Wednesday, 30 April 2014

King Willem-Alexander, one year on

A year ago, the Netherlands got its first king in over a century when Willem-Alexander succeeded his mother Beatrix who abdicated in his favour on April 20th 2014.  But while that day was as much about the departure of a queen as the arrival of a king, the first anniversary of his accession is very much his day.


The image of modern monarchy - King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander has enjoyed a hugely successful year as a monarch, exuding confidence in his new role and scoring massive popularity ratings.  But his first year has also been tinged with sadness - just months into his reign he lost his younger brother, Johan Friso, who died in August 2013.  Among the happy memories of his first twelve months as king are the heartbreaking days when, as head of his royal house, he had to lead his family and monarchy in mourning for a man with whom he grew up.


A king who faced sadness as well as joy in his first months on the throne

But overall, the year has seen Willem-Alexander become a confident king who seems to enjoy his new role and who has made it his own very quickly.  He has been helped in huge part by his queen consort, Maxima, whose own popularity continues to soar and who has taken on a heavy and wide ranging diary of duties in her new role.  Her devotion to the causes she loves and to the monarchy her husband now rules are evident.  The couple have done things their way since the moment that Beatrix left them with their people on the morning of April 30th 2013 and disappeared from the royal balcony after her abdication.  And one year on, the Netherlands' historic king and his queen consort are on their way to becoming the very pattern of a modern monarchy.  



Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Is Prince Harry single again?

Reports are growing that Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas have ended their releationship after nearly two years together.  The Daily Telegraph says that sources have confirmed the couple have split although a reunion isn't ruled out in the same story.


The royal love story with no happy ending?  Prince Harry and Cressida Bonas may have gone their separate ways according to the latest reports

Some reports say that Cressida wasn't ready for a royal life while others say the couple had been spending lots of time apart in recent months and realised that things weren't working out.  Whatever the reasons, it ends months of speculation that they are about to announce an engagement.


The lonesome prince - Harry of Wales may well be single again

And it means that Prince Harry is once again likely to find his private life the source of much public speculation as everyone waits for the first photo of him with a girlfriend again.  In the meantime, the Wales brothers are spending two very different evenings - while Harry could well be nursing a broken heart, William is marking his wedding anniversary.  The big day of April 2011 could well be the most recent royal marriage for a little while longer.

Crystal clear for Kate

On a third wedding anniversary, modern etiquette suggests gifts of crystal or glass.  And for Kate of Cambridge who celebrates three years as a royal today, things are crystal clear.  As a duchess, she has been a complete success.  Three years ago today, Kate Middleton walked down the aisle of Westminster Abbey which is rich with centuries of royal history and entered the history books of the British Monarchy.  She entered through the abbey's great doors a commoner and left as a future queen.  While the world then remembered the dress, the smiles and the kiss, history will remember the beginning of a royal story that will still be talked about in centuries to come.


And so into history - Kate Middleton prepares to enter royalty in one of its most famous settings, Westminster Abbey, on April 29th 2011

Even after a bumpy start to the year with criticisms about a lack of public engagements in the early months of 2014, Kate is back in charge after a hugely successful tour of Australia and New Zealand that was followed around the world.  The Duchess of Cambridge will face many more challenges in the year to come but on her third wedding anniversary it's crystal clear that Kate is now at the heart of the future of the British Monarchy.



Monday, 28 April 2014

April in Rome

She has seen several popes inaugurated and been there for several of their funerals.  At the weekend, she was there to see two of them become saints.  And now Queen Sofia of Spain has met Pope Francis I in a private audience, along with her husband King Juan Carlos.  And as she stepped into the Vatican for her meeting with the pope, she became the third queen to attend an audience with Francis I in less than four weeks.


Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos at their audience with Francis I on April 28 2014

Like the second queen to visit Francis in April 2014, Sofia was in Rome for the canonisation of John Paul II and John XXIII.  Paola of the Belgians met Francis I the day before the service which elevated them to sainthood and again at the Mass.  Sofia first met the pope at the ceremony before her private audience today.  And both consorts' visits followed an historic visit by the Queen on April 3rd when, as a private individual, she spent around an hour with the pope during her one day trip to Rome.


The Queen and the Pope at their audience on April 3rd 2014

Sofia's visit is the last royal interview at the Vatican in April 2014.  All the meetings have had their own symbolism and sense of history.  And all have made sure that this month will be remembered as the month of three queens at the Vatican.  





Zoo cute

There are plenty of already world famous memories from the tour of Australia and New Zealand by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge but some have really stuck out.  And nearly all of them involve Prince George.  So it was no surprise that his trip to Taronga Zoo in Sydney with his parents topped the recent poll to find the highlight of the Cambridges' tour.


Prince George meets the bilbies at Taronga Zoo in April 2014

Forty four per cent of votes cast were for the meeting with the bilbies in the enclosure named after George to mark his birth in July 2013.  Next on the highlights list was the prince's first formal engagement with thirty three per cent selecting that as the stand out moment.  


The Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George as she introduces him to royal life 

In third place was the sailing race between the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge which Kate won, twice, and which won twenty two per cent of the votes cast.  That little moment of royal friendly rivalry is the only thing that came close to giving George a run for his money on the popularity front.  The little prince is everyone's highlight of the past royal month.


Royal round up, week ending April 26th 2014

A round up of all the news from Europe's royal houses, for the week ending April 26th 2014...


Netherlands

King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands spent most of the week at events leading up to the country's first ever King's Day which took place on April 26 2014 and which was attended by the whole royal family.


King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima with their three daughters at the start of King's Day - April 26th 2014

The event, a national holiday, marks the birthday of Willem-Alexander.  On April 26th 2014, the king and his family posed for photographs before a trip on a barge decked in orange flowers.  


King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima on King's Day, April 26th 2014

The entire royal family, including Princess Beatrix, then enjoyed a series of events in Amstelveen and De Rijp where the king and queen were seen playing tennis and their daughters enjoyed looking at the plants and flowers on display.  The whole family also joined in some of the craft displays and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima did a walkabout.


The royal family of the Netherlands try out some crafts at King's Day on April 26th 2014

On April 25th 2014, Willem-Alexander attended King's Day Games at a school in Ens.  The games were started in 2013 to mark his accession to the throne and schools and colleges around the country decide their own programme of activities to mark the occasion.  In Ens, the king joined pupils for breakfast before watching displays of dancing and then giving the signal for the sports to start.


King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands at King's Day Games on April 25th 2014 in Ens

On April 24th 2014, three new official portraits of the king had been unveiled.  The portraits have been released to mark King's Day and the first anniversary of Willem-Alexander's accession on April 30th 2013.  They will be used by official organisations and buildings around the country.


One of three new official portraits of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands which were unveiled this week

On April 25th 2014, King Willem-Alexander held an audience at the Eikenhorst in Wassenaar with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who visited the Netherlands between 23rd and 27th April 2014.


King Willem-Alexander at his audience with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on April 25th 2014

On the same day, the king received a white carnation which is the symbol of Veterans' Day.  The king wore the carnation at the Eikenhort in Wassenaar - the flower is tradiationally worn to show support for veterans in the week running up to Veterans' Day in June.


King Willem-Alexander receiving a white carnation at the Eikenhorst in Wassenaar on April 25th 2014

Queen Maxima, who is patron of Scouting Netherlands, visited a girls scout event on April 22nd 2014.  The engagement, at Scouting Lunteren, allowed the queen a chance to see some of the challenges and activities that the scouts regularly take on.


Queen Maxima during her visit to Scouting Lunteren on April 22nd 2014

The queen was in Rotterdam on April 23rd 2014 where she learned about a language initiative to help new arrivals to the Netherlands learn Dutch.  She was present as the certificates for the 1,000th language course were presented - the initiative began in the middle of 2013.


Queen Maxima meets some of the students who have taken part in a language course in Rotterdam - she visited them on April 23rd 2014

On April 24th 2014, Queen Maxima held an audience with Jose Angel Gurria who is Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.  Their meeting was part of his three day visit to the Netherlands and took place at the Eikenhorst in Wassenaar.   Ono April 25th 2014, Prince Constanijn, accompanied by Princess Laurentien, presented the World Press Photo Award at a ceremony in Amsterdam.


United Kingdom


The Queen celebrated her 88th birthday on April 21st 2014 and to mark the occasion a new black and white photograph of her was released on April 20th 2014.


The new photograph of Elizabeth II released to mark her 88th birthday which she celebrated on April 21st 2014

On April 20th, Easter Sunday, the Queen was accompanied by several other members of the Royal Family at Easter Service at Windsor Castle.  The Duke of Edinburgh, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal were among those present.


Elizabeth II arrives for Easter Sunday service at Windsor on April 20th 2014

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall spent Easter in Scotland and on April 23rd and April 24th the prince held several meetings linked to his Scottish interests including one with the Rural Skills Council.  On April 23rd 2014, it was announced that the brother of the Duchess of Cornwall had died after an accident in New York.  Mark Shand, a noted conservationist, was 62.


An archive photograph of the Duchess of Cornwall with her brother, Mark Shand, who died at the age of 62 on April 23rd 2014 in New York

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge continued their tour of Australia.  On April 20th 2014, the couple attended an Easter Sunday service at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney where they later added their names to a Bible which has been signed by many members of the Royal Family on their own visits.


The Duchess of Cambridge signs a Bible in Sydney on April 20th 2014

Later the same day, the couple along with Prince George visited Taronga Zoo in Sydney where they saw the bilby enclosure name after George on his birth in July 2013.  The little prince saw some of the bilbies and was presented with a soft toy which he then threw away.


Prince George and the cuddly toy he was given on his visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney on April 20th 2014

In the evening, the family took a flight to Canberra for the last part of their tour.  After a rest day, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge flew to central Australia where they visited Yalara and presented certificates to tourism and hospitality graduates of the National Indigenous College.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving in Yalara on April 22nd 2014

The couple then moved on to Uluru, also known as Ayer's Rock, where they visited the cultural centre and then walked around part of the rock.


William and Kate at Uluru on April 22nd 2014

After a night glamping, the couple moved on to Adelaide on April 23rd 2014 where they visited the suburb of Elizabeth - named after the Queen.  They officially named part of the area Prince George Plaza in honour of their son.  They also visited Northern Sound, a youth project for arts and culture, where they learned to DJ and saw a display of skate boarding.


Kate does DJ-ing - the duchess learns to spin discs in Adelaide on April 22nd 2014

On April 24th 2014, the royal couple toured Canberra where they planted a tree at the National Arboretum before attending a parliamentary reception where they were greeted by politicians and Prince WIilliam made a speech.


Kate, Duchess of Cambridge at the National Arboretum in Canberra on April 24th 2014

On the last day of their tour, April 25th 2014, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a dawn service to mark ANZAC day at the Australian War Memorial, arriving at 5am for the cermeony.  The couple later took part in more commemorations, laying a wreath and looking at the Roll of Honour where they each placed a poppy as a sign of remembrance.


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge placing poppies on the Roll of Honour in Canberra on April 25th 2014

The couple then left for the airport where Prince George made his last appearance of the tour and the family headed home to London.


The Cambridges leave Australia after their three week tour 


Sweden


The Swedish Royal Household released the first photos of Princess Estelle with her baby cousin, Princess Leonore.  The photos were taken in New York in the middle of April when Estelle and her mother, Crown Princess Victoria, visited Princess Madeleine and Leonore for the first time.


Estelle of Sweden welcomes her cousin, Leonore, in a photo released by the Swedish Royal Household on April 23rd 2014

Further details of Princess Leonore's christening were also announced.  The event, on June 8th 2014, will be followed by a reception for 160 people given by the King and Queen of Sweden and the princess will wear the same christening gown used by her grandfather, Carl XVI Gustaf.  She willhave six godparents but their names are yet to be announced.


Princess Leonore will wear the same christening gown used by many other Swedish royals, including Princess Estelle, when she is baptised on June 8th 2014 in Stockholm

On April 23rd 2014 Crown Princess Victoria took park in an international parliamentary conference on population held in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm.  The three day event focused on the role of women in society and looked at ways to tackle domestic violence.  After attending the first day of the conference, Crown Princess Victoria held an audience with the Head of the UN Population Fund, Babatunde Osotimehin, at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.


Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden with Babatunde Osotimehin, Head of the UN Populaton Fund, during their audience at the Royal Palace on April 23rd 2014

On April 24th 2014, the Crown Princess of Sweden held at audience at the Royal Palace in Stockholm with three researchers involved in a big conference, Stockholm EAT, being held in the Swedish capital next month.  Later the same day, along with Prince Daniel, Princess Victoria attended an export seminar at the Grand Hotel, Stockholm where the future of Sweden's export economy was being discussed.  


Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden at an export seminar on Stockholm on April 24th 2014

On April 25th 2014, Princess Victoria visited the National Museum in Stockholm which has now been stripped bare ahead of a major renovation project. The princess was given a tour of the building and heard about the work which will go on there.


Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden at the National Museum in Stockholm on April 25th 2014

On April 22nd 2014, Prince Daniel was in Gothenburg where he visited two different companies to hear about their work and to meet people involved with the Prince Daniel's Fellowship and Entrepreneurship Programme.  The prince spent some time at industrial company, SKF, and fashion firm, Rut & Circle.


Prince Daniel during his visit to fashion firm, Rut & Circle, in Gothenburg on April 22nd 2014



Norway


King Harald and Queen Sonja were on holiday this week - the Norwegian monarchs are spending some time in South America and visited Cusco and Machu Pichu.  On April 24th 2014, Crown Prince Haakon Magnus held an audience with the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the Royal Palace in Oslo and on April 25th 2014, acting as Prince Regent, he held a ministerial audience.  Also in the week, on April 24th 2014, it was announced that Crown Prince Haakon Magnus was to to be the patron of water organisation NCA's involvement with the annual fundraising telethon in Norway.


Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway who will be patron of water organisation NCA's involvement in a fundraising telethon


Denmark


Princess Isabella of Denmark celebrated her seventh birthday on April 21st 2014.  The event was private and there were no official photos to mark the occasion - the princess had been seen several days before at the celebrations for her grandmother's 74th birthday.


Princess Isabella of Denmark, who turned seven on April 21st 2014, with her parents and siblings on April 16th 2014 when the family marked Margrethe II's birthday

On April 24th 2014, Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik arrived in Beijing at the start of a five day state visit to China.  The visit will focus  on Danish-Chinese co-operation in a number of areas including transport and health.  On April 24th 2014, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik were given an official welcome by the President of China, Xi Jinping, and his wife, Peng Liyuan.


Queen Margrethe of Denmark and the President of China during the official welcome for the queen and Prince Consort at the start of their state visit on April 24th 2014

The royal couple then posed for an official photograph with the President of China and his wife before attending a meeting between the Danish and Chinese delegations present on the trip.


Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Henrik with Xi Jinping and Peng Liyuan in an official photograph to mark the state visit of the Danish royals which got under way on April 24th 2014

In the evening, the queen and her husband attended a state banquet given in their honour in Beijing.  


Queen Margrethe of Denmark and the President of China at a State Banquet on April 24th 2014

On April 25th 2014, Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik attended a conference on 'Sustainability in China and Denmark' at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse where the queen gave a speech.


The Queen of Denmark gives a speech at a sustainability conference on April 25th 2014 - part of her state visit to China

Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik then paid a visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing.


Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik during their visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing on April 25th 2014

In the afternoon, the queen held an audience with the Prime Minister of China, Li Keqiang, and the President of the National People's Congress, Zhang Dejiang.  In the evening, the royal couple attended a welcome banquet held at Diaoyutai State Guest House.


Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik arriving for a welcome banquet on April 25th 2014 during their state visit to China

On April 23rd 2014, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary were at a dinner at the Amalienborg Palace hosted by the princess in honour of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit which ran from April 24th to April 26th 2014 with a focus on sustainable fashion.


Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark at the dinner held at the Amalienborg Palace on April 23rd ahead of the Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Crown Princess Mary attended the opening of the fashion summit the following day, April 24th 2014, where she gave a speech.  


Crown Princess Mary gives a speech at the start of Copenhagen Fashion Week on April 24th 2014

Later the same day, the princess was in Aalborg where she presented a prize as part of National Research Day which is held every year to give people an idea of how research works for Danish society.


Crown Princess Mary arrives in Aalborg on April 24th 2014

Prince Joachim of Denmark also presented a research prize on April 24th when he attended an event organised by the National Diabetes Association in Denmark.  The prince handed over the organisation's Research Grant for 2014 at the ceremony in Copenhagen.


Prince Joachim of Denmark arriving at the Diabetes Association event he attended  in Copenhagen on April 24th 2014



Spain

The Spanish Royal Family was photographed together on Easter Sunday, April 20th 2014, when they attended Mass at the Cathedral in Palma de Mallorca.  King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were joined by the Prince and Princess of Asturias, the Infanta Leonor and the Infanta Sofia as well as by the Infanta Elena for the service.


The Spanish Royal Family before Mass on Easter Sunday, April 20th 2014, in Palma de Mallorca 

On April 22nd 2014, the King and Queen of Spain hosted a lunch at the Royal Palace in Madrid for representatives from the world of Spanish literature to mark the 2013 Miguel de Cervantes Award for Literature and to honour the recipient, Elena Poniatowska.  The Prince and Princess of Asturias were also present.


King Juan Carlos, Queen Sofia, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia at the lunch at the Royal Palace in Madrid on April 22nd 2014 in honour of the Cervantes Prize for Literature 2013

The following day, April 23rd 2014, the king and queen were in Alcala de Henares to present the Cervantes Prize for Literature to Elena Poniatowska.


The King of Spain presents the Cervantes Prize for Literature 2013 on April 23rd 2014

King Juan Carlos attended the semi-final of the Champions' League first leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich on April 23rd 2014 at the Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid.  The Prince and Princess of Asturias had attended the semi final first leg between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea the night before, April 22nd 2014.


King Juan Carlos watches the Champions' League match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in Madrid on April 23rd 2014

The King of Spain held two audiences at the Zarzuela Palace on April 24th 2014.  He met the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado, who was in Spain to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Barcelona.  King Juan Carlos also held an audience with  representatives from the Union of Italian Circles which brings together some of the groups organising cultural and sporting events in Italy and which was visiting Madrid this week.


King Juan Carlos of Spain meets the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa Delgado, at their audience in Madrid on April 24th 2014

Queen Sofia presented the 13th Talavera Awards on April 24th 2014 in Toledo.  They are presented to people who have worked to promote and enhance the city in the past year.


Queen Sofia of Spain presents the Talavera Awards on April 24th 2014 in Toledo

On April 24th 2014, the Prince of Asturias held two audiences at El Pardo Palace in Madrid.  He met a group of Brigadier Generals and Admirals before an audience with the organising committee of an exhibition on military health.



Prince Felipe with the Brigadiers and Admirals he met at an audience in Madrid on April 24th 2014

On April 25th 2014, the Prince of Asturias held four audiences at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid.  The prince met the twelve new members of the State Economists Organisation before spending some time with representatives from the Madrid office of the firm Herbert Smith Freehills Spain.  The prince also held an audience with members of the board of Sotogrande Golf Club and with the authors of a biography of Vicentre del Bosque.


Prince Felipe of Spain with the authors of a book on Vicentre del Bosque - he held an audience with them at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on April 25th 2014

On April 24th 2014, Princess Letizia was in Valladolid where she attended the Children's Volleyball Championships 2014.


Princess Letizia at the Children's Volleyball Championships in Valladolid on April 24th 2014

The Infanta Elena held an audience with some of the organisers of the campaign 'One Toy, One Dream' which aims to send toys to developing countries on April 24th 2014 at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid.


The Infanta Elena at an audience at the Zarzuela Palace on April 24th 2014

At the end of the week, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia travelled to Rome where they will attend the canonisation Mass of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXII which will be celebrated in the Vatican on April 27th 2014.  


Belgium


Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant made several appearance in the week.  On April 22nd she was seen singing with her school choir at an event in Verdun.  And on April 25th 2014 she attended a concert in Malines with her parents, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, which marked the cententary of the start of World War One.


Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant with her parents King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, at a concert in Malines on April 25th 2014

The king of the Belgians began his week on April 22nd 2014 by holding his regular meeting with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Elio di Rupo, at the Royal Palace in Brussels.  On the following day, April 23rd 2014, the king received the letters of credentials of the new ambassadors of Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia and Algeria in a series of audiences at the Royal Palace in Brussels. On April 25th 2014, King Philippe attended a meeting of the Standing Committee for the Control of Intelligence and Security which is marking its twentieth anniversary.  At the meeting, in Brussels, the king heard about the Committee's work.


King Philippe of the Belgians at the meeting of the Standing Committee for the Control of Intelligence and Security which he attended on April 25th 2014 in Brussels

On April 23rd 2014, Queen Mathilde presented the InBev Baillet Latour Health Prize 2014 which was given to a project researching cardiovascular disease.  The presentation took place at the Palace of the Academies in Brussels.


Queen Mathilde of the Belgians at the prize giving she attended on April 23rd 2014 in Brussels

On April 26th 2014, King Albert II and Queen Paola had an audience with Pope Francis I at the Vatican.  The king and queen are in Rome to attend the canonisation Mass of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII which takes place on April 27th 2014.


King Albert II and Queen Paola with Pope Francis I at the Vatican on April 26th 2014

















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