Thursday, 31 October 2013

Mary and Letizia: the next decade

In the ten years since the engagements were announced of Prince Frederik of Denmark and Prince Felipe of Spain, much has changed within the royal families of which they will one day be the heads and in the countries which will one day proclaim them kings.  The fact remains that although much of the spotlight in the last decade has been on the women they have chosen as their future queens, the role of head of state and monarch regnant is theirs alone.  But how has the image of the women who became princesses within days of one another influenced that royal role and what challenges do these couples face as the next decade opens up before them?

Frederik and Mary of Denmark in the autumn of 2013, ten years on from their engagement announcement
 Felipe and Letizia in September 2013, almost a decade on from their engagement
Ten years ago this week, the princess in waiting most likely to succeed was Letizia Ortiz.  On the day of her engagement press conference she was confident, calm and in control.  She had a high profile background and was already known to many in Spain as the face of the TV news bulletin.  She was happy to speak in public and knew how the press would treat her, still being a member of it herself.  Her other great advantage was that she was a home grown princess.  Not only had Felipe chosen a Spanish wife, he had picked a girl from Oviedo as the first Princess of Asturias in decades.  The only question remained whether her status as a divorcee would be a sticking point but in the days after the announcement of their marriage plans, surveys for papers and magazines showed that most people didn't care at all. 
Letizia Ortiz Rocosolano entered her engagement seemingly in total control of the situation around her and gave every indication that life as a public figure would be an easy adaptation for her to make
It's not that Mary Donaldson was the complete opposite of that.  On the day of her engagement announcement she coped well with a balcony appearance, a photo call and a question and answer session.  But she had nowhere near as much self assurance or calm quietness about her that Letizia showed just weeks afterwards.  At times she seemed almost surprised by the attention being shown to her and clung tightly to her prince.  Mary, of course, wasn't Danish born and bred and had tried to learn the notoriously difficult language but didn't have enough of it to manage a whole interview without lapsing into English.  The image of her at the last event of what was an epic day of photocalls perhaps summed her up best at that moment.  Walking into the banquet held in honour of the engagement, she looked slightly caught in the headlights.  At the start of November 2003, the money would have been on Letizia to be riding high a decade later.
Mary Donaldson arrives at the banquet held to mark her engagement to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in October 2003
And yet ten years on, it is Mary who seems in control.  In the recent poll on who was most prepared to be a queen consort, Mary won by a landslide with 84% of voters choosing her as the girl most ready for a crown and just 16% selecting Letizia.  Mary's reputation at home and abroad is strong and steady whereas Letizia rarely wins praise and quite often finds herself under attack.  So how did the two women end up, a decade on, with such different legacies of their first ten years as a royal?
The poise belongs to her now - Mary of Denmark enjoys high popularity ratings while Letizia of Spain struggles, at times, to find supporters

Part of it is nothing to do with either of them.  There's no doubt that the Spanish monarchy has suffered a huge nosedive in popularity in the years since Felipe and Letizia married in the Almudena Cathedral on a wet day in May 2004.  The scandal involving Inaki Urdangarin shows no sign of diminishing just yet and while it hangs over the House of Bourbon, efforts to rebuild a tarnished image will be difficult to say the least.  And the unprecedented criticism of King Juan Carlos in 2012 after he had to be rushed back to Madrid for an operation after breaking his hip in a fall on a safari holiday that no one knew about has taken its toll as well.  In 2003, Juan Carlos was still a hugely popular figurehead and if nothing else could be relied on by the Spanish royals, his popularity was a constant.  Now, nothing is certain anymore.
The Spanish royal family in 2007 before the troubles that have assailed them in recent years began
So to some extent, Letizia's path was always going to be more difficult.  But there's also little doubt that the princess can stir up extreme feelings without much help from others.  Being Princess of Asturias was always going to be a tough call - Felipe was the first heir to the throne to marry for almost 100 years and his choice of wife had been one of the most hotly debated topics for many years before he said 'si, quiero'.  A lot of people had a lot of expectations of Letizia and she could never please all of them, all of the time.  But the princess, in the last ten years, has slowly come to please fewer and fewer people to the point where criticism of her can seem all but relentless.
The prince and princess on one of their happiest days, the christening of their first child, Leonor
She has been accused of being distant from her in laws and from her fellow citizens, of being opportunist, cold and controlling and addicted to plastic surgery.  Certainly, the lack of real warmth between the princess and her sisters-in-law in public only adds fuel to the fire - regardless of which direction the initial froideur came from.  And the change in her appearance over the last ten years has led to constant speculation that she spends quite a lot of time, and money, on treatments, surgical or otherwise.  Whether she does or doesn't, the rise in criticism of her did increase from the summer of 2008 when she appeared in public with the remains of dark shadows under her eyes and a very different looking nose and the Royal Household issued a statement explaining she had had an operation for 'breathing difficulties'.  It was around that time as well that the princess became more confident in wearing high fashion and trend forward outfits in public, garnering more criticism.  The fact remains that, ten years on, what Letizia is best known for is her appearance and her clothes.  And Mary is not.
A princess in blue jeans - Letizia arrives at the Quiron clinic in Madrid in September 2013 to visit her father-in-law, King Juan Carlos, after his most recent operation
Mary's great advantage over Letizia is to have married into a monarchy that has remained stable and well respected during her time as a princess.  The Danish royal family has a well defined and fixed position in society and has experienced none of he turbulence affecting their cousins in Spain.  There have been some rumours of marital issues for Frederik and Mary but the couple have overcome those - even when the prince found some snatched photos of himself in a nightclub being shared round breakfast tables across his future kingdom.  But the problems have been relatively minor in comparison to the investigations over money that have hit the Spanish royals.  There's no doubt that has given Mary a more secure base from which to develop her role as a royal.
No need to go to battle for this queen in waiting - Mary on a training exercise as part of her membership of Denmark's Home Guard
But Mary herself has made her own position secure.  She has a high profile agenda of her own and is associated with many campaigns in Denmark and abroad.  Her Mary Foundation, set up in the years after her wedding, has a global profile in issues such as women's rights and education and the princess has dozens of patronages of her own.  She enjoys high popularity ratings and while she might not be turning up to state events with her arms round her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, her relations with her royal relations are cordial and invite little speculation.  Mary has made the Vanity Fair best dressed list several times, just like Letizia, but it can be argued that the Danish princess' clothes are just a part of her reputation while her Spanish counterpart is known for little else.
Princess Mary of Denmark on a visit to Morocco in August 2013 as part of her work with the Mary Foundation
And however the two women go about their roles, they rely on the press to tell their stories.  And perhaps that's the area where Letizia has surprised the most.  She does have a harder time of it - the Danish press has a more genteel attitude towards their royals and not as many magazines and newspapers to put the first family under the microscope.  But the two women have taken very different attitudes towards the people who tell their stories.  Mary is much more open - maybe it's easier for her than Letizia.  While the Princess of Asturias is criticized for rarely allowing her children to be seen in public, the Crown Princess of Denmark takes charge of taking photographs of her little princes and princesses to mark major occasions like birthdays.  Her first born, Christian, has already carried out public engagements (like his counterparts in Norway and Belgium) but the Infanta Leonor is yet to start a public life, however limited.  Letizia has also seen her reputation hit by reports of off the record quotes that have angered some - comments about not working weekends or not finding her stay in Mallorca anything like a holiday don't go down well.  Whether she ever said them or not is beside the point.  They are as much a part of the story being told about her as the photos of her engagement and it is perhaps surprising that a journalist like Letizia has been caught up more by words attributed to her.
Never far from controversy - Letizia has been a figure of debate for much of the decade since her engagement on November 1st 2003
So what do the next ten years have in store for the two commoners in line to be queen?  A decade on from their engagements, there's no doubt that it's Mary who looks more secure and more confident as she heads into a new phase of royal life.  Both are now mothers of future monarchs as well as consorts in waiting themselves.  And in ten years time, whether they are princesses or queens, the mantle of youth that has been theirs so far will be in the process of being passed on.  In 2023, the princesses on parallel paths will both be mothers of eighteen year old children and both will have turned fifty themselves.  They have established themselves at the heart of the families they married into and at the heart of the future of their two respective monarchies.  And how those monarchies develop is very much down to them.  Their husbands may be called to wear the crowns and wield the limited powers of a king in the 21st century, but their public roles means that Mary and Letizia have a very big say in what happens next, both to themselves and their royal families.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Royal round up, week ending October 26th 2013

A round up of all the news from Europe's royal houses for the week ending October 26th 2013...

United Kingdom

The christening of the future king of Great Britain, Prince George of Cambridge, took place on October 23rd 2013 at the Chapel Royal, St James' Palace.  The prince was baptized by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Lily Font used by the Royal Family since 1841 and normally held in the Tower of London.  He received the names George Alexander Louis.
Hid seven godparents were named just hours before the ceremony with Zara Tindall the only one with any royal connections.  The official photographs, including an historic portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with the three generations of princes that will succeed to her throne, were taken by Jason Bell and released on October 24th 2013.  Full details of the royal christening are on a special page.
The first portrait of four generations of British monarchs taken in over 100 years as Queen Elizabeth II is photographed with the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge on October 23rd 2013 at St James' Palace, London
The following day, the Duchess of Cambridge attended an gala dinner at the State Apartments at Kensington Palace in her capacity as Patron of the 100 Women in Hedge Funds' Philanthropic Initiatives and of the charity, Action on Addiction.  She told visitors that Prince George had been a very good boy all day for his christening.
The Duchess of Cambridge at a charity event in Kensington Palace on October 24th 2013
The Duke of Cambridge attended a special dinner on October 26th 2013 to mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Football Association.  Prince William, who is President of the Association, earlier this month held the first ever football match to be played at Buckingham Palace as part of the anniversary celebrations.
Prince William during his speech at the dinner to mark the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Football Association in London on October 26th 2013
Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the National Theatre in London on October 22nd to marks its 50th anniversary.  The Queen and the Duke toured rehearsals and saw some of the backstage  work involved in bringing to life the star of War Horse, Joey. 
The Queen is introduced to Joey from War Horse by one of the young actors involved during her visit to the National Theatre on London's South Bank on October 22nd 2013
On the evening of October 23rd 2013, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh held a reception at Buckingham Palace for the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.  Earlier in the day she had held an audience with the new British ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  On October 24th 2013 the Queen received the new ambassadors of Iraq and South Korea.
The Queen is introduced to guests at a reception in Buckingham Palace on October 23rd 2013 by
Sir John Major, chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust
Prince Philip held an audience on October 22nd 2013 at Buckingham Palace with representatives of the Duke of Edinburg Award in Canada.  On October 24th, the Earl of Wessex who is a Trustee of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award attended a dinner for the organization in London.  Earlier in the week, the earl held several meetings at Buckingham Palace for charities in which he is involved.  And on October 21st, the Earl and Countess of Wessex attended a dinner to mark the 280th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth.  Earlier that day, the earl had paid his respects at a tribute at the Ambassadors Theatre for the actor, Bryan Forbes, who died in 2013.  On October 23rd, the Countess of Wessex was in Bristol where she celebrated the first anniversary of a new facility used by the NSPCC of which she is president.  On the same day, she opened Healing Foundation Cleft Gene Bank at Oakfield House in the city before opening a new residential lodge for the Girl Guides in Wedmore in Somerset.  That evening she attended a concert at the Cathedral Church of St Peter's in Exeter for the Two Moors Festival, of which she is patron.
The Countess of Wessex in Bristol on October 23rd 2013
The Prince of Wales began the week in Scotland where, on October 21st,  he held a reception in Ayrhsire for entrepreneurs and a dinner the same evening for The Prince of Wales Foundation (United States of America).  The following day he attended a workshop in his capacity as President of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community before visiting a  Morrisons Farm Open Day at Dumfries House.  That evening he was back in London where he held a dinner at Clarence House for The Prince's Charities' International Sustainability Unit on Resilience and Low Carbon Development.  On the afternoon of October 23rd, the Prince held several audiences including a meeting also attended by the Duchess of Cornwall with Aun San Suu Kyi. 
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall meet Aun San Suu Kyi at Clarence House on October 23rd 2013
On October 24th, the prince and the duchess held a reception at St James' Palace for members of the British Indian and British Sri Lankan communities.  The couple will visit India and Sri Lanka in November. 
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall watch a performance by singer-songwriter Navin Kundra at a reception at St James' Palace on October 24th 2013
On that same day the Duchess of Cornwall visited the  Poppy Factory in Richmond in Surrey - she is their patron.  And on the evening of October 25th, she was at a concert in her capacity as patron of First Trust being held in Marlborough in Wiltshire.
The Duchess of Cornwall helps to make poppies at the Poppy Factory in Richmond ahead of Remembrance Day
The Duke of York held a dinner at St James' Palace on October 21st 2013 for the Royal Blackheath Golf Club of which he is patron.  On October 22nd he held several audiences and in the evening handed out the prizes at the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Trophies and Awards Banquet at the Guildhall in London.  On October 24th Prince Andrew opened the Royal Greenwich University Technical College in London with the capital's mayor, Boris Johnson, before holding an audience in his capacity as president of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland.  He had a day of engagements in Devon on October 25th when he opened the Education and Resettlement Centre at HM Naval Base Devonport, Plymouth and visited the Growth Acceleration and Investment Network at Plymouth University.  He ended his week in Canada where he attended  Trustees' Day at Lakefield College School, Lakefield, Ontario - he is the chair of the Trustees.
The Duke of York at the opening of the  Royal Greenwich University Technical College in London on October 24th 2013 with Boris Johnson
The Princess Royal spent the week in Canada where she carried out five days of engagements.  She visited medical and engineering projects and laid a wreath at Vimy Gate War Memorial and unveiled the Mercury Memorial Statue, Canadian Forces Base Kingston.  Her trip, which started on October 22nd and ended on October 26th, also included several receptions and dinners as well as a meeting with  the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley.
The Princess Royal on her way to the Vimy Gate War Memorial in Ontario on October 24th 2013
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester attended a dinner at the Royal Academy of Music on October 22nd 2013.  On October 23rd the Duke attended the "Innovation in Practice" Exhibition at the University of Westminster as part of their 175th anniversary celebrations and on October 24th he attended the Worshipful Company of Bowyers' Agincourt Dinner at Tallow Chandlers' Hall in London.  The Duke of Kent unveiled the Fusiliers Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas in Staffordshire on October 20th.  And on October 22nd he left for a two day trip to Hungary where he carried out several engagements including a meeting with the Hungarian Lifesavers Organisation at Vigadó Placé, Budapest.  Princess Alexandra of Kent held a reception for the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals at Buckingham Palace on October 22nd 2013 and on October 24th was in Chichester where she visited St. Wilfrid's Hospice and the Prebendal School.
Princess Alexandra of Kent at the reception she hosted at Buckingham Palace for the  People's Dispensary for Sick Animals of which she is patron


Queen Silvia was presented this week with a first edition of a book written about her at a conference held to celebrate her achievements in Swedish life.  On October 23rd 2013, the queen was at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm to mark the book's publication.  One of the speakers, Maud Olofsson, who helped get the book written and published spoke about Queen Silvia's determination to tackle topics that many politicians had shied away from in the past, including human trafficking and child abuse.  Queen Silvia also took part in a debate about the importance of raising difficult issues and the importance of leadership.

Queen Silvia at the launch of a book written about her and her leadership on October 23nd 2013 in Stockholm

The Queen also presented the Frimurare Barnhus Foundation scholarships at the Bååtska Palace in Stockholm on October 22nd which are awarded to people working in children's medicine.  King Carl XVI Gustaf held a number of audiences during the week including several to receive new ambassadors to Sweden.  Four new diplomats were granted audiences at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on October 23rd to present their letters of credentials.  The ambassadors from Hungary, Latvia, Austria and Turkey arrived at the palace in carriages from the Royal Mews before being met and escorted into their audiences with the king.

The new Hungarian ambassador to Sweden, Lilia Makkay, is met at the Royal Palace ahead of her audience with King Carl XVI Gustaf on October 23rd 2013
The day before, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria, attended the annual World Child & Youth Forum at the Royal Palace and heard speeches from several experts before officially renaming the organization the Global Child Forum.  The meeting, on October 22nd, involved several members of UN organisations dedicated to children.  The forum was established in 2009 with the help of the entire Royal Family to share knowledge around the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Its aims include using global resources more effectively to provide better for children.
Queen Silvia unveils the new logo for the Global Child Forum which the royal couple officially renamed on October 22nd 2013
Also on October 22nd 2013, the king presented the new Entrepreneur of the Year awards.  The prizes are given to business people who have moved to Sweden from other nations and successfully established companies. 
King Carl XVI Gustaf presents the New Entrepreneur of the Year award to Milan Rupertsson who moved to Sweden from Congo in 2010 and set up her own logging business within a year
On October 23rd the king and queen held an audience at the Royal Palace for honorary consols working in Africa.  Earlier in the week, the king accompanied by his heiress, attended the annual WWF meeting at the Ulriksdal Palace in Solna, north of Stockholm.  The king is the president of the Swedish branch while Crown Princess Victoria is a member.  King Carl XVI Gustaf also presented several awards including the Panda Book of the Year to Felix Heintzenberg for Nordic Nights — Animal Life Between Dusk and Dawn. 
The king of Sweden presents the Panda Award at the WWF annual meeting in Sweden to Felix Heintzenberg - October 21st 2013
Prince Daniel presented the Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards on October 21st 2013 - the event also included a seminar about getting younger people into business.  On October 23rd 2013, he was at Blackeberg Upper Secondary School and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm to talk about the Fellowship that bears his name and which works to encourage more young people into entrepreneurship.
Prince Daniel talking to young people about his own experiences of setting up a business on October 23rd 2013
Princess Madeleine attended a summit on environmental matters in New York called From Farm to Fork.  The event, on October 23rd, was organized by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce in New York.  The princess, who is now in her fifth month of pregnancy, later attended a banquet accompanied by her husband, Chris O'Neill.
Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill at an evening banquet in New York on October 23rd 2013
At the end of the week, October 25th 2013, the whole family apart from Madeleine was at the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences' formal meeting in Stockholm.  And as breast cancer awareness month drew to a close, Crown Princess Victoria was seen showing her support to the campaign, of which she is a patron this year, with the help of her daughter, Princess Estelle.  Along with Prince Daniel, they attended the final of the Stockholm Tennis tournament on October 20th and all three were seen wearing the pink ribbon that symbolizes breast cancer awareness.
Princess Estelle of Sweden with her pink ribbon as she applauds the players at the Stockholm Tennis final on October 20th 2013


Prince Frederik and Princess Mary began a four day visit to Australia on October 24th with most events centred around celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House and its Danish design.  On their arrival, they met the Governor of New South Wales and posed for photographs at the Opera House before going on a walkabout to meet the thousands who had turned out to see them.
The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark at the Sydney Opera House at the beginning of their four day tour of the area which began on October 24th 2013
On October 25th they attended an event to help Danish and Australian designers work together more closely before seeing a reading programme for school children and then attending an evening event celebrating the Danish design involved in the Sydney Opera House.
Prince Frederik and Princess Mary at the event held in Sydney on October 25th to celebrate the Danish involvement in the design of the city's iconic Opera House which is marking its 40th anniversary
On October 26th they visited the Twin Registry of which Princess Mary is patron.  The registry gathers together twins who are interested in helping with medical research that relies on people who are part of a multiple birth.  Later on in the day the couple attended the launch of eSMart, a new system which aims to cut down on bullying online among children and adolescents.
The Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark with some of the sets of twins they met on October 26th in Australia when they visited the country's Twin Registry
Back in Denmark, Queen Margrethe II held a meeting with the French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault on his visit to the country on October 21st 2013.  Meanwhile, Prince Henrik spent October 24th touring art galleries in North Jutland. He began his afternoon in Aalborg for an exhibition of Normandy painters including Monet and Renoir before moving on to Lemvig to tour the Museum of Religious Art for an exhibition called 'For the Love of Greenland'. 
The Queen of Denmark with the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Marc Ayrault, on October 21st 2013 at the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen


The Prince and Princess of Asturias were in Oviedo for much of the week for the annual awards which bear the prince's name.  The couple arrived on October 24th and met all the recipients of the different prizes which were started in 1980 before awarding them the insignia which goes with the prize.
The Prince and Princess of Asturias in Oviedo on October 24th 2013 with the winners of this year's Prince of Asturias awards
In the afternoon they held various audiences before attending an evening concert to mark the awards - the event included music by Richard Wagner to mark the 200th anniversary of his death.
The Prince and Princess of Asturias at the Prince Felipe theatre in Oviedo for a concert on October 24th 2013
The actual awards were celebrated on October 25th 2013 in the Campoamor Theare in Oviedo where the prince and princess presented scrolls to the recipients and Prince Felipe gave a speech.  Winers this year included the photographer, Annie Liebowitz, and the physicist, Peter Higgs.  Queen Sofia was also in attendance.
Queen Sofia with Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia in Oviedo on October 25th 2013
The following day, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia were in Teverga in Asturias to present the award for outstanding locality which traditionally marks the end of the prizes and which is given for protecting culture, history or the environment.  Teverga was chosen for its work to deal with the end of coal mining in the area and for the way in which people have preserved the natural environment all around them.
Prince Felipe unveils the plaque marking Teverga's prize as Outstanding Area for 2013 at the end of the three day visit he paid to Asturias along with Princess Letizia
The princess had already held several audiences earlier in the week.  On October 21st she met members of the Mostoles centre working on children's education and language skills, named after her husband, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.  And on the same day she helped mark the 50th anniversary of the magazine, Telva, by welcoming them to the Zarzuela Palace for an audience.  And she ended her day of receptions by meeting some representatives from the Federation for People with Parkinson's Disease in Spain.
Princess Letizia with representative from the Spanish Federation for Parkinson's Disease at the Zarzuela Palace on October 21st 2013
Queen Sofia began her week by opening a new warehouse for the Food Banks of Madrid on October 21st 2013 - it has been partly financed by the Foundation which bears the queen's name. 
Queen Sofia of Spain speaking to volunteers working with the Food Banks of Madrid on October 21st 2013
The following day she presented an award given by the Foundation for Help against Drug Addiction in a ceremony at the Zarzeula Palace.  And on October 23rd 2013, in Madrid, the queen helped unveil ten principles aimed at the business community to help defend the rights of children.
Queen Sofia of Spain watches a message from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, at the conference in Madrid on children's rights which she attended on October 23rd 2013
King Juan Carlos held several audiences, beginning on October 22nd 2013 at the Zarzuela where he met representatives from the Royal Academies ahead of the opening of their new year. And on October 24th he met the Foreign Minister of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, at the Zarzuela.
The king of Spain with the Foreign Minister of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezouar, on October 24th 2013 during their audience


The King and Queen of the Belgians began their week with an audience with Aun San Suu Kyi at their palace at Laeken - her visit was part of a European tour.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians with Aun San Suu Kyi on her visit to Belgium on October 19th 2013
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde also completed their Joyeuses Entrées in the week.  On October 23rd they visited Eupen where they were greeted by around 3000 wellwishers.  They took part in a walkaround and met local dignitaries as well as signing guest books.
Queen Mathilde of the Belgians greets some of the wellwishers who turned out to see her and husband, King Philippe, in Eupen on October 23rd 2013
And there were around 10,000 people waiting to greet the king and queen on the last of their Joyeuse Entrée in Bruges.  They toured some of the famous canals to greet some of the spectators who had come to see them and enjoyed another of their working lunches before waving from the town hall balcony to end their introductory tour of their country as monarchs.
King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of the Belgians during their last Joyeuse Entrée, in Bruges, on October 25th 2013
On October 21st 2013, the king held his regular audience with the prime minister, Elio di Rupo.  Later on he met the Ambassador from Thailand, Apichart Chinwanno.  And on the following day he held an audience with Rudi Vervoort, president of the regional government of Brussels.  His final audience of the week, on October 24th, was with Kris Peeters, president of the government of Flanders.  His other main solo engagement this week was on October 22nd 2013 when he attended events to mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts in Brussels. 
King Philippe of the Belgians at the 75th anniversary of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and Arts in Brussels on October 22nd 2013
Princess Astrid began a six day economic mission to Angola and South Africa on October 20th 2013 on behalf of the King.  She met politicians, local firms and visited hospitals on the trip.
Princess Astrid on a visit to the Lucrecia Paim Hospital in Luanda on her visit to Angola between October 20th and 26th 2013
Financial and business issues are normally dealt with by the heir to the throne but Princess Elisabeth won't be involved until she comes of age.  The princess turned 12 on October 25th and the royal household chose that day to announce that the offices of the Duke of Brabant, the official title of the heir to the throne, will be closed until Elisabeth turns eighteen.
Princess Elisabeth of Belgium, future queen regnant, turned 12 on October 25th 2013
At the end of the week, Prince Laurent and Princess Claire were in Marche-en-Famenne to see a major exhibition dedicated to families - called 1001 families.


King Harald and Queen Sonia held two receptions on October 21st 2013 in Oslo, the first to mark the renovations at Palace Square which are coming to an end and later that day to present the King's Medal of Merit.  There was another ceremony for the Medal of Merit on October 22nd and on October 24th 2013 they held the traditional banquet at the Royal Palace for members of the House of Parliament.  The dinner was introduce din 1906 by King Haakon.  The Crown Prince, who bears his name, was also in attendance but Crown Princess Mette-Marit was missing after it was announced she will need another 6 to 8 weeks to recover from the condition that has made her unwell for over a month now.
King Harald and Queen Sonia of Norway at the annual dinner for Norway's parliament held at the Royal Palace on October 24th 2013
The king ended his week by going back to his youth when he attended an event to mark the centenary of the Norwegian Wrestling Federation on October 25th 2013.  King Harald used to practice the sport.  His life as king was at the fore for most of the week though.  On October 21st 2013 the kind held an audience with the Chief of Staff of the Norwegian Home Guard and on October 24th with the Minister for Foreign Affairs with the queen also in attendance.  On October 25th he was accompanied by Crown Prince Haakon Magnus for his audience with the Prime Minister.  The heir to the throne also attended an extraordinary Council of State held by the King on October 25th 2013 as the new Norwegian government took office.  But the Crown Prince spent most of the week in Finland on an official visit where he met the President Sauli Niinistö and the Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.  He also visited schools and businesses and attended a lunch to promote Norwegian sea food held at the Savoy Hotel in Helsinki.
 Crown Prince Haakon Magnus of Norway arriving in Helsinki at the start of his two day visit to Finland on October 22nd 2013
On his return to Norway, Crown Prince Haakon attended the opening of a park in memory of the Carl Frederiksens operation to rescue Jewish people in World War Two.  The memorial in Oslo commemorates the brave actions which led to at least 1000 lives being saved.
Crown Prince Haakon at the opening of the Oslo park which commemorates the Carl Frederiksens Transport which saved the lives of many Jewish people in World War Two

The Netherlands

The king and queen of the Netherlands were in Greece this week and paid a courtesy visit to the president, Karolos Papoulias, and visited Orange Grove which encourages young people to take up business and entrepreneurship.
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima in Orange Grove in Athens where they saw work to help young Dutch and Greek people get into business on October 22nd 2013
On October 25th Princess Margriet opened an exhibition of work by the French artist, Henri Fantin-Latour in Gouda.
Princess Margriet of the Netherlands opening an exhibition in Gouda of work by the French artist, Henri Fantin-Latour on October 25th 2013