienced bitter disappointment earlier in the year when he saw his dreams of bringing the Olympic Games to Madrid in 2020 come to nothing.  Prince Felipe had taken a leading role in the bid process and his energy and enthusiasm was credited by many for making the Spanish capital the favourite of the three cities bidding for the honour.  The prince's final speech to the International Olympic Committee was well received but was not enough to stop Madrid being eliminated first from the vote.  But the image of the prince, with his hand on his heart, trying to convince the IOC to bring the games to Spain enhanced his reputation.

Prince Felipe during his speech to the IOC in the last bidding round for the 2020 Olympics.  Madrid lost out to Tokyo

There was a brief moment of sunshine for the Spanish royals in the middle of another difficult year.  Queen Sofia gathered all her grandchildren around her for a short while during the annual holiday in Mallorca and posed with them for a generational shot that is becoming rarer and rarer for the Spansih royals.  The queen's devotion to her family had been shown earlier when she'd been photographed out and about with a handbag bearing photos of all eight of her grandchildren.

Queen Sofia of Spain with her daughter, the Infanta Elena, and her daughter-in-law, the Princess of Asturias, as well as all eight of her grandchildren during the family's annual holiday in Mallorca in August 2013

Royal pictures of 2013: Sweden

There has been plenty to celebrate for the Swedish monarchy in 2013 and as a result, the country's ruling family has been involved in some of the most memorable royal images of the year.  On September 15th 2013, King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his accession to the throne of Sweden and a day of celebrations across the country culminated in dancing in the streets of Stockholm led by the king who earlier toasted the thousands wanting to share the day with him from the top of the Royal Palace.

King Carl XVI Gustaf salutes his people from the Royal Palace in Stockholm watched by his only son, Carl Philip, the prince who lost a throne to his older sister

The marriage of Princess Madeleine, fourth in line to the throne, and Chris O'Neill in Stockholm in June 2013 provided some truly beautiful snaps of a truly beautiful royal bride but it was the unusual and dramatic official wedding pictures that were the most memorable.

Princess Madeleine Therese Amelie Josephine of Sweden married Christopher O'Neill in the Royal Palace of Stockholm on June 8th 2013
Queen Silvia of Sweden marked her seventieth birthday at the end of the year with several celebrations and a classic royal portrait of a consort in pink.  But it was the behind the scenes images of the queen having her birthday photos taken that were among the iconic images of Sweden's royal family in 2013.
Queen Silvia of Sweden during the shoot for the special photos to mark her seventieth birthday
Prince Daniel of Sweden marked his fortieth birthday on the same day that his father in law celebrated his jubilee but 2013 was the year that the future prince consort took on a much higher profile role within the royal family.  In particular, the prince concentrated on business and promoting entrepreneurship among young people and as part of that mission, spent a memorable day at IKEA to showcase some of his country's greatest success stories.
The prince who went to IKEA - Daniel of Sweden learns more about one of his country's greatest success stories
Princess Estelle of Sweden was highly visible throughout the year and provided some of the cutest images of all.  From national dress to pretty party frocks to mark her first birthday, the littlest princess stole the show - and almost auntie Madeleine's wedding when she ended up next to her mummy, Crown Princess Victoria, as she did a reading at the service.  But it was Estelle's appearance in Christmas outfit on a pony that really had the 'ah' factor.
Crown Princess Victoria with Estelle as Father Christmas as they celebrate St Lucia's Day in December 2013

Best royal pictures of 2013: Great Britain

There's only one picture that can top this round up of the best images of the British Royal Family in 2013.  After a wait of over a century, and for only the second time in the British monarchy's almost 1000 year history, four generations of monarchs were captured together.  The christening photo of Prince George of Cambridge with his great grandmother, Elizabeth II, his grandfather, Charles, Prince of Wales and his father, William, Duke of Cambridge is one for the history books.

Queen Elizabeth and her successors, the three kings in waiting, in an historic photograph taken on the occasion of the christening of Prince George of Cambridge on October 23rd 2013
at St James' Palace, London
Almost as historic was that first glimpse of George, future king, in the arms of his mother.  Kate, Duchess of Cambridge left hospital just over twenty four hours after giving birth to her first child with her proud husband, Prince William, protectively at her side and just desperate to get his hands on his first born son to show him off to the thousands of members of the world's media waiting to catch a glimpse of the boy who will be king.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leaving St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, London with their new born son, George, on July 23rd 2013
In the year he became a grandfather for the first time, Prince Charles also marked another major milestone as he turned 65 in November 2013 and officially became a pensioner.  The Prince of Wales marked the occasion by giving TIME magazine permission to follow him for part of the year.  The magazine also spoke to several of his friends and former aides.  And while the headlines that followed spoke of a man who considered kingshhip a prison, the actual interview showed a considered man who has enjoyed his role as Prince of Wales and has a deep respect for the six decades of service he has seen his mother carry out firsthand.
The pensioner prince.  Charles of Wales turned 65 in November 2013 and caused controversy on his birthday with an interview in a major magazine
Prince Harry, meanwhile, spent the year winning hearts everywhere he went.  While rumours grew of another royal wedding as the prince enjoyed an increasingly serious relationship with Cressida Bonas, it was Harry's whistlestop visit to Australia in September that really cemented his place at the heart of the modern royal family.  The prince represented the Queen at a review of the fleet in Sydney harbor and spent just 48 hours in the country, about the same amount of time as it took him to get there and back again.  But he was a huge hit, with the country's Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, telling him that for one day only, every Australian was a monarchist.  The prince pulled in huge crowds for his walkabouts with fans even trying to get close by sailing into the harbor.  In 2013, everyone really was just wild about Harry.
Handsome Harry conquers Australia - the prince in one of the iconic royal images of 2013
In the middle of 2013, Elizabeth II celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation.  While the nation had joined in widespread festivities across a long, rainy weekend in 2012 for her Diamond Jubilee, the commemorations of her coronation were more low key and centred around a Coronation festival a Buckingham Palace and a special service of thanksgiving in London in June 2013.  But the Queen looked just as joyful at these celebrations - perhaps more so as she is said to dread the anniversary of her accession as it is also the anniversary of her beloved father's death.  And this year, she had Prince Philip at her side for the special ceremony at Westminster Abbey - the prince had had to miss the Jubilee celebrations through ill health.  Having the man she has called her 'rock' with her for this important anniversary was perhaps why the smile she wore that day was so broad and wide.
The smile says it all - Elizabeth II at the special service at Westminster Abbey that marked the sixtieth anniversary of her coronation

Royal Review of 2013 - a year of surprises

Europe's royals have had a busy year.  But when the dust settles and the ink dries on the history books, 2013 will be remembered for the arrival of a future king and the departure of two monarchs.  The impending birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's baby was known about as the year began but the abdications of Beatrix of the Netherlands and Albert II of the Belgians were both unexpected in their own ways and changed the royal landscape of Europe rapidly and decisively.

Memories of times now past - the reigns of Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands and Albert, King of the Belgians both came to an end in 2013
The abdications brought the continent two new monarchs, two new consorts and two new families of young princes and princesses.  Overnight, the average age of the continent's monarchs and heirs dropped by several decades.  But the events also changed attitudes towards monarchies and suddenly questions were asked about the ongoing reigns of just about every other European king or queen and the likelihoods of them, too, leaving their posts for a younger generation to fill them were raised.  Nowhere more so than in Spain where in a strange day in September the country was set abuzz with whispers, unfounded and wrong, that Juan Carlos I was about to leave his palace by a back door and his crown with his son and heir. 
Three generations of Spanish royalty together and, despite a day of fevered rumours, there was no change in the order of seniority in the family in 2013
The Spanish king did have to contend with ill health and with more controversies around his family.  If 1992 was an annus horribilis for Elizabeth II, 2013 is added to a list of similar bad years for the Spanish royals who spent the year experiencing the same turbulence that hit them in 2012 and 2011 as well.  It was a more peaceful year for the Norwegian and Danish royals with regular public appearances and some high profile overseas trips including King Harald's visit to Turkey and Crown Princess Mary's humanitarian trip to a camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Crown Princess Mary of Denmark meets young Syrians in a refugee camp in Jordan earlier in 2013
And the personal part of royal life was in the spotlight as well.  Mathilde of Belgium began the year with her focus on her fortieth birthday, perhaps not knowing that within six months she would become the first Belgian born queen of her country.  In the Netherlands, the royal family was left devastated by the unexpected death of Prince Johan Friso.  The second son of Beatrix died of complications of the injuries sustained in an avalanche in Austria in 2012 - he had been unconscious since the accident and died in the Netherlands after being brought back there from treatment in London earlier in the year.
Prince Johan Friso, brother of the king of the Netherlands, died in 2013 at the age of 44
In Sweden the royal family was at the centre of the country's life for the whole of 2013.  Princess Madeleine's wedding, in June 2013, was greeted with widespread celebrations and the announcement of her pregnancy just a few months later brought more happiness.  But it was the year of events marking the 40th jubilee of King Carl XVI Gustaf that really focused the joy of a nation on the royal family.  The year ended with the 70th birthday of Queen Silvia and more national celebrations which topped a spectacular year for Sweden's royals.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, with Queen Silvia at his side, toasts his people on September 15th 2013 - the 40th anniversary of his accession to the Swedish throne
But it was the birth of a future king in Great Britain that captured the most attention.  While Monaco had also welcomed a possible future ruler when Andrea Casiraghi and Tatiana Santo Domingo welcomed a son in March, it was the birth of George Alexander Louis of Cambridge that really caught the popular imagination around the world.  The arrival of a fourth generation of monarch in the British royal family secured the succession well into the 22nd century in the year that Queen Elizabeth II marked the 60th anniversary of her coronation.
The first glimpse of a boy who will be one of the most photographed in the world - George of Cambridge leaves hospital on July 23rd 2013 with his parents
Over the next few days, there's a chance to look back at these royal highlights and plenty more in the Royal Review of 2013.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Royal roundup, week ending December 28th 2013

It's been a quiet end to the year for most of Europe's royal houses - here's the latest news from all of the continent's monarchies for the week ending December 28th 2013...


Queen Silvia celebrated her seventieth birthday on December 23rd 2013 but after several public events to mark the occasion, the day itself was a private affair with close family.  There was however a gun salute at midday and flags were flown.  The royal family also invited wellwishers to leave birthday messages on the royal Facebook page.
Silvia Renate, Queen of Sweden, celebrated her 70th birthday on December 23rd 2013
King Carl XVI Gustaf gave his traditional Christmas Day address on December 25th 2013 and thanked his fellow citizens for their support during his 40th jubilee celebrations through the year.  He also spoke of the strong image of the country abroad and the many innovations in business and technology that he had witnessed through 2013.
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden during his 2013 Christmas Day address


The Norwegian royal family had no formal engagements in the week running up to the festive season.  Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended a church service in Uvdal, near their residence in that part of Norway, on Christmas Eve.  They were accompanied by their family - Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus and Marius Hoiby.
Prince Sverre Magnus comes over all shy as he joins his family for a Christmas Eve service in Uvdal
King Harald and Queen Sonia attended a service on Christmas Day in Oslo accompanied by their daughter, Princess Martha Louise and her family.
The king and queen of Norway with their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughters Maud, Leah and Emma at Christmas Day service in Oslo


The Danish royal family were seen at a traditional Christmas service on Christmas Eve with just the youngest members of the family staying at home in the warm.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark with her grandson, and the future king, Christian as well as husband, Prince Henri, for a Christmas Eve service in Copenhagen

Queen Margrethe II makes her traditional speech at New Year.

United Kingdom

In the run up to Christmas, the Queen went to her home in Norfolk, Sandringham, where she attended a service of carols and lessons on December 22nd.  She was joined there by other members of the Royal Family and on Christmas Day all four of the queen's children attended Christmas service with her at St Mary Magdelene church.  Her youngest great grandchild, Prince George of Cambridge, was not at either of the two services the family joined on Christmas morning.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the second Christmas Day service they attended with other members of the Royal Family
In her traditional Christmas Day message, the Queen emphasized the importance of taking time to reflect on life.  There was also previously unseen footage of Prince George of Cambridge at his christening which gave another glimpse of the famous gathering of four generations of monarch and monarchs in waiting.
 Elizabeth II mentioned family long gone and much missed in her Christmas speech with special reference to her own parents, George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother
Prince William and Prince Harry were seen playing football over the Christmas week in a charity match in Norfolk. The brothers were on opposing teams but despite Prince Harry scoring a goal, the game finished 2-2 and there was a royal hug at the end.
 The Duke of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales in their charity football match in
Christmas week 2013


The new king of the Belgians, Philippe, gave his first Christmas message as monarch on Christmas Eve 2013.  He thanked his fellow citizens for their support on the day of his accession and afterwards and spoke of the difficulties that many faced through unemployment.
 Philippe, King of the Belgians, chose to pose for posterity during his first Christmas speech as monarch under a portrait of Leopold I, his country's first king

The Netherlands

Another new king also gave his first Christmas address.  Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands delivered his first Christmas message on Christmas Day and again thanked those who had supported him on his accession and, like Philippe, mentioned the troubles that many had encountered in the last year because of economic difficulties.  His Christmas message was the only royal engagement of the festive week for the Dutch royals.
Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands gave his festive message on Christmas Day 2013 with a photo of his parents placed prominently behind him


The traditional Christmas Eve message of King Juan Carlos was the only official royal event of the week in Spain.  The king also spoke of economic problems for many citizens and specifically thanked the older generation in Spain for the support they had given younger family members in hard financial times.  He spoke about youth unemployment and also pledged to restore public faith in the country's leadership.
King Juan Carlos of Spain during his Christmas Eve address, December 24th 2013


Thursday, 26 December 2013

The hidden messages of the royal Christmas speeches

Pictures speak louder than words, goes the saying, and the image given by a first glance at the Christmas Day speeches of Europe's monarchs certainly provides an interesting impression of how they see themselves and how they want to be seen.  Most striking was the background to the speech given by the new king of the Netherands, Willem-Alexander.  While the comfy if imposing chair was to be expected, the new monarch put himself firmly at the centre of his country's royal family with the pictures he displayed around himself.  Most prominent were the three portraits of his daughters on a wall behind him, a reminder of the future of the monarchy he now rules.  But to his side was a photograph of his wife, Queen Maxima, and another of his parents, Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus.  The new king looked forward and back while placing himself firmly in the centre of the royal household.

A king surrounded by the ghosts of Christmas past and those of Christmas yet to come - and firmly in control as the spirit of the royal Christmas happening right now
Family was also central to the image portrayed by Elizabeth II in her Christmas speech.  While the Queen usually speaks in front of a large Christmas tree, this year that had to take second place to the three emblematic photographs that she had placed to her side.  Firstly, a picture of her beloved father, George VI, and another of her mother, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.  Both were shown young and at the height of their powers.  It was a striking image that seemed to say - remember where this royal household, now celebrated around the world, began.  The modern House of Windsor has its roots in the reigns of George V and George VI and the Queen reminded those watching of that as the camera left her face to focus on those of her parents for a few brief seconds.  But the other picture on display was that historic image that cements Elizabeth II's place in history and secures the dynasty she helped her father and grandfather build into the 22nd century.  At the centre of this royal speech was the photo of the Queen with her heir, Charles, and the two kings to be that now wait behind him - William and George.  When her father became king, the throne of England had never been so precarious.  Now, his daughter shows us that it has never been so secure or with such a strong future in front of it.
A dynasty that will last for centuries - the woman who was never meant to be a queen with the parents who were never meant to rule and who, between the three of them, made the throne of Great Britain more secure than it has been in centuries
King Philippe of the Belgians also looked to the foundation of a dynasty but his eyes were firmly on the past.  The new monarch made his first Christmas address under the watchful gaze of the first king of the Belgians, Leopold I, who took the country's throne in 1830 and went on to help found the Victorian dynstary of Great Britain by encouraging a marriage between his niece and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.  Philippe has competition on the king front as his father, the abdicated Albert II, remains a monarch.  His country also has three queens at the moment and the prominence given to Leopold in the same image as Philippe seems to say that it is time to look from the founder to the future as 2014 begins.
King Philippe and King Leopold I of the Belgians shared the stage in the new monarch's first Christmas speech, delivered on Christmas Eve 2013
In contrast, King Juan Carlos of Spain emphasized his own position as head of the royal family of Spain with the images he chose to show in his Christmas speech.  The king usually has a crib and more modern festive decorations on display but there is always a photo to one side showing an important part of his year.  And for 2013, it was Juan Carlos at work with politicians.  After a traumatic time for the royal house, and for the king personally after two major operations and a massive Twitter rumour that he was about to abdicate, this image reminded everyone that he is the head of the house and family and intends to remain so for a long time to come.  It backed up his words where he pledged to lead by example and restore faith and transparency in public figures.
King Juan Carlos of Spain's Christmas speech placed him firmly at the heart of social and political life in his country
But for one king, their presence on its own did all the talking.  King Carl XVI Gustaf spoke to his people from a desk with simple Christmas decorations in the background.  But for a monarch who has just marked 40 years on the throne, and whose royal house consists of him and his wife and children, there is little question over his position at the heart of the monarchical institutions. 
The one and only - King Carl XVI Gustaf is firmly at the centre of his royal household as he marks forty years as his country's monarch